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Davi Barker

The Muslim Agorist

Psychoclass A

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Somalia 2030

All the King’s Men

An old man's hands trembled as he wet his daughter’s forehead with a damp rag. All around them glass was breaking and stone was crumbling as the city was bombarded by cannon fire from war ships in the harbor. Her contractions were now 8 minutes apart and she was lying on a straw bed. Suddenly a young man ran in shouting, "Qadi Jilani! The clans have assembled to defend the port. You are the elder. They’re waiting for your ruling."


"No!" Insisted the old man. "The port has been a place of peace between the clans for a decade. We will not sacrifice that so easily. I will go to the Ethiopian King, and seek a diplomatic resolution. I must go to the port alone.”


The woman grabbed Jilani’s arm, her body convulsing. “You’re not leaving me here!”

Another blast tore through a neighboring cottage. The walls shook as books flew from the shelves. Dust billowed.


Jilani replied, “No Amina. Not here.” He turned to the boy. “You must gather the defenseless and flea to the mountains.” The boy froze. “Go now! See that Amina is safe!"


***


Jilani was the elder judge of the Pwnt clan, which was the dominant clan of Mogadishu. The Pwnt, and Jilani specifically, were instrumental in negotiating and preserving the peace that Mogadishu had enjoyed since the United Nations was abolished. The UN had promised financial aid to whichever Warlord could convincingly claim to be the elected leader of Somalia, but the Somali people had never been impressed with democracy. The only way to impose it on them was by force, and so the UN slush fund only incentivized violence among the impressionable young. But a few elders remembered the Somali people’s pre-colonial customary law, which was practiced before democracy had ever failed in their lands. After 10 years of the social software indigenous to their nation they had established a modest prosperity in the traditional way, by the sweat of their brow.


The moral force commanded by Jilani’s reputation was known throughout the Horn of Africa. So, when Jilani ordered the assembled clans of Somalia to stand down they listened. And when he approached the Ethiopian infantry alone and unarmed, even they recognized him, and he was granted a quorum with the field marshal who called himself, “King.”


***


Jilani was brought behind a line of assault vehicles to a mobile command center. It had the look of a large recreational vehicle, complete with gun ports and heavy armor. Inside King Abraha sat in a large command chair surrounded by multiple large control screens giving him seamless communication with the units in the field.


It was the hubris of Abraha that he ordered the Ethiopian people to bow before him. But it was the custom of the Somali people never to bow before anyone. Needless to say that custom did not ingratiate Jilani to King Abraha.


“If it isn’t the renowned Qadi Jilani. Always faithful to the old customs I see.” Abraha was dressed in the likeness of a British military commander, with an orange beret and a lapel full of pins describing honors he’d awarded himself.


“They have served us well enough.” Jilani answered.


“You are living in the past, old friend. You are ignoring the march of progress. Of democracy and industry.“ Abraha swelled with pride.


Jilani leaned on the spiraled drift wood he used as a walking stick, “You call this progress? You have abandoned the law of your people.”


“I AM THE LAW OF MY PEOPLE!” Abraha bristled. “Enough of this… I suppose you have come to present the terms of your surrender?”


“Quite the opposite. I have come to demand restitution.”


“Demand?” Abraha scoffed. “What sort of restitution?”


“My family’s cottage was damaged by your bombardments, and our herds were disbursed. I’d like them replaced.”


“Goats!?” Abraha laughed.


“Camels.” Jilani retorted in precisely the same tone.


“I am here to destroy your port and the great Qadi Jilani only cares about some camels?”

Jilani continued, revealing nothing. “I am the master of the herd, not the master of the port.” He paused. “So, you have not come to conquer?”


“This plot of dirt? Certainly not! My only aim is to demolish the port of Mogedishu. Did you know I have built a magnificent port in Djibouti. It is state of the art, with all the modern conveniences, and I have ordered my people to go there. But that order was ignored!” The King’s wrath began to swell in his face. “Still Mogedishu is the center of trade. Why?!”


Jilani calmly replied, “Perhaps peace is good for business.”


 “No!” Abraha slammed his fist on the table.  “Peace is good for business. War is good for business. I’ll tell you why they come here! You have created a haven for black market criminals… pirates and terrorists! And by harboring Ethiopian ships in defiance of Ethiopian law you steal commerce that rightfully belongs to us. Taxes that rightfully belong to me!”


Jilani could not mask a look of incredulity, but did not interrupt.


“But I am a righteous king. I have not come here to demand restitution for the taxes you have stolen from me. I do not even wish to fight you. I will settle for the demolition of the port. If you do not resist, I will even replace your camels. But if you resist, you will be crushed by a larger and better equipped army than all the clans of Mogedishu put together. I’ll give you 48 hours.”


***


Jilani returned to the assembled clans of Mogedishu and informed them the kings demands. He advised that the people should join him and flee into the mountains for safety, but one from his own clan voiced his adamant disagreement. Ababil was a younger man, an agriculturalist, who lead those from the Pwnt clan who wanted war. The other clans were split. Some fled, others stayed to fight, and despite the great disparity in arms they fought valiantly. They charged Abraha’s army from West and in a day of glorious battle two armies were destroyed, both the Ethiopians and the Somalis, leaving no aggressors left in Mogedishu.


Amina delivered a baby boy, but died in childbirth. Jilani took charge of the child, swore to keep him safe from aggression, and named him Hakim.

Chapter Two: The Dark Hour

It was an impossibly quiet night. Away from city lights, on moonless nights, the stars appear more brilliant than most people have ever seen. But to the ancients the night sky was a tapestry of signs.

 

"The dark hour" a voice pierced the cool air.

 

"What is the dark hour?" asked another, and then the night returned to reverent silence.

 

A pause.

 

"It is the darkest part of the night. Before dawn is when it happens. Soon the false dawn will appear."

 

"What is the false dawn?"

 

Another silence.

 

“Pay attention.”

 

The two looked into the darkness.

 

In the East a vertical beam of white light extended upward from the horizon across the arc of the sky. As it grew it was followed by a cold milky haze.

 

“The false dawn is brightest near the autumn equinox. But there’s no rosy hue like the true dawn, just a pale grey. There is a special blessing in the hours before the true dawn. A tranquility in the air. A spiritual traveler should always wake before the sun, when our minds and bodies are refreshed. It is a time of reflection and rumination before the business of the day clouds our minds.”

 

“So what should we be reflecting on?”

 

"Sit child, I will tell you the story of The Herdsman and the Lion.”

 

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A long long time ago our clan convened an assembly of our elders to appoint a sultan who was granted executive powers. And so they chose a man named Assad the Lion who was both a ferocious warrior and a wise jurist. He was known for his courage, and wit. But he quickly abandoned the Law and began legislating new decrees our ancestors had never seen.

 

Sultan Assad ordered that for every meal he would eat only the bone marrow of young goats, which is the creamiest most delicious part of the animal. He said that the rich protein would keep him strong, both in body and mind, and was sure that the clan would recognize the value of his strong leadership. But after feeding the Sultan this way for several days the clansmen began to worry. To satisfy the Sultan’s appetite they had to slaughter ten goats every day, and their herds were rapidly dwindling.

 

One day a herdsman came to the Sultan to plead with him that if he didn’t change the rate of his consumption they will have slaughtered every goat in every herd within three months. Assad the Lion called him forward and in an act of cold calculation he cut out the herdsman’s tongue who screamed as blood poured from his mouth, but no one dared to come to his aid. That night the Sultan ate the tongue with his evening meal.

 

But it was too late. The people had heard the warning of the herdsman and knew the direness of their situation. The clan elders convened a second assembly, this time in secret, to discuss their predicament.

 

The elders thought a coup was in order, and that it was time to plot the murder of the Sultan. They argued that if they all joined together they could over power Assad the Lion. But the herdsman objected, in writing of course. He argued that if they overthrew the Sultan by violent means the result would only be the rise of another tyrant. So, he devised a different plan.

 

Bone marrow is very fatty. So, for one month they would gradually increase the Sultan’s portions. Meanwhile, the rest of the clan would perform the fast of King David, only eating every other day, to discipline their appetites. After a month Assad had become accustomed to meals nearly twice as large, and had gained considerable weight, while the rest of the clan had become lean and efficient, accustomed to hunger.

 

Then one day the herdsman returned to the Sultan, but since he could not speak he brought a written declaration. It was a manifesto of reform which he presented to Assad. It described the discontentment of his clansmen, and served him an ultimatum. The declaration was signed by every herdsman, every farmer and every baker in the clan pledging to slaughter not one beast, harvest not one crop and bake not one loaf until he peacefully and voluntarily relinquished his appointment. There would be no more bone marrow.

 

Enraged, the Sultan tore the document to shreds declaring that the clan could not survive without him. He drew a billao dagger and lunged at the herdsman, but he was made clumsy by his obesity and the herdsman easily dodged. The Sultan fell flat on his belly and the assembled crowd laughed, humiliating him in his own court.

 

The next day the Sultan went barging into people’s homes looking for food, but he found none. On the second day he went to the orchards to steal fruit but he found people ready to defend their property, and himself in no condition to fight. On the third day he marched out into the grazing pastures to slaughter a goat himself, but he was so fat from marrow and weak from hunger that he couldn't catch one. The chase left him exhausted, wheezing in the dirt.

 

The herdsman approached him in the field, but the Sultan was too weak to get up. He laid on the ground gasping for air as the herdsman stood over him without speaking. Once he caught his breath Assad the Lion cried out, “I submit. I submit. I submit!” and began weeping. The herdsman bent forward and took Assad’s head in his hands. With one hand he pet his hair and with the other he fed him a fist full of raw oats, as he did to sooth a frightened animal.

 

Assad became known from then on as Assad the Lamb, and lived out his life in humiliated obscurity. He was never trusted to serve as a jurist for the clan ever again. His only role was to be a servant to the herdsman in restitution for the injury. The herdsman became one of our clan’s wisest and most celebrated jurists, and Assad was charged with reading his written statements. And the elders resolved to never appoint another Sultan.

 

-------------------------------------------------------

 

There was a green flash and then twilight. The sky turned gray and then blue. The stars faded. Like a wave, a roar swept over the valley. Birds began to sing. The grass and trees came to life with a soft rustle. And there was no more silence.

 

Faces became discernible again. Young Hakim and his grandfather Jilani, the elder jurist of their clan, sat around the coals and ashes of last night’s fire. Paying attention.

 

The child looked puzzled. “I don’t understand. Why didn’t they just overpower Assad at the beginning? They wouldn’t have lost all those goats.”

 

Jilani stroked his beard. “It is part of the natural Law that the ends will always contain their means. What made Assad a tyrant was that he deviated from the natural way, or most precisely the elders did by appointing him. You cannot return to the natural way by unnatural means. If they had resolved to murder him their result would contain violence. Without addressing the original deviation the elders they would have only replaced him with a new sultan, likely whoever lead the party that killed him. And there’s no telling how many lives would have been lost, or how many goats a new tyrant would demand. Not to mention, if they had killed Assad he would not have been alive to offer restitution.”

 

“I think I understand. But how do you know what the natural way is?”

 

“That’s a question for another night. I have affairs to attend to.” Jilani stood up, using a piece of spiraled drift wood as a cane. “Stay here as long as you like. Think a lot. The sunrise will be soon. It will be beautiful. The next time we meet we will discuss the Law.”

 

Jilani began walking down the the mountain, leaving Hakim alone with his thoughts.

The Aftermath

            The first light of dawn these days is not white, but amber, when the sun hangs in the penumbra between the horizon and the haze left from the Great Fire.

            The morning poured through a broken window, between gimcracks and gadgets, and found the sleeping face of young Hakim.  As he stirred, he reached over to his night stand to activate an electric generator.

            A few coughs and whirls and the room sprang to life.  Lights flashed and flickered, screens ignited and the haunting chords of Auslander blasted at full volume.  Hakim rolled out of bed into a pile of clothes and emerged in ragged jeans and a “DISOBEY” t-shirt.  He walked down an empty hallway past dusty bedrooms to the kitchen, where he boiled water for tea and prepared a simple breakfast of cornmeal porridge, sweet bread, and sesame oil.

            It was important to conserve the generator, as petrol was becoming scarce.  Hakim generally allowed only an hour for his mobile devices to charge.  While he waited, he perused the news of the day.  Locally, the weather was clear and the cease-fire had held through the night, which was good for business.  Globally, governments continued to collapse in a heap of paper under the weight of their own tedious make-work bureaucracies.  The headlines announced that this week Uganda had joined the ranks of the stateless, while the government of New Zealand had followed the precedent led by America and resolved its debt crisis by auctioning off most of its territory to sovereign business franchises, in this case a number of competing pastoral farming and agricultural companies.  Hakim was pleased to see that the expected result was a drop in global food prices, but the cost of petrol continued to rise as government subsidies dried up.  Yesterday it had spiked 10,000 Kred a barrel.

            Hakim was too young to have ever lived under a State.  It simply wasn’t the custom of the Somali people.  To him it was utterly alien to divide society into two classes of rulers and the ruled, and it seemed to him that the only purpose of government was to harass people and eat out their substance.

            He finished his breakfast, freshened up, and powered down the generator.  No sense leaving it running all day.  In his neighborhood, streets were so run down, vehicles couldn’t navigate them--not that many people drove anymore.  His only neighbors lived in disheveled housing developments defended by private security.  Herds of goats grazed grasses that punctuated the concrete guarded by shepherds armed with Kalashnikovs. Vegetable gardens sprang up in any gated lot that had soil.  The public rail no longer ran.  Public power and water were gone too.  Almost all commerce took place near the port, but to get there, he had to walk three full kilometers to reach the private roads.

New Mogadishu

Once you get within ten kilometers of the port, you have a choice.  The local taxi and bus drivers had formed Jidkha Lines, which privately repaired the public roads.  Local drivers knew the best routes, and you could negotiate a good price to get anywhere in the city, especially if you don’t mind ride-sharing.  In addition, Breezeways, a foreign company, had invested in constructing and maintaining a higher quality network of privately owned expressways.  The catch was that to gain access to the expressways you had to rent an electric vehicle from their fleet, but those weren't rugged enough for most of the public roads.  They were designed for smoother rides.

            Hakim had determined that the most cost-effective solution for him was to rent a bicycle from any one of the local shops, because neither company objected to pedestrians and bicyclists using their roads, and it meant his transportation expenses were not subject to the fluctuating price of petrol.  In addition, by clipping a drag condenser to the rear wheel, he could generate electricity to charge his mobile devices as he traveled. 

            Mogadishu had been thrown into chaos by the collapse of the Somali Democratic Republic, torn by decades of civil war.  Warlords eager to claim the foreign aid promised by developed nations struggled to establish themselves as the new central government to the exclusion of all others.  But as the developed nations began to collapse themselves, the promise of foreign aid disappeared, and with it the incentive for civil war.  New Mogadishu had been raised out of the ashes of the old city.  Commerce returned, and with it, new prosperity.  The lure of completely free trade drew both local entrepreneurs and foreign investors.  New Mogadishu quickly became a bustling metropolis, and the telecommunications capital of the world.

            Hakim worked as a programmer for Krito Communications.  Krito had begun in the US, shielding customers from government attempts to acquire their phone records by every legal means available.  They’d then developed numerous encryption algorithms to secure the privacy of their customers’ data.  But as populist revolutions began springing up around the world, they’d recognized the urgent need for telecommunications that could not be interrupted or intercepted by existing governments.  Establishing their headquarters in New Mogadishu had made that possible, and Krito quickly became the world’s largest, most impenetrable data haven.

            In addition, Krito had launched a private currency called Kred that quickly became the international standard for Internet commerce.  Recognizing the role of hyperinflation in the global economic collapse, Krito had designed the Kred to be entirely digital, which had numerous advantages.  First, it could not be manipulated by inflation, because the supply was fixed based on the total number of transactions occurring in the system.  Second, it could be transferred using any Krito Communications device, from mobile phones to vehicle GPS systems.  The third, and perhaps most innovative advantage, was that Kred represented both “credit” and “credibility.”  Built into each transaction was an approval rating so that users all have a published reputation evaluation.  If users lost their credibility due to dishonest business practices, their Kred was devalued accordingly.  The result was an untraceable, decentralized, internationally accepted currency that governments could neither seize nor stop.

The Pirate Beigh

When Hakim arrived at work, he logged into a half dozen social networking sites.  This was actually encouraged by his employer, the idea being that frequent mental micro-breaks leave employees more refreshed and creative than a rigid break schedule does.  Internet access was his favorite perk, which he used to manage his more entrepreneurial online activities.  This was also encouraged.  Krito’s policy was that allowing thousands of employees to test their ideas in the market directly was the most fluid laboratory for research and development.  The Krito Communications office was a truly modern work environment.  Their philosophy was that any free time an employee acquired by completing their regular responsibilities ahead of schedule belonged to them, and that this would not only encourage efficient time management, but everyone would mutually benefit from allowing innovation at all levels of the company.

            A message popped onto Hakim’s home screen.  It was a request from his department head to come to her office.  When he walked in, Rose asked him to close the door and have a seat.  Whenever this happened, Hakim felt a lurch in the pit of his stomach.  There was something about authority itself that made him uneasy.  It usually passed as soon as Rose explained the purpose of the meeting.

            “I want to talk to you about transferring to a new position in client relations.  It would mean a 30,000,000-Kred raise, but there’s potentially a whale of a client on the line.  It would mean a lot more responsibility.”

            Rose seemed unusually humble, even conciliatory.  Something had spooked her.

            “I don’t really know that much about client relations.  I’m happy to try, but why are you offering this position to me?” Hakim asked.

            “The client asked for you by name.  But I don’t want to say too much.  It’s better if he tells you himself.”  She gave him instructions to meet with the client, a man named Beigh, upstairs in the executive lounge.

            Hakim ventured into the huge circular room, glancing admiringly at the view from the tall windows overlooking New Mogadishu.  People from around the world, speaking dozens of languages, met here to eat and socialize between meetings.  Some business travelers actually landed on the rough and never went below the executive lounge.  A sense of privacy was still maintained by the sheer vastness of the space.  Hakim was clearly out of place, both for his age and his clothes--there was no dress code in the programming office.  Even the waitstaff looked more professional than he did.

            Across the room a man stood waving to Hakim.  Hakim noted that he was unusually tall, like the Mandinka people in West Africa, and dressed all in white, with a dark midnight-black complexion.  He extended his hand, with its long round fingers, and shook Hakim’s.

            “You must be Hakim!  I am Beigh.  I am very excited to meet you.  Please, sit down.  Order whatever you like.”

            Beigh motioned to the menu as Hakim took a seat across from him and began to browse the selections.  He’d never eaten anywhere so expensive, or with such diverse cuisine.  He wondered if Beigh knew that the custom in New Mogadishu was for the person who extended the invitation to foot the bill.  He thought it better not risk it, but even the appetizers were over 20,000 Kred.

            Beigh asked, “Do you mind if I conduct a small test of ...  cognitive ability?”  Hakim agreed.  “Excellent!  Just keep reading the menu.  You won’t feel a thing.”

            Beigh popped up and removed some kind of mobile device from his pocket.  It looked like a smart phone, or maybe a camera.  He held it up to Hakim’s head as he walked around the table, and a detailed schematic of the inside of Hakim’s brain appeared on the screen.

            “Beautiful!  Just as I’d hoped,” Beigh exclaimed.

            “What is it?”

            “Your brain.  It’s marvelous.  Not a bruise.  Not a hint of scar tissue.”

            “Scar tissue?”  Hakim jumped up, rubbing the back of his head with one hand.  “How are you looking in my head?”

            Beigh snapped the device closed.  “Oh, Hakim.  I have so much to share with you!  But first I must ask you ...  do you want to live on a free world?”

            “Of course ...”

            “Good.  Let me show you something.”  Beigh set the device on the table and activated some kind of a projector that suspended a holographic screen above the table.  Far more advanced than anything Krito was even close to.  The display scrolled through scenes from science fiction movies.  A flying saucer demolishing a building with an energy beam.  Rows of green men marching in lockstep.  A cartoon Martian training his crosshairs on Earth.  Laser battles and bug armies, and on and on.

            The movie clips scrolled on as Beigh continued.  “Do you know what all these stories have in common, Hakim?”

            “Aliens?”

            “Well, yes.  But more than that, they all represent tragic expressions of a primitive psychoclass.  They contain depictions of xenophobia, species supremacy, and naked collectivism.  On this planet, inter-terrestrial individuals are presumed to be hostile, hive-minded, and fundamentally defined by their planet of birth, rather than by the content of their character.  Frankly it’s obscene.”

            “What’s your point?  I don’t understand what you’re getting at.”

            Beigh laughed softly.  “No. I suppose you wouldn’t. The point is that I am prepared to deliver hundreds, maybe thousands of foreign merchants, bringing fantastic new technology to this market, but the aggregate of them are only going to feel comfortable trading here if I can demonstrate that a new psychoclass is being born here.”

            Hakim mulled it over and asked, “Thousands of foreign merchants coming ...  to Somalia?”

            “No, Hakim ...  coming to Earth.”

            Hakim jumped back, wide-eyed.  “You’re an alien!  What do you want with me?”

            “You are the key, Hakim.  The brain scan shows it.  I can spot the primitive psychoclass by physical changes in the brain.  Scar tissue, really.  Adverse childhood experiences cause decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and a hyperactive amygdala.  Tribalism, nationalism, bigotry--these are the symptoms of a damaged brain.  A brain incapable of natural empathy.  You’ve probably been told this behavior is normal because every generation of your species until now has shared these traits.  But if you’re brain scan is any indication something about this has always seemed flawed to you. You are different.  I’m sure you’ve sensed it.  You are the proof, maybe the first of your kind, that a generation is coming to this planet that is on the path to Astaiwah.”

            “Where is Astaiwah?”

            “I forget ...  it has no equivalent in your language.  Astaiwah is not a place.  It is a direction.  It is the future that is approached by the tendency of all sentient life that seeks harmony and autonomy.  It is the aggregate of all consensual, mutually beneficial associations.”

            “What do I have to do?”

            “Well ...  first, you need to see my world.”

To Be Continued…