“The citizen has become a consumer; and when the consumer is no longer profitable, he is cast away and left out of society”
Consumidores y excluidos, Ignacio Lewkowicz, 2004
At the beginning of the 21st century the economic crisis, caused by water and fossil fuels shortages, as well as the ruthless speculation of the main economic powers, became pandemic. Although at first general population trusted that at the end things would go back to the good old times and (afraid in part to end up with nothing at all) accepted without resistance one measure after another to strip them from all the rights they had achieved through the last decades, at the end the general unrest was so high that ignited the spark of rebellion.
At first they were few, but in time millions of citizens all around the world took the streets with nothing to lose, blaming all the economical and political powers for their situation, those who have remained at the top of the pyramid as an untouchable oligarchy. There was war, carnage, anarchy… whole countries were nearly wiped out. The entire world was being torn apart.
Big companies, governments and the upper class in general realized for the first time that the tame flock they had been shepherding for centuries had gone wild, and that things would never be the same again. They also realized that they couldn’t afford the luxury to spend years reaching agreements between them, so they created a leading counsel with the power to take immediate executive actions, which they called the Compass. This counsel established that the problem was not the System, but the excess of people in it. This way they developed a way to keep the status quo as it was, the Babylon Project.
Thus the creation of the Megalopoli was planned, seven huge autonomous walled cities (two in North America, one in Oceania, two in Europe, one in Asia and one in South America), where only the right people would be accepted. They had to build reality but one step further, in their own image. Only 5% of the global population, enough to sustain the perfect social balance of economy and consume, would be accepted inside the cities with plenty of luxuries, pure water and food. Outside them laid the rest of the population, a burden, source of problems and troubles.
But these enormous cities must be built and that was something they couldn’t do in secrecy, so the Babylon Project was presented to the general public as a new dawn for the world, a place to begin from scratch with a more balanced society, where everybody would count. And the plan worked, because people was so anxious to believe in something, to dare to hope, that a measure of peace was reached and millions of people set to work in the founding of these dreamed cities, in exchange for a place to live and a decent job after their completion. The official message was that these seven Megalopoli were the first of many more that would populate the Earth. A feeling of being building a better future was born, casting away past errors. Then, when all the cities were finished, the real truth was unveiled: there would be no more places like them, and these would be the Eden of a selected few.
Obviously peopled rebelled and took arms immediately. The fighting for the Megalopoli was vicious, as there was no easy way to build Paradises up but tell most people they were to live in Hell. But contrary to almost all citizens, who discovered the lie by surprise, the Compass was ready for this moment: it has been carefully planned and its members were perfectly fitted tactical and militarily. Their course of action was ruthless: those who didn’t accept to live outside the mega-cities would die. They didn’t hesitate to use all the weapons they have been developing for years, whether nuclear, chemical, electromagnetic or worst. The world outside the Megalopoli became a stark land, a huge battlefield. And lastly the seven cities were sealed.
For if the war wasn’t punishment enough, the next years brought a terrible nuclear winter followed by a global warming worsened by all the last years’ events. Everything except the Megalopoli, which were perfectly fit for these “inconveniences”, became a barren land of shattered old cities, wasted forests and grasslands and dried rivers. The population forced to dwell on these areas was decimated to the point of representing less than 1% of the original inhabitants of old Earth.
To make the Megalopoli even more secure, minefields, automatic weapons turrets and anything technology could afford kept away every living being who wandered near any city by a hundred miles.
The world outside these Paradise cities became the Wasteland, now home to the outcasts of the ideal society.