There is not and never will be an objective account of the Schism. Historians will waste centuries foisting their pretensions upon the subject. That which was once impossible will be declared inevitable. Architectures of thought will be constructed. And events will disappear.
The process has already begun. Origins are being discovered in the Civil War, the Continental Congress, in the beginnings of European settlement in
Here, my only living companion is memory.
In my dreams it begins in 2057. The words do not agree.
The others call it the “Pelman Mythos”. Some call it the truth. They remember words better than I.
Arthur Pelman was an obscure professor of political economy at
Pelman’s thesis was not complicated: given current trends in economics, cultural mores, religion, natural resources, legal precedent and political philosophy, the inescapable conclusion was that the
The northeast and Pacific Northwest, as well as many of the states bordering
The most surprising of Pelman’s findings was the fact that, despite their cultural reverence for non-conformity, political opinions were more uniform in the north and east than in the south and central west. On both sides of the divide, the dynamic paradox was pushing the regional blocs into a militant uniformity suggestive of an emerging state. And these states were moving in entirely opposite directions from their double and opposite.
“It is now certain,” Pelman wrote in his conclusion, “that the consolidation of these regional-cultural-political blocs into coherent and entirely separate political entities cannot be prevented and is likely not desirable. We can expect a slow but increasingly public bifurcation between these two blocs in the very near future. Ultimately, the mutual advantage of a formal partition will become obvious to leaders on both sides. When and where the document will be signed is impossible to predict, but when it is signed it will be to the mutual benefit of two amicable, but nonetheless essentially different and separate nations.”
Pelman was prescient, but he was not a prophet. He was not even much of a historian. Despite ample precedent, he failed completely to predict the slaughter that was coming. I have counted only a handful of incidental references and footnotes in “Slouching Towards Apocalypse” that make mention of the rapid growth of liberationist militias in the south and central regions, and the concomitant activities of eco-terror groups and urban anarchist cells in the northeast and west. On page 169 he makes the unfortunate statement that “there is no doubt that these groups are a fringe phenomenon of no significant impact and will continue to be so. Nonetheless, they are indications of more significant and eventually decisive trends.” Despite his reputation, Pelman failed to prophesy the integration of these groups and their ideologies into the regular army units which quickly chose sides when the moment came.
Two years after his books unsuccessful publication Pelman died of liver cancer. He never saw the events of 2057. A fact which has been much to the benefit of his posthumous reputation.
The official breaking point was the debate over Commemoration. The original bill was introduced in late 2056 by Garson Kilor, senator from
The year’s events were to culminate in a full scale reenactment of the 1968
Kilor introduced his bill with a speech in which he called the proposal “a too long delayed celebration of the tradition of dissent which makes this country great.” Bernard Thurman, leader of the Republican Federationist Coalition, rose almost immediately afterwards to call it “a reprehensible attempt to grant official sanction to ideologies and actions of treason.” The shouts of denunciation and approval were of equal measure. By the end of the week, the DUF had given notice of their attentions to boycott the next congressional session if the bill was not brought to a vote. The next day the RFC made a similar statement, with opposite intentions. Unless the bill was immediately withdrawn not a single party member would set foot on the floor of the Capitol. Upon his return to
There were a handful of attempts at a compromise. Most notably, the Wehauken Summit called by president Flaherty. Despite his reputation as a moderate, Flaherty’s membership in the RFC likely destroyed any possibility of compromise from the outset. The DUF had spent a lifetime worshipping their grandparents. Compromise was unthinkable.
Pelman’s thesis was borne out by subsequent political developments. The DFU demanded an immediate floor vote. The RFC agreed. The bill lost. The vote went entirely along regional party lines. The DUF abandoned its initial demands in favor of a more extreme position. They announced their intention to boycott the next congressional session if the bill was not immediately ratified. Remarks were heard from the other side of the aisle referring to “legislative terrorism”. Exception was taken. The speeches dragged well into the night on the last day of the legislative session. At 3:30 am, his tie undone and his shirt stained with coffee, senator Kilor rose before a packed chamber of dozing legislators and gave his now legendary “consent of the governed” speech.
“The consent of the governed,” he said, “is irrelevant. Must be irrelevant to what is historically true and morally correct. If democracy cannot bring itself to recognize such elementary values as justice and truth, then democracy be damned! And damned be the
Kilor and the DUF delegation left the hall to cries of “treason!” and a small number of flying projectiles, mostly pens and ashtrays. They were escoted from the capitol by capitol police. This was necessary because of the pandemonium which had erupted in the District streets, with protestors from both sides hurling insults and, by the end of the night, Molotov cocktails across the police barricades.
At the M street barricades collapsed, and the crowds surged over each other in an orgiastic explosion of flying limbs and screaming wounded. The National Guard in full riot gear dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. Kilor no doubt appreciated the irony. Ten people were killed.
Two days later, the DUF secretariat published the Manhattan Statement. Rumor held and holds today that it was predominately written by Kilor. Citing the “police mass slaughter” of two days before, it concluded that “the farce called American democracy can no longer be maintained.”
The country had reached the precipice moment. It is here that Pelman’s thesis collapses.
This was not immediately apparent. The three months following the riot and the publication of the Manhattan Statement has now been named the Interregnum. It was the period of uneasy calm before the inferno. Historians have made comparisons between the Interregnum and the “false war” of 1939-40. This is not entirely accurate. Paramilitary units on both sides were arming at alarming rates. It has now been conclusively established that most of the weaponry was supplied by sympathetic National Guard units. President Flaherty quietly recalled 70% of the country’s overseas forces to the homeland. He was too late. They had been watching the news. Individual gun sales skyrocketed.
Flaherty was determined to make his plea for peaceful resolution. He was an idealist. The DUF had already delivered its Notification of Non-Participation in the 2057 legislative session declaring “representative democracy is the enemy of the people.” In response, the RFC petitioned the president for the immediate arrest of Kilor and the DUF leadership on charges of treason. They refused to take their seats until the demand was met.
The president decided to take his plea directly to the people. From the steps of the empty Capitol.
On 25 March, Flaherty mounted the steps to spit in the face of history. Standing behind a dais draped with the American flag and the seal of the president of the
Eric McCandless was three yards away at the time. At the edge of the crowd. Leaning on a motorcycle. He was twenty-two years old and arson charges against him stemming from a fire which had leveled an entire Wisconson housing development had recently been dropped for lack of evidence. He was a member of Warriors for Gaia, an eco-terrorist group which was known for blowing up park ranger jeeps and setting fire to lumber factories. Their last manifesto declared that “The human race is the virus of the earth. We are the cure.” His motorcycle contained over two thousand pounds of explosives packed with nails and ball bearings. When he pressed the detonator, it killed himself, forty-five bystanders, the last president of the
By , 26 March, regular army units loyal to the RFC had occupied the District and declared martial law. A warrant was issued for Kilor’s immediate arrest on charges of treason and conspiring to kill the president of the