Origins of the Conflict
People remember with great fondness the height of the Kolna Republic. It was a beautiful country where everyone was looked after and there was a belief that the future could only get better and better. Everyone breathed clean air, drank clean water, enjoyed a broad education and had employment for life.
The people were so confident of their prosperous futures, they didn't notice the increasing influence of George Maxel, the economist. George convinced the merchants and bankers of Kolna that economics was the best tool for measuring the prosperity and social function of the Republic. The Maxel Algorithms were seen as the tool that would take Kolna to its Utopian future. The algorithms started to find inefficiencies that had never been noticed before. The bankers and merchants found that if they applied these algorithms to their own businesses they were able to maximise their profits; the algorithms were able to help the merchant fine tune almost every aspect their businesses.
The next logical step was to apply the algorithms to making government more efficient. And indeed Government was certainly able to reduce costs and increase efficiency. And the people were initially very positive about these changes. But there was a downside which no one foresaw; prosperity, as measured by the algorithms - that is economic growth - had assumed continuing growth.
Leah Carmi had her doubts. She was trained as a Geographer and she was adamant that you couldn't have continuing growth in a closed system. It was a mathematical impossibility. She likened the Maxel Algorithm to a cancer; she said the only way the merchants and bankers could continue their growth was to suck energy from every other part of society. And there was certainly some evidence that this was starting to happen; in the twenty years of Maxel's influence unemployment had increased from almost zero to eight percent; pollution had increased incredibly and the forests of the fertile plains had almost disappeared.
Leah Carmi suggested that the algorithms needed to be modified to include factors such as unemployment, social dislocation and environmental dislocation. The Maxel purists laughed her out of the mainstream debate. But she found support amongst certain intellectuals and she was gaining support from the farmers of the mountain and desert peoples, who could see very clearly that what she was predicting was already coming true in their regions. They were in regions with sparsely distributed populations; the central Government had closed many of their schools and the merchants had closed shops and bankers closed banks - all because they were inefficient and not increasing their profits each year.
The Maxel Algorithms affected the rural populations and the uneducated urban populations the most. The merchants, bankers and government had so much faith in the algorithms that they insisted that people just had to wait and all would be prosperous again. Leah Carmi had moved to The University of the Desert Provinces and set up a new faculty of Rural Economics. Her courses became very popular because they explained what was actually happening in their rural society. And rural members of central government were starting to question the tenets of a country governed by the Maxel algorithms.
The central government at the behest of the merchants and bankers sacked Leah Carmi, because of "the social dislocation she was causing". It was too late - her ideas were very popular amongst the mountain and desert people and they took to the streets. The University re-instated her. The Central Government was furious and insisted the University sack her.
The tension took many months to build. But, it seems, the resolve of central government to sack Carmi only increased the zeal of mountain and desert people to keep her. The central government mis-judged the situation very badly when they sent in local troops to break up a demonstration. The troops were asked to use violence to break up this demonstration and they refused.
This was the event that triggered the civil war of 2008.
The troops of the University Desert Regiment were the first to refuse. But it didn't take long before all the mountain and desert regiments decided to support the regional government and not central government. There were very few shots actually fired in this first part of the war first; stalemate. The regiments loyal to the central government were over the other side of the mountains in the rich river flats. And the two armies were similarly equipped and had similar numbers. And most of the military hoped for a political solution.
The central government also had many critics in the rich plain territories. They started a process of "intellectual cleaning"; initially sacking anyone who disagreed with their economics. They shipped the intellectuals and their supporters off to the mountains. This had a double purpose; to stop the criticism once and for all and to attempt to destabilise the economy of the mountain and desert people by sending them close to half a million refugees.
Chaos did ensue in the mountain and desert regions and that was when the Maxel troops tried to push across the mountains. This instantly focussed the mountain and desert peoples and the troops were mobilised and were able to stop the Maxel troops at Rubicon River gorge. It soon became apparent the two sides were very well matched and the Rubicon became the new border between them. The mountain and desert provinces named themselves the Rubicon Federation of Kolna. And the central government named itself the Maxel Republic of Kolna.
© Copyright 1999, Julie Peters