Fragment of a badly damaged personal journal
<table><tr><td>The following is what remains of a badly damaged personal journal, having belonged to someone who's name was lost with the rest of the pages, some of which are too badly waterlogged to decipher, the rest gone completely. This last entry, the only legible text, we believe to have been written sometime around year 2023 or thereabouts.
"... [the] “Trans-Caspian Emergency Operations Zone” initiative as the major, defining action plan for his [unintelligible] Hemispheric [Army?]
He explained the points of this plan over the now state-controlled television channels for those who still had TV or net access, and over the radio for those that didn’t, all after the initial bombing campaigns, invasions and occupations had already begun. Using the need for the US to pull through this period of chaos so as to be in a position to help rebuild the world economy once these “dark times” had been weathered out as his primary, lofty [goal?]... how the defensive capabilities of Saudi Arabia had been demolished by a weeks worth of concentrated, intensive..."</td><td><img title="I will be siding with the robots" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/axe.jpg"></td></tr></table>...
Second Fragment, next page:
"... [unable?] to quickly respond to these “policing actions” largely due to incredible social turmoil, and in addition because of a recent coup attempt by military and political officials in the central... "
Main body, several pages later:
"... overall arrangement would be rather short-lived, as economic collapse virtually everywhere made it difficult for “president” Rowland’s forces to actually do anything with all the resources that they had successfully secured. It was surprisingly difficult to maintain the flow of oil to the US and local industry was so hindered by the rapidly collapsing global economy that no amount of oil really would have been able to keep it going in the long run. Starvation and disease was a major problem for all the armies concerned. What I can only call a slow but very real civil war was by that time also gripping the US, and this caused even his mighty Hemispheric force to be stretched beyond it’s capabilities.
Fighting raged through 2015 and beyond as roving US army bands, increasingly under-equipped, tried to route out highly mobile RA [Is this the "Radical Alliance"?] guerrillas, who were, for the sporadic shelling and gassing, becoming themselves somewhat more rare. RA attacks slowed little however as new recruits did replace some of the dead, and their attacks were hardly limited to the battlefields. These actions included targeting not only top authorities, state officials, spies and snitches, but also known serial rapists, neo-nazis and the like. I remember the pink and black queer/trans "attack squads" being known for their particular ferocity.
While early in the conflict the army’s use of robotic drone swarms was widespread, as well as the use of biological spy drones (remote controlled living beetles with tiny cameras and microphones implanted in them, “wetwired” to their brains as those fucks called it) I have to imagine that it was a lack of fuels and reliable electricity plus insect extinctions made both practices largely impossible before long.
Most of us were trained to mistrust the buzzing of flying insects or the open air during that fucked up nightmare period. Shadows from birds still spook me sometimes even today, as if a gunship is going to upon up on us.
Unfortunately for the RA, suitable rifles had become pretty scarce after the permanent "assault weapons ban of 2013." Few of the radicals who might have had the means to buy arms at one time had done so before the law passed, and as a result they couldn’t share them with each other afterward (of course I was guilty of that also, who really wanted to mess with those things before it became absolutely necessary?). For the most part handy rifles that used common parts and ammunition which would have been highly useful for self-defense had ultimately been concentrated in the hands of white conservatives. Now those armed right wing groups and individuals generally acted out unofficial state orders or at least sentiments as virtual paramilitaries, attacking RA camps when they found them or killing those unlucky enough to wander into their territory. Too many RA fighters were lost in attempts to raid well-protected [unintelligible]
... increased if anything though, being possible without the benefit of sophisticated weapons. Roads and bridges, rail, electricity and oil lines were cut, halting a lot of military transport and movement of domestic goods. The more environmentally minded pointed out that the Holocene Extinction event had only gained in pace recently, and that we were all rapidly approaching an utterly unlivable world due to the continuation of even seriously diminished industrial pollution and the destruction of biodiversity. Best to to try to completely annihilate the toxic industrial beast while it was wounded, the green RA groups reasoned, and also it was a decent tactic for slowing the efforts of Rowland’s army. The red RA factions didn't try to stop them. At the time I thought about things a lot differently than I do now, and thought it was a stupid thing to do, if we were just going to have to rebuild it all again later anyway (Ha!).
Rowland eventually restricted the civilian use of what gasoline could be found so as to reserve it for the military as he threw the weight of the army, police and feds against the RA, and also against even the less militant Indigenous nations, peacefully attempting to reassert their sovereignty.
The RA also tried its hand at anonymously broadcasting public announcements and education whenever possible, calling for the creation of public civil organizations to support the adoption of sustainable livelihoods, specifically those that didn’t require the use of those resources which were becoming naturally rare and those that they themselves were necessarily disrupting. Unfortunately the civil guard would usually attack and dismantle those projects if they became too visible, discouraging many from taking proactive steps to avoid their own starvation.
I watched as those “average citizens” not living on Indian reservations or otherwise directly involved in the fighting tried to make sense of the broken economy. Grocery store shelves emptied and services like health care were far from guarantied. I don't think very many realized that their own rampantly consumptive lifestyles had, in part, helped bring them to this point.
Anyone with gardening experience was by necessity now beginning to make use of it more extensively; public parks and golf courses increasingly came under cultivation. Chickens were everywhere, and then even some pigs.
Ultimately though these limited sources of mostly annual vegetables didn’t add up to much for people who didn’t know that salal was abundant, edible, and easy to preserve, or that stinging nettles were highly nutritious, or that oregon grape root was an excellent medicine for many of the ever more common intestinal problems. Most didn’t know how to trap or hunt, or if they could then they wouldn’t know how to clean and cook anything that survived locally like city rats, nutria and seagulls. Hardly anyone knew how to grind and leach acorns for meal or how easy it was to toast grasshoppers for a protein rich snack. Pines for vitamin C, cedar for medicine, none of that. Between malnutrition, bad water and lack of medication outside of gated and well-guarded private communities, mortality rates rose steeply and death became increasingly common.
Parks and forested areas near population centers began to literally disappear as the locals started cutting as much wood as they were able to haul for their fires. For the most part people didn’t know how to build very efficient fires, how to conserve wood fuel by using rocket stoves and putting boiling or baking foodstuffs in strawboxes, or how to insulate their homes so as to rarely ever need an extra heat source like fire at all. They didn’t know which wooded areas were preferable for use and which really should have been protected, they were indiscriminate. I remember wishing desperately that I could have spent more time teaching this knowledge with everyone before it was too late. I wish I had known how soon "too late" would be.
For my part I spent the next few years avoiding military attacks, feverishly working to establish self-sustaining emergency permaculture farms in whatever secluded locales I was invited to despite my bad arm, and trying to help connect wise elders and philosopher types with those small communities which seemed like they might survive the worst of it. Not that I particularly valued the permaculture garden-grown diet over other options more thoroughly reliant on wild plants and animals, mind you, it’s simply that those wild sources of sustenance were increasingly hard to find, making gardening fucking necessary.I remember trying to fiddle with solar power systems and batteries before getting fed up with all that.
I kept myself fed mostly through my friends and family (many of whom, luckily for me, had learned how to fish and hunt during calmer times) and by collecting a small amount of the harvest from several gardens and permaculture sites that I had helped start up in years past. I also made sure to always, always boil my drinking water. My companions will know exactly what I'm talking about if I mention the insane frustration of waiting for a burn-bowl to finish and then for good dry rocks to heat up in the fire so that I could boil all that damn water whenever I found myself, like a dumbass, without a pot or any other suitable container. Staring at all the dirty water that I could just drink if I wasn't being so cautious was torture!
It seemed in this time that every month another essentially important species of plant or animal would become too hard to find, making life that much harder or even [impossible?]... some disaster caused by societal breakdown and decay, like the sudden leaking of gallons of toxic chemicals from that abandoned paper mill, meant that a whole, otherwise self-sufficient community was forced to relocate to some other already overburdened location.
When one spring no more than three or four salmon were found returning to the Columbia River it was an incredible blow, psychologically, spiritually, and physically to those camped along the riverbanks, and especially to the traditional Chinookans. It was quite literally the end of the world for many. I tried to console people with the possibility that southern California or more northern Alaskan runs might still exist in higher numbers, and that eventually with no more aluminum plants or dams fouling things up a few of those fish might make their way up our river, contributing to new runs. I prayed that this was in fact a possibility.
Apparently the environmental destruction of the fucking industrial system hadn’t been stopped quite quickly enough. Global warming had been allowed to gain too much momentum and would continue now on its own for decades or centuries to come, as we've been observing.
Species after species of plants, birds, fish, reptiles and on were falling like dominoes, even after most of the polluting industries themselves had collapsed. The toxic substances remained, resistant to being broken down and flushed out by an already overburdened biosphere.
Then in 2018 the pandemic came, burning through the country like wildfire. I wonder if the planet itself just got sick of all the bullshit.
Though by now no civilians had the functioning equipment to accurately determine exactly what it was, a friend of mine who had gone through medical school before becoming an RA guerrilla guessed that it was yet another mutation of the human communicable ‘bird flu,’ an influenza A virus which humans had little immunity to.
Earlier breakouts of this highly contagious disease had been, for the large part, effectively contained.
Whatever it was exactly though, she explained how droves of starving people, believing that they could escape economic hardship by moving to the cities to look for food and work, had in doing so built huge sprawling slums that contributed to continually higher population densities in some parts of the world (in her med school days she had seen these far away mega-cities first hand). Combined with an ever increasing need for farmed foods, this forced people and livestock, now often both pumped full of numerous antibiotics by whatever government bodies were functioning, to increasingly inhabit the same space, making disease sharing much more likely. Combined with the bad sanitation conditions inherent in cities, the widespread abuse of antibiotics and the breakdown of international cooperation in dealing with outbreaks, this new disease was given a chance to wreak havoc on an incredible scale.
I remember the sickness caused high fever, sweats, breathing problems and finally convulsions before death. Scared the living piss out of me. Where the fuck was the Star Trek future that I had dreamed about in earlier years? I wanted to get beamed into sickbay.
I would estimate that, in conjunction with so many of the other problems making life hard, it killed around 80% of what haggard population was left in the Pacific Northwest, in a few weeks. Even the gated communities weren't protected well enough to stop it.
Of course many had already largely lost their will to continue, either because they were no longer powerful consumers or because there didn’t seem to be much of a natural world left to live with. When the disease came to them they put up little resistance, and were in a sense already dead.
I can only imagine the death tolls were similar elsewhere, though I hoped that at least some of the traditional indigenous nations and peoples, having recently been trying to hide from the ongoing war, were isolated enough to have survived intact.
All news from elsewhere petered out, military envoys and aircraft pretty well ceased altogether. I think that all happened around the same time.
I lost most of my friends and family. Many died as I lay wrapped in blankets, sick and delirious myself, too weak to help anyone else. Freak torrential rain pour caused flash floods, washing away many of the dead and dying. Though I physically survived the fever, I became pretty convinced that I was ultimately lost as well.
After some time digging, filling the muddy earth with the bodies of those who I had been close to, I wandered through the ravaged forests, avoiding towns and cities with their decaying bodies lying in the streets, except to raid abandoned houses for what canned foods were left. I was reminded of old testimonies that I had read of the native peoples here, of their villages after European diseases had decimated their numbers in the 1700s.
I went on like this through the spring into the summer, in something like total hopeless desperation, surviving on what could hardly be called a diet, wondering with every fucking footstep if it was worth it even to try to continue.
It seemed pretty clear to me then that the wrong path had been chosen. Or not even that it had been actively chosen, but simply followed. Perhaps I had zigzagged off into oblivion along with this whole fucking culture.
On a humid summer day with thunderclouds in the distance, as I sat in what had been a large tree farm some miles north of old Hillsboro contemplating suicide once again, the ground suddenly began to rumble. I can see it all very clearly. For several minutes this persisted, and then I remember the ground heaved and fall an inch or two below me. The trees shook wildly as the earth went through severe spasms, I stood up and clung to one of the young trunks as needles showered down over me. The motion was so intense and frenzied that I got nauseous, at the time it seemed to last forever, in retrospect it couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes or so.
After the distant roaring, crashing noise of landslides finally stopped, I sat back down to focus on breathing for a while. Then I thought for a bit about what had just happened, and ultimately guessed that most of the western coastline had just been completely redrawn. I imagined that much of what had made up downtown Portland, abandoned, bullet ridden but still tall and ugly, was now rubble, having just gone through something on the order of a 9.0 or higher ‘mega-thrust’ earthquake event.
Of all things it was the great earthquake that gave me something for my curiosity to adhere to, some reason to go on. I wanted to make my way back and see what everything looked like flattened, cut down to size. By then I wanted to squint my eyes and pretend like none of that junk had ever existed.
I made my way back surely and carefully over the course of a week. I could tell from hiking past residential areas in places like Beaverton that not much had withstood the quake. Sections of hillsides and the roads built on them had tumbled down into ravines. New streams trickled through recently opened earth.
By coincidence I happened upon the old Pittock Mansion coming over the west hills, now flopped over on its side, all splinters, plaster and broken glass. I walked out onto the overgrown lawn where I had stood so many times before, in a seemingly different lifetime.
Peering out over the ruined city, the broken glass of tumbled buildings and the calm water of flooded streets glistened in the sun. Sections of the waterfront had spilled into the now wild river and the twisted pieces of bridges reached up out of the flowing water like huge dead branches.
It was beautiful.
I stopped by some of the farms that I had helped to establish and places where friends had lived before. Mostly these places were abandoned, but occasionally familiar faces greeted me. In some of these hideouts the crying of newborn babies drifted through the air, punctuated by English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Farsi, Russian, or occasionally Dine or Chinookan words. Those who had long ago been teachers, historians or just wise thanked me for having helped them to find [unintelligible]... depend on some food and water.
Raccoon meat sizzled over open fires, duck and goose eggs popped in cast iron pans and everyone smelled like wood smoke, as we have all [gotten used?] to. Those who survived were skinny with the hunger of living in a scarred landscape and the lasting effects of the disease, but they looked determined nonetheless.
In the following months I came across and stuck with most of those other survivors, lovely, strong people, who would eventually band together and decide to head south along the Willamette to establish our semi-permanent winter camp.
Before starting off south though, my band and I stopped by a small and relatively new temporary Indian camp. I had worked with one of the people in years past trying to preserve and propagate endangered wild native food plants, and I recognized that a couple of them had also been part of that Lower Willamette Native/Non-Native Dialogue group that I had participated in just before the war. I was glad that the precedent for formalized communication between indigenous and non-indigenous groups had already been at least somewhat established, though of course I wished that it could have been continued under more fortunate circumstances. Members of the traditional, hereditary band councils were also around, maybe glad not to have to deal with the US govt appointed "authorities" anymore, I have to imagine.
After requesting a meeting, all our meager numbers eventually gathered around a large paper map of the Willamette valley.
My band asked if there was any land that they wouldn’t mind us moving to. After some discussion they showed us several areas, some they already planned to use, some of religious significance, others that had been and may again someday become good fishing grounds, that they didn't want us to settle on. After inquiring about a flat area by where the old Oregon Gardens now stood untended, outside of what had been Silverton, they said that they didn't have any plans for that area, but also that they’d appreciate it if we tried to clean up the mess that the surrounding towns had become, as a sort of partial payment. We agreed that it was the least we could do.
I guessed from having visited some years ago that the area probably still had a few fine standing oaks nearby as well as marshy spots where we could try to cultivate camas (and I was right on the money John you cynic!). With some regular burnings I agreed that we might have a decent setup there, relatively speaking.
That night we shared a lean dinner and camped together. Overall there was a somber tone, one that fit with how the earth felt around us. In the morning we departed, promising to send messengers so as to keep in regular communication.
Occasionally on our meandering trek, we would run into roving bands of self-styled law enforcement officers or government types, mostly those who had been cops, security guards, soldiers or white supremacists in the past. When they were alone or there were only a few of them we would sometimes ambush, take their weapons, ammunition and useful items if they had any, otherwise we would hide and note which direction they went.
Of course, not all our interactions were [so tense?]. Once on our way south we met a few cautious but ultimately friendly ex-RA kids with patched clothing, sticking seeds and big black flags into cracks in the ruined pavement. We told them where we were headed and that they should visit us sometime.
After that there’s nothing I could say that the group doesn’t already know. That’s what I can remember of those times.
Sometimes I sit and wonder how things would have gone differently if many more people had voluntarily chosen a different path on their own schedule, the path that we are now just barely crawling along through a damaged and depleted wilderness, that much worse for having put it off so damn long. What if industry had been stomped out sooner, what if we had protected more of the biodiversity that we desperately need to survive, that we rely on now so intimately? Maybe if more communities had been educated about how to do some essential things for survival, then things could have been easier, if we had just been better fucking prepared… then again, usually I have a lot of work to do though, so it's not like I really get to think about it too much."