I mentioned earlier that I started reading Imaginary Games from Chris Bateman. It is basically a philosophy book about videogames, and it is very interesting, but after reading the first chapter I realized that I'd like to be more knowledgeable about philosophy before reading on. This led me to the local library, where I found Philosophy: The Classics from Nigel Warburton. It is an excellent book, it helped me a lot to understand how philosophy works, and made me love philosophy. But that is story for another day. What I want to talk about now is an idea that occurred to me when I was reading about Marx and Engels.
There are two important things to know about Marx and Engels. One is that they actually changed the world with their books - the whole 20th century would have been very different without their books. The other thing is that they realized that the invention of the steam engine, and the following industrial revolution was required to abolish slavery totally, because it provided a cheaper, more reliable work force.
Here is where my story starts..
In an alternative reality, the young Marx meets a stranger, who invites him for a coffee and a talk. The stranger speaks in a funny way, and his clothes are nothing like Marx has seen before. He is also apparently drunk, but still seems to be able to think clearly.
They spend a long night with talking. The main topic is how machines can help humanity - the steam engine is just the first step. Together, they create a dream about an idealistic state where machines do every important work, and the people are happy. The only obligation of humans is to improve science, and by that, further improve the machines which serve humanity.
Then the stranger disappears, and Marx is back in his reality. Yet, this night has a big effect on him, he keeps thinking about the dream state, and finally, writes a book about it. This book, called the Book of Machines (although the actual title is Machines and Science in the 20th Century) becomes very popular in Germany. Suddenly, a lot of people gets converted to the idea of building a better society, including some of the really wealthy. Soon, new common schools and new laboratories are built to educate the people and advance science. Although Marx is deeply against the idea, people starts treating the idea of Machinism as a religion. The rest of the world remains sceptic. There is open criticism in the newspapers in the US and UK about the German dream.
Twenty years later the first fruits start to appear. A new generation of scientists has grown up, with the dream of changing the world. There are a lots of new ideas, theories, some are nonsense, some is proven to be impossible, but some come true. Better, more efficient machines start to appear.
By the turn of the century, Germany is ahead of the world in almost every field of the science. Although the focus is on creating better machines, a lot of seemingly unrelated fields also advance: Biology and agriculture for providing cheaper and cleaner fuel; mathematics, as a foundation of all sciences; several aspects of physics; psychology, to improve teaching and learning; everything. Naturally, the machines are now much more sophisticated, and compared to what is available in other countries, silent and clean. The scepticism turns into envy, and the tension is building.
In 1905, Germany uncovers the collected evidence of industrial espionage (one of the highest possible crimes in the country) and declares war against half of Europe, including the biggest states. The countries of the other half are undecided. Some states state neutrality, some joins the fight against the "aggressors", that is, Germany, some other join Germany in an alliance. Every country start building armies, but it is already too late.
After working on new Machines of War for decades, Germany shows the world what it is capable of. The result is quick and bloody: Tanks and rockets are used against cavalry, repeating handguns and chain swords are used against rifles and bayonets. Armoured Zeppelins appear over the larger cities, often demonstrating the power of their bombs at some close, unoccupied place. As a result, in less than a year most of the countries capitulate, Germany extends its borders all over Europe, and declares the European Union of Machine (EUM), and makes peace agreements with all the remaining countries.
A decade of peace follows, full of international tension. The USA secretly pledges to destroy Germany with its own weapon, and starts the same evolution, without realizing that it will make them more similar to Germany than anyone else on the planet. The Asian countries form an alliance that openly opposes the EUM, and follows the path of capitalism. Idealist, humanists, thinkers from all over the world move to Rio, forming the Covenant of Thought, which tries to promote independent human values, which make us more important than a gear in the Machine.
The year is 1916. The world expects a new war between Europe and Asia. Can the masses and old technology defend itself against the Machines? And what about the rumours of the new super weapon that the Americans sold to Russia? And if Germany conquers Asia, is there a way to stop them at all?
This is where you are. Who would you be? What would you do?