After America - Zion
On Easter Sunday in the year of our lord 2033, John Matthews, President of the victorious Confederation of Southern and Western states of America had made a momentous announcement. It came after a solemn service in the Cathedral of Christ the King in the Southern capital of Memphis, to give thanks to God for complete and final victory in their war with the North (or 'USA v2' as it had been known in the rest of the world),to pray for reconciliation between the states, and to re-dedicate His people to His service. This announcement had been eagerly awaited and much, if quietly, discussed in political circles, for some months. That was why the cathedral was filled by representatives of all the states and the political class, as well as by clergy from as many denominations and areas as possible. It was a dignified and moving occasion with a fine turnout, although admittedly some of the delegates from Northern states looked strained and stiff, as if they felt the pressure of Southern bayonets up the backs of their jackets.
As Cardinal Murphy intoned the final blessing and requested the congregation to resume their seats and listen to an announcement from His Excellency the President, Matthews ascended the pulpit and stood looking out gravely over the assembled representatives of the American people. "Fellow-countrymen," he said, as silence fell and all faces turned to his, " as we once were, and with the grace of God, shall be again; the time has come to put past enmities and strife behind us. This can not be done if we cling to old names, old identities and old grievances ever renewed.This is a momentous year. It marks not only the victory of God's people on this continent against the manifest powers of evil which had for so long oppressed, seduced and set us against each other. It marks the working out of that experiment which was America. An experiment made with hope, but too much pride. Pride in our own strength, the Pride of Lucifer, the pride which went before a Fall. Like Babylon the Great, America has fallen. Fallen in every way, morally, materially and militarily. The very name stinks in the nostrils of the world. It is an accursed name, source and fount of iniquity, hated throughout the earth, bringing shame at home. The hand of the Lord has brought it low. As a dog returns to it's vomit, so a fool returns to his folly! Two attempts at a United States of America have failed. Enough! Cease! Let us repent and humble ourselves, that the Lord may be merciful unto us."
Although his audience was primed and knew something of what to expect, Matthews was pleased to see the emotional impact which his words had on them. All were paying attention, some looked grim or heart-struck, more looked thoughtful. There were no whispered conversations, no rustling of papers, no people slumped drowsily or staring listlessly around.These were devout attentive and serious people, assembled to participate in a most solemn occasion. The President was glad that he had not lost his oratorical touch.
"Kyrie eleison! The Lord has Risen! This Easter Sunday marks the two thousandth anniversary since Our Lord's crucifixion and Resurrection. Is it a co-incidence that this coincides so neatly with our situation and our need? I think not! The Lord has risen and He will rule! Where and when will he rule? As to the time, no man knows. As to the place, first in our hearts and then in our land. He is to rule in Zion. We must be Zion. John the Baptist tells us to make straight the way of the Lord, to prepare for his coming. He will come and he will come in splendour. His rule will be righteous. It may not be in our time, it may not be our destiny to see the Word fulfilled in our lifetimes, but like the Baptist we have a task, - to prepare the way for His glorious rule. Like the Biblical people of Israel we have been chosen and set apart. The rest of the world has cast us aside, driven us from the community of nations to dwell apart in desert places, spurned and shunned - like John the Baptist or the prophets - because of the past sins of our people. Now we show our repentance, let us most earnestly implore His forgiveness and ourselves set foot upon that road which leads to His rule and shows him our intention to be worthy of his grace. 'Out of Egypt have I called my Son', God tells us in the gospel of Matthew chapter two verse fifteen.As forerunners of the Lord, the Children of Israel were called out of Egypt. They wandered in the desert enduring much hardship, until they won their way into the Promised Land. Some rebelled and murmured against Moses for taking them away from the fleshpots of Egypt, until they were punished by the wrath of the Lord. So have the rebellious people of America been punished. Again in the gospel of Matthew, chapter twenty, verse 16, God tells us that the last shall be first and the first last, for many are called but few are chosen. Here is hope for us. We were first among nations. Now we are last. The mercy of God may again raise us up if we turn from our past errors and persevere in His way, that way which we are to prepare for him. It is also said in the Revelation of John, chapter one and verse eight 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending saith the Lord', and again in the twentieth verse of chapter twenty eight of the gospel of Matthew 'I will be with you unto the end of the world' ".
Where was this going? Were eyes glazing over? Was he starting to lose them in this thicket of Biblical quotations? Were some of the clergy sneaking discreet peeks at their watches?
"Friends! Let me bring you to the mercy and opportunity which the Lord offers us today! Here we are in the city of Memphis, capital of our country. The name was taken from an important city and theological centre in ancient Egypt. God is making a link between the situation of America and that of ancient Egypt - out of which he called his people and his Son! Notice also that the holy texts I quoted are taken from the writings attributed to John and Matthew. Here stand I,John Matthews, your President, unworthy servant though I am, whose very name bears testimony to the relevance of these texts to our country today. America is now as dead as ancient Egypt. From it's ashes, like a Phoenix, let a new country and a new people arise. What shall we be called? Let the Alpha and Omega first and last letters in the Greek alphabet show us the way. The name America used the first letter of our alphabet, and the way we are taking leads to the holy land of Zion. Zion, which uses the last letter of our alphabet is clearly the name which God intends for us to take. Let it be a reminder to us every time we use it, of our intention, our dedication, our desire and our destination. Do you consent to this? What shall our new name be?'
'ZION! ZION! ZION!' roared the crowd.
Political Life In Zion
In Zion taxation was light. In a Gladstonian phrase, money was allowed to fructify in the pocket of the taxpayer. Not much even of this was passed on to the central government. In a very Biblically oriented country, people on the whole accepted the concept of tithing, but were firmly of the opinion that one in ten should be quite sufficient for any legitimate needs of government. Considering that the country was the only large state in their world and had no serious internal or external threats, there was no need for huge defence expenditure, and no proliferation of vast self serving bureaucracies, and no welfare state for either large corporations or a large dependent class, so the government agreed with their people, and did as little as possible as economically as possible. Proposals to increase expenditure were a political graveyard, and could even mark the path to a physical graveyard.
Charity, on the other hand, was given every encouragement.The parable of the widow's mite notwithstanding, large donors gained prestige in their communities. Those who had much were expected to give much, especially if they had any ambitions of social or political advancement. Generosity with their own money and parsimony with that of the public was now expected of aspiring politicians, quite the reverse of the situation in the old days. Politics was also rather different. Political parties were banned. Politics was local insofar as it existed and affected the bulk of the people. Appealing for votes on the basis of promising handouts to be paid for by someone else was a capital offence.So was self enrichment by politicians and civil servants. The revolving door between lobbying, politics and business now led only to a scaffold. There were no voter registration drives or campaigns to get the illiterate to vote. They would also have been capital offences. Voting was restricted to natives of a locality who were taxpayers of good character and reputation. No bums. No newcomers. Candidates also had to have been born locally or to have been there a long time and accepted as a valuable member of the local community. No carpet-baggers. Only people who were known and respected locally would be acceptable candidates, and voters were expected to vote for someone they knew and respected and thought a knowledgeable god-fearing and competent individual who would use his judgment well on their behalf and not on the basis of any packaged party programme. No payments to local politicians were allowed, and the few state and national officeholders were expected to live on relatively modest salaries. Anyone too poor to pay his own expenses in attending to his public duties was probably not going to be a worthy representative of his community; although to cater for rare instances when great oratorical or other talent might be unfortunately combined with such poverty, those who supported him were permitted to pay his expenses. Campaign expenditure had to be extremely modest, there was no point either in appealing to people who did not know you, or losing the good opinion of those who did through vulgar extravagance, or running ones head into a noose for electoral malpractice. Such rules were taken very seriously, expected to be closely supervised by local voters and officials, and monitored by another institution of which more may later be said.The intention and effect was to raise the moral and intellectual quality of those in public life. They were expected to be the representatives of the best their community had attained, not the worst.
From this process of direct election at local level, indirect election proceeded. Representatives at each level elected those at the next. A state governor or national President could not be personally known by many voters, general repute would have to suffice them, and if dissatisfied they could blame their local representatives.
This system did greatly increase the probity and competence of those engaged in politics, and as a result secured better and cheaper government, to the benefit even of those who did not vote.
There was much less 'politics', the phrase 'public service' regained
some meaning and respect, the government became much less of a hindrance to recovery and development than it would otherwise have been.Professional politicians became rare. Many people would serve for a while and retire. It was less of a means of self enrichment and more an honourable but somewhat burdensome activity putting ones time and talents to the benefit of the public, available to those who had attained at least a modest level of economic and social or intellectual success.
Templars of Zion
Zion without a Temple is inconceivable. A Temple without a bank would be a poor thing. Where there is a Temple, Templars may be found. The Knights Templar had been established nominally to guard and guide pilgrims on the routes to and within the Holy Land and had soon extended their activities into banking. Hence it had been deemed necessary by the rulers of the new Zion that a comparable institution should be established. Americans, or 'Zionists' as we must now call them, were not comfortable with the concept of knighthood, so these successors to the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon were simply to be known as Templars of Zion. To such a diligent and inspired searcher of the scriptures as President Matthews, it was clear that these Templars of Zion should be godly men who could give right guidance to pilgrims seeking the Way of the Lord, metaphorically as well as literally. Obviously, they should also be good fighting men, an elite force comparable to their namesakes, able to play an important role in war as well as to guard and maintain routes and assist travellers, receive funds and messages on behalf of travellers and transmit them to distant and dangerous places, as well as looking after the property of the Temple itself. Quite a tall order and a varied portfolio of responsibilities, to which intelligence gathering and diplomacy were added as corollaries in imitation of their precursors.
There used to be an institution with functions as broad as that. It was called the Federal Government of the United States of America, and it's adjunct the Federal Reserve Bank. Not a bad day's work for a President to get away with, setting up such an institution in a country which had renounced the Federal government and the very name of America, where banks were hated and small government was almost as much an article of faith as the Ten Commandments. All that work won't get done by an assistant with a desk and a filing cabinet in a corner of the President's office.
It hadn't worked out in that old high taxation, high service/interference way, of course. For one thing the country could no longer afford such efforts, economically or organisationally, and for another it was no longer in a mood to pay for and submit to such tyranny. Those who had thought otherwise were dead. What they would accept and what they got, was a light, loose, patchy and inexpensive network of people who could give practical help in a variety of infrastructure projects, chivy local officials and volunteers into doing maintenance and encourage a bit of co-operation with other districts, assist in law enforcement, and importantly, maintain a sense of participation in an entity larger than the local district or state.Their loyalty was to the Temple of Zion. Somewhat analogously to the Roman legionaries, they were both artificers and fighters, albeit less numerous and less ardent road and wall builders, but with a strong corporate and religious identity.
Temple of Zion Bank
Sad as the history of banking in America had been, the change in the name of the country had not altogether discontinued the practice. Rare had it been for bankers to combine the virtues of competence and prudence with simple honesty. That slow alchemy for making gold had been shoved aside in favour of fast and flashy paper profits.The banks had been implicated in all the great economic and financial crises which had rocked the country since it's foundation, and the corpses of ruined depositors or shells of failed banks had littered the financial landscape even in better times. Banks had bred a brood of harpies which had fouled the food and made miserable the lives of many of the people, and no Argonauts had been there to pursue or destroy them. From their nests, in eyries rising high above every city, had spread this foul financial flock, preying upon the carcases of worthwhile industry and corrupting politicians and bureaucrats. From them had arisen many of the scandals and malpractices which had bankrupted the businesses and brought down the governments of the time. Indeed, they had brought the whole country into such disrepute with the other countries of the world that it had been barred from contact with the rest of humanity.
Yet only a few decades later, here it was again; banking in a more sober fashion, new fashioned to the new fashions of the new times, and it may be, betimes,newly fashioning the times to suit itself. So much for continuity and change.
No more speculative 'investment' casino banking. No more liar loans, no more market rigging, no more Federal Reserve to hand out free money to cronies, no more big bonus binge banking based on the laundering of drug money and the proceeds of other crimes.Those intoxicating and toxic times were over. Strict sobriety and probity were now much in evidence and all around.
And yet.., and yet.., the money changers have ever been close to the Temple (and to the Throne). Even Jesus hadn't been able to keep them out for long, although they had been the only people against whom he had been said to have employed violence. It had been no coincidence that banking, money changing and usury had been intimately connected with the old Temple and city states, back to Sumeria. Low practices in high places were often decried. Temple prostitution had been commonplace in antiquity, especially in Babylonia. Although Deuteronomy chapter 23 verses 18-19 had prohibited male and female prostitution in the Temple, the Maccabees had accused their opponents of having practiced it there .The Temple in Jerusalem had been a huge banking operation. Jesus' scourging of it's bankers had swiftly been followed by the scourging and execution of Jesus himself by the religious and civil authorities. We can see who's really in charge. Caesar can strut his legions, Caiaphas can wear the priestly robes, but the money must keep rolling smoothly in, as that's what makes the world go round.
'My God, how the money rolls in, rolls in. My God, how the money rolls in.' http://www.calonsong.org/CalontirSongs/mygodhowthemoney.htm
'Twas ever so, and so it shall remain unto the end. As Luke 17:26 tells us, 'And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the Son of Man.' Matthew 13:49 'So shall it be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.' Another text for John Matthews, the Prophetic President, last of America and first of Zion to ponder. Apparently the wicked had not all been severed, there was more to do, it was not yet the end of the world.
Bankers Gothic had attempted to add an aura of sanctity to 19th century banking halls. Hushed reverence attended the ceremony of opening a bank vault, as of a tomb of antique sanctity.Lord Carnarvon had asked the archaeologist Carter when he opened a way and peered into the gold-stuffed tomb of Tutankhamun, 'What can you see?' 'Wonderful things', whispered the awestruck Carter. In the more recent and more debased era, it had been banks which had been 'too big to fail', until like a blind Samson their own avarice and folly had brought them and their temple down to the destruction of those attempting to uphold them. Great had been that fall, for financial and spiritual values had been inextricably mingled and confused and distorted, and their whole society was now one with the Philistines'.
There was certainly less gold around now, but the Temple of Zion Bank cultivated an aura of sanctity around its operations. It was the only bank around, and as may be inferred, both Church and State, insofar as they were separate entities in this dispensation, closely supervised it. Prudent cautious loans to prudent cautious people was the old and newly fashionable method of making money, using the prudent cautious deposits of other prudent cautious people. Banking was boring once again and that was considered to be a very good thing, especially by all those prudent cautious people.
It was the Templars who were engaged in economic activity who were most visible to the public. These were the only ones that most of the public ever saw or thought about at all, but there were others. The next most common group were the soldiers and lawmen. These assisted local government in maintaining order and in hunting down bandits, particularly in the sparsely settled regions, guarded Temple facilities and provided muscle for the searches and seizures of the TIA. The Templars didn't just work to pile up earthly treasure for its own sake, they used much of it to provide their own army, which was active in garrisoning and fighting in frontier regions, just as their namesakes had been. Hardly known outside the Order, there were also priests and Temple servants who ran the Temple in Memphis and the bureaucrats who ran the whole thing; as well as a few monks and contemplative mystics who composed the Temple on a spiritual level.
Templar Economic Presence
The Templar insignia of a red cross on a white background was the most distinctive and common sign of unity. In effect it had replaced the Stars and Stripes as a flag flown from most of the buildings with which the public was likely to deal, except churches which had their own insignia. The official flag of Zion was less often seen, there being far fewer central government buildings from which to fly it, although it was flown alongside the more colourful flags of each local state on their official offices. The Templars had no monopolies, apart from banking, but they were well represented in all major industries in all states. Their flags, and their emblems on their vehicles and property, and on the uniforms of their members and employees were known and respected throughout the land, the only thing comparable to the commercial brands of the Old Times, but without the implications of sleaze, lies and distortions which the latter had accumulated, and without advertising, which was now heavily restricted when not completely banned. This economic presence had grown from the desire of a large and diverse organisation to supply as many as possible of its own needs, from its own resources, rather than from any attempt to create or dominate civilian markets. When goods or services it wanted were better available fron outsiders, the Temple had no objection to buying them, and was willing to sell its own surpluses and keep its artisans employed making more than the Temple needed, so supply the demands of the public and make some income for the Temple. Some of these craftsmen even set up on their own after having been trained by and worked for the Temple. Their riverine and coastal shipping provided transport for the goods and persons of the public as well as for their own needs, and out of this had grown hotels, restaurants, hostelries and ostleries, postal deliveries, armed escorts, warehouses and even libraries and bookshops and printers, which served the public as well as the servants of the Temple.
Even its involvement in banking had not arisen from a desire to make a lot of money, but from the desire of the public to create a system of honest and competent banking, free of speculation, which could be trusted because it was run by people of acknowledged probity, and closely supervised to ensure that it stayed that way. Greed was not good. Neither was waste or sloth or incompetence or arrogance. Their activities were well managed and subject to searching scrutiny for moral as well as material failings. Consequently, they were trusted, and had a reputation for demanding and providing goods and services of good quality.
Templar MilitiaThe huge military forces of the old United States, and of the war between its successor states had disappeared. They could no longer be supported, even proportionately, by the changed economic and social and demographic circumstances. There was no longer any competition or rivalry with other powers. Indeed, there was little in their neighbourhood that could be dignified with the title of a 'Power'. The central government maintained a few units, an arsenal to make and maintain a few artillery pieces and smallarms, a few light aeroplanes about equivalent to those of First World War vintage, kept mainly for show, a small military bureaucracy and tiny training schools for officers and technicians. There was no navy, they relied on civilian boats and Templar craft to be armed if necessary, and no necessity was foreseen.The individual states kept small units of, in effect, ceremonial guards available as riot police, and relied on ad-hoc short term volunteers and conscripted militia in the unlikely event that military forces were required.
Only the Temple maintained a substantial professional military force, and that was not large. It was expected to provide a disciplined and experienced core for any general military enterprise. The Templars had no difficulty in providing training and discipline, arms and munitions. Experience was provided , partly by law enforcement around the country, but mainly by service on the western and south-western frontiers.
There was a vast area of Western plains, desert, semi-desert and mountains which were very sparsely inhabited. Civilised settlement only really extended one tier of states west of the Mississippi. The rest was a wild landscape of wild animals and humans almost as wild. A scattering of Mormons based in Deseret, which had been Utah, tried to control it on behalf of themselves and of Zion, but there was much scope for the lawless there, and the Templars had established fortified garrisons, from which they tried to control the countryside, raiding and feuding with gangs and Mexicans far to north and south and even to the west coast. In the better watered northern portion, there were substantial pastoral farming interests, herds of cattle, bison and horses were bred and there was a railroad to take them east. This area was relatively secure. The arid southerly portion was home to a hardy and scattered population happy to live at or beyond the limit of the reach of the long arm of Zion's law. This was an excellent military training ground for active defence or aggression.
Amongst the diverse and mongrelised population of this area were remnants of the Red Indian tribes who had had reservations there. The cessation of government handouts had forced them to become more self reliant. The cessation of tourism and gambling had limited their chances to make money legitimately and the opportunities for becoming alcoholics. Hence it was not surprising that the slimmer and more sober tribesmen's eyes often turned to crime. This put them in conflict with the Templars, and re-ignited the Indian Wars to a smaller extent. A life of raid and counter-raid was actually quite usual for such frontier areas, so this was no exception. What differed this time around was that the Indians had not regained all of their skills as trackers and woodsmen, so the Zionists were at less of a disadvantage. On the other hand there was also less disparity in weapons, since the Indians were better able to steal or buy firearms. The Zionists had of course the advantage of overwhelming numerical and material superiority, although they seldom chose to deploy it. A remote training ground with live firing exercises against Indians, Mexicans, mestizos and bandits suited them well enough. It produced fighting men as hardy as their opponents, but better organised and eqipped and potentially far more numerous.
What destabilised this situation was a spillover from the Mexo-anarchy of the Left Coast. Some of the squabbling gangs there patched up their differences and combined to raid across the mountains and deserts. As long as their raids did not go further afield, this was mainly of consequence to the Templars, who had to make additional efforts to raise troops and money and supplies to cope with these incursions. The situation really changed when a series of successful raids burned and looted their way through the cattle stations and horseherds of the northern part of the Great Plains. The howls of outrage and demands for justice and vengeance quickly reached senior and sensitive ears at Memphis, and effective measures of retaliation had to be put in train. A major campaign was planned which would eliminate the problem. The public was primed to cough up additional taxes to pay for it. Of course, there was no government borrowing to pass the problem to the future. Most of the surviving Templar forces were re-deployed to the northern plains. Recruitment and training of additional forces proceeded. The central government called for volunteers and levies from the states. Over the next year a force of several thousand men, perhaps as many as ten thousand infantry, and a thousand cavalry, with artillery support, was armed, trained and deployed westwards. Logistical and intelligence preparations were not overlooked. The government of Zion, and the Templar commanders had decided to simplify their strategic situation by reclaiming California in order to clear their flank and press any surviving troublemakers far to the south. It was known that the central valley had once been a very prosperous agricultural area, adjacent to a potentially great port in an area with a balmy climate. If these assets could be regained, the land could support a considerable population of good Zionists, and the war would more than pay for itself in a few decades.
As soon as the mountain passes were free of snow and the campaigning season opened, the Zionist army, known as the Sword of Gideon, passed through and occupied northern California against only ill-coordinated resistance. They proceeded south, chasing any undesirables ahead of them. One night, as the main force entered San Francisco, against stiffening but inadequate resistance, and reconnaissance elements probed as far south as Los Angeles, a line of huge fires broke out in the brushwood choked valleys and hills inland from the coastal cities, set by advanced detachments. The blazes spread rapidly into the towns and added further to the panic already started by the sight and by the influx of refugees from further north. Agents had already spread rumours, so flames and fears were fanned until the population stampeded south. The main force chased them well into Mexico and returned to ensure that the clearance had been complete and that the area would be stable and efficiently developed as a new portion of Zion.They did not neglect to occupy and annex the long peninsula of Baja California to ensure that it would not be a refuge for troublemakers ensconsced on the far side of a convenient border.
Zion was pleased with its new acquisition. Some of the soldiers were allowed to take up land grants and settle there. The grants given or sold to individuals and organisations including the Temple, proved profitable to those who held them for the long term, as settlers arrived and the area began to thrive again. This time, unlike in the Gold Rush, there was no stampede of unauthorised settlers. Settlement was strictly controlled, to ensure that potentially subversive types did not proliferate there. In future there would be no more lefties on what had been the Left Coast. Instead, there would be a turnaround and the area was intended to become a bastion of righteousness. Many soldiers returned home to be discharged, but some stayed, as in the case of retired Roman legionaries, to become the nucleus of new settlements, to which approved migrants from further east were admitted. It was intended that the new state, - as it would become in time -, which some wanted to call 'Occidentia' as a replacement of the old name 'California' which seemed to be a reminder and remnant of the undesirable past; would prevent infiltration from what was left of the Left Coast to their north, as well as guard against incursions from the south and become, first self-reliant and then a strong right arm for Zion.To this end, the settlement and communication links across the north of the Great Plains were strengthened, and the old transcontinental railroad was patched up, to form the bone and sinew of this re-connection. Strategically, Zion had cleared its western flank of enemies, geographically it had extended its reach right across the continent and was busy adding muscle to its grip, economically it had gained a fertile and productive province which would become a bastion of power. Theo-politically it had proved that it still enjoyed divine favour and that its organisation and people still merited it. Things were looking good, praise and thanks to God as well as celebrations were in order.
CanadaCanada had disintegrated in the chaos after the dissolution of the USA and the subsequent war between the states. Sabotage by the South, intimidation and looting by the North, followed by the depredations of deserting or foraging Northern troops and a flood of refugees from the collapse of America, had overwhelmed it. The emergence of Zion had merely added incredulity to the loathing in which Americans were held, particularly by the Quebecois who had borne the brunt of Northern depredations and the influx of their locustine refugees. The collapse of cities had led to the demise of the worst of the problem, and a restoration of political power in the east of what had been Canada, to the rural population of French Canadians or Quebecois. These people were left with an abiding contempt and hatred for the 'English' to their south.They were not strong enough to be a threat, but neither were they willing to co-operate with Anglophone Zion. This mattered little, since there was little reason for contact or conflict between the two peoples. They were both stable, conservative, rurally based societies, not as different as they thought. There was little contact, occasionally bandits were pursued over the border or were apprehended and handed over if not executed on the spot. When the Quebecois authorities first encountered Templars they were rather contemptuous of them, even indignant, claiming that they were mere plagiarists of an originally French idea. They had to reluctantly admit that it had been a French King, Phillip the Fair, who had betrayed and traduced the Knights Templar, seized their assets in France and had them suppressed by his pet Pope. The 'Zionist' Templars solemnly assured them that this would not happen again, even if the Quebecois took up their offer of forming Templar units and institutions in their country.This generous offer was scathingly rebuffed. If the French wanted to have Templiers, they would create them themselves, and they would be infinitely better, and would not deign to notice their 'English' imitators!
The west of Canada had merged with the Left Coast, from which the Mexicanised southern portion had just been recovered, so the rest was viewed with some suspicion as an enclave of Leftism and probable source of re-infection. Thus, more effort was made to prevent their infiltration into the new province of Occidentia, and as giving urgency to the need to strengthen control over the northern portion of the Great Plains. Consequently, efforts were made to cultivate cordial relations with the scattered English speaking settlements of central Canada and to give them some good trading or employment opportunities. The Templars were happy to provide small detachments to strengthen local law enforcement and provide training and a market for artisan skills. Cultural contact was encouraged. Libraries and teachers were provided. Their mental horizons were oriented to the south although they remained less religious and less conservative than the 'Zionists'. Slowly they were assimilated into a semi-dependent status, and provided cover for spying on their neighbours. Much the same happened to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, to a lesser extent. They were a small independent minded English speaking people, lacking natural resources, no real threat to Zion, except as a possible base for infiltration. Occasional goodwill visits and access to minor trade sufficed to keep an eye on them and encouraged them to remain peaceful.
Right from the start the Americans had coveted Canada, and had failed in a couple of ill-conceived attempts to seize it.Well into the twentieth century they had maintained contingency plans for war against Britain, which included the seizure of Canada. Now it looked as if their northern neighbours might receive renewed attention. Some of the policymakers in Memphis talked about Naboth's vineyard and warned against misuse of power to oppress weaker neighbours and seize their property. This would displease The Lord. Others said that He had quite obviously meant for at least all English speakers in North America to be given the great opportunity of salvation and inclusion in the bounds of Zion. They had inherited a claim on the Left Coast, and it would be impractical to leave out the adjacent parts of what had been Canada, particularly those that had merged into the Left Coast. That territory included useful assets of good climate, fertile soil, timber, fishing and water power which would be worth conquering - er.. 'liberating', and which God obviously intended as blessings for his most devoted followers, namely themselves. Even some of the current population might be salvageable. It appeared to them to be justifiable, feasible and profitable; another war which would be fairly cheap and would soon pay for itself. Failure to act on the opportunity which He had provided might displease Him. Nobody thought the Quebecois worth liberating. Their territory was not naturally well endowed. Their Catholicism was rather vinegary, not altogether to the more Protestant taste of Zion, and their anti-English prejudice and abuse was offensive. They were probably not meant to be included in Zion. Equally, they were probably not the enemies of God and Civilisation that the Lefties had been, so they were not meant to be extirpated; although if they were so foolish as to cause trouble, they could well receive a dammed good hiding. It was agreed to watch and wait, prayerfully. 'Si vis pacem, para bellum' was still a prudent motto. God or the Devil might prompt the Lefties on the far coast to make an aggressive move, so it would be as well to be alert and prepared.
MexicoOnly towards the south did Zion face a large number of barbarian enemies. Zion's strategists thought that one more brisk campaign to their northwest would close their outstanding account with the remaining Leftists, give them additional valuable territory which would soon provide a peaceful and profitable accession of strength, and enable them to concentrate their military resources thereafter towards the south.
They had no illusions or expectations of easy, profitable and permanent conquest in the south.There was certainly no thought of including any of its population within the ranks or bounds of Zion. The memories or records of life in the Old Times, in the Collapse, and in the run-up to the Second War between the States, as well as the more recent border conflicts and the campaign to liberate California and turn it into Occidentia, saw to that. No Mexicans were permitted to live in the settled areas of Zion. In the wild border regions, relations with the bands and settlements of savages varied unpredictably between hostility and attack.
The triangular funnel shape of the geography was considered advantageous if enough territory at the top could be kept relatively clear to act as a stopper, or at least a great hindrance to serious attack from the south. The most populous and valuable areas of Mexico were well to the south.The north was sparsely settled mountains, desert and semi desert, an arid continuation of the southern zone of the Great Plains. Zion had no desire to pass this and to conquer and occupy the distant south. The Mexicans were welcome to live there and to kill each other there if that was their wish; provided they stayed there and did not take themselves, their drugs or their troubles to Zion. The ending of the Old Times, with its easy immigration, opportunities for employment, crime and government handouts which had attracted migrants like flies to dung, had greatly reduced its attraction. Now raiding was the only opportunity available in the north, and it was risky and not very profitable.
Hence it was intended that the Templars would provide garrisons and mobile forces to patrol and control a vaguely defined but vast area of little value, save as a cordon sanitaire against incursions from the south. This would keep a smallish permanent force permanently occupied, but would not be a great burden on the country.
Templar Economic and Cultural Activities
The network of Templar stations (- dare we call them preceptories or commanderies?) encouraged artisan activity, especially wood and metal working. Wood workers of all sorts, carpenters, wheelwrights, cartwrights, shipwrights, millwrights (but not makers of wooden plays or bad puns!) were in demand throughout the land. The Templars made much use of them and in time developed a cadre of skilled workers who could in effect set standards for others. Their well known insistence on quality gave a cachet and competitive advantage to those who had worked for or been trained by them.The mines of the Appalachians and the forges of Pittsburgh and Birmingham produced enough coal and iron to make tools and nails and weapons. Here again the Templars had interests and helped maintain standards.
This network grew along the main routes linking the main cities and providing a sort of highway linking many of the states, although of course the Mississippi and Ohio rivers provided the backbone of the transport system in the post-automobile era. Much of the road and railroad facilities had been smashed in the war, and never repaired. Local roads devolved back to muddy, rutted cart tracks, sometimes impassable in bad weather. Large fragments of the old 20th century highway system survived, although increasingly dilapidated and little used. They became like the earthworks of remote antiquity, imposing physical presences and remnants of vague purpose from incomprehensible times, yet clear evidence of great power and sweeping vision - the work of vanished 'giants'.
Life had become very local. Most people were employed on the land or close to it in processing agricultural and pastoral products. They had little need to move about and little knowledge of, or interest in, places further afield. Few had needs or ambitions which took them as far as the capital of their state, let alone the capital of their nation, - which in any case so far as they were concerned was the capital of their world. There was no TV or radio or internet or videogames to entertain, distract and entrance them. There was no advertising to spoil landscapes with its billboards, or to finance tawdry publications cultivating greed lust and envy. Literacy became less necessary and less common amongst the lower classes. There was no longer an overbearing exploitative state mandated education system to zombify the population with leftist propaganda. There were no more leftists and all those in positions of responsibility were determined that never again would there be leftists, or corporate conmen, banksters, media filth or politically dominant siren voices singing seductive songs of sensuality luring lovelorn sailors in the ship of state to frightful doom. Hence no earplugs were needed for the Odyssean crew.
There was little long distance traffic by road. Local roads satisfied the needs of farmers driving herds, carters and horsemen going about their daily lives or to the local market. These footpaths or byways were not well maintained as the locals felt little need to do so and there was no longer a strong government to compel them to do so in the interests of through traffic and road makers and loan peddling bankers.The previous road network soon fell into decay and became overgrown. Long distance travel by land became slow, difficult and expensive. Steam locomotion kept some railways open for the transport of bulk freight and a few mails and passengers between mines, factories and river ports. The rivers in the centre of the continent provided the natural highways, and as naturally, the bulk of the people and their concerns lived close to these rivers. Along the east coast, small sailing and steam boats served the needs of coastal traffic and linked the greatly shrunken cities. All the old cities that survived had retreated to a core where their core functions of commerce, specialised manufacture and administration could be performed in buildings close to the water and within walking distance of each other and of the dwellings of their inhabitants. The sprawling suburbs of the past were now dead cysts encasing the living cities, and slowly being scavenged and turned back to farmland or market gardens supplying the centre.The skyscrapers remained, like huge megaliths, enduring monuments to the engineering skills of the Old Times, although many were abandoned after electricity ceased to be regularly and reliably available to run elevators and lights and air-conditioning.The lower floors of many continued to be occupied, but it became too wearisome to climb beyond about five storeys carrying whatever one wanted, including water. The upper levels soon became dark and noisome, and the higher levels beyond use were shut off.
The education-research-media-foundation complex had been another casualty of the Transition. It's wealth had been dissipated or seized by one or another of the recent revolutionary or religious governments. It had been the primary home and production centre for lefties and their poison, so was absolutely anathema to Zion. Any of it's survivors were prime targets for rigorous interrrogation, and rewards were obtained for denouncing them. Much of the work of investigation fell to the lot of the Templar Investigative Agency and its predecessors, of which more is said in the next section.
There was no lack of education. Technical and vocational training had separated themselves from universities and were provided by the crafts and professions. Local communities were encouraged to organise teaching of the 3R's for those whose parents were not up to the task. Some parents paid for their brighter or more ambitious children to receive private schooling. The needs of the society were met. There was no attempt at universal uniform coverage, and certainly no longer any insistence that sows ears be turned into silk purses at vast public expense, or even that there must be no recognition of any difference or that the sows ears were ineffably superior. All such lefty nonsense had ceased.There were a few small universities for the tiny number of scholars engaged in such arcane pursuits as philosophy, but none of this impinged on either the public purse or the consciousness of the public. The Temple maintained a few trade schools for their craftsmen, and a leadership school for its cadres.
Culture and conversation thrived. People whose concerns rose above their bellies were more free to muse over their own independent reading and writing and to discuss and debate with each other, by letter or in person. Lacking electronic entertainment people made their own music and attended public discussions, readings and performances. There were still professional entertainers, musicians, writers, artists and intellectuals, although they had smaller audiences and travelled more in search of new horizons and new patrons. There was some revival of a high as distinct from a popular culture, although naturally this was only relevant to a few.There were no longer a few vast corporations controlling, manipulating,vulgarising and debasing art, culture, news, sports, entertainment and learning, so they were able to improve.The culture destroyers had disappeared and the Temple was determined to prevent their re-appearance.
There was no formal censorship or licensing of publications. Publication of anything later deemed Leftist was however very likely to be fatal to author, publisher, printer and distributor, so a prudent discretion prevailed. There were no legal ticklists.People in responsible positions were expected to have an understanding of what was moral. Lawyers pushing their clients luck in 'pushing the envelope' of acceptability were likely to swing from the same gibbet with them, along with any judge or politician who had been sympathetic to subversion of moral and cultural standards. Justice was swift and harsh, not amenable to delays and not accommodating itself to the relative depths of the litigants or defendents pockets or social prominence. Sensible authors and publishers therefore sought to have their work approved in advance by the Temple or have it published by the Templar Press. This was the best assurance available, but it was not foolproof. As the Great New York Scandal demonstrated, the Temple would if necessary execute its own erring brethren along with other sinners.
This work of protecting cultural and moral standards came to involve the Temple in unexpected areas of activity. Art criticism and cultural aesthetics were not popularly associated with their better known craftsmen, fighting men, investigators and priests. However, those who toiled in the vineyard of the Lord had some surprising tasks to perform. Much of the cultural heritage of museums, archives, art galleries and private collections had been destroyed in the war and social upheaval, but enough examples and information survived for the Temple to be able to train and employ some people talented in that direction, and to assist the re-orientation of the training facilities for artists, fine craftsmen, sculptors and architects. Vitruvius and Pheidias were back. Picasso and Pollack were out. Warhol was waste.Scrap metal sculptures were scrapped and no-one any longer felt it prudent to fling pots of paint in the face of the public.
Rich people were no longer permitted to express their vulgarity by crass displays of deliberately ugly and debased 'art' glorifying those who wasted the most absurd sums of money on it. Had such people survived to amass enough wealth to be wasted in this fashion, they would not have survived the attention it brought them. Now the rich were expected to display good taste. If it didn't come naturally they could buy advice and make sure that it was approved by the Temple. Much of the public was also interested. They wanted 'their' rich people to put on a good show, not only for them, but for community pride in competing with the achievements of the rich and famous of other communities. They wanted to be edified by the edifaces filed with works of art, erected by their leaders and successful people. They were not very discriminating critics, but they were enthusiastic supporters, apt to politically reward those who made them feel more civilised and less backwoodsmen.
As in European World Wars, the country houses of the wealthy had been requistioned for military and state purposes. The victorious South had come into possession of the mansions of the previously wealthy in the North, some of which had been passed on to various branches of the Templars. Records of such people and interrogation records of their associates had produced a reasonable picture of their activities and assets. Private planes, airports and golf courses were no longer in favour, but the possessions of many middle eastern thugs and Wall Street messiahs were now being put to far better uses.
The Templars had at first been financed by taxes, on a modest scale, but slowly they became self supporting as the banking profits started to subsidise them and then as they bought or were given property, and from the sale of surpluses from their own economic activities. They had interests in farming, ranching, meat distribution, leather working, horse breeding, river transport and boat building, to name but few of them, growing from their original needs.
There were no longer any big companies, national brands or advertisements. Now a single state was more than enough scope for most companies and The Temple was the only large scale organisation in the whole country, and the only one with such diverse interests. Companies had also become local. The old system was not re-created. Investors now were people who were involved in the management of their companies. There was little market in shares. Financial speculation of any type was now viewed with suspicion. Anyone seeking to make a livelihood from financial dealing would have found it to be a very short and unpleasant life, dangling from a noose. A theocracy with democratic trimmings turned out to be a much better place to live than had been the old debased kleptocracy pretending to be a democracy.
The Temple found it useful to have their members in many places, participating and knowing what was happening in many localities. The larger church denominations behaved similarly but none operated on the scale of the Temple. As when the Roman post system was overrun by bishops, much of the long distance movement of men and messages was on the business of church or Temple. Their emblem of an upright red cross on a white background was widespread and instantly recognisable. This flag flew from all their buildings and their numerous boats. It became the effective sign of Zion, although the official flag of the country was white bearing the letters ZION in red across its centre.
Templar Investigative Agency
The New York trials after the defeat of the North, America's Nuremberg, had required a lot of work to identify, catch and assemble evidence to prosecute the leaders of the defeated regime. There ensued a long and thorough process of 'de-liberalization'. All this required a permanent and extensive organization, familiarly known at first as the American Inquisition.Obviously when America became Zion the name had to change. As the Temple grew in power it took over responsibility for a number of tasks amd agencies with various names including words like 'Research', 'Inquiry', 'Investigation' and 'Security' or 'Protection' in their titles. Governments, tending to consist of sensitive souls who will the ends but cavil at the means, and who do not want their populace to be disturbed by the use of words which might conjure unsettling images of pain-wracked broken bodies babbling and screaming out the dregs of their lives in blood and faeces stained cellars, prefer the titles of such agencies, however necessary, to be bland, vague and soothing. Hence after some bureaucratic havering the Templar Investigative Agency took up the task of discreetly monitoring persons who and events which would tend to deviate from the paths of righteousness and impair the celestial harmony of life in Zion. Corrective action, when necessary, usually took place where the tranquillity of the general public would not be disturbed.
Unlike their medieval precursors, these inquisitors or investigators were not much concerned with religious doctrines and heresies. The faith of the public was of a sentimental and moralising rather than an intellectual nature. The content was pretty much the same, whatever the brand name. There were too many competing churches and creeds for one school of thought to predominate. 'In my Father's house are many mansions' was a text which enabled sectarian conflict to be avoided. The practical more than theoretical orientation of the people prevented disputes such as those over the Real Presence, the filioque clause or the Papal Supremacy from undermining society and leading to massive conflict. No non-Christian religions were permitted, but no great ingenuity was required to find some obscure saint or legendary practice to serve as patron or give a patina of Christianity for a specially devoted cult within a very broad church. What was required of those who were not convinced Bible-thumpers was discretion. This virtue had been greatly undervalued in the old America. Now it flourished. Flaunting differences and rubbing them in your neighbours faces was no longer encouraged, approved, or a prudent procedure, and conversely, people did not go out of their way to 'make windows into other men's souls'. The velvet glove was an accepted article of apparel, but no-one doubted that, at need, an iron fist might be rapidly uncovered and put to vigorous use.
The cast of mind which deprecated socially disruptive religious wrangling was capable of accepting Mormonism as sufficiently Christian to avoid inconvenient conflict with useful allies, could swallow camels whilst refraining from straining at gnats, and accept the doctrine of one of the Church Fathers, Clement was it, or Augustine or Tertullian that under whatever name the earth had never lacked the true Christian faith. It was thought that the original druids had merged easily with celtic Christianity and become early celtic saints. There had obviously been far more overlap than the pious tales reported. It was quite incredible, for instance, that the story of St. Patrick using a shamrock to introduce the Irish to the concept of the Trinity could be true. One merely had to realise that this enslaved son of a Romano-British patrician had been carried past the Isle of Man whose later symbol was the triskele, that the Irish goddess of Sovereignty, celebrated in tale, was triune, that both Ireland and the Continent boasted Celtic stone carvings of heads displaying three faces, and that the saint had been operating none too far from the great megalithic monument of Newgrange with a massive stone covered in three joined spirals across its entrance, to understand that! Not to mention that triplicities of deities had been commonplace in pre-Christian Europe, and that the Indo-European societies had been based on a three caste system of producers, warriors and priests. There was no need to trouble the mind of the average pew-sitter with such matters, but those who wielded discreet influence within the Temple knew it well enough.
Very few witch burnings proved necessary. When offered the choice in Deuteronomy chapter 30 verse 19 'I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live', most were sensible; only a few were taken to the extremity of Exodus chapter 22 verse 18 'thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'. No longer could there be blasphemous nose-thumbing publicity-seeking gimmicks such as a Church of Satan, without attracting the deadly serious attention of officials with absolutely no sense of humour in religious matters.
Christianity had assimilated many other cults, or expressed old ideas in a new form. Christ had become the epitome of the old tradition of seasonally sacrificed Sacred Kings, dying for their people, for instance; and the bishops mitre and the title of Pope or Papa had supposedly been taken from Mithraism. Hence 'legacy' or ancestral cults such as Druidism, - or even Asatru where the dying and rising god Balder had been known as the White Christ, the emblem known to some as the Eye of Woden was called the Celtic Cross by others, and the amulet worn by some as the Hammer of Thor could also be called a Tau Cross- , although modern re-interpretations rather than survivals, (earlier Christians had made sure of that!) could be accepted with tactful discretion, bland ambiguity and only perfunctory application of holy water. Letting sleeping dogs lie and not frightening the horses were the prudent canons of social and religious civility.
What really interested the investigators was Leftism, subversive attitudes and practices, atheism, materialism and secularism - all the things for which the North had been notorious. It was in the North that their attention was focussed. The war had eliminated such people from the South and current society was uncongenial to them, so little threat was expected there. The death of the cities in the North had eliminated the chief locus of the problem. The changes to the education system were intended to prevent a recurrence. The survivors, especially in the countryside, had had a bellyful of Revolution, and had no stomach for any more of it, so the investigators concluded that there was no immediate major problem there either, although it would be necessary to continue to keep a close eye on those pesky Yankees.
The old-time secular religion of materialistic science had been badly battered by the economic collapse and social turmoil, which had greatly reduced its funding.The demise of lefty media, the increasingly religious public attitudes after the defeat of the North and the foundation of Zion had reduced the aura of awe within which the public mind had held it. The Temple was now the only large organisation willing or able to patronise anything resembling 'science' to even a minor degree. The universities and research establishments had been destroyed. Government and foundation funding had ceased.There were no longer cabals of hard-shelled materialists able to dominate the agenda, curricula and interpretation of intellectual inquiry, threatening and damming heretics to outer darkness. Attitudes had changed. In the generation after the defeat of the North, surviving scientists and technicians who could produce something useful from meagre resources had been put to use. The rest starved or found productive employment. Any who had been associated with Leftism or had a reputation as troublemakers or academic tyrants had failed the exacting physical examinations to which they had been subjected. At that, the physical scientists had been luckier than their colleagues in the so-called 'social sciences', well known as far-left crazies, subversives and degenerates, who had simply been shot when caught. Considering the excesses of the Revolutionary Northern regime, and the fact that no-one untainted by them could have continued to hold an academic position in the North, this treatment was generally regarded as brusque but fair.
The intellectual climate was no longer that of the 19th century. Darwin, Marx, Einstein and Freud were all in bad odour, deeply unfashionable, and to be under their influence was to be in the shadow of the gallows, The climate indeed had heated or cooled, progressed or regressed, but definately changed, to something akin to the 16th century, wherein 'natural philosophers' were more in vogue than 'scientists'. Such of the much reduced intellectual class as were interested, were more interested in Dee or Fludd than in Descartes or his successors. Iamblichus and the Theology of Arithmetic were more studied than Heisenberg and quantum mechanics. 'Science' was now regarded with some scepticism and even suspicion. Not exactly as being false, but as being a deceptive over-emphasis on superficial appearances, a snare of Satan. It's history showed 'Science' to have been a false god, promising world dominion to those who would fall down and worship it, but at the cost of their souls. Scientists were like the wounded man in the Buddhist story who would not let anyone help him until they had answered endless trivial queries about what the arrow that had stuck him was like and the appearance of whoever had shot him; he would die long before he ran out of queries. Science did not deal with knowledge of Salvation or Liberation. It had been the black magic of the Old Times, promising enlightenment but only providing wealth and power to the rulers with some material comfort for the masses; rather as alchemy had been perverted into being treated as early chemistry and its practitioners imprisoned by greedy rulers in high security secret projects to make gold for them.Very like all the secret projects of modern governments seeking wealth and power.
As an aside it may be mentioned what had happened to the huge American arsenal of atomic bombs. They had not been used in the conflict between North and South. Deterrence had prevailed. Neither side had been sure exactly how many the other had had, where they all were, and how many were operational.They had agreed not to use them and had not done so, more perhaps because the North first lost the capacity to maintain theirs because of their purges and shortages, and the winning South had not felt pressed to that extremity. Afterwards they had continued to decay and the skills to maintain and operate them had been lost, until they had been buried and the locations forgotten, leaving only a vague legend of a great power for evil lying hidden beneath the earth.
The investigators took an interest in elections, promiment individuals and the connections between them, and in the membership and activities of voluntary associations. Parties had been outlawed, but it was interesting to see which birds by nature flocked together. Voluntary associations for purposes of religion, charity, self-help and community celebrations were approved, but everyone knew that not all of those who sported long beards and grave faces, or long faces and eloquent voices were prophets of God.
The Great New York ScandalOne of the stories told and re-told to new recruits within the Agency to encourage alertness concerned the involvement of their local branch in the Great New York Scandal of 2083. This had marked and marred the celebrations of the half century since the Declaration of Zion. That was when the Governor of New York State and the Mayor of New York City had been publically hanged, and most of the State and City elected representatives had received severe floggings. After complaints of having been cheated, from an agrieved but influential person, had reached senior ears in Memphis, an investigation revealed a shocking underworld of 'high' finance to have been operating in some of the abandoned skyscrapers of New York, with the connivance of the most senior elected officials. There had developed a flourishing series of inter-connected criminal enterprizes, from simple theft and fencing of stolen goods, through counterfeiting, forgery, loan-sharking, intimidation, prostitution, gambling, illicit distilling, and fixing sporting events to quasi-banking, market rigging, structured financing, insurance and pension funds, investment and tax avoidance vehicles, company manipulation and the bribing and suborning of officials. There were gambling dens known as stock and commodities exchanges and a whole class of parasites interposing themselves between honest buyers and sellers in all markets. This cozy situation, ideal for fleecing the more honest members of the public, had been facilitated by laws passed as a result of corrupt influence. The politicians and the bureaucrats who were supposed to supervise such activities had long since been corrupted. Even more disturbing than the economic thefts and frauds was the fact that as soon as these criminals made some money they applied it to influence peddling and to polluting and perverting the political and social systems, turning themselves into the Establishment, multiplying their influence through a maze of front organisations and phony charities. Soon they were in charge with the officials and politicians merely serving as their lackeys.
Fearing that they had become so powerful that they could be able to spark military resistance and political revolution which might even spread to other Northern states, a large force was raised in the Southern states and sent to occupy New York city and state before decisive action was taken to round up the malefactors and their confederates.It took months to search every building in the city, and much of the state, to identify everyone living or working there, and their origins, sources of income and associates, and to track the network of influence that linked the perpetrators and their collaborators and victims; but finally a couple of thousand of these malignant parasites were caught and hanged or shot. It was found that their influence had begun to spread to other cities and states, particularly to neighbouring New Jersey, or that others had initiated similar networks of crime and influence, but that the disease was not too far advanced. The corrupted flesh could be excised from the body politic without much danger. Matthew chapter 18 verse 9 was often quoted: 'If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire'. Once reasonable evidence had been assembled the judicial process was swift. There were no appeals. There was no point in trying to bring anyone back from the dead. Jesus wasn't listening. Lazarus had been a one-off, and he hadn't been a crook.
The scandal shocked the country. It took the shine off the celebrations and made a mockery of the sonorous speeches. It re-opened wounds and suspicions between North and South that were supposed to have been healed. It was hugely embarassing, especially when rumours spread that the influence of the crooks in New York might have extended to taint some of the godly in Memphis. Re-unification on the basis of common criminality was quite the wrong message. Grim faced investigators confronted many ashen faced members of the elite of Zion, to clear either their names or Zion of their names. There was no cover-up. There was a great deal of effort which yielded few results; or on the other hand could be said to have yielded the important result of being able to show the country that their leaders were honest. It had not been anticipated that this would need to be done at this anniversary, but it restored the confidence of the public. It was a test that the leaders of the old America would certainly have failed.
Having passed the test, the leadership of Zion and its Temple, much relieved and still more alarmed at the implications of this occurrence; took it as a sign and a warning from Divinity that they had been remiss in their responsibility to supervise the activities of the country and to guide it energetically along the paths of righteousness. But for their slackness, this evil could not have grown and prospered and escaped notice for so long. They prayed and fasted, concluded that God had alerted them just in time to prevent an insidious evil from successfully corrupting their society and undermining their state. They ordered public thanksgiving throughout the country and closer monitoring of just who came into wealth and prominence and how it was achieved. There was to be no regeneration of the unregenerate, no wealthy and influential class of sinners would be allowed to gain wealth and social position and use these assets to reduce the institutions of Zion to shams and mockeries of themselves. Money was not again to be the god in which they trusted. Slow investigation revealed that there were other family networks and innocuous seeming front associations which were composed of false Christians, and which were engaged in the same processes of corruption which had achieved notoriety in New York. These were eliminated. The Templar Investigative Agency would be all the more alert to 'who was who' and how they had come to be so and whether they should continue to be so. The Synagogue of Satan might not have been entirely closed, but it was intended to make its activities as unwelcome and unprofitable as possible in Zion.
This scandal had two consequences for the Agency. It showed that they and the other leaders of their country really followed the old maxim that justice should be done even if the heavens fall. No-one was above the law. Nothing was too big to fail. The hounds of the Lord stayed always on the trail. Attempts to divert them would be of no avail. The public were reassured about their competence and probity because the other consequence was an equally searching inquisition into the failure of their New York branch to detect and deal with the corruption there before it had got out of hand. The chief agent was executed for incompetence, and his subordinates demoted and transferred. A new start was made in New York and agents throughout the rest of the country were shocked into taking a fresh and more searching look at their own areas of responsibility.
The scandal pointed up the weakness of any system that depended on the public to be honest and competent in choosing honest and competent representatives or officials. The New York investigation showed that many of the electors were more impressed by wealth and show than by worth, which they were often unable to perceive, or even to perceive that there was a difference. Many were themselves venal and only admired those who appeared to be more successful crooks. Half a century of godliness hadn't sufficed to educate or inspire meaningful morality in them. You could take people out of New York, but could you take 'Noo Yawk' out of the people? Close supervision might help, but ultimately those who refused the call of Zion might have to suffer the fate of Sodom.
View from the Temple
Edward Gregg leaned back in his chair and let his gaze fall on the wallmap in his office. It was a leftover from the old days, showing the landmass he lived on, proudly blazoned with the words 'United States of America'. How archaic that was. A previous occupant had scored them out and overwritten the word 'ZION', as it was now known.
He had just completed some historical research and the results amazed and disquieted him. He was a student of history, and his position in the Temple allowed him access to a great deal of information that had survived from the Old Times or accumulated since then. It appeared that the population of the country around the time of the Dissolution of the Union, the economic Collapse and the Second War between the States had been about 320 million. That was a very large number. It was hard to comprehend how so many people had been fed at all, let alone enabled to live in the luxury that seemed to have been commonplace. It appeared to have much to do with oil-based chemical fertilisors, and an oil-based economy of vast industrial might with world-wide trade and economies of scale. Only remnants and relics of that survived, enough to give credence to what he had been reading. Comparable figures for the present day were harder to estimate. If anyone had them, it would be the Temple. Their figures were vague, but bore out the common experience that population, production and numbers of all kinds were very much lower than they had once been. Was that a good or a bad thing? He was not sure. The lack of statistics probably related at least in part to the Biblical story of how God had disapproved and punished a king of Israel who had attempted to number his people. Apparently, the population, having a well founded suspicion that such government interference was likely to prove a prelude to further military and fiscal exactions, had rebelled, and their success had been taken as indicative of divine approval. Nowadays there was much less interest in statistics and few resources with which to collect them, so estimates even for tax and military service were hazy, and levies depended more on past practice than on precise calculation of resources.
Even using thumbsuck approximations the contrast was staggering. In rough terms, 100 million had gone with the South, 20 million were on the Pacific coast, leaving about 200 million in the North with the Midwest. He estimated that there were now 30-40 million in the South and West. The Pacific coast, before the Occidentian campaign was an unknown barbarous area probably heavily depopulated. The Northeast might have as few as 3-5 million. The Midwest was known to be recovering and the fertility of it's soil might be supporting another 30 million or so. At least three quarters of the previous population has disappeared! How had that happened?
The war had killed a few million,say 5 or 10, but nothing like the missing 225 million. The social chaos must have killed a lot more, say 15 or 20 million; but that still left the equivalent of the whole initial population of the North unaccounted for. About two thirds of the initial Southern population had gone. It seemed that the North and Midwest had lost about 5 people out of every 6, a bit worse than the South. That was reasonable considering that they had lost and that the South had retained more of the old oil based agriculture and more cultivable land per head, especially after the fall of the Midwest. The real contrast and explanation seemed to lie with the fate of the big cities. At a guess, about half the Northern population had been in the Midwest, where the population was recovering on the fertile agricultural land, showing about the same numbers and proportion of survivors as in the South. In contrast, the population of the more heavily urbanised Northeast had fallen by about 95%! 19 out of 20 had died and not been replaced; that was impressive.
It seemed strange that so much more attention was given to the war than to what had really been killing people. Maybe that was the way people's attention worked. People had died quietly and been buried without fuss. Life went on. Even the Black Death had hardly interrupted the Hundred Years War. Had the process finished? He did not know, although he did know that at the time of the first War between the States the American population had only been about 30 million. Was their productivity now double what it had then been? Perhaps his estimates of current population were optimistic? Would the population continue to fall? Time would tell, but he might not live to hear what it said.
The big cities had died of starvation, and the culture of the North had died with them. Leftism had been a very urban phenonomen, all it's constituent groups and their dependents and constituencies had been heavily urban, and closely associated with the propaganda and coercive power of a centralised city based bureaucratic state apparatus which physically, economically, socially and intellectually dominated, morally perverted and emotionally immiserated the countryside as well as the cities. Any surviving rural strains of Leftism were likely to be far less virulent. When people have to stay productively busy to stay alive they have less opportunity to become mentally perverted, and oppress their neighbours. Cities were no longer allowed to be sinks and festering sources of physical and moral perversion and corruption.
Edward now had a better appreciation of his grandfather's stories about the Old Times and the Transition. Life must have been horrible back then, he thought. Crowded into monstrous cities, concrete cancers defacing the land and clawing at the sky. Forced to own and travel in a metal box at high speed over long distances every day just to get to and from work, in constant danger of being killed or mangled by crashing into the boxes of other demented lunatics. No wonder so many of those people had been crazy. Crazy they certainly had been. Even the food they ate had been poisoned. Their medicine had been more poison. Their minds had been scrambled by their electronic communications. The content of their news and entertainment had been filth designed to pervert and debase them. Their education had been structured to the same effect. A crazily regimented life, restricted by a plethora of petty regulations enforced by thuggish police more interested in oppressing the decent than in detecting and preventing real crime. A corrupt judicial system run by venal interests. Monitored by a fawning media compliant to the evil interests which dominated the society. Told they were free but enslaved by those who controlled what went into their bodies and minds and what they were allowed to do with them. Debt-slaves to the financial interests which sucked their blood at every opportunity and which controlled every aspect of their lives and all the institutions of their society. Taught relentlessly that good was evil, evil was good, that black was white and that there was no difference between black and white, but that black was ineffably superior, and that of course there was no one behind the curtain creating deceptive illusions. Brought up by aliens to hate and destroy themselves and their people in favour of aliens. No wonder they were crazy.
He contrasted this with his own daily experience.He lived in a city where he could safely and enjoyably walk about, to and from work, and for relaxation stroll further out, nodding to those he passed, enjoying the private and public gardens and admiring the buildings, which were no longer just rectangular concrete blocks redolent of mean spirited avarice. The built environment now was expected to demonstrate and evoke more noble qualities.There was very little crime or squalor, partly because justice was swift and sharp, but more because of the moral nature of the people. All his fellow citizens were quite like him; there were no invasive intruders, no 'diversity', no insolent pampered criminally inclined 'minorities' battening like vampires on the blood and taxes of the People. There were no illegal immigrants supported by evil Leftists perverting the local laws to give them protection and sustenance. Both categories of such persons would now be shot on sight - or at least after rigorous interrogation to identify their contacts - and anyone who had known of them yet failed to act against them would suffer for it. There were no affluent and influential traitors openly subverting the public weal, sneering at and suppressing the locals. There were no areas of open dirt and depravity where the public feared to tread and the police were prevented from doing their duty by the evil influence of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the pockets of cunning but inhuman kleptocrats. There were no longer such foul influences perverting the institutions and purposes of the society and the identity of the people. It was not Plato's Republic, but it was certainly closer than it had been in the Old Times to the Greek ideal of the city as a place and set of opportunities and institutions which encouraged humanity to develop their better qualities, where the citizens felt fellowship for each other as they were related by blood and common worship, and where 'a cry for help could be heard across the whole city'.
Those old Greeks had not allowed foreigners to overrun their cities, claim citizenship, own property there, displace natives from employment or profitable investment, receive handouts from the public purse which the natives were heavily taxed to provide, corrupt their poltics and institutions, demand special consideration and import foreign religious cults to take precedence over their own - and have all this nonsense preached at them by depraved intellectuals and enforced by the corrupt lackeys of vermin which had infiltrated with the intention of destroying their identity and independence. No more would Zion.
When he had gone past the University the students had been clean, sober, decent, local, intelligent, diligent and cultured. There were no unclean, uncouth, scruffy, sloppy, drug addled, third-world layabouts, no demonstrators, no protestors; no protected species of arrogant, insolent, nihilist trouble-making pseudo-intellectual academics; no avaricious administrators promoting paedophile coaches of gladiatorial sports teams taking precedence over academic achievement, or firing honest teachers who would not cover up for stupid, lazy or vicious students whose rich but coarse and cunning parents expected to buy them success. Academic curricula were no longer based on lefty filth and nonsense. Better intellectual and moral values had been restored. The Templars had seen to all that and Edward was grateful.
The Templars exercised supervision over cultural as well as moral standards. They rooted out evil degenerate and subversive influences and encouraged better behaviour.They were alert to the machinations of invasive aliens and their ways of corrupting weak or vicious locals. They retained enough of the old technology to have preserved information from the past. Potential leaders were educated in the nature, activities and associations of things like Cultural Marxism, the Frankfurt School, post-modernism and suchlike disgusting evils and perversions closely associated with the collapse of moral standards in all aspects of life towards the end of the Old Times. They were awake to the danger of new forms of corruption being devised and perpetrators infiltrating the institutions of society, the Churches and the Temple itself. He prayed that they would remain effective and receive the aid of divinity in moulding and training a more godly society and country. It could not be the Garden of Eden, or Plato's Republic or Atlantis, but it might gain some inspiration from the ancient Egyptian concept of Maat, divine justice and proportion applied in all aspects of life, which had kept Egypt stable, prosperous, moral and civilised for millennia. The creation of a Holy land of Zion would be a long, difficult and uncertain task. He would not see it's end nor how it might appear, but he was glad to have seen an early stage and trusted that God would help his successors and fellow countrymen to make improvements as long as they remained humble, diligent and receptive to His advice, inspired and warned by the examples of other times and peoples, but bringing forth their own pattern. In my Father's house are many mansions, and in God's garden may grow flowers of many species. Zion would have its own distinctive flowering.
He realised that the most dangerous difficult and unpleasant work had been done. He and his generation were blessed to live in easier times than those of his father and grandfather, and had the more pleasant task of building a worthy structure on the foundations laid so arduously by others. As he sat there pondering, it came to Edward that this might be an instance of the severity and mercy of the Lord. Many other better people had died, but the enemies of everything worthwhile had been destroyed. Without that it was not possible that Zion could have been created. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.