Saturday 16th May
Ten days ago Janek started writing his little diary, unaware that it might despite his best efforts, be read by a silent observer, who is very interested in these meandering thoughts….
-[Janek quietly closes the laptop lid, unplugs and hides it away. But now he begins to think in a different light, it has suddenly dawned on him that he may have crossed an even deeper line than he had thought. It had always been a dangerous enterprise, more stupid in Janek’s mind than dangerous. If discovered he would undoubtedly be reprimanded, warned about his behaviour, maybe lose a strata or two, but not that serious really was it? I mean, where were the laws forbidding you keeping a private diary, or even owning a non-uploadable recording device? Surely there must be thousands of people all over the world keeping some sort of record of their lives. And just because there were no machines like his with their own internal memories left anymore, was it actually proscribed to own one. Come to that who writes the laws nowadays, who decides what is legal or not? The courts only exist for petty crimes amongst the non-people, the drones and dregs, who persistently refuse to behave in the correct way.
People like Janek do not need to ask themselves what is lawful or not. They know instinctively if they are doing wrong. Let me explain one thing. Laws do not have to be written in order for you to break them. The law is simply not a consideration; in fact we have got rid of almost all the laws which people used to regularly break (theft of cred is impossible, as you know); murder and personal violence excepted of course. But Laws as they used to be known are not necessary. The Law is whatever we decide. But as you don’t know it is the Law you wouldn’t dream of breaking it. The Law, like cred itself is a flexible entity. Janek is right, there are no laws forbidding writing your thoughts down and saving them on a non-accessible device, because non-accessible devices do not exist, or if they do they are obviously against the Law. QED as my old maths-crammer teacher, ‘Nap’, used to delight in saying. ‘Nap’, Norman Arthur Phillips, haven’t thought of him in years, I wonder if he is still teaching; too old by now, surely. But I digress, decent people, strata-ed people anyway, wouldn’t dream of stealing something, or hurting another person in any physical way. It just wouldn’t enter their heads to behave like that. Besides you can’t steal something that isn’t yours, it wouldn’t work if you did. Crime really doesn’t pay in our world. Instead they work hard, well sit at a screen somewhere in any case, and gradually every year or so they will go up a strata and more things will be available to them. Well not always more things, but better things. Nicer, and more real-food, better styled clothes, more screen-vids to watch, better syn, if that is what turns them on. And it works, people readily buy into the strata system, they are constantly being induced to strive for the next strata, the next level of controlled access to the nice stuff, and everyone is happy. Laws, who needs them?
Well at least sixty-five percent of the population are anyway, safe and graded in the strata system. The next thirty percent can be slightly troublesome, sometimes we have to keep them in line by threats or promises. Basically they are a bit unpredictable. Politicos are always trying to woo them with promises that they will be better treated, that the strata levels will be reset, that they will be part of some promised land, but nobody can get them to even vote, let alone vote for one set of politicos rather than another. So, as long as their behaviour isn’t too outrageous nobody really bothers about them. One of our long-term objectives is to gradually absorb them into the full strata system, but that may be a few decades away yet.
Janek has heard rumours that the manna these people eat is drugged in some way, that some soporific or mind-numbing drug is added to keep them docile. Who knew; anything was possible he supposed. But actually they aren’t drugged at all. There is no need for such drastic and expensive measures. The truth is that they have simply never really grasped the hopelessness of their situation. They are at the very bottom of the strata system and very few ever make it off this lowest rung. Yet they appear comfortable in their stasis (pigs in shit –as the old saying goes). It is as if they do not have the motivation to raise themselves out of their own situation. They are only lightly crammed of course, learning to read and write and not much else. They only need the most basic of skills for the work they are destined to perform. but they are still needed to do all the dirty jobs that cannot be mechanised, the building work, the loading and unloading, the road sweeping, the toilet attendants, the thoughtless and mindless work that someone has to do. One day our robotics experts may be capable of mechanising more of these tasks, but as you know robots have had some very unfortunate incidents in the recent past and the programme has been suspended temporarily. In all likelihood the Hypercoms will overcome these small technical hitches soon, and progress can be resumed.
But please do not assume these uncrammed people are badly treated. They get cred for this work too, but this is a different sort of cred, not like strata cred. This can only be spent in special shops; Gamb or Manna outlets and cheap Apparel stores, they still use plas-cards for transactions though these are automatically topped up with their cred, and they too can never go overdrawn or overspend. The cards change colour slowly as the cred is drained out of them, from a bright green to pale yellow which slowly darkens orange, then deeper and deeper until solid red means the card is useless for anything. Then it is automatically topped up each week and changes back again to a bright and healthy green. As if by magic. Just imagine the pleasure this gives these simple folk as they watch their cards slowly regain health. And as each card is DNA spec’ed to the user, unless you actually cut off someone’s hand or steal their eyeballs it is useless to anyone else.
Not that that actually stops the criminal underclass, of course. This is the remaining five percent and what they live on, how they survive is a mystery to almost everyone. This is the breeding ground of most rebs. They scavenge rubbish tips and live in old abandoned industrial units, and rob and steal where they can. The Polis largely ignore them, unless they stray too near a strata-ed housing project, or loiter near any Gov-buildings or Comglom premises. They are constantly being apprehended, but as the jails were abandoned in the thirties as being too costly there is nothing to really do with them, except clag and track them. But even this doesn’t always work as they often manage to get the clags removed or blocked. How they keep foiling our tech is a mystery. It is too costly to keep arresting them, so they are mostly left to their own disgusting devices. They tend to form vicious gangs which are mostly concerned with fighting other gangs; and if they kill one another all the better really, it leaves fewer to worry about. They are, to all intents and purposes, non-people, un-crammed, not repaired if they become ill and not even counted.
The main thing to understand is that these non-citizens are in no way redeemable. They are not really human anymore, they have fallen beyond redemption; they have no future and are destined to fail. Sooner or later they will cease to exist at all, which will benefit the rest of society immeasurably. It is just that nobody has come up with a cheap way of getting rid of them. We cannot, despite some suggestions simply euthenase them wholesale; there are far too many individuals, and there would be massive issues around disposal. That solution has been tried in small scale experiments, but those not rounded up successfully, simply scatter and infiltrate other areas. Much like the rodents and small mammals which the small-scale farmers insisted on being culled decades ago; their populations moved to new areas and actually exploded rather than declined. We have to hope that like all unsustainable sub-species these recidivists, these failed human units will wither and die off in due course.
Janek suspects quite correctly that the rebs are all part of this criminal substrata; or have no choice but to hide themselves there. Even though he wonders if he is a reb now, even a nascent one, it is a place he really has no desire to go to. The worst thing that anyone could ever imagine would be to sink beneath strata at all, because there would be no way back. Even if you were really stupid and slipped into that lowest sub-strata, that thirty percent of manual drudge workers there was always the possibility of re-hab, of clawing your way back up. But to slip right off the strata scale completely, that was unimaginable.
And what if there were no actual reb movement at all he wondered, what if it was just another dreamed-up external threat, just as he imagined that Al-Queda and all the rad-muslim threats had been in the first half of the century. What if there was no such thing as a reb movement at all? What if Janek was the only reb, one of his own making, who existed only in his own mind too?
These were the thought processes of our poor Janek in those days before he had really committed any serious misdemeanour. Paranoid or justifiably worried, he was never quite sure, but so far he has simply committed to a private network some of his personal dissatisfaction. And if he had gone no further in all probability we would have never really noticed him. Or noticing, have simply let him be. After all, we cannot be expected to worry about every malcontent in the world. We have far more important things to do with our time.]-