music to go: una rumba
On an age old arid peninsula, surrounded by seas and a mountain range to its north, though on its southern rim the next continent was just a straight away, on this devout and beautiful territory, well-developed by consecutive cultures, though mostly dead poor, a new state was born out of the marriage of convenience between the rulers of the centre, a boisterously growing force, and the rulers of the east, a more subdued nation, managing its corner of the coast, with a glorious past of overseas control and prosperity becoming an ever more distant memory. Preferring marriage over rape, the east coast chose to team up with the centre before it got devoured, as had happened to the south. The west most of the time managed to stay out of it all. Soon after, a sheer endless well of fortune was struck on yet another continent, only needed to genocide those peoples first, and the centre, which for geographical logic had the right to choose a capital, decided to use all the gold and silver from the looting and the mines to build a completely new city, full of palaces and decorated squares. On the east coast, which by decree had been excluded from this robbery, faces were green with envy.
It was the beginning of what may be called a bad marriage. There was no respect between them, no substitute for love. Sometimes convenience bears fruit, many cultures even believe it's a given, but on the peninsula it definitely did not. As the country was strictly adhered to the teachings of the lord saviour, or so the belief went, divorce was unfortunately out of the question. For centuries to come, the capital and the old port town with the past would at regular times be in each other's hairs, with the capital winning these struggles and then forcing the old port to a period of obedience, always followed by renewed vindications for a fairer treatment. Port dreamt of somehow joining in the spoils and then using this money to reinstate some of its own glory. Yet this was exactly what Palace feared might happen and would therefore always prevent from succeeding. So they kept Port lean. And it worked out well, until after three hundred years the world changed.
A method was devised to turn steam into kinetic energy, which triggered mechanised production techniques, largely expanding turn outs and lowering living standards for the working poor, mostly peasants who began flocking to the new industrial cities where factories were concentrated. What started up north on a real island, eventually came to the peninsula. But unlike gold and silver, which at high costs could be dragged over mountains and through deserts and served to buy art and property, mass production followed the rules of logic. And logic had it building factories on waterways was always more profitable, as it brought costs down and made delivery times faster. So the city to benefit from the new future was Port. Soon, it would be bigger, brighter and far richer than Palace could ever be. This was totally against the principles of marriage as perceived by the centre, and indeed, with money and workers pouring into Port, the locals began remembering their mythical beginnings and phantasized about divorce once more. All Palace could do was create competition on other shores and come up with myrriad of senseless laws and regulations to slow down business as much as possible. Yet, the force which swept the continent they officially belonged to, was far too strong for Palace to withhold. Other measures were direly needed.
As it so happened, a devastating continental war slowed down the bonanza and growing literacy under the still desperately poor factory workers required the attention of those who were allergic to principles of fairness being applied to the underclass. Suddenly, Palace felt it had to play a role again, as politics had come back into the game. An uncertain period followed in which the workers became much better organised and full of beliefs of a better, more just world. With real and fake egalitarian systems elsewhere replacing the old unfair order with great ease, the manufacturing families of Port became wary of a revolution in their part of the world. Considering Palace had been gaining back some of the lost terrain over the politicised years, they felt compelled to resort to drastic solutions. In all secrecy, the army was requested to stage an uprising and bring the factories back under control. This could of course not have been done without Palace's consent and consisted a major shift back in power towards the centre. Rather, the families sold their influence to the old unfaithful than have the workers take possession of their riches. The plan backfired. Or did it? To everybody's surprise, the militias kicked out the soldiers and a war was needed in which an angry young general quickly rose to prominence, enthusiastically supported by Palace. When Port finally fell, the manufacturers had saved a majority of their investments, yet the workers would pay a heavy price. Many of them were jailed and murdered and the survivors had to live under a vengeful, backward dictatorship for almost forty years.
Time progresses in modern countries only, but conservative corners inevitably come under the influence. When the old prick finally died, life had improved enough all around to instate a belief things could only get better and that both Palace and Port should equally contribute to the new order, a sentiment not necessarily shared by either city's influencers. Nevertheless, for fifteen years everything went fine. Tourism found its way to the peninsula's sunny shores and the country's standing in the world rose quickly. Suddenly international opinion remembered that apart from idiotic rulers this old place had also produced some of the finest painters in history. To top it off, Port was invited to host the quadrennial sponsored amateur meeting, a major sports event which put it, as they say, on the map. Beachgoers began to visit Port and were positively surprised. Palace, thanks to an incessant building programme ever since the general took power by now quite bigger than Port, was sick with jealousy. Something was not going as planned at all. Soon, everybody were talking about Port and far less people about Palace. This was not how the post-dictatorial elites, old money and recently stolen fortunes, had envisaged the new era. It was time for drastic measures once again.
What followed was a carefully orchestrated long term coup, stretching over all twenty years, in which an array of discriminatory measures by the capital would slowly drive the populations of Port uncertain and then mad and finally into believing they would be happier in their own smallish republic, living their well-established bourgeois lives without much disturbance, quite like their cousins further up and down the coast. It was never going to be, though, as their angst was the perfect excuse for Palace to justify a take-over on totally trumped up charges of fatherland denialism. What once began with unjustified financial discrimination ended in complete nullification of the Port authorities, with newly placed Palace staff in key functions fucking up procedures to cause as much harm as possible. It wouldn't get any better after that, of course. The Porters were left with an election which beforehand all parties pledged to conduct unfairly, their only certainty that things were going to get worse, perhaps much worse.
To my shame and chagrin, this story has an unhappy ending, as it happened such a short time ago that no dust has been able to settle on the truth. Perhaps future editions will tell how the economic downfall of Port pulled the whole country down and inevitably Palace as well, leading from the depths of their misery to a new reconciliation between the old spouses. For such is the devotion to their art in this monstrosity of a country which has never anywhere ceased to be a miniature continent of diversity, that they don't care for defeat as long as it comes with grace. Bring on the games!