"Man follows Earth. Earth follows Heaven."
--old Pasan proverb.
stiff against the air, and then the wind breaks it.
Ambitious men will
find their blades, their heads, their dreams, breaking against rock."
The Late 1960s Counter-Culture
Bergonia already had
a socialist revolution in the 1930's, but the wave of radicalism that swept the globe in the late 1960s struck
its shores as well. Like their brethren in every part of the
world, they were deeply anti-establishmentarian in sentiment, attitude and
deed. In Bergonia they protested the excesses of state and
cooperative bureaucracy, and also reflected much of the same protest
against the lack of authenticity of modern life, and the resulting apathy
and mental shrinkage. Supposedly Bergonia was the great
socialist future that all the French & American students longed for,
but the Bergonian version of modernity nonetheless was only somewhat less
culpable than any other nation's. Even in libertarian-socialist
Bergonia, life was getting perhaps too comfortable, too scripted, too
regimented, too-- well, too bourgeoisie.
Many Bergonian youth wore long hair, joined the hermits, experimented with
drugs, blared loud music on radio and the first cheap stereos, and
generally enjoyed defying and shocking convention. Bergonia had its
version of Lenny Bruce. As in other parts of the world, Berg fashion
became very extravagant, colorful and hot, but projecting more of a radical edge
since generally Bergonian taste and design is by nature dark, solid and
balanced, generally subdued and minimal, certainly unlike the flashiness
of 1950s America. This has since been interpreted as another
step in the progression of urban cosmopolitanism.
There was a great flair of interest in ancient Berg
spiritualism and religion, from which a Bergonian version of the "New Age"
evolved, in which mystical Miradi disciplines
(comparable to Buddhist meditative practice and Tai Chi), ancient oracles and
esoteric Hiestat traditions were seized upon,
misinterpreted and scrambled. American hippies, freaks and
backpackers descended on Bergonia in the late Sixties and afterwards.
The Asocialism Movement
Naturally these were great days for Bergonian anarchism,
with a whole new generation of interest and activism. But of course
it was a new generation facing a new set of problems. There were a
number of artistic, literary and critical "movements," all descrying the
creeping authoritarianism in the new "socialist normalcy." By far
the largest of these was Asocialism, at first a circle of writers and
journalists in Ceiolai, resulting in a journal and then a newspapers,
which in time expanded into a "journalist circle" that included journals
and papers in 12 cities. Asocialism was, like the French
situationalists and the Beats in the U.S., a vague-talking string of
criticisms, ironies and paradoxes, with a greta deal of concern about how
mass media "spectaclism" distorted
Their mobilizing cause was typical of the type, protesting
the exclusion of avant garde art by a museum, and the firing of a
prominent theater director for his decision to put on an offensive play.
Asocialism became an instant inspiration for fiction of all kinds--
novels, plays and movies-- science & fantasy fiction, historical fiction,
many veering into surrealism, meandering incomplete dreamlike plots,
disjointed timelines, with sometimes despairing and gloomy moods, with
portrayals of raging rebels and free men.
But there also emerged an Asocialist political club in
Ceiolai, called Mshigi the "Flock of Crows," in 1963,
comprised at first of intellectuals and literati. Their journal, of
the same name, circulated widely an attracted good writers, journalists
and activists from all over the country.
The Crows went after local abuses. They sometimes
mocked the older anarchists out of slumber. They descended upon
communes trying to assert grievances against powerful county land
councils. They, or their imitators, invaded local government offices to
protest unnecessary impositions of authority. There were different
varieties of Crows, many of them no more than absurdist street theater
performers, lecture series, or discussion groups, while others were
serious community organizers who mobilized opposition to unfair land
The Asocialist Political Anaysis:
Old anarchism that redeemed
the revolution was originally predicted on the evils of capitalism.
But capitalism had been wiped out, and the new revolutionary state was
already settling down into institutional form, so that by the 1950s
everyone had a number, and institutional authority on all levels was
becoming slightly overbearing, and now it was possible to talk about the
evils of socialism, misdemeanors compared to capitalism's murders and
felonies, but crimes nonetheless.
In many economic sectors the syndicals were trying to act
like monopolies. Local land councils were putting leaseholders,
renters and applicants through too many hoops, with too many forms, and
sometimes charging annoying fees for "re-registering" their leases, in
addition to the rent-tax itself. Local authorities made it hard on
individuals and cooperatives from getting licenses for construction.
Budgeting processes risked becoming chocked by the jealous layers of
ministerial bureaucracy within the massive federal-state Department of
On the other hand, the emerging bureaucracy was just too
comfortable, over-confident in its monetary conservatism, while the new
mass media molded and homogenized culture, hence thought. The
similarities that Bergoniann mass culture had with than of the capitalist
countries was so striking, they felt, as to mock the significance of
socialism. Life was becoming, it seemed, a revolutionary realization
of bourgeois propriety and bourgeois boredom, capable of no better than institutionalizing
There were many spin-offs. Most prominent of these
Transactionalists, who tried to come up
with a way to simplify all bureaucracy with their theory that all
decision-making occurs in response to direct or implied requests-- the
"request-response" transaction-- that implied a yes-no binary of
approval-refusal. Into this model they included behavioral
choice theory and game theory. They demonstrated their theory in a
model project in the local Department of Welfare Services in several
smaller cities in Coninipati by
eliminating all specialized application, requisition and request forms and
replacing them with a single, simple Transaction Form within the offices.
The employees took the form and ran with it. On their own they made
many necessary modifications to the original form and procedure.
This initiated a "simplify procedure" wave that briefly brought
Transactionalist academics into the national limelight. The
Transactionalists reminded people to break everything down into its
simplest number of steps, with the most efficiency, which meant reduction
of information to the relevant, and elimination of redundant steps.
This was a time when carbon form duplicates became widespread, and when
photocopying was first introduced.
with Socialism-- the Green Critique
But these critiques of institutional socialism were
inspiring but numerically minor compared to the large wave of
environmentalist political activism that began in 1967. While
Americans protested the Vietnam war and European students flirted with the
revolutionary left, the new Bergonian radicals took up environmentalism as
their grand cause. This was the Green Critique of Socialism:
This revolt represented a
fundamental challenge to classical socialist assumptions. While
socialists have severely criticized the exploitative means of capitalist
development, socialists weren't about to give up the heroic project of
economic & technological development. Marx & Engels, in
particular, admired the bourgeoisie for advancing the project of world
transformation, but condemned their oppression of the proletariat as the
chief means. Marx & Engels believed that casting aside private
ownership of the technical means of production would liberate the proletariat
to achieve their full productive potential. Socialism essentially
offered only a different manner of achieving the same historical
project of development-- the project of conquering and transforming
The USSR and its progeny eagerly pursued development at
all costs, and indeed no nations have ever managed to develop from either
a total agrarian base or a base utterly wrecked by war than the USSR under
Stalin and North Korea immediately after the Korean War. Yet the
USSR, China and the other so-called "socialist" states
committed the world's worst environmental atrocities. Socialism has
therefore been as much a product of modernism as capitalism, and thus
Socialism is as
much guilty of heroic illusions and Faustian pride, and as willing to
fixate on technology and to war on nature.
These "red star" socialist
regimes followed a path of development that at best can be understood as a
modified form of capitalist development, with even worse forms of
industrial labor discipline than capitalism. The red star states did
give their populations guaranteed employment, free education and health care, but many capitalist nations
did well in these areas well. Bergonian
socialism followed a path that considered the subjective nature of work
and life, and unlike the "red star"
states, the Bergonians managed to allocated the benefits of rising
productivity toward consumption and less work, but still policy was geared
toward prudent accumulations of capital toward investment.
Nevertheless, socialist Bergonia like all the capitalist economies still
maintained the domination of
hierarchies under which people's lives were devoted to work, and in both
settings production and development remained the guiding
However this was about
to change. Younger post-WWII baby boomers in the capitalist states
constituted the first generation to grow up in mass affluence, with no
personal history of hardship, and thus became the first generation
inclined to any degree toward consumption and self-gratification rather
than work, and this manifested with conscious disillusionment with the
prospect of a life of meaningless, alienated work. In Bergonia
something similar was occurring, yet because the nature of work there was
less alienating, the demands of post-revolutionary "socialist
reconstruction" were still compelling, and work was still the dominant
aspect of life. Berg-Soc had at least begun to address
of work in an industrial economy, something that both red-star
communists and European democratic socialism have ignored. Work
within self-governing cooperatives was much more gratifying than in a
capitalist corporate hierarchy, but still everyone found themselves
subordinated to their cooperative work, and to industry and the embrace of
technological processes that (semi-following Marx) shape thought processes
and, arguably, corrupt them.
These issues were explicitly
raised by the earliest environmental activists, and in so doing they
explicitly challenged the prevailing socialist orthodoxy. Piesha Aziron,
Harmony's charismatic first chairman, provoked a wave of criticism from
the old guard when in his 1972 convention address he said:
It has not been enough to
liberate the working class from economic oppression, or to liberate the
individual from enforced convention. If the liberated working
class adopt the mores and values of their former capitalist masters,
then they become identical to their former capitalist masters. If
the liberated creative individual adopts the intolerance of his former
oppressors, he will soon become an oppressor of other creative
people. Thus socialism becomes useless to its proclaimed goals,
and even harmful to them. If socialism is going to continue the
rapacious eating of the earth and the earth's life, then it become
indistinguishable from the capitalists. It doesn't matter if the
men who destroy forests are wage slaves to international cartels or
members of a socialist cooperative. They all still have the same
hard, heartless goal of development. And if the liberated working
class wants nothing better or nothing more than television sets, plastic
gee-gaws or trashy clothing, then socialism has no more soul than
The environmentalists thus
attacked the entire modernist project of world transformation through
The environmentalists' vehicle was the Harmony Alliance, founded in 1966, even as Congress was passing the first
generation of air and water protection laws. The most virulent
herbicides and pesticides, such as DDT, were outlawed at this time. Harmony first ran
candidates in the 1968 election, and won 4% of the vote, the year that Pashel Vorle the charismatic, aggressive NDP candidate, won reelection.
In 1971 a great many of
the national environmental groups and the local "green" clubs
met in a convention in the city of Gothemet (capital of Corifoi), and resolved to vigorously support the Harmony
Party. As a result the Harmony Party in the 1972 election won a
spectacular 21% of the seats in Congress. At th same time the NDP won 40%, the SFP
won 32%, and the minor parties won 7%. NDP candidate Jean Calierei
won the presidency.
surprise 1974 election:
1974 Harmony Alliance leader Tretla Armivon stated, "Because of our prior revolution we succeed, while
environmentalists in other countries struggle. They still have their capitalists, whereas
we had already chased ours away. Capitalists will never allow serious environmentalism, because
environmentalism pinches profits."
The Harmony Alliance won a surprise victory in the 1974 Congressional
election by obtaining a plurality of seats. The result was: Harmony
a spectacular 37%, NDP a respectable 33%, SFP a humiliating all-time low
of 25%, and the minor parties a record low 5%. This excellent result
had more than a little to do with the charismatic Tretla Armivon, who
succeeded in translating environmental concerns into terms that appealed
to the common voter. During the debate he asked incumbent Calieri,
"Would you knowingly slip a trace amount of strychnine into your
children's food in order to maintain your current level of material
After the election it seemed that
President Calierei and the NDP were on the verge of concocting a coalition
with the SFP
(see parties) to elect the speaker and
the ten councilors to the powerful Executive Council, but the two old
adversaries could not so easily
find common cause, and the SFP instead entered into a limited partnership with
Harmony to control Congress. Tretla became Speaker, while
Harmony and the SFP split the ten seats, yet Calierei of the NDP remained president.
At first it seemed, with this three-way power tie, that fireworks would
explode with the selection of new a prime minister. The constitution
allowed the President to nominate a candidate that Congress could approve
or vote down. Tretla, suddenly catapulted into the highest reaches
of government, decied not to overplay Harmony's hand, and so Harmony
acceded the spot to the SFP. Calieri accepted the arrangement, since
it allocated the three principle posts of government among the three
parties. Showing the instability inherent in a three-party system, the
situation created the first impasse in
national government, but people were surprised when a month after the
election this grand compromise was achieved. Of course the three
parties split the ministerial portfolios.
This was a true test of
the efficacy of the executive council as a mediating organ. The
composition on the Council was, after the election of the prime minister,
NDP 4, Harmony 6, SFP 6, with a non-partisan Treasurer.
During the next two years
Congress was the scene of titanic battles over pollution
abatement legislation. Little got done, but Congress finally decided
to establish the authority to regulate environmental impacts but defer
decisions on the specific issues by creating an Environmental Legislative
Council, leaving the tough decisions to it.
The people tired quickly of such
divided, stalemated government. Tretla, despite his successes, became too
galvanizing a figure, and many people became frightened of him and nervous
of the radical changes that Harmony advocated. Harmony
retained a core electorate, but the great core of disaffected voters swung
away from Harmony and toward SFP.
Therefore in 1976 Harmony's
share of the seats declined precipitously. And SFP in a spectacular
turn-around win enough seats to take control. Moreover, the SFP
presidential candidate, Sisla Tanatarie beat out Calierei in the run-off
election-- and became Bergonia's first woman president.
The results were SFP 34%, NDP 32%, Harmony 26%, the minor parties
8%. However in the next several years Congress passed
a second generation of clean air and water laws, these very strong and and the first comprehensive
regulation of environmental toxins.
Bergonia has had an unstable three party system, and party affiliations
and demographics have remained unsettled.
1982 -- The Harmony Alliance's
take-over of the government:
In the late
1970's and early 80's a shift in values commenced. Artists and the media began extolling and
internalizing "green" values. More explicitly, political
propaganda and public education also touted the "green" values, so
that more and more they seeped into and became part of the mainstream.
With more mature leaders but still a very radical platform the Harmony Party came back
in 1982 to win an electoral landslide in Congress, winning an absolute
majority of 51%, although SFP President Arona Tanatarie still had two more
years on her second term. Millions of voters defected
to Harmony in this election. The voters wanted as much to strike a blow against cronyism
and rejuvenate socialism, as well as take the next step to protect the environment.
Harmony got some of its platform passed, but the other parties were arrayed
against Harmony's bare majority, and with an unprecedented degree of unity
the NDP and the SFP fought tooth and nail to slow down the "Harmony
Express" with hundreds of amendments and the opposition of Tanatarie
on the executive committee. The Bergonian presidency has no general
veto power over Congress' enactments, but Tanatarie used the budget-making
powers of the Executive Council to force Harmony to make compromises.
reacted by going to the voters in the 1984 election, asking them to "Complete the Green Revolution." The voters
responded and gave Harmony unbridled control of the government. They
gave Harmony 55% of the seats in Congress, and Harmony's presidential
candidate, Piarelei Cuolina, defeated the NDP's man in the run-off.
With Harmony getting exclusive control over government, a massive
policy reorientation began. The advent of green politics
and values resulted in an environmentalist
transformation of society. One could see it in movies and
television shows. Local school curriculum committees incorporated
environmentalism into their programs of study.
Many schools joined the movement to recruit teenagers to inventory and
map the local environment, and also to scout out environmental and health
hazards. Many cooperatives quickly signed up as voluntary
participants in Greening programs, where they learned how to save
resources and minimize waste. The country was policed, picked up and
sanitized in 1986, where everyone, every family, every commune, every ward
and town, was supposedly to fix their properties, clean up abandoned
rusting auto scrap, piles of refuse and , while the counties initiated
clean-ups of polluted "brownlands"-- abandoned industrial sites where
unlabeled toxic chemicals often remain. The counties also surveyed
and stopped the remaining sources of direct discharge into the rivers and
It was in 1985 that
Congress enacted the following measures:
(a) scrapped all plans to construct nuclear
power plants, plus establishment of a commission to draw up a
feasibility plan for decommissioning the 18 plants then up and
a national energy policy with a focus on alternative fuels,
programs to develop energy-saving technology, including "syn-fuels" and
(d) Drastically raised auto
fuel efficiency requirements, giving the auto cooperatives only five
years to get ready.
increases in wilderness and habitat protection, abolition of all economic
exploitation of wilderness areas, plus a program to assist the
counties in establishing small "wilderness patches."
expansion of green zones in and around cities
and towns, plus improved management practices.
(g) development of recycling technology and
(h) criminalization of environmental crimes, plus
creation of the controversial Environmental Enforcement Agency, the new
national police agency
(i) limits on use of
herbicides and pesticides, also limits on nitrogen fertilizers and other
spillover agricultural wastes,
(j) limits on use and disposal of
toxins, including asbestos and mercury,
(k) clean-up of all toxic waste sites, plus
creation of a special fund to finance the creation of cooperatives
of needed experts and technicians.
(l) guidelines to
reduce packaging waste in manufacturing,
(m) requirements to
engineer energy frugality into appliances and conveniences, heating and
cooling systems, and architecture and construction.
(n) limitation of toxic or otherwise environmentally unfriendly
substances in product manufacture.
All of this was enacted in a great wave of
legislation during 1983. The public largely supported the changes,
although there was a great deal of hand-wringing about all the costs the
Greening would impose upon the various economic sectors, that cooperatives
would have to go deep in debt to fund the mandated changes, and that
inflation and economic instability would result. The devils of
course are always found in the details, and in the halls of the Capitol
the back-dealing became intense.
learned the tough lesson-- that it is easier (and probably more fun) to
take power than it is to exercise it. Harmony had always been a
fractious coalition consisting of "many shades of green."
From its very inception, the Harmony Alliance had two distinct wings, the
radical "Dark Green" wing, tending toward "deep
ecology" thinking and harshly critical of all industrial technology,
and the "accommodationist" and reformist "Light Green"
wing, generally convinced that it is possible to steer industrial
technology toward environmentally friendly practices.
1988 -- The
Constitutional Convention Issue-- where Harmony overplayed its hand.
Constitution of 1936 contained a clause mandating the establishment of a
constitutional convention fifty years into its lifetime. This clause
more specifically required the Congress to arrange for the election of a
constitutional convention in the fiftieth year.
was during the time that Harmony ran the entire government, including
Congress, and going into the 1986 election the issue became
decisive. Harmony and its coalition of supporters (.e.g. feminists,
& gay activists) were determined to seize the opportunity to complete
their revolution, although after four years of legislative successes it
was not clear what of that revolution remained undone.
radical wing floated some pretty wild proposals. First and foremost
of these was the idea for a very large "Peoples Assembly" chosen
from the general citizenry by lot, to serve as the nation's legislature,
in order to destroy the class of professional politicians and create a
form of direct democracy by random sample. Other radical ideas
included (a) elimination of the presidency, (b) national referenda, either
by traditional elections or some form of mass-communications electronic
system, and (c) splitting the 30 states into about 120. More
moderate proposals at the time included (a) a bicameral legislative
consisting of an elected house and a peoples assembly chosen by lot, (b)
limiting the president to one term, (c) uniform election of congress by proportional representation, (d) giving the commonwealth government
expanded authority to regulate the environment.
had the good sense to consult with all the parties in preparing
legislation for the election of the constitutional convention, and all the
parties agreed upon a plan for the election of the convention concurrent
with the regular elections in 1998. There wound be no party slates
in the convention election, but rather individual candidates who could opt
to list a party preference by their names. This was a scheme by
Harmony's Light Greens to allow the voters to identify and spurn the Dark
radical wing was frightening voters now. The great work of 1985 was
done, and now there were concerns about fine-tuning and perhaps a little
moderation of the results. Harmony had reached its high tide, and a
little "counter-revolution" was inevitable. In 1988 Harmony lost the presidency and Congress. An SFP candidate,
Anidir Castare, won the presidency
against Harmony's Cuolina in the run-off, and the SFP won
a thin plurality in Congress. Harmony-affiliated candidates in the
convention races did respectably well, but as predicted only a handful of
Dark Greens were elected. The three parties pretty much were equally
present inside the convention.
The Constitutional Convention
constitutional convention came into session in Ceiolai on 10 September
1988. It took the convention 13 months to conclude its work. Nearly
all the more drastic proposals were defeated. The net effect was a
document almost identical to the 1936 document. The most immediate change: the states would no longer have
the power to apportion their delegates however they wanted; now all of
congress would be elected by proportional representation on a
the 1988 Election
Harmony thus had total control of the
government from 1984 to 1988. This so far has been the apogee of
Harmony's power, as the two older parties adopted the core of Harmony's
platform. Harmony had to leave it to others to steer the long-term
implementations of the environmental changes, but the Greening was
virtually all segments of opinion, so the older parties honored the
commitments to change made by the Harmony government.
Anidir Castare did not run
for reelection in 1992, but his replacement candidate Jean-Bertrand
Vortron from Comleta won the presidency, and the SFP and also won another
plurality in Congress (SFP 34%, Harmony 31%, NDP 28%).
narrowly won a second term in 1996, but his party the SFP lost its plurality
in Congress to
the newly created Harmony-NDP coalition. The NDP and Harmony's alliance has been rather rickety
and shaky, with no lack of open sniping and quarreling between the
two. Thus all three of the major parties had to make
compromises, and for the onoly time ever all three parties had partisans
sitting on the Executive Council.
Harmony-NDP coalition won reelection in 1996. In the presidential
year 2000 the coalition kept together and got a huge majority in Congress, even though each
ran a candidate for President. When Harmony's presidential candidate placed
third, Harmony voters in the run-off election made the difference for the
solid, frank,\relatively colorless Amon Cuolamei, who crushed the SFP's scandalous and controversial Shar
was the first NDP candidate elected President
for more detail. Plus an update on the results of the 2004 election!
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