Birth of a StateEdit
The territories constituting the Humanist Union were founded as the Interstellar Cooperative Republic. Formed during the late 22nd century on the tail-end of the Great Upheaval, the intial settlers consisted of various wealthy individuals and families, along with numerous professional individuals and common workers. Their journey to the "galactic north" ended with planetfall on numerous habitable planetoids, including the garden world of Elysion, a healthy, earth-like world that easily provided for its new arrivals. The advent of hyperspace technology saw arrivals at that world and others swell dramatically, and an interplanetary cooperative centered around Elysion was formalized as a presidential republic in the early 24th century. The ICR, more informally called the "Elysion Republic," continued to grow at a healthy rate; fast-developing Elysion served as a critical breadbasket for the state, and various colony worlds raked in significant mineral wealth during the so-called Golden Centuries (mid-24th - 30th).
Descent into PlutocracyEdit
With fantastic growth came fantastic corruption; the republic was a hastily-formed organization in its early days, achieved largely to formalize defense and trade, lacking in stability-promoting legal framework. As the centuries wore on, the state became heavily controlled by corporate and even criminal interests; corruption at all levels of government became notorious and reform increasingly difficult. With the wealth gap between the majority and the elite widening rapidly, calls for reform became increasingly strident - and violent - throughout the 31st and 33rd centuries. The catastrophic collapse of the republic's badly-regulated economy in the late 33rd century is regarded by many historians to be the time during which the ICR's descent towards collapse became irreversible, whereafter the authority of the government in the minds of entire worlds decreased steadily. An election held after the executive branch of government was dismissed in 3295 was intensely controversial among the citizens of the republic, characterized by voter fraud, counting errors, bribery, and political violence. The winner, Senator Gerald Harrison of Elysion, was a well-known figure not only for his remarkable personal wealth (his family having founded one of the most influential space ship firms in the republic), but for his cozy relations to various entrenched corporate interests and his message of a "call to order" in the republic. The citizenry of the republic was outraged, believing that the election had openly been rigged in favor of a politician widely-held as being in favor of brutal crackdowns throughout the republic. Instead of decreasing tensions, the emergency election served only to speed along the government's impending collapse.
The Last PresidentEdit
While President Harrison is remembered in the Union today as an anti-human sociopath and corporatocratic parasite, a less charged review of his tenure shows him to be a somewhat more moderate figure. Historical record shows that Harrison first attempted peaceful resolution of ongoing social strife. His suggestion that a recount be held was rendered useless when his only viable rival, the Socialist Party's Catherine Yale, was murdered in a suicide bombing by the Catholic terrorist group known as the Lambs of God. A sickly man even in his youth, Harrison's ability to exert control over his government and his nation steadily failed with his physical and mental health. Government attempts to assert authority became increasingly brutal, culminating in incidents of assassination, torture, and illegal imprisonment. Harrison himself grew embittered and paranoid towards the citizenry, becoming the rubber stamp for amoral corporate interests and militarists that the broader population had feared him to be from the start. His increasing isolation led him to the belief that violence was the only means of keeping the nation from tearing itself apart, his cabinet manipulating and marginalizing him even as his reputation for being a near-dictator grew among the common citizen.
The Birth of the New Humanist Progressive PartyEdit
An offshoot of the republic's ancient Socialist Party, the New Humanist Progressive Party traces its roots back to the early 33rd century. The republic's increasing corruption had led to the steady rot of the military, with high officers being radically alienated to the lower ranks. Many of these senior officers weren't "real" soldiers at all, but influential men and women tied to various wealthy state interests who had been awarded positions in the military as gifts, or to keep an eye on the feared-disloyal military. As the republican military faced very real problems with demoralization, equipment failure, and corruption, the portions of the officer corps and lower ranks grew increasingly disillusioned. The Socialist Party, at the time heavily infiltrated by agents of other parties and quite weak, was largely seen as a farce. It came to pass that Captain Vladimir Vasilyev Kuznetsov, a retired naval captain, divorced himself form the Socialist Party to found a new party - the New Humanist Progressive Party. Captain Kuznetsov was drawn by his studies and family link to Marxism-Leninism - particularly its advocation of a vanguard party - to bring about change on behalf of the people. Kuznetsov himself was notionally a socialist, but his new ideology also included meritocratic overtones. The ideology's main flaw, as he saw it, was keeping the vanguard party pure of encroaching corruption. New humanism's interest in post-humanity springs from this concern; Kuznetsov theorized the properly-directed, rapid movement to post-humanity would keep a new humanist-run government "pure" even as initial ideologues left power. Kuznetsov's support in the military steadily grew - he had an excellent reputation among his men and colleagues, and they in turn continued to spread his ideology even after his death, a suspected assassination. New humanism would remain a largely nascent movement until the rise of President Harrison, spreading but making no meaningful attempts at siezing power, legitimate or otherwise.
The Man Who Said NoEdit
In the time leading up to President Harrison's election, New humanism spread steadily through the ranks of the military, particularly among the army, who were among the most debased and neglected branches of the armed forces; it became known to the police and civilian populace at large, but the party itself remained largely military. This situation rapidly began to change in 3300. The fifth year of Harrison's presidency had seen rioting grow to such absurd degrees that the military was regularly in use to keep control - if not in general, at least over wealthy and government districts. The tenth of February 3300 saw incredibly intense riots in the capital city of Elysion itself, largely over issues of food scarcity and power rationing in the most brutal winter the city had seen in 50 years. A reserve infantry unit - the 25th Elysion Guard - was deployed to intersect a riot marching on a wealthy housing district. When the crowd refused to disperse even after warning shots, the commander - Nathan Smithson - panicked and ordered that the troops fire upon the encroaching civilian mob. A man, unidentified to this day, can be heard in recordings of the incident repeatedly yelling "sir, no sir." Smithson, an inexperienced commander, personally shot the soldier for his insubordination. What followed was total chaos: many of the demoralized guardsmen simply threw down their weapons; others broke and fled. The majority rallied against the commander; he was cut down in a hail of gunfire as the reservists joined the mob. News spread across the planet like wildfire, and soon Elysion was engulfed in civil war; the hammer-and-fist symbol of new humanism features prominently in video footage of revolting troops. President Harrison and other federal personnel fled to orbit. New humanism and the NHPP gained considerable exposure in the Elysion Incident, and its popularity exploded among the civilian populace.
While Elysion was quickly siezed back from the revolutionaries, the damage had already been done; news footage spread throughout the civilian and military populace of the republic, and similar uprisings occurred throughout the entire nation. Elysion itself threatened to break into open street fighting at any moment. A panicked President Harrison, under significant pressure from his cabinet and political financiers, called on the military to use all force at its disposal to keep the republic from dissolving into total anarchy. The upper ranks interpreted this as an order and endorsement to engage in a military-grade crackdown, and gave their own orders accordingly. These orders were initially followed, but as the civilian-on-military and even military-on-military engagements became increasingly brutal and frequent, refusals and open mutiny became increasingly common. Considered particulary significant was the 3302 incident between the ICS Lightbringer, a cruiser, the ICS Mikhail Lebedev, a battlecruiser. The Lebedev, head of a task force deployed to the world of New Britain, ordered that the fleet engage in bombardment of the capital city of New London, which had been siezed by revolutionary forces and the extremely unpopular government forced to evacuate. The ICS Lightbringer not only refused, but fired on the Lebedev at "point blank" range, sundering the flag bridge and killing Rear Admiral Stefan Jorgensen. The Lightbringer did not survive its treachery, being destroyed by other ships in the task force even as it attempted to flee. Tihs engagement was the first step in formalizing the revolution, with organized mutinies occurring across the navy and ships jumping for the outer reaches of the republic to consolidate their forces in sympathetic, poorly-controled border regions. The badly-shaken republican navy, meanwhile, withdrew to the core to reorganize, rearm, and purge dissidents.
Republicans and ProgressivesEdit
The year of 3303 was unusually quiet in comparison to the leadup to the civil war as each side gathered its forces and cleaned out dissidents in preparation of organized hostilities. On the side of the established government were the upper ranks of the military, the wealthy core worlds, and most of the state's economic juggernauts - broadly, those that supported the legitimate state were referred to as Republicans. On the opposite side was a coalition of movements - syndicalists, socialists, revolutionary republicans, borderland seperatists, and new humanists. While most of the revolutionaries' upper-ranked brass came from mid-ranked new humanist officers from coreward worlds, the greater mass of the revolutionaries were far more diverse. Not agreeing to march under the banner of any one ideology, the revolutionaries branded themselves as the Progressives. While the Progressives lacked economic power, military might, and in-built organization, they had considerable advantages. Huge swathes of the state's military were disloyal, if not openly revolutionary, and the upper ranks of the revolution had formal experience in coordinating masses of individuals. Civilian populations, especially the poverty-stricken, were of dubious loyalty to the Republicans, leaking intelligence and engaging in acts of sabatoge and outright military violence. Neither party proved willing to negotiate with or submit to the other, and so it came to pass in 3304 that the first fateful engagement between Republican and Progressive forces occurred.
Battle of New BritainEdit
The Progressives chose to strike the first blow in May of 3304 - a naval raid on New Britain, which had been devastated by the ICR's ground and space forces following the disasterous attempt to pacify rebellions there in 3302. The goal of the raid was twofold: to destroy the republic's nerve center on the planet in a precision strike, and to deliver aid through orbital deployment. It was expected that the planet, which stood on the edge of open revolution, would declare against the Republic, hopefully starting a cascade among similarly-treated worlds. Republican infiltration of the Progressives led to them getting word on the raid briefly before it occurred. Unable to rally appropriate military forces in time, they chose to disguise partially-built and civilian ships in orbit over New Britain as armed vessels, intending to exploit the revolutionaries' lack of experienced flag officers to break Progressive morale and shatter the movement's tenuous solidarity. Indeed, the plan almost succeeded - prominent socialist, newly-promoted Admiral Ulysses Kale, panicked on the sight of so many ships and ordered an immediate withdrawal. The course of the war was arguably changed entirely when his executive officer, a new humanist ideologue named Roland Stein, relieved his commander of duty. When the ranked officer refused to surrender the helm, Stein shot him, thereafter taking command of the Progressive force and leading them to victory over New Britain, which did indeed change allegiences, further agitating revolutionary movements deeper in Republican space. The first - and arguably most important - blow of the formal civil war had been struck.
The conflict formally begun over New Britain was to continue furiously from the year of 3304 until late 3320. What had started out in riots and protests for social change was at that point genuine, open war, with casualties climbing well into the billions in civilian deaths alone. As the war wore on and each side grew more polarized, both camps would ultimately resort to tactics of terror and mass murder against the opposite side's strongholds, each attempting (and failing) to break the other's morale. The Republican forces, which had begun the conflict with the clear advantage in men, materiel, and economic control steadily fell apart with each passing year. Commerce with the outside galaxy, which had once fed the furnace of the nation's economy, failed; few were willing to risk trade in a war zone with a state that was increasingly looking on the verge of collapse. Increasingly violent and common popular movements on badly-administrated "loyal" worlds ravaged the government's base further; the syndicalists and their urban brigades are particularly infamous, even today, for their actions of legitimate combat against Republican troops as well as the atrocities they committed against loyalist civilians and prisoners of war. Mutinies in the Republican military sapped the state's strength further - the nation had neglected the common soldier's welfare before, and now could not afford to give it attention. Some commanders changed sides merely due to the risk of assassination they felt they faced from their subordinates. The Third Battle of Elysion turned out to be the final battle for that world. Republican forces broke and engaged in a disorganized retreat relatively early in the battle with the revolutionary fleet. The civilian authority, thus stripped of naval protection, refused to surrender, but found almost no resources to draw on to oppose the Progressive invasion. Millions of revolutionary soldiers marched through the planet's streets and fields facing only sporadic and often-disorganized resistance from the most out of touch or dedicated loyalist units. The raid on the Federal Building during the battle for the capitol city was one of the most violent engagements, with the crack infantry detatchment defending it ultimately dying to a man - in battle, of injuries, or in prison camps. President Harrison, close to death's door and more than half-mad, was recovered from the building's two-kilometer bunker and arrested. Most of his cabinet would soon follow. The Interstellar Cooperative Republic had ceased to exist. It was November 15th, 3320.
The Cooperative Coalition of PlanetsEdit
The Progressive victory had come at tremendous cost: billions dead, the nation's infastructure ruined, millions fated to starve in the coming hard years. The military had been smashed to pieces, and most of the more brilliant military officers who had made the revolution possible had perished at one point or another in roughly 16 years of open warfare. One of few figures left was Commodore Roland Stein, the so-called Hero of New Britain. After his execution of Admiral Kale, Stein's career was drastically slowed. His exceptional performance in that battle and others made him something of a celebrity, especially among new humanist factions, which precluded him being sidelined entirely. Stein took this in stride, building his reputation and celebrity among the people the Progressives took under their wing as higher-ranked Progressives spent themselves in the flames of war. When it came time to select a ruling council for the newly-dubbed Cooperative Coalition of Planets, Stein was easily able to ride a wave of celebrity and consistent political and military success to be appointed Coordinator in 3321. It was position he would never surrender. What followed Stein's ascension was a purge of the Progressive ranks: officers and government officials that had cooperated only to avoid being overthrown or assassinated were imprisoned, dismissed, or executed. Consistent enemies of Stein's within the party were ousted, imprisoned, or killed. President Harrison was sentenced to death despite his clinical insanity and rapidly failing health; the sentence was carried out almost immediately. All living members of his cabinet who had been found soon followed. Factions within the Progressive movement who rabble-roused against the ruling council were dissolved one by one. The visage of Stein became a familiar one as he promised citizens of the CCP recovery, rebuilding, and a fair government. In a famous 3322 address by the CCP's ruling council, Stein gave the so-called "Father Speech," which became representative of his growing power. Stein stated that, "what [the citizens of the CCP] need is not another politician - the time for mere politicians has come and gone. What the people need is a father, a figure who not only stands for their interests, but loves them." Stein's three fellow council members, save the socialist Vice Admiral Anya Paterson, lacked his ability to rally the people and his combination of both military and political success, and they soon found their power rapidly diminishing. The assassination of Paterson by Republican terrorists in 3325 not only left Stein the singular face of government in the Union, but led to further purges that not only rooted out old order sympathizers, but many influential republicans, syndicalists, and socialists as well.
Attempted Coup; a Permanent CoordinatorEdit
By 3328, the power of the ruling council was concentrated almost entirely in Stein's hands. He had easily been reelected to the position of Coordinator following Paterson's assassination in 3325: not only had Paterson been his only credible rival, but his believed-romantic relationship with her had garnered remarkable sympathy from the state's voters in those extremely troubled times. With elections for the ruling council and position of Coordinator again approaching, Stein put forth a bold proposal: the ruling council system was clearly not serving the people fast enough or properly. He proposed that it be dissolved and replaced with a single leadership position, elected by the people, and removable at any time. With his calculated offer to step down immediately in favor of his new system, the proposal was not only accepted by the increasingly-new-humanist-dominated government but saw him reelected to the position of Coordinator again. The coming years continued to be extremely hard for the unstable CCP. Open conflicts continued to be waged with Republican remnant forces on planets and in space, as well as with pirates. The military was overstretched and low in morale. Syndicalist, socialist, and revolutionary republican factions agitated against the new humanists, feeling that Stein was intentionally minimizing their power in favor of the increasingly popular new humanist movement. What followed were assassinations, murders, and incidents of voter fraud, all of which Coordinator Stein attempted to stomp out wherever they arose and whoever was to blame. The leadup to the 3332 election for the powerful position of Coordinator showed that Stein was likely to win again, if only for lack of charismatic opponents. In fear of a permanent new humanist dictatorship, a coalition of opposition powers attempted to have Stein killed on November 15, 3331, a date chosen specifically to arouse revolutionary feelings in the people. The move backfired: the assassins were captured, tortured for information, and executed. Stein had the heads of the plot tried and imprisoned, later to be executed. The events were painted as an attempted coup by minority powers and Republican counter-revolutionaries. Gambling on his charisma once again, Stein asked the people of the CCP for yet change, proposing himself as a permanent Coordinator until such a time that he was voted out or resigned, so that he might better track down insurgents and rebuild the starving state. Amazingly, the move succeeded, a success attributed to the public's desire for stability and Stein's own political acumen.
The Humanist UnionEdit
With his near-dictatorial authority legitimized by the people, Stein and his loyalists moved quickly, demonizing opposing political factions while promoting his own. Various individuals were arrested or removed from office, with citations of Republican or insurgent intent being made. In 3334, the State Legislature was dissolved and an election was held; the new body was overwhelmingly new humanist. Coordinator Stein declared a closed legislature, to which existing members would elect replacements and all of whom would be carefully examined for signs of corruption, murderous intent, or plutocratic disease. By this way, Stein claimed to be fighting what had corrupted the ICR and plagued the revolutionary government: so-called "gilded vipers being elected to represent human beings." On November 15th, 3334, a senator from New Britain proposed that the Cooperative Coalition of Planets be renamed the Humanist Union (for its humanist ideals rather than the rising New Humanist Progressive Party), casting off the last rags of the uncertain days that had followed the revolution. The motion was approved overwhelmingly, and the new state was born.
The years following 3334 would see Coordinator Stein and the New Humanist Progressive Party tighten their hold over the government. The legislature effectively became an organ of the party, while Coordinator Stein went from an elected official to a de facto dictator. Though the promised socialist support systems had indeed been put into place and were being refined, the next 20 years would come to be known as The Lean Times. Stein's government could not afford sentimentality in a galaxy filled with marauders, and rebuilding efforts, food, and governmental attention were focused on those worlds which contributed and worked with the most zeal towards rebuilding the nation. While this alienated some planets, especially less-wealthy ones, it helped bring core worlds truly into the fold, and was generally regarded as necessary in stabilizing the post-revolutionary state. Rebuilding the military was a central focus of Stein's government, largely to deal with dwindling Republican remnants, but also to cope with rampant pirates, seperatist movements, and potential foreign incursions. Many millions joined the military for the direct route it promised to merit, and thus, reward. By 3354, the infastructure, economy, and military had recovered to such a degree that the government was able to launch the Paternalist Campaign, through which the outer reaches and impovrished masses were supplied with a more robust leg up than had characterized the so-called Lean Times. The taxes this incurred tried sorely the freshly-minted loyalty of the state's new elite, but they ultimately cooperated, a testament to the state's omnipresent monopoly on force of arms, effective indoctrination of the citizenry, and the leadership of Stein. Following the teachings of Kuznetsov, the government turned its interest towards the next step towards a socialist government as new humanism envisioned it: enhancing the citizenry through cybernetic and genetic technology.
The Humanist Union of the modern day is a prosperous, if still-growing, still-recovering state. Coordinator Stein's unbroken rule has proven reliable and effective, with him living up to his promise of keeping a watchful eye for corruption. The result of this is not only a heavily-ingrained cult of personality, but a general trust for the government and its design. The relatively free "lesser" governments of the Union, as elected bodies, address most of the citizenry's needs in ways that a rigid party-led state might fail. Today's individual citizens enjoy a variety of rights, including speech, religion, and assembly. While Union citizens generally regard foreign states as unstable, untrustworthy plutocracies or bloodthristy, corrupt autocracies, heavy government efforts to curb international elitism have improved previously-frozen relations and stimulated sorely-needed trade with the greater galaxy. After its long night and hard childhood, the Humanist Union can ill afford to neglect foreign relations entirely, particulary if it intends to adhere to the expansionist ideals of new humanism and survive the interests of predatory alien powers.