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So, a fiction which was one of my earliest experiences of long-form storytelling, Final Fantasy VII. A main strand of the story is the fight against an organisation named Shin-Ra, who are quite literally draining the life of the planet to create electrical power, but it seems they have a long history of gaining power of all kinds.

Here's a few known facts about Shin-Ra:

  • They appear to be a private company, but taking the role of a government.
  • They control a massive army, as the game starts they have no major enemies, so their soldiers are for law-enforcement/authoritarian rule.
  • They once had a war with the people of Wutai, which they won.
  • They have a global presence, there doesn't seem to be any part of the planet which is not controlled by Shin-Ra.
  • They seem to have a driving ambition to find more power, literally electric power and/or political power.
  • Their increasing production of 'mako' energy is visibly and obviously damaging the planet. (For instance, the area around Midgar and Junon is lifeless rock, no plant life).
  • They spend a lot of the story chasing a 'promised land' where they believe there will be even more mako engergy.

There's no shortage of energy, no more people to conquer and they can see the environmental damage of their actions, which can only harm their own empire.

So what is driving them? Why does Shin-Ra want the promised land? More mako? What do they actually want?

  • Sibling rivalry with He-Man? – Peter Feb 12 '17 at 13:27
  • Why would anyone want to rule the world, eh? – Valorum Feb 12 '17 at 13:30
  • @Valorum they already rule the world. – AJFaraday Feb 12 '17 at 13:31
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    Misread this as She-Ra. Thought to myself "to protect Etheria from the evil forces of Hordak!" – maguirenumber6 Feb 12 '17 at 13:40
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    Avalanche turned out to be a major enemy. – Kyle Kanos Feb 14 '17 at 0:13
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Mako was portrayed as a miracle "do anything" magic energy substance. If I remember correctly, Shinra was not only using Mako as a way of generating power (such as electricity), but they were also using it to power cars (like gasoline; check out the ads inside the Shinra tower building just prior to Cloud escaping from Midgar), to power giant guns, and to create or enhance beasts and people who served in Shinra's army. Shinra was also doing research on other newer and better ways of exploiting Mako.

So Mako in FF7 had a whole multitude of uses, and Shinra wanted to exploit them all for fun, profit, and power for the benefit of its leaders. Shinra was also portrayed as the classic "bad corporation" where the leader/CEO/executives of Shinra were willing to ignore anything other than their own profits/benefits and who could care less about what strip-mining Mako energy from the planet would do.

As far as why Shinra would continue to keep expanding, exploiting, and increasing the strength of it's army, Delinear's comment about active pockets of rebellion (such as Cloud and Party) would be one reason why they would do so. In any one-world-government distopia, leaders will probably fear being overthrown and so can justify additions to their power base.

And there is always the hand-wavy explanation that long term exposure to raw mako energy drove all of the Shinra leaders crazy/evil/power-mad.

  • Good discussion, but I'm not sure it fills the gap. "They're a stereotype evil corporation" is probably why the game's like that, but they've got no competitors, nowhere further to expand. I suppose the question is why they continue, having already succeeded. – AJFaraday Feb 12 '17 at 18:45
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    There do seem to be active pockets of rebellion against them. Likely this is their justification for their continued presence. – delinear Feb 13 '17 at 11:03
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    +1, give that there's a resistance movement that succeeds, it's pretty clear they don't have total control over the whole world. They're willing to Risk it all for World Domination. – DCShannon Feb 17 '17 at 20:54
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There isn't a hard and fast answer to your question given in FF7. We have to try to read between the lines based on the position that Shin-Ra is in at the start of the game and some quotes from President Shinra himself. I've included some excerpts from the game script located here.

As you've pointed out, Shin-Ra already controls most of the world by dominating the supply of readily available energy in the form of Mako (obvious parallels to oil in the real world. In fact the entire game is a critique of powerful governments in the real world exploiting the earth in order to gain power by controlling the sources of easy energy). They're the main economic and political force in the world of FF7.

They have the trust of most of the population (in Midgar at least):

Reeve: "Sir, if you raise the rates, the people will lose confidence..."

President Shinra: "It'll be all right." "The ignorant citizens won't lose confidence, they'll trust Shinra, Inc. even more."

Heidegger : "Ha ha ha!" "After all, we're the ones who saved Sector 7 from AVALANCHE!"

Since they control everything, the only thing they have to fear is losing control. There is really only two main ways of them losing control that are suggested in FF7: Either a group like AVALANCHE sabotages them to the extent that either their leaders are at risk or that people lose trust in them, OR their source of power runs out, basically, they run out of Mako.

They go way overboard to destroy AVALANCHE (dropping one of the Midgar city plates), and they seek the Promised Land due to its extreme amount of Mako. Enough to allow them to maintain their iron grip on society for an undefined long time.

President Shinra: "Even so, it's just too appealing to not to pursue." "It's been said the Promised Land is very fertile." "...If the land is fertile..."

Barret: "Then there's gotta be Mako!"

President Shinra: "Exactly. That is why our money sucking Mako Reactor is a necessity." "The abundant Mako will just come out on its own." "That is where Neo-Midgar will be built. Shinra's new glory..."

Ignoring elements within their organization that have more crazy goals (experimentation into the Cetra for example), their actions in FF7 are all to maintain their dominant position in the world.

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