In my latest project, a near-future adaptation of G.K. Chesterton’s masterpiece The Man Who Was Thursday, I’ve been working hard to take a plot, characters, and setting originally created for what was then the turn of the 20th Century and bring it forward 125 years. In some ways this hasn’t been too terribly difficult, like in substituting vehicles for horses. In other ways it has been very challenging.
Not only am I having to create new situations where most of the dialog and plot makes sense, I’m having to look ahead 15 years from now to try to predict what the future will look like. For the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of what I’m facing and offer my solutions. I’d really like your input in if that idea works, and if you could think of things that might be even better.
One of the themes of TMWWT is order vs. anarchy. I won’t ruin Chesterton’s surprising conclusions on the subject in the book, but a link to one of his other writings can be found here. In his day there was a very serious Anarchy movement, based not in the criminal madness we are accustomed to today, as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight so expertly portrayed. Instead, anarchy was being promoted by philosophers and others in the intelligentsia. This was around the same time that communism was gaining steam, and both movements were reasoned attempts to right perceived wrongs of the existing political structure.
Now, how can I possibly translate this in a near future setting?
Currently there is a growing anarchist movement online. You may have heard of Anonymous, the loosely organized “hacktivist” group who most recently came out in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks by attacking companies and other online entities who had withdrawn their support. Anonymous has been around for awhile, but this is the first time they’ve gotten this political and visible.
In my mind’s eye, I can foresee Anonymous and similar groups continuing to grow and becoming a much more organized and potent force. At some point they will reach critical mass to leverage numbers, technology, and social media to force change. Believe me, nothing fuels momentum like success. One of these days they will succeed in advancing whatever agenda strikes them, and when they do we may witness a new wave of anarchy as they and others are emboldened by their achievement.
Though, I don’t use Anonymous or WikiLeaks in my update of TMWWT, I believe online activism is the way to go in portraying anarchism in the future. Here is a compilation of related snippets of my new prologue for Thursday…
NO ONE understood what The Convergence would mean until it already happened, and few saw it coming. The change was monumental; it touched every living thing. But contrary to popular belief, it did not transform human nature. It amplified it.
Looking back, historians disagree on when it began. Some said the emergence of cloud computing accessed by mobile devices had set it in motion. Others pointed to the rise of online vigilantism, or “hacktivism”, fueled by corrupt governments and their failure to protect their citizenry from terrorism. Some said it was the breakdown of privacy as all information became digital…
…Change came forcibly with great difficulty and upheaval. The worldview of the technological savvy became one where the virtual and the physical were one, where time-honored institutions such as education, commerce, and government held little value or power, and the idea that one person – with the right information and skill – could institute enormous change for good or for ill. It was the birth of a new form of anarchy…
So, am I on the right track? Can you foresee such a rise of online anarchy in 15 years? What other ideas could I use to build a world where anarchy is a believable threat to the world? Thanks for your thoughts and advice!