Bergonian History:

After 1980 -- The Greening

The Environmental Revolution

"Man follows Earth. Earth follows Heaven." --old Pasan proverb.

Pride grows 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 1960’s 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 allocation practices.

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 Allocations apparatus. 

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 cronyism. 

There were many spin-offs.  Most prominent of these was the 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 psychology, also rational 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.

The Problem 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 nature. 

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 light.  

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 the nature 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 capitalism.

The environmentalists thus attacked the entire modernist project of world transformation through perpetual growth. 

The Political Movement

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.

The surprise 1974 election:

In 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 comfort?"

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.    

Since then 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.

Harmony 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 streams. 

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 running.

(b) a national energy policy with a focus on alternative fuels, 

(c) A crash programs to develop energy-saving technology, including "syn-fuels" and solar, 

(d)  Drastically raised auto fuel efficiency requirements, giving the auto cooperatives only five years to get ready.  

(e) 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."

(f) expansion of green zones in and around cities and towns, plus improved management practices.

(g) development of recycling technology and systems, 

(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.

Harmony 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.

The 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.

This 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.  

Harmony's 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.

Harmony 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 Green candidates.

Harmony's 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

The 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 state-by-state basis. 

Politics since 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 permeating 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%).  

Vortron 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.

Nevertheless the 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 Picardo. Cuolamei was the first NDP candidate elected President since 1968.  

See Parties for more detail.  Plus an update on the results of the 2004 election!

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