Singular: phyle, occasionally phylum
Historical Overview and introduction Edit
The 21st century gave birth to the ‘phyle’... and heralded the death of the traditional nation state. Phyla, ultimately, are the natural evolution of human organization in a world of hyper-globalization.
The previous century saw massive migrations, with over three fifth’s of population growth in some western countries like the USA and GB made up of immigration by the early 20-teens. Similarly, capital and labor markets were moving in the opposite direction, seeking nations with lower wages. Borders were increasingly becoming meaningless as the educated traveled to find work where it was available and capital traveled to seek labor where it was available.
Large-scale immigration meant that individuals might reside in one nation but have loyalty to another, or to a particular group of people united by culture, tribe, or ideology. Diasporas had created population groups within others that maintained their own cultural identity and loyalties despite their place of residence.
As globalization accelerated in the 2020s and 2030s, especially in response to new, ultra-cheap void-based air travel, and the unprecedented connectivity of the internet 2.0, these existing patterns only solidified and accelerated. Territories were increasingly heterogeneous and cultural ‘groups’ increasingly could ignore physical distance and national boundaries.
The first group to really push the new model of social organization was the Ummah Al Salaam who sought to create a transnational identity to counterbalance the transnational fundamentalist and militant Islamic organizations that had already developed very effective transnational structures. Like the organizations they sought to counter and usurp, they combined religion (Islam) and ideology (in this case peace, inclusion, racial equality, and modernism) to create a transnational organization who’s influence and power were soon to equal many middle-eastern nations and by the 2050s, as their political, cultural, commercial, and military influence grew, major well-developed western nations.
During the 2040s and 2050s, in response to unparalleled resource and labor exploitation in Africa, a popularist Pan-African movement modeled after the Ummah Al Salaam was able to organize the poor and destitute, and indeed the great diaspora of Africans (and those of African ancestry) across the world. Buoyed by desperation, optimism (from the successes of the Ummah), and often, foreign money, together they were able to mount a successful armed resistance against foreign money and corrupt ‘presidential’ dictators. They popularized (here I mean the post-national version of nationalizing) private investment projects from some groups while coordinating closely with others who were willing to work with peoples’ cooperatives. By the late 2050s Pambazuka was well entrenched in Africa, its pan-African, transnational political, cultural, commercial, and even military reach to equal that of many nations and that of the Ummah al Salaam. They were the first to be referred to as a phyle though the term was soon afterwards applied to the Ummah as well.
In 2054 the two phyla joined to form a supraphylar group, one that would help them increase their visibility and legitimacy on the world stage while also serving as a rallying call for other groups who might consider emulating their post-transnational struggle. They called their agreements the ‘Consensus’, and with time its constitution would come to dominate global law.
Importantly the ‘Consensus’ sought firstly to define its member organizations. This took some doing but eventually they agreed that they were social organizations unbound by national boundaries though associated with private property, and united not by national identity, but by whatever identity people adopted for themselves- neotribal, ideological, religious, etc. Importantly, they guaranteed that a person’s relationship to a phyle could only be voluntary, and that they would guarantee freedom of movement for their populations (though not trespassing). ‘Opting out’ would always be an option.
Secondly they sought to define their legal relationships –to both resolve problems or conflict between members and to coordinate with the UN (now largely a puppet of the giant transnational corporate conglomerates) and the world court (increasingly popularist advocates, contrasting repeatedly with the UN rulings). The consensus sought to avoid cultural associations by limiting its jurisdictional involvement to property (physical and intellectual) rights, privacy agreements, unlawful confinement, and injury/death complaints. Despite these powers, the majority of legal arbitration occurred outside its courts.
The Consensus became very popular with a number of organizations ‘opting into’ its phylar system to gain legitimacy and, in some cases, legal protections. Amongst them were a number of corporations and the Ummah and Pambazuka were torn on allowing entry of commercial entities but it was finally agreed that they should not be denied entry, that they fit the required definitions and in many ways, had paved the way and established the model for trans/postnationalism long before the phyla had evolved.
Seeing the ‘writing on the wall’ in response to the rapid growth of the phylar movement, the media and blogosphere’s continuous references to the ‘death of the nation state’, and the political and diplomatic influence wielded by the Consensus accord, New Delhi, in a move that many considered inspired and forward-thinking, reorganized itself as a phyle, inviting as its members, anyone who associated primary with Indian culture, Hinduism, or even just Indian ancestry. The response from the Indian population and the diaspora was immense and suddenly India’s influence had grew significantly, gaining significant enclaves in many foreign nations (including those who did not recognize the phylar system) and losing relatively little of its population (mostly Muslims who had already joined the Ummah or foreign immigrants who had never adopted Indian culture or identity). Within only a few short years, the conversion to a ‘phyle’ was found to be politically, diplomatically, and perhaps most importantly, economically successful and soon other nations were following the same pattern, allying themselves with their diasporic populations or those with associated culture. Israel in particular was successful in converting to the new model, following the precedent set by India.
Twenty-sixty-one saw the collapse of the United States of America, and in its wake the corporate conglomerate of JP Morgan Chase and Co, which had expanded its mandate to govern the ‘American loyalists’, those Americans who continued to commit themselves ideologically to the free-market, capitalism and the ‘American Dream’ as a unifying cultural entity. Rebranding itself Atlas America, JP was the first of the major conglomerates to join the ranks of Consensus. The socialist rebels of the US sought to expand their revolution beyond their borders and so also registered as a phyle. It was the death of America as a nation state.
The Chinese civil rebellions of the mid-sixties followed a similar pattern to that in America with those loyal to the old communist revolution taking on the title of Lei Peng, after the communist hero of the 20th century, and those Chinese dedicated to capitalism, trade, and cooperation with foreign powers taking on the name Qeng Ho in honor of the 14th century Chinese explorer and trader Zheng He.
After the dissolution of the US and Chinese as nations and their evolution to the phylar system, with the Indians (now calling themselves Apauruṣeya) and the Israelis already converted and with the Muslims, Africans, and Europeans already united in transnational, post-national organizations, the balance had shifted.
One by one the remaining populations of the world would affiliate themselves with one of the existing phyla or create their own. Over time the Consensus would grow to be more and more formalized, serving as a trade mediator, international court, and in some cases, director of emergency humanitarian responses.
Today the phyla are,
§ Global social structures. Members (population) are united by shared culture and values (be it ancestral, neo-tribal, ideological, religious, or even national)
§ Voluntary. The consensus and all its signatories have agreed not to prevent members from leaving their phyle at any time.
§ Interconnected. Most phyles (especially the higher ranking AAA, AA, or A ones) have extensive ‘heartland’ holdings that make up the majority of their territory. At the same time they have hundreds if not thousands of enclaves throughout major commercial urban centers, resource or business interests, or any other satellite territory. At the same time, a particular phyle’s ‘heartland territory’ is heavily pockmarked with the institutions, enclaves, and businesses of foreign phyla.
§ Porous. With borders so discontinuous, travel between phyla is extremely unrestricted. Indeed the consensus accord states that civilians should not be preventing from travelling from one phyle to another. Defining borders is difficult enough. Patrolling them or guarding them is effectively impossible. Instead phyla protect and guard their most valuable assets and locations within their borders, defending their secrets and treasures in depth and by active surveillance. (The exception, generally thought to enter into legal grey areas vis-à-vis the accord, are the Lei Feng and Amazonia phyla who define huge territories as ‘private property’ closed to the general public including their own members, but which they then reopen by ‘private invitation’ to the majority of their members.)
§ The Norm. While some phyles are closely based on national borders and have done their best not to convert to the new system (Scotland) almost all others have embraced the phylar system, it being generally accepted as ‘the’ government model of a hyperglobalized world.
The Consensus Edit
Outside the Consensus Edit
Technology and CultureEdit
Future Shock Edit
Maelstrom, Connectivity, and Communication Security Edit
Social Implications of the Longevity Treatment Edit
Perhaps no other technological development of the twenty-first century has galvanized so much public discourse as the Longevity Treatments fist made available in the early 2070s.
Expensive and time-consuming, the treatments themselves are normally available only to a relatively small proportion of the population- those who could afford its incredible cost. As a consequence, politically and culturally, the treatments have served as a lightning rod for the vast majority of the population unable to afford them. Commonly, conversations regarding the treatment include terms like ‘entrenchment of the rich’, ‘irresponsible population explosion’, ‘class-based divergence of the species’, and ‘fairness’.
As early as the mid 2070s, public resentment by the majority of the population against those able to afford the treatment, retain their youth, regain lost vitality, and gain significant disease resistance, culminated in the destruction of several private clinics offering the service. Envy of the treatments effects led to an exponential growth in black-market clinics offering the treatment or fakes thereof.
As the eldest humans surpassed first 120, then 130 years of age, while retaining significant vigor, and the treatment became more widely adopted and embraced by those with the finances to afford it, and the clinics became increasingly militarized (their owners protective of their substantial investments), public resentment and envy only grew. Demonstrations outside the clinics were constant and their size growing continually.
In 2084, the United Socialists Peoples took the controversial decision to fund the longevity treatment for its entire population. Of course there would be limits. Effectively the patients receiving the treatment would ‘owe’ the USP phyle government the cost of the treatment and would repay it over the course of their lifetime. This would prevent members from receiving the treatment and fleeing to another phyle. But for those with loyalty to the Unitied Socialist phyle, the offer was an honest one- longevity treatments for all.
The offer did not, of course, mirror any sort of logistic reality or readiness. For each patient, the treatment required sequencing the individual's complete genome and the construction of tens of thousands if not millions (for the eldest and sickest) of small retroviral vectors, and though medical technology was up to the task, the sheer size of the target population made the prospect of universal treatment a logistical and financial near-impossibility. But the phyle government was committed. To turn back now would lead to mass riots and complete collapse of government. The lines were long; those applying for the treatment would be chosen based on age, medical condition, and random lottery. Those at the end of the waiting list were told they may not receive the treatment for nearly a decade.
A massive investment campaign was initiated, the United Socialist Peoples opened tens of thousands of new dedicated clinics, developed more computing power dedicated to genomic sequencing and genetic synthesis than the entirety of its remaining healt-care or educational computational services combined, and hired and trained millions of clinicians, technicians, and nurses.
For the majority of the population, fear of not receiving the treatment when it was their turn led to week, then month, then season-long lines curving and recurving back and forth in front of every clinic. People brought tents and sleeping bags, dried foods and portable latrines.
And despite all that, despite the promises of a maximal wait of 10 years, 8 years later, in 2092, only approximately 30% of the USP population has received the treatment, though there is little doubt that the rate of treatment continues to accelerate. Most say that the current existing populatoin of the phyle will have been treated by the year 2100.
Beyond the USP, this massive government-funded longevity project has drawn both envy and criticism. The governments of Lei Feng and Chavis have both denied repeated demands by their populations for similar programs, citing costs and population growth implications. In both these phyles, those seeking the treatment must find it elsewhere, either on the black market or with other phyles. The corporate phyles utilize the treatments to reward performance and loyalty. And almost all phyles have private clinics, operating either openly and legally or covertly and illegally, that will provide the treatment to those with the right credit.
Beyond the immediate social implications of offering the treatment, the limits of its costs and resource requirements, and its universal demand by a population increasingly concerned about ‘being left behind’, there are implications due to the effects of the treatment.
Despite continuing demands upon the planet relating to energy and food production, the population of the world, instead of leveling off in the last two decades, has inverted its growth rate, moving from decelerating growth to a new acceleration- in effect a reversal of the sigmoidal population trends long accepted as the ‘norm’. Various governments have moved to deal with this situation before it gets out of hand. The USP made contractual limits on procreation a prerequisite for longevity treatment but many families ignored these limits, preferring instead to pay the penalties than to limit their offspring. And for those receiving privately funded treatments, there are no contracts. It is now well-recognized that a combination of ovarian stem cell therapy and the longevity treatment can maintain fertility well beyond 100 years of age.
Some have complained that the treatment has had adverse effects on the inexperienced trying to enter the job market. These claim that they now not only have to compete with other relatively youthful candidates with similar educations but with highly trained and experienced elders who are uninterested in retirement and who’s energies can match those of the youth.
At the bottom rungs of society, for the unaligned and the those without social support, the longevity treatment is just another nail in a coffin who’s nails also include inability to access otherwise ubiquitous computing (the exocortex), little or no access to medical support, energy, shelter, and food costs that effectively price them beyond their capacity to acquire them, and limited physical security against other, more brutal members of society suffering the same limits.
Super Humans Edit
The use of human enhancement technologies by the military is not new. Broadly construed, vaccinations could count as an enhancement of the human immune system, and this would place the first instance of military human enhancement (as opposed to mere tool-use) at our very first war, the American Revolutionary War in 1775-1783. George Washington, as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, ordered the vaccinations of American troops against smallpox, as the British Army was suspected of using the virus as a form of biological warfare.
The twentieth century saw widespread use by militaries worldwide of caffeine and amphetamines to keep their troops awake and alert, an age-old problem in war. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
The twenty-first century was a turning point in the wide-scale adoption and use of biological enhancement technologies for military use. On one hand military scientists have been developing more and more complex machine-systems, micro-drones, advanced robotics, etc, bringing the strengths of man like complex decision making to machines. On the other hand, we have been making our human soldiers more like machines, enhancing their muscles to make them stronger and faster, their nervous systems so their reflexes are hyper-attuned. Their excocortices mean they are effectively communicating with one another and with their weapons, equipment, and with command and control constantly at a nearly telepathic level. They do not fatigue or hunger or get sick like unenhanced humans and they heal wounds at speeds our ancestors would have considered miraculous. Drop-infantry routinely undergo accelerative forces that would kill unenhanced humans and other specialized forces can effectively breath underwater or survive by eating common vegetation like a goat. Some elite units, as well as most high-end pilots even engage in computer-assisted biofeedback and psychofeedback that effectively causes them to exist in a trance-like state where, while they are aware of their actions and are ultimately controlling their decisions, their reflexes are so highly attuned that their actions precede conscious decision-making.
And while Consensus signatories all claim to not be involved in programs where conscious will, empathy, or other ‘human’ emotion have been blunted in their soldiers, there is little doubt that several such programs do exist, usually as part of officially unsanctioned and independent but unofficially phyle-sponsored ‘private’ military companies. As you would expect, soldiers from these units appear little affected by the brutality and violence of their actions, and in may, in some cases, not be recognizable, psychologically as human at all.
Effectively these enhancements have created super-humans, a subspecies of Homo sapiens that is not limited by the all too human limitations of the ‘naked ape’. And what happens when these soldiers are not in the field, when they are on leave or retire? Obviously the scientist and doctors who have overwritten their genetics and implanted new designer organs cannot recover their ‘gifts’.
Despite the huge disparity in physical power between these individuals and the majority of humanity, it’s not as bad or frightening as one might expect. Exocortex-enhanced psychofeedback has meant that soldiers are much more able to resume civilian lives after service without suffering from PTSD or other psychological problems arising from exposure to high-stress violent environments. And while some turn to a second career in crime, these individuals tend to be much more closely monitored by the phyle governments than ‘unenhanced’, making petty crime a non-issue. Involvement in organized crime, either by independent organizations or sponsored by shadowy arms of rival phyles may be more common but is not a serious concern for the majority of the public (and little different, for military leaders, from the operations already conducted by he intelligence and paramilitary arms of rival phyles).
Ultimately, society has come to accept these ‘super humans’ amongst us. We fear and respect their power and many are envious of their enhancements. And while academics and maelstrom bloggers may decry their ‘speciation’, we also realize that all too often these dedicated soldiers represent a sizable financial and resource investment their investors are not keen to let go so easily. And so while we respect their power, we are also all too aware of their allegiances and often, limited freedoms.