Day 18. 64 pages, 30,109 words. Not entirely sure what I’m doing here right now.
History is written, or so the old adage goes, by the winners. This is broadly true, insofar as it is written by anyone still in a position to sit down and make a record of what happened, and the generations fortunate enough to follow after them. And all of these people have a deep and abiding sociocultural investment in making their part in said history look good, so they can sleep at night, which is where the old adage essentially comes from.
In war, particularly human war, there are no winners. There are only survivors, crawling out of the wreckage and attempting to figure out what they did wrong, so they can do it better next time. And invariably failing to realise that what they did wrong was try to kill each other in the first place. As such, in war, it makes little difference who writes the history. Its only purpose, after all, is to give people something to look back on so they don’t see the next one coming.
And there was no more human war than the so-called Civil World War of 2350 AD. Known, in the post-war cultural mass-psyche, as the Green War.
It wouldn’t be true to say that the history of the Green War was written by the winners, but in this particular case it wasn’t because there were none. The winners of the Green War didn’t write anything at all. What was written, yes, was written by the survivors and their progeny. It was to them that the thankless and ultimately impossible task of making their part in it look good fell. And while they failed on every level to do so, they also had very short attention-spans so ultimately it hardly mattered. And this, of course, served the true winners of the war very well indeed.
The war was given the sorrowful and contradictory title of ‘Civil World War’ for a simple reason. For the first time in recorded human experience, the entire world came together as one … and, like a single nation tearing its own population to shreds, did the same on a simply unthinkable scale.
The main theatre of war, the flashpoint that set the volatile and tinder-dry species ablaze, was the Amazon basin. But from there the conflict spread – not physically spilling over from country to country, but ideologically, at the speed of telecommunication. Within two days, iterations of the war were taking place in almost every nation on Earth. Within thirty days, aside from a few ongoing battles between firmly entrenched holdouts, the war was over. It was one of the shortest wars in human history, and despite the scattering of nuclear weapons employed it had not quite boiled over into full-scale thermonuclear devastation. This served to limit the initial death-count to between twelve and thirty million people, depending on the criteria one used. The subsequent deaths numbered in the hundreds of millions, if not the billions, but this was purely a matter of interpretation and few bothered – or dared – to interpret it that way. Most post-war sources aligned on the conclusion that the elevated mortality rate among all human demographics was the standard outcome of a natural decline in the Earth’s biomass.
This, technically, was true. Even the deaths and medical complications from fallout were minimal compared to earlier horrors of the nuclear warfare age. The rest of it was nothing to do with the war … and everything to do with it. By its very nature, and in another historical contradiction, the Green War was the dirtiest war the human race had ever waged, and its repercussions were exactly as widespread and long-lasting as anyone could have foreseen. As, indeed, many people had.
Most of those people had been the first to die.
Essays were written about the Green War. One thing the survivors agreed on, after all, was that it should never happen again. Unfortunately, this much was easy to agree on and implement, because the Green War simply could not happen again. There was not enough left for it to happen over. Humanity instigating a new Civil World War would have been akin to a pair of astronauts adrift in space throwing away their oxygen tanks and strangling each other with their air hoses. It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility, because human beings were very, very stupid … but it was logistically unfeasible.
But there were essays. The survivors crawled out of the wreckage and attempted to figure out what they’d done wrong. The historic international environmentalist alliance, and its massive demonstration in the hinterland of the Amazonian industrial megaplex, was an easy place to start. For a lot of essays, it was also an easy place to finish. The Civil World War took place when a large group of civilian protesters were shot, the short answer on a child’s school history test might read, and retaliatory protests sprang up all over the world.
This wasn’t the whole truth, but it’s as good a summary as any. Huge energy conglomerates like Synfoss, and agri-industrial giants like HarvCorp, feared for their profits. It was a simple matter to stoke fears in an ignorant international population, to convince them that their freedom and way of life were at risk, and to remind them of disasters like the Cow Plague that inevitably occurred whenever ‘the hippies’ went from pushy and demanding to militant. Even before the basin went up like a firework, people were polarising. Drawing lines. Stockpiling weapons. Passing the point of retractable words.
When the emergent Union Amazônia decided to cement its relationship with the economic superpowers and flex its newfound executive muscle, things got almost immediately out of hand. The demonstration, numbering almost two hundred and fifty thousand men, women and children from all over the world, was obliterated – in response to an ‘existential threat’ which was never clearly or satisfactorily established – with a series of incendiary bomb strikes on its main operational hubs, and mopping-up operations by airborne heavy machine guns and infantry teams. There were, ultimately, no survivors, but the world didn’t need to wait for a quarter of a million of its denizens to fail to return home before finding this out. The media blackout was penetrated by several pockets of protesters unfortunate enough to escape the initial aerial assault.
The footage that spread from the basin, of the atrocities committed by the UA troops during their mopping-up actions, triggered an unprecedented worldwide backlash. Against anyone sufficiently unsympathetic to the plight of the environmentalists.
And those people were already ready. They’d been ready for years. Corporate and government oversight legislation slammed down, martial law was declared in a hitherto unparalleled number of ostensible democracies, and heavily-armed civilian militia in the guise of citizens’ wellbeing squads popped up and spread like a bad rash. Unable to handle the million-fronted urban war they found themselves facing, national governments formed hasty alliances of convenience with any group willing to do murder in defence of the status quo. Or in the name of any shitty old festering grudge they happened to be able to dress up as defence of the status quo.
And so, in the name of security and liberty and livelihood, the malcontents were butchered. Anyone who dared to stand or to speak out in protest was cut down. Slain by weapons in hands that sweated and shook with a panic that was manufactured out of whole cloth. An ecstatic paranoid fantasy woven by the jealous brokers of power who had seen a chance to secure their obscene prosperity for another generation – a chance to squat on their impossible riches while the world’s lungs slowly filled with its own toxic blood.
Thirty days later, the Green War was over. ‘The hippies’, armed only with their tragic misconceptions about humanity and civilisation, had never stood a chance. And the brokers of power, secure once more in their unassailable strongholds, continued to grind the rest of their species into the poisoned dirt with absolute impunity. The world continued to degenerate, aided by human apathy borne of sheer existential necessity. Hippies’re all dead, was the common response to any vocalisation of environmental or humanitarian conscience in the decades that followed. Hippies’re all dead.
The Green War was where, it was said, the soul of humanity had died. But this wasn’t true either, not really.
The truth was, humanity had never had a soul to kill.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.