The employee primer for new junior executives (security level orange) is surprisingly accurate in describing the circumstances that led to the creation of the autonomous zones. I must confess that the propaganda value to the corporations of communicating this information to anyone in such a frank fashion escapes me. Given the executive’s obsessive need to lie about everything else there must be a reason for this honesty I cannot fathom what it could be.
The main factual error in their narrative, rather predictably, is labeling the people being exiled to make room for corporate housing as “hordes of violent nihilists” and the inhabitants of the lands the exiles were relocated to as “functional anarcho-communists”. The truth of course is that both groups were victims of corporate greed.
The injustice done to the exiles is obvious, the payouts they received in return for involuntary relocation were useless and non-negotiable. They were technically reimbursed for their property and lands but no one who was relocated was given a choice in the matter. Anyone who resisted was forcibly removed from their home by corporate security forces. Fatalities were not unknown in these confrontations and these deaths were legally condoned by an agreement with the Corporate Security Council.
What seems just as obvious to me, yet is often overlooked by others, is that the native inhabitants of newly minted autonomous zones were victims just as surely. Some exiles were relocated to uninhabited areas but this was rare because there weren’t many uninhabited places left on the planet. By and large the exiles were moved into places that already had occupants. Imagine waking up in your apartment one day and finding three people have moved in with you, three people who are angry and scared and don’t want to be there.
The situation was remarkably reminiscent to the displacement of natives by Europeans as I’ve detailed in my history of the colonization of the Americas. Almost uncannily so. You have a military power with a financial motive “buying” land from people with currency they don’t want, doing so without their consent, and resettling them to another place that is already inhabited, then pointing to the resulting conflict between the resettled and the original inhabitants as proof of both party’s inability to govern themselves and an excuse to seize more land in the name of progress and enlightenment.
I have colleagues that will claim the corps instigated violence in the autonomous zones but I don’t believe this, not that the corporate masters restrained themselves out of any moral forbearance, but rather that no such effort was necessary. Conflict was inevitable. Lacking any ability to organize and maintain traditional law enforcement bodies the only option for people living in the autonomous zones to continue existing was aggressive self-protection.
People have asked me why I publish these histories, questioning the value they could have to our current struggle. I would say first of all that the truth is always valuable. Scientific truth, historical truth, personal truth, these are the things that we’re struggling for if nothing else. If you’re fighting for different reasons you’re wasting your time.
Rhetoric aside, in this case there is a practical reason for my haranguing. New recruits are often drawn to the idea of autonomous zones, either looking to the inhabitants as allies in our fight or looking to help them as the victims they are. Neither is possible. A philosopher even more pompous than myself once stated that “without government life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. The autonomous zones have proven him correct.
We like to think of ourselves as free thinkers who have thrown off the yoke of corporate brainwashing but their influence lingers in all of us. After the amount of exposure we’ve had to company propaganda it’s foolish to assume we are free of it entirely or even largely.
At the time I’m writing this in the last quarter the most popular sim was The Exiles, a scripted drama about the life in the autonomous zones. Similar dramas have been consistently in the top 8 most streamed sims every quarter for the last ten financial years.
While these corporate productions don’t skimp on the violence and horror of life in the autonomous zones nevertheless they sanitize and minimize the true problems faced by the real people living outside the corporate enclaves. The goal of these sims is to scare employees about the dangers of the outside world without eliciting sympathy for the people living outside the system. Exiles fighting raiders makes for an exciting sim that also warns people about the perils of the wastelands. Exiles dealing with disease and lack of access to clean water is merely depressing, and worse, potentially thought provoking.
The characters in these sims literally fight for survival but they do so while remaining picturesque and attractive. After slaying hordes of faceless enemy raiders they have acrobatic and visually pleasing sex on the pile of their dead enemies. They may talk about being hungry or worried about finding water but the actual effects of deprivation are never shown on these avatars.
An unintentional (I think, it’s hard to accept anything the corps do as having unintended consequences but the paranoia that they’re infallible is itself a result of their propaganda machine) consequence of this faux portrayal of life in the autonomous zones is that there are many in our organization who have developed a fantasy that the people living out there are nonconformist mavericks who are free of the corporate sponsored dictatorship we live in. That their lives are tough, but somehow enviable.
The people in the autonomous zone have nothing to offer our movement (or anyone else). They can contribute nothing to our goals. This may sound harsh but it is true.
Regardless of the state of the world today with the corporations having near total power over us, there is no alternative other than to overthrow them, as appealing as the idea of escaping to a land of freedom sounds. There is no such land. The autonomous zones have degenerated completely into unbridled barbarism, the people there have no access to education of any kind, and are quite literally fighting for their lives, doing horrible things to each other to survive.
The idea that they could help us in any way, even as “foot soldiers” or more perversely as “cannon fodder” as some have suggested, is ludicrous. One need only look at the example of any number of extinct fauna species to understand why. Grizzly bears and tigers and other large predators may seem impressive with their strength and ferocity, but what use is that physical might against organization, infrastructure and technology?
Set aside for a moment any understanding of networking or splicing or any of the other basic skills we need to conceal ourselves from corpsec and initiate our operations, the people living in the autonomous zones have no understanding of even the simplest analog technology. What possible aid could they render us? Even if they wanted to.
Which brings me to the next point. If the outsiders could offer us some value there’s no method to negotiate with them to use it, no deals to be struck, no alliances to be made. They cannot be trusted any more than a rat in your wall can be trusted. You can feed the rat, you can pretend that you’re friends with the rat, and in a certain sense maybe you are, but the rat doesn’t understand anything other than that you’re a source of food. It may learn not to bite you when you handle it in order to get more food but that won’t stop it from destroying anything in your Apartment it can get its hands on. The rat cannot act otherwise, it’s not evil, it’s simple incapable of doing anything else.
You can’t appeal to logic with the rat, you can’t make a deal with it, you can’t tell it to chew through some wires in the next apartment as part of a scheme. All it can do is take from you.
It is a tragedy that the people in the autonomous zone have been reduced to the same state but it is no less true for that tragedy.