The Reset Manifesto
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
The Minister knew that he had lost all control of the service. Fortunately the widow didn’t seem upset by that. The audience was in an odd mood. Looking out at them, he watched as people leaned to each other and whispered comments. He had no idea what they were saying.
Patricia was fuming. Charles wanted to know what he was missing. It seemed to both of them that they were missing some essential piece of Peter’s life that everyone else in the room knew about. There was no way that Peter had anything to do with the Reset Manifesto.
“Patricia. Charles. Peter made the Reset Manifesto possible. He gathered the authors of it together. He supported them financially while they wrote it. He distributed it once it was written.”
“Peter did all that?”
“Why didn’t he ever say anything?”
“People would have killed him if they found out about him.”
Alan said, “Peter also prevented the politicians from making everything in it illegal.”
“Are you sure you’re talking about my brother, Peter Moore?”
A woman said, “I remember when Peter contacted me the first time. He was using his IvanNoobie handle and I had no idea what his real life name was. I thought I was going to die when IvanNoobie asked me to work on the Reset Manifesto. He was famous and I was a nobody. I was nineteen, an unremarkable member of Anonymous, and a computer science student at a third-rate university. I was so honored to be asked to draft Article XXVII on transparency in government.”
“IvanNoobie ... It’s been years since I heard that handle. So ... Peter was IvanNoobie. I should have guessed.”
Charles asked, “Who was IvanNoobie?”
“He was one of the greatest hackers of all time!”
Apologetically, Chuck explained, “I would have called you if I had known they hadn’t thought to tell you that Rebecca was expecting.”
“She’s definitely pregnant,” Peter’s mother said with a sigh.
She looked through the restaurant window at Peter and Rebecca as they were returning from their after dinner walk along the river. Rebecca was obviously about seven months pregnant. The young couple stopped to examine something on the ground. Watching them was like watching a pair of ten-year-old kids who were easily distracted by anything around them.
“Look at them. They still walk around like teenagers on their first date.”
“I don’t think they’ll ever grow up emotionally.”
“A child will make them grow up.”
“I can’t believe that Peter will be the first of my children to make me a grandmother.”
“I’ll be honest. I always thought that he’d be the last of the kids to get married. It’s strange to think that he was the first.”
“He was the first to leave college. Patricia is finishing her residency. Charles will be graduating soon.”
“Are Patricia and Charles as smart as Peter?”
“They’re both smart, but not like Peter. He’s in a league of his own,” Peter’s father said. “His IQ is so high that it is difficult to measure.”
Peter’s mother said, “It’s more than being smart. It’s strange, but he knows things before others. It’s like he can see the future.”
“I was talking to him the other day. He told me that something big is going to happen,” Chuck said in a low voice while looking furtively around the restaurant.
“What did he mean by that?”
“I don’t know. They’ve both been making cryptic comments about how the world is going to be a very different place after George is born.”
“That’s understandable. They’re worried about taking care of their first child.”
“No. It’s more than that. Peter’s said that he can’t wait for George to be born. He says that the public is going to take down corruption and remake the country as the founding fathers had envisioned it.”
Peter’s father choked on his water. He didn’t know what Peter was doing, but that bit about the public bringing down corruption was ominous. He was well aware of what Peter had done to Carl Dewitt. Peter had masterminded the distribution of the criminal evidence of Carl’s crimes to the entire population of the county where they lived. He was pretty sure that Peter had been behind the decapitation of Newton. It was still a mystery how the entire management of Newton had died in a single night. Television programs still ran specials about that crime.
He had a feeling that almost everything happening in the world of politics was a result of Peter’s efforts to protect himself. Someone was killing the careers of lifelong politicians by releasing damaging information about them on the Internet. That was exactly what had brought down Carl. Of course, like the situation with Carl, nothing would be traceable back to Peter.
“Are you all right?”
Still coughing, Peter’s father answered, “Yes. Just inhaled my water instead of swallowing it.”
“I hate it when that happens.”
Chuck said, “I don’t know what to make of the world. It seems to me like everyone has gone crazy. There’s not a single honest person in Washington, New York City, or Hollywood. Every politician is crooked. The businessmen on Wall Street and Madison Avenue are outright thieves. Hollywood is filled with degenerates.”
“The news services have become propaganda machines for the whole lot of them.”
“I swear, I hope something happens to change the world. I hate the idea of my grand baby growing up in a world that’s so immoral.”
Peter’s father said, “I think change is coming.”
“I don’t know.”
Watching Peter help Rebecca navigate around a fallen limb, his father said, “If Peter says change is coming, then change is coming. It’s going to hit hard and hit fast. The bad guys won’t even know what hit them.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I think he views a lot of people who are powerful as being threats to him. Bad things happen to people who threaten Peter.”
“What kind of things?”
“They end up in jail or worse.”
“What could be worse than jail?”
Paul Metzer had just finished giving a talk about the need for a rational national policy for ecology in Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota. He was surrounded by a bunch of people wanting to discuss some of the points he had raised. It was pretty typical for people to want to talk with him after a lecture like that. Many of them had their own points of view and wanted to convince him to adopt their ideas, giving them proper credit for them of course.
He glanced out over the audience and noticed a man slipping out the door. The hair on the back of his neck rose when he recognized the individual. The man was one of the unsavory contacts with the people at the organization he had quit. He fielded questions while trying to come up with a plan on how to get out of there alive.
He handled the questions until his host managed to chase away everyone. While his host was busy convincing the last one to leave, Paul got out his cell phone and called Peter.
“Peter, I’m in trouble.”
“Hold on a second.”
Paul could hear Peter typing away madly in the background.
“Okay. What is the problem?”
“One of the thugs from the old organization is here.”
“Do you have a name?”
There was more typing. Paul’s host came over and waited for him. Holding the phone away from his mouth, Paul said, “Sorry. Important call. I’ll be ready to go in just a minute.”
“Paul, a man will be there in thirty minutes to escort you to safety. He’s a vet. I’ve explained the situation to him. He’ll scout around to make sure that the coast is clear. You need to stay in the Cowles Auditorium so that he can get in touch with you. He’s got your picture.”
“How will I know who he is?”
“He’s going to have an extremely attractive woman with him. She’ll contact you first.”
“He can protect me?”
Paul’s host looked at him with a confused expression. It was hard not to overhear what Paul was saying. He was asking about someone protecting him? He had to wonder what was going on. He listened to the rest of the conversation wondering why Paul was so scared.
After closing his cell phone, Paul said, “Sorry about that. I need to stay here for a little while.”
“I couldn’t help but overhear. What’s the matter?”
“As you know, I’m very active in ecology. Sometimes, you expose people who are violating the law. I spotted someone in the audience who has threatened me with death. A bodyguard is on his way here.”
“Should I call campus security?”
“Do you know them?”
“I’d prefer to stay here until the bodyguard arrives.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’ll just sit here on the edge of the stage. You might want to sit over there out of the way, just in case.”
“I’ll stay here with you.”
Adopting a conversational tone of voice, Paul said, “The environmental activist movement has gotten increasingly out of control over the past few years.”
“I know. That’s what I like about your organization. You’re more about understanding the issues from a scientific basis and effecting change through policy rather than through violent protest.”
“It’s a much slower way to change an individual crisis, but it actually addresses more crisis situations at once. I think people want an immediate win rather than taking a long to time to create a lot of wins at once. For example, you can shut down one paper factory that’s polluting through a couple months of protests or you can force every paper factory in the country to stop polluting after a year of effort. The latter is a great victory, but it doesn’t have the immediacy of the former.”
“I never thought about it that way.”
“Most people want the immediacy.”
“I can understand that. I’ve protested a few polluting places in my time. I’ve always felt good when they were shutdown or fined.”
The two men talked for thirty minutes about the current state of environmental activism. A woman entered the auditorium and walked over to them.
“Hello, Dr. Metzer and Professor Hampton. I’m Victoria. A representative of the Soul Searcher Charities sent us.”
“Soul Searcher Charities? I have a grant from Soul Searcher Charities,” Professor Hampton said.
“I know. My Master will be here shortly and we can leave.”
A very large and dangerous looking man entered the auditorium. He walked over to Victoria and said, “Dr. Metzer. Mr. Quinn has been detained. Our mutual benefactor informed me that there is a $25,000 bounty on Mr. Quinn and that I’m to collect it.”
“Thank you, Sir. It’s a relief to know that he’s brought such a nice reward for having dragged you out of your house at this time of night.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know the identity of our mutual benefactor, would you?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Forty minutes ago I identified a person who threatened me. In the time since then, our mutual benefactor found you, got you here to rescue me, and identified the reward for your efforts. Someone capable of arranging all of that would let you know who he is if he wanted you to know who he is.”
“You have a very good point. It’s just that I now owe him two debts.”
“I don’t know why you owe him a debt, but I would say that you paid it off by rescuing me. The bounty is just a pleasant surprise.”
“Master, you aren’t the only one who owes him a debt.”
“You don’t have to call me Master.”
“I know that, Master. I just prefer it.”
There was a tone from Paul’s cell phone indicating that he had received a text message. He pulled out his phone and studied the message. He frowned.
“What is it?”
“I’m to leave the country.”
“It is getting too dangerous to stay here.”
“What is it, Peter?”
“I’m sorry to spring this on you, but we’re going to have company, tonight.”
Peter’s mother looked up. She was surprised that Peter knew anyone who might come for a visit.
“We already have company.”
“I know. This is different.”
“Who is it?”
Peter’s mother exclaimed, “You know Ann Randal?”
“I like her books.”
“Will she be staying the night here?”
“If it is okay with you.”
“I guess. This will be the first time we’ve ever had company who wasn’t family.”
“Is she expecting me to cook dinner?”
“No. We can go to a restaurant.”
“Good. I’d be very nervous cooking for a visitor.”
“I guess I should make up the bed in baby’s room.”
“You have a bed in the baby’s room?” Peter’s mother asked.
“Yes. It’s there for Mary.”
“Who is Mary?”
“Mary is the nanny we hired to watch over George.”
“You hired a nanny?”
“We don’t know how to take care of an infant.”
“I could help.”
“Oh. I guess you could.”
“No. I would feel awkward paying my own mother.”
Peter’s mother turned to her husband and said, “Let’s take a walk.”
After his parents left, Peter said, “Do you think my parents are having money problems?”
“I’m sure they would have said something before now.”
“I know, but why would she ask to become the nanny?”
“I’ve read that in a lot of cultures the grandmother stays for the first few months to help a mother with the baby.”
“Is that done here?”
“Not really. Based on what I’ve read, a lot of grandparents come to see the baby right after it is born. In fact, they often come before the birth.”
“I suppose we ought to invite them to return here when it’s almost time for you to give birth.”
“I suppose so. It sure is stressful having company.”
“Can we go fishing after she leaves?”
“Anything you want, Rebecca.”
People around the country were packing up and making arrangements to leave. The message that it was time to hide had taken a lot of them by surprise. Nobody even thought about not leaving. As authors of articles within the Reset Manifesto, they knew that the immediate political reaction could be violent or deadly. They were overturning a power structure that had taken more than two hundred years to build. Those who had the most to lose were not going to take change with a smile.
The exodus was underway with authors taking off for destinations all around the world. The message said that it would be for at least three months. Some people were going to a single place to sit and wait it out. Others had a number of destinations in mind, such as a tour of Europe or the Far East.
Sometimes things slowly build up to a predictable crescendo. Other times, change comes hurdling out of the blue like a tornado. It isn’t unusual for changes in economic institutions to occur overnight. The 1929 crash of the stock market took everyone by surprise. The financial disaster of 2008 was one of those events where one morning everything was okay and then it was in complete disarray by the afternoon. All because one company filed bankruptcy.
Catastrophic failure is the nature of economic collapses. It slowly builds up and then something gives and it flies apart.
The fall of the Federal Reserve Bank was a totally different animal. As the political protectors of the bank died off, there was increasing pressure to officially tear into the books. Of course, official action was well behind the public action being taken on the illegally released books. This disconnect between public action and official action created a slow motion fail that was amazing to watch.