Regional Anthropology Executive: "Of Flesh and Steel" Nov 4, 2019 16:41:00 GMT cessnia likes this
Post by studentloandebt on Nov 4, 2019 16:41:00 GMT
With Regional Public Radio, I’m Larry Groß, this is Fresh Bear. I’m big, I’m hairy, and I just took a shower, so I’m a fresh bear. On with the show.
Our guest today, journalist Dr. Francesca Mariana Consuela Gonzalez Damasco Garcia Ramón Lucia Gwenburg Gomez, has written a detailed firsthand account of the fall of Ozhonistan, rise of gangs, dominance of Neo-Luddism, and the destruction of Johanalbal. The series of events has cost the lives of thousands of people.
Gomez writes about the effects that gang violence and control has had on civilians. Dr. Francesca is a contributing writer at The Blossom newspaper. Her reporting on the Johanalbal Crisis earned her a Reporters Award. She is here to talk about her new book, "Of Flesh and Steel; Johanalbal's Fall and the Rise of Neo-Luddism"
Dr. Francesca, welcome to Fresh Bear.
Dr. Francesca: Thank you for having me.
Groß: Now, your book focuses on why Ozhonistan fell, the population's reaction and attempts at self governance, and the violence that erupts from it. But for many years before that, the nation's populace had suffered a lot under the government regime. Just give us a quick sense of what the civilians in Ozhonistan had gone through in all those years before the government collapsed.
Dr. Francesca: Too much industry and deaths
Groß: Alright, I get that I said "quick", but could you elaborate on that?
Dr. Francesca: Yeah. Ozhonistan was a nation that was underdeveloped, but developing rapidly. The mineral mining there grew tremendously fast and brought in a sudden influx of both income and foreign investors. However, most of this money didn't go to the people. A lot of it was either kept in the hands of the pop-up foreign business owners or to the royals that looked the other way in the face of corporate disintegrity. Income inequality became widespread, with old and new money having most of the power. Some were able to get by, but a lot didn't have the means to have an easy life. The mines were the worst place; bad safety conditions, long hours, sometimes going weeks in the mine without being able to go home. Many people would be injured or die in there. People soon started asking and petitioning the government to install safety regulations on the mines and for help to alleviate the poor. However, the government was slow, possibly on purpose, to implement effective changes.
In face of this, some workers began going on strikes, demanding better conditions and shorter work days. Initially, the businesses would just fire workers, but the strikes were becoming more frequent and harder to ignore through mass firing. This is when violence first began to break out, with business leaders hiring private groups to quash strikes and protests. This would usually be espionage on the workers to find the leaders and have them dealt with, legally or illegally. Sometimes it would come as private security groups that would be stationed in the workplace to prevent any strikes or protests as they began. Intimidation tactics were the main way they addressed this.
One particularly well known incident revolving around this was what is now called the Battle of Old Rise Mining Company. Old Rise Mining Company had hired a private group to look over the workers to prevent strikes. One form of striking that had recently taken off was when miners would either slow down or stop working, and the company was legally allowed to use force to make them continue working. An incident occurred where a miner was fatigued from days of working and could barely keep going. One of the guards saw this as a strike and tried to make him work faster. Eventually the guard started beating the man with a club, breaking multiple bones in him. It would end up that the miner would die. One of the others miners ran up, tackled the guard, and started attacking him. This grew with more guards and more miners fighting. Eventually it became a full on clash.
This went on for a weeks, halting all mining in the area. The miners held up inside the mine to prevent scabs from coming in. Just when the Old Rise Mining Company was going to send in more guards, the mining shaft suddenly collapsed, trapping all 167 miners inside, 38 of them being children. Most had either been crushed in the collapsed or died from suffocation. Only 4 miners were able to get out, though all 4 were arrested for striking. No one knows why the mine collapsed. It is suspected that Old Rise Mining Company initiated the collapse, but there isn't any substantial evidence to support that.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the collapse, it became huge news in the area, with the streets of Johanalbal filled with people demanding change. Afraid of the mobs that could form, the government finally gave in and began issuing reforms like shorter work days and child labor restrictions and other forms of worker protection. However, this came to an end after the idea was spread of the legalization of labor unions, leading the many industry leaders to launch massive anti-labor and deregulation campaigns across the city, sending in waves of corporate supporters to the royal court to convince the government of how horrible labor laws are to business and the idea that it will lead to "anarchy" and the dissolution of the monarchy. It wasn't long after passing regulations that the government overturned all of them with the now infamous Economic Freedoms Act.
Groß: It was at this point in the book that you report that the government was overthrown. Can you elaborate on this?
Dr. Francesca: So, the EFA spark massive anger in the populace. For a while at this point, a group was spreading around Johanalbal called Oz Bloc, a xenophobic, violent, and Neo-Luddite anti-capitalist group that saw all the nation's problems being caused by the foreign companies coming in and corrupting the state. Specifically, they blamed A.I., which rose in population in the recent decades, and saw them as plotting to take over the nation and enslave humans. Oz Bloc launched a successful overthrow of the government 4 days after the repeal of all labor laws. The government had now officially collapsed.
Groß: So when Oz Bloc arrives on the scene in the middle of 2013, it's interesting that you write that the Neo-Ludd group was welcomed by a lot of the people in Johanalbal. Why?
Dr. Francesca: Yeah, for many reasons. But the main reason is political and social. One thing that's often forgotten about Oz Bloc, especially as it functioned in the city, and that needs to be pointed out more, was that it was as much a political movement as it was a social movement. The group's appeal to the people of Johanalbal and to the people of Ozhonistan generally was a political appeal that was to the human working class specifically.
The appeal was that Oz Bloc was going to return them, the humans, to prominence in Ozhonistan. They have, in their view, been ruled now for many years by an A.I. supremacist government corrupted by foreign investors that's doing the bidding of more developed countries. And they, Oz Bloc, are going to restore humans to their rightful place in charge, not just in Johanalbal, but of the whole country. And this was hugely appealing to many people of Johanalbal, particularly the working class men, young and old. These are men who, for years now, had been abused or ignored by the corporatist government. Oz Bloc and other Neo-Luddists had been spreading the idea around of A.I. wanting to destroy their way of life.
Groß: Right. And we should note that Oz Bloc had a lot of money from the mining industries it took over and from criminal enterprises, so it could fund some civic infrastructure. So what changed over the next two years that made life so hard for the citizens of Johanalbal?
Dr. Francesca: Oz Bloc not acting like a government was the change. When they overthrew the government, they didn't take control of the country, but just got rid of the government. Not long after would there be gangs rising up like the Smokey Street Gang, Five Finger Jacks, and Oz Bloc being the largest. Each gang had their own of strict rules and morality in their territory, as well as executions and corporal punishments against civilians.
All the major gangs had also followed Oz Bloc's lead of Neo-Luddism, and violence against A.I. erupted. A.I. were dragged out of their homes and lynched in the streets. A.I. owned shops were looted, vandalized, and burned down. Many were physically torn apart in front of roaring crowds for their parts that would end up sold to the highest bidder both for their electrical parts and as souvenirs. In the week following the government collapse, it is believed that around 20%, 1 in 5, of the Johanalbal A.I. population were murdered. A lot of A.I. became very cautious after that, many becoming Androids to blend in whereas before one could walk around without fear and not look human.
Groß: And what happened to the A.I. population that survived? Your book tells us of resistance that formed as result of the violence.
Dr. Francesca: Yes, the mass persecution drove A.I. that used to live across the city into certain neighborhoods where they could take refuge from the Neo-Luddite gangs. These areas act more like refugee camps than neighborhoods; over packed, under resourced, and overall gloomy in attitude. It would be out of these ghetto like areas that A.I. gangs would form to combat the Neo-Ludd gangs and protect the neighborhoods. The most successful of the A.I. gangs is the Binary Swords, which has taken to directly fight the gangs and expand A.I. controlled territory. This gang has been in operation for years now and slowly have been bringing more land under their control. The largest two gangs, the Binary Swords and the Oz Bloc, are still fighting for control in the streets, with skirmishes every day, assassinations, torture, and so forth. The city is essentially divided in two: Human side and A.I. side. There are pockets of generally peaceful areas, but if either side was caught on the other, it was sure fire death.
About a year ago was when DSAC finally got involved, sending peacekeepers into the city to try and bring about peace. They came in from the south side and started from there, establishing a secure area, offering food and medical supplies. Their borders became packed with people fleeing to their safe zone, trying to get in and be safe, but that poses a great hazard to the Peacekeepers that are trying to take back land from the gangs but now have massive crowds they need to navigate through. The large groups also bring about violence, with a lot of Peacekeepers acting like police rather than military in trying to stop crimes and disruptions in the refugee areas. It is also in these areas that most DSAC peacekeeprs were fighting the gangs. This area became a triangle of destruction, with what was like armies pouring in from 3 sides. The surrounding population acted like a wall around the DSAC territory and that wall was constantly under attack.
Groß: So for citizens who were in the areas of conflict between Neo-Ludds, A.I. gangs, and peacekeepers who had hung on through all the warfare of previous years and found themselves in neighborhoods where skirmishes, bombs, and gunfire were coming in and they were surrounded by gang fighters among their neighborhoods, what were their options? What did they do?
Dr. Francesca: So there weren't many. The options were either stay or go. As for the south side, by the time the fighting began on the south side of the city, more camps had opened, so there was more opportunity for the people of Johanalbal to leave the city. And many of them did. Many thousands of them did from the south side.
Groß: Could you safely leave?
Dr. Francesca: Well...you could leave, not necessarily safely, but you could try to leave. Although the city is surrounded by many miles of wilderness so finding a safe place beyond the city is difficult. But many people in Johanalbal decided to stay for many different reasons, whether it was family or not wanting to leave their life long home or they had a business they needed to keep open or even more basic reasons like lack of safety in leaving or being too poor to afford anywhere else. Clearly on the south side, however, it is not safe to stay. The south side is absolutely a warzone. And I have no doubt that thousands of civilians have died so far in the fighting on the south side. We'll never know how many, but it's certainly been in the thousands.
I was able to leave the city with a large group of people, maybe 100 or so people. You have a much greater chance of being attacked while leaving if you're in a small group or alone, but large groups like the one I was in make it easier.
Groß: Do you see the conflict ending anytime soon?
Dr. Francesca: No I don't, sadly. Neo-Luddism has a strong hold on the city and is a driving force for a lot of the gangs, and that Neo-Luddism is the reason the A.I. gangs formed in the first place. Now those gangs are also like regular gangs and removing Neo-Luddism wouldn't actually stop them from trying to have control. The DSAC forces are doing good, but they're slow in recapturing the city and they would only be stopping the militants. It would take much longer to change the minds of the people who have been shaped by the fall of the Ozhonistan government and the ensuring years of gang war and instability. It's going to take a long time.
Groß: Dr. Francesca, thanks for your reporting, and thanks so much for speaking with us.
Dr. Francesca: Thank you, Larry. It was a pleasure.
Groß: Dr. Francesca is a contributing writer for The Blossom newspaper and is the author of the new book "Of Flesh and Steel; Johanalbal's Fall and the Rise of Neo-Luddism" After we take a short break, Mariana Lavell will review the new film "Jeb's Not Dead" starring Ricky Ticky and Joel Menuchun. This is Fresh Bear.