the latest test had been going well, users were adjusting to the system positively, and senior management declared all the major new features ready to bake. expanding to the larger market always meant some hiccups, uncertainties that could never completely be accounted for until after the product shipped, the as-yet-to-be known unknowns that permeate through an entire change of architecture like what was being attempted. nevertheless progress and growth demanded continuous recuperation, and consumer throngs must be threshed out every season for this feature or that - provided of course that their social benefits were maintained. thus faith was vested, as always, in the economy: to deliver a good harvest, to give strength to the almighty denominations that enabled the life sustaining trade that nearly everyone depended upon to survive. for the end users, a greater rank of confidence bestowed protection from the ravages of the world of high-finance, the valleys of algorithmically induced flash-crashes and panicked sell-offs of stocks, and the massive flux of devaluations on the currency exchange markets. although the system had overcome much of the difficulties of scaling up to such a massive capacity, the rollout presented a bumpy road ahead yet to travel.
launch days came and went fairly frequently for all the major certified kit produced by the centrally planned national industries. they’d become very routine, but there was still a kind of mass hysteria around these events that drew people in like the midway sideshow barkers of yore. camps sprung up around old libraries and storefronts that had been renovated to become public exhibition spaces for the elite American brands, flocked to by eager patrons ready to plunk down their state issued coupons, good for one mobile computer per year, subsidized to nullify the digital divide and give everyone a shot at the egalitarian dream of an equal opportunity society. as for the outcomes, they didn’t have to turn out to be perfectly equal, but at least some effort was made to effect a fair sense of proportionality between the greatest wealth accumulators and their subordinates, that was part of the new consensus.
in the wake of globalization, american innovation had became paranoid and elusive, choosing to move more and more of the supply chain in-house, to be controlled under walled-off proprietary silos inside a culture of secrecy. information security procedures developed by the intelligence community were employed to keep a tight lid on product roadmap; false leaks and disinformation circulated through embedded media outlets to confuse the enemies of the country. this kind of isolationism was not entirely uncommon in the various economic blocs, and better surveillance capabilities continued to get cheaper for the competing governments every single day. who could produce and outspend the militaries of the world, ultimately, in times of extraordinary crisis and national emergency?
the continuity of the state dictated the priorities that drove investments. in an increasingly competitive multilateral world of rising economic forces, superiority through strength was becoming more difficult to maintain. military dominance could not be achieved solely through sheer overwhelming power, but had to be assured through the use of advanced force multipliers. combining a near total consolidation of mass media outlets and advanced research and development efforts, the entertainment industrial complex engineered the consent of the population and exported abroad the cultural values deemed to be of strategic importance. the arms race of communications technology was a vital front as always.
Great progress had been achieved over the years in securing the national interest by mobilizing natural monopolies in service to the common wealth and welfare. All things being equal, the changeover for the nationalized companies that became the core of good governance and reliable deliverables went about as well as nearly anyone could have hoped for. the conceit in many of the various founders’ ambitious visions of transforming human social relations on truly massive scales fit well with the scope of the task involved in providing the back-end services that encompassed the new society.
No more were rouge transnational interests within the state’s boundaries to be the primary beneficiaries of the highly centralized mega-industrial vertical integration and globalized logistics capabilities they had developed. instead their powers would be brought back home to roost, their surpluses repatriated in service to civil society, where investments in public infrastructure and a sustained social campaign had fended off any serious internal threats to the preservation of the state. free markets and rule of law under liberal parliamentary democracies promised to ensure peace and prosperity, provided the benefit of those markets did not become super-stratified to the point of social-breakdown and collapse.
The ascendancy of this neo-feudal arrangement was self-regulated under the direction of the democratically selected plutocrats who were legitimately vested with the public’s trust via the new consensus, the pact made with those inheritors and guardians of wealth who understood that providing for the public welfare was as beneficial to enabling society’s creation of wealth in the long term as much as it was dependent upon it in the short term. to maintain the class system occasional concessions from above would have to be made in the interest of social cohesion, a tenuous balance that shifted with the mores of the times. thats how unemployment, liberalism and democracy persevere on in the twenty-first century, by providing a platform of integrated services to facilitate the mass adoption of a common set of toolkits that an equally opportunistic majority can exploit for themselves to generate value, with some redistributive measures built-in to prevent losses of productivity from outpacing gains.
Confidence could now be redeemed by virtually everyone, across competing platforms using a host of mature standards, enabling the basic guarantees of the enhanced entitlements regime to continue to be provided for on the strength of the currency, ipso facto. blessed by the enlightened choice of early adopters in the military, the global reach of the scheme was now propagating toward interoperability with traditional fiat money world-wide. eventually, previously informal value transfer systems would soon be able to be monetized nearly frictionlessly in real-time under a proposed update to specifications of the existing protocol. the newest major features were designed to increase buy-in and strongly incentivize migration, expanding the supply of wealth by sharing upstream revenue returns to the end users, increasing the total confidence generated by micro-fractions taken from every transaction in the system.
these newly public utilities and device makers empowered a once fledging generation of creatives to carry the burden of the depreciating value of labor. where automation continued to increase efficiency at the expense of jobs in manufacturing and an increasing share of the service economy, marketing became so prevalent as to have to begin subsidizing the audiences’ engagement with the officially mandated awareness campaigns and informational outreach efforts that were dictated by new directives designed to encourage an uptick in adoption of available goods and services.
despite a basic opportunity grant for necessaries with no preconditions for approval, some segments of the citizenry held out from upgrading to the benefits of the new operating system. they subsisted mostly based in rural communities, trading over darknets that emerged to piggyback on the formal economy and evade its security measures, aided by no shortage of sympathizers entrenched in urban metropolitan areas willing to assist in the laundry of illicit gains, often in exchange for handcrafts or vegetables. A grand solution to this pirate activity remained an attractive proposition to the great powers of the world, with host states and corporations busily collaborating on policies and technologies to widen their shared spheres of influence and limit the potential for disruption.
the ongoing perpetuation of any civilization invariably rested upon the ability to keep records: the collective memories that gave a people their story, and the clandestine data collection that allowed potential threats to be neutralized. of course it was practically impossible to truly know just how much information the state could sort through and store, and to what extent that information could be analyzed into useful product. the whistleblowers that might have come forward were forgotten within the span of a day’s news cycle, and anyone still paying attention remained effectively gagged by the congressional committee on censorship. their hearings had concluded that officially there was no problem with censorship, and that to proclaim otherwise would constitute falsely disseminating misstatements injurious to morale, a state crime punishable under federal emergency powers. Therefore as far as the public was concerned, the freedom of open society had been preserved, at least to the extent that they were allowed to know of. people who suggested anything to the contrary had a tendency to be forgotten by their former friends and neighbors rather quickly, after abrupt relocations or mysterious disappearances. if they returned, they themselves had already put such thoughts behind them.
even so, from back end and distribution, to currency and point of sale - absolute loyalty to the total stack was impossible to assure. controls on imports of open hardware were expensive to enforce and despite near ubiquitous monitoring of online communications and the employment of armies of loyalists flooding the public networking sites, dissenting opinions still managed to afflict marginalized members of the populace, necessitating an unwieldy rehabilitation and treatment infrastructure. Criminals and other anti-social types could be retrained with a combination of psychotropic therapies and skills-based training sessions, providing the factory cities that churned out much of the nation’s hardware with a steady supply of labor.
this rehabilitation regime was hailed at its introduction as a kind of redemptive salvation to the waves of crime that blighted the country during the long depressed austerity years. ask any average person on the street if they thought it was just that you could be snatched out of your home for posting a negative comment about a policy initiative to the networks and end up chemically lobotomized and assembling tablet computers in some factory town in the southwest, and you’d probably get an answer in the affirmative. a small subset of the population went out of their way to pass along messages about forbidden subjects, or install loudspeakers in hidden corners to broadcast speeches condemning the censors, or project out of moving vehicles illicit videos of the factory dormitory conditions onto the walls of buildings, terrorizing the rest of society with their poisonous malcontent rancor.
"why can’t you just be happy like everyone else? you have everything you need. involuntary poverty has been abolished and education is accessible to even the most miserable wretch. isn’t that what you people have been fighting for, for all this time? you should be ecstatic, you should be celebrating with all those gadget worshipers lined up around the blocks waiting for the doors to open-" those are sorts of things one could hear them saying to anyone who dared to mutter anything less than gleaming praise for the new consensus, for its enhanced benefits and rehab centers, and the whole American way of life. There was no argument to have, no public debate, you either acquiesced and went about with your day filling out surveys and watching public service announcements, or you drew too much attention to yourself and ended up in one of those treatment centers pumped up full of compliance medications while you waited for readjustment specialists to root out your negative attitudes. anything else was too dangerous, to threatening to personal safety.
yet there were still whispers of others practicing the old ways in esoteric rustic communities outside of the metroplexes, occasionally you might even see an eruption of dissenters in a city, disrupting the flow of commerce for a brief stoppage of regular time, and melting away into the crowded shadows to evade detection just as quickly as they emerged. or perhaps these were merely romantic delusions that were the counterpart to an omnipotent control mechanism that employed double agents to ensnare the disloyal in entrapment schemes designed to totalize even the space of dreams that these fantasies grew out of. one could never be sure how paranoid one needed to be, since to consult another might result in the complete ideological reorientation of one’s own self, tantamount to destruction of the self. for most this would be too much to risk, and just the threat of this remolding of identity at a distance was enough to affect its aims. there could be no greater deterrent than a simple measure of basic comfort provided by affiliation and the potential disaster of the removal thereof.