Created By: Maklodes on August 21, 2011

Whig World

A world where progress is continuous and inevitable

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The antithesis of Medieval Stasis, a Whig World is a setting in which scientific knowledge, technology, social organization, and perhaps morality become ever-more sophisticated and advanced. If there are occasional setbacks to civilization's forward march, these are simply preludes toward a new renovation of civilization, in which the flaws exposed by the crisis are corrected and civilization emerges stronger and more advanced than ever, its progress essentially uninterrupted.

In Darker and Edgier versions of a Whig World, the imperative is to advance or be conquered. Scientific progress may be unaccompanied by moral progress, and those who Can't Catch Up are either subjugated, assimilated, or annihilated by those who overtake them. This is the standard in 4x games. In Lighter and Softer versions, there could be a Prime Directive prohibiting interference with less advanced people, or possibly a charitable commitment to (non-coercively) helping them catch up or uplift them.


  • The Discworld series is a rare fantasy example of a Whig World -- at least around Ankh-Morpork.

Live-Action TV
  • The whole Star Trek canon takes place in a Whig World.

Video Games
  • Essentially all 4X games imply a Whig World setting. Technological advancement is generally both highly prized and proceeds steadily. It is usually literally impossible for a single nation, race, etc, to actually lose knowledge. Dramatically less advanced factions generally lose in wars. Modestly less advanced factions may conquer more advanced ones, but in some cases (i.e., Civilization) might catch up through the act of conquest itself.

Real Life
  • Condorcet believed that this was how history operated.
  • The Whig Interpretation of History, by Herbert Butterfield, is the Trope Namer, although Butterfield was an analyst and critic of this approach to history rather than a proponent.
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