World Order 2021
watched from the window of the large, electric-powered tram as it
approached the North New Richmond Education Complex and coasted
to a stop in front of the middle school. He grasped his transparent
tote bag containing a box of text-disks, notepad and daily planner,
and rose from his seat. Momentarily his eyes went to the surveillance
cam that hung from the ceiling between the driverís seat and the
open exit. Another, he briefly recalled, hung from the ceiling thirty
rows back, surveying the inside of the tram from the far end. He
filed out of the tram with his classmates to the sound of a soft
female voice that repeated exit slowly, watch your step, exit
slowly, watch your step, exit slowlyÖ.
a frigid breeze sliced into his cheeks. His breath sent puffs of
white mist aloft that quickly dispersed against the slate-gray sky.
He shivered and drew his coat tightly around him. This winter was
going to be bad. Just like last winter. Thirty degrees, the womin
on WBS Newsí Global Net Weather had reported this morning.
And it was only November. Sheíd made a point to add that North America
had had four straight cold winters because World Environmental Agency
scientists had finally reversed global warming. Their computer models
said so. According to his history facilitator last year, when the
Union formed it ended the last resistance to Kyoto and Smart Growth
by environmentally insensitive Americans more concerned with their
big cars and whatever right they believed they had to do as they
pleased regardless of the cost to the planet.
tram pulled away behind him. Other trams approached different parts
of the Complex. One bore his younger brother Bobby toward the elementary
school where he would head for his fifth grade home room. Another
would transport the bigger kids and a few adults to the North New
Richmond High School and Lifelong Education Center, both housed
in the larger oblong construction visible across the cordoned-off
open space beyond the middle school. Jason joined the line of students
making its way, snakelike, toward the public middle schoolís main
entrance. Heavy coats and jackets stayed closed; hands, lodged in
pockets; stocking caps on heads. Atop the entrance, indifferent
to the cold, another cam watched silently.
main entrance was taken up by the security area. Students crowded
their way inside until one of the security womyn said, "Single
file, please!" Once in the building they started through security.
Each studentís bag went onto a moving conveyor belt. Each student,
identicards in hand, allowed coat to be unzipped and padded down
by waiting security personnel with ADS insignia on their lapels.
ADS stood for Atlantic District Security. Finally, Jasonís turn
came. He opened his coat and submitted to the search, watching what
was going on ahead. Further on, each studentís irises
would be scanned. The student would swipe his or her identicard
through the computerized reader. The scanner would open its gate,
admit the student, then close behind with a chikk that had
always struck Jason as vaguely ominous somehow. Then, after the
scan, it would greet the student. Jason got in line, watched mechanically
as the students went through the scanner one at a time. Finally
his turn came. He swiped his identicard. The machine beeped and
flashed READY in green letters. He positioned his face. There was
nothing to see or feel, just a barely-audible click, followed
by the familiar tinny female voice: Recognized Jason Sandborn,
ID NR22938423949FT698OP, North New Richmond Middle School, Atlantic
District. Good morning, Jason.
gate slid open. He was thinking; therefore he existed, and was who
he said he was: Jason Sandborn, age 13, of New Richmond, the Smart
City that had been built up over the torn-down old Richmond that
had once been the capitol of a state called Virginia but was now
part of the Atlantic District, North American Union, Pan-Americana.
Jason retrieved his bag from the belt and momentarily took in the
scene. More cams were poised here and there, canvassing the main
intersection just ahead and gazing down halls. A bulletin board
on one wall proclaimed, Our Smart Community, with a brightly
colored illustrative map below the words. Another, to the left,
displayed: Great Leaders of the Past: Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow
Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, William Jefferson Clinton and
Hillary Rodham-Clinton, George H.W. and George W. Bush.
paused near the main intersection of corridors. Classrooms lined
both sides of the corridor that went left and right, leading around
in a large circle. Down the main hall toward the center of the building
were Administration and Surveillance; Tech Support; Business Partners;
the Goals 2025 office; Health, Family Planning and Counseling (Health,
for short); the Multi-Ethnic Affairs; and so on. A stairwell led
down to the gym and exercise area one floor below. Some students
continued down the main hall toward Health to get their daily medications,
sometimes for hyperactivity, sometimes for other things. They would
return, having been alive and vibrant this morning, to sit in class
quietly. Jason silently thanked goddess that no one had ever mandated
he take anything. That was because he kept a lot of his thoughts
to himself. Always had. He was the naturally quiet sort, at least
most of the time.
turned left and entered the lavatory two doors down, automatically
going to the far stall. The cam inside, above the doorway, made
him nervous. Surely an eighth grader should be able to go to the
bathroom without someone in surveillance possibly seeing. Maybe
not. The purpose, heíd learned years ago, was to prevent kids from
smoking tobacco or doing or dealing in unauthorized medications
in these places. Grandpa had told him that often happened when heíd
been a kid. Jason finished, washed and left after giving the cam
a final furtive glance.
in homeroom were arranged in a large semicircle. Everyone could
see everyone else. Still another cam surveyed the scene from the
far left corner, like every other room in the school, and in every
room in the District, and in every room in all other Districts.
Each desk sported a monitor-screen mounted atop a keyboard. Minicomputers
hung from the right side of each desk. Jason took his assigned seat
at the back of the room, booted up his computer. The familiar Netsoft
Smart Windows Ď20 Student Deluxe Edition logo came up. He checked
both wordmail and vidmail. Nothing in either mailbox. A Latino-American
girlwomin named Juanita appeared at the next desk over to the right,
flashed him a quick smile that was little more than momentary recognition.
When Cortessia, the tall African-American girlwomin on the opposite
side appeared, Juanita immediately lost interest in him. The two
of them pawed each other constantly back here, sometimes kissing
and sometimes going further. The homeroom facilitator, Ms. Stark,
had seen them. They did this in all the classes they shared, and
were hardly the only same-sex couple at North New Richmond Middle
School. These displays of affection were supposed to be against
school rules. But no one dared say anything that might offend anyone
exploring her sexuality which was a natural thing, after all. Especially
not a Euro-American boy! All partnerships were to be affirmed and
celebrated equally; that was the rule. Obedience was also the rule.
Students who obeyed, got promoted and might work at good jobs someday.
Facilitators who obeyed got raises and might get into administration
someday. So Juanita and Cortessia paid more attention to each other
than to anything Ms. Stark said, much less whatever was on their
tried not to watch as the two hugged and then kissed deeply. "Took
you long enough," Juanita said.
stopped working and they had to call a technician. Took her ten
minutes to get it working again."
breakdowns were not uncommon. But nobody could come in without being
scanned. That, too, was the rule. Jason momentarily visualized the
students still standing out in the cold while security waited for
one of the resident technicians to fix the iris scanner. Evidently
heíd gotten through just in time.
my repírations credits last night," Cortessia announced, and
then lowered her voice. "Beerís on me Friday. Tell Martina
and them evírybodyís invited. Itís girlwomynís fetish party time!
Wear your best and then get undressed! No boys allowed!"
closed his eyes; then abruptly opened them again lest someone see
and think him insensitive. He swallowed and took a breath. The volume
level seemed to have gone up. Other students were entering, chattering,
some filing into their seats and some moving around to be with their
friends. He heard casual cursing from someone across the room. Cursing
was supposed to be against the rules, too. But calling a student
down for it invited a confrontation, and confrontational facilitators
werenít promoted especially if the studentís guardian sat
on one of the governing boards. More students came in, found seats.
Jason observed that there was a larger concentration of boys in
the back. A few, Jason noticed, seemed to stagger a little. Others
seemed unusually fidgety. These boysí medication, he recalled, was
to keep them awake, not calm them down. For whatever reason, they
tended to want to sleep too much. Boys had always outnumbered girlwomyn
at least five to one among the medicated kids, for some reason nobody
seemed to know. Jason felt uncomfortable watching them.
was almost eight. Ms. Stark came in, a pale, diminutive womin in
her late 30s who like most of the facilitators at North New Richmond
rarely smiled. She booted up the main computer and inserted the
diskette sheíd been carrying. A bell sounded, and the room quieted
some. A wominís voice intoned over the intercom: "Please stand
for the reading of the Pledge." Everyone rose, even the kids
struggling with their hyperactivity medication. They turned as a
group toward the blue and white flag hanging near the window and
began reciting from memory, along with the voice from down in Administration:
pledge allegiance to the flag
the United Nations of Pan-Americana
to the Global Union, for which it stands
Equality, Democracy, and Justice for all.
who lived with Mom and Dad because he couldnít work, had told Jason
just recently that the Pledge used to be different, but before long
nobody would remember the forbidden original words. At one time,
too, according to his history facilitator last year there had been
no United Nations of Pan-Americana. Just the United States of America.
But there had been the heroic United Nations, barely surviving as
it worked to create the world of today while former nation states
threatened each other with weapons of mass destruction.
find your seats, everyone," came the facilitatorís voice. Students
assumed their seats, assigned to as to achieve the maximum mixture
of cultures and ethnic groups represented at North New Richmond
although same-sex couples and groups were usually not split
up (fortunately these often spanned more than one culture or ethnic
group). Ms. Stark began calling the role. A general murmur continued
in the class; after a while it became hard to hear the names, and
Ms. Stark finally had to call for quiet, with only limited success.
She continued with the roll, coming to Jasonís name and then continuing
beyond. Four students were absent, all of them boys. Their names
would be placed in the database and cross-referenced with the list
of those whose guardians or adult companions had called them in
sick. Their names had better show up on that list. Truancy was a
serious offense! Not global. Not global at all.
ended with a few announcements that did not really register. Another
bell rang. A few students filed out and a few others filed in. Jason
had his first class in this room, so he stayed; so did his two girlwomyn
neighbors. After a moment, Ms. Stark was replaced by Ms. Winnie,
the eighth grade math facilitator. Ms. Winnie was a short, stumpy
African-American womin, her hair done up in dreads that hung loosely
around her shoulders and down her back, with multicolored beads
throughout. "Today," Ms. Winnie finally began, "weíre
going to begin the chapter on your math diskette on fractions."
Jason reached into his bag for the diskette with his math text on
it. Putting all texts on computer disks had begun about the time
he was born, he reflected. Disks were easier to carry around, and
easier to monitor since they were coded to respond to security scans
a certain way. Plus, electronic texts could be revised every year
if necessary by the District Education Board to reflect a rapidly
changing world. Regular books, because they were so cumbersome and
couldnít be so easily changed, were obsolete. Grandpa had a pile
of them, but none of his classmates did.
called up the main menu on the disk and found the chapter on fractions.
When it appeared, he paused. He knew all this stuff, had for years.
Grandpa again. He pictured Grandpa: tall and still well muscled
from his days of working out down in the gym in town (heíd stopped
last year because of "too much arthritis in my hips and lower
back"). He was 64 but still walked everywhere, something that
was easy since no one in New Richmond drove personal vehicles anymore.
No one needed them except police, emergency personnel and government
officials although large corporations had exemptions so they
could transport goods. They were expensive, meaning that only corporations
partnered with government could afford them. If anyone else needed
to go further than a few blocks she took a tram. And while the corporate-government
partners used large vehicles to transport goods, most people never
traveled beyond the confines of their smart cities anymore. There
was little reason to, since most everything one needed was now in
easy walking or bicycling distance. Obtaining permission to travel
was possible, but it was a long, drawn-out procedure.
hadnít been the same since Grandma had passed on in '19. Before,
heíd held his tongue; now, he spoke without seeming to care who
might be listening in, his eyes bearing sadness and steadfastness
at the same time. Jason knew that other people sometimes stared
at Grandpa like their neighbor one unit over, for example.
Her name was Laura Cotton, a fairly young womin with thick black
hair who lived with her daughter Jasonís little brotherís age. No
one had her figured out. She kept to herself; but then again, so
did the Sandborns. Grandpa had once said that neighbors knew each
other when heíd been a kid. Not any more. For all the talk about
Ďsmart communitiesí there were no real communities any more, he
said. Laura Cotton had made it clear she wanted nothing to do with
her neighbors. Bobby had come in crying once because the two had
been playing and she had sent him home, not wanting her boy to play
with her little girlwomin. Especially since he was a grandson of
someone with a reputation for arguing about politics. Jason wondered
if Laura Cotton was spying on Grandpa. Some people kept track of
who criticized the government and Grandpa let it be known
to all that would listen that he had been a vocal critic of the
Union when it formed, and all that led up to it. But Grandpa was
smart maybe the smartest man Jason had ever known. Smarter
and more interesting to listen to than any of his facilitators.
Smarter than even his parents guardians, he corrected
himself. (Better to have guardians than the adult companions
a few of his classmates had, especially the ones on medication to
keep them awake.) Jason recalled how he, Grandpa, his guardians
and two brothers would play games around the kitchen table at suppertime
when he was younger. Knowledge games. Everything from math problems
to geography questions to quizzes on who could come up with the
name of a historical figure first, based on a description of what
the person had done or accomplished. Grandpa had different things
to say about them than his history facilitator had. His history
went back further, too, and contained a few different personalities.
Jason had screwed up his forehead as he puzzled how the past could
be changed simply by changing the wording in a book. Once, long
ago, heíd even asked a facilitator and been told that those old
personalities had been taken out of the texts because they were
evil exploiters who had fouled the land, butchered the Native Americans
who had lived here first, owned slaves, sometimes beating them,
sometimes raping them and having children by them! Thomas Jefferson,
one of those old and forbidden names, had had children by an African-American
Winnieís voice, jarring him from his reveries: "Log on with
your groups as we all construct fractions," said Ms. Winnie.
was then. Jason took a breath and tried to concentrate on the here
and now. He watched the guide to fractions appear on the large computer
screen in the front of the classroom. His thoughts quickly returned
to Grandpa, who also once told him that fractions used to be taught
long before the eighth grade. But times had changed. The International
Standards Curriculum was practical. It facilitated computer skills,
fostered multitasking and teamwork, helped bring about sensitivity
to ethnic and gender differences and differences of sexual orientation
as well as adult-child love, and recognized recent achievements
regarding the environment. These things all helped children one
day become gainfully employed human resources in the global workforce.
team consisted of the two girlwomyn and one other boy whose name
he didnít know. He heard Ms. Winnie say, "If we have reclaimed
400 of every 500 acres as part of a protected wilderness area, letís
construct the fraction that reflects this and how great we should
feel about recovering this land."
heard himself respond, almost absently, "Itís four fifths."
Winnie said, "Four fifths what, Jason?" Her eyes
bespoke a mixture of irritation and bemusement at the audacity of
this little Euro-American boy.
first Jason frowned, then realized what she was after. "Four
fifths of the land," he said.
I ask something?" Jason continued almost involuntarily.
The tone in her voice suggested impatience.
is wrong with saying just four fifths?"
wonít have said four fifths what," Ms. Winnie returned even
more impatiently. "Numbers donít float around out in space
somewhere, Jason. Theyíre constructed to count things. In this case,
acres. If our subject was people, it would be four fifths of a population.
Or if we were counting computers, four fifths of those. And so on."
wouldnít the number be what all those cases had in common?"
thatís meaningless. You still have to say what things youíre talking
about, otherwise you wonít be making sense and no one will understand
what youíre saying. Now can we get back on track here?" Mere
irritation was veering towards anger.
let his eyes drop, along with the matter. He thought he understood
it perfectly but let the matter drop lest he end up one of the medicated
kids. There were cases when asking too many questions in class was
diagnosed as a rare species of hyperactivity, after all. Facilitators
were not trained to grasp concepts, much less teach them to others.
Ms. Winnie went on to draw some diagrams on the overhead projector
to illustrate fractions further. She was using marked lengths to
measure parts of circles by laying them against portions of the
circumference, identifying one third of a circle, and so on. This,
Jason realized, followed the District Board lesson plan, conformed
to International Standards, approved by the World Education Association.
few students were paying attention, some seeming amused at something.
A few were looking out the window from across the room. Some just
stared into space. His male team-mate was dozing. He heard giggling
from his right. Juanita and Cortessia were pawing each other playfully.
Whatever assignments were made later, he would end up doing the
bulk of the work and the team would get the group grade. There were
a few other whispered conversations, always random sounds here and
there. Jason gave up concentrating and tuned out the rest of the
class. Whenever the assignment came, heíd figure it out anyway.
This was the last math class anyway for students in his career cluster,
webcast design and development. His thoughts went back to what Grandpa
had said during supper the other night. The conversation had stayed
in his mind, which replayed it like a NetVideo.
evening was a typical one in the Sandborn walk-up. Jasonís mom had
come home from her public administration position in the North Atlantic
District Department of Diversity at around 5 p.m., right around
the time it started getting dark. She would grouse about having
to cook; what did you boys think this was, the twentieth
century when womyn were second-class citizens? His dad would come
in around 7 p.m. from his clerical job in the city media center
computer facility. He would stand in their third-floor window, look
down at the quiet streets and say nothing. Below, an occasional
tram would go by. Almost no one was to be seen either bicycling
or on foot. New Richmond was a different place after dark. It wasnít
safe outside the electrified fences surrounding the high rises,
and everybody knew it. The gangs, after all, dealing in tobacco
or other unauthorized substances. Nobody talked about them. The
authorities tried to control them as best they could.
had turkey and dressing for supper. Jason was grateful his parents,
uh, guardians, hadnít become vegetarians. He liked meat
although not veal, which was fairly disgusting. Most people didnít
eat meat anymore, with the new regulations protecting the rights
of animals. Another thing nobody talked about. None of this was
what made that evening the one heíd always remember. Bobby had said
global! Jason didnít remember what had prompted him to say
it. But that had started the ball rolling.
saying that!" Grandpa had snapped at the boy.
daughter had said, "All it means is what your generation used
to call cool."
donít like that piece of slang, Angela!" Grandpa retorted.
"Itís just another part of our corrupted language. Like all
these references to Ďgirlwomyn.í Stupid, thatís what it is! When
I was Jasonís or even Tom Jr.ís age, they were just girls. Even
then, though, the language was being changed by methods of intimidation."
not a kid anymore, and itís a different world now."
go to the head of the class!"
you guys not argue," his dad said with the characteristic waver
in his voice, as if he expected to be slapped for his boldness,
and when nothing happened, he went on, "Letís just have a pleasant
supper. Besides, you never know who might hear, with these cheap-plaster
whatever," retorted Angela. "A good warning from the authorities
might do him some good."
said nothing. High rise walk-ups such as theirs werenít particularly
expensive places to live and it showed. Sometimes Jason could hear
Laura Cottonís NetVideo through the dining room wall. He could also
sometimes hear a baby crying in the bedroom above his the
gay couple up there had adopted the baby last summer and would be
its adult guardians. If he could hear these things, that meant others
could probably hear what went on in here. Private residences didnít
have cams poised everywhere. They were practically the only places
left (there were cams at either ends of the hall outside).
Sandborns had eaten mostly in silence, with the WBS News
webcast coming from their NetVideo screen across the dining room.
The blond anchorperson had been talking about a series of power
outages in the New England and Potomac Districts, outages blamed
on cold weather in combination with a shortage of technicians. It
was only the latest in a spate of outages that had begun three years
ago and worsened with each winter. The womin turned to the latest
victories against the Jihadist terror groups overseas. Jason wanted
to know if anyone had heard about Tom Jr., his older brother. Normally
Tom Jr. sent wordmails and sometimes even vidmails (the former,
Grandpa said, were once called email) from overseas where
Operation Global Democracy continued as it had for almost
twenty years now. But not recently. That probably meant something
was wrong. His guardians were stressed about it. Both had been trying
to obtain information, but such things were usually available on
a need-to-know basis and they didnít need to know. They had been
transferred from branch to branch of the Global Information Administration
overseeing war personnel.
hadnít seen his brother in over two years. Tom Jr. had lettered
in football but not been particularly adept at data entry or design
in VDHTML or sales or any of the clerical jobs District Employment
really needed to fill, so heíd been drafted into the war. Jason
was working as hard as he could to make sure he wasnít headed for
the same fate when he graduated from New Richmond High, Class of
í26. Only the success of his group would get him a good job and
allow him to avoid that fate. A few of last yearís graduating senior
groups had been allowed to attend college so they could work in
the really important jobs in public administration or war administration.
Many who had done extremely well as business partners moved into
paying jobs with those businesses (mostly womyn, a voice
in the back of his head whispered, mostly womyn). Many of
the rest had been sent overseas into International Service of one
sort or another to fight the Jihadist terrorists (mostly boys,
came the voice again, mostly boys). The Jihadists not only
were not in the Union but fought the Union. They were dangerous,
deadly butchers who terrorized womyn and tortured children, or so
it was said. They were tyrants rather than democrats. They had many
agents in secret cells here, or so the reporters on WBS News
assured everyone. That was why security was so tight, information
had to be gathered on everyone, and everyone had to be watched so
closely. It was necessary, because we were at war. And the only
way to end the war would be to establish Global Democracy.
Tom Jr. had been gone since Summer of í19 over two long years.
Heíd left right after Grandmaís doctors had helped her pass on.
Now, for the past six months, utter silence. No one wanted to think
about the possibilities.
womin broadcaster on WBS News was saying, "Today our
forces for liberation and Global Democracy struck in retaliation
for last weekís series of terror bombings and scored a decisive
victory against the Jihadists in New Teheran. They "
asked, his hand on the keyboard, "Anybody mind if I switch
off the World Broadcasting System Propaganda Machine?" Nobody
said anything, so he brought up the shut down menu, and off went
the NetVideo. Jason certainly hadnít been paying it any attention.
Silence enveloped the room. They ate for a while; then Grandpa threw
down his fork. "This is the height of idiocy! Iíve no idea
where my own grandson is!" he blurted out.
of us does, either," Angela stated the obvious without raising
his eyes. Her husband seemed not to have heard. Tom Sr. took a long
swallow of iced tea. Both of them would continue on, being good
citizens and allowing the governmental machinery all around them
to do its work, and hopefully bring them some news in the near future.
voice again, after a moment: "Things didnít used to be like
that, Angela pursed her lips. Another of her fatherís soliloquies
was coming. Jason suspected from their demeanor that they knew
or at least quietly believed that Grandpa was right far more
often than he was wrong. But they were so grateful to have jobs
that allowed them both to be home to have supper together that their
eyes and ears were closed to unspoken knowledge of painful truths.
government possibly hiding information from families," Grandpa
was saying. "Hell, the government hides information about
you from you. I donít know everything they have on file about
me in their databases." Heíd glanced at Jason and then at Bobby,
whose eyes were on his grandfather. "When I was in school,
boys and girls didnít have their eyes scanned by machines
while mounted cameras watched their every move, and they didnít
pass their tote bags through metal detectors except in the worst
schools in what was then called the inner cities. And we didnít
have identicards." He spat out this last word with contempt.
asked, "So how did they keep track of everybody?"
didnít," returned Grandpa. "Your daily doings werenít
considered government business. When I was a kid, and even as a
young working adult, the government didnít record everybodyís credit
purchases, everybodyís bank statements, everybodyís GIN activity.
Companies sometimes kept track of your purchases for marketing purposes,
but nobody forced you to do business with them. Back then the government
had records of your income, your driving, things like that. At least
they were in different agencies, not consolidated in one huge database.
Now they have everything cross-referenced, and everything monitored.
And with regular cash gone, you must have a standard-issue identicard
to enroll in school, get a job, open a bank account, buy groceries,
get medical treatment, or have any other dealings with the government,
where they always know how many credits are in your account. We
have an education system where Jason does basic arithmetic in the
eighth grade. Also, back then what we called the Internet and what
we called television were completely separate, making the Internet
an independent medium where people could communicate or put information
on websites without an information license."
asked Jason. How the Global Information Network the GIN,
everybody now called it came about, was something that had
long interested him.
did all this come about?" Bobby asked.
we all heard many times?" returned his mother sarcastically.
havenít heard it many times," answered Bobby.
was grateful for his little brotherís support. The two traded quick
and knowing glances. His little brother was no slouch. Jason knew
what heíd been told in history of technology class last year, which
was that combining the old Internet with other communications media
was both more efficient and afforded better surveillance over all
communications that helped smoke out potential terrorists. But he
knew Grandpa would have an interesting perspective. It fascinated
him that his grandfatherís perspective would be so different. According
to his facilitators, consolidation of all these media under central
control by the government had been a savior. Without it North Americans
would be at the mercy of Jihadist terrorism such as had been wrought
in New York City, San Diego and St. Louis, not to mention the ecoterrorism
long practiced by private corporations and people who drove big
cars. According to Grandpa, though, government had taken away the
liberties of the people without protecting anyone from real terrorism,
which was why shootings, snipings and occasional bombings such as
San Francisco three years ago continued to happen. Which was why
people in New Richmond did not go out much after dark, even with
cams watching everywhere. The perps, he observed, were always from
overseas or from outside what had once been these then-sovereign
United States. But again, no one was supposed to say that. Those
from outside had, after all, been cruelly exploited by the then-wealthy
United States, and only under long-term Union supervision of redistribution
programs were they beginning to catch up. What Jason had been told
is that our worldís main goal had to be the establishment of Global
Democracy. The defeat of the Jihadists would usher in a period of
unparalleled prosperity for everyone everywhere. Or so the broadcasters
on WBS News promised.
want to know when things changed?" began the old man. "Really,
things started to go bad for the old Republic before I was even
said Bobby, frowning.
original government, under a written Constitution."
the Union Charter?"
laughed, a sound conveying no amusement. "No. Not like the
Union Charter. That thing empowers government. Our original Constitution
limited government. It stood above government. It was understood
back then that government couldnít be allowed to set its own limits,
or it would have no limits."
donít understand," complained Bobby. "How can something
stand above government?"
said, "We were told in history class that authority comes from
peopleís rights, and that rights are granted by governments."
sighed. "This is a long story. It goes back to rights being
granted by God and not coming from government or from some
written document at all."
still donít understand," came Bobbyís voice again. Jason watched
his face. The fifth grader really was puzzled.
really started getting into trouble around the time I was growing
up. Maybe somebody will have the time and resources to put it all
together someday. But the first really major event was the collapse
of the old Soviet Union, where the Russian District and part of
the old European Union is now. Communism in the old sense was dying
rapidly. But the real cold war was just starting. That was the war
over whether the United States of America was going to stay a sovereign
nation with a government that protected the rights of its native-born
citizens, or whether it was going to give up its sovereignty little
by little, and through trade agreements, treaties, mass immigration,
entangling alliances, and so on, get on the fast track toward what
we have now. During the early 1990s, under the first Bush and first
Clinton presidencies, we got on that fast track. They didnít start
it, of course, far from it, but George Bush the First and Bill Clinton
were the first presidents with fully globalist agendas. Even your
texts admit as much. The first waged a war in the Middle East that
came to be known as the Gulf War. With the involvement of the old
United Nations, this set us on course toward the destabilizing of
the region that led eventually to the Middle Eastern District we
have now although itís not a District in the sense of the
Atlantic District, since most of the people living there donít recognize
Pan-American authority. Thatís what these wars are really all about,
after all. But anyway, the second of those two presidents I named,
Bill Clinton, signed off on the treaty known as NAFTA that helped
destroy our original job base and set us on course toward merging
economies all over the Western hemisphere. Result: the elites got
richer and more powerful. Most everyone else was soon struggling.
We were told things like, ĎExpect to change careers four or five
more times in your life.í Nobody asked us; we sure didnít take a
vote on it.
there was nine-eleven, as everybody soon called it. Thatís
because it happened on September 11 in 2001, during the second George
Bushís presidency and almost seven years before you were born, Jason.
It was a horrible day, that much is true. A group of early Jihadists
flew planes into the two tallest buildings in the country, called
the World Trade Center. The planes were filled with fuel that ignited
on impact, destroyed the buildings and killed over 3,000 innocent
people. It was the worst such attack on U.S. soil. The place Iíd
been working, normally bustling with activity, was completely silent
except for televisions there were at least two more planned
attacks. One dove into the Pentagon and another that was thwarted
over Pennsylvania before it could crash into the White House. No
one was sure the attacks were over. That started the war against
the Jihadists, as we call them now. Jihad was their term,
not ours. This was convenient. Our leaders of the time described
Islam as a Ďreligion of peace.í So it became crucial that this be
not a Christianity-versus-Islam thing but a Democracy-versus-Jihad
thing. America attacked one of their supposed strongholds, then
called Afghanistan, a little over a month later. The attack brought
down the government there, but didnít stop the Jihadists.
was a saying back then that nine-eleven changed everything.
Well, it didnít change everything, but it changed a lot of things,
most of them right here and a part of that real cold war
I mentioned, the one only a few of us noticed. Before nine-eleven,
people actively resisted identicards back then we called
them national ID cards. Before nine-eleven people basically
resented intrusions by the state into their privacy, and even launched
Internet campaigns against things like Know Your Customer
that was a program the banks were involved in back in the rough-and-tumble
days of cash and check transactions, when credit was still just
optional. After nine-eleven most people were so scared there
would be more terrorism that they turned to government en masse
and were even relieved when it gave itself one new set of powers
right after another, starting with the airlines. Even before then
there were those of us who warned about the rapid erosion of basic
liberties in the United States liberties supposed to be protected
by the old Republicís Constitution." He shook his head. "A
few people listened, but not enough."
history facilitator last year said the Constitution was superceded
by the Charter because it was outdated," said Jason, to observe
old man shook his head. "I know the official line. Everybodyís
been trained to say that and even believe it. But the Constitution
wasnít outdated, it just wasnít followed. It was inconvenient. It
was hard to change. It was a real thorn in the side of those who
wanted power. But its principles were valid. Those principles of
God-given rights for individuals that limit government helped build
this country, at least for the first few generations. Naked power
grabs by government were rejected as unconstitutional back in the
early 1800s. That really ended long ago, but until the last couple
of decades most politicians at least paid the idea lip service.
Now weíve scrapped the idea that government should be limited
an idea that took centuries to develop. Nobody even understands
it anymore. And weíre paying the price! Boy, are we paying the price!"
if government is limited," Angela asked, "can it really
do the things it needs to do? Things like ensure our safety from
the Jihadists that might be here, not to mention seeing to it that
people have adequate places to live and adequate health care."
had bristled. He had never approved of his daughterís choice of
occupations, but hadnít been able to do anything about it. The offer
sheíd been made had been too good for her to pass up, particularly
since her husband had been living from hand to mouth when theyíd
gotten married. Still would be, without the credits she was bringing
in with her job in the district diversity department. "Thatís
just the problem!" he said. "Even before nine-eleven,
half the country believed that only government could do certain
things regulate industry, help the environment, deliver the
mail, run the schools, manage health care, feed the poor, ensure
workforce diversity, create an offense-free world, protect us
all from the bad guys real or imaginary, you name it. Very soon,
those people who lived off government outnumbered those who didnít.
They simply outvoted us. Thereís your democracy. Back around
the turn of the millennium I ran across a saying, ĎDemocracy is
two wolves and a lamb taking a vote on what to have for dinner.í
If you were against government control of education, the vote-empowered
politicians, their bureaucratic followers and media shills would
say you were against education! If you believed employers should
be able to hire who they wanted instead of according to a government-approved
ratio, you were a bigot! If you wanted freedom from police surveillance,
you must be on the side of the terrorists!"
then who would do all those things?" Angela demanded.
we used to call " he involuntarily lowered his voice,
as if the phrase was obscene " free enterprise.
The free market. People interacting freely, based on their best
observations of what others in their community need or want and
supplying it, not simply doing what they are told and working according
to job quotas and making dutiful reports to the authorities like
a bunch of sheep. For a long time, you see, people were allowed
to find their own way in the world, not be shepherded into the jobs
corporate-state bureaucrats wanted to fill. There were more interesting
and better paying jobs then, too. Not just sitting in front of computer
terminals all day long and entering data."
like it was pretty chaotic, though," said Bobby.
thereís more chaos now than there was back then." Grandpa looked
at Tom Jr. and Angela. "It is really too bad that home schooling
became illegal after so much progress. Iíd undertake the task with
these two guys in a heartbeat."
Jasonís mom said. "A lot of those home schooled folks are in
prison now. Others simply disappeared, along with their guardians.
Nobody knows what happened to them."
like to know," said Tom, in a low voice.
said her father. "You probably wouldnít. And itís sad. Those
were the only people left who understood the founding principles
of these United States, knew that we all answer to a Higher Power,
saw what government had become and what a lot of corporations were
becoming. Those people had become the biggest threat the globalists
faced. Most hadnít even rebelled openly. They just wanted to be
left alone, including worshipping God as they saw fit not
this goddess we sometimes hear about and if that included
condemning all these same-sex marriages and adoptions and eventually
the adult-child love relationships that came out of the closet right
before Jason was born, then so be it. There were folks who said
that our society was in decline even before the new millennium started.
I suppose it was, but back then we could have turned things around.
After all, there were smaller political parties, a handful of independence
movements, and a few educational institutions and even colleges
that were surviving outside the grip of federal control."
happened?" Jason asked.
took a deep breath. "For starters, the different groups couldnít
get along with one another. Some were regional, such as the Southerners
or Southrons, as they called themselves. They believed the
time had come to leave the United States itself secede,
they called it. It had been tried once before. Others despised the
Southerners as much as they did the central government and wouldnít
work with them. Some were evangelical Christians; others were atheists.
Those two usually ended up struggling with one another and basically
canceled each other out. The private institutes never had the resources
they really needed. Most of the public chose to spend money on football,
on those big, fancy automobiles that would be illegal in a few years
anyway, on every electronic gadget you can imagine, usually on credit,
and didnít even know these independence movements existed since
they got all their news from TV. So the independence movements fell
by the wayside. They ran out of money and they ran out of time.
Their best idea was to consolidate
their numbers by moving to a single place, such as what was
then called South Carolina, or maybe Idaho thatís now part
of the North Pacific District. Or maybe New Hampshire, up in New
England. A few libertarians had the idea of eventually accumulating
enough numbers to get control of the legislature in one state and
show what freedom could do. Elections back then worked on numbers
alone of those who voted. One way or another, we could have
forced the globalists to deal with us. Even if they simply sent
in troops, theyíd be showing their true colors. But we couldnít
do that much. The best thing would have been to lock ourselves inside
a convention hall somewhere and stay there until we agreed on a
strategy that would have us standing up to the federal empire decisively,
so that Rome on the Potomac as this one slightly eccentric
writer back then kept calling it would have to either let
us go or show its true colors by putting us all in concentration
camps or mass murdering us like it did those people in Waco, Texas
about a decade before."
came Bobbyís voice again.
part of the Aztlan District now," said Jason.
turned back to Grandpa. "But wouldnít your trying to leave
the old United States also overthrow its sovereignty?"
manís eyes widened. "Good question, Jason. You really do have
a sharp mind. The answer is that national sovereignty is an important
value but not the highest value. The highest value is the individualís
God-given right to liberty: to own his own life and the fruits of
his labor, and to trade those fruits with others peacefully. Government
doesnít create these rights. Government exists to encode them in
law and protect them, and to punish lawbreakers those who
flaunt these rights. And when it stops protecting them and starts
becoming the biggest lawbreaker of all, it is time to get rid of
it and create a new government or, some argued back then
get out from under its sway. If you canít change it and you
canít get rid of it, you organize and leave secede, like
the Southrons wanted to do. The peopleís rights as individuals to
organize and secede was the most important check on the unlimited,
unconstitutional growth of government power and that was
wiped out long before I was born, even before my grandparents were
born. The point is, government was to answer to the people, and
corporations were to answer to the marketplace. Both were to answer
to universal, God-given moral principles.
eventually this whole argument became moot. The schools were teaching
all this fuzzy relativism, and if you mentioned God-given moral
principles you got either strange looks or were ridiculed as a religious
fanatic. U.S. sovereignty, though, was being eroded from the globalist
direction. We needed to do something, and we didnít. At least, not
enough. The controlled media got wind of us, and we were hung out
to dry as dangerous anarchists and nut jobs. That was that. Weíd
established homes, so to speak, in cyberspace, but as government
snoops began to appear everywhere and started tracking our activity
on the Internet, that became more and more difficult. Then, shortly
after you were born, the Global Information Administration merged
the Internet itself with television and telecommunications generally,
and the GIN was created the Global Information Network, which
most people now just call the Global Net. That wiped out the independent
websites because all of a sudden the volumes of regulations that
had applied to radio and television all along also applied to all
electronic media including ours, and we answered to a huge bureaucracy
instead of our editors and readers. Plus most of the old Web-writing
languages and programs were useless with the new technology that
was introduced. Today itís almost impossible to be an independent
unless youíre independently wealthy and even then itís dangerous.
For most of us well, jobs were hard to come by, and if you
were associated with one of those anarchist groups Ö You wouldnít
get hired at all, and had no way to earn a living."
old man stopped. Jason said, "Thatís it? Go along or starve?"
pretty major," said his mother quietly. "You donít work,
you donít eat. You donít comply, you donít work. Thatís what was
drilled into us. The age of welfare is over, or so they said."
they made your generation more dependent than mine was," Grandpa
told her. "The globalists, that is, who destroyed the sovereignty
of the United States, combining it with Mexico and Canada first
into the North American Union after the Free Trade Area of the Americas
was created in 2005. Then that was merged, a little at a time, with
the struggling European Union, and then there was of course these
ongoing wars in the Middle East, and finally we got this Pan-American
leviathan we have now. Economically weíd been treading water. Europe
was on its way to the next Dark Age." He laughed humorlessly.
"Now weíre both on our way to the next Dark Age, and itís practically
illegal to say so. When President Hillary Rodham-Clinton signed
the 8,000-page Global Information and Security Act of 2009, it pulled
in a slew of things the government hadnít been able to pull off,
such as hate crimes and information crimes legislation, reparations
for slavery, a total ban on private gun ownership, and ending private
educational activities by people who didnít have federally-approved
credentials. That ended home schooling. It was hard to criticize
the government without being charged with an information crime after
that bill became law, and kids being taught by their parents were
simply truants if their parents werenít licensed by the new World
Education Association and following their new International Standards.
The kids were put in foster care when their parents were arrested.
A lot of Christians had simply assumed that if they got their kids
out of public schools theyíd be fine. Oh, brother!" He shook
his head sadly. "There were special forums for legal dissent,
and mountains of red tape designed to discourage people from dissenting.
Suddenly we independents were operating in a legal no-manís land.
Free speech was in the Union Charter, but there were so many strings
on it that they might as well not have bothered. This is what put
the Southerners out of business by the way. Their Confederate flag,
for example, was illegal from the day that bill went into effect,
even on private property, because anything considered racist by
offended groups was criminalized. There was resistance. There were
people put in jail because they had it on their cars, or front lawns,
or flying atop their businesses. There were even a few shootouts
between various small groups and internationalized police, but it
was too late! A lot of Southerners and any number of others were
prosecuted and imprisoned for weapons violations and hate crimes!
It became impossible for an ordinary joe like me to own a gun since
I wasnít a cop or some other government official."
paused, took a deep breath before continuing. "Somehow I got
ahead of myself," he began again. "The real turning point
was earlier. It was sometime in between nine-eleven and the
end of 2003."
asked, "What happened during that period?"
after nine-eleven Congress passed and President George W.
Bush signed what was called the Patriot
Act. The following year he signed a huge bill called the Homeland
Security Act. Late fall of that year, right before the first
winter storms hit. It brought about the largest reorganization the
federal government had seen in the whole previous half-century.
Most of Congress hadnít read either bill, had no idea what was in
them. Most of the public didnít know or care about domestic spying
programs such as Total Information
Awareness, run by a Dr. John Frankenstein Poindexter whose amoral
antics almost ruined a presidency twenty years before. Then, in
2003, came the bill we all called Patriot II its official
name was the Domestic
Security Enhancement Act. That bill opened the floodgates to
the all the surveillance offices we have today, the compulsive record-keeping,
the governmentís ability to track every citizen in the name of fighting
terrorists who the government kept warning could strike any day.
The real war here was against the U.S. citizen, not the Jihadists."
Grandpa gave another humorless laugh. "Why would al Qaeda
that was supposedly the major Jihadist network back then
waste time trying to destroy us? We were doing a pretty good
number on ourselves! Many people warned how dangerous it was to
believe that the central government could protect everybody if only
we gave it more power. There were warnings
about turning driver's licenses into national ID cards. There were
about Homeland Security: its employee databases, medical
databases, databases that kept track of your every credit card purchase,
every magazine you read, every airplane and hotel reservation you
made, every time you saw a doctor, every site you visited on the
Internet all this added to the employee records, driving
records, insurance records, tax records, medical records and other
stuff the government already had. Some of that stuff got dropped
from Homeland Security, thanks to the Internet. But things like
Total Information Awareness didnít go away. They just got real quiet.
And even after the Domestic Security Enhancement Act became law,
nothing dramatic seemed to be happening. There were no overt power
grabs. Tanks didnít come rolling down the streets. A few people
griped about tightened security in airports, but most everybody
relaxed. They went back to sports, Survivor, and whatnot.
global elites had learned, you see. Theyíd learned long before that
if you want power, evolution by stealth always works better than
revolution by violence. Sudden, abrupt changes in governance donít
work. Iíve heard it called the boiling
frog syndrome. Put a frog in hot water, and heíll jump out.
Put him in cool water, turn up the heat little by little, and heíll
stay in his comfort zone and eventually boil to death. So those
who wanted power moved a little at a time, turned up the heat a
little at a time, while their lapdogs and shills in the media kept
as many people as possible distracted with sports, celebrities and
the latest gadgets. Only a few of us noticed what was happening
to our freedoms, as when our driver's licenses werenít just driver's
licenses anymore. The elites had learned another lesson, too: that
you donít have to own what you can control, usually by controlling
resources and information. So corporations kept their identities.
The global elites, working through the old UN, had had a plan for
over ten years already to control the worldís resources; they called
21 for the 21st century, I presume. Corporations
they subsidized with what some called corporate welfare. Everybody
loved this because they said it created jobs. And it did
the kinds of global-workforce jobs the elites wanted, and at the
expense of whatever would have happened in a free market. This was
how corporate America gave up its autonomy through the deadliest
of all snares, the ongoing subsidy. Other weapons of control
were environmental regulations and racial and homosexual extortion.
Even wealthy CEOs went along with these or faced vilification in
the mass media. They instituted their sensitivity training sessions.
It all happened, little by little. Every overt move the government
made was rationalized with: this helps us find and fight the terrorists
as well as turns out a workforce better prepared for the racially,
sexually and behaviorally diverse global economy of the future.
The masses welcomed it. Just so long as they had jobs, were entertained,
and felt safe. Those who protested, got fired. There were a few
examples made in the early 2000s. But it didnít take too much longer.
Now weíre cooking in that boiling pot."
Jason pondered. "Was anybody safer?"
tell me. People began spying first on strangers, reporting conversations
they thought were suspicious to the police. This went on even though
the Homeland Security bill repudiated it supposedly. It was
one public step back and two very private steps forward. Business
as usual. The surveillance began through Total Information Awareness,
controversial though that was. The assembling of records on everyone
began, quietly, quietly. Most were worthless, of course, and just
took up disk space on government computers at taxpayer expense,
but if government bureaucrats wanted to destroy someone or some
company, they could do it. Since I had politics that were more and
more banned, I sure didnít feel safe! I had a substantial electronic
paper trail through email and Internet posts, and it eventually
caught up with me. Thatís why I have to live here not that
I donít want to be around you and your brother and your mom and
dad, but you know what I mean. It would be nice to be able to work,
but Iíve got too much arthritis anyway.
the last step was creating the GIN system. Our old Internet merged
with television and cable, already controlled by media conglomerates
that might as well have become branches of the central government.
The elites saw those of us who published on the Internet as a threat,
just like the home schoolers. By the 2004 election there were as
many people reading us as were reading the controlled print media.
But again, there were no overt power grabs that might set off peopleís
alarm bells. Just stories dropped here and there about Ďhate sitesí
on the Internet. There were the pornography sites, which Ďeverybody
agreedí needed to be banned, and that meant controls over the Internet.
There was spam, which again, Ďeverybody agreedí was a nuisance and
had to be stopped: more controls. One thing led to another. One
step at a time. The major media first ignored and then scorned sites
set up by well-educated people who criticized official policy from
well-informed perspectives like the Austrian one. But they couldnít
stop us from publishing or people from reading. But then, presto,
the technology changed. The GIN made early HTML and programs using
it obsolete, and a webmasterís skills were suddenly as useful as
those of wagon wheel manufacturers. The new VDHTML Virtual
Dynamic Hypertext Mark-up Language allowed you to design
webcasts instead of websites, importing live videoclips, news-feeds,
and do a lot of other things you couldnít use HTML to do. Youíve
seen the results. They not only behave like short television programs
but allow for more direct interaction with viewers. People liked
it because it seemed to put more information at their fingertips.
Point your remote to the designated place on your NetVideo screen,
and you could download all kinds of information. There were public
assistance programs to retrain the webmasters in VDHTML forcing
them to get a certificate to go on working in the industry. That
meant having the right attitudes, and not just about the new technology.
So the old Internet was taken down and todayís GIN and NetVideo
replaced it. There were subsidies for old Internet Service Providers
to Ďhelp them through the transitioní by offering sweetheart deals
to customers. They either accepted this arrangement or they couldnít
compete with those who did, and didnít survive. Most people were
easily controlled because the economy stayed horrible for that whole
decade and people were scared to death of losing their jobs. The
unwritten rule was " he glanced at Jasonís father "
play by the new rules, or starve."
recalled reading about old HTML webmasters flamboyant outlaws
on the early electronic frontier before it came under the jurisdiction
of the Global Information Administrationís Electronic Media Division.
Heíd heard them described as hackers and anarchists and worse. "Did
all the webmasters cooperate?" he asked.
Some whoíd worked for independent outfits couldnít get certified
but tried to keep their sites up anyway, for those who still had
the old equipment. But they were eventually arrested easier
than catching someone driving without a license and their
sites were taken down. They werenít compatible with the new technology
anyway. You couldnít use it to access them. A lot of information
simply disappeared like it went down a black hole. The Global Information
Administration the result of that Global Information and
Security Act finally had what those in charge of it wanted:
total control over the production and distribution of information
in the Western world, except for a handful of rebels who went back
to print media and started copying leaflets sometimes by
hand! Knowledge was indeed power. Then the United States basically
ceased to exist. Weíre not distinct states anymore but Districts:
the Southern District, our Atlantic District, the Washington District,
the New England District, the Aztlan District out west, and so on."
said Angela, "things arenít quite as bad as you portray them.
You should be thankful Tom and I both have stable jobs. There are
people who donít."
who do we blame for that?" Grandpa demanded. "The people
out of work? Their careers were destroyed! Good jobs were going
overseas and south to what used to be Mexico before any of this
stuff started. And remember, you guys are paying over 60 percent
of your incomes into taxes: the New Richmond city tax, the Atlantic
District tax, the North American tax and the Tobin
Global tax. No wonder you both need to work almost twelve hours
a day. When I was a kid my father worked and my mother stayed home
to raise my sister and me. Thatís what a stable family unit was
in those days."
hate the government," said Angela. "But youíve got to
admit, itís taken care of us alright. Thereís a saying, Donít bite
the hand that is feeding you."
Grandpa retorted sarcastically, "itís keeping you from feeding
okay " Jason held up his hands. "Letís not fight."
The others, even his little brother, looked at him. Jason swallowed
nervously and looked at his father. He sometimes had to remind himself
that this wasnít school, that he could tell Grandpa what he really
thought, that he could tell his parents uh, guardians
most of the time. "Thereís a lot I donít know,"
he said, "but I do know I donít like this sense of being watched
even when I pee." He looked at his grandfather. "But what
are you suggesting that we do?"
gave another of his humorless laughs. "Build a time machine!
Go back in time to around 2001 or 2002 or even 2003, it wasnít too
late. Go back and knock some sense into those third-party people
and independence movements, tell them to stop fighting amongst themselves
and get organized. Tell them to stop wasting time trying to get
elected on national third party tickets and focus on education for
taking back their country, and to start raising the money it would
take. Knock some sense into the rest of the knuckleheads that kept
voting for Republicrats and Demopublicans. Tell them to teach their
children how to be self-employed and how to gain financial independence
the same time theyíre teaching the principles that the original
United States was founded on. They gave those up almost without
a fight because they werenít paying attention and didnít
sense the danger. Tell them to knock some sense into the people
more interested in football and Reality TV. Make them wake up!
Some of those people even believed as the independents did and had
the money to support them. But they spent their money on frivolous
stuff. That was their choice. But choices always have consequences.
no such thing as time travel," said Jasonís father with an
uncomfortable smile. It seemed to Jason a pointless remark, a statement
of the obvious, something to fill the air with words and prevent
the awkward silence that would doubtless ensue. "Thatís silly,"
he went on. "Nobody today could build a machine like that even
if it could exist."
little brother, who had kept listening intently, grimaced and said
quietly, "Yeah. They can barely keep the eye scanner thingy
going at my school."
had a problem at New Richmond Middle this morning, too," recalled
Jason. "I remember one of the other students mentioning it."
breaking down," observed Tom, eyes on his plate. "We have
constant problems with system crashes down at the media center."
shrugged. "Same in my office. Thereís not enough skilled technicians."
said, "Maybe all we have to do is wait."
nodded. "Our technological society originally got built because
there was freedom and because people had real educations that imparted
real thinking skills. Now all three are gone, and the technologyís
going to start to fall apart before too much longer. Thatís whatís
behind all these blackouts theyíve been having up north. Not just
a shortage of qualified technicians but the fact that people are
being herded like cattle into occupations theyíre not suited for,
and nobody understands how it all works anymore. Half the schoolsí
graduates canít read the directions on a piece of equipment, much
less diagnose a problem with it.
havenít mentioned the international debt, in the tens of trillions.
Today almost nobody understands whatís wrong with centralization,
that in the long run it doesnít work. As long as the bureaucrats
keep trying to make it work, weíre not just living on borrowed credit,
weíre living on borrowed time."
looked at his daughter and son-in-law. "One reason you havenít
heard about my eldest grandchild probably isnít malice. Those in
charge over there really donít really know where he is or how to
reach him, with all the equipment breakdowns and communications
failures. But I have heard a few rumors. Some of those leaflets
I mentioned. Most folks made fun of those. But when people want
to get information distributed bad enough, they can usually figure
out a way to do it. And what Iíve been hearing is that the WBS people
are simply lying and the war overseas is not going well at all.
The Jihadists have not only been holding their own but attacking
and overwhelming parts of what was the European Union. They had
a lot of their people Muslims, that is already living
there because of years of mass immigration. Those people all became
part of the European Union and then the Pan-American Union. But
they never took loyalty oaths." He shook his head. "Here,
either. What became the Aztlan District was formed by Latinos in
what was the American Southwest who thought
they were going to reunite with Mexico, and the kind folks who
built the North American Union gained their support and used their
votes. Then the globalists doublecrossed them. They just used that
movement to weaken U.S. sovereignty, then pulled Aztlan in with
the rest while letting them go on using that name almost
like slapping their faces, letting them know theyíd been used. Now
there are Latinos seething with resentment out there, and I donít
blame them. Thereís going to be a bloody war for independence one
of these days. I might live to see it. I know you will. Not to mention
this futile perpetual war on the other side of the world, a place
we had no business being anyway. This Pan-American leviathan is
going to fall apart. Empires always do. They always have. Itís a
law of nature. No government built on violence, theft, and lies
has ever lasted. This one wonít either." He looked at Jason.
"Thatís your answer. Since we canít go back in time and knock
some sense into those knuckleheads twenty years ago, weíre just
going to have to ride this out "
rest of the school day went by much like any other. There had been
two fights, with four students sent to Health for counseling where
they would doubtless also be prescribed the appropriate medication.
There were the usual dull lectures delivered to tired-looking students
by listless facilitators practically reading from Board-approved
texts via computer disk. The business-partner classes seemed a little
better; the tasks were moderately engaging. Sometimes Jason invented
little games played silently with himself, competing only with himself
to see how long it took him to accomplish certain tasks. Heíd always
tested high in computer and design skills on his International Standards
Tests, and so that was the career path his counselors had steered
him down. Working out the code would be more challenging if he didnít
always have to stop and explain it to others in his group, though;
worse, Juanita and Cortessia continued to show more interest in
each other than anything he said or the project itself. He fell
down on people skills and even more on videophone skills in his
role-playing sessions because sometimes he grew impatient. "Smile!"
his facilitator Ms. Cruz, told him. "Relax! Be more interested,
more patient with others!" And: "Be sensitive to the needs
of your group-members. Remember, their grade is your grade."
He said he would try. These were his only soft spots, even if in
the end he usually carried his group. His work became their work.
He was sure that in just a few weeks heíd probably be able to visit
a few corporations in New Richmondís downtown office parks and begin
working on his job skills down there, maybe with team-members that
werenít strung out on medication or putting their hands inside each
othersí clothing. Next year for sure, when he entered high school.
Then his present team members would have to find someone else to
carry their load. It would be their problem and not his. Until then
he would do what he had to, to impress his elders enough to get
out of here and maybe avoid being sent overseas to fight in the
perpetual war Grandpa was sure the Union was ultimately going to
lose, bankrupting itself in the process.
only thing: Grandpaís version of history was fascinating. He wanted
to explore it further. He liked history. The subject would not be
part of his official curriculum anymore, though. Heíd learned all
the history his counselors believed he needed to know to be a useful
member of the global workforce someday.
the end of the day, Jason boarded the same tram heíd come in on.
It ran out of the downtown district, past the open space areas and
finally came up alongside the various high rises where nearly everyone
now lived. It made the usual stops to allow students to get off,
finally arriving at the one where he and his parents and brother
and Grandpa lived, their porch overlooking this very avenue. His
was one on the final high rises on the tramís route before New Richmondís
urban boundary, which was evident from the thirty-foot-high wall.
Beyond the urban boundary was the
designated wildlands or wilderness area where humans were now forbidden
by international law to live.
tram passed through the gate surrounding his high rise, the electrified
fence extending in both directions, and stopped in front of his
high rise. He was frowning even before he was outside. There were
three police vans parked in front, their lights whirling. Police
were striding here and there talking into wristphones. The tram
his brother was on pulled in just as his departed. The sliding doors
opened and a few younger kids got off, Bobby among them. "Whatís
going on?" asked Bobby as he came up.
see if I can find out," Jason said. He made his way around
the grassy area which was also forbidden, to the sidewalk, and up
toward the ground floor entrance past the sign that read NEW
RICHMOND TOWERS because affordable living is your right!
Jason stopped when his grandfather emerged in the walkway, his
hands behind him, two policewomyn on either side, three more behind.
His face was drawn and haggard; at the moment he looked considerably
older than his sixty-four years. His parents both apparently
called away from work followed close behind. His father was
pale, and his mother was wide-eyed. At least their hands were free.
Jason came up. "Whatís this all about?" he demanded.
arresting Grandpa!" exclaimed little Bobby. He began to cry.
parents guardians looked at each other. His
father stared at his wife, with her more powerful job, as if to
say, Do something! She stared back, looking helpless, her
head turning from side to side. Finally she said, "He was warned.
We told him."
going to be okay," Grandpa said. "Theyíre just going to
going to do more than that!" Angela snapped.
in the light, Jason could see it: a trickle of blood near Grandpaís
hairline. One of the policewomyn had probably struck him, possibly
to subdue him. Jason studied his parents guardians,
confound it! Two defeated people, doing nothing! He tried to grab
one of the policewomyn by the arm. She pulled away from him. One
of the policewomyn following held up her hand, a gestured warning
that he be cooperative like his parents. "Why are you arresting
him?" he demanded.
my grandpa alone!" Bobby cried. He tried to strike at one of
the policewomyn escorting Grandpa out to the main walk.
womin turned and gave the little boy a shove. He sprawled to the
pavement and lay their crying.
dashed up, her face white. "Was that necessary?"
policewomin glowered back. "Shut up! Or youíre next!"
jaw dropped open. Tom went to his wifeís side and took her arm.
She shook it off almost indifferently. Jason helped his sobbing
brother to his feet.
crimes, ladies and gentlemen!" intoned Grandpa, obviously
emphasizing the archaic phrase deliberately. "The criminalizing
of the spread of truthful information did this!"
talk about it down at the station," said the policewomin whose
arm Jason had touched. "F****** sexist!" growled the one
who had shoved Bobby. They continued Grandpa on his way to the nearest
of the waiting vans. Their efforts were assertive without becoming
openly violent, but only because Grandpa was not resisting openly.
looked around, and said, to no one in particular: "So how did
they find out?" And then it dawned on him. He backed up, looked
up the side of the building. To a certain window, three floors up.
The walk-up next to theirs.
neighbor. Laura Cotton. Jason could see her from here, standing
behind her window, watching. He remembered what Grandpa had said
about neighbors spying on neighbors. And what his mother had said
about how easy it was to hear through these cheap-plaster walls.
Jason pointed up at her and shouted even though sure she couldnít
hear him, "You did this, didnít you?!"
of the other policewomyn said ominously, "You had better
control your children, Mrs. and Mr. Sandborn!"
came his motherís voice again. "Calm down!" Several of
the policewomyn were now focused on him as much as they had been
on his grandfather.
Cotton had retreated into the shadows up there. Her curtain abruptly
closed. Jason turned and looked back and Grandpa, who was now outside
the fence and behind the largest of the vans. Its rear slid open.
Jason felt his fatherís hand on his shoulder. He broke free and
ran down the grassy embankment, his little brother following.
not run on the grass!" ordered one of the policewomyn.
government property, kids!" said one of the others.
ignored them both. There was no green this time of the year, anyway.
Bobby spoke for both of them: "Please let Grandpa go!"
of the policewomyn looked at the two adults. She pointed across
the avenue. "Iíve got that van over there awaiting your two
going to be okay," Grandpa said, interrupting whatever Jasonís
father had been about to say. "Iím an old man. What can they
do to an old man?"
stepladder descended with a metallic whine. "Inside the van,"
directed the policewomin. Jason glanced toward the front of the
van. A man was in the driverís seat. That was because womyn were
in charge here, as they were nearly everywhere. Men drove them around.
Back at the station, men were office clerks and security guards.
cautiously stepped up, wincing as the arthritis that had taken up
residence in his hips protested. Before disappearing inside, Grandpa
turned and looked back. "Jason," he said, "like I
said the other night, you have a sharp mind. Never stop using it!
Never stop thinking!"
Mr. Sandborn!" ordered the policewomin. She turned to Jason
and Bobby. "You two return to your guardians before you get
in trouble! And donít walk across the grass!"
grandfather disappeared. The stepladder ascended once again, and
the rear of the van slid closed. Bobby cried openly. Jason felt
tears welling up in his own eyes as he thought back over the things
Grandpa had been saying the other night it could have been
then or it could have been any of several other occasions. Because
a neighbor, trained to be loyal to everything Grandpa had been attacking,
had overheard and ratted. And now his grandfather would probably
be prosecuted under the very information crime laws heíd struggled
welled up inside him, rose up his sternum in a column like a pent-up
animal about to break out. People accused of information crimes
sometimes never made it to a trial phase.
they simply disappeared.
yet, there wasnít a thing he or anyone could do about it! As the
policewomyn clambered into their vans, he considered banging on
the side of one of them. He wanted to do something, anything.
getting himself thrown into that other van wouldnít accomplish anything
beyond further upsetting his parents. (Guardians! his mind
screamed, in accordance with his eight years of training in school.
we canít go back in time and knock some sense into those knuckleheads
twenty years ago, weíre just going to have to ride this out.
felt torn. There was much he didnít understand. But this wasnít
right! It couldnít be! He thought about the world around
him: a world of perpetual surveillance, of technology designed for
control, of neighbors who spied on neighbors, a world where speech
was limited to officially approved topics, where people lived like
sardines in high rises and travel was limited to officially approved
areas, where education was limited to an officially approved curriculum,
where kids like him were steered towards careers when they were
in the eighth grade and always away from dangerous subjects like
history a world where those who didnít comply well enough
or measure up well enough were sent overseas to fight a perpetual
war where they disappeared into thin air.
violent world inside urban boundaries that looked tranquil by day
but allowed gangs to come out at night and traffic in unauthorized
goods and substances. Because, as Grandpa would explain, even the
most powerful of governments couldnít suppress some peopleís natural
demand for the items and otherís natural ability to meet that demand.
The illegality drove up the price along with the level of danger.
The womyn who ran New Richmond couldnít begin to control it. Although
the local segments on WBS News always implied that the city government
was instituting new programs to deal with the gangs. The mayor herself
had appeared just last week and said they were finally bringing
the gang problem under control.
it would still be a world where kids couldnít come inside a school
without being searched, IDíd and iris-scanned. A world of
massive taxation, massive inflation, massive redistribution of wealth,
massive dependency a world whose technology was starting
to break down.
would still be a world that existed with this diffuse, almost unsensed
undercurrent of anger an anger that erupted in the form of
the occasional fight surprisingly, sometimes with weapons
since even though firearms had been illegal for years now people
still obtained them from the gangs or other underground sources
if they wanted them badly enough. But this was only certain people.
For many of the rest Jason saw it embodied in his facilitators,
the administrators, the school nurses and counselors, and many of
his fellow students there was this settled listlessness and
boredom. Motions with nothing behind them. The mental lifelessness
of the lifelong dependent who had accepted that she would be controlled
for life, but would collect nice pensions and benefits. With boys
it was worse. Boys were less than zero, which was why so many were
on medication. And the authorities wondered why there were technological
breakdowns and power outages, and why the gangs were uncontrollable.
again: centralization doesnít work! Not in the long run. Nor
does any sort of political favoritism such as the feminist one steeped
in hatred of men. These "womyn" have become as masculine
and controlling as what they despised.
coming Dark Age, Grandpa had several times said.
voice again: weíre just going to have to ride this out.
only people twenty years ago had done something to prevent this.
If only theyíd wanted more out of life than a nice job and a steady
stream of entertainment. If only theyíd paid more attention to what
their leaders were doing and said in one loud voice, No.
If only they had started thinking as individuals instead of as group
members. If only they hadnít been so obsessed with feeling safe.
If only they had asked more questions, such as why legislation supposed
to ferret out terrorists was being used to legalize and rationalize
spying on them, and subjecting them to the humiliating searches
that were only the start.
then, also in his mind, he heard his fatherís quiet voice, a faint
cry of hope: maybe all we have to do is waitÖ
Yates [send him mail]
is an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A professional
writer and editor with a PhD in philosophy, he is the author of
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(San Francisco: ICS Press, 1994). His latest book manuscript, In
Defense of Logic,
is undergoing revisions. He works out of Columbia, South Carolina.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com