Quia Sum, Cogito: Chapter 3
On the Political Switches
In that light, rugged individualism that the US prided itself on was generally no longer relevant after the Republican Party abandoned the alt-Right in the 2030s. Authoritarian supremacy was the appeal during the “southern switch” in the mid 1900s, but – in accordance with the empathy cultivated because of near universal poverty – it was a lost strategy, so they focused instead on utilizing the untapped political focus: the scientific consensus – something that was mind-numbingly absent in the early 2000s. Due to their previous – actual and literal – demonization of the left since the McCarthy era, the alliance was tenuous while many former supporters saw it as a betrayal and abandoned the party. The brush with irrelevance forced them to rebrand, and – under the banner of “Universalist Party” – they reaffirmed their appeal to the left by adopting a new montra that promoted the socialistic ideal: “from each and for each” (eventually synthesizing further to “form each, for each, and to all: respect” and finally landing on the common phrase “from-to-forall”). While initially dismissed, the party finally started to reform with the sole purpose of opposing the rise of fasism in the 2040s. When they realized they could never regain political power within the government[c] due to political suppression and violence, the party attempted to empower the people in spite of the government. Experience in motivating decentralized groups through fear (via Qanon or alt-Right) helped motivate the Independence Initiative which was the grandfather of the anarchist communes of today.Chasing a Right to Life – Clastor Johnson – published November 4, 2065
Even with the first few steps onto the CapDem campus, the daily culture shock rearranges my self perception. The morning influx of individuals all being driven and organized by a greater function is in stark contrast with the disorganized society outside these grounds. This was no longer an atmosphere concerned with the manufactured “social safety” but purposeful dedication to a greater order. Everyone knowing their place, and everyone knowing what to expect.
If the morning lawn cultivators didn’t repeat their daily activity, the natural growth would infringe on the property threatening the food nurseries. The farm hand’s crucial knowledge makes it so everyone (from the kindergartner to obürgs) can be fed. In accordance with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, being fed is one aspect of stability, and having stability allows progress. Without progress society would stagnate and crumble.
The simple framework that practically ensured the CapDem progress was engineered by Joseph Relder himself during the climate crisis to ensure survival while the rest of the world was falling to chaos and war. I “remember” (which is now a process of recalling from my faulty recollections combined with the collective knowledge a VR search produces) that the construction of the current CapDem operations pulled heavily from both the capitalistic governance of the mid 2000s as well as the older practice of distributionism practiced by the Christians. This was long before the faith blasphemed against itself; becoming a secularized version for the purposes of institutional survival via adaptation and evolution. When the governments of the world started using the “social safety net” in the mid 19th century; the Faith’s monopoly on providing food, shelter, and anything else people of the congregation needed was less appealing. Even after that, community validation could still be found in the Faith, but eventually the Consensus even stole that from them. Now these various buildings house the new congregation, the last local bastion of intelligent design and production in a world of corruption and sloth.
I make the 3 minute walk to the 400s building. The demographics of the community can be seen fairly quickly by their presentation. The children (those distinguishable from fully realized adults) all head to the kindergartens, where they will learn what they need to discover what their function will be. The service workers (those that are part of the supply chain to ensure that we have stability) tend to dress more practically since their close proximity to nature tends to soil and stain, causing more aesthetically pleasing investments to be ruined. Most of this group will come from the deal we make with the Consensus, so they tend to be mistrusted since it’s often a bit hard to tell without stalking their metadata if they are loyal. Thinking specifically of Zenth and Harriett (some friends in the Overviewer Department), I acknowledge we have verification to ensure the Consensus isn’t sending their militant anarchists, but that requires manual approval due to the need to respect privacy making it far from foolproof. The rest of us laborers ensure that our attire fits our status. We can’t afford the fabrics of the oberster bürgers (or obürgs for short) who keep the machines running, devise new methods of progress, and manage the staff; but we ensure their ideas get carried out by keeping the system grinding along once the ideas are implemented.
“Hello Tark.” I look over and am a bit shocked to see that Dr. Grange is addressing me. His position of Head of Acquisitions puts him well out of my typical community. The only reason he is addressing me is because he knows.
“Hello sir, did you have a good weekend?” I start to access my memory for what he did last weekend, “did you end up going to the… -”
He cut me off as I remember the barbecue he attended with his neighbors, “You know you need to finish your tasking before -” he stalls a moment, whether it was for effect or because he was looking for the right words is anyone’s guess, “- taking the day off tomorrow, correct?”
He looks at me with intense expectation. We both know what he’s discussing, the “extra curricular activity” I have been given the privilege of carrying out. After a moment’s apprehension at the shock that we would cryptically discuss this in the open, I match his intensity to show I’m unwavering in my commitment.
“Of course. The records will be submitted before COB.”
The stare of his dark blue eyes shifts slightly in a moment of judgment that I’ve come accustomed to. One learns that you have to overcompensate for loyalty when you have a different skin tone. There is an inherent doubt that you may have split dedication, one to your native roots and one to where you currently find a home. The pride I have in my individualism and fairly unique appearance (relative to the majority of the community here) has to be put aside to assimilate to the current expected culture. He doesn’t break eye contact as we walk through the sensors; even as the approving beep and the overlay indicates we are cleared to enter the building he silently assesses me. I match his resolute focus.
Only a moment more passes before he looks away casually, seemingly satisfied, “Very well. We will come fetch you then. Integrity with function, Tark.”
“Integrity with function, sir.” As he walks to the obürg elevators I look around to see if anyone noticed. It doesn’t seem so; business as usual. And I continue to my office.
The building entrance is a high ceiling foyer that takes up two floors, the aesthetic is reminiscent of a 2050s architectural style: slight curves at the corners but otherwise pre-modern construction. While the lobby is filled with plants and solar cells lining the windowed entrance, various information kiosks to the left, and the obürg elevators to the right; these aren’t what attracts the focus. That privilege goes to the 2 foot sculpture of The Broken Gear that is mounted two stories above on the 30 foot crosswalk connecting the east wing to the west, under which is the main avenue to the rest of the building. From what I’ve seen, every CapDem building has this same fundemental layout.
The Broken Gear represents the entire ideology of the CapDems – that only within a working society can purpose be found (even the most broken of us) – folded into one image. The core is four main spokes protruding from the center creating the foundation of the stability. The other minor bands connecting the main arms indicates both aesthetic individuality and added strength. Amongst these are the horizontal and vertical supports, creating a series of boxes that the circular border continuously breaks out of. The asymmetric design of the core further creates a perception of authenticity that can only result due to organic mistakes, a reminder that only the exceptionally rare will be “normal” and those that aren’t should embrace their natural imperfections. The outer rim, by contrast, has 4 equal spaced gaps between the teeth of the gears, each showing an intentional wedge where there should be the continuous circumference. The variation aesthetic found in core is counter to the manufactured external flaws which are deliberate, intentional, and purposeful. While gears can work with aesthetic and unique centers, the necessary components must conform and assimilate to a greater purpose. It is a call to utilize individual authenticity to promote the natural order of the world. Integrity with function.
In the 70 years that the symbol has been an international beacon of order, it has appealed to many and gotten the expected amount of unfounded criticism from people that oppose us. Obviously it appealed to the capitalists with its focus on productive efficiency and – ironically – it appealed to the communists and other authoritarians for the same reason. The egalitarians appreciate the practical representation of inclusion, and even some anarchists acknowledge that it aligns with their call for “order without authority”. The religious would tend to find semblances of their geometric icons either inside of it or across the entire shape. While most are stretches, it has been part of the Media Department’s job to incorporate it into well known iconography. Just recently it was used as a stand in for the the Muslim Crescent and Star in a short film. A few years back, the gears were used to replace the spikes of an Oroborous in a time travel film. Additionally, it’s also been interchanged with the Star of David, the Hindu Swastika, the Christian Cross, the Dharma Wheel, and so on. Some of which are hidden in the icon and some just based on the circular aesthetic itself. It’s become lost knowledge at this point how much of that was intentional. Out of curiosity I access the global “memory” to see if there is any clear answer. After seeing the multiple absurd claims linking it to Nazism, I see there are a few different versions from some historians (even some from the Consensus with their weird titles like Historical Iconographer 4th level – or more simply HI4) none of which coming to an agreement.
The only group that is dogmatically opposed to it are the Tendians.
As I walk underneath it, I’m informed that someone (Marsile) is trying to catch my attention. I keep walking but turn around to see her waving as she briskly walks to catch up. Compared to those that she’s flanked by, her appearance is a bit more unprofessional (although it would be much worse if the obürgs were still mixed in). Her slightly mismatched makeup of the day and skirt that is slightly longer on her left side shows her dedication to the ideology, but there is also an insincerity about it (since it isn’t amplifying her innate characteristics). Additionally, she always tends to wear flats as opposed to the traditional heels most women wear to ensure they are artificially looked up to. She could greatly benefit from that (she stands a bit below average at about 5’3″ so I always end up being about a head taller than her). I smile and wave back before turning around and walking a bit slower so she can catch up easily. The company will be nice as we both climb the 3 flights together.
“Hey Tark! Were you just talking to Grange?”
I guess she noticed. “Huh? Oh… yeah. He was just asking whether I was going to hit my quota today.” Telling half truths is becoming a bit too comfortable. At least this will be the last day I have to do it.
Her look of concern is a new one, the contrast with her normal look of kindness and gratitude reminds me how much I take her company for granted. “Are… you in trouble or anything? I’ve never been addressed personally by someone at his level.”
“It’s fine, a few weeks back I submitted an idea for a new social algorithm we can use. They actually pulled in the GFM servers to test it out.”
Her concern vanishes and is replaced by her typical kind expression, “A social algorithm? I didn’t know you were interested in social mathematics! Isn’t that something the Consensus has been working on?” she stalls and takes a stance of fake skepticism in front of the door that I’m holding open accessing the stairs, “you’re not a traitor are you?” then chuckles as she goes past me.
I laugh while walking up. For a brief moment, I appreciate her figure (not a representation of the “ideal woman” that you see on the old films, but still worth appreciating) walking up the stairs in front of me before focusing on the steps. I catch myself at the cusp of feeling ashamed before acknowledging it’s a natural attraction. And my thoughts drift briefly to the benefits of marriage and how it keeps us from reverting to the primitive nature that the Consensus would advocate for.
“No. Tess actually introduced it to me. From time to time she looks into the Consensus’ propaganda and what they are working on.”
“How are you both doing? Is she doing alright with the new leg? I know that can be hard. When Greg lost his hand it changed him a bit… never really was the same again.” I have an instant and brief memory of my dad’s shift when he had the same injury.
“She’s doing OK. She puts on a brave face but I know it must be bothering her. But what can you do when they don’t admit to themselves what’s really going on? Ya know?”
Her tone gets slightly solemn, “Yeah.” She stalls for a moment “If you ever want to talk about it… if her change ever becomes something you don’t expect… I’m ready to lend an ear. Everyone needs to have a friend that will listen.” She looks back and catches my eye. And gives me a smile. The asymmetry of the colors across her face reminds me of the flaws we all deal with and how we need to embrace them.
I smile back realizing that the proposal is irrelevant in light of tomorrow’s activities, “I appreciate that, and – if it comes to it – I’ll definitely take you up on the offer.”
As we arrive at the 3rd floor she holds the door for me this time and I give a small gracious bow that she chuckles at as I pass by. Her office is to the left while mine is on the right, so we part ways. I look back and appreciate the friendship.
While they are likely hitting a hard spot at the moment, she and Greg seem to have a good life. If I “remember” right, he’s lower obürg. When I met him in his house just off the compound, they seemed to complement each other. I hope she thrives… she deserves it… probably more than most.
My office is right off the public work space allowing a bit of privacy if it is needed. Being that I’m working on a new method that could be proprietary, secrecy is sometimes required. Usually I’ll leave my door open to give the impression that people can come in (although that offer is rarely ever entertained). GFMAppy’s robotic voice welcomes me into the office. The oddly ungendered “Good morning, Tark” used to unsettle me at first, but it didn’t take long until interacting with the de-anthropomorphised pseudo-consciousness became second nature, now it’s almost indistinguishable from others so much that – at times – I forget it’s just electronic computation.
“Good morning GFM, has the new algorithm been implemented yet?” The software interacts with the GoFundMe servers that the CapDem Acquisitions Department recently got access to. My department is Debt Recovery. The purpose is to find historic records of unpaid debt and ensure they can be linked to people in our current district. The citizens are then informed that they owe the CapDems the fee and their taxes are due. These payments are then used to keep the rest of the CapDem’s efforts (logistic lines for products, research, overhead, etc) funded.
Remembering the history of the climate wars; the economic breakdown of the world was primarily because of the general movement of debt avoidance in the 2040s. There was no way to hold everyone accountable, so the public sector of the US government collapsed and the implementation of the capitalistic governance pipeline which was developed in the late 2020s kept society from falling apart. Within all the bureaucracy that kept the private sector from accessing the debts of the public sector, many of the debts were lost to time. Only within the last 10 years have we started looking at secondary and tertiary resources to recreate the debts that will allow us to broaden our ability to create a stable society.
“Yes Tark, the social protocol was fully constructed last night according to the specifications of the article you referenced. We should have some fairly interesting results in-” there is a brief inhuman pause, “- 2 hours.”
“We have an expectation for finalizing these reports by 4 today. Will we be able to make that ETA?”
“Unless something unexpected happens, they will be ready for your review by 1:04. According to your prior work rate, your review should be complete by 2:38. This will easily meet your deadline.” I sigh with relief. “Is there something unusual about today’s deadline?”
I sit down for a moment to decompress. “I just don’t want to disappoint anyone. I could be remembered by this work and finally have my name on a success that I could… I guess… take comfort in.”
“I do not fully understand. Should we close the door and speak more plainly?”
Its algorithm is amazing… I was about to discuss a part of the off books assignment so that others could hear and I realize I can’t relax at the moment. I’m running my hands through my hair (a bad habit I have when I’m stressed). This isn’t usually when I would take a break. I get back up and reflect in the wall mirror to ensure I still look put together. “Later. We’ll talk later. It’s good to know that everything is on track. Integrity with function, GFM.”
I walk out as I hear the computerized voice respond “Integrity with function, sir.”