Volume 33, Number 02, Winter, 2015

New Frontier, a utopian novel

By Jeremy Lee

Visions of the future are so often grim dystopian glimpses of tyrannical regimes, lost societies, and plagues, but there’s another enticing possibility of a future filled with endless possibilities. New Frontier sprang from a simple notion; what if the future burns brightly, what if despite all the odds humanity succeeds more often than it fails? What if the governments of the world receded, dissipated, or collapsed and instead of a nightmare a society of capitalist anarchy arose in the vacuum, spurring a revitalization that not only kept a dark age at bay, but also sparked a new industrial and technological revolution? Within the novel, told through flashback and through the eyes of people living in the world resulting from the collapse, the concept of capitalistic anarchy challenges many pre-conceived notions about what might happen in the wake of government collapsing. Extremes of the political wheel are terrifying, totalitarian government a threat in need of no explanation, but anarchy on the other end providing as many horrors, leaving people trying to find the path in the middle.

In the book, the concept remains remarkably simple, these modern governments running up ridiculous debt become bloated to the point they can’t adapt and respond when stresses keep pressing and crises erupt in quick succession. The old world order implodes over the span of only a few years, national governments evaporating, but unlike in older ages when governments collapsed there is another system holding society together which in many ways operates independent of nation-states, the globalized economy. Rather than spiraling into another dark age, humanity enters into an era where business, and in a more ethereal way the market place, governs. Specifically, in New Frontier, a consortium of wealthy and ambitious dreamers founded a new company, the Alliance, with the goal of expanding space exploration when the governments kept cutting back on funding, and using the patents from the bevy of new inventions to filter new products into the populace and begin colonizing near space, the moon, and eventually move further out into the Solar System. This singular company becomes so powerful that some of the smallest bankrupt countries turn to this private company for their salvation when the bubble breaks, and become, in effect, subsidiaries of the Alliance.

As the governments collapsed and evaporated the world began a freefall falling from one extreme towards the other, anarchy, creating a raw theater for the ambitions of the corporate world, devoid of regulation. There is a marvelous window, where this creates a leap in technology, new products and inventions coming out of Research and Development departments with staggering speed, and this crashes into another aspect of the novel. New Frontier, at its heart, is a new ‘Age of Exploration,’ and the hidden secret of what sent those ships around the globe and mapped the oceans and seas of the planet was the state of near capitalist anarchy of the sixteenth century.

As children in school most learn about the monarchy, and the church, standing behind the great explorers and funding their missions, most history books, at least the cursory ones mandated in schools, breeze past the economics that truly drove the age of exploration, or speak only of the wealth in terms of nations. The sailors aboard took home their own shares of the profit, enough to make lowly paupers into landed nobles. Not only the Spice Islands, which proved more profitable than the modern drug trade, motivated the earliest expeditions seeking out a chance to make fortunes, but later the slave trade, the sugar trade, potatoes, and the list goes on, and all of this creating what might be dubbed globalization 1.0 and generating wealth even for those who never put to sea and only played the markets. These fortunes were not limited to the crowned heads of state, indeed they were in some cases not even the greatest beneficiaries. Companies rose up out of nothing and became world players, exploiting opportunity with innovation and daring. Men from even the lowest classes of society could rise higher than at almost any point in history before, breaking down the old class system, less ridged at the start of the age of exploration, and introducing a chance for advancement, and fall, unheard of in generations.

This is the spirit that New Frontier strives to embody, the idea that in an ‘Age of Exploration’ that opportunities abound for anyone with the ability to seize them. The technological race depicted between rival companies in the book comes about largely because the companies must truly race to get something new to their customers; there are no governments to bribe or lobby to block the competition. There is a dark side in the vacuum, without any regulation or control, corporate espionage takes on dramatically different dimensions, education a function of the company rather than a state-sponsored thing, and invariably if a corporation becomes the size of a government it begins accumulating the same layers of bureaucracy and inefficiency. In a land governed by the market, such blundering behemoths either right their course, or a younger company will eventually topple them.

Contrasting the possibilities of the future, the soaring heights humanity reaches through competition, and the depths we are so capable of sinking to in order to protect what we already have, New Frontier paints a picture of a future where humanity succeeds at least as often as it fails. The governments of the world recede and in their place corporations fill the void, striving for unparalleled heights, or drag people back under the yoke. Within the novel, the concept of capitalistic anarchy receives legs to stretch, exploring the idea like rarely before. Totalitarian government, even when disguised as business as usual, is an omnipresent threat to humanity, but anarchy is always the countering force, waiting for a chance to push back against the oppression, and though it might never win, it is in the battle between them that a better world exists.

Jeremy Lee is the author of New Frontier (Neverland Publishing, 2013) - www.AuthorJeremyLee.com
New Frontier available for $14.69 for paperback and $4.99 for digital.

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