Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, interlude
Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.
“As a great albeit flawed historian once said, history is little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of humanity. The events of the mid-twenty-first century show that this maxim has stood the test of time.
It is a common belief that the Pacific Northwest Earthquake of 2064 was a sudden devastating blow that brought a superpower to its knees. In fact, the United States had been suffering a slow, arguably terminal decline for decades. The huge, showy, gas-guzzling cars; the even huger, showier, energy-wasting houses; the lavish lifestyles and wild bacchanals of the rich; the huge sums squandered on mindless entertainment and conspicuous consumption; the frenzied competition for fame on social media; the churches that proclaimed America to be a uniquely blessed and divinely favored nation; all of these were a hollow attempt at self-deception. Beneath the facade was a worsening anemia, like a giant bleeding from dozens of small wounds.
The symptoms were evident in the widening wealth gap, which had become a yawning gulf separating the rich and the destitute; the year-by-year rise in every measure of unemployment, homelessness, poverty and hunger; the steady degradation of public schools and public infrastructure; the soaring prices of food, energy, education and health care, and the corresponding surge in consumer debt; the plague of mass shootings and other violent outbursts fueled by directionless rage; and the evaporation of unions, independent media, and every other force that might have stood against the decline…”