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"Power Without Knowledge...": President Haig and the Era of Bad Feelings

Thanks, I'm glad you've been enjoying it! From the very beginning of my "alternate present election" story idea I wanted it to be in a mirror universe, broadly similar enough to make the divergences more jarring. And in some cases that's worse (the disintegration of South Africa and arguably the survival of the Soviet Union and continuation of the Cold War) but in other ways it's genuinely gotten better, with a broader political climate in the US, a greater awareness of the cost of environmental mismanagement and a black woman elected to the presidency. This last year has been extremely surreal for me because, as previously mentioned, the 2020 election I conceived of in the 2015 setting draft unfolded in the midst of:
  1. A ravaging respiratory pandemic
  2. Nationwide racial justice protests
  3. Clashes between political militias
If I had written it then and there it would have been vastly inferior in terms of setting depth but at least I could console myself with reality infringing on my patents 😂
Yes very similar to our 2020
 
Yes very similar to our 2020
It's profoundly disappointing 😅 but on the other hand I figure if I talk about the origins of that stuff in thread it's grandfathered in. Like I said I'd probably work up to the 2020 election but not actually describe it to keep from spoiling my writing project but I'll probably have more background stuff for the ARC and for Sutter's Heartland novel even when I get the story up to late 2019 or so.
 
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Cool. BTW how's Australia in TTL?
Australia is taking a pretty muscular role in the Asia-Pacific region as China has become more bellicose under an increasingly illiberal oligarchy. Japan's lost decade was closer to two lost decades TTL and they're just starting to claw their way back ca. 2008, so Australia is basically THE major power native to the region active against Chinese adventurism and they're thick as thieves with the US when it comes to regional intelligence sharing and joint military exercises. Domestically the slightly accelerated pace of climate change has led to increasingly severe droughts and motivated the growth of more conventional environmentalist rhetoric in the political sphere, though there is a very small* Regressive scene in the country advocating for more... aggressively targeted policies. Thankfully they're ignored by everyone with any clout besides the security services.

*Vastly smaller than the US and the Middle East. In keeping with my "radical environmentalism is the War on Terror bogeyman" thing (inspired by the large number of thrillers in the late nineties about ecoterror), there's a growing Islamic Regressive presence in Indonesia, with the two groups collaborating pretty well, all things considered.
 
Australia is taking a pretty muscular role in the Asia-Pacific region as China has become more bellicose under an increasingly illiberal oligarchy. Japan's lost decade was closer to two lost decades TTL and they're just starting to claw their way back ca. 2008, so Australia is basically THE major power native to the region active against Chinese adventurism and they're thick as thieves with the US when it comes to regional intelligence sharing and joint military exercises. Domestically the slightly accelerated pace of climate change has led to increasingly severe droughts and motivated the growth of more conventional environmentalist rhetoric in the political sphere, though there is a very small* Regressive scene in the country advocating for more... aggressively targeted policies. Thankfully they're ignored by everyone with any clout besides the security services.

*Vastly smaller than the US and the Middle East. In keeping with my "radical environmentalism is the War on Terror bogeyman" thing (inspired by the large number of thrillers in the late nineties about ecoterror), there's a growing Islamic Regressive presence in Indonesia, with the two groups collaborating pretty well, all things considered.
Awesome to hear in TTL Australia is a major superpower since I am Australian hahaha
 
Awesome to hear in TTL Australia is a major superpower since I am Australian hahaha
The US has had a bit more freedom to pivot to the Pacific since the formation of the Paneuropean Community and its joint military structure has taken some of the pressure off of the US in terms of containing the Soviets in Europe (no matter how apoplectic Buchanan still gets about them). Part of that pivot has been an extremely aggressive and full throated support for allies in the region. I'll try to do an update maybe tomorrow about the various theaters of great power competition TTL in the Powell and Mosely Braun years, since I haven't really dived deep twenty-first century hotspots outside of the Second Levant War.
 
The US has had a bit more freedom to pivot to the Pacific since the formation of the Paneuropean Community and its joint military structure has taken some of the pressure off of the US in terms of containing the Soviets in Europe (no matter how apoplectic Buchanan still gets about them). Part of that pivot has been an extremely aggressive and full throated support for allies in the region. I'll try to do an update maybe tomorrow about the various theaters of great power competition TTL in the Powell and Mosely Braun years, since I haven't really dived deep twenty-first century hotspots outside of the Second Levant War.
Sounds good. I enjoy the world building
 
Writing on the Wall: Factions of the Antarctic Revolution
AntarcticRevolution.png


I know I promised early 2000s worldbuilding but instead have the major factions of the Antarctic Revolution! Clockwise from top left:
  1. Fifth International- An intersectional alliance of the various socialist movements that rose up discretely in the individual Territories
  2. Sons of Liberty- A loose confederation of conservative, centrist and nationalist movements in the Territories
  3. Loyalists- AET bureaucrats, Macondo security forces and collaborators
  4. Common Ground*- The alliance between the underground Cosmicist International and the Church of the Southern Cross
The start of the conflict would look far different from the end result, with the Fifth International and the Sons of Liberty widely seen as the dominant forces in the alliance against Macondo Technologies and its legions of corporate soldiers and collaborators. In contrast, the Cosmicist Common Ground was very much seen as a lesser partner, though this was in part due to a drastic underestimation of their popular support and militant ferocity. As the conflict wound down those Macondo affiliates that had not already fled threw themselves onto the mercy of the Free Antarctic Coalition, with the tense alliance between the Fifth International and the Sons of Liberty a victim of the Coalition's success. The Fifth International naturally favored an internationalist government and the nationalization of Macondo and Antarctic Economic Territory assets on the continent, while the Sons were adamant that they would accept nothing more imposing than a loose coalition made up of the newly independent Territories, with the auctioning off of seized assets to follow. As the two titans of the Coalition squared off to squabble over their spoils, members of the Common Ground were discretely building support among the margins of both factions and with the common citizens still suffering in the wake of the conflict.

A continental referendum was arranged to settle questions raised by the fallout of the Revolution and this discrete coalition building and hidden wellspring of popular support would propel the Cosmicist parties into power, a position reinforced by their ability to acquire the lion's share of the Macondo scientific and administrative personnel. Under the doctrine of vanguard pluralism the resulting government was made a single party confederation of commonwealths and the ARC was born. Each of the member commonwealths is a federation balanced against the smaller cultural regions that evolved naturally as a result of AET-era settlement patterns and barriers to internal migration. These federations exist in a confederal structure of equals that sets broad policy on the continent and supervises ecological rehabilitation, defense, and the space colonization program. Although the ARC is a one party state, the party has broad internal diversity and a fully engaged and enfranchised populace, with dissenters free to run for political office as independents without penalties or reprisals. Most former Fifth International and Sons of Liberty partisans have acclimated well to the Cosmicist political consensus, all things considered, though there are still persistent rumors of rogue factions on the fringes of the ARC political system.

*Aside from the fact that "Popular Front" is seen as a leftist term, and therefore unsuitable for Cosmicism, the term "Common Ground" for diverse Cosmicist alliances also simultaneously emphasizes the ideology's focus on ecology and the short-circuiting of traditional political divides.
 
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Given that Cosmicist vanguard pluralism adds cultural diversity as an axis to the traditional political compass, you could look at the Cosmicist faction quietly building on its already considerable popular support and biding its time while ideological rivals tore each other apart as an example of @Thande's Doctrine of the Last Throw. An alliance of communists and free marketeers could never have lasted long anyway, not least with foreign powers eager to play divide and rule on the continent, and the leaders of the Antarctic section of the Cosmintern were able to wait patiently and win an unassailable victory in the end, becoming the dominant faction in world Cosmicism in the process.
 
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Aftershocks: The Myth of the Cold War
As the Soviet Union began to decline in the 1980s, many academics and political commentators began to talk of the upcoming "end of history", with the collapse of communism and the ultimate triumph of American free market capitalism. Ideology has a powerful blinding effect, and the fervor of these predictions would be matched in a matter of years with the horror of a resurging Soviet state. Neoconservatives would see the failure of communism to collapse as a severe sign that the United States was not doing enough to strangle their rival into extinction. Without constant and sustained pressure on all fronts, they argued, the Cold War would be a continuous conflict between equals and that simply wouldn't do.

Equally blinded by their ideological agendas they were also completely wrong. Twenty years into its restructuring the Union of Soviet States was beginning to show its limits even as the United States began drawing back from Soviet containment to pivot to the new danger of a growing Regressive movement. In many respects the twenty-first century was marked with a return to great power politics of national interest rather than a two-sided ideological affair. As such I've divided this snapshot of the world early in the century into segments.

With the Regressive movement largely suppressed in the US, domestic unrest has been directed primarily against the Moseley Braun administration even as the nation remains involved around the world countering Regressive insurgencies. Canada is caught in a delicate balance on the edge of the US orbit even as indigenous groups are beginning to adopt almost Regressive rhetoric in their protests against the nation's extractive industries. Mexico and Central America have had recurring bouts of violence, a consequence of the booming drug trade.

South America is the most "conventional" in terms of political tensions, with the US and the Soviets supporting friendly regimes there. The Brazilian military dictatorship lasted into the nineties TTL but has liberalized considerably since then, forming the largest economy in South America and the center of opposition to the Bolivarian Socialist Republic of Venezuela and its web of communist insurgencies. Thankfully Posadism has been largely snuffed out in the wake of Heaven's Gate, so nuclear terrorism is not a factor in the conflict.

The Paneuropean Community has been steadily expanding, suffering some growing pains along the way, but the lack of any analogue to the Euro has helped the alliance remain more financially stable, while the federal military operated by the bloc has been deployed to North Africa as part of a counterinsurgency effort against Regressive cells in the area. Domestically there have been growing calls in Germany to leave the PEC, as the nation feels unheard and underrepresented in the bloc. In the face of gradually eroding public support and still smarting over the loss of territory during the restructuring, the USS under Premier Zyuganov has begun bullying the members of the Warsaw Pact to gain concessions, and has begun a boondoggle plan to build derricks in the North Sea to stake out territorial claims in the region.

Africa is as complex and diverse as OTL, with the end to the South African race war having cooled down the tensions between US and Soviet allies in the south of the continent considerably. North Africa is in the grips of Regressive insurgencies as previously mentioned, while the failure of Samuel Doe's 1980 coup in Liberia would provide enough of a shock to the system for the government there to begin to liberalize. Things aren't perfect by any stretch, but a truth and reconciliation commission and a more inclusive political process in the years since has had knock-on effects throughout West Africa, and by the 2010s the region is stable and well-developed. This stability will come in very handy down the line and be directly tied to the swift end to an Ebola scare later in the decade.

Early hopes in the wake of the end of communism in China would prove short lived as the newly reconstituted Republic of China would quickly begin to ossify under the authority of a clique of oligarchs in a trend most clearly seen with the election of Lai Changxing to the presidency. Under his leadership the country has begun taking aggressive steps against its neighbors, fighting a proxy war with India over Tibet, waging a counterinsurgency campaign in Xinjiang and using economic tools and military bluster in an attempt to gain leverage over the Pacific Rim. With Japan in the grips of economic doldrums and Indonesia suffering an escalating Regressive insurgency, the largest obstacles in the region to China's machinations would be Vietnam and Australia. Although ideologically opposed to one another going back to the Haig years, the two have been able to find increasing common ground with one another in opposition to Beijing and the growing Regressive violence on their borders.
 
Writing on the Wall: From Macondo to Nightspore
Although Macondo Technologies had begun life as a small computer startup in the eighties, it had moved from strength to strength to become arguably the most influential corporation in the world in a matter of decades, using an excellent working relationship with the Department of Technology and a robust pipeline of foreign talent to expand and develop the company's hardware even as it made the determined push into software. While Macondo would rival Atari in the realm of personal computers, it would be the development of the Buendia family of programs that would catapult them to the bleeding edge.

Originally nothing more than an easy and intuitive search engine built to compete with Google, Buendia would be rebranded into an umbrella over a variety of important properties, from the initial search engine to an online marketplace to a digital media and publishing arm. By the time regulators were finally taking a seriously look at the company it was too late, with their vertical integration model giving it unprecedented influence in the American economy. And as the company set about cementing its control, automation would become key to maintaining profit margins. And that meant fleets of drones and self-driving cars.

As the century wore on and Macondo expanded into Antarctica (in spite of occasional setbacks elsewhere) the company would continue its reliance on drones, using them as the core of the surveillance network used to supervise and patrol the vast pools of convict labor and free-born squatters* that made up the lion's share of the population. As such it would be no surprise that drones would play a massive role in the Antarctic Revolution. Looking for an effective way to disperse crowds, the AET security teams would make use of "stoop drones", small drones with targeted explosives that could dive bomb and assassinate individual ringleaders in the crowd. Looking for a way to seize aerial supremacy the Common Ground would counter the fantastically effective stoop drones with a drone of their own design.

Developed illicitly in Macondo's own fabricators by researchers who either saw the writing on the wall about the longevity of the regime or harbored secret Cosmicist sympathies to begin with, Project Nightspore was nothing short of a nonlethal terror weapon. The great contradiction of the ideology was that true believers knew in their bones that every day without action was another step closer to a dead and blasted world, but at the same time they felt the need to save and provide for everyone they could, even former enemies. Hence the focus on a nonlethal deterrent, even a horrendous one.

Nightspore drones were a class of devices, rather than a specific model, from hexapedal machines small enough to operate in buildings to aerial ones large enough to destroy aircraft as the conflict bore on, though they all had things in common. Hallmarks of the Nightspore designs included vantablack coloration, chemical deterrents, infrasound generation, and variable light emission. The devices were designed to be disconcerting, appearing functionally two-dimensional from certain angles, all the while emitting sounds that caused paranoia and physical discomfort and lights that could blind drones or induce vomiting, burning sensations and seizures in humans. Initially few in number, the larger Nightspores would prove so devastating to enemy morale that their use could turn the tide of a battle, frequently allowing Cosmicist partisans to capture useful resources and personnel that could be used to manufacture more of the devices. Rumors that the principles honed in the Nightspore project are still being used to develop new generations of terror craft have neither been confirmed nor denied by the ARC government.

*Some genuinely were climate refugees fleeing south but most were just people born to the convict population. It costs money to send them away and their parent's countries of origin generally didn't want them anyway, so there they stayed.
 
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Nightspore drones are the culmination of the same trends of increasing drone sophistication and frankly atypical design strategies for nonlethal weapons that we've seen for a generation in OTL. Seriously, the DoD is working on a talking fireball in real life, I promise that's not a joke. As for Macondo Technologies, imagine Amazon if it had started out as a computer company and kept expanding indefinitely. In the company's ideal world you'd use a computer they made to access their search engine which would give you results in their marketplace, with anything you bought packed by people but delivered by drones (in dense cities) and self-driving cars (everywhere else). And while you waited you'd be watching movies or reading books streamed through their media arm. At one point in the 2020s they tried to create a social media platform to further study public opinion and shape tastes to mixed success.
 
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I've got some stuff going on so no updates for a little bit but in the meantime does anyone have any questions about undercovered areas of the "modern day" or society in the ARC or anything like that?
 
My next update will likely be a focus on the continent-wide holidays of the ARC based on some ideas I've had from the beginning of the concept 🤔 I'm particularly interested in you all's response to my ideas for the Commonwealths' decennial Festival- muhahahahaha :evilsmile: in the meantime questions about the ARC society and economy more generally are welcome.
 
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Writing on the Wall: A Time For Festival
Like any society, the ARC follows its own particular cycle of holidays and public celebrations. One important distinction, however, is the devolution to the continent's member Commonwealths, each with their own particular ethnoreligious mix and particular festivities. As such, while there is a vast quilt of regional holidays for particular groups, there are really only six observed universally on the continental scale. Because the political system of the ARC holds frequent elections at one level of government or another and values robust civic participation, those elections are considered protected holidays but change from year to year based on their own cycles, and as such are not included in this list.
  • New Year's Day- January 1, the start of the calendar year
  • Discovery Day- January 27, commemorating the discovery of the continent in 1820 along with all the waves of explorers that mapped and struggled and even died coming to grips with Antarctica.
  • May Day- May 1, a memorialization of precarian solidarity inherited from socialism, even as automation has vastly redefined the nature of labor on the continent
  • Winter Solstice- June 6 to June ~21 (floating), a celebration of community and resilience in the depths of the antipolar winter and largely focused around gift giving.
  • Memorial Days- October 31 to November 6, a time to remember the Revolution and also deceased loved ones, taking place over the course of a week to celebrate the first Rising that precipitated the conflict and thematically similar to the Days of the Dead and Guy Fawkes Day in tone and festivities.
  • Summer Solstice- December 5 to December ~21 (floating), far more boisterous than the Christmas of the northern hemisphere, the Antarctic Summer Solstice revels in the highest level of light all year, celebrating the natural and agricultural bounty that has sprung up in Antarctica since the melting of the glaciers with parties and fireworks displays.
A new set of unifying holidays naturally led to the organic growth of new anthropomorphic representatives for them. While Fabian Belligshausen and those that came after him have pride of place on Discovery Day, as the colloquial personification of the Antarctic peoples Ultima is the central focus of the Winter Solstice. The Memorial Days, meanwhile, center around an "unknown soldier" archetype known only as the Red Death, held to be a martyr who led the first Rising and perished at the end of that fateful week with the rest of his comrades in a Macondo gas attack, burned in effigy as a signal fire of defiance. The Summer Solstice is the most interesting, repurposing the Krampus figure of Central Europe in light of the holiday's shifted focus toward the greening of the continent. Clad in a green robe and armed with a flowering birch branch, Krampus is more similar to a muskox rather than a goat and often depicted riding an antipodean bear.

By far the greatest celebration in Antarctica is the quinquennial Festival, meant to be an exaltation of the achievements of the Cosmintern as a whole and therefore open to Cosmicist partisans of all nations. Hosted only in Antarctica and consisting of three events spread throughout the year, the fact that the Spartakiad is divided between two hosts and a member Commonwealth is ineligible to host in the next Festival ensures that no one member is overburdened by their duties as host and every Commonwealth participates in the decennial cycle.
  1. Inundation- The Cosmicist Exhibition, a world's fair focused on cultural and technological development. Cosmicist political and social groups from around the world are most active here, and the host Commonwealth puts on a grand show of celebrating regional artisans, composers and other homegrown talent.
  2. Growth- The Spartakiad, a demonstration of physical and intellectual prowess. Divided into warm and cold weather events between two host Commonwealths, the Spartakiad is made up of new and classic sports, competitive board games and academic competitions.
  3. Harvest- The Flower War, a combination of televised live fire naval and aerial wargames and small squad gladiatorial combat to demonstrate new innovations in experimental military and medical technology at both the tactical and the individual level.
 
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The Flower War didn't get as much commentary as I was expecting 😅 think of it as the apotheosis of that idea that sports are a ritualized outlet for group violence. By combining something similar to @Miranda Brawner's naval War Cup with the gamified squad based combat from the science fiction VS comic, the Flower War serves as a defacto extreme sport while still acting as a reliable deterrent field demonstration for new weapons systems and as a testing ground for new medical techniques to deal with injuries. In the ideal Weltgeist scenario, without opposing nations war would not exist, but because humans wouldn't be any less prone to conflict a worldwide system of Flower Wars would be a relatively safe outlet. The fact that the selection process for the Festival Flower War serves as excellent practice for the armed forces keeps them sharp in the event of an attack from the rest of the world.
 
Writing on the Wall: Antarctic Government and Politics
In the most basic sense the levels of government in the Antarctic Revolutionary Commonwealths are rooted in the structure of the Antarctic Economic Territories under Macondo Technologies. The most obvious, of course, is the fact that the eight member Commonwealths of the ARC were reconstructed from the eight labor districts established by the company, though equally important is the actual physical requirements of living in the southern continent. Although the climate has stabilized somewhat in recent decades, the simple fact is that for the entire twenty-first century the ecosystem was in drastic and often apocalyptic tumult.

It would be this reality of extreme climate events that would see the interlinked arcology model become the standard across the continent. Although there are of course towns and independent settlements throughout the ARC, the overwhelming majority of the nation's population remains concentrated in the eight megalopolises that form the core of the member Commonwealths. Divided into separate Boroughs based on local identity, each Commonwealth arcology serves as a "laboratory of Eternity", given wide latitude to construct the most effective government possible within the Cosmicist framework.

Despite this wide latitude toward local policy, there are certain commonalities rooted in Sutter's dogma. For example, the Commonwealths favor larger and more representative legislatures, and to prevent individual concentration of power in the executive branch the power of the office is divided between three Kurfürsts* to encourage thoughtful decision making. Each Commonwealth has its own judiciary and Supreme Court, though of course their ruling are open to review at the continental level. Political donations are allowed, but transparency is strictly enforced, with the rules written to better incentivize donations by the individual producers and small cooperatives that make up the largest share of the ARC economy while the more lucrative hypercorps** are subjected to closer scrutiny.

At the continental level the ARC government is the product of a nested democracy, with the citizens standing as and voting for local representatives to each Borough legislature, which in turn appoints members to each member Commonwealth. It is the legislatures of the eight Commonwealths which appointment members of the ARC legislature in turn. To ensure robust citizen confidence in the government the Kurfürsts of the member Commonwealths are directly elected by their constituents, with the executive organs of the ARC proper governed by this committee of equals. Offset elections between Commonwealths sees regular churn in the makeup of the ARC legislature and executive committee, and social pressure against careerism in politics tends to restrict longstanding members of the institutions to people who are considered unusually skilled or exceptional in their work.

In keeping with the concept of vanguard pluralism it is entirely possible to run and win election as an independent politician, although legally the Antarctic Cosmicist Party is the only recognized political faction, and as such Cosmicist partisans are able to benefit from a deep bench of popular and institutional support within the government. A broad consensus on Cosmicist goals and practices is of course a prerequisite for membership in the Party but the actual implementation allows a bit of breathing room, and as a result two distinct factions have evolved under the aegis of the Antarctic Cosmicist Party.
  • The Social Ecologists favor deepening and preserving distinct Antarctic cultural mores and new ecosystems, opposing expansion in favor of making the existing arcologies more efficient and allowing the newly developed ecosystem to solidify without interference. They oppose allowing climate refugees to seek asylum, viewing them as a dilutive influence on post-Revolutionary culture, and favor using localized and targeted grants to boost the growth of new and distinct culture variants and experimental communities.
  • The Technocrats , meanwhile, seek to expand out into the new wilderness before it becomes fully entrenched, hoping to create a compromise between future growth potential and ecological sustainability through architectural and ecological engineering. The Technocrats are far more likely to believe in the ability of climate refugees to assimilate to the political culture, and favor allowing them in both on humanitarian grounds and to spite the United Nations.
Aside from these two factions, there are also loose coalitions of independent socialists and conservatives in the ARC government, though they have been thoroughly defanged and are forced to offer solutions based around tinkering on the edges of the Cosmicist consensus. The more restive faction of Antarctic Regressives has been driven underground, however, metastasizing into a radical collection of terrorists and idealogues attempting to carve a living out of the wilderness.

*Yes I know the plural is technically Kurfürsten but English is the majority language in the ARC so you get what you get. The fact that the executive committee members are named after prince-electors but Cosmicism despises power concentrated in an individual is a deliberate juxtaposition, meant to represent prestige and draw attention to the fact that there is no single individual at the top of the governing hierarchy in the country.

**The tabletop game Eclipse Phase inspired the hypercorps. Basically, Macondo's whole deal naturally produced a backlash against monopolistic businesses at the same time that advances in automation made individuals and small groups more productive. Hence the hypercorp, essentially a cooperative of a few dozen people able to produce at a large enough scale to have a significant presence in markets across the continent. Though co-ops are the norm in Antarctica the sheer scale of the hypercorps warrants extra scrutiny.
 
Funny enough, dating to my very first ideas on the ARC government and society, I had always intended for there to be a reactionary terrorist group on the fringes to provide a bit of conflict to drive the narrative, but it was only in the last week or so that I realized of course it would be Regressives 😂 Originally it would've been a darker offshoot of the Sons of Liberty but I think having a Regressive faction that views the arcologies themselves as immoral and inhuman would make for a much better scenario and tie together well with my evolved Era of Bad Feelings concept. Just for fun I'm going to call them the Tsalal, since their ideal is a subsistence existence in the harshest wilderness on Earth armed with nothing but their wits and enormous weapons :evilsmile:
 
A Horse of a Different Color: The Whiskey Rebellion
It seems unusual to say, looking back with hindsight from the seven party melange of the shatter and the absolute hash of the 2020 election, but the early years of the Seventh Party System were actually quite hard for the minor parties. In theory the rise of Reform showed that it was possible for an outsider party to enter the halls of power and stay there, and the Reformers were more than willing to change the rules to ostensibly give their fellow underdogs a shot, but the simple fact was that Reform had sucked all the oxygen out of the room as the smallest parties found themselves swept up into the orbit of one Reform faction leader or other.

While Nader's faction and the Greens caught in his wake had had momentum in the early cycles of the new century, it was clear to everyone that the populist axis of the Reform party was tilting away from them, and they spent most of their time voting with the Democrats anyway. In the lead up to the 2012 electoral cycle this essentially winnowed the Reform primary field to a battle of wills between two men: perpetual culture warrior Pat Buchanan and darling of the Libertarians Ron Paul. Somewhat unusually for the Reform Party, the primary did not devolve into a bitter slog, with Buchanan quietly conceding, leaving Paul in a comfortable position to lead his party against the incumbent Mosely-Braun and Republican nominee Rick Santorum. The race was on and it was sure to be a fight to remember.

To hear his incredibly passionate supporters tell it, Ron Paul was the only one who could save the soul of the nation from a government run amok. It was a fairly straightforward argument, the past fifty years had seen the growth of dreaded "entitlements" even as the national-security state bloomed and entrenched itself. Perot's Department of Technology was largely grandfathered in, but the Department of Heartland Security and Mosely-Braun's public option and financial bailout were squarely in the crosshairs. The latter two in particular was painted as a slippery slope to socialism, carefully concealed, and the fiercest opponents of the program in the Ron Paul campaign decried it as "Braun-bagging the death of the American Dream". The name stuck and the Whiskey Rebellion was born.

A protest movement focused on direct action, the Whiskey Rebellion would be marked by intense public pressure on legislators to curtail the growth of so-called government overreach. Claiming Paul as their champion, the Whiskey Rebellion would seize most of the energy of the 2012 election cycle, though it would not ultimately be enough to propel him into the White House. While his anti-interventionist stance had lost him voters to the Republicans still fighting in the Reagan-Haig-Powell tradition, his hardline views against entitlements of any kind similarly lost him all but the most devoted partisans.

It was then that Buchanan was able to enter the fray. While the Whiskey Rebellion had begun firmly centered around fiscal issues, Buchanan had quickly seized the opportunity, using his time campaigning for Paul to gradually harness the energy of the movement. And so, with Mosely-Braun off to the White House a second time fiscal conservatism seemed to have died a slow death among the Reform Party faithful and among those in the other parties for whom Ron Paul's anti-government rhetoric had provided a stepping stone to Buchanan's culture war conservatism.
 
The Great Divide: Flag of the Regressive Movement
Regression.png


Here's the flag of the international Regressive movement, inspired by the cover of Industrial Devolution. The base flag is a fairly standard anarcho-primitive one, while the hourglass represents the threat of looming extinction and the paired broken cog and counterclockwise arrow symbolize the goals of anti-industrialism and a return to a hunter-gatherer state of nature, respectively. It's fully acknowledged that a large portion of the global population would not survive such a shift but the hardliners are more than willing to make the trade. Some of those same hardliners consider the Regressive symbol itself to be too modernist and prefer iconography with skulls and stone age spears and axes.

 
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