The Final Purge: a History of Freedom and Suffering

1: Initiation

The rise of the New Founding Fathers should not have come as a surprise. In a country where the Democrats grew too genuinely radical, and the Republicans got used to saying the quiet things loud, the respectable fascism of the NFFA was bound to win over the ruling classes. They possessed all the necessary traits of an American Founder, being eloquent, principled, and willing to hold men in bondage. Many of them held executive positions in the private prison industry, a fact that might appear ironic at first glance, until one realizes that this gave them great insight in the psychology of a shackled population. It was here that they learned one of the primary needs of the incarcerated: catharsis. If the Purge was meant to realize the catharsis of a prison riot in society at large, then we can conclude with hindsight that the parallel between prisons and state societies was never as strong as the NFFA itself believed. After all, the social value of wanton violence would eventually be overcome through the realization of another human need: community.

After the NFFA’s electoral victory in 2032, a pilot program for a ‘General Experiment in Mass Catharsis’ was quickly put into effect. Though the title sounded deliberately vague, the intent was clear from the start: create a controlled, time-limited environment in which all crime, including murder, will be legal. By 2035, preparations had been made for the first such “Purge”, to be held on the New York borough of Staten Island. The extensive use of financial incentives ensured a high level of participation, particularly by the poorest and most desperate element of the area’s population. The carnage thus created, however artificial it proved to be on further analysis, gave the Purge the exact image of purifying bloodlust the NFFA desired. The next year saw the experiment encompass the entire state of New Jersey, and 2038 saw start of the familiar 12-hours National Purge. Its signature announcement over the Emergency Alert System would haunt Americans for the next thirty years.

For around the first decade of the National Purge, everything seemed to be going the NNFA’s way. Though the slaughter that resulted from their social experiment did not appear to tamper the frustrations of the general populace, it did allow the US government to reassert greater control in its aftermath. The sense of indignity suffered by America’s most disadvantaged populations was turned inward rather than outward, a cycle of retribution sapping many communities of their organizational strength. At the same time, the privileged quarters of America found the National Purge to be a great opportunity for the sort of white-collar corruption that they denied themselves otherwise. The NFFA regime was held up through the sense of respectability it cultivated, and so its supporters had to steer clear of overt criminality outside of the designated moment. However, it was this demand for unfettered corruption during the Purge that would lead to some of its early challenges.

2: Provocation

By design, the Purge did not pose any challenge to the NFFA’s authority. As with many capitalist institutions though, it contained within its acceleration the seeds of its own destruction. With more and more international trade laws being violated during the Purge, the natural result of a corrupt and impatient capitalist class, it was only a matter of time before the question of border enforcement came to be challenged from below.

During the Purge of 2050, a fleet of automated cargo vessels descended upon Port of New Orleans, supposedly bearing a critical supply of experimental hard drugs from an American-owned plantation in the Miranda territory. With much of Venezuela still controlled by the federal government, this made the shipment an internal affair, and security was more lax than usual during a Purge. What the few customs officials in New Orleans didn’t know or expect was that the shipment had been hijacked by Neo-Zapatistas operating out of Yucatan, looking to provide training and small arms to the anti-NFFA insurgents that now eagerly awaited them. The New Orleans Rising of 2050 would outlast the Purge by about a month, but its crushing by the US army lead to a re-evaluation of American border controls.

The Mass Catharsis Confinement Act of 2051 was a direct product of the foreign-assisted insurgency. While it continued to allow for the unrestricted flow of liquid capital during the 12-hour period, any cargo transport that sought to enter or leave the continental US would be subject to a post-Purge application process, with shipments of weapons and ‘military-aged males’ being outright banned. Even though the latter clause gave rise to the YPJ challenge of 2051, most opportunities for outside interference with the Purge had now been quashed. Liberation would have to come from within the American prison.

3: Adaptation

By the early 2050s, an entire generation was coming of age that had never consciously experienced a pre-Purge America. Paradoxically, this made them less prone to Purge-associated violence than their forebears: with these horrors was now the status quo, younger Americans saw it as something to be transcended rather than embraced. If adult fears can be said to have roots in children’s nightmares, then the nightmares of early Purges had likely shaped every young adult in the US. Beyond this basic hesitance about the now biyearly period of cleansing, many young people were also being shaped by its more positive spin-offs, such as the literary flourishing of Purge fiction. Along with the scholarly work of Purge theorists, Purge literature relieved many of their scriptlessness, the lack of established norms surrounding the Purge and its aftermath. By inculcating people with a sense of social responsibility in the absence of state authority, the oppressed masses of America were slowly turning into natural anarchists, whereas before they could only be called so derisively. The societal effects of this process of Purge adaptation would in time grow far beyond the limits of its designated 24 hours.

As was hinted at before, the period that was afforded to the National Purge had been on the rise during the 2050s, spurred on once again by the greedy impatience of the rich and powerful. 12 hours a year had proven to be too little time to realize all the crooked dealings of the capitalist class, and so the 2055 Lawlessness Expansion Act was the logical next step for the NFFA’s most popular institution. But even two Purges a year could not satisfy the regime’s primary backers, and so the end of the decade saw a lively debate on how exactly to further expand the Purge. In order to keep the poor at each other’s throats in their revenge-fueled bloodlust, increasing the number of events a year was the most favored option initially. But when Purge speculators considered the benefits of lengthening the individual events, the Multi-Purge Plan was quickly outcompeted by the Extension Initiative, with 2059 consolidating the two separate Purges into one week-long event. It was an escalation that the ruling classes would come to regret.

4: Experimentation

2060 saw the beginning of the end of the Period of Purges, though it would take until after the Revolution of 2068 for people to recognize it as such. The 7-day Period of Lawlessness had taken some getting used to, but this structure proved to be of benefit to the general public. While the creative opportunities of a half day’s liberty were limited, Purge Week was a true experiment in anarchy. The means of survival now had to be properly organized, a task made easier by the virtual advice and encouragement of distant comrades. Purge Community Centers and other such institutions finally lived up to their name, as most Americans now had at least some experience with their management. The utilities so created not only included water, shelter, and healthcare, but also justice and leisure. Looting was becoming a serious profession during Purge Week, since the extended period both allowed for and necessitated a more careful administration of property. With the most easily acquired treasures laying just outside impoverished areas, its inhabitants could either embrace the tide of looters and squatters and seek greater treasures along with them, or try their luck with gated upper-class communities that only seemed to heighten their walls with every passing year.

Indeed, it were the anemic middle classes of America that found themselves suddenly forced to pick a side in the great conflict at the heart of American life, and it was them that provided much of the dynamism of early-60s Purge Weeks. In many cases, they predictably sided with their capitalist managers, effectively operating as a new National Guard that could let loose their most xenophobic urges. At other times however, relatively affluent areas would show a remarkable solidarity with anti-NFFA causes, though their relative inexperience with such organizing also resulted in such tragedies as the Florida Villages Massacre of 2062. All in all, this was a time of great social experiments on both sides of American society, with new techniques of either submission or liberation being tested extensively. Where the Washington Exemption Act of 2063 was a clear sign that the NFFA government was looking to protect its assets from the success of its own institution, the 2064 Siege of Detroit formed the prototype to a most effective revolutionary strategy. In fact, this latter event was the first real victory on the path to a New America. But how?

5: Confrontation

From the 2040s onwards, the city of Detroit had been aggressively redeveloped by a conglomerate of tech companies, most of it financed through unlicensed cryptocurrency speculation during the Purge. This had led to a forced exodus of Detroit’s native population, mostly consisting of African-Americans, further intensifying the racial factor of this area’s economic disparities. The injustice thus suffered would prove a strong rallying point for the people of Michigan, who were among the first to embrace all the organizational innovations that Purge Week brought along with it. When most of the internal movement restrictions were lifted in the leadup to the 2064 event, representatives from all of Michigan’s ‘New Communes’ descended upon the city of Flint, where they drafted the now-famous Flint Decree of 2064. The primary demand of the New Communalists was the expropriation of Detroit, its land and capital being divested to the people it had once belonged to, with interest. To put some power to this decree, the great people of Michigan began to surround Inner Detroit’s many walls and fences, hoping to cut off whatever resources its privileged inhabitants might depend on. The Siege of Detroit had begun.

Meanwhile, the exemption of Washington DC as per the act of 2063 had suddenly made the passing of laws during the Purge a viable option. While most laws would naturally be useless during the week’s events, the now-proposed Fortnight Act was a significant exception, as it would double the length of the 2064 Purge itself through its passing. Lobbied for by some opportunistic if irresponsible security concerns, hoping to cash in on the sudden and desperate need for more of their services at its passing, the act would doom the defenders of Detroit. With all communications in and out of the city jammed by the New Communalists, including financial transactions, the tech executives found themselves unable to pay for their continued protection. Though they promised their contracted security details the moon, there were enough disgruntled mercenaries to compromise the defense of Detroit’s inner districts. What followed was an orderly takeover of one of America’s richest metropoles, the only real resistance coming from a company of robotic private police officers. Against anyone’s initial expectations, Detroit had been liberated from the forces of capital, a liberation that would subsequently be upheld by the US Supreme Court under the NFFA’s own Aggressive Takeover Act of 2042. It was the first victory for the New Communes of America, but it would not be the last.

6: Reformation

From 2064 onwards, the confrontation between the existing NFFA regime and this collection of Purge-embracing New Communes would only intensify. The siege strategy was repeated a handful of times during the 2065 Purge Week, particularly in the cities of the Bay Area State. With their colleagues in Detroit having fallen to a communalist mob the year before, the paranoia of Silicon Valley’s executives proved greater than their faith in their militias and mercenaries. Using the Purge Week to sell off most of their US assets to NFFA they loyalists, they called on the protection of the Chinese Pacific Fleet, which was not about to be stopped by the mostly automated (and thus hackable) US naval forces. Everything considered, it was a pretty clean secession, one that spared these capitalists the fate of their former countrymen.

Throughout the rest of 2065, the NFFA would try everything to ensure the capitalist class of America of their continued grip on power. One way of doing so was the introduction of Special Exemption Districts, basically applying the immunity of Washington DC to other elite communities. However, since this would necessarily mean the suspension of more elite Purge activity, the SEDs would prove unpopular outside of a few middle-class districts, and even these areas would soon learn the irrelevance of federal policing in an age of ubiquitous private protection. Pretty soon, the NFFA was back to pleasing their military-industrial backers through Purge extension, with 2066 seeing the first Purge Month. But once again, the increased profits for security concerns was outweighed by the strategic benefits enjoyed by the New Communes, as Purge Sieges were numerous and organized than ever before. Another Purge strategy that became increasingly effective was the Border Incursion, where bands of insurgents from both sides of a border would use a coordinated assault to force convoys of supplies and volunteers into the United States. The New Communes of Canada proved instrumental in this effort, helping to turn Michigan and Wisconsin into liberated territories. Though the border with Mexico was too tough to crack for now, it was clear that the NFFA regime had to step up or perish.

7: Hesitation

The period leading up to the 2067 National Purge saw another round of NFFA reforms, though these proved slightly more popular than those of the year before. A new administrative division called the Permanent Purge District was retroactively applied to the rebellious states of the Midwest, turning them into permanent war zones where any seasoned mercenary could Purge to their heart’s content. All this really did was train New Commune militias in resisting the successive waves of failed expeditions, but at least it gave the NFFA an excuse for not trying to retake effective government control over these regions. Another significant reform was the Special Exemption Status, a way for wealthy citizens to buy a legal rather than just a practical exclusion from the Purge. Considering the abysmal state of federal forces by 2067, the right to sue post-Purge was likely a more valued aspect of the SES than whatever immediate police protection it granted oneself. On the other hand, the implicit protection from private forces granted by the SES would make the 2067 Purge Season among the strangest up to that point, eclipsed only by the Revolution of 2068.

At first, the Purge of 2067 mostly continued the developments of years before, with the NCA expanding in the Midwest while the NFFA hunkered down around SEDs and privatized regions. It was with the Siege of Dallas however, that events really went off the rails. The New Communalists of Texas had decided to borrow a strategy from their class enemies and use the Purge as a means of accruing, albeit through a global charity rather than immoral investments. With the collected wealth of the world’s revolutionaries, a significant part of the Texan New Communes was able to apply for Special Exemption Status, the automated systems recognizing them as nouveaux riches worthy of state protection. The Purge-ridden communalists of Texas proceeded to besiege the city of Dallas, whose capitalists were technically still participants in the Purge, and as such could not call to the state for help themselves. Of course, the NFFA government was not about to let Dallas get liberated on a technicality, and so they offered to turn Dallas into an SED, effective immediately. However, the people of Dallas were more stubborn than sensible, believing that their private militias could simply apply to the SES themselves, break through the ‘legal’ siege with minimal force, and then take care of whichever communalist was still a Purge participant. While this so-called “Dallas Plan” was a risky strategy, it was the only one that had a chance of both destroying the Texan New Communes and staying within the realm of legality. With the siege entering its third week, the NFFA hesitantly approved of it. Whether it succeeded or not, everyone involved expected this situation to resolve itself soon.

On the sixteenth day of the Siege of Dallas, the recently immunized private forces of the Dallas capitalists began their breakthrough attempt. Unfortunately, these hirelings had been trained for a more aggressive style of warfare, and even their version of a nonlethal approach left dozens of Texan communalists bleeding out in the streets. Beyond the horrific loss of life, this bloodshed also created a potential lawsuit between the capitalist and communalist forces involved in the siege, one which could cost either party more than they were willing to pay. Over the next week, the confrontations only grew in number and intensity, the implicit legal costs piling on and on until they were sure to bankrupt both sides of the conflict. With Purge Month nearing its end, everyone in and around Dallas was desperate for an escape from this legal quagmire, and so they resorted to the one option they had left: extension. With money flowing into the NFFA’s pockets from both bloodthirsty capitalists and, regrettably, fearful communalists, the National Purge soon found itself extended to three weeks, and then four weeks. Many security concerns were headquartered in Dallas, and the profits they generated from the continued Purge were quickly funneled back into more extension lobbying. The Siege of Dallas dragged on for another month, and it would take until the thirteenth week before both sides were destitute enough to prefer a negotiated end to the 2067 Purge. Overseen by the unprecedented UN Commission on the American Situation, the siege would be resolved by retroactively repealing the Special Exemption Status, and declaring Dallas a Permanent Purge District. These measures combined allowed for a real if localized Purge to take care of the situation. And while Dallas continued to burn, the rest of the nation was recovering from the chaos of 2067. Though many cities were now in the hands of anti-NFFA radicals, some measure of peace returned to the North American continent.

8: Meditation

By 2068, almost everyone in the US suspected that another Purge would break the nation. Not only had big parts of America already declared for the NCA, but they were now coordinating on a federal and international level, with the “New Communes” label uniting oppressed peoples from across the world. Many of them were indigenous and anarchistic, two labels that had never sat well with ‘ordinary’ Americans. Yet they represented a past that the USA had long denied, and which the NCA was only just appealing to. Ironically, it was the state institution of the Purge that had awoken this people, teaching them to adapt to the lawless, non-civilized perspective that had always been present in American history. By being excluded from the colonist’s settlement by these New Founding Fathers, the members of the NCA had been given both a punishment and an opportunity, and they were going to make the most of that.

The Common Charter of the New Communes of America, known now as just the Charter, was declared on July 4th 2068, the traditional start of the year’s Purge. In this document, the individual members of the NCA committed themselves to the “lawless liberty, classless equality, and undivided brotherhood of all beings”. In practice, this meant that they would commit to open warfare against the American state, and by extension all states of similar persuasion. They also declared that the 2067 Purge had been the last committed by the NFFA regime, and that its illusory anarchy would be supplanted by “a genuine community without laws or cruelties”. This was the NCA’s Purge.

9: Liberation

And a Purge it was. By besieging the gated communities of border patrol agents, Southwestern communalists were able to thin out the already lackluster defense of the Mexican border, which was soon broken by caravans of liberators. From the north came the relentless onslaught of the Midwestern Frontier, the colloquial name for the Michigan-Canadian detachment of the NCA. The Siege of Dallas was finally brought to a close, its elites allowed one last trip off the planet aboard the shuttle of a geriatric South African. The East Coast was set upon by a thousand fleets, all hoping to secure the liberation of this New America. It was as if the nation (or better, the world) was simultaneously broken up in a million pieces, and finally united as one. If ever there was a global catharsis, a righteous anger channeled in a rightful manner, this was it.

As we all know, the Revolution of 2068 was not the end of things, as many oppressive regimes still haunt our existence as liberators. But the events of this year set in motion a great many revolutions, the American nexus of imperialism shattering for the good of the world. For example, I personally know of some Iranians and Venezuelans who no longer have to suffer the indignity of living in a ‘US federal territory’, a term that sounds much more benevolent if you’ve never lived in one. For them and all other former Americans, who suffered through thirty years of state-managed self-inflicted atrocities, the word “Purge” can still elicit trauma and anxiety. But as the Common Charter declared those  many years ago, it is a term that can be reclaimed by those who lived it, who know their anger was never really directed at one another, but at their government. And if we reflect on it, it was not even the NFFA regime in particular that came to elicit such anger. It was America, the West, capital, the state! It was all these great terms, each of which tries to capture a fraction of the suffering that hierarchical, structural violence can create. And in suffering this suffering, we learned how to eliminate it. All that it took us, was a Final Purge.

 

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