Me: *flipping through newspapers* Not a very harmonious week, I'm afraid; various local bans, first on the black metal band Watain, after targeted pressure from the piety brigade - Watain weren't shy in labelling the authorities as "honorless rats" on Facebook; well, not like they were ever going to be invited back anyway. Perhaps to balance the scales, said authorities banned an American pastor, for negative remarks about Muslims, next. This of course led into the Christchurch atrocity, where a self-described eco-fascist murdered at least fifty Muslims, while live-streaming the entire proceedings.
There was the usual online debate about whether to give the perpetrator the notoriety he desired, but it would quickly become a non-issue, as global newspapers (including our The State's Times) rushed to disclose his identity. Discussion then turned to whether to give his manifesto any attention at all, and of course, it was also moot - copies had sprung up all over the Internet, and as such, the only realistic option was not to ignore, but to refute it.
Keeping in mind that examining the writings of mass killers - e.g. the Unabomber, the Trope Namer, and the Isla Incel (covered here in 2014) - has oft been considered reasonable, if only as a means to try and stop such outrages from happening again, it cannot be denied that the latest perp knew well what he was doing. By scattering blame all over - he describes himself as, other than being eco-fascist, not a conservative but possibly Christian, right wing, left wing, socialist and Fortnite-inspired, his overtly-stated aim was to sow discord between all these various groups; most pertinently, between gun rights advocates and those opposed to firearms, but also NATO and the Turks (whose needs, as we have seen, are being blithely ignored). In fact, he is willing to state it outright, because it makes no difference - the same divisions will begin to tear.
Will this be accurate? Well, we will see.
Learning From History
Me: Eh, time for some active learning, after getting inspired by another manifesto that I purchased in Hong Kong:
The CCP Gideons
Mr. Ham: Is this another hare-brained whimsy of yours?
Me: Shush, this will be fun. I've written up a new scenario, and you - yes, you - are the newly-installed leader of a Republic newly-converted to democratic socialism. Your people look to you, Mr. Ham! You have been elected - extremely narrowly, but elected nonetheless - on a platform of income and wealth equality for all, ownership by all, jobs for all, generous redistribution, and Green Energy. Mr. Robo here will be your loyal right-paw ham, and he will communicate your decisions. I'll be behind that curtain as GM, modelling the outcomes.
Mr. Ham: So I'm Great Leader?
Me: Well, technically, your official title is Commiessar, from the character sheet. But it's up to you frankly, you're in charge.
Commiessar Ham: I quite like the sound of that, actually. Okay, the revolution was successful, we have spontaneous celebrations in the streets, and we, like, redistribute stuff! Squeeze the rich, give to the poor, I get adored, so simple. Where are the chicks?
Secretary Robo: Uh, sir...
Commiessar Ham: Don't "sir" me, Secretary Robo! After the Great Proletarian Revolution, we are all equal here! Down with the selfish, materialistic, capitalist swine!
Secretary Robo: Excellently said, uh, comrade. First, about the "redistribution" part, it turns out that the bulk of our richest, uh, traitors, have long transferred most of their assets overseas and flown the coop. Extended election season, you see. As have many of the top executives and the most-skilled workers. They've stuck lots of Trollface posters up too, with messages like, "Think we haven't seen this coming?"
Commiessar Ham: Hmph. So be it. We don't need non-believers here, only those pure of heart and intention. Too long have our poorer brothers suffered, while the wealthy feasted. Distribute what's left of their possessions.
Secretary Robo: The looting has taken care of much of that, comrade. And, uh, we have another problem. There are small pockets - ok, many small pockets of... misguided resistance, especially in the rural countryside. They've barricaded their homes and farms, and hung up banners with messages like, "Don't Tread On Me" and "We Will Never Be Socialist".
Commiessar Ham: Can't be having this, can we? Send the police in to arrest them and maintain order.
Secretary Robo: ...they have a ton of firepower, if I may say so. And, in some places, they have the local police on their side.
Commiessar Ham: *sighs* Fine, send in the army.
Some bloody months later...
Secretary Robo: Okay, Commiessar, we have it mostly settled. Only about 5% of the population is dead, but they were evil counter-revolutionaries anyway. We have another tenth locked up, but fortunately there were ample prison facilities.
Commiessar Ham: A certain amount of sacrifice is necessary for a better world for all, my good Secretary. And don't call it prison, we must never forget to be positive; call them, hmm, re-education camps or something. Remember to put up some uplifting slogans too, like "Honest labour liberates" or somesuch.
Secretary Robo: Wonderful, comrade. But, uh, remember when we promised to support those who were unwilling to work?
Commiessar Ham: Of course. In our new society, nobody is to be left behind - citizens may not want to work for many reasons, and we have to respect that. There is so much surplus - and previous capitalist inefficiency - that surely all reasonable accomodations can be made.
Secretary Robo: Er, there's a... lot of ill-will going around, Commiessar. Many of our loyal new cadres have taken to the option very... wholeheartedly, and those who are working tend not to be happy, at being forced to share. Happens often in hippie communes. And, there isn't all that much surplus left. Turns out operating modern factories needs plenty of high-level workers, who are mostly... somewhere else.
Commiessar Ham: Well, I'm sure our fraternal socialist bros will be willing to lend a hand to tide us over this temporary issue.
Secretary Robo: *twiddles whiskers* We've sent out feelers, comrade. They were very sympathetic, but also all want tangible goods in exchange, or in lieu of that, barbarous bourgeois relics like "gold" and "silver". Extremely unworthy of them, if I say so myself. We did get a bunch of "Petro" crypto, but it seems to be basically worthless. Oh, and half of our ambassadors defected. And the university students aren't happy as a whole either - many of them confessed to just wanting free tuition and dorms, and there are grumblings that they were better off before.
Commiessar Ham: You thinking what I'm thinking?
Secretary Robo: Send educated malcontents to farms to work. Got it. Two birds with one stone. Wise as ever, Commiessar. And, to stem the freeloading, we have implemented the regrettable measure of having to record citizens' labour output, as directed. The universal unit of account was therefore defined as the man-hour, since all citizens' effort and time are equal by definition in a socialist paradise. However, small problem: the miners are complaining that their work is dirty and dangerous, and they should thus be rewarded more than, say, part-time childcare workers in the cities.
Commiessar Ham: We cannot countenance such dissent. Deal with them.
Secretary Robo: Uh, we shot the leaders of the first batch as usual, comrade. Then the first batch. And the second. But we are now running out of miners, and truth be told, we need them badly. As such, the Central Committee is wondering if certain... exceptions might be made.
Commiessar Ham: So, say we grant them a special, one-off only, bonus of an extra half man-hour for every man-hour, in recognition of exceptional duty. That wouldn't compromise our principles, right?
Secretary Robo: I'd say so.
A few days later...
Secretary Robo: Commiessar, the engineers have heard about the miners' bonus, and are now demanding an extra hour for every man-hour, seeing as their contribution is even more critical. The leaders of the first batch shot themselves to save us the trouble, which I think should be considered in their petition.
Commiessar Ham: Yeah, sure, what's it to me?
A few years later...
Commiessar Ham: You know, it's exceedingly difficult to maintain our basic principle of income equality in the face of so many distractions and temptations, but I'm proud to say that we have never wavered from our objective.
Secretary Robo: And it's all due to our great Commiessar. There has been some vile journalist - probably an infiltrator - who tried to put out an article on how you, despite not drawing any official compensation, have been able to access foreign luxuries at will. All vicious lies, obviously. We have executed him, and sent his entire township to the mines. Then demolished the town. And salted the ground. You can never be too sure.
Commiessar Ham: Nobody knows me like you do, Secretary.
Secretary Robo: *blushing* Gee whiz, thanks si... comrade. But just a tiny tiny detail. Remember when you allocated seventy-three million Revolutionary Credits to the milk program?
Commiessar Ham: Of course, only the best for our childre... wait, Credits? That sounds like... like... currency. Is it not an article of faith, Secretary, that the man-hour is a sacred concept? That it not be considered as merely a tool, as sinful money, divorced from the humanity that produced it?
Secretary Robo: About that, the Society of Socialist Feminists was behind it, comrade. They made a good case that man-hours disregarded their considerable contributions to the cause. And really, considering the hodgepodge of pronoun prefixes that made it out of committee as alternative nomenclature, I strongly recommend that you just accept it.
Commiessar Ham: *shakes head* Fine, fine. Yes, so, 73 million Credits for the kids. They love me, of course. Surely nobody could have protested at so noble a cause?
Secretary Robo: Definitely. And 253 million Credits for the widows.
Commiessar Ham: Certainly. All that shooting in the earlier years, it was terrible. I'm a lover, not a fighter, at heart, you know, Secretary. But there's no trouble there either, no?
Secretary Robo: No, not at all. In fact, you have shown remarkable generosity in signing off on just about any worthy budget item to grace your table. There's 512 million for infrastructure renewal, 62 million for animal shelters, 32.8 billion for agricultural research, 20.8 billion in foreign aid, 3.7 million for Britney Spears... *raises eyebrows*
Commiessar Ham: *raises eyebrows*
Secretary Robo: ...12.1 billion to support the elderly, 1.2 billion for the Revolutionary Scouts & Brownies, 7.6 million for rare disease mitigation, and 6.2 billion for a twenty-three metre tall jewel-encrusted marble-polished Commiessar statue.
Commiessar Ham: For national morale.
Secretary Robo: Of course. And, if I may report the good news first, we have, under your munificent leadership, produced a total of 21.73 bazillion Revolutionary Credits worth of work, for this calendar year.
Commiessar Ham: Tremendous! Two statues!
Secretary Robo: Continuing, this should be regarded in light of the budgeted expenditure of... 1736.09 bazillion Revolutionary Credits. Including the second statue.
Commiessar Ham: So?
Secretary Robo: Mathematically, this corresponds to a net deficit of 1714.36 bazillion Revolutionary Credits.
Commiessar Ham: So? I don't see the problem.
Secretary Robo: Well, you see, each Revolutionary Credit remains notionally pegged to one... *looks around* man-hour, yes? It means that we have pledged about one thousand seven hundred bazillion more man-hours of work, than we have produced. In fact, due to our special bonus scheme, roughly 96% of our official production did not, in effect, correspond to actual man-hours in the first place. But it's a rounding error anyway. In summary, this means, that, we, uh, cannot fulfil our obligations in any meaningful sense.
Commiessar Ham: *quietly* It's the math, right?
Secretary Robo: Um, Commiessar?
Commiessar Ham: The math is against me. I knew it. It was secretly capitalist, all along. *turns to a quivering Robo* You see the starving children, Secretary? The crying widows? The end of our glorious democratic socialist revolution? You tell me: am I right, or is the... *spits* math right? Where is the justice?
Secretary Robo: ...easy, Commiessar! We have long burnt the Common Core textbooks!
Commiessar Ham: Yes, Secretary. You are one of the very few I can trust, in these dark days. Tell me, loyal friend; what should I do? How shall we carry the revolution forward?
Secretary Robo: *sighs and picks up phone* Hello, Department of Statistics? Secretary Robo here. You know what to do.
Problem solved for now, honoured Commiessar. Oh yes, forgot something. *lifts phone again* Hello, Department of the Treas...
...wait, urgh. *turns to Commiessar Ham* I was just going to tell them to print more Credits, but they gone and done shot themselves first.
Commiessar Ham: Really jumped the gun there. Never mind, I can appreciate promptness in subordinates.
A few years later...
Commiessar Ham: See? Math, schmatz. What equivalence between production and expenditure? Our socialist experiment has thrived despite such capitalist tricks. Whew, hot day, isn't it? Tissue, Secretary Robo? Thank you. *wipes face* Hey, is this a hundred million Credit note?
Secretary Robo: I hear it has fine texture, Commiessar.
Commiessar Ham: Good, good. It is heartening that the revolutionary fervour has not died out, over the long years; volunteerism at the re-education camps is up 300%, so I hear from the provincial chiefs. It is touching to find such thirst for knowledge amongst citizens. But, you know, Secretary, I have heard... concerning news about certain Rightist backsliders organizing... markets. Not just personal exchange of goods, mind. Speculation! With Credits!
Secretary Robo: *adjusting collar* ...about this, they have been some of our most productive regions, my Commiessar.
Commiessar Ham: *narrows eyes* But isn't this expressedly against our fundamental socialist principles? Do these people think that our faultless central planning is not good enough?
Secretary Robo: They call it Distributed Socialism, comrade. So, uh, one side has these bolts, you see, and the other side has all those nuts, so they tell this third guy about all the bolts and nuts, and the third guy puts two and two together and brings them together, and everybody gets some bolts with nuts, including the third guy who keeps a few for his trouble.
Commiessar Ham: Go on...
Secretary Robo: ...so, it seems to work. And, a bunch of these third guys, knowing how wise and handsome the Commiessar is, have pooled together to present you with a small token of appreciation. Nothing of any significance, of course, just a humble measure of respect. The crates are in the back. Oh, and here's front-row tickets to the next Ariana Grande concert, and a certified licked donut by hers truly.
Commiessar Ham: ...I am a great supporter of innovation in socialist thought, Secretary. We must not be limited by the chains of our own precapitalist imagination.
Secretary Robo: Splendid! I will add that quote to the collection.
Commiessar Ham: Look, Secretary, distributed socialism is one thing, but now you have people lending Credits, and collecting interest! Isn't there a level below which we cannot stoop?
Secretary Robo: What? No, never, my Commiessar! This is merely the implementation of a Socialist Risk Premium! However unfortunate it may be, it remains that not all of our worthy socialist endeavours will pan out; as such, it is only polite for those who might want to temporarily employ a few more Credits - not borrow, because everyone owns everything here, comrade - to make sure to give back a little more. Which again, is everyone's. It's just the moral thing to do.
Commiessar Ham: Well, if you put it that way.
Secretary Robo: Backstage pass to Gal Gadot's guest musical.
Commiessar Ham: Thank you. Hey, is that a bloody... what do the evil capitalists call it... stock market?!
Secretary Robo: Blind date with Scarlett Johansson.
Commiessar Ham: I think you got the order mixed up.
Secretary Robo: Oh, sorry. Yes, it's not a stock market, we disdain that representation of capitalist decadence, now and forever, to the end of time! It's a Distributed Socialist Co-Prosperity Scheme. Very fun, I hear. Also does wonders for Credit allocation, and ultimately production.
Commiessar Ham: *stretches out paw*
Secretary Robo: Ah, right. My apologies.
Commiessar Ham: *pockets ticket* There's a right way and a wrong way to go about things, you know. It'll be a complete shame if our kids forget these basic principles, when they rise through the Committee ranks purely based on their own merits. Right, Secretary?
Secretary Robo: Totally, totally. By the way, the Committee's just approved renaming Credits to "Dollars", for better integration with the global economy. It's not like words mean much in the first place - it's the thought that counts.
And thus, we continue carrying the mantle of democratic socialism, into the new century.
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