The Pale Horse: The Northwest Montana Insurgency and its Aftermath (1987-2002)

Prologue (1924-1987)
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    “corruption never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains” – Robinson Jeffers
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    The Scarecrow and the Tin Man (1924-1940)
  • The Scarecrow and the Tin Man (1924-1940)

    The Minneapolis People’s Hall’s status as a virtually unique survival of American Syndicalism has ensured that it remains a Mecca for interested visitors even today: no itinerary based around “Syndistalgia” can possibly omit it as a destination. While the collapse of the Combined Syndicates of America in the 1990s and the ensuing American “lost decade” saw most other People’s Halls disposed of to the highest bidder, converted to inferior copies of Anglo-Canadian “shopping complexes” or simply carved up into smaller developments, it has been preseverd by the efforts of the Heartland branch of the Syndicalist Union Party as a more-or-less functioning simulacrum of what it once was: it regularly serves as a venue for Party Congresses and commemorative events (most recently the 90th birthday celebrations of Party Secretary and perennial Presidential candidate for the SUP Walter Mondale); the cafeteria still serves the unvarying menu on which 1950s Syndicalist America dined out (soup, meatloaf, hotdish, choice of two vegetables); and twenty-year-old posters advertising the 55th anniversary celebrations of the Combined Syndicates of America’s establishment still adorn the walls. For visitors entirely unmoved by this display of loyalty to an effectively dead political system, the People’s Hall provides other compensations. The brainchild of Finnish immigrant architect Alvar Aalto, the People’s Hall is a superb example of the “People’s Architecture” which became a defining feature of the CSA’s urban landscape from the early 1940’s onwards: while at its worst (the truly horrible Landsend development in Red Hook springs immediately to mind) this style was a crumbling and unhuman advertisement of state power over the lives of the buildings’ inhabitants, here it rises to attain a kind of stark beauty.

    The interior’s point of greatest interest from an aesthetic perspective is the cafeteria. The Formica tables and flickering lights can do little to detract from the remarkable series of early 1950s Socialist Realist murals covering the walls: showing sharecroppers and factory workers marching eternally together towards a Syndicalist utopia, they commemorate Minneapolis’ indelible association with the pre-Second Civil War political movement which played an outsize role in the Upper Midwest’s involvement in that conflict and in the immediate postwar politics of the CSA – the Farmer-Labor Party.

    While a populist alliance of small farmers and industrial workers arrayed against the forces of Capital had been proposed multiple times in the half-century prior to its foundation, it was at the 1924 Minneapolis-St Paul Conference that this coalition became a genuine political force. Against the backdrop of a ten-year agricultural recession ineptly combated by a series of one-term Presidents and a legal environment increasingly proscriptive of union activity, the Farmer-Labor Party flourished across the pre-Civil War states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Montana, furnishing Congress with four Senators and twelve Congressmen by the 1936 Presidential election.

    The Farmer-Labor Party found particularly fertile ground in Montana, absorbing the Non-Partisan League almost immediately and exploiting the decades-old tension between small farmers and the wealthy ranchers who sought to appropriate their land for grazing, and made strong inroads with miners and loggers in the wake of brutal industrial disputes which had left several union members dead: smallholder and syndicalist organizer J. W. Anderson won 8% of the vote in the 1924 Senatorial election, while logging union representative David Goodhew managed 17% in the 1928 Gubernatorial election. The high water mark of the Farmer-Labor Party’s success in Montana, however, came from an unexpected source.

    Since his election to the Senate in 1922, Burton K Wheeler had carved out a position for himself on the left of the Democratic Party, butting heads with party bosses in Montana and nationally in the process; by 1934, his increasingly radical and populist rhetoric had poisoned his relationship with the Montana Democratic Party, which succeeded in primarying him in the Senatorial election of that year. If the Party had hoped to force his exit from politics altogether, they failed: although Wheeler was notably silent during the 1934 election (ultimately comfortably won by the Republican candidate) he had spent the remainder of the year cultivating old connections with Non-Partisan League organizers and elected Farmer-Labor Party officials, and announced in early 1935 that he intended to stand for the Governorship of Montana as an “independent Democrat” with the enthusiastic backing of the Farmer-Labor Party.

    The 1936 Gubernatorial election in Montana took place in a climate of increasing unrest, as the Presidential election proceeded to its violent and uncertain conclusion: as the summer wore on, violent clashes between Wheeler’s supporters and their Republican and Democratic counterparts became increasingly commonplace, with strikes and lockouts paralyzing much of urban Montana. The violence reached its climax at the Battle of Butte, when striking workers at the Anaconda Copper were met by the Montana National Guard, with multiple fatalities on both sides. As November approached, it was clear that, whoever emerged as victor, Montana would enter 1937 as a hopelessly divided state.

    The results of the Presidential election in Montana were fairly unexciting, with 60% of voters supporting Alf Landon’s bid for president: the elections for Governor went down to the wire. As results began to trickle in by telegram on the evening of November 3, it became rapidly clear that the race was between Wheeler and Democratic Congressman Roy Ayers, with the Republicans in a distant third. While the party in the lead changed hands multiple times over the course of the count, by the time the smoke had cleared on the morning of the 4th, Wheeler had been elected Governor of Montana by the slimmest of margins.


    Taking office in 1937, Wheeler prepared for a four-year fight to push legislation through a State House of Representatives that was broadly hostile to him, while the State House prepared to stonewall him at every opportunity. This stalemate would be broken by outside events within weeks. While Montana was largely isolated from the worst of the violence which immediately preceded the Second American Civil War, the breakdown of civil authority across much of the Western United States hadn’t escaped observers in the state: consequently, the Chicago and New Orleans Declarations by Jack Reed and Huey Long respectively came as little of a surprise. The House of Representatives (largely loyal to the Washington Government) acted immediately to ensure that Montana remained in the Federalist column: Wheeler was placed (“for his own safety”) in temporary protective custody while articles of impeachment could be introduced. The response from the Farmer-Labor Party (alerted to Wheeler’s predicament by a sympathetic National Guardsman) was instantaneous. As strikes broke out throughout Montana, a column of mineworkers set off from Butte to liberate their Governor. Joined by smallholders and sympathetic industrial workers on the way, it had swelled to a band thousands strong by the time it reached the outskirts of Helena. The interim State government called out the National Guard to disperse the column; the Guardsmen, faced with a choice between joining the column and inciting a massacre, either joined the marchers or fled. Wheeler was reinstated as governor by a chastened House of Representatives within hours.

    Wheeler ruled virtually by decree for the remainder of the American Civil War. Although personally sympathetic to the syndicalist cause, he ensured that Montana’s stance was broadly one of neutrality, signing an interstate compact with the governors of North and South Dakota which pledged that state National Guards would not be used other than to defend state borders against troop incursions. The compact notwithstanding, Wheeler was able to provide the Chicago government with a significant amount of quiet assistance: Montana’s food exports alone, channelled to the syndicalists, were essential to the survival of Reed’s government through the winter of 1937.

    On the victory of the syndicalists, the Farmer-Labor Party threw its wholehearted support behind the new government: the Montana branch of the FLP sent delegates alongside its sister state parties to Chicago in 1940, forming collectively the largest group in the Chicago Congress. Within a few short years, the FLP would come to regret its embrace of syndicalism.
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    This Land is Your Land (1940-1970)
  • This Land is Your Land (1940-1970)

    The first decade of the Combined Syndicates of America’s existence was, on balance, remarkably successful for both the Farmer-Labour Party and its Montana constituents. As a reasonably cohesive body within an intensely factional Chamber of Syndicates, the FLP was able to punch well above its weight in terms of actually influencing policy: even after its merger into the Syndicalist Union Party in 1944 (under incoming Chairman William Z Foster’s “One Big Party” initiative, which converted the SUP into the sole permitted political organization within the CSA) Burton Wheeler’s position as Secretary of the Exterior and LaFolette’s as Agriculture Secretary gave the policies that it supported a genuine chance of implementation.

    LaFolette’s ambitious program of agricultural reform was wholeheartedly supported at the outset by the Western smallholders who had made up the core of the FLP’s pre-Civil War support: under its aegis, “agricultural collectives” consisting of a dozen or so small farms pooling labour and resources were established and provided with interest-free credit to acquire modern machinery: their agricultural surplus was purchased by central government at a fixed price to be transported East. In tandem with widespread rural electrification projects, this policy paid initial dividends: agricultural production across the West as a whole doubled from 1940 to 1955.

    This overall increase in productivity, however, masked significant regional variations. In general, where the Bureau of Agriculture was able to draw on experience of pre-Civil War cooperative farming (most notably in Minnesota and Wisconsin) and where local farming patterns and land use responded well to economies of scale, land reform was an enduring success, with many collectives surviving even the collapse of the Combined Syndicates of America (in a rare bright spot for the CSA’s successor state during the “lost decade” of the 1990s, a Wisconsin dairy collective won first prize for soft cheese in an international competition held in Paris, beating out dozens of French competitors to the embarrassment of the Gallic press). Elsewhere, unforeseen difficulties arose almost immediately.

    Montana in particular experienced a troubled rollout of the agricultural reform program. While yields increased somewhat over the first five years of collectivisation, a steady decline in agricultural output had set in by the mid 1950s, increasing towards the end of the decade. The immensely fertile soil which had attracted immigrants to Montana in the late nineteenth century was the product of eleven thousand years of post-glacial accretion: with the advent of modern farming techniques, it had essentially exhausted itself by the middle of the century. It was clear to the dullest Bureau of Agriculture scientist by 1960 that, absent a drastic rationalisation of agriculture in Montana (by now part of the “Grangeland Constituent Syndicalist Republic”, comprising Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas to the West of the Missouri River), much of the Western CSA would become a dustbowl within a decade.

    Had the rationalisation happened in 1950, it would have been influenced by former Farmer-Labour Party politicians and conducted with sensitivity towards the FLP’s former constituents. A decade later, however, much of the FLP’s residual power had ebbed away. William Z Foster had been surprisingly adept at reducing factional dissent within the Chamber of Syndicates and constructing an incipient bureaucratic apparatus to support the functioning of the Combined Syndicates of America, but his clearly failing health from the mid-1950s onwards meant that talk was increasingly focused on a possible successor. By 1960 the winner of this factional struggle had become apparent: with James Burnham regularly photographed alongside Foster, it was simply a matter of time before he ascended to the Chairmanship.

    Burnham, aided by a narrow coterie of ideological fellow-travellers and clients (most notably Robert McNamara and B. F. Skinner) espoused “managerialist syndicalism” as his guiding philosophy: while an ultimate goal of workplace democracy was desirable, the CSA would require an undefined interim period of rule by a class of industrial and political experts until American workers had been sufficiently educated to assume the reins of power. Against this, the FLP’s populism and support of mass political participation appeared increasingly antiquated to much of the CSA’s leadership.

    The progressive marginalisation of the former FLP began with Wheeler’s replacement as Secretary of the Exterior by McNamara, and accelerated through the 50s: although the final sidelining of FLP-sympathetic elements of the Congress of Syndicates would have to wait until 1964, when Hubert Humphrey (one of the few Congressmen first elected after the Civil War with a FLP background) was summarily dismissed as President of the Heartland CSR, Burnham’s manoeuvres had ensured that the agricultural rationalisation inflicted on Montana’s farming collectives would be planned and implemented entirely by bureaucrats rather than politicians.

    The 1960s saw harsh but ineffectual measures taken to shore up Montana’s farming and logging industries: with no other real tools at its disposal, the Bureau of Agriculture desperately sought economies of scale by combining collectives into larger and larger units, controlled by expert agronomists out of air-conditioned offices in Helena. Families who had managed to scrape a living from the land for fifty years were driven off their plots, sometimes with virtually no warning, to allow land to be used for grazing rather than farming or simply to recover for a decade. In some cases, rather than face an uncertain future in Butte or performing menial labour in one of the Grangeland CSR’s logging complexes, families sought to fight back: the Grangeland CSR’s internal records for the 1960s contain over a hundred separate accounts of where confrontations between Bureau of Agriculture agents (increasingly supported, as the decade went on, by detachments of People’s Militia infantrymen) ended in gunfire. While such incidents were hushed up to the greatest extent possible, wild rumours of standoffs between entire collectives and the state government percolated into the public consciousness. By 1970, Grangelanders were beginning to wonder if, in supporting the syndicalists against the ranchers, they had simply swapped one autocratic master for another.
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    The Islands of the Mad (1955-1975)
  • The Islands of the Mad (1955-1975)

    On first appearances, Walker Percy is an unlikely candidate for the best-known literary dissident of the 20th century. Born into a prominent Alabama political family in 1916, his medical studies at the University of North Carolina were interrupted in 1939 when he was drafted (despite failing a medical assessment in 1937) into the Army of the American Union State, by now fighting a desperate rearguard action against the Chicago government in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He served as a combat medic through the last terrible months of the Second American Civil War, was captured at the Battle of Seneca and spent eighteen months in a prisoner of war camp prior to his release in 1941.

    Barred by his status as a formerly enemy combatant from all but the most menial of jobs in his field, he found work as a medical orderly in a New Orleans hospital, writing for an unlicensed literary magazine on his evenings off, until his family’s links to the ancien regime and his association with persons deemed to be undesirables marked him out as a target to authorities of the Gulf CSR in 1957.

    Percy had picked a particularly poor time to be arrested. Just two years earlier, the controversial behavioural psychologist and British exile William Sargant, whose development of the diagnostic category of “social autism” (a psychological condition involving “excessive and morbid individuality” and a lack of “social consciousness”) had endeared him to the highest echelons of the CSA, had been placed in charge of the Mental Hygiene Bureau, in whose eleven original “Mental Hygiene Facilities” in north-west Montana dissidents diagnosed with social autism were “treated”. Sent to Helmville, Percy was subjected over the next twelve years to an intense regime of political re-education, electroconvulsive shock therapy, insulin shock therapy, and massive barbiturate dosing: he narrowly avoided a lobotomy due to a “paperwork error”, likely caused by a sympathetic psychiatrist.

    By the time Percy was released in 1969, the Mental Hygiene Bureau’s remit had increased significantly: large areas of north-west Montana had been transferred to the direct control of the Bureau, where an estimated 50,000 dissidents were held. The Bureau’s increasing identification with Burnham, however, was ultimately to prove its undoing – upon the enforced “retirement” of Burnham in 1970 by the Chamber of Syndicates, and the subsequent installation of George Meany as Chairman, the Bureau’s powers were almost entirely removed, with William Sargant being arrested for fraud and malversation of public funds in 1972.

    Provided with a Certificate of Rehabilitation and barred from leaving the Grangeland CSR, Percy took a position as night watchman in a warehouse: The Islands of the Mad, exposing the Mental Hygiene Bureau, was written over the next three years and distributed underground as one of many “self-publications” in the CSA until a copy was smuggled to the Pacific States of America and subsequently published to universal acclaim in 1977. Immediately propelled to international fame as a dissident, Percy and his family were ultimately allowed to emigrate to the Pacific States in 1981: the recipient of the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1983, he took up a position in the English Faculty of San Francisco State University, dying in 1990.

    Percy was unusually fortunate: many of the other inhabitants of the Mental Hygiene Facilities, irrecoverably broken by the attentions of the behaviourists, were condemned to a twilight existence on the margins of society even after their release, forced into virtual slave labour in the Grangeland CSR’s mines and logging camps. As North-West Montana swelled with regime critics, petty criminals and undesirables, the tinder was slowly laid for a conflagration which would play its role in the downfall of the CSA itself.
    A Mighty Fortress is our God (1975-1987)
  • A Mighty Fortress is our God (1975-1987)

    A nation’s strangest religions have always found refuge in the broken hills and forests of its hinterland, and the far West of Montana in the early days of the American Syndicalist regime attracted the religiously heterodox with the same magnetic power that the “burned-over district” of upstate New York had manifested a century earlier. Utopian communes and polygamist sects flocked to the relative liberty of the Grangeland CSR during the first decade of the CSA’s existence, much to the embarrassment of local government.

    The “St Regis Raid” of 1953 is a good illustration of the sometimes fraught relationship between religious immigrants to the region and Grangeland state authorities: a combination of local law enforcement and People’s Militia infantrymen forced entry into a compound operated by a fundamentalist Mormon commune consisting of about 400 people. The commune had been tipped off the night before the raid by a friendly highway patrolman, and ensured that the raid was met by the adult members of the community singing hymns inside the schoolhouse while the children played outside. The entire community, including 263 children, was taken into custody.

    Met by a mixed reaction even with non-fundamentalist Grangelanders – as the Helena Union-Leader opined in an editorial, “By what stretch of the imagination could the actions of the Short Creek children be classified as insurrection? Were those teenagers playing volleyball in a school yard inspiring a rebellion? Insurrection? Well, if so, an insurrection with diapers and volleyballs!” – the raid rapidly proved itself an embarrassment for the government, who had quietly released the vast majority of the adults within a week (although the children, in some cases, were kept as wards of the state for up to two years). The Grangeland CSR’s leadership, seeking to avoid any course of action which could lead to an official censure from Chicago, largely left the religious communes unmolested for the remainder of the decade.

    So much for the 1950s. By 1960, the bureaucratic capture of the CSA was virtually complete: with those elements within government which drew on the nineteenth-century American tradition of utopian religious communes for inspiration almost entirely marginalised, the sects finding refuge in Grangeland ceased to be regarded as any sort of forerunner to syndicalist governance and began to be perceived as a threat.

    Measures for social control followed. The crackdown on independent worship which ensued was far less comprehensive than in the CSA’s Centroamerican and Brazilian fellow traveller states, partly because the Church in America had been less intimately linked with the functioning of the pre-revolutionary State, and partly because the Chicago government was frankly uninterested in burning any political capital on a repeat of Brazil’s Campanha Antiteista of the late 1950s, which had seen the first open and organized resistance to that government and ultimately resulted in a wholesale purging of its relevant departments. Accordingly, most mainstream denominations were able to continue to worship more or less unmolested (and some fairly heterodox, if CSA-supporting, ones, as the Revd Jim Jones proved through the 1970s and 1980s). However, the requirements introduced in 1965 for every place of worship obtain registration documents from their local CSR, to provide the texts of any sermons for pre-approval by the state and for religious communes to present themselves for inspection by officials at any time left a sizeable minority of Grangelanders progressively dissatisfied.

    Most of the religious communes and larger communities in western Montana had been dissolved (either through state action or by a simple process of attrition) by the 1970s: inevitably, the vacuum created would be filled by outside actors.

    While the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had agreed to halt proselytization in the CSA in 1965 in exchange for the recognition of Mormonism as a religion by state authorities, its various fundamentalist offshoots continued their missionary work, moving from safehouse to safehouse and spreading their gospel to underground congregations in disused barns, abandoned warehouses or simply in out-of-the-way fields and groves. Notwithstanding the sheer risks which the missionaries were running – any unauthorized citizen of the Pacific States of America caught in the Grangeland CSR was liable for summary execution as a spy – a community of fundamentalist Mormons gradually coalesced from the 1970s onward.

    Rousas Rushdoony had a similar impact on the Grangeland CSR’s religious life: born into an Armenian family that (according to family legend) had supplied at least one priest in each generation for seventeen hundred years and who had fled to California in the wake of the Armenian Genocide, his religious studies pulled him progressively in the direction of Dominionism, the idea that America should be governed by a priesthood and according to the dictates of Old Testament law (involving, inter alia, death by stoning for homosexuality, adultery, witchcraft and disrespecting one’s father). Rushdoony, who combined absolute fanaticism with undeniable physical and moral courage, bribed a Grangeland border guard in 1964 and managed to infiltrate a hard labour camp with his family: preaching in secret to the prisoners, he had amassed a genuine following both within the camp and in its surrounding logging and mining collectives by the time of his death.

    In some cases, the vacuum was filled by even stranger and less palatable theologies. Ben Klassen, a Los Angeles used car salesman, founded in 1965 the Church of The Creator, a pantheistic religion which espoused beliefs in fruitarianism and the natural superiority of the Aryan race, and in an impending and inevitable “Racial Holy War”, which would see the extermination of all non-White people and the foundation of a divinely-guided world ethnostate. Klassen chose to proselytise through the airwaves: the two radio towers in Idaho that he purchased were able, despite increasingly frantic attempts at frequency jamming by the Grangeland CSR, to beam sermons to every house with a radio from the late 1970s onwards. Even this warped religion found fertile ground for adherents in western Montana: to the dispossessed small farmers, remaining victims of the “therapeutic state” of the 1960s and remaining underground utopians, the concept of an approaching apocalypse seemed more and more convincing as the 80s approached, bringing in its wake a series of commodity shocks and a lengthy recession which reduced living standards for Grangelanders still further. Sheltering from largely ineffectual state efforts at stamping unauthorised religions out, the Grangelanders waited for a single spark to ignite the conflagration which they knew would soon come.

    Going Hot (1987)
  • Going Hot (1987)

    The events of 3 May 1987 in Kalispell are virtually unique among the first year of what would become the Western Montana Insurgency, in that their order and nature is known with reasonable certainty: at least one of the participants was still alive in 2016, and was willing to describe what happened under conditions of strict anonymity for British journalist Robert Fisk’s documentary on the Insurgency.

    As far as anyone can tell, Officers Frank Clarke and Harry Gunderson were entirely typical of the rural sections of the Grangeland People’s Militia in the late 80s. From the middle-aged Clarke’s perspective, the posting in Kalispell was the end of the line for a career in law enforcement in Omaha marked by a patchy disciplinary record: from the nineteen-year-old Gunderson’s, the job served as a berth against possibility that he would be drafted into the military of the CSA and serve a tour of duty in Centroamerica.

    As People’s Militia pay remained constant on paper even as inflation peaked at an annualised 15% in March 1986, they would have experienced the same decline in living standards as the people for whose safety they were responsible. While they appear to have engaged in graft to a limited extent, allowing collective grain and goods surpluses to “disappear” in exchange for kickbacks, they weren’t unusual in this course of action: even if they had heard rumours that whole People’s Militia departments slightly further south were running firearms and drugs into the Pacific States of America, they certainly weren’t capable of copying their example, even if willing. With violence stemming from the land rationalisations of the 1960s and 1970s largely a thing of the past, Clarke and Gunderson had little to do but cruise around Kalispell and its immediate environs, turn in the occasional civilian caught with contraband goods and report the increasing prevalence of the words “NORTHWEST FRONT” and tricolor flag graffiti painted on abandoned buildings to an entirely uninterested Grangeland Bureau of Security.

    In the morning of 3 May 1987, the Kalispell Militia Station received an anonymous phone call stating that an unauthorized logging team was working about five miles outside Kalispell. Scenting the opportunity to receive a payoff in exchange for looking the other way, Clarke and Gunderson volunteered to check out the location that morning.

    They were driving down a logging road three miles from the Station when they hit an improvised and hidden spike strip, immediately blowing out their vehicle’s front tires. As the car slithered to an uncontrolled stop, three men, concealed behind a ridge above the road, opened fire on the driver’s side: Clarke, hit twice in the chest, was killed instantly. A severely wounded Gunderson managed to exit the vehicle and draw his sidearm: he was in the process of calling in backup before a shot to the head silenced him for good. The ambush party paused briefly to check that both of the officers were dead, search the vehicle for papers and valuables and spraypaint the by now familiar “NORTHWEST FRONT” on the hood of the car, before disappearing into the forest. The bodies were found twenty minutes later by a trucker hauling logs to Kalispell.

    Clarke and Gunderson are notable for being the first two official victims of the Northwest Montana Insurgency. Over the next fifteen years, fourteen thousand others would join them.
    The First Phase (1987-1989)
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    "Perfect purity is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood." - Yukio Mishima
    A Brief Catalogue of the Dead (1988)
  • A Brief Catalogue of the Dead

    The first confused year of what would become known as the Northwest Montana Insurgency saw two hundred and eighty-three Grangelanders dead. Ten of the individual victims’ stories are set out below: taken together, they should give a sense of the sheer chaos (and, at times, black comedy) of the initial insurgency, as both sides coalesced and found their bearings.

    Warren Sellers, 64 (work boss at logging collective): Sellers was approached by three men who claimed affiliation with the North-West Front and requested a no-show job at the collective for one of their number; his hands tied by bureaucracy, he was forced to refuse for the time being. He was shot a week later by an unknown assailant while loading groceries into his flatbed truck as a warning to others.

    Richard Hanson, 37 (filing clerk): Hanson was stopped by a roadblock set up outside Deer Lodge by the People’s Militia. Panicking at the prospect of a routine search of his vehicle, he attempted to reverse out of the queue that had formed, and was shot by a People’s Militia patrolman when he refused to stop. A later examination found a small quantity of crystal meth in his glove compartment.

    Linda Barrett, 34 (housewife): Barrett’s neighbour was believed by the People’s Militia to have insurgent connections, and a decision was made to execute a no-knock raid on him. Unfortunately, the People’s Militia team delegated this task were given the wrong address. Holding her newborn baby when the team breached her front door, Barrett was shot in the throat and killed instantly.

    Herman Foster, 81 (Chief Officer): A former Montana State House representative with the Farmer-Labor Party, Foster had participated in the March on Helena in 1937 which saw Wheeler restored to power. Foster had been able to weather the following half-century of political change remarkably well, and had managed to retain a voice in local politics, being appointed chief officer of Flathead County. He was the victim of a kidnapping attempt by an insurgent cell: although they managed to extract him from his house and force him into the boot of their car without issue, during the drive to their rendezvous with higher-ups in the NWF, the frail Foster suffered a massive and ultimately fatal heart attack.

    Annabeth Woodcock , 25 (waitress): Woodcock was employed at a bar frequented by off-duty People’s Militia infantrymen, and had the sheer bad luck to be on the closing shift on a day where a group of insurgents barricaded the fire exits and threw a petrol bomb into the bar. She, along with the two customers still in the bar, was overcome by smoke inhalation before emergency services could extinguish the blaze.

    James Lundquist, 23 (People’s Militia patrolman): A Minneapolis native, Lundquist was temporarily seconded to a Grangeland People’s Militia unit later notorious for running drugs into the Pacific States of America on an almost industrial scale. In the second week of his placement, he was the sole casualty of a raid on an abandoned farmhouse supposedly used as a base by insurgents. Although officially a victim of friendly fire, documents declassified in 2019 suggest that he had been placed in the unit as an unofficial mole by Omaha People’s Militia Headquarters. Although two People’s Militia officers are strongly suspected of his murder, no charges whatsoever had been filed as of January 2021.

    Dale Pelling, 45 (radio personality): Kalispell local Dale Pelling, suspected of supplying information to insurgents through the use of on-air coded language, was last seen exiting his radio station in the company of two People’s Militia officers in the early hours of 14 March 1988. Generally believed to have been killed in custody in the course of an interrogation, he was declared legally dead in 1995.

    Sarah O’Connell, 38 (typist): O’Connell, who worked at a local government office in Missoula, “anonymously” reported two colleague as sympathisers of the insurgency. Ironically, her report was received by a North-West Front mole within the People’s Militia, who ensured that her name and address were passed onto an insurgent cell. Her body was found wrapped in a garbage bag in a Missoula dumpster two days later: an autopsy would reveal that her tongue had been removed prior to death.

    Matt Haggard, 14 (high school student): Haggard disappeared in 1988 while setting up a deer stand in the woods outside Clinton: his body was never found. In 2005, a former NWF militiaman stated that Haggard had been killed by an explosive booby-trap set up to protect a NWF-run meth lab, and that his body was subsequently disposed of: a court ruled in 2007 that his parents were entitled to the compensation paid to intentional victims of the Insurgency.

    Derek Rheinhardt, 51 (itinerant preacher): Rheinhardt grew up in a normal California suburb. Becoming an enthusiastic member of Rousas Rushdoony’s Church of the Covenant in his thirties, Rheinhardt sold his hardware store and dedicated his life to spreading the gospel in the Grangeland CSR, smuggling himself past border guards multiple times from the 1970s onwards. He was captured by a People’s Militia patrol in the empty grain silo which he used as a temporary base. Subject to summary execution as a subversive element, he continued to sing hymns until shot outside the silo.
    A Rifle Behind Every Blade of Grass (1987-1988)
  • A Rifle Behind Every Blade of Grass (1987-1988)

    At least initially, the Grangeland CSR’s central government was determined to supress any information leaking out to the wider world that any kind of organised insurgency was underway in any part of their territories; accordingly, the first few months of killings were treated as simple criminal investigations to be handled at the lowest level possible. In practise, this meant that a squad of insurgents operating across three counties were unlikely to face any co-ordinated effort to bring them to heel.

    Additionally, the insurgency itself was at first a nebulous collection of individuals driven by various grievances with authority. There was no guiding hand driving the separate militias who might potentially be captured by the People’s Militia: instead, Grangeland’s always robust rumour machine gradually spread (largely fictitious) stories of successful uprisings against PM officers or particularly unpopular collective managers, driving more and more people to take up arms alongside the initial insurgents as the insurgency gathered momentum.

    Furthermore, it is impossible to overstate just how demoralised the People’s Militia squads in charge of containing the insurgency had become by 1987. The cold, unhospitable and impoverished border with Idaho had long been regarded as a punishment posting, and as the CSA’s “police action” within the Centroamerican Workers’ State wound on, a position in the People’s Militia became increasingly seen as a means for high school graduates not qualifying for a university or technical school to evade the draft (imposed for the first time in over forty years in 1984). In addition, the freeze on PM infantryman salaries during the inflation of the early Eighties meant that pay in real terms was about a third lower in 1987 than in 1980. Unsurprisingly, confronted with a shortfall of money and an abundance of surplus military gear and time, many PM units turned either to extracting bribes and kickbacks from civilians or to running drugs and military supplies across the increasingly porous border with the Pacific States of America. Internal People’s Militia records suggest that twenty-one thousand rounds of ammunition and one hundred and fifty motorcycles were recorded as defective and “disposed of” in 1986 alone.

    Under these conditions, it is unsurprising that the initiative remained with the insurgents through 1988 and the first half of 1989. Although the Grangeland CSR’s central government, belatedly recognising the threat that the insurgents posed, called in every national agency and organization that could be of conceivable assistance – primarily the Bureau of Internal Security, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Narcotics and the People’s Militia Internal Investigation Department – this largely just added to the chaos. While things seldom got as bad as they did, notoriously, in the “Whitefish Northwest Front Cadre” (an ostensible insurgent cell which, by early 1989, was comprised of two regular People’s Militia agents, one BIS undercover operative, two ATN officers, and one IID officer, and which collapsed when everyone tried to arrest everyone else), the unclear chain of responsibility ensured that these agencies’ operations barely made a dent in the insurgency.

    Even with the almost wilful blindness to the rapid deteriorating situation displayed by central government, it had become clear by the time a “sensitive area” was decreed in early 1989 covering most of west Montana that insurgent activity in the area, previously uncoordinated, had coalesced into three distinct groups.

    In the areas which had been most visited by fundamentalist Mormon missionaries in the 1970s, hitherto hidden communities were making their presence known. In collectives across Beaverhead and Ravall Counties, non-Mormon workers were told to seek unemployment elsewhere. Any refusal or attempt to notify authorities on the part of the non-Mormons generally proved fatal. Bar owners and general stores which sold spirits were subject to a campaign of harassment, culminating in petrol-bombing, unless they fled the area. Truckers delivering goods to and from the area were routinely subject to roadblocks and searches by armed fundamentalist Mormons, by now referring to themselves as the New Nauvoo Legion, with any alcohol being confiscated and destroyed. By the end of 1988, basic governance in these areas had largely passed into the hands of the NNL, whose wide base of support amongst the large Mormon community in Idaho was setting off alarm bells for the government of the Pacific States of America as well.

    As the insurgency wound on, control of the main roads running from the Idaho border to Missoula and Butte became increasingly contested: it was clear that whichever faction ended up able to levy tolls and protection money from the traffic on these would benefit immensely. Multiple biker gangs, operating primarily from Idaho in the 70s but using the increasingly porous border with the CSA from the mid-80s onwards as a secure base to manufacture meth and lie low when necessary, were in an excellent position to exploit this opportunity. John Hale, a middle-aged Idaho chapter leader for a Sacramento-based biker gang, came out on top of the initial struggles between rival gangs in the middle of 1988, negotiating a truce with the remnants of the other gangs. By early 1989, any civilian vehicle driving from Missoula to Butte or to the border only did so at the express permission of “Hale’s Army”, a loose confederation of Idaho bikers whose ranks had been swelled by insurgents on People’s Militia surplus motorcycles.

    It was those insurgents operating from the north-west tip of the Grangeland CSR who ultimately amalgamated into the Northwest Front; allowed by the geography of the region to organize in relative peace, they had transformed by late 1988 from an assortment of barely related insurgent cells into a grouping able to pose a genuine threat to the continuance of government in the region. The first car bombing in Kalispell (a vehicle was detonated outside the People’s Militia regional headquarters on 7 September 1988, killing fourteen and wounding forty-eight) marked a new and bloody phase in the NWF’s urban warfare against the authorities. Within six months, the CSR’s de facto control of Kalispell barely extended beyond the concrete barriers surrounding any official building in the area, from which heavily armored PM vehicles (very occasionally) set out on pro forma peace-keeping patrols.

    Further out in the countryside, the NWF’s control was less contested. As 1988 wound on, virtually every farming or mining collective manager received a visit from two or three non-descript men requesting positions at the collective in question. The consequences of a refusal rapidly became clear to these managers. The positions were primarily no-show jobs, intended to provide a measure of semi-legitimate income to the insurgent in question. However, even at this early stage, several NWF operatives requested a particular position within a collective which would in later years become essential to communication across the NWF as a whole. Ironically, the CSA’s central government had provided the tools to do so.

    The Syndicalist Internet: CYBERSYN and DigiTel
  • The Syndicalist Internet: CYBERSYN and DigiTel



    The brainchild of Anthony Stafford Beer (a British cyberneticist who had defected to the CSA via New England in the early 1970s), “Cybernetic Synergy”, a proposed distributed decision-making network intended to link workers’ syndicates into an integrated whole, languished on the drawing-board for over a decade, until it caught the eye of incoming Chairman Robert S McNamara in 1985. Immediately embraced as a flagship element of McNamara’s programme for “technocratic syndicalism”, the project (renamed CYBERSYN) was implemented in the Grangeland Syndicalist Commune on 1 February 1987 (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Combined Syndicates), with further rollouts to the rest of the CSA being planned over the next decade.

    CYBERSYN initially consisted of a network of terminals distributed to individual factories and collective farms, into which data on production metrics was input: this data was then collated centrally, analysed and used to inform regional economic policy, with instructions on production, pricing and logistics being fed back to individual terminals: later iterations allowed direct terminal-to-terminal communication between end users.

    While CYBERSYN saw some initial successes (most notably allowing the rapid rerouting of agricultural goods from Grangeland during a truckers’ strike in 1988), its model was ultimately too ambitious, flawed and dependent on human input to be genuinely effective, and the project was damaged by high-profile defections from the design team (Professor Theodore Kaczynski resigned in 1989, convinced that it was inherently impossible to accurately model and alter an entire economy in real time), by a lack of enthusiasm among end users and by increasingly limited resources available to the project (proposed implementation across the Steel Belt was delayed until 1996, while implementation in the New Afrika and Gullah Autonomous Communes was shelved entirely). By the early 90s, CYBERSYN was increasingly seen as an expensive failure.

    Ironically, one of its most lasting legacies was to provide, via peer-to-peer use of terminals, an encryptable channel of communication between separatists and anti-government elements. It is estimated that by 1992 80% of CYBERSYN terminals in western Montana were being used primarily as a method of communication by Northwest Front sympathisers: working to a mutually agreed and regularly changed code, NWF insurgents embedded as terminal operators would place orders for particular quantities of goods at particular prices to pass messages to other terminal operators. Despite the best efforts of central government, this code was only briefly and irregularly broken.


    DigiTel was proposed as CYBERSYN’s personal equivalent: a planned closed network accessible via telephone lines, it was intended to allow individual users to, inter alia, check news services, weather reports, redeem credits for train tickets and chat with other citizens on local message boards (all, of course, monitored by the benevolent eye of the Interior Security Services).

    Rolled out in 1991 in the Communes of Chicago and Philadelphia, DigiTel proved enormously popular: the sheer volume of information posted on the nework, however, simply overwhelmed any attempt at censorship, and the authorities were increasingly discomfited at the vast amount of grainy and pixelated pornography which ended up consuming bandwidth. DigiTel’s networks were permanently closed in 1993 amid fears that they were being used to coordinate the series of protests that ultimately led to the fall of the McNamara administration, the election of the radical reformer James Traficant as Chairman, and the collapse of the Combined Syndicates of America. Both CYBERSYN and DigiTel were defunded in 1994.
    Down With the Traitors, Up With the Stars (1989)
  • Down With the Traitors, Up With the Stars (1989)

    The Gubernatorial elections held in one third of the CSA’s Constituent Syndicalist Republics in November 1988 were the first in over thirty years: in the clearest signal yet that MacNamara’s premiership was on the wane, the governors thus elected were exclusively from the reformist wing of the Syndicalist Union Party (other parties were still strictly speaking illegal, and the handful of “independents” who attempted to stand for office were cut off at every turn by state coercion). Max Baucus, inaugurated as Governor of the Grangeland CSR in January 1989, was in the company of a grouping of reformist freshman Governors which included former Admiral James Stockdale (the Illinois-Wisconsin CSR) and Cleveland Chief Officer Dennis Kucinich (the Steel Belt CSR): he was only unique in the gravity of the situation with which he was immediately confronted.

    Just how much ground the various insurgencies in Western Montana had gained was clear from the regional variations in turnout for the 1988 election: while the Grangeland CSR had averaged turnout of over 80% of its eligible voters, participation had been derisory in the recently-designated “sensitive area”. A campaign of intimidation against voters, culminating in car-bombings of polling stations (the most lethal managed to kill twelve and injure dozens in central Butte), had ensured that fewer than 15% of voters turned out overall there, dropping to 5% in Beaverhead and Ravalli Counties. On evaluating the situation, Baucus turned to the only option available to the CSR at this point and requested full-scale military involvement from the CSA.

    This request for martial law came at an unusually propitious time for the CSA’s Secretary of War, Alexander Haig. A doctrinaire syndicalist whose forty years of service in the CSA’s armed forces had culminated in elevation to the Syndicalist Union Party’s inner circle, he was conscious, like everyone else in Chicago, that MacNamara’s star was rapidly fading, and that a change of leadership was almost certain within the next five years. It was his intention, if he could possibly help it, to ensure that he would lead the CSA into the 21st Century – successfully dealing with a source of internal instability that had grown almost unchecked over the last eighteen months would provide him with the political capital he needed.

    It is a measure both of Haig’s enthusiasm for the proposed counter-insurgency operation (given the official name of Operation Mountain Lion in February 1989) and of his position within the corridors of power that sufficient resources were assembled within eight weeks. Fifteen thousand men, two hundred transport and assault helicopters and dozens of armored vehicles originally earmarked for the increasingly beleaguered US mission in the Centroamerican Worker’s Republic were detached and combined into the Special Anti-Terror Patrol Operational Group (or SATPO, as it rapidly came to be known), consisting of one mechanised and two airborne brigades). For the overall commander of the group, Haig chose an old friend and protégé.

    In many ways, General Wesley Kanne was typical of the CSA’s senior officer corps of the late 1980s. Born in Chicago in 1944, his father’s deep connections to the CSA’s party apparatus ensured that Kanne was offered a place at West Point immediately after high school. Graduating as valedictorian of his class, he received a coveted place in the Foreign Relations doctoral course at the William Dudley Haywood School of Governance in New York, before being assigned as a staff officer to Haig’s command. Although his subsequent meteoric rise through the ranks is perhaps more readily ascribed to his willingness to use his political connections than to any unusual brilliance, he was undoubtedly a capable officer (albeit one yet to see actual combat by 1989). For a long-term operation depending on logistics just as much as military tactics, he would have been a natural choice even absent Haig’s patronage.

    In a break from the disastrous approach of the last eighteen months and recognising the importance of intelligence to an operation of this nature, Haig insisted to the Bureau of Internal Security that intelligence support be provided to SATPO from a single organizational command. After a substantial back-and-forth with Bureau Director Mark Felt, he got his way: in place with the patchwork of local and national intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies operating in the “sensitive area”, SATPO’s need for on-the-ground intelligence would be provided entirely from a single network nominally under the command of the Bureau but reporting in reality to Haig. To ensure an additional firewall between SATPO and the Bureau, the network would be headed by an agent from the Bureau of External Security: John Brennan, with his experience of counterinsurgency warfare in Centroamerica, would provide a level of expertise in operations of this nature which both Haig and Kanne lacked.

    Haig arranged a meeting with Kanne and Brennan on 28 April 1989. Within six hours, both were en route to SATPO’s base in Omaha. Haig had impressed on them both the urgency of the situation: with an ample supply of men and material, they had approximately two months to plan and effect the first serious counterblow to the insurgents.
    Operation Wagon Train (1989)
  • Operation Wagon Train (1989)

    Kanne had been gifted with two capable subordinates in Colonel Oliver North (commanding SATPO’s motorized brigade) and Colonel Stanley McChrystal (responsible for the two airborne brigades); in the weeks following his arrival at Omaha, the three men fleshed out the details of an initial plan of attack which would form part of the overall counter-insurgency strategy discussed by Brennan.

    The plan they ultimately settled on was simple in the extreme: given that the most visible manifestation of the insurgency in western Montana was the government’s loss of control over the main roads connecting Missoula, Butte and Helena (leading to a brewing humanitarian crisis in Missoula at least, grainy photographs of which were beginning to circulate both within and without the CSA), SATPO would introduce themselves to the region with an unmistakeable show of force aimed at clearing these roads. A heavily armed aid convoy would be assembled in full view in Billings (the westernmost major city largely free of insurgent activity), and would proceed, assisted by detachments from the airborne brigades, to Missoula via Helena over a period of three days. Haig had told Kanne in confidence that several ground attack aircraft, although technically still part of the air arm of the Grangeland CSR’s People’s Militia, could be available at short notice in the likelihood that the insurgents chose to engage the convoy.

    As Kanne and Brennan had expected, information about the rapidly assembling convoy flowed almost unrestricted to the insurgents. While its true strength remained hidden for the time being, the fact that an unusually large column of trucks would be dispatched to Missoula, presumably for humanitarian purposes, was a matter of common knowledge by mid-May. Brennan’s nascent intelligence-gathering apparatus embedded within various insurgent cells reported unusual movements from 15 May onwards, accelerating as the month went on, as insurgents, drawn to the prospect of plunder as moths to a flame, prepared to mount the largest show of force the Northwest Montana Insurgency had seen thus far.

    The convoy’s anticipated path ran through Hale’s Army territory, so it was natural that overall command of the operation fell to the increasingly delusional and meth-addled John Hale. His three hundred regular members of Hale’s Army had been swollen to around seven hundred and fifty by the arrival of dozens of cells of unaffiliated insurgents: successfully hijacking the convoy would make him by far the most powerful man in Northwest Montana. His intended plan of action differed in scale, but not in nature, from what Hale’s Army had been doing day in and day out for over a year: it was simply a matter of deciding where to deploy the additional four hundred militants to best effect. By this point, Hale was reasonably certain of the route the convoy would take, and had come to know the relevant roads extremely well. After some deliberation, he settled on a stretch of road roughly equidistant between the hamlets of Garrison and Drummond as the natural spot for an ambush. Shortly after 0900 on 3 June 1989, the convoy set out from Billings: the insurgency’s network of informants managed to notify Hale within ninety minutes. Silently and known to as few people as possible, the main body of Hale’s Army took up positions in the scrubland behind the ridge overlooking the Garrison-Drummond road.

    After two days of steady progress – the convoy had met minimal resistance, confined to a handful of insurgents firing a few shots at the lead vehicle before fleeing into the surrounding countryside – Kanne and North ordered a halt outside Butte: in total, they had covered roughly two hundred and thirty miles. By midnight on 5 June, they’d received cause to thank Brennan.

    Ironically, given Hale’s increasing paranoia about informants within his militia – in late April, he’d shot his second-in-command under the suspicion that he was passing on information to the People’s Militia – and his tight control of signals emissions over the proceeding forty-eight hours, his position was ultimately betrayed by his men’s campfires, which attracted the notice of a combat reconnaissance aircraft which had been circling, unseen, over the road between Butte and Missoula and its surrounding countryside. Deciding against investigating further (and fearing that an extended presence at lower altitudes would attract the attention of Hale’s Army) the aircraft let SATPO’s central command know that somewhere between seven and eight hundred men were encamped on the Garrison-Drummond road and that an attack would almost certainly be made on the convoy in the morning.

    On 5 June, the convoy set out on its last leg from Butte to Missoula. The last vehicle had passed through Garrison when a rear observer noticed the presence of two dozen bikers keeping about half a mile back from the main convoy: Hale had evidently decided to spring his trap. As the convoy drew ever closer to the concealed insurgents, a team of insurgents originally affiliated with the New Nauvoo Legion prepared to unveil their secret weapon: a five year old anti-tank weapon delivery system purchased from a particularly well-equipped People’s Militia unit three months prior. Aside from this, and a handful of IEDs deployed on the main road, which would cripple a truck but have little effect on a tracked vehicle, Hale’s Army would have to rely on small arms.

    At 1047, with the convoy passing directly below the ridge, Hale gave the order to open fire. The lead IFV, hit with an anti-tank round, was instantly immobilised. As the surviving crew scrambled to escape the burning vehicle and the comparatively defenceless trucks squealed to a halt, the entire ridge lit up with gunfire as Hale’s Army brought every weapon it had to bear on the convoy.

    For obvious reasons, Hale’s train of thought over the next five minutes will never be known. From his vantage point on the ridge, the sheer chaos below – drivers being mown down by insurgent fire as they crouched behind their vehicles; a supply truck, trying to reverse, hitting an IED; isolated teams of SATPO infantrymen firing blindly at the ridge, their bullets whistling harmlessly over the heads of the insurgents – most likely convinced him that he was on the cusp of the largest victory over government forces yet won by insurgents, and of complete control over Northwest Montana. Whatever his thoughts, they were cut off abruptly when two ground attack aircraft loitering at thirty-six thousand feet dropped thermobaric munitions on the ridge.

    The precise point at which Hale was killed is similarly unclear: although it is assumed that his corpse was among the fifty later recovered which were too badly burned for identification, no evidence has emerged from the handful of eyewitness accounts of the next nightmarish period which would settle the matter one way or the other. He might have been virtually incinerated in one of the initial blasts; he might have choked to death on his own blood, trying to breathe with lungs destroyed by the subsequent shockwaves; he might have still been on the ridge when the counterattack by SATPO infantry secured it from the handful of dazed and badly injured insurgents still present; or he might have fled the ridge and either encountered the SATPO airborne squadrons which had been transported several miles behind the ridge by helicopter in the middle of the night or simply succumbed to his injuries or the wilderness. Whatever the truth, Hale was dead: Hale’s Army, transformed in the course of fifteen minutes from the most dangerous internal threat posed to the governance of the CSA in half a century into a few dozen burned and terrified men, died with him.

    Of the vehicles in the SATPO convoy, only the lead IFV and the supply truck which had hit the IED were irreparable. The road had been cleared by midday, and the convoy resumed its journey at 1300, arriving at Missoula without further incident at 1430. With a surprising flair for public relations, Kanne insisted on riding in the uncovered lead vehicle as the convoy entered the city, ensuring that his picture would appear on the front page of dozens of newspapers and periodicals published in the CSA the next day. The implicit message of the image, not lost on the assembled press corps, was simple: the government was making its presence known in Montana again.

    Destroying the Village in Order to Save It (1989-1992)
  • MOSHED-2021-1-25-10-0-52.jpg

    "The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats." - Aldous Huxley
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    Death From Above (1989-1990)
  • Death From Above (1989-1990)

    In 2005, the diary that Wesley Kanne had kept diligently throughout Operation Mountain Lion (presumably to provide material for an autobiography at a later date) was published in a barely redacted form with the agreement of the government of the Federation of American States by his widow, who sought to eke out the minuscule government pension she received. Although never the bestseller that she had hoped – virtually nobody really wanted to dredge up memories of the Insurgency, after the signature of the Settle Accords had (hopefully) put an end to all that – the diary provides an invaluable primary source on the thought processes of the more important counter-insurgents, one frequently at odds with contemporary official releases.

    It is clear, for instance, that celebrations over the success of Operation Wagon Train were far more muted within SATPO’s upper echelons than in the civilian world. North, McChrystal, and Brennan, with almost two decades of counter-insurgency warfare in Centroamerica between them, were under no illusions that the destruction of Hale’s Army was anything other than the first salvo in what would be a very long engagement indeed. SATPO’s opening move had shown that any grouping of insurgents arrogant or stupid enough to engage the CSA’s military in force could be dealt with almost out of hand: actually extirpating the insurgency would be another matter entirely.

    Indeed, from the point of view of SATPO’s high command, Wagon Train’s most immediately useful outcome had been provided in the form of the thirty-eight badly injured, exhausted and terrified insurgents who had been taken alive. Brennan’s intelligence operation had been unofficially authorised to utilise methods of interrogation which were prohibited by the Bureau of Internal Security’s rules of engagement: the information supplied by these unorthodox methods (which played a not insignificant role in ensuring that only three of the captives survived to stand trial for armed sedition) allowed SATPO to build a picture of the strength and location of many of the amorphous and interlocking insurgent groups in Western Montana.

    The summer of 1989 would see SATPO on the sustained offensive for the first time, rolling up the unaffiliated local militias operating to the south of Missoula and in the North Montana plains and conducting raids against the New Nauvoo Legion compounds which had operated more or less unmolested by local authorities for the last eighteen months. Faced with overwhelming materiel superiority and unable to counter SATPO’s attack helicopters, much less the ground attack aircraft which formed an integral element of the initial few months of the combined assaults on fortified insurgent positions, the braver or more unlucky insurgents died where they stood, putting up a desperate but futile resistance as compound after compound fell before SATPO. By October, the remnants of the Legion had mostly fled across the Idaho border: a handful of survivors, keeping to the old and hidden safehouses which had served as refuges for Mormon missionaries in the 1970s, were the last trace of the Legion’s presence in the Grangeland CSR.

    With the pacification of much of North Montana and the areas surrounding Missoula, SATPO turned its attentions to the extreme north-west corner of Montana. The incipient Northwest Front, centred around Kalispell and on poor terms with Hale’s Army, had survived the fallout from Operation Wagon Train more or less unscathed: SATPO would have to pacify a mountainous and heavily forested area of almost fifteen thousand square miles where more or less all of the basic functions of governance had passed into the hands of NWF members or sympathisers.

    The plan drawn up in conference by Kanne, Brennan, North and McChrystal was based on counter-insurgent tactics developed in the late 1970s and honed over a decade of use in Centroamerica. At any one time, one third of the two SATPO Airborne Brigades, divided into “patrols” of four transport helicopters, one light helicopter and a UAV, would be installed in one of several forward operating bases on a strict six-week rotation. In response to rebel activity either reported by one of Brennan’s network of local informants or discovered by the UAV, the patrol would proceed to the relevant area and disembark its airborne infantry sections about half a mile from the sighting: while the soldiers conducted a ground level sweep, the helicopters would manoeuvre around the target, attacking simultaneously from the opposite direction. The patrols would remain in the area for as little time as possible, with any captured insurgents or intelligence being extracted to the AFB from which the relevant Airborne Brigade operated. SATPO’s Mechanised Brigade would be reserved, at least initially, for ensuring that supply lines between the AFBs and the forward operating bases were kept open.

    In Kanne’s diary entries for late 1989 and early 1990, the perceptive reader can detect the first signs of the difficulties which were increasingly to plague Operation Mountain Lion, as Kanne expresses his frustration at the uselessness of the remaining People’s Militia units, requiring the Mechanised Brigade to assume an increasingly large portion of the policing of Northwest Montana, and Haig’s inability to provide additional troops to ensure the long-term pacification of insurgent-heavy areas. The first serious disagreement on overall strategy and rules of engagement between Brennan and Kanne is noted on 26 November 1989: within three years, such disagreements had become commonplace.

    Nevertheless, that 1989 represented the apogee of the CSA’s counter-insurgency efforts is shown by the operational casualty figures noted down weekly in Kanne’s diary. In the last six months of 1989, SATPO patrols accounted for five hundred and fifty two insurgents killed and seventy six capture in Flathead County alone. In exchange, three SATPO helicopters were lost, two to mechanical failure and one due to an exceptionally lucky rocket propelled grenade shot by insurgent Gary Stennis (who earned the soubriquet “Rocket Man” and, eventually, a seat in the Council of the Northwest Montana Semi-Autonomous Zone). As 1990 approached, Kanne had every reason to believe in the eventual success of Operation Mountain Lion.

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    Because We Live Here (1990)
  • Because We Live Here (1990)

    The events of 1989 had undoubtedly extracted a significant toll on the overall operational capability of the insurgents: that the effects felt were on individual insurgent cells were deeply uneven was becoming clear by the spring of 1990. In general, those insurgent groups which had been most visible during the first two years of the Insurgency, the roving biker gangs levying tolls on all transport throughout Northwest Montana and the local militias formed to defend their hometowns during the collapse of public order, were most vulnerable to counter-insurgency tactics. Even within the heartland of the insurgency, most of these groups had been destroyed or frightened into a surly compliance within the first few months of Operation Mountain Lion. Similarly, the larger Northwest Front cells – numbering up to thirty men on occasion – discovered too late their logistical dependence on a network of sympathisers who could be detained or ‘turned’, and their vulnerability to the long-range helicopter patrols which were, for the moment, virtually impossible to counter.

    Conversely, the counter-insurgency had had almost no effect on the small, paranoid cells of NWF insurgents within the larger towns in the region or those capable of living off the land almost indefinitely. Provided with a plethora of highly visible targets, these groups were able to inflict a limited but steady stream of casualties on government forces almost without loss. Within a year of the beginning of Operation Mountain Lion, the NWF was smaller and more geographically limited but, in general, far more competent and fanatical than it had been in early 1989: while much of this transformation was simply due to the Darwinian logic of the counter-insurgency, which neutralised the arrogant, foolhardy and incompetent while leaving the others unmolested, the first half of 1990 saw the rise within the NWF’s echelons of a commander later to become associated indelibly with the overall successes of the insurgency.

    James Gordon Gritz was born in 1939 in Oklahoma: on the establishment of the Sequoyah CSR, he was resettled along with his parents in Grangeland, where his father was provided with a job at a Kalispell logging camp. Enlisting in the Army of the Combined Syndicates on graduation from high school, he served with distinction in the CSA’s “military advisory mission” to the People’s Republic of the Honduras during the Centroamerican Wars of the early 1960s, before volunteering as part of the first intake for the CSA’s nascent Ranger Corps in 1964. In contrast to the CSA’s fairly militarily conventional interventions in the affairs of its immediate neighbours in the first two decades of its existence, the Rangers were intended to fill the CSA military’s need for assets capable of the asymmetrical warfare that was an increasing feature of the limited proxy wars in Africa, Asia and South America which would come to define the foreign policy of the late 1960s and early 1970s: airdropped into territory de facto controlled by sympathetic rebels, they were trained to mould existing insurgencies into an effective and dangerous force virtually single-handedly and with extremely limited external support.

    The precise extent of Gritz’s deployments in this period must remain unknown until his military record is declassified in 2035: his claims to a deep involvement in the (ultimately successful) Afrosyndicalist insurgencies in Angola from 1967-1971, the CSA’s attempts to create a similar insurgency in the Bophuthatswana Autonomous State in the early 1970s and the creation of the (still ongoing) Sendero Luminoso insurgency in the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation in the late 1970s notwithstanding, the militaries of the CSA and the Federated States of America have refused to confirm his presence in any of these theatres. Nevertheless, if even half of his claims are true, he must have been, on his 1985 retirement from active service to Kalispell, one of the dozen or so individuals in the CSA best qualified to manage a homegrown insurgency.

    This qualification was not lost on the civilian authorities: Gritz was placed under surveillance by plainclothes People’s Militia units from 1987 onwards. This backfired catastrophically when Gritz, tipped off to the operation by a careless Militiaman and forced to choose between awaiting an imminent arrest and fleeing to insurgent-held territory, chose the latter course of action in late 1988. Moving from safehouse to safehouse in remote northwest Montana, his experience with insurgency warfare allowed him to accrue more and more influence among what formal command structure the NWF had at this point: although the precise point at which he secured overall responsibility with the tactical direction of the insurgency is unclear, it was certainly no later than early 1990 – his hand was almost certainly strengthened enormously by SATPO’s rapid series of victories in the second half of 1989)

    The reforms that Gritz made to the NWF’s operational structure were significant, wide-ranging and effective. In place of the loose confederation of sizeable local militias, calling on each other for mutual support where required, Gritz established an array of insurgent cells, each intended to operate entirely separately from the others: these cells, limited in size to the greatest extent possible (a cell embedded in an urban area would typically have three members, while one covering a larger rural region could have up to six active members at any one time) were required to be more or less self-sufficient. A minimal command staff, responsible for the general direction of NWF activity, supplying each cell with experts and materiel if necessary, was established for each larger region. As far as possible, information on insurgent operations would be restricted to a need-to-know basis: an individual insurgent, if captured, would not be able to incriminate more than half a dozen or so others.

    Gritz’s assumption of command heralded a change in strategy almost as great as that to the NWF’s organisational structure. For the first two years of the insurgency, the insurgents and the counter-insurgents had flailed ineffectively and directionlessly against each other: NWF and People’s Militia units alike had chosen their targets based on a combination of personal score-settling, out-of-date or inaccurate intelligence and (at times) the desire for plunder. Henceforth, the NWF’s every action would need to advance at least one of its two aims: making SATPO’s continued operation in northwest Montana too politically and financially costly to be sustained, and ensuring that SATPO and the area’s civilian populations distrusted each other to the greatest extent possible. Within these broad parameters, the NWF’s regional commanders were given a great deal of tactical and operational leeway.

    These changes took some months to percolate through the ranks of the NWF and were never universally adopted, but proved almost immediately effective where deployed. Over the summer of 1990, the series of small-scale attacks by NWF cells on known informants, the logistical network underpinning SATPO’s forward bases, and any civilian suspected of fraternizing with SATPO operatives had begun to visibly blunt SATPO’s capabilities. The reactivation of NWF cells in areas believed pacified fuelled the developing paranoia of SATPO’s high command: SATPO’s ‘retaliation raids’ on communities believed to harbour NWF members in turn fuelled civilian hostility to SATPO. Prior to 1990, northwest Montana’s civilians had broadly seen the NWF either as a temporary nuisance or an intensely local phenomenon: as the year wore on, people were increasingly forced to pick a side between the insurgents and central government. By December 1990, SATPO high command (Brennan in particular) were beginning to believe that a comprehensive change in direction was needed for Operation Mountain Lion.
    Go West, Young Man (1990-1991)
  • Go West, Young Man (1990-1991)

    Formulated between Kanne and Brennan over Christmas 1990, Phase Two of Operation Mountain Lion recognised that the forces available to SATPO were no longer appropriate or sufficient to assume a role which had undergone a subtle but inexorable change over the preceding eighteen months. Two airborne brigades, a mechanised brigade and limited air support were more than enough to decisively defeat insurgent forces in any conventional engagement: assuming sole responsibility for the policing of an area which had expanded to eighteen thousand square miles by late 1990 was entirely beyond their capabilities.

    Bringing his experience in South American counterinsurgency warfare to bear, Brennan proposed two material alterations to Operation Mountain Lion, augmented by a host of smaller changes to the Operation’s structure and rules of engagement.

    Firstly, those People’s Militia units still functioning in Mountain Lion’s zone of operation were finally and irrevocably dissolved on 1 January 1991 (over the protests of Governor Baucus, this was effected by the decree of the Chicago Congress, further deepening the rift between the respective governments of the Grangeland CSR and the CSA as a whole). Over the last three years, they had proved hopelessly incompetent, corrupt and (in places) riddled with NWF sympathizers: while many individual Militiamen, given less than a week’s notice of impending dismissal, decided to throw their lot in wholeheartedly with the NWF rather than await reassignment to civilian jobs (and an ever-present threat of reprisal for prior acts by insurgent cells) Kanne’s diaries for the period suggest a general feeling of relief among Mountain Lion’s high command that SATPO was no longer dependent in any way on a deeply unreliable “ally”.

    Those policing duties previously conduced by the People’s Militia, and many of the less skilled and risky logistical support roles under the purview of the Mechanised Brigade, were to pass into the hands of the newly-formed SATPO Irregular Division, intended to report directly to Brennan. This element of the restructuring of Operation Mountain Lion, although grudgingly approved “off-record” by Alexander Haig, was never submitted to the rest of the CSA’s military high command for comment, nor was a funding request for the Irregulars made through official channels. Instead, Brennan’s close working relationship with Mark Felt, the Director of the Bureau of Internal Security, allowed him to draw on funds controlled by the Bureau to cover all of the costs associated with the division. In practice, this gave Brennan almost complete freedom of action where the Irregulars were concerned: although his position within Operation Mountain Lion remained, sensu stricto, a purely consultative one, Kanne’s diaries note an increasing number of disagreements between him and Brennan as the latter took on a progressively larger active role in Mountain Lion’s operations, at times countermanding Kanne’s direct orders.

    Like many “black projects” of the period, all of the records of the Bureau’s funding off the Irregular Division were officially destroyed along with the Alger Hiss building during the 1994 Battle of Chicago, so most of the information on the Division in the public domain has been reconstructed from eyewitness testimonies by northwest Montana’s civilian population and regular soldiers within SATPO. It is clear, in any case, that Brennan’s initial vision of a fifteen thousand-strong peacekeeping and policing force drawn from Montana locals, its leadership comprised of the more competent former People’s Militia officers, failed to materialise: local enlistment rates were derisory, due to a combination of local hostility to SATPO and a genuine fear of insurgent attacks on the families of the Irregulars. To plug this gap in manpower, Brennan was forced to resort to more and more unorthodox methods: recruitment standards were lowered to the point where people who’d failed the aptitude tests for the People’s Militia or who’d been dishonourably discharged from the CSA’s regular military were recruited, recruitment offices were opened in the more economically depressed areas of other CSRs and petty criminals sentenced to hard labour terms of up to twelve months were offered a remission of their sentence in exchange for enlistment.

    Northwest Montana’s civilian population had held the People’s Militia in mild contempt, and had feared SATPO’s regular troops: they loathed the Irregulars from the beginning. This loathing, reciprocated wholeheartedly by most of the Irregulars, progressively damaged the capabilities of Operation Mountain Lion, as the Irregulars took up a larger and larger proportion of the routine work associated with Mountain Lion. Despite Kanne’s objections, the first “mixed patrols”, consisting of a combination of regular and irregular troops, were underway by the autumn of 1991.

    The second alteration to Operation Mountain Lion was never fully instituted, but represents a more radical departure from the Operation’s initial scope than the first. Brennan proposed a wholesale uprooting of the civilian population of northwest Montana: the inhabitants of the small towns and hamlets which dotted the area would be assembled and “processed” by SATPO’s intelligence arm, with those civilians deemed to pose a threat to peaceful governance in the region to be reassigned to another CSR: the remainder would be installed in purpose-built and military defensible “civilian facilities” consisting of multiple new apartment blocks and amenities. To ensure continued pacification of the population, a civilian SATPO informant would be embedded on each floor of each apartment block.

    The proposal, considered expensive and impractical even by SATPO’s largest institutional supporters within the CSA’s power structure, never fully got off the ground: however, a test scheme was approved for Beaverhead County in mid-1991. The first town subject to “processing” was Dillon, the county seat: of its roughly five thousand residents, two hundred and fifty were deported to the Gulf CSR, with the remainder being relocated to the nearby Dillon Civilian Facility, a series of prefabricated buildings intended as a temporary measure until new apartment blocks could be constructed. To replace the deportees, Brennan and his allies in the Bureau of Internal Security had reached a tacit agreement with the Governor of the Appalachia CSR, whose own restructurings to the CSR’s bloated and uncompetitive coal mining industry was creating a pool of unemployed civilians: advertised as a “town of the future” carrying guaranteed employment opportunities, the Dillon Civilian Facility’s two hundred and fifty vacancies received over eight thousand applications within weeks.

    The (carefully politically vetted) incomers rapidly discovered the truth of their situation: resented by the locals and living in cold and unsanitary conditions (the NWF had made it clear that any collective supplying goods or manpower to construct these Civilian Facilities would be targeted for reprisals, so Dillon’s apartments were still unfinished at the advent of winter), they were only allowed to leave the Facility as part of an armed convoy driven to one of several nearby agricultural collectives. These virtual prisoners would remain in these conditions, in some cases, until 1994.

    Despite these teething problems, Brennan’s reforms were broadly successful in returning some of the initiative to SATPO. By December 1991, he could point to an overall 65% reduction in visible insurgent activity near Dillion as evidence for the value of the Civilian Facility Scheme: though there was still definite friction between SATPO’s regular and irregular troops, the sheer influx of manpower had given Operation Mountain Lion a wider and more permanent reach in its area of operation. Going into 1992, there was only slight cause for doubt among Operation Mountain Lion’s upper echelons, and that at present a speck on the horizon: in the preceding few months, the NWF had opened up a new and irritatingly public front of attack against SATPO.
    The Widening Gyre (1991-1992)
  • The Widening Gyre (1991-1992)

    However rooted they may be in local conflicts and issues, at least initially, insurgencies are seldom entirely confined by national boundaries, as the CSA’s Western neighbour, the Pacific States of America, was beginning to discover by early 1992.

    Through the 1980s, the PSA’s interest in the developing Northwest Montana Insurgency was entirely academic, at least from the perspective of the state’s diplomatic and intelligence departments. Relations with the CSA had been minimal for the entirety of the PSA’s existence (the border between the two states was technically a ‘frozen conflict zone’ until a broad peace treaty, the McNamara-Church Agreement, was signed in 1961), and the Pacific States, buffeted by the commodity shocks of the early 80s which had so crippled the CSA, its diplomatic attentions consumed by an effort to balance its status as a semi-detached member of the Commonwealth of Nations and its growing economic intertwinement with the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, simply didn’t have an interest in paying more than cursory attention to the actions of the Northwest Front. Insofar as the situation was monitored at all, it was treated as a mildly embarrassing domestic issue for the CSA.

    The Northwest Montana Insurgency, as it happened, had begun to coalesce into a serious fighting force at a period of particularly fraught relations between the PSA’s central government and its Eastern frontier. The end of the 80s saw an unusually bad flareup of the ongoing conflict between the Bureau of Land Management and the ranchers and farmers who were permitted to work state-owned land. Just one of many faultiness in the society of the Pacific States from the 70s onwards, this conflict, generally dubbed the “Sagebrush Rebellion”, pitted an increasingly urban and environmentally-conscious coastal population and the bureaucratic apparatus of the PSA against Western rural interests, backed by a loose and ideologically-heterogenous coalition of elected officials, ranging from Orrin Hatch to Mo Udall, who believed in the devolution of decisions on land use to state or local level.

    The BLM’s five-yearly reapportionment of permits in 1991, which mandated an across-the-board 20% cut in land use quotas, was expected to set off a chorus of complaints from the West similar to those following the 1981 and 1986 reapportionments: the government of the PSA was unprepared for the nastier edge which resistance to the reapportionment took. For many of the smaller-scale ranchers, this permit reduction, coming at a time of widespread inflation, would render their operations unviable – desperate for assistance from any quarter whatsoever, several in southern Idaho and northern Utah began to look across the border with the CSA.

    On 28 August 1991, a vehicle containing two BLM enforcement rangers on a routine patrol south of Bruneau, Idaho triggered an IED: both were killed instantly. Investigation of the remnants of the IED suggested that its components had been primarily sourced from those territories across the border under the de facto control of the NWF. Two weeks later, a sheriff serving a warrant on a non-compliant small rancher was killed in an ambush clearly modelled on the NWF’s small-unit operations. Investigations by the PSA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation ran into a wall of silence (among local law enforcement and politicians as well as among ranchers and farmers in the area): faced with a unified front of opposition, their investigative efforts petered out without any arrests being made. With an increasingly large proportion of officials at town and county level being more or less openly noncompliant with the BLM and increasing rumbles of discontent from Western delegates to the Congress of the Pacific States, Sacramento decided to cut its losses as gracefully as possible: the proposed reapportionment was cancelled, and a bill, signed into law by President Robert Stack in January 1992, devolved most land management issues to the constituent states of the PSA. Although the damage caused to the PSA’s government’s prestige and legitimacy by this episode was minimal in the grand scheme of things, many senior figures had been alerted to the danger that an unstable region on the PSA’s border could pose.

    Other oddities soon followed. The single largest story covered by the PSA’s mass media over the summer of 1991 was a series of particularly daring bank robberies conducted in small towns across Idaho and eastern Washington and Oregon by two heavily-armed individuals wearing Earl Warren and Richard Nixon masks and a getaway driver. As the robbers slipped through local law enforcement’s frankly lackadaisical attempts at capture again and again, public interest mounted still further: by October 1991, the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered it advisable to establish a “flying squadron” modelled on Frank Hamer’s efforts to apprehend Bonnie and Clyde to deal with the problem. On 15 December 1991, a four-man team was ultimately able to intercept the bank robbers on a stretch of highway outside Coeur D’Alene: in the ensuing firefight, two FBI agents, one of the bank robbers and the getaway driver were killed. the survivor, a young Idaho native called Scott Stedeford, turned out to harbour deep links with Ben Klassen’s White supremacist Church of the Creator: the bank robberies had been intended as a source of funding to other Klassenites who had crossed over from Idaho into NWF-held territory and, by late 1991, formed a key element of the insurgents’ combat arm. Exactly how much money was channelled to the NWF in this manner is unknown: given that the bank robberies had netted several hundred thousand dollars, of which less than two thousand was ultimately recovered, the sum is likely to have been significant.

    These events, which brought the insurgency to the attention of the PSA’s government, fuelled a growing interest in the NWF in the wider world’s media. While Canadian journalists had been quietly smuggling themselves across the border to report on the varying fortunes of Operation Mountain Lion on the ground (in two cases being killed in the process) since early 1990, journalistic interest in the insurgency was spurred significantly in 1991 when Edward Pitts, a Pacifican photojournalist, was killed in Thompson Falls while attempting to secure an interview with a NWF commander. Paradoxically, the sheer danger involved in reporting on Operation Mountain Lion acted as a lure to war correspondents rather than a deterrent – by early 1992, multiple journalists were operating in Northwest Montana at any one time.

    Gritz lost no time on capitalising on this sudden uptick in interest: carefully vetted journalists were encouraged to join NWF long range patrols, and were granted interviews with senior insurgent commanders and protection by dedicated NWF insurgent teams during their stay in NWF-controlled areas (on the understanding that they would speak highly of the NWF’s fight for freedom). SATPO’s response was less sure-footed, vacillating between announcing Operation Mountain Lion’s Area of Operations as an exclusion zone (and threatening the detention of any journalists in the area on espionage charges) and granting special clearance to reliably Syndicalist journalists (mostly from Centroamerica and Brazil) to take part in conducted tours of the more functional and pleasant Civilian Facilities.

    In the first half of 1992, Kanne’s diaries reflect a very real sense among SATPO’s high command that the CSA was slowly but surely losing the public relations war to the insurgents on an international level: while frustrating, there was little which could be done for the time being other than policing the Canadian and Pacifican borders while the pacification campaign continued. The increased presence of journalists in the area notwithstanding, Operation Mountain Lion continued to operate virtually unchanged from 1991 as summer approached.

    As it happened, war correspondents played little role in the public promulgation of SATPO’s greatest error: the events of 22 June 1992, with which Operation Mountain Lion is today indelibly associated in the public mind, was publicised almost by accident.

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    Map: 1992 Pacific States House of Representatives Elections
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    Major parties in the Pacific States of America

    Progressive Democratic Party: Formed in the late 1940s as a merger between the left wing of the Pacific Democratic Party and the Pacific Progressive Party. Historical base of support among the labor movement and among rural smallholders, but has steadily expanded its suburban reach in response to the Long Recession of the 1980s. Broadly socially progressive, protectionist, opposed to immigration, emotionally attached to the PSA's old allies in Canada, New England and the Commonwealth of Nations as a whole. Notable Presidents: Earl Warren, Pat Brown, Frank Church.
    Pacific Republican Party: Historically the party of middle-class Pacificans, Eastern and rural interests and Mormons, the Pacific Republican Party is somewhat more socially and fiscally conservative than its main rival. Pro-immigration and increasingly receptive to economic and political overtures from the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Notable Presidents: Frank Merriam, Richard Nixon, Robert Stack.

    Minor parties in the Pacific States of America

    Pacific Populist Party:
    Founded in 1992 in the wake of the "Sagebrush Rebellion", a series of acrimonious disputes over land use between the Pacific Bureau of Land Management and Eastern ranchers. Comprised of an exceptionally broad and ideologically incoherent coalition of groups, ranging from anti-government militias to Native American activists to quasi-Syndicalist communes in rural Nevada, united by little more than a loathing for the Bureau of Land Management in particular and Sacramento in general. Despite this, the right of the party (led by Helen Chenoweth) and its left (led by Ronnie Lupe) are willing to work together, at least for the time being.
    Pacific Conservative Party: An artifact of the Republican Party's shift to the left in the early 1960s, the Conservative Party was established by Walter Knott and John G Schmitz in 1964. Its platform of military buildup, uncompromising anti-Syndicalism and Austrian economics has historically found its firmest base of support in Southern California, where it enjoys strong ties to the defense industry, and among Eastern rural interests (although the Populist Party has usurped most of the latter group).
    Cascadia Party: The most left-wing party present in the Pacific Congress, the Cascadia Party was formed in the early 1980s to protest logging in the Pacific Northwest. Strongly socially progressive and environmentalist, the Cascadia Party has struggled to expand beyond its Seattle heartlands.
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