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A history of the Airlight Economy

Scenario I: Ridgetop Citadels

First we went camping.

We were seen as peripheral peoples anyway. To some extent, we encouraged the perception of ourselves as misfits, so our remote encampments would be tolerated. The governments tended to overlook our isolated settlements, under the premise that such undesirable itinerants were less of a nuisance in remote rural localities than on the streets of the cities, where they might be seen by the important people.

And we were careful to keep nomad encampments of an innocuous sort as cover for our industrial endeavors, while we produced our first airships. One way and another, we were able to produce a few efficient airships without attracting too much official notice. After that we were mobile, and we moved up to the high ranges.

Our camps had been vulnerable, in the wooded hills which were threaded with roads. After we had our ships, we didnt need roads, and we moved above the tree line. There on the harsh, windy heights we lost our concern about being confronted with trespassing charges. We could dig, cut rocks and build walls at our pleasure. Nobody knew we were up there; if they did, they couldnt see us; if they could, they didnt care we were up there; if they did, they couldnt get there to tell us about it. We felt free to build our castles and our factories into the icy rocks.

At this point, we probably could not be stopped. Our decentralized  industry of building airships was established  in scores of mountainous locations on several continents. These locales were near the altitude ceilings for most helicopters, in windy places where helicopters didnt work very well. Helicopters which approached us tended to have accidents. These heights were hard to approach on foot, a challenge for experts climbing for sport. Every time a government developed a serious interest in our activities, we were gone in overnight evacuation.

Our tunnels and buildings were covered with the rubble of landslides. An avalanche above the snow line doesnt melt away in the spring, to reveal the shapes of the rocks under it. The secrets we were concealing had to do with our technology. We were not a simple nomadic people. 

We didnt want people to worry about us. We knew how easy it would be for the governments to slander us. We safely avoided confrontation until our industrial substructure was finished. At that point, we had a totally self-sufficient economy, which nowhere intersected with the money economy. We had restricted access, for no other pilots could fly as we could among the shrieking turbulent winds of the rocky heights. We could build airships without hindrance, and harbor them safely. That was when we first began to show ourselves in the lowlands.

Scenario II: The Social Movement

We built our ships out of sweat and enthusiasm. They were built with donated labor, from donated materials in donated workshops. The vast hordes of the disaffected of all nations pitched in spontaneously. We saw the amazing and unprecedented phenomonon, that all this far-flung activity was coordinated via the computer network. All these resources were drawn from the square economy. The people were instantly persuaded that the marketplace was a dead end, that their efforts and their wealth would be better placed in creating the new world. They saw the airlight economy as the wave of the future: eco-sensitive, recycling, solar powered, hydrogen fueled, self organizing. They were convinced that too many roads had been built, too many fences, too many canals, too many dams, too many levees. Too many forests had been cleared, too many marshes drained. It was time for humans to begin effective work for the wild, not to try to kill the wild.

The airlight economy was only made possible by advanced technology. Not before the turn of the millenium was it possible to see that advanced materials and advanced techniques made it possible to organize human endeavor in an environmentally non-exploitive mode. The avoidance of metals was a deliberate choice, largely a matter of taste. It was selected as one of the criteria which would distinguish our industry from the fascists. Metal goods characterized the smokestacks of exploitive, centralized industry based on greed and denial, but we meant to build a better life.

It helped that our materials were superior, stronger and lighter. We used a lot of metals, just not as primary structural elements. We proved that metals were not the essential basis for technical achievement. Our most fundamental issue concerned surface transport. We dared to imagine trucks, trains and tractors becoming obsolete. We intended from the very start to tear up roadways. It was difficult at first to present cogent arguments against devoting so much surface area of the land to crops and pastures. We knew we could do better on the food issue, but clear proof was difficult to produce in the prevailing circumstances. But we could demonstrate immediately, incontrovertibly, that we didnt need so many roads. So that was what we did.

The technology of the automobile was about a century old. It was the fundamental basis of the fascist economy. It was an easy point to attack, for innovation was suppressed within that field as a matter of policy. The conglomerate of the steel, automobile and petroleum industries made up the core of fascism. We attacked that economy by producing our airships.

Our advantage was that our way was more efficient, and could reasonably provide a complete replacement for fascism. We could get the crops to town without touching the roads. After we proved that, economic forces starved fascism. Amazingly quickly, the population shifted their support to our vision of the future. Money became worthless overnight as consumerism died. Work for the boss so you can buy a car? Nonsense!

A car was useless when you could ride an airship. The public lost faith in the market economy. The physical proof of the revolutionary society was visible in the sky.

Johnny Thunderbird - Gentle Warrior