Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 125-128
“Now, let us get down to business,” the Antichrist says.
Rayford pulled up the top two sheets on his clipboard and began to take notes, as Carpathia outlined immediate plans.
At last. The Rapture occurred more than a year and a half ago and Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist, seized power soon afterwards, ruling over the entire world (except Israel) as a global dictator with unchecked power and no one to stand in his way as he set about demonstrating his wickedness as the all-time epitome of evil.
Well, that’s what it said on the package anyway. The actual Antichrist here in our story hasn’t done a whole lot during his first 500 days on the throne.
I don’t mean to diminish his accomplishments. He’s built a brand new global capital — and entire city — in the middle of a desert. And he’s consolidated the entire globe under one world government, one world religion, one world currency and one world language. That’s all quite impressive — probably even impossible. But we still haven’t seen anything much like a plan. Nicolae has been putting all his pieces in place, but nothing we’ve seen suggests he has any idea what to do with them.
It seems like he’s just drifting along — an evil mastermind without an evil master plan. The sudden burst of arbitrary mass-murder in the early part of this book shows a newfound enthusiasm for the evil part of that equation, but there still hasn’t been any sign of the plan part.
But now Nicolae promises to “get down to business.” Now, at last, he’s ready to outline his evil scheme of evilness:
“We must act swiftly,” he was saying, “while the people are most vulnerable and open. They will look to the Global Community for help and aid, and we will give it to them.”
That is, I suppose, a plan. But now I’m confused about the evil part. Providing help and aid to vulnerable people makes the Antichrist’s OWG seem kind of like the International Red Cross, and most of us don’t usually think of the Red Cross as a global supervillain and/or the embodiment of Satan.
Aha, there’s a catch. Excellent. Maybe Nicolae will reveal that this help and aid is conditional. He will rebuild their shattered cities, feeding and sheltering the millions of nuclear refugees, but in exchange for this assistance he will demand that the afflicted sacrifice their children.
Hold on, no, wait. Scratch that. There are no children anymore in the world of this novel. I keep forgetting.
That’s an important point to keep in mind, too, when we’re evaluating Nicolae’s work as an Antichrist. It puts him at a rather large disadvantage in the monstrous evil department. Sure, he’s still able to do things like bomb a hospital, killing Bruce Barnes and hundreds of other sick people, but that would have been so much more evil if the pediatric ward hadn’t already been empty. This whole world-without-children thing really does handicap Nicolae’s ability to do the sort of thing we’d expect from an epitome of evil. He’s supposed to surpass all the monsters of history, but it’s hard to compete with guys like Genghis Khan or Joshua when there are no children available to put to the sword.
So, OK, demanding that his subjects sacrifice their children is out, but he could still maybe require some kind of Shirley-Jackson “The Lottery” situation, where, say, food and shelter from the Global Community only goes to cities who offer a random 1 percent of their residents as a human sacrifice.
But no. Nicolae doesn’t have anything that evil in mind. What he intends to do, instead, is to rebuild all the cities he just finished nuking, ensuring that everyone is housed, fed and spared from hardship. But in return he will levy taxes to pay for it.
“However, they will give it to us first. We had an enormous storehouse of income before the rebuilding of Babylon. We will need much more to effect our plan of raising the level of Third World countries so that the entire globe is on equal footing.”
That oxymoronic phrase “storehouse of income” gives a hint of Nicolae’s shaky grasp on economics — a subject about which he and the authors are deeply confused.
The authors also tip their hand here when you consider what they have just provided. This is intended to be a threat — a wicked threat of dire immorality. The Antichrist is the worst person in the history of the world and here he threatens to do the worst thing he can imagine doing. And that, in the authors’ words, is “raising the level of Third World countries.”
What does “countries” even mean in the context of a one-world government? Weren’t all countries abolished and absorbed into the monolithic “Global Community” ruled over by the global potentate?
Yes. And no. Both. And neither.
Every time I think I have a firm grasp on this, the authors turn around and contradict themselves. Chapter after chapter, book after book, they provide occasional conclusive statements definitively stating that Nicolae is the head of a single government over the entire world. And then two pages later they introduce some local political leader or official — an American president or a Chicago police officer who shouldn’t exist in this world, but does.
This section flips back and forth on this point so much that I wound up almost as confused as Nicolae seems to be.
Later in this speech, Nicolae refers to the now-deceased “President Fitzhugh,” whose rebellion he says, “confirmed my earlier decision to virtually strip him of executive power.” That doesn’t clear up my questions about whether this OWG is really a OWG. Nor does the bit a few pages from now in which Nicolae says:
“I will soon be appointing leaders to replace the three ambassadors to the regions that turned against us. That will bring the Global Community administration back to its full complement of ten regions. While you are now known as ambassadors to the Global Community, forthwith I will begin referring to you as sovereign heads of your own kingdoms. You will each continue to report directly to me.”
So, forthwith, he’s going to replace the current structure with an exact replica in which the ambassadors will continue to be “sovereign” and “kings” except not, as they will also be reporting directly to the potentate. Got it? If so, could you explain it to me? Because I’m lost here.
The one thing that’s clear here is that these ambassadors are terrified of Nicolae. Because if they weren’t completely intimidated and paralyzed with fear of the potentate, they would be laughing at him, or at least asking questions about his very strange plan for diabolical taxation.
And it turns out this is the core, the skeleton, the foundation for all of the Antichrist’s evil master plan: taxes.
In theory, you could make that work. You could impose unbearably harsh taxes, following the example of Joseph in the book of Genesis, burying the people under such a heavy burden of taxes that eventually all of their property, their vocations, their bodies were the possession of the central government and the entire world was enslaved by the potentate.
That sort of thing would certainly seem to qualify as wicked (although, inexplicably, Joseph is rarely criticized for enslaving an entire nation), but it still seems a bit too abstract and detached. The Antichrist should be beastly, after all — ruling with an iron fist and an iron boot and not just with an iron spreadsheet.
Even the worst-case scenario for oppressive taxation only gets you something like North Korea. The Antichrist is supposed to be worse than North Korea. Plus, even North Korea doesn’t lean entirely on oppressive taxation for its evilness. They mix in a big dose of secret police, perpetual re-education and an absurd, Kafka-esque cult of personality.
It just doesn’t seem likely that Nicolae is going to succeed as an undisputed Antichrist if his evil master plan is going to lean so heavily on the evils of taxation.
The bigger problem, though, is that Nicolae’s tax plan just doesn’t make sense. Here he is outlining the first piece of it:
“You all have been doing a wonderful job of moving to the one-world currency. We are close to a cashless society, which can only help the Global Community administration. Upon your return to your respective areas, I would like you to announce, simultaneously, the initiation of a ten-cent tax on all electronic money transfers. When we get to the totally cashless system, you can imagine that every transaction will be electronic. I estimate that this will generate more than one and a half trillion dollars annually.”
So now we know that the one-world currency is, in fact, US dollars. Convenient. Almost as convenient as Nicolae’s decision to make English the one-world language. Those two factors should help make the Great Tribulation a little less tribulation-y for residents of the former United States.
This business about a cashless, one-world currency is of course meant to set the table for the whole Mark of the Beast system to come. This bit of premillennial dispensationalist “Bible prophecy” has entered popular culture to the extent that most people in our world (but no one in the world of the novel) are familiar with the idea taken from Revelation 13:
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
That passage is why “prophecy” obsessed fundies freaked out over the introduction of bar codes, and credit cards, and PayPal. This is why America will never have a national ID card. And why you have to carry your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance as three separate documents instead of those latter two just coming up when your license is scanned or swiped.
Anyway, you get the idea here of what Nicolae Carpathia is supposed to be steering toward. He wants a global system in which nothing can be bought or sold without his say-so.
Unfortunately, his bungled version of a financial transaction tax will likely make sure that never happens.
Consider the proposed Robin Hood Tax (which will probably never happen, but which I think is an interesting idea and could be an effective way of limiting speculation and shifting our economy away from our present imbalance toward the FIRE, or finance insurance real estate, sector). That’s a financial transaction tax of about 0.05 percent — or 1/20 of 1 percent. Nicolae’s tax doesn’t charge a percentage, but instead charges a flat 10 cents for every transaction. Under Nicolae’s tax, the cost doesn’t increase for a larger transaction, but it increases a great deal when you make a greater number of transactions. In other words, the Antichrist has just created a worldwide incentive for every business, investor and consumer to make fewer, less frequent financial transactions.*
So now everyone from investment banks to the coffee shop on the corner starts billing differently. You don’t pay for your cup of coffee every day anymore, you pay a monthly coffee bill. Transactions get bundled, pay periods get larger and longer. Everyone, everywhere starts running a tab for everything.
That, in turn, creates a cash-flow problem. Running a tab essentially means paying with IOUs instead of cash. So now everyone is piling up IOUs, but they’re short on cash. The obvious next step is to make IOUs transferable. There’s a well-established model for just exactly that, for a system of universally exchangeable IOUs. It’s called currency.
Nicolae’s flat-rate transaction tax would almost certainly undo everything he’s done to create a single global currency. It would encourage the rapid creation of a black-market currency system (which would likely make use of all the former national currencies he tried to abolish). Once he gets around to requiring everyone to take the Mark of the Beast, this black-market currency system will already be well-established and the Mark isn’t going to make much difference one way or another buying-and-selling-wise.
That black-market currency will also get a big boost from another piece of Nicolae’s odd tax plan:
“You knew the time would come for a tax to the Global Community on each area’s Gross National Product. That time has come. While the insurrectionists from Egypt, Great Britain, and North America have been devastated militarily, they must also be disciplined with a 50 percent tax on their GNP. The rest of you will pay 30 percent.
“Now do not give me those looks, gentlemen. You understand that everything you pay in will be returned to you in multiplied benefits. We are building a new global community. Pain is part of the process. …”
He misunderstands the looks he’s getting from the ambassadors. They’re not reacting to the “pain” of this proposed 30-percent “tax on their GNP,” they’re just trying to figure out what such a thing could possibly mean.
First off, there’s no longer any such thing as GNP under the OWG. It only makes sense to speak of “gross national product” if there are nations.
But nevermind that, the bigger question is how is such a tax “on GNP/GRP” supposed to be calculated and collected? I suppose since GNP is meant to total the price of all goods and services produced within a nation, then a 30-percent tax on GNP just means that nation would have to collect a 30 percent tax on everything in order to pay its national bill at the end of the year. In 2011, the U.S. GNP was about $15.23 trillion. So if the U.S. had owed a 30-percent “tax on GNP” to some global federation, would it have had to write a check for $4.57 trillion on Jan. 1, 2012, or could it just have $176 billion withheld from its national paycheck every two weeks?
Let’s just pretend for the sake of argument that there were some way to make sense of this idea of a “tax on GNP/GRP.” What this means is that most of the world will suddenly owe a 30-percent tax on every good and service that’s on the books. (The war-ravaged regions will owe an even higher tax, because that makes sense.)
The key words in that paragraph are “on the books.” This is yet another huge push in the direction of an off-the-books black-market currency. Anything that can be done off the books or under the table will be. Nicolae’s dream of one-world currency and a cashless society will be replaced by a cash-only, underground, under-the-table economy that avoids his OWC whenever possible.
But we’ve only scratched the surface so far of Nicolae Carpathia’s economic dreams. Next week we’ll look at more of his evil master plan, including his bewildering ideas for making sure that his one-world government is no longer dependent on foreign oil. (Yes, really.)
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* Nicolae’s estimate of $1.5 trillion in revenue works out to something like 10 transactions a day for every person, assuming a post-Rapture population of around 4 billion people. But that doesn’t count corporations, retailers, stock exchanges, investors, casinos, etc. Factor all those in and that $1.5 trillion figure looks really low.