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In Victoria 2, consciousness represents the ability of your people to think for themselves.
When it comes to increasing consciousness, a literate population and a free press are more likely to circulate ideas, while fulfilling luxury needs allows POPs to focus on a higher calling in politics.
To decrease consciousness, clergymen are the opiate of the masses. But note that they’re also the main educators of your nation. If you’re willing to give the people what they want and spend more money on social reform, then they will be mollified.
For most governments, it’s dangerous to let the people think.
Because then they will begin to demand rights and reforms, and may revolt if you don’t give it to them.
On the other hand, thinking is a key part of research. And nations with free thought will find it easier to be innovative and get ahead in both research and reforms.
You must decide whether to suppress it or embrace it, as you consider the course of your nation’s destiny.
Sources of Consciousness
|Literacy||0.100 × Plurality × Literacy × Literacy Impact on Consciousness*|
|Luxury Needs Fulfilled||0.100 × Luxury Needs Fulfilled **|
|Clergy||-0.025 × %clergy POP in province***|
|Social Spending||-0.01×10% social spending over 50%|
|Liberal Agitation (event modifier in Europe)||0.05|
|Accepted-Culture in Colony||0.0075|
|Infamy||0.001 × Infamy|
|⮑ Social Thought|
|⮑ ⮑ Sociology||0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ Social-psychology||0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ Political science||0.01|
|⮑ Social Alienation|
|⮑ ⮑ The Decline of the West and The Lost Generation||0.05|
|⮑ Ideological Thought|
|⮑ ⮑ Authoritarianism||-0.02|
|⮑ ⮑ Hierarchical Order||0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ Traditionalism||-0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ Mass Advertising||0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ National Radio Networks||0.01|
|⮑ ⮑ The Talkies||0.01|
*Effect halved if accepted-culture in colony, quartered if minority-group, and zeroed if minority group in colony.
** Effect halved if accepted-culture in colony
*** Effect is halved for middle and upper classes
**** Only for non-state religions
***** Only in non-colonial
Pictured above: where you can see the breakdown of what affects consciousness for POPs. Note that sometimes monthly change won’t add up with the individual factors. That just means some numbers are too small so the game has hidden them, but it’s still there.
There is only one consciousness, calculated on a per-POP level.
The number in the population panel is just the national average and has no other effect in game.
How To Raise Consciousness
Generally, there are two things that make up the lion’s share of increased consciousness:
- Luxury Needs
And don’t worry about consciousness in the colonies. The increase in consciousness is halved for accepted cultures and zeroed for natives.
At the start of the game, all but a handful of developed nations start with literacy rates at basically zero.
Increasing literacy is unavoidable, and generally a good thing, as it increases the rate of research to ensure you don’t fall behind technologically.
Your plurality will increase naturally over time, but most Political Thought inventions, which are under the heading of culture, will provide a significant boost to plurality of at least +%5.00 per invention, and can provide up to +80% plurality (maximum plurality is only 100%).
Literacy Impact on Consciousness mostly comes from the Press Freedom political reform, ranging from -25% to +25%.
POPs have limitless wants but limited resources. In the early-mid game, once POPs are materially satisfied, they will pursue things greater than mere survival.
High tariffs and or taxes can help avert the significant increase in consciousness in exchange for the loss of reduction in militancy.
As you research technologies, political inventions tend to dovetail with your government.
Most of the consciousness increasing inventions are locked at the end of the tech tree.
Most events will make you choose between either short-term or long-term instability, in the form of militancy and consciousness, or between a national or state-wide penalty.
They tend to immediately raise or lower consciousness.
The value of such a choice depends on your situation. For example, if you have a state with 6.00 militancy, and the rest of the states are at 0.00, a little extra militancy can push that state over the edge into rebellion.
Some events will give you long-lasting modifiers, which usually only happen for a particular province but can affect the whole nation. For example, conservative European nations must deal with liberal agitation in the 1836 start date.
How To Lower Consciousness
Generally, in Victoria 2 there aren’t going to be any strong ways to counteract the rising tide of consciousness. You should first ensure that all positive sources of consciousness are at a minimum.
Your main sources of lowering consciousness are difficult tools that come with their own caveats.
The opiate of the masses, clergy are a double-edged sword when it comes to consciousness.
While in the early game they tend to decrease consciousness, they will also slowly educate the population, which will eventually increase consciousness.
On the other hand, you could just give POPs what they want.
That means reforms.
Each 10% of social spending over 50% decreases consciousness and militancy.
Each time you pass a reform of any kind, it also immediately decreases militancy, which can prevent an impending rebellion.
Furthermore, social spending goes directly to POPs. Each POP is assumed to be 4 persons, generally, and includes all dependents plus a working aged male.
Pensions and Unemployment can help ensure that poorer POPs, especially in RGOs that suffer from decreased prices on the world market, are still able to purchase life needs and everyday needs, which prevents them from radicalizing.
However, social spending can become quite expensive, especially in large nations with advanced reforms, and certain political parties limiting your taxation will make such spending very difficult to sustain.
Authoritarianism and Traditionalism are the only inventions that decrease consciousness. They have a much greater chance of appearing if you are an autocratic regime.
Very occasionally, especially if you are a great or secondary power, some good events may let you choose to decrease consciousness, although these are quite rare.
A few nations also have one-time decisions to decrease consciousness.
Generally, they’re mostly historical flavor.
Although there is no direct console command, you can call on events to do the same thing.
event 2110 raises all POP consciousness by 1.00
event 22560 lowers it by 1.00
Effects of Consciousness
For governments without elections, consciousness leads to people realizing that they are being oppressed, and consequently increases their militancy – their desire to overthrow your government.
For governments with elections, consciousness provides a mild boost to the public, who are happy knowing that their voices are heard and reduces their militancy.
Even for democracies, consciousness is not always good, because it leads to people voting the way that they want, which won’t necessarily be the way that you as the player deems optimal.
POPs with low consciousness and elections will continue to elect the ruling party, while POPs with high consciousness are more likely to vote in line with their interests.
A population with high consciousness will organize to agitate for reforms, either by the ballot or by the bayonet.
An authoritarian government can play a dangerous balancing act with a conservative ruling party, with high consciousness leading to high militancy in POPs due to reform desire, forcing a nominally conservative house to pass much needed social reforms like healthcare.
Consciousness and Plurality both double POP needs at maximum.
These effects are multiplicative, leading to four times as many goods demanded at maximum.
Plurality is the history of a nation’s political thought.
Consciousness increases plurality, which is one of the factors that increases consciousness.
Plurality also increases research points by 2% per 1% plurality. The effect is additive with other positive modifiers.
Monthly Plurality Gain = Consciousness (National Average) × 2 ÷ 90
This one is rather nebulous, but certain events can only occur or are more likely occur with high consciousness POPs.
The main example is the American Civil War.
This can happen earlier than the historical timeline (as early as 1837), or not at all, depending on POP consciousness and event decisions.