"I believe Sociocracy is the grandest theory ever presented, and I am sure it will someday rule the world.
Then men will be content to work for the general welfare and share their riches with their neighbors."
- former industrialist, philanthropist, and NAC Premier Andrew Carnegie
1 January 1885
As the five o'clock whistle cried high and shrill, Joshua Mouller wiped the sweat from his brow, sighing heavily as he stepped back from the crate he had just set down. Arching his spine to dig his knuckles into the small of his back, he turned to take the long walk to the clock-out station, briefly chatting with the next man coming on the line, his neighbor Jacob. It had been a long day, though he had only worked a half shift after classes, even five hours as a dock worker in one of the largest and busiest ports in the world would leave anyone exhausted. The money was good though, and he certainly was learning more here than he ever did in the public school system. He couldn't wait until his birthday next month when wouldn't have to attend school at all; then he could really start making his fortune at the pier. Of course then again
, Joshua mused to himself, once I turn sixteen I might not stay at the docks
Mouller followed the mass of workers, shuffling in herd mentality out of the port's storage facilities and repair shops and off of the company grounds. Not all of them were lowly workers. Here and there Mouller could see a petty bourgeoisie, and even a patriciate from a distance, heading for the landing pads to fly above the city's hustle-and-bustle in their private autos (1
); though of course in the latter's case they were almost always new money. You'd never see a patriciate from the revolution at the New York docks. While most of his fellow workers would make their way home via the public systems, either underground or in the sky, Mouller was one of the few who owned a personal motor vehicle. Of course then again Mouller didn't live in New York City proper, he lived on Long Island, more approximately in Modernopolis, which took a long time to commute, even when using the East River bridge, or the newer Long Island Sound tunnel (2
). Once again, the money was very good for an industrious, experienced, dockworker in one of the world's busiest harbors. It also didn't hurt that Mouller's father had served in the Navy during the revolution, retiring after the Tripartite War to work in the docks before moving to Medernopolis. Suffice it to say that he had a lot of pull with the Harbor Guild, and was largely why Joshua had a job well outside of his home town.
Mouller soon was out of the harbor district, walking to the public park where he had left his own vehicle parked. It'd be damn nice if the Port Authority would allow us to build a dedicated garage for parking our velos & wagons in
. Joshua knew that wasn't likely though, the management and the ownership had had a twelve-year running brawl extending back into his father's time at the docks over building the landing pad for the autos; nobody in the guild was going to be likely to take up the cause again for a less popular form of transportation. Joshua smiled though just a few minutes later as he came around the corner and beheld his pride and joy.
Two shining steel wheels held up a black-blue chassis the color of the sea on a cloudy night. Joshua ran his hands over the handles and down the steering column, admiring the craftsmanship that had gone into his vehicle. It had taken him nearly six months, but he had finally saved up enough for his very own FR-87 Scout
. She was a modern marvel, her 750 cc air-cooled side-valve two-stroke twin rotary engines could push the velo to a top speed of nearly two hundred and fifty kilometers per hour, from naught to 100 km/h in less than ten seconds (3
). Made in the Detroit Motor Combine, the Scout
was in short the fastest production in the world that didn't fly, and Mouller was the one of the few people in the Greater New York area to own one - a fact he was quite proud of.
Straddling his pride & joy, Joshua thumbed the ignition button. He loved the sound of the velo coming to life, the high-pitched whine of the primary electric motor followed seconds later by the tenor roar of the secondary petrol engine. Reaching into his side-pack near the back wheel, Mouller pulled out his leather coif and bourgundian sallet. He knew several other velo-enthusiasts who didn't wear a helm of any type, not even the coif, and Mouller himself hadn't until last year when his neighbor had tried going out for a ride after having a few smokes at the local bar without one. The man's wife still wore black, though the widow's year was up; she swore she always would for the last of her days. It was a sobering thought, which was why Mouller was startled out of his reminiscing by a voice behind him and the feel of a stranger's hand on his shoulder.
"Perdón, but is that a Scout
The voice and hand belonged to the same man, a rather portly looking fellow, well-tanned, what some might call brown even. Clothed in overalls of the local style yet made too-handsomely, covering a well-to-do button-up shirt, the gold buttons reflecting the evening's fading light in sharp contrast to the dull gleam of the plain copper fasteners of the courser material. Below a well groomed if extravagant mustache was a wide, smiling face, revealing some of the cleanest ivory-white teeth Mouller had ever seen. Wonderful
, Joshua thought as he returned the smile, shaking the man's hand as friendly as he could be; tourists
His fears were soon realized when his new acquaintance, who revealed his name to be Diego García, a 'financial adviser director' by trade, whatever that might be, introduced his small family - his wife, Sofía, a rather put-out looking housewife who might have been a real looker in her youth, but right now was merely more than somewhat ruffled and apparently bored, and his son, Alejandro, a youth not that much younger than Mouller himself, who looked about with barely concealed wonder at the strange city, and was obviously ready to bolt at any moment from his parent's watchful eye. Diego explained that they were on on vacation from Veracruz, though of course he was quick to state that he worked in México City himself, on one last family outing before young Alejandro took his Grand Tour the following summer. Diego rambled on in this way for some time, revealing, in what Mouller quickly understood to be his native characteristic, an overly friendly, casual, and yet energetic approach to life. He talked of his life, his business, his hometown, his marriage, and perhaps most frankly of all his wife, going into such intimate details that Joshua's face was quickly turning the same shade of crimson as the setting sun, and though he continually expected it Diego's wife never rebuked him for his overtly-casual airs with such a complete stranger about their most intimate memories. Indeed she was now dusting off the top of a nearby large crate before perching upon the edge of the case, her sultry dark skin and even darker eyes revealing some of the beauty that Mouller had missed on his first estimation as the evening turned to night and the electric and gas lamps of the city flicker to life around them. Indeed Mouller soon found himself all-but openly staring, his thoughts drifting to tales told by his older comrades who had joined the services after a round of the pipe of Latin beauties found south of the old border..
Thankfully Mouller was pulled away from these thoughts as the conversation shifted yet again, this time to velocipedes (4
). "Oh yes, you know, I've always wanted a Scout
." Diego declared, smiling broadly as he ran his hand along the smooth sweep of the rear fender. "But of course, you know, the tariff blockade..." With a sigh the middle-aged man stepped back to enjoy the view of the velo once again, obviously happy but not exactly content to merely have touched the FR-87. Mouller briefly tightened his grip on his sallet before relaxing, smiling brightly, never more proud of his purchase than now. "You sound like you ride yourself."
"Oh yes," Diego happily stated, settling down beside his wife now, though still appreciatively gazing at the Scout
, practically leaning off the crate to be that many more centimeters closer to the velo. "My father bought me my first Johnson
was I was younger than Alejandro, and now I own two Heinz-Pierce
's, as well as an Excelsior
?" Joshua asked excitedly, wheeling his own velo around now to properly face his new compatriot.
"The very one. I believe the Scout
only beat her time at the Indianapolis ring by less than naught-point-one, correct?" Diego asked with a knowing smile, showing to any third party that might have happened upon the discussion that he was well aware of the truth of his statement and was only hoping to draw Mouller further into the conversation. Joshua though, was too young, too inexperienced, and above all too excited now to be talking with a foreigner, let alone one who knew something about his favorite past time to notice, or perhaps even to care. The conversation continued on this way for quite some time, until Mouller finally had to let his idling Scout
rest before he drain his charge, or potentially worse, burn through his small ten liter tank of petrol.
Soon Joshua became aware of the lateness of the hour, and the fact that his ma' would be worrying about him if he didn't return soon double-quick, and what his father might say about him staying out so late on a school day talking with a Mexican tourist about velos. Mouller's father was a hard man, and he might even force Joshua to leave his after-school job in order to 'focus on his studies.' Mouller hated school work, and dreaded the thought of going through another two years of schooling, or worse yet - being forced to attend university when he turned eighteen. Diego was now rambling on about a Norton C♭
, an Anglo-Germanic model that Joshua knew nothing about, though his own patriotic senses told him that it couldn't be faster than the Scout
. Thirty-five break horsepower simply couldn't be possible on something with merely a single 450cc petrol engine, that would be almost double the power of Mouller's own vehicle but with half the weight! Choosing not to comment upon this absolutely implausible fable, Mouller waited for a pause in the conversation to finally excuse himself.
"Well it's been nice talking with ya'll, but I..."
"Perdón yet again, but I must ask, for I sincerely doubt such an opportunity will ever present itself before me again; how much for such a wonderful vehicle?"
Although it was an egregious request, Joshua couldn't help but laugh as the stuffy old Mexican pulled a wad of bills from his pocket, offering them to Mouller, exclaiming about the 'hundreds' he would hand over for the Scout
"Somebody has played you for a fool, friend." Mouller explained as gently as possible. "I know in other lands paper money is usually considered more than coinage, but here it is not so. Here, let me show you. Those labor notes that you have are worth several times that what you must have exchanged them for at customs."
Mouller could tell that Diego was still lost, and now Mrs. García and Alejandro were looking on as well. Joshua decided to try approach the issue from a different angle.
"Look here, one labbie is worth enough food to feed one man for a single day, from one hour's hard work. So what you have there would be enough to feed you and your family for several months, or to purchase one goodly keepsake to show your friends and co-workers back in Veracruz. Now you have some dollar coins as well? No? Oh, well in that case then you'll have to do some work to earn some more labbies so you can afford your trip, eh? Last time I checked the newspapers labbies were trading ten-to-one against dollar coins at the New York Exchange, your family could put in one day's somewhere and then trade the bills for some hard specie."
Mouller could tell that this news was not met well by the confused and dejected looks upon the García family's faces, though he couldn't blame them. What normal bourgeois from a power like Mexico could have expected to have to work for their keep while on their hard-earned vacation? Thinking quickly Mouller offered a second choice.
"You could always try going to the Mexican Embassy, do you know where it is? Yes, good. Perhaps they will help you, surely you can't be the first travelers from your country to have been so, ah.. confused as you were regarding Yankee currency."
Ending on this amiable note, Mouller once again fired up his pride & joy, giving additional directions to Diego and his family to several important monuments and popular tourist sites within New York City, such as the Stock Exchange, St. Anne's, and the Wall of Revolutionary Martyrs, before finally strapping his sallet on tightly and riding off into the night, hoping to arrive home before his father, though oddly jubilant even with such a dire threat looming over him. Perhaps Pa-pa will believe me when I tell him about Mr. García. After all, he is always telling me I need to learn how to cooperate with others.
) Autoplanes; in this case they are essentially small gyrocopters used for personal transport, though larger quad- and even hex-rotor designs are used for transportation, industrial, and military applications.
) IOTL's Brentwood, New York, a relatively small city with a population of just over 50,000 souls. Originally founded as Modern Times
, an anarchist, utopian, commune by Josiah Warren to promote his mutualist theories; Modern Times continued to grow & thrive until the 1870s, when inflation from the US Civil War, and immigration to the city by those who didn't share the same socialist libertarian philosophy, and often who were new immigrants to the country in general, eventually led to its dissolution. The town was only reformed as Brentwood in 1907 as a home for the Ross Health Resort by one Dr. William Ross, who believed that the smell of pine needles and fresh air was medically effective at combating various lung diseases, especially for those who lived in industrialized cities.
ITTL Modern Times
remains an isolated community, steadily growing in size even after the War Between the States, though it does still drop its original, quite unwieldy, name.
Josiah Warren founded Modern Times
, and its sister commune of Utopia
, Ohio, as a way to promote his philosophy, which was in many ways a merger of the best of Robert Owen's Cooperativism and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's Mutualism. IOTL Warren's own work, on individual liberty at least, was highly influential, not only in anarchist & socialist circles, but even in liberal thought. John Stuart Mill explicitly took up the principle of the sovereignty of the individual from Warren. In economic matters however Warren is considered the father of modern anarchism, and his principle of cost the limit of price is considered the corner-stone of contemporary anarchist economic thought. 'Cost' in this instance refers not to the monetary price paid for an item or service on purchase, but instead to the labor exerted to first produce said item or service. Warren based this principle on his experience owning and managing his Cincinnati Time Store, in which customers would purchas goods with labor notes, which represented a legal contract to perform labor of equivalent value in return for the purchased goods, with a 4% mark-up, and the standard of one hour of labor being pegged to twelve pounds of corn. The store was not only popular, but widely successful, and Warren nearly drove many of his competitors out of business until he unexpectedly closed his shop after three years to expand on his theories by settling Modern Times
. ITTL Warren goes on to field several more communes beyond Modern Times
, and they have more time to mature and grow.
) Yes, the Americas will use metric ITTL.
) If you haven't figured it out yet, 'velocipede' is the ITTL name for motorcycles, from the Latin vēlōx
('swift') and ped