A Child's Primer to Modern History
A Dying World (2020 – 2039)
A persistent period of economic crisis is accompanied by the fragmentation of the USA and the rise of China is plunged into disarray by the collapse of its main market. The UN dies with a whimper, and the EU dissolves itself in a frenzy of backbiting and competing interest.
Inevitably a conflict in the middle east arises in the wake of western fragmentation; with an eye on the main chance Russia supports the Arab allies against Israel. A new global (but limited) war erupts with Russia attempting to sieze eastern Europe,and China attacking Taiwan and the Korean peninsular. These limited bloodbaths rage for almost 5 years, before the sobering catastrophe of a nuclear detonation in Port Klang of a warhead being ferried to the USA by Jihadists. Over a million muslims die within a few minutes, and the effects of the detonation will be experienced for years to come.
The nations of the world take stock, realising they are teetering on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. Shortly thereafter the treaty of Jerusalem terminates hostilities.
A New Age Begins (2040 – 2050)
Reconstruction of the world economies commences, with a hitherto unprecedented degree of international co-operation. The United World Council (UWC) is formulated as a successor to the UN, with a much greater degree of legislative and executive powers. This movement was mirrored in the religious world with the Unified Ministry of God; this was intended as an umbrella organisation with major Theological Leaders agreeing basic common principles and areas of co-operation, but over time the Church develops into an institution in its own regard, with ‘Purists’ of the original religions essentially forming specialised sects with specific beliefs. Banking and other areas of the economy become more centralised and regulated. The Commonwealth Credit is adopted as a universal unit of currency.
A Promising Frontier (2051 – 2072)
Advances in sustainable technologies improve the lot on earth, but in 2052 the Venture Corporation launches its own Moon Mission; this triggers a private enterprise-led space race, where those staking the earliest claims would yield the largest long term profits.
By 2056 Tranquility is becoming a holiday spot for the Rich, and scouting missions penetrate the Solar System. National governments realise that the space race will lead to chaos, with massive effects on Earth’s economy and no taxation or control on offworld companies.
In 2072 the UWC Pendleton Act partners private industry with national government patronage, allowing taxation and requiring UWC authority to grant territorial and colony claims.
A System Conquered (2073 – 2100)
The Alliance of American States recognises the need to provide a reliable communications network in space, and Project Caduceus is launched to provide an expandable orbital satellite communications relay system. The initial phase of the Caduceus Network went live in 2073, causing a sense of unity among worlds for the first time in history. It was designed to support voice and data communications as well as to provide navigational beacons to assist in major interplanetary transit routes. By 2090 large-scale interplanetary trade weaves the individual worlds into a strong interdependent system. In this year, the transit drive was developed. The resulting impact of this new opportunity for rapid space travel suddenly drove a skyrocketing level of trade similar in effect to America’s first transcontinental railroads. Free trade ran rampant by 2086 and a new commercial boom infected the solar system.
2097 saw the creation of the first non-Earth sovereign nation, when the Republic of Saturn declared independence from its founding sponsors. Now UWC representation consisted of offworlders for the first time since its inception. The hand of mankind had finally touched every world by 2100, as the time of frontierism was coming to an end. New colonial identities and a sense of individual rights started to germinate among some offworlders.
A Shadow Descending (2101 – 2158 “Present”)
Cracks have emerged: though the Unified Ministry of God was intended as a common meeting point among world religions, by 2101 it had taken on a religious identity of its own – one that combined elements of Judaism Christianity, and Reformist Islam. Global religious intolerance had finally declined, but so had spiritual passion and the moral compass that it provided. The global church had become stale and routine.
With advancements in business and technology came great wealth. Increased trade and expansion seemed to benefit everyone, except the working class. A rift formed again between those who had and those who had not. With deregulation of industry and the breakdown of a common moral compass, wealth began to flow to the select few. While the rich spent fortunes on extravagant excess, the working class fell farther and farther behind. Global and national government bureaucracy made the enactment of civil laws to protect the working class difficult to achieve. Jonathan Wade, a professor at Cassini University, wrote in his 2108 thesis that “the disillusionment that was driving the lower class to emigrate from mother Earth… could erupt like a powder keg in the cynicism that faced man’s new Utopia.”
Wade might have been right. The unhappy sentiment generated by the working class had permeated throughout the colonies. Mixed with the general sense of separation felt by many of the space-born, a new attitude of independent liberty began to circulate throughout the solar system. While most still believed in the guidance of the UWC, many began to see Earth’s hand as manipulative if not vaguely tyrannical. A spirit of defiance arose. By 2116 that defiance had evolved into open piracy and illegal smuggling. Piracy along the outer ridges of the solar system was blamed for the disappearances of several research and scouting missions that had been launched in 2124, though never proven. The once safe transit routes of trade were now becoming predatory hunting grounds.
Meanwhile further tensions arose on Earth. Those nations who could not participate in the space market grew increasingly resentful of those that could. African and South American nations began to fuel a sense of solidarity with the working class of the Americas, Europe, and Asia. 2132 saw the eruption of global strikes, defying openly the will of the Unified World Council. Some nations, such as China and Russia, took hard action against the insurgents. Others, such as the Alliance of American States, sought reconciliation and compromise. As the Unified World Council worked feverishly to stem the tide of unrest on Earth, so did it begin to lose touch with the social movements of the Outer Worlds. The rift between earth and its colonial children had widend. A line was drawn among nations with some championing the status quo and some standing for the rights and liberties of all men. By 2140 the conflicts, riots, and skirmishes on Earth had turned into a struggle of differing ideologies – the balance between centralized control and individual freedom. Even the Martian Riots of 2142 seemed to reflect mankind’s general distaste at creating a universal world order. The “Manifesto of Independent Colonies” began to circulate in 2145 citing human rights violations and lack of commitment by the Unified World Council to protect the interests of the Outer Worlds. It called for a general banding of Neptune, Uranus, and Jupiter under the banner of the Republic of Saturn. However, the Saturnine government refused to acknowledge the Manifesto’s call, choosing instead to honor its agreement with the Unified World Council to remain a neutral party, causing relations with the Outer Worlds further strain.
Today the Unified World Council struggles to maintain a sense of unity and universal justice among the nations of Earth and the colonies of the solar system. Meanwhile, the colonies themselves seem to drift further away from the social and political roots of their home world. Piracy remains a constant interplanetary threat, even within the shadow of an increased naval presence. Rising taxes eat into profitability and many merchants now turn to shadier, but cheaper freelance traders to sustain their business. Violent crime statistics continue to climb and there are strange rumours filtering back from the extremities of human habitation in the Kuiper Belt. Many wonder if the New Golden Age of Humanity has finally come to an end.