Wish of Tomorrow
by Fredrik Haerne
July 20, 2002
"This is unbelievable!"
"Think we'll see the same thing here?"
Erik let the question go unanswered. He was still mesmerized by the news on
the TV screen: that American troops were beginning to withdraw from Spain,
only eight months after they had arrived. Spain would be returning to its
civil war; he was sure of that. He was not sure how to answer Thomas'
question about Sweden, however.
Instead Erik was now more interested in the reason for the withdrawal.
Thomas lacked his interest and skill in economics, but to Erik the latest
news from the United States was stunning. It was announced, contrary to all
earlier promises, that the United States would be cancelling its debt
payments temporarily, thereby for all practical purposes declaring itself
"It finally came," he said, to no one in particular. None of the three other
people in his livingroom really heard him, as they were still watching the
news. To the right of Erik's armchair, in his couch, were Patrik and Thomas,
munching potato chips. Next to them Jenny, the wife of Thomas, currently
cuddled up with a large cup of tea in the second armchair. The "gang." They
were Erik's closest friends, and like him members of the Swedish People's
Party. All of them now probably saw greatly increased chances for
recruitment; and perhaps they were right, but increased countermeasures from
the government was also a factor to consider seriously.
The United States had cancelled its payments . . . that meant the global
economy was down for the count. If they would not be able to revoke the
decision soon, thousands of American corporations would go bankrupt --
along, perhaps, with several small countries Erik could think of -- and
global trade would be brought to a near-complete end. The ripples on the
water could easily become a tidal wave, for the American economy was still
the biggest rock in the lake. The effects were really too profound for Erik
to be able to explain to his friends, but they would see them with their own
eyes soon enough.
How could this happen? The reasons were clear, of course, but his mind was
not yet able to truly grasp the scope of the matter. Up until now the United
States had seemed invulnerable, immense, and victorious. The "American
Empire" had become a catchphrase in politics, used positively by some,
negatively by others. There had been the wars in the Middle East, of course,
where armies of millions had fallen. The terrorist attacks following them
had led to even more wars, until the entire region was cowed, and a third of
it reduced to rubble.
There were the Asian wars, which were still going on, and then the European
conflicts. Spain and Italy in particular had caught headlines in recent
years. Both countries announced their secession from the European Union,
when the open borders to Turkey and North Africa had threatened to destroy
them. The secessions had been followed by economic isolation, political
turmoil, and finally "peacekeeping" troops arriving from the United States.
Erik had always supported the coup in Italy; they were right in taking
action, since the electorate there was not dominated by Italians anymore.
The arrival of American troops, and then the images of rioting Turks and
Arabs on the streets of Rome, had saddened him deeply.
He had hoped for a better outcome in Spain, and for a while it seemed like
they would succeed where the Italians had not. The civil war had erupted
only eight months after the coup in Rome, and America had been preoccupied
with Indonesia at the time. Despite that, however, they still had enough
troops available to land on Madrid and Barcelona, forcing the Nationalists
on the defensive. The war stalled, both countries moved back to the Union
again, and the Blacks and Arabs continued to pour in. The European
"President" praised American contributions to the continent's stability,
drawing bombastic historical parallels whenever he got the chance.
Oh, all that talk about "stability"...such a ridiculous Newspeak word.
Did people even remember now that it had only come to use about ten years
ago? Yet it had quickly become the new light at the end of the tunnel, the
new idol to worship. "We must achieve stability in Spain," the American and
European politicians parroted each other. "We must protect the stability in
Indonesia." To talk about "democracy" was inconvenient now, because the
United States had installed both democracies and dictatorships all over the
globe. Stability was better. You could find an excuse for anything by using
that word -- and by accusing your opponents of supporting terrorism.
Instability and terrorism were linked to images of starving children,
burning buildings, and ruthless criminals exploiting the chaos they caused.
Spain had been cowed, and with it most of the European nationalist movement.
Its parties were banned one after the other, because of their "links to
terrorism" in Italy and Spain. The Swedish People's Party was not really a
party anymore, only a semi-clandestine movement, that still retained its old
name. The price its members paid for their idealism was always high. Thomas
and Jenny had lost their house, and had been forced to live with Erik for
six months until they had found a new home. Patrik had lost three jobs, and
had little hope of finding a fourth. Erik had so far escaped most
persecution, but his price had nevertheless been terrible. His work for the
movement had cost him the woman he loved.
Thinking of this he looked at Jenny and Thomas, envying them. They didn't
notice him, but listened attentively to the TV, and Erik finally noticed the
images of burning buildings. His interest rose.
"...the streets of Barcelona. Bands of terrorists have entered the suburbs,
and the police are retreating." The masses of normal Spanish citizens did not
look like terrorists to Erik. He noticed a burning Jeep in the crowd, and he
wondered how many of the American conscripts remained. For eight months now
they had been the law in Barcelona and many other Spanish cities, and their
sudden withdrawal posed a huge problem for the government in Madrid. Erik
wondered if they would risk bringing in even more Blacks as a counterweight
to their own people, or if they would be too afraid to lose the last of
their domestic supporters. It was always a double-edged sword for them; the
Blacks and Arabs were good to have in elections in peacetime, but there was
no telling what they would do in a violent situation. Often they proved just
as difficult to control as the White citizens they were supposed to be
fighting, and Arabs tended to attack synagogues when that happened.
Erik's thoughts drifted from the violent images, and once again he wondered
how the American economy could have crashed so abruptly. Then again, when
you thought about it clearly it was surprising that it had lasted this long.
Yes, there always seemed to be more money to spend on the military, always
more money to give to allied governments, like those now in charge in Spain,
Italy and the Middle East. There was always the projection of complete
self-assurance -- but it had really just been a veneer of strength, an
illusion that step by step had exhausted the country.
This should have been clear to all when the global recession started, long
and intense like all changes in a global economy. He remembered what had led
up to it: the last world-wide surge in production, when a glorious tomorrow
had been declared. It had been little more than a huge, inflated bubble; the
natural result when your economy includes countries with even less
responsible investors than your own. When the bubble burst it was back to
good ol' Keynes: borrow money and spend them, run a deficit, get the wheels
moving. Unfortunately, this time the gamble had failed.
It wasn't just the Federal Reserve in America that had been gambling, it was
the European Central Bank as well. There was a time when they had proclaimed
they would never fuel the economy with lower interest rates, or by printing
more money, to bail out the member states. That was back when the board of
directors in the ECB had not been staffed by Jews.
Recession, inflation, Keynesianism...words that he heard every day at
work. Just words, when it came down to it. Behind it all was a grim reality:
in a White world, the economy works. In a dark world, it does not, no matter
what you try. Switch from high interest rates to low ones, from subsidies in
one field to subsidies in another, and you are really just switching the
positions of broken wheels on a burning car. The Barcelonians were paying
the price for that now. One more of them fell before the cameras, as the
police, most of them Arabs, opened fire on the masses. Erik watched in
* * * * *
An hour later Patrik left, and Erik and Thomas went back to planning the
distribution of leaflets the next week, which they had been working on
before the breaking news. Jenny watched some more TV, and then took the car
back to the apartment she shared with Thomas; her husband would walk home
when the work was finished.
It was already late at night when they had everything organized, having
decided who would go where and when. Their area was large, half of
Gothenburg, and they had to arrange for cars and backups to avoid having
their people arrested or worse. Sometimes Erik wondered whether these
leaflet campaigns were worth the risk. But on the other hand, they had to do
what they could.
They decided to have a cup of coffee, and Thomas went to the room Erik used
as his home office, to search for news on the Internet. Erik turned on the
stereo meanwhile, and Tchaikovsky's Arabian Dance started its melancholy
message. How ironic. He wondered if the Arabs in Barcelona had ever heard
this piece, if they knew who Tchaikovsky was at all. He switched to Andante
Semplice instead, a calm, soothing melody...so soothing...
The melody reminded him of Sandra, who used to play it often. As always,
thinking of her saddened him. He wondered what she was doing now, and where
she lived. Still in Northland, with her parents? They had been so good
together, he and Sandra...they had been happy....
Erik looked at a picture standing in his bookshelf, of the two of them
together with friends outside a summer cabin. He remembered canoeing
together with her in the summer, and skiing in the winter. He remembered
them playing cards and drinking wine late at night. He remembered trips to
her parents in Northland, and plans on moving there. But in the end she
couldn't live with his ties to the movement. She understood all his
arguments, and had dutifully read parts from the books he had given her, but
she just couldn't share his dedication.
It hadn't taken much pressure for her to break down. The phone calls from
the police, Erik's name in the newspaper, her friends knowing...the
embarrassment had been too much for her.
The end had come, finally, ten months ago. She had been walking home late
one evening and been attacked by a gang of Blacks, and she had escaped by
pure luck, when a car stopped and the driver helped her flee from the scene.
It was nothing new in Gothenburg these days, but it had depressed her
terribly, and every problem after that, big and small, only made it worse.
Somehow she came to blame Erik's movement for the attack, for "stirring up
tensions" as she called it. A few weeks later Erik had come home around
midnight, after working at the party's local headquarters, and had found
that the police had called again, to ask questions about where he had been
the night before. Someone had torched a store owned by Arabs, and even
though they must have known he would never be involved they seemed to enjoy
forcing him to come down to the police station to argue about alibi.
"I can't take this any longer," Sandra had cried, and he tried to comfort
her. It had worked in the past, but not now, and it made him wonder just
what the police had said to her this time.
"They keep calling and showing up here, and the neighbors ask me what they
are here for, and I have to lie all the time. Why aren't you home? Why are
you never home when they come?"
"I have been here several times when that has happened, you know that. But
there is work to do...."
"Don't give me that!" Her sudden anger told him this was going to be one of
those talks. "You don't have to work with those people, you
just choose to. You are at your office at day and in that place in
the evening, and when the police come, I tell them to go there and stop
asking me questions. I don't know what to say to them, you never tell me
"You never want to know. And there are things -- "
"Yeah, sure!" She seemed to be gathering strength, and then it came: "Thomas
and Patrik and the -- you're always with them. They are just a bunch of
And then he had snapped. He knew he shouldn't have, but he couldn't hold it
back. He had been tired, and he was in no mood to have Newspeak labels
thrown at him, especially not by his own girlfriend who knew better than
that. But she heard the label on TV every day, even though he had asked her
not to watch the government's news broadcasts. He knew it would affect her.
It did. And because of that, their relationship had ended that night.
"Are you awake?" Thomas' voice made him open his eyes again, and he
realized that he had been dozing off. He was sitting in the armchair, and
his cup of coffee was in front of him, untouched.
"Yes...I think so." He picked up the cup and drank. "Found anything?"
"Oh, yes." Thomas sat down on the couch. "Martial law all over Spain, again.
And noone seems to know just what is going on in Barcelona anymore. Seems
like the Nationalists had supplies hidden nearby, and now that the Americans
are moving out they hit in full force, before the government has time to
reorganize the city defenses."
"Really? So the Americans are gone, completely?"
"Not completely, but they aren't intervening. They are moving out through
the docks, and there is no fighting there. I bet the grunts are pretty tired
by now. Okay, what else...the Spanish government is cursing at
Washington, calling them cowards, and some Congressman is mouthing back. The
troops are definitely going."
"Good! Perhaps Spain could become a bit Spanish again now." Erik smiled, but
without much humor.
"Yeah, perhaps. Jenny thinks it will spread to Portugal and France. I talked
with her on the computer."
"She was just going to bed now." Thomas listened to the music, drinking his
"Do you think it is going to spread? To us?" he said at last.
Erik thought about this. He didn't know what to answer. On one hand, the
government was still not wavering, and people were being locked up left and
right. On the other hand, people's hopes for the future were at an all-time
low, and unemployment was rising every day.
"I don't know," he finally said. "Right now doesn't seem likely. Not here."
"It didn't seem likely in Spain either."
"I know...." He sighed. "I sure hope we can do something, otherwise we'll
become another Greece. Now that the Americans are pulling back -- did you
read anything about Indonesia? Or Pakistan?"
"They are pulling out there too, it seems. Perhaps everywhere. I saw one
journalist who wondered if they even had enough fuel for the trip home."
"Yeah." Thomas nodded, waiting.
"Well, with all of this, I think we will have an economic crash here as
well. Yes, definitely. And not just here. There will be millions more
unemployed all over Europe the coming weeks."
"That will make people react, if it happens. That is how it started in
"True." Erik put down his cup, listening to the music. "You know, we don't
ask for much, really. Listen to this...." He turned up the volume, just a
little. "I just...want a society where we can have...we can create
beauty like this again. And I want a Gothenburg where women can walk on the
streets at night without fear. That is not too much to ask. Not at all. It
just takes so much to get back to that...."
Thomas was silent for a moment, then replied in a quiet voice: "You are
thinking about Sandra again?"
"Yes...again. You know, the ironic thing is that she moved away because
she believed I didn't think of her enough. She didn't understand...that
everything I did, I did for her. And that hasn't changed." He looked back to
the photograph in his bookshelf. "I just wish things could be different."
Hundreds of miles away, on the dark streets of Barcelona, people fought and
died for the same wish.