Posted by: Lucida Parsons, Firewall Proxy <Info Msg Rep>
To hear the Consortium media stooges tell it, anarchism, Extropianism, and technosocialism are passing fads, short-lived political “experiments” dreamed up by a handful of malcontents in the aftermath of the Fall to keep the “legitimate governments” of the system from making a smooth transition to ruling everything from Sol to Eris. But you know how it is with media stooges, they never met a fact they couldn’t spin into a lie.
While it’s true that autonomists weren’t major players in solar affairs prior to the Fall, we’re not newcomers by any means. While the oligarchs and CEOs were polishing their rockets and thinking up new ways to fork an indenture into a few more years of cheap labor, we were taking the new tech and discarded masses and figuring out ways of breaking down both to make a better world for everyone. Our goal was to build up a more resilient society that could deal with things like the Fall and come out stronger than before.
And that, dear listener, is what really scares the Consortium more than anything else. We were the big winners of the Fall. Nearly every other group found themselves diminished, weakened, or on the verge of extinction after the TITANs struck, but we were ready and able to take a disaster and turn it around, liberating millions and providing the basis for a strong and enduring confederation of societies among the most hardscrabble and desolate areas of the solar system. That scares them.
If we can take a punch to the gut like the Fall and not just stand back up, but punch back, and keep punching for another ten years, what does that say about old tired political and social systems like the ones you see on Mars and Venus, ones that are rent with division and on the verge of boiling over with rebellion? We’re the bogeyman of the inner system for good reason: we are the future, the onrushing tide of change and liberty that will wash away the corruption and selfishness of the past, casting off the norms and shackles that have kept transhumanity down and prevented us from realizing our full potential. We represent the chimera of the future, that ever-changing, multi-headed beast that is adaptable and fierce. This is who we are, the future, and we’re already here.

An Alliance of Equals

The first thing to understand about the Autonomist Alliance is that it is not a government, or even an alliance of governments. There’s no one in charge, no standing military, no laws enforced on its members. There are no figureheads, no headquarters, and very little in the way of institutions. It is best described as a mutual aid and defense pact, a network by which any autonomist-identified habitat, group, or even individual can call upon others for assistance and protection.

Finding Autonomy

The seeds of the Alliance were already spread throughout the outer system before the Fall. The rimward areas were still very much frontier space, with vast distances between astronomical bodies and no encompassing legal authority. Various libertarian-minded entrepreneurs, adherents to the Extropian philosophy, were already laying claim to territories in order to found their own anarcho-capitalist utopias, free from taxation and other government restrictions. The availability of nanofabricators and fuel mass increased the survival viability of small habitats and stations even near the outermost planets. Disgruntled and idealistic employees, indentures, and convict workers went AWOL from their assignments, taking their employers’ assets with them, confident that the costs of tracking them down over such vast distances would deter pursuit and retribution. Political dissidents and open source advocates funded small drone ships to establish robotic outposts, establishing the first darknets and infomorph/synthmorph data havens and brinker colonies. Their numbers were small, their resources limited, but these frontier settlers were just the first wave.
For the most part, the hypercorps active in the outer system were content to leave these rebels and outcasts alone. Resources and space were readily available enough that there was very little in the way of conflicting interests and engaging in hostilities was not exactly a good profit model. The same was true of the various nation-states from Earth, who were even further behind in their colonization, exploration, and resource exploitation initiatives, hampered as they were by ecological crises, petty wars, budget issues, and unruly populations back home. Most governments of the period took the long view, believing that they would slowly but surely conquer the solar system at their own pace, and so they could wait and reintegrate the various rimward settlers when the appropriate time came. They did not anticipate the TITANs ruining their plans.
One of the few Earth powers (aside from the North and South Americans colonizing Jupiter) to buck the trend was the North Atlantic Consortium, an alliance of Scandinavian nations that launched an ambitious plan to colonize Titan. Bringing along a technosocialist mindset, these early Titanians often found their interests more closely aligned with the various rimward radicals than the hypercorps or other Earth powers. Their habitats were one of the few locations where the various sub-factions all met to trade, share information and resources, and socialize.
As the Fall neared, however, tensions began to rise. More and more future-minded visionaries on Earth began to realize the opportunity the frontier presented. New projects were launched to establish yet more colonies, while more and more egos found ways to transmit themselves to outer system outposts. Though scattered and small, these autonomous outposts were growing in number and size and becoming less isolated. The defection of the Hydrogen’s Promise habitat was the first sign of a major shift.
Hydrogen’s Promise was a Reagan cylinder in orbit around Jupiter owned by an American multinational named Destiny Metals and Fuels. In 3 BF, the contract labor (many of whom were convicts from Earth) seized the station in a wildcat strike, claiming that Destiny had been shorting the crew on anti-radiation meds. Though Destiny claimed the laborers were just looking for a way to break their contracts, they did not have the means to immediately deal with the strike. By the time an American warship was dispatched to quell the uprising, the syndicalist worker’s council established by the strikers had already signed a deal with an Extropian arms dealer, Nathan Samuels, who had outfitted the station with state-of-the-art defensive batteries. A few well-placed warning shots staved off the Americans, who were reluctant to simply bombard the habitat from a distance. Hoping to divert the incident from devolving into a tragedy, a group of Titanian settlers stepped in to mediate the conflict, bringing striker delegates and Destiny negotiators to the meeting table. Though the discussions were contentious, the Titanians managed to drag them out for several years—at which point the Fall occurred, Destiny ceased to exist, and the workers’ ownership of the cylinder became de facto.
The Hydrogen’s Promise incident is notable as one of the first situations when the various autonomist proto-factions united and worked together. It also served as a stark example of workers’ power and the difficulties the hypercorps and governments had in keeping their remote outposts under firm control, sparking several similar strikes and rebellions in the years to follow.
When the Fall came, the outer system was largely spared by the TITANs, with the exception of their takeover of Iapetusand a handful of isolated outbreaks that were (mostly) contained. The crisis on Earth did serve to focus the attention of the states and corporations inward, however, leaving even more room for the burgeoning autonomists to grow, network, and solidify their infrastructure. More than a few remote outposts found themselves suddenly liberated as the governments and businesses that owned and controlled them simply ceased to exist. Others were seized by rebels confident they were too remote and inconsequential to face retribution.
The rimward autonomists also sprang into action, pushing their networks to the limit to accept infugees and refugees from Earth. Though the powers of the inner system were often reluctant to allow egos to pass and potentially swell the ranks of their adversaries, most habitats were already overwhelmed and had no choice but to pass off the excess. Rather than forcing these infugees into virtual slavery or cold storage, most autonomist stations did what they could to re-life their guests. Many of these re-instantiated people adapted eagerly to the autonomist economy, where they had all their basic needs met, were not forced to sell their labor to survive, and could pursue their interests at leisure.
Even as the TITANs disappeared and the dust of the wars on Earth was settling, the hypercapitalist oligarchs were already considering the threat this rag-tag network of radicals, free-thinkers, criminals, and drop-outs posed to their dominance of the solar system. The memetic warfare began almost immediately, with the autonomists demonized as a threat to the transhumans surviving the Fall thanks to their unrestricted technologies and anarchistic mindsets. Hysterical demagogues accused the autonomists of trading in intellectual property stolen from the struggling creatives, engineers, and programmers of inner system habitats. The former owners of rimward habitats that had liberated themselves came calling, demanding their property back. When the residents refused, mercenary units were assembled and the autonomists were threatened with military action. Financial liens were placed on infugees transmitted to autonomist habs for outrageous retroactive “farcasting fees.” Embargoes and blockades were placed on stations that refused to comply with inner system economic demands. In many habitats in and around Earth, Luna, Venus, and Mars, left-wing activists and sympathizers were rounded up and accused of conspiring with outer system terrorists—or worse, the TITANs. Autonomists were often lumped together with uplifts and AGIs as a triumvirate threat to humanity’s future by biochauvinists and bioconservatives. Tensions rose and sporadic conflicts flared.
It was at this point that various anarchist, Extropian, scum, brinker, and other stations established the mutual aid and defense pact that came to be called the Autonomist Alliance. A simple set of Points of Unity bound these often-fractious factions together, unified against the threat posed by inner system and Jovian powers. Though simple and direct, these Points of Unity are notable for referring to “all sapients” rather than “transhumans” or “people,” making it clears that uplifts and even AGIs were included in their vision of a free society.
The Alliance faced its first real test with the first Battle of Locus, when the Planetary Consortium directed a small fleet to seize the anarchist stronghold, allegedly to protect against claim-jumping in the Main Belt and to shut down a nexus of intellectual property infringement, but really in the hopes of weakening the autonomist movement. The anarchists had been expecting this for some time and had skillfully duped the Consortium’s intelligence gathering efforts. The fleet met an unexpectedly heavy and sophisticated resistance and was forced to withdraw after several ships were severely damaged. Though the Consortium had been bloodied in the skirmish, everyone knew this was just the first move, and a much stronger response was anticipated. While there were many who felt the autonomists had no chance of standing against a coordinated military attack from the inner system—or the Jovians, for that matter—the outright aggressive nature of the assault sparked anger across the outer rim, spurring many autonomist groups to solidify their support for each other.
When the Consortium launched a second attack fleet against Locus a few months later, the battle was exponentially more brutal. The hypercorp ships were more numerous and better prepared after their previous defeat, but the anarchists had bolstered their defenses and gained a number of allies. Various anarchist, scum, Extropian, and even brinker crews from around the outer system had brought their craft, hoping to get in on the fight. They still would have been outnumbered and outgunned, however, if not for the arrival of the Titanian Fleet. Knowing that the Commonwealth would be targeted soon after the anarchists, the Titanian Plurality had chosen a side, officially becoming a part of the Autonomist Alliance. The Consortium fleet was routed, and a clear message was delivered that the Alliance would not capitulate easily.

Sidebar: Autonomist Alliance Points of Unity

  • We demand autonomy, self-organization, and self-governance for all sapient beings.
  • We support direct democracy and forms of organization where sapients collectively decide their own future.
  • We promote mutual aid and reciprocating altruism between sapients.
  • We affirm the right to engage in self-defense against oppression and coercive authority and stand in solidarity with sapients so attacked.

Sidebar: Deterrents

< So you don’t believe the Second Battle of Locus is what kept the Consortium from taking over the outer system?
  • Not for a second. They may have lost the battle, but they still retained far superior military strength. I’ve heard many people say that an anarchist society would never last because it would be vulnerable to outside aggression, to military action from states. Well, the anarchists are outgunned, but it doesn’t matter, because there are other deterrent factors.
< So what, in your opinion, is actually keeping the Consortium, or the Jovians, or even the Lunars or ultimates from claiming the outer system as theirs and seizing it?
  • I can think of several, but let me point out a few specific incidents that I think will highlight my points. First, you might remember there was another military action right around the time of the Second Battle of Locus, where hypercorp mercs went after the habitat Hydrogen’s Promise.
< Yeah, I recall that. They bombarded it, blew it up, didn’t they? Killed thousands?
  • Sort of. The mercs actually won the space battle, though just like Locus, they weren’t expecting the anarchists to be so well-armed—turns out a lot more mil-spec space defense blueprints ended up in liberated autonomist nanofabbers after the Fall than anyone realized. They actually seized the habitat, though resistance was so stiff inside that they were still engaging in house-to-house fighting over a week later, even after dropping the breathable atmo levels on day one. The kicker was, they never had as full control of the hab as they thought. When it finally became clear the cylinder was taken, the anarchists triggered a scorched-Earth policy. They nuked the whole damn thing. Destroyed the entire habitat, the merc marines, and a substantial chunk of the merc fleet as well.
< Holy fuck. That’s one way to make a statement.
  • It was a clear lesson on how super-empowering technology has changed warfare. The anarchists were willing to fight to the last and die, because they were backed up elsewhere. Even the smallest habitats could be armed with devastating weapons, thanks to unrestricted nanofab. Not only could they prevent the Consortium from seizing stations, they could make each and every military action an excessively costly affair. Conquering the rim wasn’t an option, the Consortium could at best hope to destroy all the habitats from afar and kill all the autonomists, but then they would have to rebuild. And would they ever get them all?
< OK, I can see how that would make them rethink their strategy.
  • There’s more. Take a look through the news archives around that time, keeping a specific eye on incidents within the Consortium. There were a lot that stand out. An indentured riot and habitat takeover in Lunar orbit. The assassination by drone of a connected hypercorp CEO on Venus. Spacecraft sabotage in Martian orbit. A nanoplague released on Progress that targeted a specific designer line of morphs favored by Planetary Congress representatives. The hacker group Anon taking down the Planetary Stock Exchange for 2 days straight. I could go on.
< So, lesson #2: the anarchists were bringing the war home.
  • That’s right, there were clear signs that a protracted war with the outer system would have been largely unpopular and would have decreased stability and safety within core Consortium habitats.
< OK, I can see that, but that might just be the cost of conquering the solar system. Once the autonomists were wiped out, they could focus on regaining control at home.
  • Possibly, but there’s more. The same week as the Second Battle of Locus, there was an unusual incident in Jovian space. A private corvette was targeted and destroyed by Jovian fighters while making a slingshot maneuver around Jupiter. The Jovians claim the ship never paid the levy to pass through their space and ignored communications and warnings; Consortium records disagree on that point. Oh, and the corvette happened to be carrying Fa Jing’s top rep to the Hypercorp Council itself. Whoops.
< So the Jovians were sending a message?
  • That’s my take on it. The Jovians stick to themselves on most affairs, and they don’t like the autonomists of course, but they also don’t like the idea of the Consortium seizing control of most of the system. Locus isn’t too far off from Jovian space, so this may have been their way of telling the Consortium to stay out of their backyard. Or maybe, just maybe, even the Jovians realized that starting another war when 95% of transhumanity was just wiped out wasn’t the best idea. Either way, they expressed their dislike for the Consortium’s military adventurism.
< Heh, I doubt any Jovian would ever admit to siding with the autonomists, but I admit to seeing the logic there. Even with all of these factors, however, I’m not fully convinced the Consortium wouldn’t just go for it anyway.
  • Well, there are other potential considerations, but they are sketchy and unsubstantiated. I’m not sure they’re worth taking into account.
< This isn’t that Factor conspiracy theory again, is it?
  • I think a lot of people are willing to believe that the Factors are meddling in transhuman affairs—and given some of the rumors, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised myself. Sure, maybe they threatened to intervene if transhumanity started warring with itself, but I doubt it. I think it’s more likely they’d simply step back and wait for a victor to emerge.
< Oh, let me guess. Is it that other craziness, the meme about the alien doomsday weapon the anarchists found out beyond the Fissure Gate?
  • Ha, no I chalk that one up to anti-autonomist propaganda. No, the rumor I’m thinking of specifically has to do with a certain … group of rumored intelligences. Let’s just say their name starts with “P” and rhymes with “TITANs.”
< I have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • I hope for both of our sakes that is true.

Alliance Goals

Being a simple sum of its constituents, and given the distaste most autonomists have for hierarchy and power, the Alliance has no set agenda or goals per se. There is, in fact, considerable resistance towards making the Alliance anything more formal or organizational than it already is. At best, one can point to implicit goals held by most Alliance factions and participants, such as securing and growing autonomist society, limiting the power of the Consortium, the Junta, and similar authoritarian powers, and so on. With the exception of a handful of Joint Resolutions, few of these are committed to in writing.
The Joint Resolutions are a set of statements the Alliance has put forth as “policy” in accordance with its Points of Unity. Anything may be proposed to the Alliance as a resolution, granted that it is backed (digitally signed) by at least 500,000 unique autonomists. Such resolutions are put forth to a public referendum vote via the mesh, in which any sapient agreeing to the Alliance Points of Unity may vote. A three-fourths (75%) majority of votes is required to pass (for voting purposes, alpha forks are only considered unique and separate sapients after 6 months of divergence; beta and lesser forks do not get a vote).
To date, only a score of resolutions have passed, and most of these did so with near-unanimous votes. The first Joint Resolution passed was a simple declaration condemning the imperialistic aggression of the Planetary Consortium after the Second Battle of Locus and calling on autonomists everywhere to express support and solidarity to resist its hypercorp expansionism. Similar resolutions have passed, condemning the repression of uplifts and AGIs and affirming their rights as sapients. Notably, a resolution to condemn indentured servitude as slavery was narrowly defeated by an organized Extropian memetic campaign. Not all resolutions have been condemnatory; in a nod to their radical roots, one Joint Resolution marked May 1st—May Day—as an official Alliance holiday. Another positive resolution threw Alliance support behind the Love and Rage Collective and their gatecrashing exploration, research, and colonization missions.

Autonomist Organizations

Several Joint Resolutions have led to the creation of task forces to carry out the declared decisions. Only a few such task forces exist, and they are all staffed by volunteers. Though they operate in accordance with the resolution’s mandate, they have no distinct authority unto themselves.
One of the best examples for this is the Fissure Gate Task Force, which coordinates resources, projects, and personnel for extrasolar missions with the Love and Rage Collective. FGTG groups can be found on most major autonomist habitats where they recruit new gatecrashers, coordinate research efforts, and acquire needed supplies for transfer to Chat Noir.
Another interesting example of a resolution-founded task force is the Open Science Initiative (OSI). This project’s mandate is simple: put science in the hands of everyone. The OSI syndicate works closely with the argonautsaround the outer system, creating new science education tools, spreading the results of recent research and new designs, coordinating research between different science teams, archiving science data on the mesh, and evaluating safeguards to prevent scientific projects from growing into x-risks.
One small but growing task force is simply known as Contact. Delegated to train transhumanists in astrosociology, exobiology, and first contact protocols, most Contact affiliates can be found at Chat Noir or Portal, working with various gatecrashing teams and prepared for the contingency of making contact with alien life. Contact teams also negotiate on behalf of various autonomist groups and habitats with the Factors on their semi-regular visits.

Sidebar: Special Outreach

To: <encrypted>
From: <encrypted>
Everyone thinks the autonomists are too disorganized, too decentralized, to have their own spy networks. They are wrong. A leaderless initiative of cells exists throughout autonomist space, dedicated to keeping an eye on ideological enemies, archiving and correlating intel data, and sharing it with other autonomists that need to know. Some of them run sophisticated communication intercepts and network intrusion centers. A few dedicate themselves to going deep undercover and infiltrating hypercorp or government organizations. It is almost certain that these cells share data with CRAM and similar insurrectionist cells.

Autonomous Factions

There’s a saying that among any 3 autonomists you’ll find 4 separate factions. Though everyone knows that the anarchists, Extropians, scum, and Titanians are all part of the Autonomist Alliance, this is a simplified notion. In truth, each of these groupings is composed of numerous sub-factions, delineated by fine ideological positions that are sometimes opaque to outsiders. Some sub-factions are so distinct that they do not actually adhere to the Alliance’s Points of Unity, though a lack of formal organization often makes this difficult to pin down except with specific individuals. There are also many self-identified autonomists who decry these factions altogether, sometimes counting themselves as brinkers, Barsoomians, or adhering to some smaller socio-ideological sub-set instead.

Inner System Autonomists

Not all autonomists live on the far side of the Belt. Squirreled away in the nooks and crannies of the inner fringe are a few small anarchist outposts, quietly doing their thing while keeping a low profile—and playing safe haven for anarchist travelers. More tolerated—and thus more in the open—are a handful of Titanian-allied stations and some larger Extropian colonies. Quite a few autonomist spacecraft also go about their biz, particularly scum swarms and Extropian merchants. These ships occasionally run into red tape and legal hassles, particularly if the authorities have reason to suspect any links to subversive activities. More than a few ships have been seized as a matter of “security.”
Among the citizens of various core system polities, numerous self-identified autonomists live, work, and thrive. Most are careful about declaring their allegiances too openly, less they face extra scrutiny or worse. Public sentiment towards autonomist memes varies wildly from hab to hab, or sometimes just person to person. Consortium and LLA habs are known to restrict travel options for autonomist sympathizers, and anarchists especially are subject to the occasional “disappearance” or rendition, particularly if any saboteurs or guerrilla cells have been active lately.
Autonomists traveling to the inner system usually expect and prepare for the extra scrutiny and hassle they know they will face. Certain black market operators have a thriving biz in providing new identities and backgrounds for such folks—sometimes these are even legitimate, coming from stations that have very lax policies about citizenship.
One of the biggest challenges to autonomists visiting the transitional economies is simply adaptation. More than a few anarchists easily forget the fundamentals of that whole private property thing, so they end up in trouble for theft when they wander off with someone else’s stuff. Autonomists also tend to be a bit naïve about crime—or expecting help from random passers-by—and are sometimes specifically targeted by gangs looking for an easy mark.

Outer System Capitalists

The rimward portion of the system is a helluva big place—more than enough room for autonomists and hypercapitalists to exist side-by-side without getting in each other’s way. Despite the preconception that the rim is “autonomist space,” thousands of hypercorps conduct business in the outer system, via both physical and virtual presences. There are also dozens of habitats that claim allegiance to the Consortium, the LLA, Morningstar, or their particular hypercorp overlords. The expanses of the rim are considered a nice remote place for oligarchs who like to make their private residences as far from the proles as possible, and the sights out towards the deep black draw roaming gangs of bored socialites looking for the next thrill.
Inner system folks are largely tolerated on autonomist habs as long as they respect local customs. They almost always require some hand-holding until they get a grasp on how things work. They might be watched more closely, especially if they have ties to certain intelligence-gathering or mercenary outfits. The attitudes they get from local autonomists will range from pity to curiosity to uncaring or loathing. The biggest stumbling block they face is lack of rep, and too few are willing to put in the effort to build up a good score. Most get by on low rep until they leave.

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