Copyright Ó 1997, Dorian Scott Cole
This story begins with the premise that in an alternate universe, the Confederate States won the Civil War. This results in a series of changes in the world, and creates a new world situation in the present time.
In Ohio, one politician puts forth the idea that states should be independent to address their own concerns and choose their own way of life - the Federal government should not force conformity, or if they don't wish to conform they should have the option of seceding. He unites the citizens around this powerful idea. The will of the population to fight the Civil War is diminished and the Confederacy wins the war. The idea of slavery, by default, ceases to be an issue.
The entire Confederacy secedes and most of the Confederate States elect to be independent even of the Confederacy. "Cooperation" becomes the byword of the day for matters of mutual concern, such as defence. Beyond that, it is every state for itself. The Federal States also soon break apart into regional consortiums of states that band together for mutual support, and with total disregard for the interests of those States that are farther away. All national military organizations are disbanded due to lack of support, and only local militias remain.
The economy sputters and falters. Many regions are unable to support people or do any trade outside of their region. Piracy takes a major toll on trade and the economy. Each state ignores, or drags its feet on capturing, pirates that prey on other states, and there is no way to defend against piracy on the sea. Britain and other countries refuse to intervene to protect trade ships on the ocean, saying they have little to gain, and they have contempt for the direction the US has taken. In the early 1900s, when the industrial revolution should have made great progress, economic pressure is very intense and people live at subsistence levels. People begin selling themselves into slavery in order to get life's essentials. This creates major problems since no one can tell the slaves from the free. Identity cards are issued to everyone, and anyone not wearing an identity card is automatically assumed to be a slave and kept in slavery, with the burden of proof being on him to prove that he is not a slave.
Many people are so independent minded that they refuse identity cards and proof, and so end up in slavery. It is common for people to be kidnapped into slavery or conveniently gotten out of the way by being placed in slavery in a remote place. The systems are so corrupt, divided, and uncooperative that putting someone into slavery is easy, and few care enough to help get them out. Those who try usually disappear. In the split between the haves and the have nots, the "have-nots" and the "inconvenient" become the enslaved. The ideas of human and individual rights are completely abandoned; this is justified on economic grounds and widely accepted. People have the rights that they can buy. Whether haves or have nots, if they can't afford it, or their masters can't afford it, they can't have it. Breaking laws, any laws, can even be privileged through money - justice is for sale. Life itself becomes an issue of economics.
These practices spread to Northern Mexico and Canada. The world lacks the former example of the US, and there is no further progress made in the world toward individual liberty and human rights. Following the US example, slavery continues and abounds.
There is very little sense of concern for others in other states - self-interest reigns and no one really cares what problems others have or how those get resolved - most of the states actually don't like each other, and anthing foreign is taboo. Foreigners are tolerated at best, and often barred from entering or are often killed by "robbers." Border wars between states are frequent, and usually involve economic concerns such as resources and trade. The "cooperative" militias have become corrupt, responding to special interests only. Uniform law enforcement and cooperation are unheard of.
Technology that would improve the world is widely disregarded as simply not worth the price. There are plenty of slaves to do the work that is needed, and this is considered an efficient and moral system. There is very little advancement in communications, medicine, transportation, and agriculture. Everyone lacks adequate nutruition, medical care, and communication and trasportation. Death rates soar, and as the population grows disease becomes rampant. While each state does devote resources to some technologies out of concern for their own problems, none of the states can afford to develop these on their own, and none will share information.
A movement begins by some toward freedom. They cite the failure of the Ohio politician to understand the concept of unity, saying that he focused on political conformity as an issue and overlooked all of the other benefits of being a union. The conventional wisdom of the general population is that everyone fears and loathes "Federalism." These loosely bound individuals have one major problem: they are unable to prove their case through any large evidence that unity is better. So they are considered a bunch of radicals and dreamers, and denied subsistence and persecuted whenever possible.
What is the rest of the story?
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