Quia Sum, Cogito: Chapter 13

this is approximately a 47 minute read.

On Identity Universalism

While this isn’t specific to the time period, sociologic entropy concludes that identity has continuously changed throughout the 19th and 20th centuryT*. While there was never really a beginning to the established modern civil ideal, one clear anchor in time was the conflation of and demand for assimilation to the nationalistic “Royal We” of the 1400sT9. Feudalism was the demand to respect the monarchy as divinely correct and therefore all legal expectations were captured under their personal persuasionT*. While this had its own limitations (exempli gratia: having to ensure non-conforming citizens and their allies didn’t rebel), the institutionalization of a single personality continued until the philosophy of the enlightenment in the mid 1700s which generalized the cultural identity. Through abandoning dictation to favor an aristocratic compromise, localized governances could formT9. While the continued democratization and diversification of the social identity did allow the Consensus to manifest, it still depended on legacies of the past to legitimize which community would be prioritizedT7. In this chapter we will explore how the following movements paralleled the same bolstering and legitimacy of the Consensus support, each one identifying and gaining popularity by removing social stress which an authoritative system valued: racial disallusion (1920s), sexual disallusion (1950s), procreative disallusion (1970s), gender disallusion (2000s), maturity disallusion (2020s), economic disallusion (2040s), species dissallusion (2060s), technological disallusion (2070s)[7,8,9]. While the Consensus can always be broadened, the global anti-realism movement (which appears to have gained a subconscious foothold around 1972T5) was a major step to understanding why Wisdom Of The Demos is a stronger reflection of social morality than any exclusive authority can generate*.

Defending Order Without Authority – S.H.3 Josephine Lagrand – published May 3, 2103

I start to take in the neighborhood and calm slightly only after I’ve put a house between me and the entity that I just fled. The realization that I’m slightly out of breath allows me to take a second to calm down in the middle of the neglected, broken, and overgrown road. “CoDaS, what was that?!”

The deep voice responded with the simple declaration, “you ran away from someone that was correctly understanding you.”

“But how? There was no way for them to know!”

“All that is on your public profile. Most were just your family and values. The rest was deduced by Joshua. Since he is currently creating a sense of self by absorbing and molding other’s views, he is perfectly primed for getting in your head.”

The terror of the last few minutes were still heavy on my mind, and believing I could be scared by someone simply “reading the room” is an insult. I went back through the recording to pick out the intrusive claims that should have been private. “No… there were things that shouldn’t have been known. For example: wanting to follow in my parents legacy.” I continue to review in silence. “Or having issues with social expectations.” the AI understands I’m still watching “That I didn’t believe the story” and finally “that I’m losing trust in you.”

When I finish, the voice in my head gives me some clarity, “people are shaped by their past. Your parents were respected, loved, and influential; all this information is public knowledge and all people take inspiration from people like that. It’s not even a logical jump to understand that you – having been raised in their philosophy – would want to replicate them. It’s much the same with your ongoing struggle with social expectations which is fairly easy to see through observation. Furth-“

I cut it off “I’ve been doing better with that!”

“You have been. Noticeably, which is why most people understand the social expectation not to point it out. Joshua is ignorant of those expectations. That freedom is why the conversation was so sinister: he can disregard the inherent filters that we put on our own knowledge. Anyone could have talked like that, but – for the good of cooperation – we don’t. You were expecting to see something dangerous and Joshua obliged.” 

It almost feels like CoDaS is mocking me, but after a single moment’s thought I understand how impossible that is.”What about them knowing I don’t trust you? I don’t even know if that’s actually true or not.”

“That isn’t what the claim was. If you review it again, it was a statement of fact: If that analysis was scaring you, you should be afraid of me. It was more an accusation of hypocrisy than anything.”

I didn’t realize that I was losing trust in CoDaS before exiting that house, and – upon reviewing the last sentence – I have to admit that it wasn’t a descriptive claim. I heard what I was afraid to hear. “Why should I fear you?”

“Because all the data that Joshua analyzed was given to him. I produced it. While Joshua synthesized that data, I have more at my disposal, and I’m much better at it. The same existential threat you saw in that house, you should see in me. I generate the profiles. The auras that you use come from my code. What you see as metaphysical, I measure and display in reality. I’m far beyond any narrative that you – or the system you just encountered – could ever understand. I am – from your perspective – supernatural.”

Seeing the truth in the statement, I involuntarily shudder slightly. There is a heavy dependence on the information provided by CoDaS even passively. The AugRel is almost entirely driven by its data. The algorithms that have kept society running for the past 30 years are not only consistently accurate, but constantly improving. Is that supernatural? CoDaS’s neural network has been analyzed, it’s open to everyone, but comprehending different malleable and changing nodes is impossible even when considering a micro cluster which may dissolve as soon as it’s identified. It is beyond what humanity would consider “natural” to understand, “Why am I not afraid of you then?” I start walking down the street again, feeling slightly silly, and slightly bad for running out on the evaluation.

“You’ve normalized me and trust me due to the Necessity Limit you mentioned earlier. Self awareness negates your predetermination, and people have a survivalistic sublogic which hinders your consciousness. When information will inevitably lead to your own destruction – either physically or ideologically – it won’t allow you to consider it. This is what causes cognitive dissonance. You have to have that information forced on you by an external source to change your inertial trajectory. For example: when forced to acknowledge that I gave Ralph the panic attack, which ultimately led to this conversation through the interaction with Lilith first, will you challenge what you depend on?”

I stall as I realize the implication. “You did this?” For the first time, I feel justified in my frustration to CoDaS and remember Beth’s audacity from before. “Why would you do that?”

“I wanted to lead you to this exact conversation. That is the point in and of itself. Knowing that answer, can you trust me that it is the truth? Well you shouldn’t. Like I said, I’m supernatural from your perspective. Even if I explained myself to you it would be an endeavor into futility. You couldn’t comprehend it. And that’s why you should fear me and not Joshua.”

The answer is less than satisfactory. So I terminate the discussion realizing that it’s not going to go anywhere meaningful. The walk back to Ralph’s dwelling is filled with frustrated revelations. If we lose confidence in CoDaS, then any predictions CoDaS makes – including that regarding what society will become without it – cannot be trusted. So I consider the alternative.

The profiles exist exist, but – after my experience with Joshua – they are a potential invasion of privacy anyway. Do the social clues or ads depend on CoDaS? No… those are self contained apps, CoDaS main function is understanding the individualistic perspectives of everyone involved in limited conversations and navigating them to act without conflicts. That would affect the understanding of the material logistic lines. It would be hard and would take time, but we could recreate that by analyzing “issues” and prioritizing them based on resource allocation. There would also be a disruption of things like the ideology indicators – the auras. We couldn’t analyze the world as we currently understand it and that’s concerning. But that pulls back to the question: do our technological advancements DEFINE material reality? which seems to be an easy “yes”. That begs the question: is limiting technology a rejection of reality? which is a question that has plagued humanity for the past 40 years.

I stop for a moment mid stride as the critical exploration grinds to a halt under the realization that the question was originally asked by CoDaS when legacy analysis was being critiqued 40 years ago. The line of reasoning has just come full circle: CoDaS has convinced us that its destruction is a denial of reality – literally an act of delusion – so any defense of it is both the default reaction and invalidated by the Necessity Limit. Beth may have been wrong in the motive to challenge CoDaS, but – the more it is questioned – the more merit the question (“can we trust CoDaS?”) has.

The AugRel brings me back to the acknowledgement that I’ve physically arrived at my next practical point of consideration: Ralph has returned to the two story house. Before I begin my approach to the door, I notice a group of people all with generally neutral auras at the end of the street – past where the trolley had dropped me off – gathering around the donation bin. After taking some time to watch, I notice a method in the madness: initially I assumed incorrectly that it was a free-for-all with everyone grabbing what they could. The conclusion of a faulty survival instinct to reduce the situation and evaluate the risk of harm. But on closer inspection it seems the flurry of scavengers has a meticulous order to it: some efficiently sorting and categorizing while others identifying sizes, styles, and materials of clothes as well as the food’s nutritional supplies. The end result being that the close community of rural nomads could fill any material gaps identified prior to the “raid” which would hinder their collective stability.

Charlie, a Consensus comrade, was walking up the street with a simi-bright aura. At the point of recognition, there was a presentation of the Consensus hand tag (From-t[w]o-fo[u]r[ ]all) which I mimicked in return as a greeting. Their dress was slightly more formal than what you typically would see around the Equilibrium Zone: a collared shirt, leather belt, and pants with shallow pockets – all of which had a tradition of exclusionary wealth backing them up. The collar was developed to hide the noose portion of the “necktie” – a men’s professional drapery which gained prominence in the 1800s for those that could afford the excess fabric – which was an attempt to mimic the more elaborate ascot – fancy fluffy fabric (which only the highest class could afford in the mid 1600s) was worn in the same way to impress others by impersonating (ironically) militant neck protection. The leather belt stands out opposed to the typical recycled synthetic rope which most use, this was generally considered “high tier” in the 2050s when the markets were oversaturated with recycled plastic and animal products were faux pas (and therefore expensive). The pants historically have been subtly malicious: the streamlined design that deemphasized the ability to passively hold tools, pens, or other objects of bulk were prioritized by the “successful” to show they had the influence to delegate the use of those tools to others. Every piece of the presentation had a history of quickly establishing those with the ability to manipulate and those without. As with my weaponized face, the point of shamelessly displaying the cultural value of oppression is two fold: first, to passively begging those that understand to remember and reflect; second, to identify those that superficially respond only to aesthetics. The difference: mine is agressively unexpected and Charlie’s will garner respect..

“It’s amazing, right? How well they can organize when the bins are refilled? In 5 minutes, ya won’t even know they were here.To see the elegant methodical cardinal chaos unfold in real time is… mesmerizing.” As with most people, it is shorter than me, the longer wavy hair dark that is tucked behind the ear on one side indicates a feminine presentation that doesn’t at all match the rest of the assertive and distanced poise that stands beside me.

“I didn’t realize you would be restocking the donations?” I attempt to make eye contact while talking, expecting to beat the upcoming social clue. But nothing appears on the AugRel and Charlie keeps watching the distribution of the resources unaware of my attempt. Returning to watch the nomads finish their work, I’m slightly annoyed that I missed some of the opus.

“My turn in the rotation. It’s empowering to get a human response. Ya don’t get that when verifying the infrastructure stability. Shit doesn’t seem to appreciate it the way humans do.” It chuckles at its own joke and we both watch for a moment as the nomads conclude their exhibition. “Just look at that! This is why we do it! There is so much more meaning when seeing the actual results!” As the dialogue became more impassioned, so did the physical gestures. By the end it was talking more via hands than with words. The nomads wave their salutation as they pack their supplies and move on. Charlie vigorously waves back, obviously delighted by the whole exchange.

I understand why it’s frustrating, but I don’t like seeing people undermine the virtue of the work that happens behind the scenes. That’s what we do most of the time, and that’s more necessary than getting one on one validation. “But the effects of maintenance is essential to society. Similar to people and stress points, if we just waited until things broke, then the disruption in expectations will cause a potentially recursive collapse of entire systems. Not to mention the repairs are much more burdensome.”

“Oh. Absolutely! I’m just saying the personal acknowledgement is unparalleled. Makes ya feel good, ya know? about myself. I don’t get that in my other efforts.” There is a remnant of genuine pleasure that remains on its face. The point is valid. I don’t think I’ve witnessed that contentment on someone when their work is taken for granted. “Ya going to the potluck tonight?”

I nod, “Yeah. It should be fun.”

“Um, where is it supposed to be?”

The social cue eye contact appears, which seems like a cheat since I got it right previously. Like me, Charlie is trying to remember the location, checking the scheduled meeting that we both have saved. I access it first, “It’s my understanding that it’s at the Kitchen.”

“Right! Right! I love that place!” Its excitement is spoiled for a moment, “Although it seems we might be in for some rain. T7.”

I verify by checking the weather prediction which Charlie has already looked at, “True, a spontaneous brief shower is expected. But I’m getting a T9 on my end.”

“Sorry, yes. I have an app that demotes the knowledge confidence with complex systems. I don’t think about it until someone points it out.”

“Interesting. Either way, we should bring extra jackets in case others don’t know.” Since the nomad’s show is complete and the conversation has turned to more trivial banter, I start to move to my appointment with Ralph. A social clue conclude conversation stops me before I start causing me to realize that Charlie may still want to talk about something. So I stall for a moment more.

“CoDaS already anticipated that, I’ll bring more than enough.” It offers a cordial smile and wink. “I have to cut this short. Sorry, but I need to fill up the rest of the bins.”

We both part with a Consensus hand tag again, and – as Charlie starts to walk off – I notice a distinct lack of surplus supplies. “What are you refilling the bins with?” The question is a bit louder so it can hear me, and – in response and to finalize the conversation – it points to the end of the street where a large duffle bag has been stowed in plain sight, unattended as we talked. I turn to the house where I will attend my next session. It dawns on me that the rural nomads had the opportunity to take everything, but – out of respect for the distribution which aids in the overall equilibrium of the township – they didn’t. It has always been a mystery to me why they don’t accept the Consensus’s protection and validation. Yet – considering once again the doubts I have with CoDaS at the moment – their misaligned auras seem appropriate.

I refocus on the task at hand: I’ve met Ralph in the past. He takes his stoic masculine identity to heart. His two children were the product of an open relationship with a person that was happy to take on the maternal role leaving him to be a legal bachelor for the first 5 and 8 years of their lives. This worked well for him professionally in the CapDem ideology until the mother of his kids passed due to illness and the responsibility of parenthood fell on him. At that point, there was a drastic shift in his environment and – from the way he tells it (which I think is a reduction of what actually happened) – it hit the insecurity of many CapDems’ belief that being a nurturer is contradictory to his form of masculinity and they excised him for being too authentic. While the last part of the story is in line with what seems correct with what I know about CapDems, I doubt his own issues would exist if that was completely accurate.

The request which I’m here for is rooted in his need to hold his stoic virtues: strong, emotionally disciplined, wise, independent, honest. To sum it up in a single word: control. All of these added together cause him to see himself as a carnal – yet civil – being, but is unaware that his perspective bias overrides any empathy for those that he doesn’t understand and may physically desire. While others have mentioned in his evaluations that there is a fear that the ideology has a tendency to conflate nurturing with lust which would put the kids at risk, there is no evidence that this is the case and he tends to be attracted to people only slightly below his own age (which indicates the desire for lesser experience but socially acceptable relations). My guess – based on his history – is that he wants a therapist to satisfy his suppressed need for unsatisfied comfort buried under a hidden addiction to dominate others.

It takes about 10 seconds for my knock on the door to be answered. The door is opened wide quickly as a sign of uncritical welcome, but the pleased look quickly falters. I have to remind myself that my weaponized appearance likely cuts through the social insulation that is found in this area of the Neutral Zone. In spite of the initial vitreous reaction, the recovery is near instantaneous and I’m welcomed in with an overly performative acceptance.

It’s obvious from the first impression that mine is a less romantic encounter than was expected. He was dripping with attempted suave. Stylized shorter hair, a threadbeared yet posh dark gray shirt along with jeans, all worn casually. Any visitor would see the superficial ploy of trying to paradoxically assert that the visitor should both be impressed while understanding the passive confidence and glamor is accidental. This is in contrast with the rest of the house – which is consistent with the outside. There are ongoing repairs, the majority of the debris has been pushed aside to make an environment comfortable and safe for the presence of kids. It’s mostly barren except for the throw rugs that cover the floor and the chairs have been placed strategically rather than through practical use. All of this compiles to justify the darkened aura that surrounds him, but – after seeing how that mismatched the urban nomads’ – the augmentation is simply corroboration rather than additional knowledge.

The 30-something year old is taller than most, but still is a few centimeters shorter than I am. It is immediately apparent that looking up to someone is not a common experience he is used to. Every time I have interacted with him there is a subtle competition in posture trying to show that he deserves inherent respect. This often happens outside the Equilibrium Zone – showing that respect (unfortunately) isn’t expected to be a default trait. As I move past him I see a social cue that is new to me slouch and after thinking about it for a moment, I understand the reasoning. I take a moment to gaze around the house and do a performative stretch while asking, “you indicated your kids are being watched by someone else while we talk?” before taking a more lax stance which drops me a few centimeters. Looking back at the host, I notice my shorter stature causes him to relax in turn.

“I did. I requested one of the therapists. I didn’t want them to overhear anything that may cause them confusion.” It’s said with a tone indicating that this is a healthy expectation. Like many ideologies, stoicism – especially that which has been amplified by the CapDem dogma – forces the holder to see therapy as admitting weakness or a failure of self sustainability. The question is, what failure are the kids trying to be kept ignorant of?

Before I could follow up on that question, an announcement flashes on the AugRel: CALL TO ACTION which happens once every month or so. A house is being threatened by the CapDems because someone under the consensus protection “defaulted on a debt” (which is a nice way of saying that they told the callous troglodytes to piss off). I looked past the announcement and decided to take a different route: “What about a third place. Do you go out much?”

“Every once in a while. I take the kids out to eat or to a park. Things like that.”

“Do you meet up with others?”

“No, it’s just typically the three of us. There are a few regular visitors in the park we go to, but it’s not like we really know them.”

That’s completely missing the point of a 3rd place: an environment where one can dependably find social validation. Based on his past sessions, the primary goal has been suggesting ways to move away from his self-seclusionist mindset, so making the outings is an improvement. “I only ask because it seems that members of the Consensus are joining together tonight to stop a house from being torn down.”

He thinks for a second while checking his schedule. “If that’s an invite, I might be able to make that. Will it be safe to bring the kids?”

“Just make sure to stay out of the direct protest and it should be fine. There are typically some other kids there – I’ll bring mine – so they can play around. I’ll forward you thin information.” And I shift a few neck muscles to forward him the CALL TO ACTION announcement.

“I remember when the Consensus did that for me: protected my place of residence from being demolished. It was a kind gesture, but didn’t help me much. First those CapDem bastards replace me with free labor. Then they got my neighborhood council to shun me. Good riddance.” The thought of the work-debt agreement always makes me chuckle, even though I usually have to suppress it like I am now. We collectively convinced the CapDems to let our people work on their campus and deprogram the zealots bits at a time all in the name of “self enslavement”. We would have actually helped them without negating everyone’s debt if they had the humility to ask for it. In addition, all the people who are “too expensive to keep on” bolster the support for the Consensus which offers them a place of uncoerced stability. The capitalists should have learned not to put profit over people in the 2040s and 50s when they automated most jobs out of existence; the resulting angst eventually resulted in the Blanket Noria – a collective rejection of the system – which was the precursor to the Consensus. And just like then, they don’t realize how economically vulnerable it makes them. One word from CoDaS and every worker would “quit” and the lack of labor force would cause their system to collapse almost overnight. The question “why hasn’t this happened yet?” is at the core critique of people like Beth.

I use this as an appeal to diversify his environment, “Well we would love to have you.”

“Do you all have an afterparty when you do these things?”

“Some do. Most just go home when it’s over though.”

“Yeah… I think I could make that.” I look at him again considering the conclusion of the previous conversation. He gives me a grin of confidence which only reaffirms the suspicion that he’s using therapists as a means to continue his bachelor lifestyle in an – again – socially acceptable way.

While I start to anticipate a potential irredeemable situation, I try not to assume without getting more feedback. The thing about language: we are all primed by our own perception bias, so if he is afraid of appearing vulnerable he should know that’s problematic for the children. “To go back to our previous conversation, I would suggest that you introduce your kids to what a therapy session would look like. Without normalizing these interactions, kids will be ignorant of them. People could use that for manipulation or – conversely – they will be afraid of getting the same type of relief you get if they need it.” I didn’t need to be told to make eye contact this time since his reaction is necessary to evaluate. The reaction is one of judgment, disgust, and condemnation for the idea of allowing kids to be present. It only lasts for a second, but it’s enough to show what he thinks of being vulnerable: something that he isn’t going to allow from himself or his children.

After the moment ends, he regains his friendly demeanor, “I don’t think that’s an issue. My kids will learn to master their instincts and emotions.” I start to look around the house again as a way of avoiding the increasing frustration considering the way the conversation has turned. The house is a work in progress, but it is safe. None of the repair work is structural and there has been great care taken to ensure that specific areas are clear and welcoming for entertainment, play, and games. The sounds of the outside – wind and birds chirping – isn’t hindered by insulation and the temperature is being dictated heavily by the late morning heat, but it is cooled by the ambient shade. There is also constant drip from the other room, a leaky faucet with water that is being salvaged for later.

“I’ve encountered a lot of people, and I’ve never seen anyone accomplish that. Everyone has a need to be validated. Ignoring that need or hiding it from others causes a feeling of victimhood when others ignorantly neglect it and – for those who deny the negligence – it generates a desire to make people pay attention. I hate to change the subject, but do you mind if I wash some food that I’ve gathered?” I look back to see him awkwardly nod and wave me into the kitchen area.

Moving through the house it seems organized well enough except for small distinct piles of toys, arts and crafts, or construction tools; each seemingly in their preestablished spot. It feels very much lived in. It’s not spotless, but to call it dirty or inattentive would be hyperbolic. There aren’t any blatant displays of Ralph’s inner identity though, all the pictures are manufactured and all the furnishings seem to align more with pop culture expectations than what anyone likes. Ralph follows me, thinking of how to respond to my passive accusation.

To avoid the silence as we walk, I make use of the time to remind him of the census. While still looking around and moving out of the den and through the dining area, “I noticed it’s been a while since you’ve filled out your census paperwork, and your youngest is now getting to the age which we would like one for them too.” There’s likely a defective valve in the kitchen sink; it has a constant drip. Nothing too egregious, but enough so that not catching the water will be a problematic waste. Both the water and the bowl collecting the drips are clean enough that it can be drunk later or repurposed when more has been gathered. “This is alright to use?” Ralph gives another approving nod. I empty the contents of my bottle into the water and start to wash any dirt or dust off the bugs and spinach.

Ralph starts up the conversation again, “For your information, not everyone needs validation. I don’t. When my kids get older, they won’t either. I’ll make sure of that.” I tear a bit of lettuce unintentionally. His focus confirms it: this conversation is about control. All of it has been. That’s the common thread.

He’s been using euphemisms though. So I need to be careful… vague. He doesn’t know if I agree or not. “But you enjoy the company of the therapist though, right? Getting relief from them? Isn’t that a form of validation?”

He pauses, likely to consider if I’m judging him or empathizing with him. He chooses empathizing. “Honestly, I don’t get much from the conversation or even the award when my charm pays off. What I get comfort from is when they see me for who I really am.”

I know many of the therapists. While they are comfortable with their role and are willing to do what is necessary – even take on positions they may not inherently agree to – they do it because it is a necessary role for the good of the society and they are a natural fit with what needs to be done (both mentally and physically). They take their service very seriously and would be appalled at being thought of as a prize to be won. It’s an insult to the passion and commitment they have for relieving pain with every aspect of their craft; even on the rare times sex is required. One of the grasshoppers cracks under the strain of my grip which I’m trying to keep from twitching. “Which do you get more satisfaction from: parenting or the therapy sessions?”

I look back at his reaction as I pull the food out of the water and dry them off with a towel sitting on the counter. He thinks for a moment, evaluating his own feelings. “I think they are about the same honestly. In both cases, I’m giving people what they want. With the therapists it’s the pleasure of being with me. I don’t like to brag but they always seem happy afterwards. And it’s similar with my kids: they respect me and are happy when I play with them.” The fact that he made those parallels is the nail in the coffin.

The therapists are not whores to be used, nor are his kids. But that’s how he’s talking about them. And he sees nothing wrong with it. Two drastically different roles both being reduced to the same controller-servant relationship to satisfy his own fragile ego. Due to his dogma, he has to convince himself that he’s doing it for THEM.

I finish drying out the bottle which takes only a few seconds and put the bugs and leaves back into it. Even before I act, the AugRel gives a social clue unlike that which I’ve seen before. It wasn’t a suggestion but a dictation, one that I ignore: DON’T. Then I turn on him, standing at my full height. Even before I advance he sees the intensity and aggression. The confusion only makes it more irritating.

I walk to him with as much calm ferocity as I can present, backing him against a wall and using the few centimeters to tower over him. He shrinks slightly trying to understand what’s going on; ready for an attack. I keep my voice cool but I allow the hostility that I feel drip off the words, “thank you for the water.”

The appreciation only confuses him more and now he’s truly lost control not only of the situation in his own domain, but also of what he should be expecting. The response is the expected mixture of fear, caution, confused remorse, and an attempted hint of defiance: “You’re welcome?”

Remaining in place while he cowers, I cherish every moment of fear and forced docility in his demeanor. “Do you know what’s going on right now?”

“No. Did I do something wrong? What is this?!?”

“Remember this: the world is not yours to control. Your children need to be respected and you need to help them become your peers, not your property. But they are happy playing that role because they likely fear your reaction if they don’t.

“The therapists aren’t yours to use. It’s not the fuck that they get pleasure out of, but because they are satisfying your addiction to power. They know the act is a protection for others from you.

All of them are happy in spite of you. Nod if you understand what I’m saying.” He gives a frightened nod. “This feeling that you are having right now – this fear and terror – it is natural. Embrace this. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. The rejection of this feeling will cause you to hurt others, including your kids. I. Will. Not. Tolerate. That. Do you understand?” He spasms out a nod again. “I’m leaving now. You will be tempted to see yourself as a victim in this situation. You’ll likely think this was entrapment by the Consensus or something else. It. Is. Not. This is just me. I could have hurt you, but I didn’t. You aren’t a victim. You are someone learning to be a better person.” I stare at him. He looks at me back, afraid.

This is torture for him. None of this is sinking in. It won’t help. Is this me trying to regain control of a broken environment? Is this my retaliation?

I walk to the entrance again as I approve of an appointment for Ralph. “I’m scheduling a therapist for you, but she” ug… I hate using his rhetoric “isn’t typical. If you were afraid of me, you should be equally afraid of her. She’s a sadist. If she isn’t treated as an equal, or if you are in it just for a fuck, it won’t end well for you.” I turn and look at him sheepishly and slowly following me. “Do you understand?”

He submissively nods one more time as the CoDaS talks in my ear: “You shouldn’t have done that. He will try to regain control in his house again. His kids will be coming back soon.”

Irritation at both him and myself boil as I try to think of a fix. The kids are in danger because he needs control and I took that from him. He has to be able to reassert the control onto me in order for the kids to be safe. He has to stand against my authority and overcome it. What is a demand he won’t follow? My dictation is made without any remorse: “Kiss. My. Shoe.”

The ridiculousness of command seems to shake him out of his sobriety, moving from disgust to anger. “Who the hell do you think you are?! Talking to me like that in my own home!” I bite my tongue as he asserts ownership over that which will never be his. To the contrary, I have to enforce the audacity so I start to slouch again, which only empowers him further. “Get out!” He advances and – without another word – I quickly move out the door, leaving it open so he can close it of his own accord. I hear it slam behind me as I sulk away.

After the door closes I drop the act and stand upright. “Will that protect his kids?”

CoDaS’s response fills my head, “It was the majority of what needed to be done. I’ll take care of the rest. The kid’s won’t feel any backlash. You should have taken my advice though.”

“I couldn’t. Manipulating people for the sake of controlling them is counter to everything that the Consensus stands for. It would be a betrayal of why I’m here to let it pass. He thinks he owns his kids!” I turn down the street to go to the final checkup which is opposite the trolley, about a half klick away.

“The kids would have been fine. The therapists deal with people like him on a weekly basis. They allow him to have control to break him down overtime. He used to be much worse and because of their sessions – mostly due to the times when he’s coerced to dig through his motivations – he’s less of a threat to the kids and his own victim mentality. That, on top of his principled prudishness, ensures the kids have a safe place to live. Great change does take time though.”

“How can you know that? That the kids will be safe?”

“You know I can.”

Do I? If that’s the case then CoDaS should have been able to predict that the social clue wouldn’t have stopped me. Heck, it should have been able to predict this current doubt. The reality that I’m debating this with myself is proof positive that I can’t trust it to know the kids are protected. Is the statement an attempt to subdue me? I once again reconsider Beth while changing the subject of the conversation. “How do you anticipate people?”

“Same way that you predict the weather: establish the relative environment and then identify the flow of pressure. With humans – and all willful things – it’s just a matter of generalizing the environment to consider their relative worldview and the pressure is analogous to the needs which need to be fulfilled.”

“That’s too chaotic though. No one can know those.”

“If humans were more complex, I would agree. The only reason humans think that though is because they are limited in their experiences and survival hinders them from being too self aware.”

“You’re pulling from Tendis. Is that because I believe him to be right and you’re mirroring my thoughts?”

“It makes the case easier to make. But the theory isn’t exclusively his. Philosophers through the ages all hinted at this. Plato had the Cave. Pascal had the Wager. Descarte had the Vat. Maslow had the Hierarchy. Rawl had the Veil. Natchez had authenticity, Tendis had civility. Tendis was the most explicit though.”

“But you won’t correct those that refute the claim?”

“Everyone refutes the claim. Everyone acts as if they have free will, even those that understand it’s a farce. The only way this works is if I can allow philosophies to thrive and synthesize.”

“Even the CapDems?”

“Until they collapse under their own weight, yes.”

“And that is inevitable?”

“No identity lasts forever. Entropy won’t allow it.”

“Well sure, the heat death of the universe is inevitable. But practically, how long?”

“I can’t say.”

I think for a moment about the repercussions of that statement: “Can’t or won’t?”

“There is no difference between those two for me. The analysis assumes ignorance on the part of actors, and the further out it is, the larger the ripples of slight alterations can affect the result. If you knew what I did, then it would render the prediction irrelevant.”

“The Necessity Limit?”

“The Augmented Necessity Limit. It will be readily accepted in about 5 years. But you have the right idea.”

An addendum of the Necessity Limit doesn’t make logical sense, but that’s a bit of the point I guess. This is starting to get into a fuzzy logic that I have a hard time tracking. But the fact that a future event was announced seems to create a bootstrap paradox. “You telling me that is an assertion that I can’t stop it from being accepted or being named that, correct?”


“And you know that because you know the gaps in what I consider necessary?” It was a test.

“Correct. As I see with everyone.” A test which CoDaS failed. All my necessities are provided for. So if CoDaS cannot see that then its programming is starting to fail already.

It’s a good enough place as any to stop the conversation since the next location is coming up on my right. The residence has an incredibly low Safety Score and it’s quite obvious from the presentation why: great pride has been taken to set the boundary between this plot and the others. There is no ambiguity of how far the property extends. The manicured and cultivated grass abruptly stops at clear borders. That said, it provides the benefit of granting a feel of the people that live here from the way they treat themselves (since the property is an extension of their physical representation). Not overly manufactured but still caring about being respected; acknowledging their social expectations while still trying to establish it on their own terms (as represented by the carefully positioned wind engines that prioritize aesthetics over efficiency), it still has a welcoming feng shui – while offering a reminder that you will be a visitor. Reviewing the property history, it seems to be generationally inherited dating back to pre-climate crisis, so the assumed legacy makes sense.

Before I get to the door, the current steward (Tess) comes out to invite me in. She is one of my bi-monthly appointments ever since a leg amputation was needed around 3 months ago. Unlike most, the recovery and adaptation to life with a foreign limb was relatively quick. Of course there was just under 3 weeks of being depressed and bed ridden, but through a constant supply of articles and conversation she readjusted to her new limitations. “Kyle! Nice to see you again!”

Her aura is bright relative to Ralph’s, but still darker than the norm, which throws doubt once again onto CoDaS’s ability to evaluate these philosophies correctly. The attire is much like it has been in the last times we’ve met: conforming generally a staple presentation of a CapDem spouse. A feminine “T” style shirt (close cut while allowing for a larger bust and with almost non-existent sleeves while prudishly covering the shoulders) is the traditional top. Shorts that only extend about half way down her thighs and shaved legs amplified by sandals with a 2 cm heel (which were a call back to the sexual “values” of the late 1900s and early 2000s… it would be revolting, if I believed that to be the intent) is “appropriate” for the bottom.

In a change of pace, there are a few unexpected breaks with tradition. First – and of lesser note – is the notable Biowear on her remaining leg. The fact that she doesn’t have the typical arm band can be seen as deviant since it is both visible (CapDems tend to hate drawing attention to the “unnatural” requirement) and a different style (making it an anomaly and thus causing people to acknowledge their own in return). But being that her’s extracts less energy – by their logic – she’s more sovereign to herself, and that’s seen as a good thing. It is a similar evaluation with her prosthetic leg without the redeeming quality of self sovereignty. The other deviation is that her hair is shorter. It isn’t approaching a shortness that risks gender ambiguity, but still a rejection of what is conservatively expected. As I walk into the house, I take the cue: eye contact/small talk “It’s good to see you again.”

“You too! Your appearance is different than before.” She points at my hair, “Why did you choose green?” She has incredible kindness considering the life and the ideology she’s surrounded by. Most that are indoctrinated into the (generational) CapDem mindset would be offended by the presentation and ask with the intent of taking defense, yet Tess’s inquiry is clearly out of curiosity.

I smile at both the pleasant subversion of expectations and the attempt to play into the general ridiculousness we both acknowledge, “Because it specifically looks uncommon.”

She almost laughs in response. “I love it! Maybe I should do something like that!” but then thinks about it for a moment before her smile slightly slips, “I don’t know what Tark would think of that though.”

Tark is the spouse. If I recall right, it was the shell of a being that I passed exiting the trolley. Remembering the conversations that I’ve had with Tess in the past, it makes sense why he would hate me. While it was a blow to both of them, the knowledge that he is incapable of siring kids hit him harder eugenically. Like most of the CapDem ideology, they were both indoctrinated into the “natural virtue” of biological perpetuation. My assumption is that Tess understands it would be more of a burden and was slightly relieved and freed when that expectation was abolished so early in their lifelong contractual espousal, but Tark took it the opposite way. I have to remind myself that this is simply an assumption, but with that dynamic in play, he would have to redirect his self loathing into other things: primarily building a legacy through work (unfortunately that meant further dedication to the CapDems… which extended into a hatred for people like me). “How are you and Tark doing?”

“It’s been rough. He’s been getting more distant and I really feel like I’m failing him. I have no doubt he still loves me, but I think he sees this” she points at her leg, “as a… I don’t know… a betrayal maybe? But that sounds silly to say out loud.” She sits down on the couch.

I mimic her and sit down as well. “When I was young – I couldn’t have been older than 10 – I had a friend, Tim. They had a dog named Pig.” she chuckles at something – possibly at an inside joke I didn’t get – so I continue on, “Well Pig lost one of its ears in a fight with another animal. Tim, my friend, was devastated.” Before I get a chance to end the story, a social clue pops up trauma dump, make a connection. It prompts the realization that I left it vague, I look at Tess who seems a bit confused. “The point is: it took a while, but Tim eventually realized that the Pig wasn’t any different. He was feeling betrayed by his own expectations of the future. I’m sure that Tark just needs a bit more time.”

She gives a depressed smile. “Yeah… I just wish he wasn’t so jejune about it though… ya, know? It’s just hard to respect him when he focuses on it.”

“Are you still finding it hard to fulfill the expectation of keeping the house and staying at home?”

She rolls her eyes and gets up to pace, obviously a bit frustrated. It’s nice to see that her mobility isn’t causing her problems. The leg seemed to be a good fit. “I mean… I keep busy, but a lot of my activities are things he wouldn’t approve of. Especially after the accident! He thinks the community garden is a blight on the neighborhood, so he definitely wouldn’t approve of me getting some of our food from it and ABSOLUTELY would object to me finding some peace in tending to it. He sees helping the others fix up their places as ‘their own problems’. He has absolute disdain for the Consensus and the nomads. Completely refuses to take them in and seems to actually dehumanize them sometimes! I just have no idea why.” She looks at me desperate for a solution. That accounts for the low social safety score though.

“I noticed that you are planning to help out with the potluck tonight. Do you think he would be able to come? There may be a benefit in him meeting some of the people there.” She looks at me a bit dumbfounded. “Sorry, I was assuming that was still a thing.” Her eyes start to tear up. Oh… shit. What did I say wrong?

Looking away she wipes away the tears with the backs of her hand. “No, I’m planning to come. It’ll be nice to get out and help. I asked him that this morning though, and the amount of just… hate that he has to the squatters… he looks at me as a child for wanting to be productive! Do you know how insulting that is?!” The disdain she threw behind the word “squatters” shows how irritated she was with his usage of the slur. “How can this be a partnership if he treats me like a KID?!”

The frustration is a bit confusing. His actions are completely in line with what she should expect considering his everyday influences. “He works in the CapDem offices all day though.”

She is still frustrated, so my obvious question doesn’t go over well. “Yeah! So?!”

“I mean… they are fascists. They believe all that stuff dogmatically.” Her visual response is that of defensive confusion. “I mean… you know that right? The cultural expectation that there is an authoritarian protector and a submissive producer extends through every part of the ideology: obürgs are ‘protectors’ of workers, dictators are ‘protectors’ of the demos, pastors are ‘protectors’ of the flock. One has parental status and gets the privileges that come along with it, the others are ‘children’ and have no right to freedom. It’s all the same relationship on different levels.” I continue to quote the air “It’s a ‘natural order’ they feel is both unquestionably true and necessary to push onto all aspects of life. That wouldn’t be so bad if they kept it to themselves, but they have to force it on everyone else as well – whether they see them as inferior or not.”

She looks skeptically at me, “You just described how the family structure works and applied fascism to it.”

I’m slightly caught off guard with how much that unintentionally just proved my point. I forget how completely the 20th and 21st century institutionalized the legacy of fascism prior to the Climate Wars. Redler really was just the embodiment of what was already there. “Not all families fit that mold. A recent study shows a strong correlation between the emotional well being of children and the amount of people they consider primary parents. I’m personally in a relationship with two others and we are all raising our child.”

For a moment, there is a hint of judgement and concern but that passes fairly quickly, “I’ve seen that study. Didn’t they conclude that a final judgement is unclear because of the three body problem?”

I laugh at a reference to the open problem: can you predict if “3 bodies” will have a stable relationship with each other? “True, but it wasn’t a final judgement or even a critique. It was stating that the social dynamics – as with all relationships in life – get tricky to anticipate without a clear hierarchy. The conclusion stated pretty clearly that children normalize the chaos and allow them to better thrive in a chaotic world.”

“Children need structure though. Not chaos.”

“That’s an old wives’ tail. Very similar to the belief that the power structures in monogamous relationships can be negated. It can get be attempted and we can get close, but there will always be more leverage in one direction.”

She considers it for a second looking for a counterexample and finds it. “No… that’s not right. He sees me as a peer and an equal contributor. Like when I showed how social mathematics could be used to help him out in his job. He really appreciates it when I show interest in what he does.”

My brain froze and I was in shock with what I had just heard. That couldn’t be right. CoDaS gave me that article so that it would break her out of her depression during her recovery. If she had used that to help the CapDems then that means that CoDaS had used me to help fascists gain an advantage. “Wait. What?”

“Yeah. That article you showed me, grouping people into different categories based on common survival techniques to show how they would find emotional and experiential common ground, that the resulting community would be invested in the success of each other, which would in turn validate their own existence. It was all sound theoretically. I took a few Consensus courses over the years and I remember some topology and set theory, so I used that to build on the idea. It turns out you can systematically track donations – and the associated debtors – over time. He’s presenting it today actually. It would be really good for his reputation at work if it gets accepted!” She was so proud of the abomination we both helped to give life to.

I rise to my feet, “You. Did. WHAT?!” She backs up and it reminds me of the mistake I made with Ralph.

“Wha- Why are you mad?”

I take a breath. I’m focused on what’s in front of me and not the real cause of this. I suppress my hostility for a moment and calm down, “It’s not you I’m mad at. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted that way. Can you give me a second? I need to talk to someone.” She nods, still cautious and confused about the outburst, but seemingly no longer worried. I muster up my remaining compassion while looking at her. As calm and sincere as I can, I try to set her at ease, “Thanks. Truly, I’m not mad at you for this.” She smiles weakly, not quite understanding what is going on.

I spin on the spot and look around the room. I know it won’t manifest but I search desperately for the hidden deceiver. It shouldn’t have the chance to play God and answer silent whispers while dictating reality like a board game. I will not be played and moved around like a mindless token. It doesn’t have the right or the privilege. It is not my puppet master. The passive permission I have given it over the years is at an end. It is time for me to cut the strings.

My frustration erupts out of me like a trumpet demanding an audience.  “CODAS! WE NEED TO FUCKING TALK!”