23rd of June 2136 – Edition 1
Welcome to the earliest edition of The News of the Future. Please accept my apologies, but, for reasons that will become evident during this article, I must remain nameless.
All I can tell you about myself is that I am not from your when. I am from a when 120 years into a possible future, and things are very different here.
No, no, no… radioactive mega-ants do not rule with an iron thorax… and no, there was no robot rebellion and uprising that enslaved the human race for all eternity. I’m sorry if that disappoints you but the truth is much worse.
The truth is that we voted for it. We chose subservience democratically. We didn’t create an army of cruel and callous automatons to eventually destroy our way of life. No, we became them.
The year is 2136 and my world is a passionless routine of servitude and surveillance. A world that is suppressed and subjugated. The manipulative mediacracy of your when becomes, in time, the dystopian dictatorship of mine.
Here and now censorship is rife. The rights to freedom of expression that you (enjoy?) in your when do not exist in mine. Independent publications of any sort are prohibited and foreign press materials are contraband. This very article would warrant me a death sentence if its existence became known.
For those of you who have a basic understanding of temporal paradoxes, you may be wondering how I can possibly hope to elude discovery; the very act of publishing directly into the past surely condemns me in my present, right? The truth is, I don’t expect I will escape discovery, I have already accepted the ultimate conclusion.
I call it – The unknown it.
I imagine it will be something simple like the creak of a floorboard where no floorboard should creak, or a footstep on the stairs where no feet should be stepping.
After that, I imagine it will all come quickly: the smash of glass and splintering wood; bright lights and boots on the floor; loud voices and a bag over my head.
After that, nobody knows.
I do not know when it will come. I only know that it will come, and probably soon. Until then, I will tell you as much as I can.
On June 23rd 2016 the world (as you know it) changes. It changes subtly and terribly. You cannot have any idea of the consequences your actions cause. The end results are too disparate, too fantastic to be believed.
A decision is made. A single decision that causes ripples in the great political and socio-economic ocean of your when. These ripples become tidal waves and the tidal waves become tsunamis. In time, they consume everything – everything good and green and just. They consume the world you live in. And, after the waters of change recede, they leave behind a stark world of fear and folly and mistrust.
I have traced the ripples back to a single day; to a single decision.
I can only tell you what comes after.
In my when, it is known that on the 23rd of June 2016, The United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK) holds a referendum on whether they should leave the European Union (EU).
I cannot tell you the outcome of this vote. (The paradoxical implications of publishing directly into the past and the risk of destroying the universe are already quite high.) I can tell you, however, that the successful campaign wins by a 52% public majority vote. I believe that this decision is the first step towards the timeline that I now inhabit. It is the catalyst that brings the entire world to its knees.
The months that follow this decision are the beginnings of an era of civil unrest. Riots, looting and car theft become widespread. Government buildings are attacked. Atrocities are committed, far too numerous to be named.
Within eight years the ripples spread outwards from the UK, first, to the European continent and, secondly, to America and the wider world.
Four years after that, the EU disintegrates. Germany and France unite under a common banner and the rest of mainland Europe divides. The countries that once stood united devolve into martial-law nation-states or tyrannous autocracies. Borders close, walls are erected and the beginnings of the new world are born.
This dividing of nations causes further civil unrest across much of Europe, military maneuvers and border-clashes lead to nation-states reinforcing their borders with ever-growing armies. Bloodshed, mistrust and violence are only the beginning.
The disintegration of the EU does not go unnoticed by our American cousins. In the months following the American people vote Donald Trump in as their president. (This may come as a shock to many of you, but the decision is believed to be very much linked with the growing amount of civil unrest they see spreading across the European continent. The American people are drip-fed fear and propaganda and just as Europe is fragmented and fighting they choose a man who offers them security through arms. The American people rejoice, and in 2020 Donald Trump is reelected for a second term in office.
I cannot describe all the past events leading to my when in detail because my time here is limited. I cannot tell you which way to vote on the referendum to avoid ending up in this hellish future, because ultimately it does not matter. I know this might seem confusing. I will try my best to explain.
I told you earlier that the world changes but this isn’t quite accurate. The fact is that you change. We change. We all change. The people change.
I have seen brothers divided by opinion. I have seen families fragmented by mistrust. I have seen hatred and fear and ruin 10 billion lives.
The outcome of your upcoming referendum is not hugely important. It is how you treat each other afterwards. You have a democratic right to vote however you see fit, and you should use it.
But afterwards, you must not turn on each other. You must not forget that you are decent and loving and kind. You must not forget that you are human, and that other people are human too. Love one another and be accepting of your differences. Show some genuine human decency.
If you are looking for someone to blame, look towards your newspapers and your televisions. Look towards the shifting sands of distraction politics and manipulative media. Look towards your governments.
Don’t act too late. One hundred and twenty years may seem like a long time, but things happen very quickly.
My time is up. I have to go now.
I will return if I can.