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Old 11-23-2022, 11:24 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Explaining New America

New America

GDW positioned New America, under the leadership of Carl Hughes, as being in a good position to take over the crumbling United States as of Jan 2001. The question one might have is how does an organization generate hundreds of thousands of members, stockpile metric tons of weapons, ammunition, and resources over several years, and manage to escape the attention of US intelligence agencies like the CIA, the FBI, or the NSA? The short answer is they did not.

In fact, New America was the brain child of a faction within the CIA. By the 70s, the US intelligence community had become adept at infiltrating and subverting radical domestic groups on the left and the right, from the Weather Underground to the KKK. In some cases, the US government was doing this for appropriate reasons, whether criminal justice or national security related. In other cases, however, factions would sometimes manipulate these groups for more nefarious purposes (the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X being rumored instances of cutout groups being used and manipulated this way).

The original intent for New America was for it to be a Pied Piper for right wing extremists. Coalescing around an “independently wealthy”, charismatic leader with proper anti-government bonafides, New America would crowd out competing, uncontrolled right-wing anti-government groups, and from there the movement could be steered into oblivion if desired (much like the left-wing movements of the 60s and early 70s), or leveraged for political advantage, black ops, or any number of other plots along the way. The government would help clear the field for New America by using Federal law enforcement to go after seemingly ideologically similar (but competing) organizations like Posse Commitatus and Convenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord.

With that aim in mind, Carl Hughes was approached after his failed Presidential bid in 1976 with a proposal: Hughes would be “sheep dipped” as a convicted felon, and while “serving” his sentence (it’s never been established that Hughes actually ever saw the inside of a prison cell), he would develop his political ideology, and on his release form the organization of New America. Hughes agreed wholeheartedly, stating that his life’s only ambition was to serve his great nation. Initially, the CIA had planned on using propaganda teams to assist, but to their surprise, Hughes threw himself into the work, writing newsletters and manifestos that only rarely had to be tweaked, as it were. In the early days, the CIA funneled considerable amounts of “off-books” money to New America. Some of this money came from CIA owned or controlled private firms, other CIA assets, some was funneled from the cocaine and heroin drug smuggling pipelines set up with Colombia, Panama, and Mexico.

While the CIA faction that had dreamed up New America always envisioned it as being a useful domestic pawn, Hughes was playing the long game. With CIA money (and some of his own), he built deep political connections into the Republican establishment and conservative Christian circles. Mostly at local and state levels, but his PAC was a difference maker in quite a few elections in the late 80s and 90s. With CIA protection, he was able to form militant militia groups – some of these were set up from beginning to be sacrificial lambs for law enforcement (with no direct or indirect ties to New America), but others were used to funnel “stolen” weapons from US armories and build up trained cadres. Additionally, and most critically, over time he converted his CIA handlers over to his side. As things began to heat up in Europe and China, The Powers That Be mostly lost interest in right-wing extremism and external CIA funding was shut off. But by this time New America had become self-sustaining with licit and illicit sources of funding (many of the CIA contractors who were smuggling drugs and weapons for the CIA were also working in parallel with a number of organizations, including New America).

Shortly after the nukes fell in late 1997, most of the CIA staff who knew about the origins of New America were either dead…or working for Hughes.

* * *

A second question that might come up is "but yeah, New America is still a virulently racist organization, how did they mobilize support in these broader communities after the bombs fell when they are running literal slave camps with elsies and the like?"

By being less oppressive than the other guy.

The long answer is that MilGov is an incredibly oppressive government, however noble the intentions of the soldiers might be. The powers granted/assumed by the military via the Presidential proclamation of Federal Emergency Plan D and the implementation of martial law are draconian. Effectively, according to Milgov, private property has been abolished and escheated back to the state: vehicles, land, food, fuel, weapons, clothing, tools, medicine, everything. Anything deemed to be vital or necessary for the running of the war or the state is to surrendered on demand. All able bodied individuals are conscriptable, and outside of growing food (and remember, carrying a surplus is dangerous - and it's no longer your land that you are farming), labor is the only reliable way of getting fed. Anyone accused and convicted of hoarding (or any number of other crimes like possessing contraband or damaging morale) are sentenced to hard labor battalions where the rations are starvation rations, the work is brutal and dangerous, and the life expectancy is intentionally short (there isn't enough food to simply imprison people anyway). And since "trials" are done by military tribunal with military appointees representing the government and the defense - most accused are convicted. It's not unusual to be accused in the morning, convicted before noon, and clearing rubble by hand by afternoon. And this is in Milgov controlled areas that are considered "organized". Outside of those areas, Milgov units are seen as no better than marauders because - just like marauders - they'll come in, loot everything to haul back to Colorado or elsewhere, leaving communities with nothing - no fuel, no food, no weapons, and they use violence indiscriminately when communities object. And a lot of citizens got a sour taste of the government in 1998 when, in order to "restore control" with "extreme measures", the military responded by killing hundreds of thousands of hungry and starving Americans in urban and suburban communities - not all of the killed were rioters hell bent on looting and violence, but the military did not always make a distinction between a hungry, peaceful crowd and a riot.

And this is the life in the organized Milgov enclaves. Out in the wilds, life is absolutely Malthusian. Nasty, brutish, and short.

So, when comparing the vision of New America to the America of 1995, it might not seem that great. But when comparing it to what most Americans are enduring in 2001, it's often a step up. Even for the elsies.

Last edited by castlebravo92; 11-24-2022 at 09:51 AM. Reason: revisions
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Old 11-24-2022, 10:40 AM
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That's brilliant, castlebravo92. It wouldn't be the first time a CIA catspaw had gotten out of control.

Given the rise of White Power Accelerationist militia/terrorist groups in the USA over the last 20 years or so, and the emergence and growth of anti-gov't militias during the Clinton administration (many of which embraced some stripe of racist ideology), New America has never struck me as being an unrealistic entity, even in an alternate timeline where the USSR never goes away. That said, your stuff does a good job of explaining its seemingly sudden appearance, rapid expansion, and early successes during the Twilight War.

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Old 11-24-2022, 01:22 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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That's brilliant, castlebravo92. It wouldn't be the first time a CIA catspaw had gotten out of control.

Given the rise of White Power Accelerationist militia/terrorist groups in the USA over the last 20 years or so, and the emergence and growth of anti-gov't militias during the Clinton administration (many of which embraced some stripe of racist ideology), New America has never struck me as being an unrealistic entity, even in an alternate timeline where the USSR never goes away. That said, your stuff does a good job of explaining its seemingly sudden appearance, rapid expansion, and early successes during the Twilight War.
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Fair points. I guess I should be more explicit on what I consider "unrealistic".

Sorry if this ends up being something akin to a doctoral thesis.

If we take a look at the U.S as of Jan 1, 2001, we see in effect what are three or four large "successor" states in the US: MilGov, CivGov, New America, and Mexico (Mexico is debatable, so I'll leave them out of the discussion for now). MilGov inherited the bulk of intact domestic Federal capacity (and not an insignificant amount of remaining state government capacity) after the dissolution of the civilian Federal government in May of 1998. CivGov formed from disaffected MilGov components, surviving members of Congress, newly appointed members from the states, and some component of the Federal and state bureaucracies. But the net is, both MilGov and CivGov are successor states with some claim to legitimacy that are able to leverage surviving infrastructure and bureaucracies to organize their respective populations.

Per canon, New America doesn't really have that. The canon portrait of Hughes in Airlords of the Ozarks isn't all that flattering in terms of his ability to get things done:

Quote:
His father had died in 1974, leaving him independently wealthy. He used a large part of that money to launch a political campaign aimed at getting him nominated for president on an independent ticket for the 1976 elections. The debacle before the press and against seasoned and soundly-backed campaigners was complete enough that he retired from politics at once, but not before fighting and losing a lengthy court battle over nonpayment of taxes and faulty reporting of campaign funding. He served eight months in prison on charges of income tax evasion.
it continues:

Quote:
During the early to mid-1980's he returned to politics briefly
when he became deeply involved in the fundamentalist Christian conservative political movement, but his inability to win the confidence of several popular Christian leaders led to his dissociation from traditional religions by the time of the 1988 elections.
Hughes can be seen as an amalgam of Lyndon LaRouche (the crazy political movement), Howard Hughes (the reclusive billionaire angle), and maybe a splash of L. Ron Hubbard.

On New America membership (pre-war):
Quote:
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

New America has its roots in the numerous ultraright-wing, militant organizations which proliferated throughout North America during the 1970's and 80's. The organization formed by Carl Hughes in 1979 was an unusual coalition of survivalists, tax and "big government" resistance groups, neo-Nazis, ultraright-wing and militant religious organizations, and racists
This is a sanitized way of describing a bunch what are a bunch of crackpots and marginalized members of society, led by a guy with a bunch of crackpot ideas with questionable political and organizational skills based on prior performance.

The idea that these Hughes and his followers, as original written, would be able to stand up a parallel state that posed an existential threat to both MilGov and CivGov is one of the things I find unrealistic, but can be made a little more workable with some retconning of pre-war background without affecting the overall plot arcs.

The other aspect I found unrealistic is that a large group would escape notice by the Feds. Historically, radical groups are thoroughly penetrated by the Feds, and the larger they get the greater the likelihood that they are compromised. For a recent example, in the Whitmer kidnapping plot there were as many Feds and Fed informants as there were actual plotters. The leader of the Proud Boys was an FBI informant. The III Percenters were/are riddled with informants. The Islamist group that planned and executed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York had an FBI informant in it (who came up with the idea of bombing the WTC...but I digress). The FBI penetrated the Weather Underground (Larry Grathwohl), the Nation of Islam, the KKK, and a bunch of other groups. The government is actually pretty good at this stuff...and the canon New America doesn't sound like an organization filled with the type of people that could maintain opsec over 15 years of development and growth. It took the left decades to hone their craft and develop the concept of affinity groups to reduce (not eliminate) the threat of informants. The cartels in Mexico limited penetration for a while by leveraging mutual family relationships in Sinaloa. But it doesn't take a lot to get exposed. Some New America mid-level guy kills his wife in a domestic dispute or gets popped smuggling rocket launchers in the trunk of his car to build up his group's post apocalyptic arsenal, and decides to cut a deal, and all of a sudden you have a Federal investigation, and things will unravel pdq. We don't really have a rationalization of why some white supremacist cell leader in Idaho would have some great, self-sacrificial loyalty to a crackpot recluse in the Shenandoah mountains.

But...if you have the CIA in your pocket (or they think you are in theirs), then that local or Federal investigation gets squashed...national security trumps all. The CIA steered DEA investigations away from people like Noriega in Panama for years before he was finally cut loose.

So, we can retcon Hughes & New America into being CIA assets. Make New America less overtly racist to make them more politically palatable pre-war so legitimate politicians and elected officials are co-opted into membership, and you have a scenario by which New America escapes suppression pre-war, and an explanation of how they are able to assume some of the pre-existing functions of government post-collapse in a similar manner to CivGov and MilGov rather than simply being an up-gunned, large marauder band. That's the premise anyway. Still needs a lot of development, IMHO.
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Old 11-24-2022, 05:31 PM
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Hughes can be seen as an amalgam of Lyndon LaRouche (the crazy political movement), Howard Hughes (the reclusive billionaire angle), and maybe a splash of L. Ron Hubbard.
Yes, and a splash of David Duke. Dude was a Grand Wizard of the KKK, then a Democratic Party presidential [primary stage] hopeful, and, later, the Populist Party's candidate in 1988, before later emerging as a sort of elder statesman for the alt-right movement of the late 20-teens.

re FBI infiltration of extremist groups...

The internet as it exists today would not have been a feature of the mid-to-late 1990s of the Twilight War. That cuts both ways. Extremists groups couldn't use it to recruit and coordinate activities nationwide (and even internationally); the FBI/NSA wouldn't be able to use it to learn of threats, keep tabs on extremist groups, and begin infiltrating same.

Also consider the de-centralized nature of extremist groups then and now. They're like the Hydra of Greek mythology. The FBI may be able to sever a head or two, but it can't kill the beast, and those heads will eventually regrow anyways. Given the FBI's RL success in infiltrating domestic terror groups, IRL, there's still no shortage of same.

I can see a Duke-like figure (natch, Hughes) helping start the movement, then laying back in the cut until global events (i.e WWIII) open the door to consolidate and seize the reins. As the face of "the movement", he'd be well placed to rise to the top when war breaks out. At that point, the FBI would likely shift it's focus to domestic pro-Soviet groups, as well as Soviet agents operating in the USA, thereby losing track of Hughes' activities.

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Last edited by Raellus; 11-24-2022 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11-24-2022, 07:12 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Yes, and a splash of David Duke. Dude was a Grand Wizard of the KKK, then a Democratic Party presidential [primary stage] hopeful, and, later, the Populist Party's candidate in 1988, before later emerging as a sort of elder statesman for the alt-right movement of the late 20-teens.

re FBI infiltration of extremist groups...

The internet as it exists today would not have been a feature of the mid-to-late 1990s of the Twilight War. That cuts both ways. Extremists groups couldn't use it to recruit and coordinate activities nationwide (and even internationally); the FBI/NSA wouldn't be able to use it to learn of threats, keep tabs on extremist groups, and begin infiltrating same.

Also consider the de-centralized nature of extremist groups then and now. They're like the Hydra of Greek mythology. The FBI may be able to sever a head or two, but it can't kill the beast, and those heads will eventually regrow anyways. Given the FBI's RL success in infiltrating domestic terror groups, IRL, there's still no shortage of same.
-
Pre-internet, there were the classified ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine, subscription newsletters and mailing lists, dial-up bulletin board services, etc. The NSA (allegedly) had trunk level taps into the phone system and were recording calls way before the public internet was a thing.

That's not to say de-centralized groups couldn't fly under the radar, but it would necessitate them to be relatively small, relatively minor in capability (sans some other explanation).

Of course, if we take a certain narrative liberty (such that would be required to make Hughes a CIA asset in any event), we can spin things in a different direction - namely the Howard Zinn / left wing view of US history that racism and white supremacy has always been a/the driving force in American culture and politics, and thus rather than Hughes tapping into a group of marginalized whites living in the fringe of society, he was tapping into a core part of America that never disappeared and was never marginalized after the Civil Rights era ended.
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:33 PM
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Would something else be possible?

What if Hughes would have the clandestine support of another state?

According to data the FBI had its USSR infiltrators (Robert Hanssen for instance), CIA (Aldrich Ames), so what if they had helped Hughes?

Throw in that KGB / GRU agents would watch Hughes and his people, find out FBI / Police agents and either turn them or let them disappear or they suffer "accidents".

Could this be possible and how effective would it be?

And why didnt the FBI try to build a left-wing version?

You know, covering all angles: left wing, right wing.
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Old 11-25-2022, 04:52 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Would something else be possible?

What if Hughes would have the clandestine support of another state?

According to data the FBI had its USSR infiltrators (Robert Hanssen for instance), CIA (Aldrich Ames), so what if they had helped Hughes?

Throw in that KGB / GRU agents would watch Hughes and his people, find out FBI / Police agents and either turn them or let them disappear or they suffer "accidents".

Could this be possible and how effective would it be?

And why didnt the FBI try to build a left-wing version?

You know, covering all angles: left wing, right wing.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was building the left-wing version inside the US, primarily targeting university students and minorities, and US domestic intelligence was focused mainly on discrediting and rolling those groups up, especially as they became more involved in anti-war and explicitly criminal/terrorist activities (i.e., the Weatherman bombing campaigns). In the 60s and 70s, the FBI was a different organization that it is today, and the FBI and the US as a whole were much more worried about communism than today (Hoover was positively obsessed), which is to say...I think the idea of Pied Pipering the left by creating an American Lenin may have run into some resistance. Not to say it couldn't or wouldn't happen, certainly some of the plots that have become public about the CIA and FBI have made me scratch my head more than a few times (the CIA saving al-Sadr, the FBI instigating the Curtis Culwell attack in Garland, TX for example), so plots within plots is reasonable, I just can't get my brain to connect the dots on the first pass.

On the subject of foreign support and sponsorship, maybe Pinochet and Apartheid South Africa could be candidates, as well as some of the right wing narco-aligned figures in Colombia (who have been fighting a dirty war against FARC for 50 years now). New America is basically a fascist or proto-fascist org. Communist revolution was a persistent threat in the developing world in the 60s and 70s, and the aforementioned countries/regimes saw themselves as being embroiled in existential battles against the communists (South Africa even went so far as to secretly design and build 6 atomic bombs). Maybe you have some shadowy figures in those countries make common cause with some anti-communist people in the US like Hughes, mix the ingredients and let them stew for a decade or so and you get New America. I kind of like it.

The fiction/true crime writer James Ellroy writes pretty extensively about the intersection of the FBI/CIA/organized crime and drug trafficking from the 60s to the mid-70s. Some fertile ground there to mine as well.
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Old 11-26-2022, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by castlebravo92 View Post
Pre-internet, there were the classified ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine, subscription newsletters and mailing lists, dial-up bulletin board services, etc. The NSA (allegedly) had trunk level taps into the phone system and were recording calls way before the public internet was a thing.

That's not to say de-centralized groups couldn't fly under the radar, but it would necessitate them to be relatively small, relatively minor in capability (sans some other explanation).
Right. My point re the very early days of the public internet was only that it would be a little more difficult to keep track of and/or infiltrate the sundry far-right/racist/nativist groups than it is today. The hydra metaphor applies either way, both pre and post world-wide web.

Regardless, as long as Hughes keeps his nose clean, he stays out of prison and can continue to build support through TV and radio appearances, newsletters, zines, etc. In some mainstream political circles (it's all relative), he'd probably carry a sheen of legitimacy (e.g. Strom Thurmond was still in the US Senate in 1996). Even if Hughes was not particularly active in recruiting and organizing, his reputation in ultra right wing-racist-nativist circles as an OG and simple name recognition will position him to take up the mantle of leadership once the war breaks out and the government shifts its focus from right-wing domestic terror groups to foreign threats (and left-wing organizations).

The CIA angle is an interesting one, but I think the last half-dozen years or so or real life have proven that American far right/white supremacist groups don't need direct gov't support to grow and thrive, and that, try as it might, the FBI can't completely eliminate the threat they pose.

Tegyrius' Pacific Northwest sourcebook presents an interesting solution for New America's plausibility issues. Until he chimes in on the subject, I'll leave this here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...pacific+northw

To connect this topic to the Mexican Invasion thread, if there's pre-war tensions with Mexico re illegal immigration and the drug war, Hughes can definitely capitalize on it. We saw in the impact of nativist sentiment on the 2016 US presidential election (many analysts see it as the deciding factor), IRL. Once Mexico invades in the T2k timeline, it'll be a big, "See, I told you so," for Hughes and New America.

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Last edited by Raellus; 11-26-2022 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 11-26-2022, 03:33 PM
ToughOmbres ToughOmbres is offline
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Good points from all as usual.

CB-when you mention "stolen from armories" do you mean "stolen" (wink wink, off inventory but actually surreptitiously supplied) or actually stolen outright?

Last edited by ToughOmbres; 11-26-2022 at 03:33 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 11-26-2022, 05:58 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Good points from all as usual.

CB-when you mention "stolen from armories" do you mean "stolen" (wink wink, off inventory but actually surreptitiously supplied) or actually stolen outright?
Yes and yes ;-).

I'm stealing / modifying a narrative arc in James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy to build a deeper narrative arc for New America / Carl Hughes where a neo-fascist faction within the CIA clandestinely supplies extremist right-wing groups with weapons starting in the late 60s / early 70s when anti-war social upheaval is at it's apex with the intent of having a domestic anti-communist cadre if a social revolution occurred and official US organizations were co-opted or nullified by Marxists.

Because it's a faction and not the entire CIA, it's entirely off-books. The CIA and Hughes use drug money (in the same manner that they did to fund the arming of the Contras), and leverage facilitated theft to supply the militias.
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Old 11-26-2022, 08:37 PM
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One option would be for Hughes to start up a trucking company to do some covert smuggling of drugs and weapons and other New America prepper aligned supplies. They'd be able to unofficially but officially move all sorts of stuff around and load up warehouses/barns/etc with supplies while nominally shipping consumer goods. Areas with a strong presence of Gold Ring Trucking would be areas of stronger New America influence post-TDM.

While I largely agree that New America wouldn't pose an existential threat to either MilGov or CivGov, they can still be a major power bloc in regions just by being the best supplied and coordinated group in an area. If New America is even slightly more palatable than an out and out gang running a town they'll get that town's support. So long as they can slow walk their full fascism and slavery until they run a bunch of towns in an area it would be too late to throw off the yoke.

Once they go full fascist slavers though both MilGov and CivGov will be able to put aside their differences long enough to retake areas run by NA. At the very least they won't shoot at the other when they're fighting NA forces.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:23 AM
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Yes and yes ;-).

I'm stealing / modifying a narrative arc in James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy to build a deeper narrative arc for New America / Carl Hughes where a neo-fascist faction within the CIA clandestinely supplies extremist right-wing groups with weapons starting in the late 60s / early 70s when anti-war social upheaval is at it's apex with the intent of having a domestic anti-communist cadre if a social revolution occurred and official US organizations were co-opted or nullified by Marxists.

Because it's a faction and not the entire CIA, it's entirely off-books. The CIA and Hughes use drug money (in the same manner that they did to fund the arming of the Contras), and leverage facilitated theft to supply the militias.
It certainly works for the T2k world. Since we're dealing with alternate history/reality I always thought the original GDW treatment of Hughes was quite good FTR.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:27 AM
ToughOmbres ToughOmbres is offline
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Explaining New America

New America

GDW positioned New America, under the leadership of Carl Hughes, as being in a good position to take over the crumbling United States as of Jan 2001. The question one might have is how does an organization generate hundreds of thousands of members, stockpile metric tons of weapons, ammunition, and resources over several years, and manage to escape the attention of US intelligence agencies like the CIA, the FBI, or the NSA? The short answer is they did not.

In fact, New America was the brain child of a faction within the CIA. By the 70s, the US intelligence community had become adept at infiltrating and subverting radical domestic groups on the left and the right, from the Weather Underground to the KKK. In some cases, the US government was doing this for appropriate reasons, whether criminal justice or national security related. In other cases, however, factions would sometimes manipulate these groups for more nefarious purposes (the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X being rumored instances of cutout groups being used and manipulated this way).

The original intent for New America was for it to be a Pied Piper for right wing extremists. Coalescing around an “independently wealthy”, charismatic leader with proper anti-government bonafides, New America would crowd out competing, uncontrolled right-wing anti-government groups, and from there the movement could be steered into oblivion if desired (much like the left-wing movements of the 60s and early 70s), or leveraged for political advantage, black ops, or any number of other plots along the way. The government would help clear the field for New America by using Federal law enforcement to go after seemingly ideologically similar (but competing) organizations like Posse Commitatus and Convenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord.

With that aim in mind, Carl Hughes was approached after his failed Presidential bid in 1976 with a proposal: Hughes would be “sheep dipped” as a convicted felon, and while “serving” his sentence (it’s never been established that Hughes actually ever saw the inside of a prison cell), he would develop his political ideology, and on his release form the organization of New America. Hughes agreed wholeheartedly, stating that his life’s only ambition was to serve his great nation. Initially, the CIA had planned on using propaganda teams to assist, but to their surprise, Hughes threw himself into the work, writing newsletters and manifestos that only rarely had to be tweaked, as it were. In the early days, the CIA funneled considerable amounts of “off-books” money to New America. Some of this money came from CIA owned or controlled private firms, other CIA assets, some was funneled from the cocaine and heroin drug smuggling pipelines set up with Colombia, Panama, and Mexico.

While the CIA faction that had dreamed up New America always envisioned it as being a useful domestic pawn, Hughes was playing the long game. With CIA money (and some of his own), he built deep political connections into the Republican establishment and conservative Christian circles. Mostly at local and state levels, but his PAC was a difference maker in quite a few elections in the late 80s and 90s. With CIA protection, he was able to form militant militia groups – some of these were set up from beginning to be sacrificial lambs for law enforcement (with no direct or indirect ties to New America), but others were used to funnel “stolen” weapons from US armories and build up trained cadres. Additionally, and most critically, over time he converted his CIA handlers over to his side. As things began to heat up in Europe and China, The Powers That Be mostly lost interest in right-wing extremism and external CIA funding was shut off. But by this time New America had become self-sustaining with licit and illicit sources of funding (many of the CIA contractors who were smuggling drugs and weapons for the CIA were also working in parallel with a number of organizations, including New America).

Shortly after the nukes fell in late 1997, most of the CIA staff who knew about the origins of New America were either dead…or working for Hughes.

* * *

A second question that might come up is "but yeah, New America is still a virulently racist organization, how did they mobilize support in these broader communities after the bombs fell when they are running literal slave camps with elsies and the like?"

By being less oppressive than the other guy.

The long answer is that MilGov is an incredibly oppressive government, however noble the intentions of the soldiers might be. The powers granted/assumed by the military via the Presidential proclamation of Federal Emergency Plan D and the implementation of martial law are draconian. Effectively, according to Milgov, private property has been abolished and escheated back to the state: vehicles, land, food, fuel, weapons, clothing, tools, medicine, everything. Anything deemed to be vital or necessary for the running of the war or the state is to surrendered on demand. All able bodied individuals are conscriptable, and outside of growing food (and remember, carrying a surplus is dangerous - and it's no longer your land that you are farming), labor is the only reliable way of getting fed. Anyone accused and convicted of hoarding (or any number of other crimes like possessing contraband or damaging morale) are sentenced to hard labor battalions where the rations are starvation rations, the work is brutal and dangerous, and the life expectancy is intentionally short (there isn't enough food to simply imprison people anyway). And since "trials" are done by military tribunal with military appointees representing the government and the defense - most accused are convicted. It's not unusual to be accused in the morning, convicted before noon, and clearing rubble by hand by afternoon. And this is in Milgov controlled areas that are considered "organized". Outside of those areas, Milgov units are seen as no better than marauders because - just like marauders - they'll come in, loot everything to haul back to Colorado or elsewhere, leaving communities with nothing - no fuel, no food, no weapons, and they use violence indiscriminately when communities object. And a lot of citizens got a sour taste of the government in 1998 when, in order to "restore control" with "extreme measures", the military responded by killing hundreds of thousands of hungry and starving Americans in urban and suburban communities - not all of the killed were rioters hell bent on looting and violence, but the military did not always make a distinction between a hungry, peaceful crowd and a riot.

And this is the life in the organized Milgov enclaves. Out in the wilds, life is absolutely Malthusian. Nasty, brutish, and short.

So, when comparing the vision of New America to the America of 1995, it might not seem that great. But when comparing it to what most Americans are enduring in 2001, it's often a step up. Even for the elsies.
Good points-do you think it would be naivete' even in game terms to portray Milgov formations as "we're here to help, we brought firepower, some basic foodstuffs for a limited time and then we're moving on to push the (insert opposition here) back. Carry on." Effectively restoring order but leaving most people alone since they need their lines of communication, food production and potential new recruits for limited induction?
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Old 11-27-2022, 12:14 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Good points-do you think it would be naivete' even in game terms to portray Milgov formations as "we're here to help, we brought firepower, some basic foodstuffs for a limited time and then we're moving on to push the (insert opposition here) back. Carry on." Effectively restoring order but leaving most people alone since they need their lines of communication, food production and potential new recruits for limited induction?
I think you would have a great deal of variation between how Milgov units operated and how populations treated them in the areas they moved through, and a lot of that would evolve over time as conditions improved or deteriorated.

One way of looking at a bureaucracy like the government or the military is as if it's an organism. The first job of the organism is to survive.

If we break the US experience into phases, here's how I would break it out:
  • Immediate post-attack anarchy (Nov-Dec 1997)
  • Faux recovery (Jan-Jun 1998)
  • Unravelling (Jul-Aug 1998)
  • Collapse (Sep 1998-Jun 1999)
  • Re-organization (Apr 1999+)
  • Recovery (?)

Immediately post-attack, the military would be providing disaster relief, security, logistics and transportation support for relief supplies, etc. There would still be enough food and fuel in situ for the military to be a force for good during this period and during the Faux Recovery phase.

The Unravelling sees several different things happen at around the same time. One, the fall harvest is meager, and Milgov fails to secure most of it. Which means, the food doesn't get appreciably distributed from the growing regions to the consuming regions. As hunger turns to starvation, most urban areas go Mad Max anarchic. Populations riot, murder each other, and then the exodus from the starving cities to the countryside begins like a plague of locusts. A military unit interacting with angry desperate, starving people (and with lots of guns, this is America after all) would almost by necessity have to use a heavy hand to avoid being overrun, much less restore or maintain order. The other two things that happen are: the Mexicans invade, and the US pulls units from disaster recovery and riot suppression to dealing with the invasion, and MilGov also decides in Fall to send about half of the remaining domestic military forces to Europe to stop the Pact counter offensive.

During the collapse phase, just about everyone (outside of rural agricultural areas) would be going hungry. This is the period where any large, organized group of men and women with guns would likely acquire a bad reputation. Money is worthless, group A has food, group B has rifles, machine guns, mortars, and AFVs. Group B needs food to survive. Group B can no longer trade money for food. But they can take / extort food to survive.

During the collapse phase, the US military executes a fighting withdrawal from Texas. Let's say your unit is retreating up I-35 in Texas, Mexican advanced units are 50 miles to your south. Your unit passes by a cattle ranch with 50 head of cattle. Do you:
  • Leave the cattle and continue your retreat?
  • Take/kill some of the cattle for unit consumption, leave the rest?
  • Kill all of the cattle to deny them to the enemy?

I could see all three happening. The rancher probably wouldn't be very happy that the cattle he needed to survive with just got shot by the US army. If he survived (no thanks to the US government) to see the US army show up again 2 years later, he probably won't be very happy to see the player characters and the prospect of "taxes".

Similarly, in areas where there's a lot of anti-government activity (partisan/marauder attacks on military units), units would probably start to see the population as "the enemy" and be much more willing to confiscate everything, especially as they withdrew from areas.

And the thing is, under FEP-D, all of this confiscation would be "legal" (and not like there would be courts to resolve the Constitutional question). And every single military / paramilitary / police / state militia unit would probably be claiming these powers, and so the farm / community might get "visited" multiple times in a short amount of time and have their food, fuel, weapons, and people confiscated.

And last but not least, without a currency, trade and taxation in economic terms becomes really challenging. You go back to feudal tax-in-kind (a farmer gets taxed part of their harvest) with most people employed directly by the government (you don't work, you don't eat for the most part). There would be no capacity for prisons. A lot of crimes would be treated as capital crimes and summary execution the punishment. And this is just necessity, not the government being intentionally evil. Using warlords in Africa as a reference, food would also be used as a weapon. Deny and take it away from "disloyal" areas, give it to loyal areas.

All that being said, players have to be fighting for something besides pure survival, right? Someone needs to be the shining light on the hill, and maybe that's CivGov, maybe it's MilGov. New America would certainly be framing themselves as that.

Re: recruitment, I would say recruiting for any military unit would be pretty easy, for the most part. Lots of unemployed and hungry, and the military would be seen as, if nothing else, food. And being on the outside of the wire of a labor camp is probably better than being on the inside of the wire.

The way I see the three factions are:
1. MilGov - basically Stalinist (ironic in that), 100% command economy, top down control, trying to do their best to rebuild the country, but running society like a military camp.

2. CivGov - corrupt but at least nominally dedicated to the idea of rule for the people, by the people.

3. New America - neo-fascist, presenting themselves as less anarchic and better run than CivGov ("we get the trains running on time"), and less heavy handed than MilGov ("we aren't some brutal military unit from Pennsylvania that stole your food when you needed it most, we're the men and women that ran off that marauder band last month when they were looting and murdering their way through Georgia").

The way it appeared GDW had it going is MilGov and New America essentially killing each other off and CivGov "winning" by default.
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Old 11-30-2022, 06:52 PM
ToughOmbres ToughOmbres is offline
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Originally Posted by castlebravo92 View Post
I think you would have a great deal of variation between how Milgov units operated and how populations treated them in the areas they moved through, and a lot of that would evolve over time as conditions improved or deteriorated.

One way of looking at a bureaucracy like the government or the military is as if it's an organism. The first job of the organism is to survive.

If we break the US experience into phases, here's how I would break it out:
  • Immediate post-attack anarchy (Nov-Dec 1997)
  • Faux recovery (Jan-Jun 1998)
  • Unravelling (Jul-Aug 1998)
  • Collapse (Sep 1998-Jun 1999)
  • Re-organization (Apr 1999+)
  • Recovery (?)

Immediately post-attack, the military would be providing disaster relief, security, logistics and transportation support for relief supplies, etc. There would still be enough food and fuel in situ for the military to be a force for good during this period and during the Faux Recovery phase.

The Unravelling sees several different things happen at around the same time. One, the fall harvest is meager, and Milgov fails to secure most of it. Which means, the food doesn't get appreciably distributed from the growing regions to the consuming regions. As hunger turns to starvation, most urban areas go Mad Max anarchic. Populations riot, murder each other, and then the exodus from the starving cities to the countryside begins like a plague of locusts. A military unit interacting with angry desperate, starving people (and with lots of guns, this is America after all) would almost by necessity have to use a heavy hand to avoid being overrun, much less restore or maintain order. The other two things that happen are: the Mexicans invade, and the US pulls units from disaster recovery and riot suppression to dealing with the invasion, and MilGov also decides in Fall to send about half of the remaining domestic military forces to Europe to stop the Pact counter offensive.

During the collapse phase, just about everyone (outside of rural agricultural areas) would be going hungry. This is the period where any large, organized group of men and women with guns would likely acquire a bad reputation. Money is worthless, group A has food, group B has rifles, machine guns, mortars, and AFVs. Group B needs food to survive. Group B can no longer trade money for food. But they can take / extort food to survive.

During the collapse phase, the US military executes a fighting withdrawal from Texas. Let's say your unit is retreating up I-35 in Texas, Mexican advanced units are 50 miles to your south. Your unit passes by a cattle ranch with 50 head of cattle. Do you:
  • Leave the cattle and continue your retreat?
  • Take/kill some of the cattle for unit consumption, leave the rest?
  • Kill all of the cattle to deny them to the enemy?

I could see all three happening. The rancher probably wouldn't be very happy that the cattle he needed to survive with just got shot by the US army. If he survived (no thanks to the US government) to see the US army show up again 2 years later, he probably won't be very happy to see the player characters and the prospect of "taxes".

Similarly, in areas where there's a lot of anti-government activity (partisan/marauder attacks on military units), units would probably start to see the population as "the enemy" and be much more willing to confiscate everything, especially as they withdrew from areas.

And the thing is, under FEP-D, all of this confiscation would be "legal" (and not like there would be courts to resolve the Constitutional question). And every single military / paramilitary / police / state militia unit would probably be claiming these powers, and so the farm / community might get "visited" multiple times in a short amount of time and have their food, fuel, weapons, and people confiscated.

And last but not least, without a currency, trade and taxation in economic terms becomes really challenging. You go back to feudal tax-in-kind (a farmer gets taxed part of their harvest) with most people employed directly by the government (you don't work, you don't eat for the most part). There would be no capacity for prisons. A lot of crimes would be treated as capital crimes and summary execution the punishment. And this is just necessity, not the government being intentionally evil. Using warlords in Africa as a reference, food would also be used as a weapon. Deny and take it away from "disloyal" areas, give it to loyal areas.

All that being said, players have to be fighting for something besides pure survival, right? Someone needs to be the shining light on the hill, and maybe that's CivGov, maybe it's MilGov. New America would certainly be framing themselves as that.

Re: recruitment, I would say recruiting for any military unit would be pretty easy, for the most part. Lots of unemployed and hungry, and the military would be seen as, if nothing else, food. And being on the outside of the wire of a labor camp is probably better than being on the inside of the wire.

The way I see the three factions are:
1. MilGov - basically Stalinist (ironic in that), 100% command economy, top down control, trying to do their best to rebuild the country, but running society like a military camp.

2. CivGov - corrupt but at least nominally dedicated to the idea of rule for the people, by the people.

3. New America - neo-fascist, presenting themselves as less anarchic and better run than CivGov ("we get the trains running on time"), and less heavy handed than MilGov ("we aren't some brutal military unit from Pennsylvania that stole your food when you needed it most, we're the men and women that ran off that marauder band last month when they were looting and murdering their way through Georgia").

The way it appeared GDW had it going is MilGov and New America essentially killing each other off and CivGov "winning" by default.
Very well reasoned and thought out. My "we've brought firepower, some basic foodstuffs and we're moving on" mindset seems to be applicable only through the unravelling phase.
A great deal of it would involve the personality of unit commanders as well I suspect.
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Old 12-01-2022, 08:22 AM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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Very well reasoned and thought out. My "we've brought firepower, some basic foodstuffs and we're moving on" mindset seems to be applicable only through the unravelling phase.
A great deal of it would involve the personality of unit commanders as well I suspect.
Not to be disagreeable, but I could rationalize your scenario through any of the post-attack phases, including the false recovery.

Using v2 definitions, you can look at pre-TDM America as essentially 99% organized (there are some inner city neighborhoods riven by gang violence that would qualify as insular though).

In the immediate post-attack phase, it would still be mostly organized, except for the areas that were attacked, or areas that fell into civil disorder out of panic from expected attacks. But...some areas fell into disorder, and never recovered, which means they would progress very rapidly from independent, to insular, terrorized, anarchy, and devastated. This is how I picture the communities immediately adjacent to urban areas where the population decides on a mass exodus. A little farming town of 1,000 people, 20 miles down the road, is going to get overwhelmed by 100,000 people passing through. People on foot will steal vehicles, hungry/starving people will break into homes and kill livestock for food. A town that size might have 3 to 5 cops (if you throw in some Sheriff's deputies), maybe a third of the population could and would be willing to handle a gun to defend the town, and the town (and the outlying farms) would cover too much territory for that few of people to defend against a horde of refugees, and most townspeople probably wouldn't be willing to murder refugees (at least, not in the beginning), and the horde of refugees would be the human shields inadvertently hiding/protecting the desperate and/or evil people that are going to steal your car, your food, your guns, kill your livestock, and maybe murder your family.

So early on in the first few weeks after the attack, maybe the group's mission is to go into a recently nuked city to recover some VIP or some special asset. In order to do that, the group has to swim upstream going against the tide of human migration, and maybe along the way help restore order to small communities they pass through.

Post-attack: mostly organized, with some pockets of terrorized/anarchy/devastated.

False recovery: mostly organized, with the pockets of terrorized/anarchy/devastated retreating.

Unravelling: Mostly organized has given way to mostly de facto independent. In this phase, helping communities stand up on their own with a little bit of aid (here's a few M16EZ kits, you need to form a militia, any ex-military or swat? congats, you are the militia commander, here's a RF40 that you can use to request help with), before moving on to the next crisis area or the next part of the mission.

Collapse: organized areas only exist in pockets, a lot of independent areas are progressing through the insular/terrorized/anarchy/devastated phases. The government would still go about trying to prop up communities ("We're not retreating, we're advancing in a different direction"), but the problems have at this point completely overwhelmed resources. We're in free fall, but flapping our arms desperately to fly or slow the fall (that's where the player group comes in). Meanwhile, other military units are stripping areas clean of assets as they withdraw to whatever organized areas remain.

I should point out here that necessity is a harsh mistress. Most of us are the heroes or protagonists in the story of our lives. But in the story of someone else's life, we may be the villain. Using the retreating military unit in Texas scenario again, those cows are lost to the farmer no matter what. If the US military doesn't take them, then the Mexican or Soviet military will, or if not them, the Texian Legion or some other strong marauder group that won't be bringing peace, justice, and the American way to the area. But the farmer won't see the theoretical group in the future taking or killing his livestock, he'll see the US army doing it, so the US army becomes the villain (again, if he survives, but if he survives, it likely be despite the US army, not because of them).

In the collapse phase though, there would still be investment in communities, but it would be fewer communities, smaller investments, and more strategic as we approach hitting the ground level, which would form the basis of re-organization.

In economic terms, the end of the collapse can be seen as the effective exhaustion of pre-attack capital stores, where "capital" are the durable goods that are used as the inputs to make other goods and capital production and expenditure has largely reached equilibrium. Net new capital will have to be built the good old fashioned way (largely with labor as the primary input), but this new capital can be the carrot that pulls independent communities back into the CivGov, MilGov, or New American orbit...by pre-TDM standards, it's going to be paltry. Instead of a pallet of survival rations or MREs, it might be a couple of 50 gallon drums of seeds. Instead of a 20 kw generator and a tank of diesel, it might be a spool of copper wire and some instructions on how to build a 3-phase generator assuming you have a working motor.

The recovery phase (really, a series of phases, as there are likely to be regressions and set backs) you see the re-advancement of civilization into Indian country, and the same things would still happen, but assets would be mostly increasing in terms of availability and complexity/sophistication (maybe as industry is stood back up in Colorado, we're able to expand support to newly manufactured M16s and newly manufactured ammo instead of ammo that's been reloaded on the same brass 15 times and is a 50-50 case failure dice roll).

So, the TL/DR version is I don't see your player scenario ever going away if you don't want it to. Your players don't have to be the units stripping the land bare. But they might have to convince the same people 2 years later they aren't returning to do more of the same.
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Old 12-01-2022, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by castlebravo92 View Post
A little farming town of 1,000 people, 20 miles down the road, is going to get overwhelmed by 100,000 people passing through. People on foot will steal vehicles, hungry/starving people will break into homes and kill livestock for food.
This sort of thing will certainly be true in some cases, but it would probably be more exception than rule.

The Hobbesian view of human nature has been belied time and again by real life events. More often than not, in a crisis situation, strangers cooperate and help one another to get through it rather than devolve into self-serving, dog-eat-dog rapaciousness.

In World War II, during the Blitz and, later, the bombing of German and Japanese cities, episodes of urban refugees descending on rural farming communities like locusts were few and far between. Evacuations were largely orderly and peaceful. If anything, farmers gouged evacuees for food and shelter. For a more recent, American example, look at the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. At the time, the media made post-Katrina New Orleans out to be a hell-scape, Mad Max style free for all, but there's little evidence that widespread looting, rape, and murder took place in the days and weeks after the levees broke. Instead, strangers helped one another evacuate to higher ground, and shared the basic necessities of life until FEMA arrived in force.

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Old 12-01-2022, 08:42 PM
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Rae, I feel like we should dust off our copies of Savage Continent again. That's probably a good starting point for that particular extrapolation.

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Old 12-01-2022, 09:40 PM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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This sort of thing will certainly be true in some cases, but it would probably be more exception than rule.

The Hobbesian view of human nature has been belied time and again by real life events. More often than not, in a crisis situation, strangers cooperate and help one another to get through it rather than devolve into self-serving, dog-eat-dog rapaciousness.
I'm not as optimistic, and in any event, you sort of need the Hobbesian view of things to fit the plot of the canon Twilight exchange - which was a pretty miniscule exchange (73 megatons, roughly 130 dgz's) compared to what the US government has prepped for since the 50s.

Quote:
In World War II, during the Blitz and, later, the bombing of German and Japanese cities, episodes of urban refugees descending on rural farming communities like locusts were few and far between. Evacuations were largely orderly and peaceful. If anything, farmers gouged evacuees for food and shelter.
The problem, from an response analysis standpoint, is nuclear war is highly stochastic. We have a sample size of 0 when it comes to the number of flattened American cities and how Americans would react. In the face of disaster, the Japanese and the Germans tend to act pretty orderly (Fukishima is a great example on the Japanese side), Americans less so. I was going to make the thesis this is because of lower trust levels in the United States, but initial research suggests Japan is just as bad as the US is in that regard, so there goes that theory.

I'm a little more pessimistic than you, but it's hard squaring the circle of the level of the attack and the level of subsequent disorder...you kinda have to channel your inner Hobbes to make it work. I think in reality, there would still be plenty of people left alive (around 92% of the population) who would know how to: re-wire a generator and rebuild refineries, and I'm guessing EPA regs and environmental impact studies would reduce the lead time and the NIMBY lawsuits precluding the construction of new generating capacity. Electricity may not be widely available for general residential use for a couple of years (transformers being the weak link), but IMHO we'd have enough generation capacity to have an industrial base at least on par with early 1900s, which would be sufficient to keep people from starving and the economy recovering and expanding existing capital rather than everyone eating the seed grain and having nothing left for next year's harvest.

Quote:
For a more recent, American example, look at the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. At the time, the media made post-Katrina New Orleans out to be a hell-scape, Mad Max style free for all, but there's little evidence that widespread looting, rape, and murder took place in the days and weeks after the levees broke. Instead, strangers helped one another evacuate to higher ground, and shared the basic necessities of life until FEMA arrived in force.
Katrina was plenty bad in pockets. There were vigilante/cop murders of unarmed blacks, there really was widespread looting, there was heavy handed government confiscation of weapons, and things were bad and lawless in the Superdome. But with Katrina, everyone had the expectation that things were going to get back to normal. If that ceases to be true, then who knows how people will act, especially when food gets low for everyone.

Using Africa as an example, we can see examples of a paroxysm of violence in the Rwandan civil war, but the more common scenario of hard times is starvation, civil war, DP camps, and warlords, but not plagues of locusts stripping the land bare. The starving get displaced or cut off from food, and then mostly die or are saved by NGOs or the restoration of food production and distribution...but either death or salvation takes months.

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Old 12-02-2022, 02:19 AM
shrike6 shrike6 is offline
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A little farming town of 1,000 people, 20 miles down the road, is going to get overwhelmed by 100,000 people passing through. People on foot will steal vehicles, hungry/starving people will break into homes and kill livestock for food.
This sort of thing will certainly be true in some cases, but it would probably be more exception than rule.
I'm not as optimistic, and in any event, you sort of need the Hobbesian view of things to fit the plot of the canon Twilight exchange - which was a pretty miniscule exchange (73 megatons, roughly 130 dgz's) compared to what the US government has prepped for since the 50s.
I honestly think its a mixture of the two. Coming originally from a rural area where farmer will help neighboring farmer with harvests and other stuff. I can see them helping out at least initially. But spending my later years in an urban area. I see alot of entitled mentality in the urban areas. As urbanites begin to get relocated These two styles are going to clash in some areas and opinions start to change and change quickly because there are strains of xenophobia that run through rural areas. The question is what percentage and what areas and thats up to each individual ref and their particular world view. My own opinion is that its somewhere in between the extremes.

Last edited by shrike6; 12-02-2022 at 02:20 AM. Reason: added last sentence.
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:11 AM
castlebravo92 castlebravo92 is offline
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In defense of Hobbes...

Mark Granovetter came up with a threshold model of social violence (i.e., riots), which are usually composed of large groups of people - most of whom would never on their own chuck a rock through a window, burn down a store, or assault or murder someone, but all of these things can and have happened in riots. What he hypothesized is that violence in riots are started by someone with a violence threshold of 0, which then opens the door to someone who won't join in until someone else has, which opens the door to someone who requires 2 people doing wanton violence before he or she joins in and so on. In a sense, the violence acts like a social contagion and spreads until there's a break in the violence threshold.

https://www.commonlit.org/en/texts/t...ds-of-violence

This is a roundabout way of saying that it may not take a lot of provocation for a crowd of refugees to spiral out of control into a spasm into an orgy of violence sort of like a stampede at a concert.

On a slightly different note, but related to Hobbes, Peter Zeihan has waxed poetically about the potential impacts of a collapse in globalism and a disruption to the energy market. I'll summarize briefly (but, you should really go look him up on Youtube or buy his book "The End of the World is Just the Beginning"):

1. The global energy market is very easily disrupted; it is largely secured through the global order created and enforced by the US following WW2.

2. Agriculture is an *industrial* activity, not a pastoral activity. It requires significant inputs from the mining, chemical, energy, and industrial sectors to maintain yields (potash is mined, nitrogen fertilizer comes largely from natural gas feed stocks, which come from the energy industry, which also produces the fuel that is used to plant and harvest and distribute crops, and the planting and harvesting is largely mechanized as well).

Adding fertilizer inputs into soil has allowed humanity to take unproductive land or marginally productive land and make food grow on it. Take those inputs away, and that marginal land no longer produces crops. Ultimately, you get a 5-fold or more reduction in yields, with a resultant equal drop in population shortly to follow.

As an aside, a LOT of the world's fertilizer comes from Russia and Belarus. A lot of the developing world's surplus grain comes from Russia and Ukraine. China imports 80% of their energy supplies, and has (according to Zeihan) the 2nd worst statistics on the amount of inputs needed to produce a calorie of food (with Brazil having the worst).

In Twilight terms, GDW may have been optimistic about only half the population being dead 2 years after most of the world's oil production was destroyed.

As an aside and a sort of self-rebuttal to the argument that it all falls apart, the US is actually in a great position. We are (or could very easily be) completely energy independent, we grow an excess of food, are not dependent on long supply lines over areas we can't control to keep the lights on or the people warm and fed, we have more navigable waterways than the rest of the world combined (which is about 10x more efficient than rail in terms of energy and cost to ship goods, and rail is about 10x more efficient than semi-trucks, which are about 10x more efficient than airplanes), and our agriculture isn't heavily dependent on fertilizer inputs, and what we need we can get from Mexico and Canada
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Old 12-02-2022, 12:51 PM
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Default Glass Half Full

For a counterpoint to Mark Granovetter, I recommend checking out Rutger Bregman’s Humankind: A Hopeful History. Here's the blurb from Amazon.com:

The “lively” (The New Yorker), “convincing” (Forbes), and “riveting pick-me-up we all need right now” (People) that proves humanity thrives in a crisis and that our innate kindness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in our long-term success as a species.

Here's a piece on the story that inspired his book.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...-for-15-months

I don't totally buy in to Bregman's relentlessly optimistic outlook re the human response to crisis, but I think he does a pretty good job of refuting univeralist Hobbesian arguments re human nature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by castlebravo92 View Post
On a slightly different note, but related to Hobbes, Peter Zeihan has waxed poetically about the potential impacts of a collapse in globalism and a disruption to the energy market. I'll summarize briefly (but, you should really go look him up on Youtube or buy his book "The End of the World is Just the Beginning").
You're the second or third person who's recommended Zeihan's book. I'll have to check it out.

To be fair, I have no doubts about how a collapse of the global energy market (read: fossil fuels) will lead to a breakdown of western civilization/society. In fact, I don't see how it wouldn't lead to a mass starvation event in the USA. Circumstances would indeed be pretty dire in much of the country, in the aftermath of the TDM. That said, I don't see the majority of the survivors sporting Mohawk hairdos, donning ass-less chaps, and terrorizing the highways and byways of the USA.

As a thought experiment, say that anarchy and predation did become the norms post-TDM. That begs the question, what's worth saving? In that world, settlements where decent people manage to survive and remain, uh, decent, would be like snowflakes in the Sahara. If they eschew the might-makes-right ethos, how did they manage to survive in the first place? I mean, what T2k party hasn't encountered at least one Polish village or small Texas town not worth Seven Samurai'ing?

The simplest solution to the chaos v order conundrum, and the one I adhere to, is that one would encounter both neo/pseudo-civilization and savagery in the T2kU. The proportions are, of course, debatable, and ultimately up to each individual REF. IMHO, a proper T2k milieu includes more of the latter, raising the stakes to create or find/preserve the former.

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Old 12-02-2022, 03:24 PM
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Default Coming back to New America

To return this thread to the OP, one explanation for New America's success in certain regions is that it provides security and services in its AoCs*. Sure, they only provide it to some, often at the expense of others, but pandering to the majority can often be a winning strategy.

*ISIS/ISIL successfully employed this strategy in building its thankfully short-lived Caliphate.

Of course, this would also apply to other factions in other regions of the Twilight World.

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Old 12-04-2022, 11:06 AM
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To return this thread to the OP, one explanation for New America's success in certain regions is that it provides security and services in its AoCs*. Sure, they only provide it to some, often at the expense of others, but pandering to the majority can often be a winning strategy.
To mix metaphors, it's like boiling the frog and outrunning the bear rolled up into one. For the untermensch, the screws are applied slowly so it's not obvious from the get-go what is happening. This is helped by the general increase in overall tyranny, lawlessness, and "extreme measures" the government has already taken to restore/keep order.

As far as outrunning the bear, you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the slowest guy. Using the Pareto principle, maybe 20% of an area under New American control are true believers, but if they are present, seem to be getting civilization working again to a degree, a lot of people are going to glom on.

Additionally, I imagine things in a lot of post-collapse areas would take on "prison-rules" aspects, so a lot of people not naturally draw to a New America ideology pre-war might find themselves having to "clique up" just to survive.

BTW, I'm not trying to make New America the good guy here, I think they are and should pretty clearly remain the bad guy. But historically, the really successful and really evil bad guys don't don a black shield and black armor and fly the Jolly Roger. They come dressed as the good guys.
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Old 12-17-2022, 01:02 PM
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As far as outrunning the bear, you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the slowest guy. Using the Pareto principle, maybe 20% of an area under New American control are true believers, but if they are present, seem to be getting civilization working again to a degree, a lot of people are going to glom on.

Additionally, I imagine things in a lot of post-collapse areas would take on "prison-rules" aspects, so a lot of people not naturally draw to a New America ideology pre-war might find themselves having to "clique up" just to survive.
Yeah, that's exactly how ISIS/ISIL gained control of big chunks of Iraq. In the early days of the "Caliphate", a lot of people who found themselves living within its borders were like, "these guys are better than the Iraqi state gov't"- until they weren't. When the gov't doesn't do jack sh*t for you, except for giving you a hard time, and then a new sheriff comes along and cleans things up (gets the power back on, schools reopened, restores a semblance of law and order), they're going to win a lot of hearts and minds. Eventually, though, when that new sheriff's true colors come out, a lot of those same people are going to have serious buyer's remorse. That was largely the case in Iraq.

I reckon this is precisely what one would see with New America c.2000.

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Last edited by Raellus; 12-17-2022 at 04:21 PM.
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