Regression: Chapter One

Chapter One

“…For the great majority of the religious, heaven and hell are incidental to right and wrong … In short, right conduct is the prime factor of religion.” -The Iron Heel.

Life in the year four thousand, three hundred and fifty-one does not differ much from life in the year two thousand. Humans have not changed their goal, which they share with other animals: The pursuit of happiness. The same as animals in their natural state must struggle to attain their happiness, humans must struggle to obtain theirs, and that’s why it’s called a pursuit. Humans, the same as animals, can relinquish their right to this pursuit and live a comfortable, domestic life, provided they adhere to the rules of the society that enslaves them, forcing them to work for food and shelter. The societies from your era did not defer that much from wildlife, and that’s exactly why they still held on to religious beliefs in souls and other contrivances that arbitrarily separated them from the animal kingdom. 

Men used to work for a living or for money, which they then exchanged for goods necessary to live. The link between labor and life was there at the beginning, but, later on, it got lost in bureaucracy. Some people mistook the means: money, for the end: to live. Thus, they behaved like farm animals, whose main end is to get fattened and slaughtered or to subserviently heed their masters. People today don’t work for money but for free time, which is the new gold standard. Because of this, the hours of labor were reduced to ten hours per week, which is the current average. Hours of labor depend on the strenuousness of the job; thus, there are people with strenuous jobs who work a mere two hours per week, while there are others with more pleasant jobs who work up to twenty, which is the maximum allowed by law. This might sound slightly dictatorial to you, but today’s laws are descriptive rather than prescriptive, so there’s no actual need to enforce them. But more of that later. Suffice it to say that by working ten hours per day, a person can afford any pleasure they want to indulge in during what you would call free time. Today, this paradigm is inverted: Our time is mostly free and spent on enjoyment and self-development, but we have work time, which enables us to afford our lifestyles. Hoarding capital or resources for our progeny or our farther future is unnecessary, since the global economy is completely stable and there are no more crises to plan for. 

At first glance, this system might also look slightly capitalistic in the sense that it seems to be a meritocracy, but it’s not. People choose whether they want to perform a complex activity or a simpler one, and there is no value judgment, so there is no more merit in being an engineer than in being a gardener. The mistaken view of capitalism was that an engineer could build many gardening robots, who in turn could take care of many more gardens; so the engineer was therefore above the gardener in the social hierarchy. But we know better about life’s meaning now. A robot can never replace a human because it can’t think as a human does and therefore it will never contribute that much to society in any area. A robot can only be designed to perform its task, while a human is there to interact with the natural and human environment, thus contributing to the pursuit of happiness. Robots only make good machines, which are used to do the dirty work no human wants to do, such as washing clothes, dishes or cleaning the house. Gardening, however, is a pleasant activity for many, and the fact that it’s pleasant gives it market value, which means that no one in their right mind would think of despising a gardener nowadays, or of studying only to get a degree that says that you’re smarter than others. Smart, to us, is to invest our time correctly.

The current system is simply called post-capitalistic, and it’s based on the concept of sharing economy which took off around the year two thousand and ninety, with the depletion of Earth’s natural resources. It defers from communism in the simple fact that there is no redistribution of wealth but simply a more collaborative approach toward the exploitation of resources. It’s rather enhanced capitalism than communism. No one is forced to do anything or to give up anything because liberalism is a key value of society. With that in mind, wild capitalism and the correlative destruction of the environment stopped being issues and the meritocratic paradigm fell into disuse. Of course, the law of supply and demand on which capitalism is based is still valid today, and that’s why more unpleasant or less popular jobs are paid with more hours of leisure. Keeping in mind that we live in a sharing economy, you must realize that most things are available unlimitedly with a subscription fee. Everything is by subscription nowadays; there’s nothing that you could buy in cash. If you think of the ultimate end of capitalism, monopoly will pop up in your mind. It all happened as predicted: All services were monopolized by the second century of the third millennium and a fee was demanded. Imagine that, if you ever want to eat, you need to pay a monthly fee to do your groceries at one of the supermarket chains available in your city, the same as you need to pay an insurance fee if you ever need to go to a hospital. In the beginning, these fees were relatively high, but ultimately, they lowered consumption till the situation stabilized in what is nowadays called, in economics: the minimal necessary balance, that is, the amount of money that covers all the needs of consumption at the minimal possible price. This state of affairs is logical and easy to imagine. Monopoly is actually a good thing because it regularizes prices. Then the only factors are the demand, exerted by society, and the supply, exerted by the monopolizing companies; always keeping in mind that these companies are also made up of members of society, who are reasonable people. They wanted to provide services that were useful to society but also profitable for them, so they trimmed them out of their superfluousness. In this way, the sharing economy lowered consumption, but this was rather part of a holistic, cultural process. Because of health and ethical reasons, people simply diminished their consumption of superfluous products, which also corrected the distortions of capitalism. Supply and demand became more predictable with time, so there was less economic speculation: gambling stopped in general, as a pastime as well as a business. This came about because life became more stable. There were fewer and fewer military conflicts, and fewer and fewer fatal diseases or accidents. Conscientiousness and responsibility started paying off, so gambling was discouraged. Bravery wasn’t to pick up a gun anymore, but to renewably work the land or contribute to the progress of humanity. Our intellect was even able to overrule the primitive brain, and women gradually stopped selecting their partners according to stamina and testosterone and were inclined towards intellect and harmonious beauty. This was an important change because women are the selectors of the species, and in this way, they direct the evolutionary path. In that sense, we can say that it was an evolutionary change too: We basically stepped up in evolution.

My name is Efrain Zielinski and I live in the metropolis of Posnan, Poland. It’s the tenth of February and I generally wake up around seven a.m., with the sunrise. Early morning is a practice the world has adopted so as not to lose contact with nature. Everything is done according to the circadian rhythm because people have become more prone to depression and mental diseases over time. Dark places of the Earth have been gradually depopulated, and with a balanced diet, we’ve been able to counterbalance this disadvantage of evolution: hypersensitivity. 

Poland today is much warmer than two thousand years ago, so we enjoy twenty-five degrees Celsius today. The country is, however, one of the darkest inhabitable places on Earth, so we’re proudly in the top ten ranking of mental disorders. Properly treated, however, they don’t represent a threat or handicap to the individual. I don’t suffer from any disorder myself, but I know several people who do, in theory, because with simple treatment they live a perfectly normal life in practice. In matters of physical diseases, genetics has done its wonder and has eradicated congenital disorders; vaccines and prophylaxis have also neutralized viral and bacterial diseases. But in psychical matters, we don’t want to meddle that much, and anyway, genetics is still not powerful enough to be able to tamper with the brain. We allow for natural evolution in that sense, and we simply treat the disorders that may appear in the most natural possible way; because organicism is a scientifically proven value.

I work from Monday to Friday from eleven a.m. to one p.m. I’m a veterinarian because I like animals, especially horses. I work at a riding hall outside Posnan. I live downtown, so I have a five-minute commute by floater, one way. I’ll explain later what floaters are. Cars have been banished from metropoles for more than a millennium now, so public transportation has really improved. Most rides inside the city don’t take more than five minutes. There are some megacities in other countries, with their advantages and disadvantages, but in most of Europe, the population is evenly spread. The metropolitan area of Posnan, for instance, has a population of two hundred thousand people. 

Taming horses is not considered cruelty anymore. Horses are merely used for riding and for equine therapy, and their training is similar to dog training. No violence is exerted, and the well-being of the horse is always a priority. Animals in general are under strict control. Zoologists and veterinarians have blossomed in the last millennium, to the point that for a long time, there have been no extinct species. Reserves are kept intact, and people can visit animals in their natural environment, but we had to create a way of keeping farm animals alive without exploiting them. 

It probably isn’t a surprise for you to hear that the world has become Vegan. This was mainly done due to the relevance that a healthy diet has taken, but also since people became increasingly reluctant to eat killed food or products of the exploitation of animals. Farm animals are actually kept in parks nearby cities, where they live in a semi-wild state. Some people who have the means keep them as pets. No one misses meat or dairy, because it’s hard to miss something you’ve never tried. I remember reading once that beef or pork ribs, the same as olives or pickles, were an acquired taste, that kids wouldn’t like them at the beginning, but they would get used to it and eventually love them when they grew up. The scission between animal and human rights was superseded by a more holistic law that applies to nature in general. Even plants have rights nowadays. However, when we talk about rights, we don’t immediately associate them with punishment. There are penalties, but none of them are inhuman, which means that none of them imply damage to the individual. Incarceration has therefore been abolished, since there are more economical and constructive ways of penalizing actions that are deemed wrong. To start with, the principle of relativism applies to any penalization. We’re aware that morals change; history has proven it. Religions have stopped being a source of ethical wisdom, so we’re more objective now. There are no universals when it comes to moral laws, only desirability. We wish for a certain kind of behavior that promotes harmony and evolution, but we allow for deviance. We embrace heterogeneity because it leads toward leaps in evolution. I’ll give a clear example: Plants, like every living being, have the right to fulfill their biological cycle without interruption, except when they’re used to create alimentary or utilitarian products. This law means, for instance, that people can’t ornament their houses with dead plants anymore, the same as they can’t kill animals for sport. However, according to the principle of relativity, someone who did this would be considered a deviant, but wouldn’t be in further transgression of the law. As I mentioned before, deviance is well-seen by society, but it must be kept under surveillance. A quota is allowed, in case of deviant needs, following the Aristotelian philosophy of the golden mean. This quota is qualitative, which means, in practice, a penalty for the exertion of the right to deviance. For instance, if someone is prone to killing flowers to decorate their house or to give to their loved ones as a sign of affection, they need to plant new ones or simply pay a tax for planting new ones. As everything is by subscription, an extra tax means simply more hours of work per month. Thus, working a little more per month gives people a certain quota of dead flowers per month they can buy: a crime quota, if you wish. These kinds of deviant purchases are, consequently, made on demand. The flower shops generally sell legal flowers, that is, alive, but, if someone who pays the dead flowers quota needs it, they cut the flowers for them. This blurring of legality might seem strange to you, but no more than it’s strange to us your current system of laws which everyone breaks in secret. Laws are meant to be broken; that’s a sign of social evolution. But we do it honestly and without stigmatization. 

Currently, I’m on vacation, so I have lots of free time to write this novel. I would’ve missed my horses if I stayed home or went away, so I rented a cabin near the riding hall, and sometimes I pay a visit. They help me get the clearness of mind I need to write these pages.


Read more: Chapter Two


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.


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