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In science fiction there is a specific category of books called alternate history where you simply travel into the past and suddenly change history. What if you could travel to 1754 just before the French and Indian War in America with a modern army of the future, and decided to build a new world order? Would you stop the Seven Years’ War that started in 1756? Where would you begin, how would you go about it?
These could sound like strange questions but this is precisely what many science fiction authors must deal with, they have to think of ways of changing history for the better. Like stopping wars through wars or demonstration of power in order to build a new world order. I am writing such a novel right now and it is not as easy as that. Because suddenly my small town in Quebec from the year 2039 is sent to 1754, becoming instantly the most fearsome power in the world (don’t worry, Celine Dion remained safely in 2039, she was in Las Vegas when it happened).
The idea is to find a way to end all wars and occupations, if only we could put an end to all exploitation, slavery and injustices against human rights. Eliminating poverty, starvation, pollution, global warming, the list is endless. It makes you think about what could be done in the present to achieve just the same results for the future, if somehow a real superpower was actually keen on achieving these goals. History proves that such a superpower will never exist, since its self-interests and the self-interests of its main constituents always take over, take over the world.
In a way this is what today’s superpowers are playing at, unfortunately this is no science fiction. Re-arranging and eliminating the world’s frontiers to permit an opened international commerce which translates into exploitation. Trying to stop wars in the Middle-East through more wars that only make things worse, because our intentions are not exactly honorable.
If it was all to the benefit of the people of America or the United Kingdom that we went to war in the Middle-East, or for the purpose of freeing Arabs from their so-called horrible leaders, it would already be more respectable, it could benefit us all. But these wars for profit are entirely for the benefit of very large and rich corporations who no longer have any identity or nationalistic pride. Winning the wars in the Middle-East today will not bring anyone’s pride after many million deaths, it will simply bring more money and financial gains to these corporations, most likely without benefitting any of us.
In fictional novels it is far easier, most authors are usually idealistic in nature, they are moral and ethical people. Most books on alternate history are about ensuring Adolf Hitler is killed before any genocide happens and JFK’s murder is prevented somehow in hopes that he would have changed history and saved our failing democracy. There is also a morbid fascination about changing the outcome of the American Civil War of 1861. There I suppose the idea was to preserve slavery and prevent the reunion of the American States? I’m not sure, books on that topic bores me to death. Who cares about the American civil wars of the past, unless it was concerning the next one that is long overdue?
Here is my problem. I have now an army of the future capable of annihilating the whole world of 1754-1756. I intend for my small town of French-Canadians sent into the past to take over the world but in the most humane way. To do only good in the world and bring about a new world order to be remembered and appreciated for centuries to come. Just that, how difficult can it be?
So of course my first move is to stop all immigration from the Spanish and the British countries, and only encourage French immigration to such places like North, Central and South America, New Zealand and Australia. Everywhere else seems already populated to the brink with other people, so they should be left to themselves. No more war and no more occupation.
But what about the aboriginal people barely populating the new worlds but still with a right to the land? I can no longer just eradicate them all like we did in the past. Can I just squeeze them out to some particular state no one wants even today, Nebraska for example? Or can I plan a major assimilation program to bring them to live and speak just like the powerful white people of the future, French in this instance? After all, we have suffered so many American blockbusters about real Americans saving and taking over the world, it is time for other nations to become as nationalistic ad nauseam as our American friends. Might as well be Quebec who will come to save the world this time against all alien invasions.
It will be difficult because I could not turned Amerindians into slaves, it is well referenced anyway in history that all attempts to enslave American Indians failed. So instead we just drowned them into alcohol. It was not an ideal solution, but you do what you can when you build a new world order. Spoken like a true colonizer of the world.
What do I do with the British and the Spanish colonies already in America in 1754? Also with the assimilation to the French-Canadian superpower of the world? I will have to act quickly, otherwise once again most of America will speak Spanish by the time we reach 2039.
And once everyone is well on their way to be assimilated, keeping to French as the only main language in the world, I will have turn to preventing the Seven Years’ War, which basically could be qualified as the real First World War. I will have to drop a few bombs all around any army still fighting or moving toward another nation, without killing any of them. I will have to install my big hegemony upon the world. And if one country truly cannot get the message, I might as well just annihilate it. Spain comes to mind. Others will get the message.
I’m already becoming quite the monster in my plans to build a new world order. I came to understand that perhaps there is no way really to save the world or help the planet on a global scale without becoming a tyrant. But the worst is still to come, because once peace has been established in the whole world, even if I decided that the aboriginal people could keep the Americas, New Zealand and Australia, to see how these first nations could develop in time into great nations if we had not interfered, it still remains that I would need to eradicate injustices and provide human rights to all. And what about capitalism versus socialism?
My small town in Quebec is now in control of the whole world, it is time to pay a visit to all the Kings and Queens of Europe and other powers of the world, to teach them a few concepts that even today we find hard to grasp, like democracy and human rights. Am I to suggest to them to move aside and become simply a symbol like in England, and order them to create a Parliament of elected officials to take care of business?
We kind of tried that recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, it does not seem to have worked out the way we planned. Perhaps because we have forgotten what democracy truly means, we obviously control those governments and so they are not exactly democratic. What can you expect, elections in America are no longer trustworthy, electoral fraud has taken over. That is not the biggest worry though, it is that no matter who is in power, as proven by the extremely poor track record of such an idealist as Barack Obama, the situation in the United States and worldwide just got even worse.
We can’t have that in 1754, my new world order will be a true democracy, and all these countries will eventually stay home and govern themselves the way they want. Even though the only way I can see this ever happening, would be to actually babysit them until they get there, and then, I suppose, babysit them even more to ensure the perfect and ideal world we all hope for. It could easily become a tyranny one way or another, even with the best intentions, as soon as we interfere anywhere in the world.
So no problem, I already have in mind the creation of the New United Nations, headquarters in the extreme north of Quebec’s province (near the North Pole, where everything and everyone is already frozen to death), so I will be able to keep a close eye on everything they do. The aims of my new UN will be the same as today: facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace.
It is just weird that if the UN today is incapable of achieving any of those aims, how can I possibly expect my new UN in 1754 to accomplish anything? Very puzzling this state of affair, and a real headache for my new humanity. How will I make it work, or more precisely why is the United Nations failing to make things better? There are only two explanations: either the UN is a corrupt organization serving the financial markets and large corporations of the world without regard for human rights, just like most governments today, or the United Nations organization is a powerless toothless giant that no one cares about. Which is it?
I will have to ensure no corruption and a very powerful United Nations in 1754, backed up by my army from the future. There will be no disobeying the United Nations any longer, and no five main superpowers controlling most if not all of the Security Council. I wonder if I will be able to pull it off. Of course I will, the author of a novel is God, and as long as God is moral and ethical, nothing can go wrong in the creation of a new world order. Wait, where have I heard that before? God or the belief in God never stopped any war or genocide, on the contrary.
So now I have to decide between imposing capitalism or socialism unto the world. That’s an easy one, I will just take Canada’s template of being a good mix between hard core capitalism and extreme socialism (why do I feel like I am talking about porn here), the best of both worlds. The best health care possible for free for everyone for a start, independent from any corporation or employer. What is important is that everyone should live happily ever after, with everything they will ever need, without becoming slaves to the system. Will that work though? Seems to work in Canada. Perhaps it only works there because Canada is already such a rich country anyway, filled with natural resources other countries can only dream of. How would such a system work in Africa?
I might have some reservations though about stock exchange markets and such volatile economy that can be brought down to its knees every time the slightest insignificant news is announced on TV. Not sure if I want to recreate a world that will have to go into an economic crisis every 10 years, and a deep depression every 100 years or so. How could I prevent that, the manipulations of the market? Will I need to go into that many details in my novel? My God, I will lose all my readers.
In conclusion I can now appreciate how difficult it is to build a new world order, impose it unto the world, even with the best intentions ever. People will get hurt, many will be left out, corruption quickly gets in and then you face instead a great force of evil that can be extremely destructive to the world. Perhaps I should not try to create a new world order, maybe I should just ensure no more wars and conquest, and leave all these countries to their own devices.
After of course making sure they were all real democracies, unlike the fake ones we have today. Oh, I must eliminate slavery, and women must instantly have the same rights as any man. And there I am, already meddling about and planning interferences. If I could just annihilate all religions with one nuclear bomb, it might be worth it. Wouldn’t that be a reign of fear and terror that could only bring about misery across the world? It is never easy to play God with humanity.
Interesting how writing a science fiction novel about alternate history can suddenly expose all that we do wrong in this world. The solutions I have to find to make it all work are the very solutions we are struggling with today, that we could implement today to make this world a better one without ostracizing anyone. Have you got any solution? Should we go ahead with creating a new world order or not? If so, how should we go about it? Better not leave it to our leaders and governments, corruption there has taken over at every level a long time ago.
“Without irony, this life would hardly be worth living.”
Roland Michel Tremblay, Poet for Human Rights