by Sterling Meeuwen
Hale Gordon had originally cursed his luck, when he was reassigned to a remote Midwest missile silo, but the Air Force knew best. He sat day after day alone watching the news. The smiling faces on the LCD screen where his only connection to the outside world. Better for it, Hail thought, as the world slowly crumbled under the weight of the new flu epidemic. Day by day the world crumbled on his TV screen, inching ever closer to man’s natural state of nature. John Locke wrote of this “State of Nature” saying it would be “… a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions, as they see fit…” This is not what happened. One day the broadcasts stopped and man turned on himself. The world had turned in to exactly what Hobbes had predicted. The world had become a pit of despair.
Soon, Hale noticed them. One or two at first but, then they arrived in droves. They just camped themselves at the front of the compound. Hale did nothing at first, in hopes that they would go away. They did not and Hale realized he had to go out and deal with this problem. They looked fairly harmless, dressed in rags and carrying with them what looked to be all their belongings, but Hale grabbed his pistol and headed to the gate.
When Hale reached the front gate the crowd, which now numbered in the hundreds, all started shouting at once. They were cries for help, food, water and Hale was over whelmed. He pulled out his pistol and raised it high. He let one round fly and the crowd was silent. He picked one man, who looked half way intelligible and asked him why they where here. The man told them that they saw they saw the flag and knew they would find help. Hale cursed himself for forgetting to take that thing down.
Hale knew that this problem was not going to go away, he had to do something. All of these people needed him. He agreed to let them stay, but he had three laws.
If you leave you cannot return.
I have final say on all matters.
Karl Marx wrote “…bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not work.” Hale was going to make sure this did not happen. All of these people need to be busy; Hale knew from the military that idle hands can be dangerous. He set to dividing up the labor. He surveyed all of them and separated them into four groups: farmers, engineers, educators, and useless. The first three groups where essential for Hale’s world to work but, the last group he had known idea what to do with. Bankers, CEOs, and politicians were all useless to him. They had no monetary system; he was the politician and CEO of this land. So he gave them a choice. Start over with out favor or leave. Most of them choose the later.
Hale feared money, it had never done him much good. He made sure that the results of all the labor where shared freely. In Utopia Moore writes, “…that as long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all other things, I can not think that a nation can be governed either justly or happily.” Hale thought the same way and made borrowing, lending, and selling a crime.
Even though Hale hated money he valued work. Those that refused to work or poorly went about their duties were ejected from the compound. Those that worked well were praised at weekly dinners. The system worked well, all the people worked and they all enjoyed the fruit of their labors. Hale never took more than any one else and lived with the people as one of them.
Every one was free to do as the pleased so long as what they pleased would be ok if every one did it. Politeness was the norm. If one wanted to do something all he would have to do is ask the people around him if it was ok. If they agreed they brought it to Hale weighed the issue, personal good vs. over all good and made a ruling. He hoped by doing this the interest of the individual, the group, and the people would be protected. The system was not perfect and sometimes crimes would happen. No man was allowed to punish another man with out Hale ruling on it. When Hale ruled the offended was the one to punish the offender. The punishments ranged from public humiliation or banishment. There was no death penalty, that is to say certain death. A person could make it alone in the Bad Lands, but it wasn’t likely.
Even though Hale was formerly in a military he feared a standing army. He had seen in the past how standing armies could be raised under the guise of protection and used for aggression. This was not the attitude he wanted his colony to have. A standing army needs war to exist. With out a conflict leaders create one often for no other reason than, they have the means to do so. Hale did not want this temptation. He favored a volunteer force that rotated ever year. Well enough trained to defend themselves, but ignorant of how to advance. They trained once a month. Fighting was important, but not the reason for existence. Hale headed the words of Thomas Moore, “For most princess apply themselves more to the affairs of war…they are generally more set on acquiring new kingdoms, right or wrong.”, and could not see any point in acquiring new land. I don’t even own the land I have now, Hale thought.
Hale’s little community flourished year after year. The citizens took pride and responsibility in the actions. They had children only when the elders passed. This kept the society at the right size and discouraged surplus and want. People lived together and shared each others life as a large extended family, with Hale as the patriarch. Man unfortunately fades and Hale knew that eventually he would no longer be there for his people. The problem that plagued him was how to choose the next leader. He had known that long before him rulers left land to their children but, this was not his land to give. If he where to choose some one, they may not be respected as he was and perhaps had done a favor for his position. He could also let the people decide who would lead but, he had dealt with these people and he saw how they arrived, a mob of separate opinions and ideas, they could never agree on a leader. If this mob was able to agree on a leader would he look out for every one or just the people that elected him? John Locke wrote “Persons who have the Power of making Laws, to have also in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from Obedience to the Laws they make, and suit the Law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage, and thereby come to have a distinct interest from the rest of the Community”, this was a real threat to the Utopia that Hale had created.
Hale decided that the best way to choose a new ruler was to let the people select the applicants. He let each of the guilds he had created choose one from among them. Each one of them would hold an equal part of leading the tribe. Hale thought that this was the best way to ensure that no one man could change his vision. If all three leaders decided it was to change then the people on a whole would be represented. The positions were for life. This was to ensure that if change was to come it would be slow and methodical.
Hale was satisfied with the way things had turned out. He felt this way would work. The last night of his life there was a huge party. Hale was honored and gave a brilliant speech. At the end of his speech he gave an insight to how he felt his legacy should be remembered. He quoted Thoreau “The government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” He closed by telling them they were prepared for such a government.
It was a sad affair when Hale died. His people mourned him deeply. They buried him at the front gate, wrapped in the flag he had forgotten to take down.