The Vanity of Nations

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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The Resurgent Dream
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The Vanity of Nations

Postby The Resurgent Dream » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:51 pm

Like most democratic peoples, Caldans preferred to believe political power in their society was open and attainable, vested in people everyone knows and has a claim upon. After all, the people elect them and know their voices and their faces from a thousand television shows and a hundred interviews. But that truth seemed more important this year as power seemed closer and yet more distant precisely because it seemed like it might move so easily and it was unclear if or when the people might be heard from. There was a minority government. There had been a spill and George Flynn was a prime minister who had never led his party in a general election. He had promised elections within the year but the opposition was maneuvering for a change of government before the election.

There was more in the air this year than merely a likely change of government. Soon there would be elections in the dominions as well, either to accept their place as provinces of the Caldan Union with the same rights and obligations of any other or to become independent nations. No matter what happened the nation would be forever changed, demographically, geographically, and culturally. All three major parties, Labour, Liberals, and Nationals alike, were pledged to support the Yes for Caldas Campaign, encouraging the dominions to vote to remain as provinces. However, despite this apparent unanimity, there was a great deal of anxiety about what this would mean in practice. Some were anxious to preserve the Caldas they'd always known, a union which had its charmingly cosmopolitan cities but whose people and culture belonged to a few identifiable pieces of a mosaic, mostly tracing their origins to France or Britain. Hate groups had doubled in the last year and even mainstream politicians of the right were engaging in fairly obvious dog whistle politics. Meanwhile, an increasingly strident left struck out at the images and people it found represented the old Caldas, often with the same illiberal attitudes as their counterparts on the far right, making the most knee-jerk of reactions and seeking to suppress those who gave them offense. Oddly enough, some of the autonomist movements in various provinces combined strong support for the potential new provinces with ethnic chauvinism locally. They felt that new, culturally, linguistically, and racially distinct provinces would add legitimacy to the idea of a French Arcadia, a Scottish Edina, a Welsh Tasat, a distinctively 'Western' Cordelia, and Inuit dominance of the Arctic fringe provinces. No more could they be assimilated so easily into the allegedly 'English' culture of Anata, New Arundel, Kingsland, Prince James Island, and Tarana itself.

It seemed that everyone everywhere was in the grip of fear, hope, and longing that made them follow politics with an interest normally alien to the average person. They had a sense that not just careers and minor policy questions would be settled this year but basic questions about the nature and destiny of their nation. Questions not answered as easily as they'd always thought. The sorts of conversations one expected to hear in university classrooms and academic conferences were being discussed in the offices of working politicians and bureaucrats as well as in family living rooms and neighbourhood bars through the nation. What does it mean to be Caldan? What is our place in the world?

Ironically, these conversations were not going on in Kilburn House. Home of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Privy Council Office (PCO), and the Prime Minister's private residence, Kilburn House was functionally the seat of the political executive in the Caldan Union. It was sometimes archaically called Fuller House and these same agencies had other supporting offices across the park in the Gordon Building. Prime Minister George Flynn had little use for the 'big questions'. He had devoted most of his day to preparing for and then running the weekly cabinet meeting. The rest of the time had been spent speaking to advisers about gender equality in the armed forces, the state of the entertainment industry, a proposed series of adverts targeting the opposition, and a new webgame being proposed for use as an educational tool. Flynn tended to live by the maxim that good government was good politics. The Caldan Union was prospering. All segments of society were thriving economically. The military was growing stronger, the culture was flourishing, and the environment was even improving. Flynn felt the country was on a solid path. The navel-gazing could be left to philosophers and poets. He was giving the people good government. He retired to the residence that night confident it would pay off when he did finally call an election.

In the Department of Global Affairs, further down the line of elegant old Gothic Revival buildings lining St. Andrew's Park, Lola Foster had spent more of her day contemplating more abstract questions, if only because the Caldan Union had defined itself largely by being a Western Atlantic nation for decades and the Western Atlantic seemed to be dissolving. Pantocratoria seemed headed into chaos. Excalbia had withdrawn from international affairs. The Caldan relationship with Knootoss had atrophied since the tensions of the Iesus Christi Civil War and the very different perspectives from which the two nations looked back on the conflict. It was this last that Foster sought to fix. A closer working relationship with the Knootians would help the two nations deal with the unfolding situation in Pantocratoria better. All roads didn't have to lead through New Rome. Tarana and Hartstad could control the region's destiny.

In St. Andrew's Park itself, tourists from all over the nation and the world, locals out for a walk, and even civil servants and court functionaries moved among the gardens, the lake, and the vendors. They took in the war memorial at the centre of the park and the length of the Royal Mall. They went in and out of the Gothic Revival buildings lining it, visiting civil service offices or museums. It was a warm, summer day in the park. Children played. Old couples enjoyed their retirement. Tourists went from site to site. It was the sort of scene that reminded anyone worried about the ever declining state of foreign affairs or all those apparently incurable social ills that came with a massive and thriving capitalist economy that, for all of that, Tarana was a settled, decent place to live, the capital of a thriving democracy.

It was an eventful Friday. Charles Haffley, Leader of the Opposition, had been forced to resign over a financial scandal. Corinna Goldfarb, the daughter of former Labour Leader Abraham Goldfarb, had become Labour's candidate in the resulting Hampshire Heights by-election. Eugenia Charest of the National Party was waging a campaign which came perilously close to racial and religious incitement, including endless slanders aimed at Tarana Mayor Yassir Ramlawi. Lise Eskridge of the Liberals ran a campaign claiming that Labour had created a culture of political correctness run amok while offering no real solutions and forfeiting Caldan prestige abroad. It was up to Goldfarb to run a campaign based on what she described as 'principled pluralism'. Some commentators, of course, had a made a great deal out of the fact that all three candidates were women.

Meanwhile, in Dana, Taskforce 12 under Admiral David Auden and Taskforce 1 under Admiral Dame Charmian Mcllveen set out for war games in the Atlantic to prepare for possible future blue water conflicts. In Marlund, Jason Swift arrived to begin a special investigation into potential cooperation between several terrorist threats to the Caldan Union, including Alekthos Jihad, Marlund White Resistance, and the People's Red Army of Marlund, all terrorist groups dedicated to destroying the Caldan presence in Ambara but also to destroying one another. With so much happening, it was, perhaps, strange that the night's chaos should actually come at a concert where people simply wanted to listen to music they loved and have a good time.

Stadium Caldas was the biggest venue in Narich and the second biggest in the Caldan Union, after Caer Gawen's Tasat Centre. Emma Holt had sold it out within an hour of announcing her concert four months ago. Now 114,000 people were packed into the stadium, listening raptly, singing along with their favourite songs, standing up and dancing in their seats. Holt moved about the stage with seeming effortlessness, belting out empowered ballads, pouring out confessional songs of love lost, putting her heart and soul into songs about self-discovery, and cheerily singing upbeat pop songs about being young and full of life, about bright lights and dancing. There were always moments when her voice went a little deeper, little additions not on the studio album, that seemed to speak to every fan like an intimate friend. She made sure to move about the stage and to look at different angles, making sure every fan felt her bright blue eyes on them at least some of the time. They went wild. The fans were mostly young women with a sizable contingent of gay men and a slightly smaller contingent of fidgeting boyfriends and, for some of the younger fans, fathers. But there were fans of every age, gender, and sexuality. Ethnically, they were a fair crosssection of the Caldan population although they were a bit more heavily of European descent than the population of Narich specifically.

It was a bright, welcoming scene. It was a place people came to forget about the problems of the nation, however they thought of them. Holt was refreshingly apolitical. As a private person, she had made some donations to Labour and was known to have voted that way but she never talked about it in concert or did public promotions. She'd always said it 'wasn't her role' to tell her fans how they should vote. For the most part, controversy about Holt involved the substance and quality of her work, which was generally well-reviewed but had some fierce critics, and the standard celebrity gossip about relationships and break-ups. The seemingly autobiographical nature of much of her work had turned at least a few songs into a guessing game as to who they might be about. However, not making political statements is no guarantee against other people finding them, especially with some critics convinced that the personal and the cultural are always political. Elizabeth Anderson, a Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Narich, had written an article where she described Holt as 'Nazi iconography' because of her physical appearance and her affirmative, aspirational presentation of her life in her work. The article had been made the rounds on social media, reposted by a recognisable style of internet 'cultural' activists and by fans of other artists looking to make it a moral and political issue. It had been gleefully adopted in a series of memes by a white supremacist named Jesse Gilliam indulging in the fantasy that Holt might be one of theirs until she sued them for libel. But that had all blown over. It was a tempest in a teapot, one of those weird things that happens on the fringes of discourse in the social media age.

There were protesters outside, of course. There were always at least a few protesters outside any event of sufficient size. This time it was Pastor Francis Corder and the dozen or so members of his infamous Narrow Path Baptist Church holding up signs saying things like 'God Hates Sluts' and 'God Hates Your Stars,' but, while the Caldan Union had no content-based speech restrictions, it did have property laws and strict harassment laws which kept the protesters across the street and easy to ignore except for a handful of fans who wanted to confront them. It wasn’t much of a disruption. The concert was going well.

Holt was halfway through her song Welcome to Narich when it happened. She tossed her blond hair and turned to wink at a couple of young men holding hands near the stage as she sang

‘Where you can love who you love,
Where you can be who you are,
Where you can follow your dreams,
Where you can wish on your star,
Welcome to…’

Nine people, eight men and one woman, leapt onto the stage as her head was turned. All were dressed in black jeans, boots, and hoodies. Three of them barreled directly into the burly security men who rushed to meet them. One of the men grabbed the mic from Holt’s hand and shoved her back. The woman took the microphone and approached the front of the stage. ‘We’ve heard enough from Nazi Barbie!’ she screamed as the crowd yelled at her. A few people were running for the exits. A few more were moving as though to rush the stage. Most stared bewildered. ‘We need a revolution in culture in this country!’ Holt tried to grab the microphone as security guards started wrestling the attackers. One of them struck her hard on the jaw and she fell to the stage, blood gushing over the pale hardwood. It was just then that the guards managed to wrestle the rest of the attackers to the ground.

Social media exploded that night. The incident, recorded on several mobile phones, went instantly viral. The worst of it was on the Caldan-based social media site Chirp, although some spilled over to Twatter and Friendsbook. There were essentially three factions. The right-wing outrage machine viewed it as an inevitable result of political correctness gone mad, on a strand of knee-jerk campus activism that ultimately did not respect the speech, the freedom, or even the safety of anyone who didn’t fit their narrative and on a broader left that indulged and encouraged that way of thinking. They weren’t helped by the Nazi memes once more appearing on social media, a phenomenon many of them were too quick to dismiss as mocking the oversensitive given the very real and very dark prejudices of Jesse Gilliam and his internet disciples. The left-wing outrage machine doubled down, nominally condemning the attack even as they focused their outrage on Holt for the caricatured model of womanhood they attributed to her and mocked the idea that her injuries should be taken seriously since worse things had happened to ordinary people that night. The third group were the fans. Holt’s most active internet fans flew into a passion over her reputed feud with Wendy Braithwaite and her break-up with Tony Thorpe. They were far fiercer about the attack. They focused on the bullying behaviour of the perpetrators and the unfairness of the judgment on Holt’s character, posting and reposting images of her with her arms around Lise Charest and Rebecca Steinfeld. Tending towards the centre and centre-left themselves, they tended to be dismissive or hostile to attempts to make Holt a right-wing talking point and outright livid at attempts to make her a far-right talking point.
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:11 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Knootoss » Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:09 am

As the four year Knootian election cycle progressed towards its conclusion, it became increasingly difficult for the political pundits to remember that other countries even existed. Complicated stories of geopolitical interest like the independence referenda in the Caldan Union were underreported. The looming independence of some significant chunk of the Caldan Dominions and the further balkanisation of the Western Atlantic region that such a development promised were, after all, difficult stories that couldn't easily be related to some domestic political movement. Despite the occasional agitations of the southern and French-speaking minorities, the Dutch Democratic Republic was a unitary state, and what few colonies that were left to it would either remain solidly in its orbit or were so loosely tied to their mother country that nobody would mind or notice a change to the status quo.

The news that Emma Holts' concert had been interrupted made it into the news cycle, though, and not just for the lurid reasons that one might expect when a story breaks to show footage of a breathtakingly handsome blonde pop starlet. Holt was popular in her own right in Knootoss and had been invited to tour the countries' major outlets on several occasions. Her colourful dress, upbeat message and bubbly songs all jived well with the Knootian popular culture and her outfits had inspired several minor fashion trends. People knew who she was, she didn't need any introduction, and that made the story all the more attractive to KNN and the less serious newspapers that might benefit from having a full-colour picture of her plastered over half a page.

For the most part, these media outlets were simply an echo chamber for what was said on social media. Rather than providing any kind of editorial review it was much easier, after all, to just let the vox populi have its say on an issue that would anyway have zero impact on government policy. These opinions were voiced on voiced on Twatter and Friendsbook, which were more popular in Knootoss, though the respective outrage machines took different courses. Whenever foreign news broke through, it would inevitably cast through the prism of domestic concerns.

The right-wing outrage machine tended to attribute the actions of the nine to the state of politics in the Caldan Union more generally. After all, wasn't this the inevitable result of a country so left-wing that it had become afraid of embracing its own values? A meme spread showing a small Caldan anti-war protest from the Iesus war with the caption "OPPOSE FIGHTING ACTUAL NAZIS" in Dutch, contrasted with a picture that captured the moment where Holt was punched in the jaw with the caption "WILL FIGHT IMAGINARY NAZIS". It was widely shared, once again reminding Knootians of the difference between the Caldans and themselves in how they looked back on that conflict.

Those on the left would instead question the 'representativeness' of the nine, sharing Caldan memes which mocked the idea that her injuries should be taken seriously and pointing out the much higher level in violent crime back home. How quaint, they pointed out, that the right should be so concerned about the safety of Emma Holt when hundreds of women were being raped, beaten and murdered on the streets of Hartstad every single night. The op eds that inevitably appeared on different left-leaning opinion websites tended to invoke Emma Holt as clickbait so that they could instead argue against crime against women back home, against the rights' hypocrisy or (more rarely) against the intolerance of the radical right-wing Christian protesters outside the stadium, whom everyone 'had ignored'.

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The Resurgent Dream
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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:20 am

The Knootian 'OPPOSE FIGHTING ACTUAL NAZIS' meme got some response in the Caldan Union. A number of blogs and pundits accused the Knootians of fundamentally misunderstanding Caldan resentments of the war. According to these commentators, Caldans resented not having fought the war but having lost. They blamed Knootian and Pantocratorian leadership for a number of decisions which cost the Coalition potential allies and eventually alienated the Patriots so badly that they reconciled with the Regime rather than deal with the Coalition. Among these decisions, they included the involvement of the United States of Allanea and the steadfast refusal to recognise the Patriots. By necessary implication, this view was unflattering to the Trinh Government which never seriously resisted the Coalition partners on any of these issues, despite the occasional expression of reservations. But, for many of these people, that was part of the point. The Iesus Christi Civil War marked the turning point from a Western Atlantic where regional cooperation revolved largely around a New Rome-Tarana axis to one where it revolved primarily around a New Rome-Harstad axis and it left them alienated and resentful, especially since it had come with a cost in blood and treasure they believed to be unnecessary. There were other articles defending the anti-war position. They argued that the ultimate behaviour of the Pariots proved the Coalition was right not to recognise them but also that the Coalition had no place getting involved in the first place. It was always a fascist against fascist war and there was never a viable hope of Iesian democracy. Still others happily shared the meme, taking the first image to represent the anti-war left and not Caldans generally. They accompanied it with statements about how proud they were that the Caldan Union had fought for freedom and often of their own military service or that of a loved one. Taking all of these arguments, a few concluded that the differences between Caldan and Knootian feelings on the war were that Caldans were more deeply conflicted, more alienated, felt more humiliated by defeat, and were more wounded by the casualties. These differences, they claimed, were not proof of any deep culture conflict but merely reflected the fact that at the time of the Iesus Christi Civil War the Caldan Union had not fought a major war or suffered a military defeat in nearly a century while the Dutch Democratic Republic had fought in several conflicts in the preceding decade with mixed results.

Fuel for social media outrage politics continued to grow. There was a racist incident in Goldfarb's campaign in which fascists dumped pig feces on her. Campus leftists shouted down a right-wing speaker at a university. A swastika was spraypainted on a synagogue. A Hitler moustache was painted on a portrait of late former Prime Minister Rhodri Jones. A police officer was refused service at a coffee shop. And on and on it went as did the ugly social media outrage. Nothing much had happened. Certainly no one had died. But the mood was getting uglier.
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun Aug 21, 2016 5:23 pm

Atlantic Broadcast Network

Available dubbed in Dutch, French, and Greek

Giselle Galtier had lustrous bronze skin and golden brown hair which spilled down her back in waves. She was a woman in her early thirties. She seemed to wear an expression of perpetual curiosity, always interested, seeming to hang intently on every word and every detail. She had a reputation as a listener. Of course, no one could pretend that her success wasn’t partially about looks. Sex sold, after all. It sold to men who wanted her and women who wanted to be her and even to a passionate gay fanbase who thought her the perfect diva. But it wasn't possible to carry a show on looks alone. Galtier, who simply went by Giselle on the air, had made a reputation as an interviewer, critical without being antagonistic, intimate without being fawning. Not many struck the same balance. Her set had no traditional anchor’s desk. She simply sat in the far left chair in a semicircle facing the audience. She wore a simple blue, sleeveless dress which ended well above the knees. She folded her legs neatly and then folded her hands over her knees. Across from her sat four striking young women and a man more pretty than handsome. Giselle smiled brightly at the camera. ‘’Good afternoon and thank you for watching! Today I’m joined by Emma Holt, Lise Charest, CoraT, Nayla Gemayel, and Bart Pelt. I’m sure they need no introduction.’

Giselle paused while the studio audience applauded five of the biggest names in Caldan popular music.They were also names that represented a cross-section of the Caldan Union, ethnically and geographically. Emma was a blonde- blue-eyed woman from the Province of Cordelia with a background in Caldan Western before she turned to pop. Lise was a Métis woman from the Province of Arcadia with dark hair and eyes and olive skin. Cora was a black woman from the Dominion of Dana with striking green eyes, courtesy of her Finaran father. Nayla was a woman of Lebanese and Colombian heritage from the Dominion of Alekthos. Bart was a full-blooded Karonto man from the Province of Sial. Giselle turned first to Emma. ‘I’m sure our audience is happy to see you up and well again after the attack.’

Emma nodded a little. ‘Yes, I appreciate all the love and support I got. I really hate that people have to worry about that sort of thing just because they express themselves. Lise got the same treatment in Pantocratoria from people who are supposed to be at the opposite end of the political spectrum.’

‘Actual fascists,’ Lise chimed in, ‘and they didn’t hit me like that guy hit you.’ Her tone was soft, looking at Emma with the concern of genuine friendship.

‘But they did it to plenty of other people,’ Nayla said angrily, her famous vibrato quivering faintly. ‘Have you seen the most recent video the Allaneans released? Absolute savages!’

Emma nodded a little distractedly. Agreeing but but impatient to get back to what she considered her main point. ‘But, whatever they call themselves, it’s the same regressive way of looking at the world. Judging people you know nothing about. Trying to silence anyone you don’t like or disagree with. That’s not how we do things in the Caldan Union and I refuse to drawn into their cultural narrative. I never asked to be a part of it. I never...I’ve never really been political before.’

‘Before?’ Giselle asked, leaning forward in her chair.

‘I found it ironic that the attack happened during Welcome to Caldas,’ Emma said with a wry smile. ‘That song is really an anthem for the diverse, welcoming, inclusive society I’ve found in Narich and that a lot of Caldans are familiar with. It’s a love song to the Caldan Union’s most cosmopolitan city where everyone can have a new start, whether they’re a small town girl from Cordelia or a new arrival from Epheron or Snefaldia. It was a love song to the Caldan Union’s most cosmopolitan city and my current home.So, I thought it would be appropriate, and the best refutation to all the nonsense people have been saying about me, to broaden it a bit. So we all came together to make a collaborative album, Welcome to Caldas, which we’re going on tour with for the Yes for Caldas Campaign.’

Giselle looked slightly startled. ‘What’s the time frame on this? I know most of you normally spend a year or two writing and recording an album.’

‘It’s going shockingly fast,’ Bart said enthusiastically. ‘The title song is based on Emma’s song and it wasn’t hard to change that around a bit and I had a few things I was already working on that fit.’

‘We had an all night writing session,’ Lise said brightly. ‘The energy was just amazing! I think we can have it done by the end of the year!’

‘By the end of September,’ Emma said suddenly. Her collaborators looked at her as if this was news to them and Giselle actually gaped. Emma shrugged. ‘Most of the work is already done. It just needs a little more editing and Cora and I have one more track to do together. We're going to get this thing going while it can still matter!'

'I'm glad to see you've taken something positive from recent events,' Giselle said with a small smile. 'If I can ask about traveling arrangements....'
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Father Knows Best State

Postby Snefaldia » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:00 am

For many of the Snefaldian residents in the Caldan Union, it was difficult at first to integrate. No one seemed to speak their language, and certainly not how to cook any Snefaldian dishes. Since the military coup and subsequent crackdowns, thousands of Snefaldians had fled the States-Federation in order to avoid persecution, ending up in New Chalcedon, Knootoss, the Caldan Union, and even as far away as Omigodtheykilledkenny. Those most energetic about their new circumstances were the young men and women who had fled with their families after they'd been threatened with military conscription; they were young and in a new place and eager to take advantage of the openness that the Caldan Union offered them. The young people who ended up in the Caldan Union were less interested in the stridently political dissident and exile press, constantly railing about the situation in the Homeland. When they weren't in school, they were home or gathering with their friends, their parents working overtime to help keep things afloat.

Giselle Galtier's show was a way for them to learn the native tongues and keep themselves occupied; teenagers weren't following politics, they wanted to hear pop music! When Emma Holt recounted that the attack had come during Welcome to Caldas, and in the next breath mentioned the new arrivals from Snefaldia, the reaction was almost immediate. Snefaldian-language Twats with the hashtags #WelcomeToCaldas, #SnefaldiansLoveEmma and #FuckNazis exploded, and bootleg copies of her previous albums started to circulate among the class of entrepreneur that markets mostly to those unable to pay list price in the shops.

Music is one of the vehicles through which the children of immigrants adapt to their new surroundings; they want to belong, to feel like they are a part of their new home. They also want to remain proud of their identity, even if that means avoiding the weird traditional music their parents listened to like mosquitos carrying Zika. And, through music and the impressionable field of youths with boundless energy and very little experience, charismatic others could get them to join up to feel like they belonged. Whether that was an after-school group or a gang made little difference to the youth, but doubtless Caldan police would prefer the latter. And, being politically naive, they could be pushed to act out.

Emma Holt sang to them, saying they were welcome, that they had something to contribute. Some awful communists, like the heavily-armed Daytans on the northern border back home that mom and dad had said were so bad, didn't like Emma and attacked her. It was clear that in the Snefaldian communities, some action needed to be taken. And who better to take it, they thought, that we strong young folk who have so much to contribute to Caldan Society? At least, that was what some of the charismatic men and women who were leading these youth groups were saying.

What would it matter, after all, if a few left-wingers got hurt?
Welcome to Snefaldia!
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The Resurgent Dream
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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:43 pm

A few far left activists being beaten up by Snefaldian immigrants fighting for the honour of Emma Holt got the online outrage machines working again, not that they ever really stopped. The far left attacked the Snefaldians as rightists seeking to silence left-wing critiques of popular culture. Meanwhile, the far right saw it as an example of immigrant violence from people who did not share Caldan culture or heritage. They even managed to find a picture of one of the victims, one Christopher Barnes, holding a 'Refugees Welcome' sign at a demonstration calling on the Caldan Union to accept more Snefaldian asylum-seekers. There were other incidents which added to the furor. Actress Zoe Rosen accused producer Wade Dale of calling her an ethnic slur in a heated argument about Alekthos. Major General (ret.) George Kernodle, former Commandant General of the Royal Caldan Intelligence Corps, accused the government of allowing political correctness to hamper security. An organisation simply called the Achim claimed to be compiling a database on Jewish women in mixed relationships. Mizzi had eggs thrown at her by a group calling themselves the All-People's Revolutionary Network who claimed she engaged in cultural appropriation. Three of the egg throwers were arrested. Members of the World Workers' Party and the People's Revolutionary Party got in a fistfight in front of a factory where both were handing out leaflets. The workers had to break them up and social media had a bit of a laugh. Fewer than a thousand people were affected by any of this and, while some of it was quite ugly, it was also all easily handled within longstanding legal precedent. Nonetheless, the amplification from social media combined with growing, underlying tensions made it seem everything was falling apart.

Objectively, things were worse in the dominions themselves. In Alekthos, Finara, and Marlund, politics had always been communal and sectarian, only roughly shoved into the organisational forms of liberal democracy. The remnants of the defeated terror groups and militias from the Second Ambaran War had largely been reduced to street gangs but they were nasty street gangs and self-defence militias had also arisen and degraded among other groups. Violence had been rising in the last year but there had been nothing big, nothing at a certain scale, nothing with explosions. There was a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It was in this context that elections were called. Prime Minister Flynn did so reluctantly. Labour was almost sure to lose. But he had promised them within a year and the dominion referenda had to be handled by a government with a real mandate and strong prospects of continuing to govern for at least the one year transition period. The Nationals, under Sir Malcolm Stuart, promised stability, continuity, and traditional leadership. The Liberals, led by grandfatherly Edward Jefferson, were posed to make a strong showing by firmly attacking 'illiberal identitarianism of the left and right'. Meanwhile, a previously near defunct party, the People's Party, was rising in the polls. Essentially the remnant of 19th century agrarian populism, the People's Party had only one current MP, George Pierce. However, as open opponents of the constitutional reforms, they confidently expected to win more.

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