Katastenu

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Katastenu is a nation inspired by and founded for doomsday peppers. While it is a nation whose entire existence depends upon the ‘apocalypse,’ it is founded before the apocalypse actually occurs. It coexists with mainstream society as sort of a secret cult of believers. Along with a written history, constitution, and system of governance, this project consists of a sort of ‘user-manual’ for the nation, a set of signal posters/flags, and a stack of post-apocalypse correspondences.

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Case Studies: A Five-Part History of Katastenu

 

Economic Ruin

The fear of economic ruin that is rooted in Katastenu stems from a long chain of economic failures in history, beginning with the Panic of 1873. After a cease in German demand for US silver, the Coinage Act of 1873 was passed in the United States, which essentially pushed the US economy into the gold standard. With the government no longer buying silver, mining towns suffered. More importantly though, with the dollar no longer being backed by both silver and gold, the amount of money circulating in the US economy was drastically reduced. Loan interest rates skyrocketed, forcing those with heavy debt burdens further into the red. Banks folded and thousands of industrial (WC) workers were laid off in the US, and in Europe the Vienna Stock Market crashed. Eerily similar events –almost identical, in fact- happened in the Panic of 1893. Those, however pale in comparison to the Great Depression that began in 1929. Lasting until the late 1930, the Depression effected a large percentage of the world’s nations. While nothing with such far-felt effects has hit any of the world’s markets since then, that doesn’t mean that these markets haven’t seen stormy waters- Black Monday and the Junk Bond Crash of 1987, The Great US Recession of 2007, the Greece Market Crash that began in 2010, the Chinese Market Crash that began in 2015. The thing that they all seem to have in common is that they keep happening an no one seems to be able to stop it from happening. The events seemed to be getting worse and closer together, leading (founder) to believe that it was only a matter of time before another perfect storm came over the horizon.

Biological Agent

Disease is the the sleeper cell of the four possible disaster, simply because the end it brings will start slow, then appear all at once. Much like the Plague of the Dark Ages, it will move swiftly and it will be devastating. For example, in 1918 the globe experienced a Spanish Flu (H1N1) pandemic. It was so widespread and so deadly that it killed more people than had died in WWI. The AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s not only killed huge numbers of people around the world, it also created much social tension –especially in America- by being a vehicle to illuminate civil rights injustices and economic biases in the health care system. Even when the disease poses no serious threat to the masses, it is still a fabulous agent for panic to spread- think of Mad Cow Disease, West Nile Virus, and all the other news outlets toted about as ‘the next killer to watch out for.’

The Katastenu emphasis on small communal systems spread out over great distances is partly a result of this fear of mass extinction. By isolating groups and keeping population density fairly low, the founders hoped to create a system where serious diseases would not spread so rapidly- if even at all. While this does mean that individual State may fall as a result of Plague-like diseases, it is a small loss when compared to not just the whole of Katastenu, but the world.

Technological Meltdown

While technology has only begun to pose a serious threat in the last thirty years or so, it is still a very real threat. Beyond the fact that it can be hacked, manipulated, and abused, there is the silent but very real threat that it could simply fail. The jobs that are left to technology are increasingly important- mainly, the responsibility of keeping us safe. Perhaps the single most dangerous technological failure on record is that of the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian USSR experienced a level 7 melt down- one of only two in history. The flawed design of the reactor was largely to blame for the total system meltdown, but the straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back was a power surge that overloaded the reactor’s systems. At low power, the systems that should have prevented radiation escaping when the reactor’s core was exposed were unstable at low power, and ultimately failed. This catastrophic failure only served to reinforce the radiation fear that plagued the world (the Western world especially, in the age of the Cold War). That fear persisted through to the new millennium with Y2K. This was the fear that the turning of the century would reset the clocks that controlled the world’s nuclear missiles, plunging the world into a nuclear winter. (founder) lived through Y2K, and remembers the pandemonium of the time. While those fears were largely sensationalist, (founder) never let go of the idea that something as miniscule as the resetting of a digital clock –something that may be entirely taken for granted- could ultimately be the small tear that unravels the fabric of society.

Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than the idea of technology failing is that of it succeeding. As we move further into the age of technology, we also move closer and closer towards self-aware machines and complete technological reliance. As of 2015, there were drones that flew their own military missions without a single human interaction. On a more banal end of the spectrum, logarithms and software monitored every mouse click made by internet users and marketed to them accordingly; entire companies, communities, and tradeshows were devoted to making technology more independent, more indestructible, more accessible. As a response Katastenu made the effort to exist without the aid of technology, to make sure its citizens did not depend on it when the time came that it either failed them or superseded them.

Environmental Collapse

We have known for some time now that our environment is in decline, and as a society, we have taken steps to help slow its’ degradation. In 1992, a handful of the world’s major nations aligned to create the Kyoto Protocol, essentially a multi-national set of pollution management and guidelines. A fine sentiment on paper, perhaps, but more or less a failure when it comes down to number. By the time the first commitment period ended in 2012, only about half of the member nations had met their initial emission goals. One aspect of the Kyoto Protocol that (founder) found especially offensive was the practice of emissions trading- something that was a big problem in California. Emissions Trading meant that rather than being solely responsible for managing their own emissions to meet reduction goals, nations (and in some cases states and companies) were allowed to trade their emissions. This meant that Company A could sell their allowance one cubic tone of CO2 to Company B for a handsome profit; Company B could go over their emissions limits without any serious penalties and Company A could make a profit for staying well under theirs. (Founder) saw this as a justifiable means for companies, states and nations to not have to take responsibility for meeting their own goals. The incentive should not come from the group meeting goals, but every individual meeting goals. While (founder) understood that the goals of the Kyoto Protocol were idealistic at best, (founder) recognized that the failure of the project stemmed from the fact that so many nations tried to meet the same goals, despite not all having the same needs.

Katastenu: 2012-2015

According to legend, 2012 was supposed to be it- the end of society as it existed. While December 21st did not bring the horror the Mayans had promised, it did mark a shift for (founder/s). (little Tokyo) worked with her father in the Post Office on the border between Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. Spending the years leading up to December 21st 2012 watching patrons come through her family’s shop, (little Tokyo) she had witnessed first-hand the many of atrocities of money. Many homeless spent the day in the streets out in front of the store windows; her father had come close to losing their store several times as new business moved in and rents climbed. If there was one thing she never lost faith in though, it was that the people who came into her store everyday were good people, people who relied on each other. Of the many people that passed through her doors, three that came to be good friends of hers were (pizza brothers) who owned a small pizza shop in the same strip mall as her post office, and (monica) who ran a small cosmetics company out of her apartment a few blocks away.

The idea of the Mayan Apocalypse had never been a serious threat, but as December 22nd came to a close (founder) found (themselves) wondering, what if? Had the world actually entered a new world order, and had (they) survived, were (they) equipped to continue in existence?

Before that winter had drawn to a close, (founder) had begun building a community people who had asked the same questions, people who believed things could not continue as they were. Her father’s Post Office became the first Capitol-State of Katastenu. Beginning with the just the five of them, (they) established a plan for existing outside of and after society; they acquired land in the remote desert community of Joshua Tree, California by the summer of 2013, which became the permanent residence –the first Communal-State. Slowly they began to grow their numbers along with their land, cultivating a small community of followers in Joshua Tree. Most notably among them were (beardo) and (Mishone), two friends who had originally moved to Joshua Tree to get away from the busy and claustrophobic nature of the city.

As the first year of Katastenu was drawing to a close, (they) began to face their efforts outward, finding others to join them in their mission to transcend society. The five founding members of the Capitol, along with (beardo) and (Mishone), were sent to areas around the northern hemisphere that existed in one of the five main climates: desert, mountain, costal, tundra, and suburban (a mediated imposed climate). From their travels, they hoped to establish universal systems of living so that no matter what The Beginning brought, they would be prepared to guide their followers through it. They would set up camp and begin to test what could be accomplished in their climate, reporting back to (little Tokyo), who remained in Los Angeles with her father to study the Suburban Climate. (Beardo) went to___ Once situated, the members would work to befriend the local community, earning their trust along with their allegiance. In this way, they could find qualified citizens to join and perpetuate Katastenu

As the founders were preparing to venture out into the world, they knew they had to keep their plans clandestine. While they were concerned with keeping their growing population under reasonable control, they were also afraid of any retribution that may come from the implicit treason that they had committed. Additionally, if too many people found out about and believed in what the founders were doing, then their work would be destroyed- the whole point of working in secret was to maintain small numbers, after all. As an attempt to avoid any of those situations, the founders decided to create caricatures of themselves, alter egos that would deflect attention from what they were trying to do. By sensationalizing themselves and their mission, they believed that the general public would cast them in the same life at the Illuminati, that people wouldn’t take them seriously. Thus, the Founders spent the next two years studying their environments and gaining allies.

By the summer of 2016, Katastenu had established correspondence with sister Capitol-States on the Eastern US coast, The Colorado Rockies, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. With these new capitols established, Katastenu had laid the groundwork for exponential growth, bringing them one step closer to outlasting The Beginning-the time at which the world could no longer continue to operate as it once had, thrusting mankind into a post-societal age. 


Constitution

 

Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics defines the law of entropy: that all closed systems, for better or worse, are unsustainable and in a constant descent towards chaos. Fires don’t stay lit, cars don’t stay running, rooms don’t stay clean. It is only with great concentrated effort that order may be for a short time maintained: You put wood on the fire, you put oil the engine, you keep cleaning the room. While systems such as these can be maintained, they cannot always be perfectly preserved. The larger the system, the harder we must work to maintain it. Society today relies on immensely large groups lead by a disproportionately small few. There are too many moving parts in these systems, the Rube Goldberg machines that relied on everyone working together in the exact right way. Groups of too many people are destined to fail- the smaller the group, the easier to manage. Rather than the model of one large concurrent system, a large group of many smaller isolated systems is ideal for coordinating large groups of people

Katastenu is the the smaller system this world needs. Founded in 2012, it is a nation created on the basis that A) people are smart enough to fend for themselves, that in many ways our wants and needs are all aligned; and B) society in its current state will inevitably collapse. It may not end by means calculated and coordinated, but the foundations have already been set in place for what will henceforth be referred to as The Beginning. The Beginning will not arrive by way of any one event, but of a collective chain of circumstances. The world will not end in intergalactic pandemonium; it will not end in a fight to the death; and it will not end on the terms of an antiquated prophecy. It will be rooted in one of the four global forces: Environmental, Economic, Biologic, or Technological. Katastenu has been established both to provide a network those people who already anticipate these eventualities as well as those who do not yet have the skills to survive. We must work together to survive on our own.

What makes Katastenu different is that we are founded on the basis of preparing for a post-society world, rather than being founded as a reaction to cataclysmic events that have already transpired. By pledging your allegiance to Katestenu, you are making the commitment to live for yourself and those you hold close. You are accepting that no one is going to help you in this world, so you will have to help yourself. You are making the commitment to learn, to grow, to persist. No matter if you all stand alone or stand together, we will all be standing when the dust settles, and our shadows will live on without us when we are gone. For now, we make the commitment to remaining patient and remaining diligent; we will take the steps now to prepare for what lies ahead.

The world around us will continue to chug along, an unsustainable system. We will watch those around us, so concerned with moving forward that they cannot see what is right in front of them.

We see, therefor we survive.

 

Character of A Nation: Rules and Structures

Etymology

a.     Katastenu is derived from the two Esperanto words katastrofo and subtenu, meaning ‘catastrophic’ and ‘sustain, respectively. Esperanto, the alternate language of our people, is one of peace and unity. It was developed with the intent of unifying the globe through language; therefore, we thought it an appropriate choice to define our nation.

b.     Esperanto itself is a constructed language whose original purpose was to be a second language that would unify the world (IE, Esperanto becomes second language in addition to the native language of the speaker). It is a language that has more learned speakers than native speakers. Due to the highly localized nature of the states of Katastenu, Esperanto is a logical choice as a language that has to unify many people over large distances and cultures.

Demographics

a.     Population: Our population is mostly comprised of groups of individuals from either densely urban or secluded/rural areas across the globe. Population density is low, given the small size and structure of each state. The largest ideal population of a communal state caps out at 3,000. As few as one or two people can constitute a single Homestead-State. The smaller the better, in fact, as Katastenu believes in small, manageable, self-sustaining communities.

b.     In regards to maintaining population, Communal States more so than any other state are responsible to maintaining their population to levels that can A) be sustained by the state’s supplies, and B) go undetected by the average passer-by. If a Homestead State, or a small cluster of Homestead States grows too large a population, it by default becomes a Communal State and must establish correspondence with the nearest Capitol State. If a Communal State reaches population levels that cannot be hidden or sustained, members of that state must volunteer to venture out and establish their own Homestead States. In this situation, if no citizens are willing to leave the state, then all the citizens of that State are entered into a raffle; if their name is drawn, they along with those wishing to stay with them must leave the Communal State. If they refuse removal, they will be treated as Outsiders and will be terminated.

c.     Family structure: Family structure can take one of three forms. In the first, a nuclear family remains in tact by establishing a Homestead-State on their own, with this scenario being most likely to occur before The Beginning, or much after. The second, which will be the most common, will be non-nuclear family relationships being forged between citizens as they join our nation. We see this being the main family structure leading into and just after The Beginning, but once these ties are established, the traditional family structure will take precedence once again. The third structure is the individual homesteader, the lone wolf.

Government and politics

a.     States: Our nation consists of a large network of small Homestead-States. A Homestead-State is any independent domestic unit that supports the people living within it. It is a self-sustaining, self-governing entity that classifies itself as a member of Katastenu; to indicate its’ allegiance, to those who comes across it, the Homestead-State flies the flag of our nation (which will be discussed in more detail later).

One tier up from a Homestead-State is a Communal-State. To exist as a Communal-State, a cluster of five or more Homestead-States in close proximity must come together to pool recourses and delegate work in order to establish a larger unit that can function at a higher rate. While Communal-States receive no additional aid from Capitol-States, the benefits of establishing a Communal-State come from the resulting communities, and increase in both resources and workforce. Depending on the distance between Homestead-States in a Communal-State. Distance between Homestead-States in a Communal-State must not exceed a day’s travel, or else the estates cannot be considered a Communal-State.

Homestead-States and Communal-States must take all precautions to remain secluded and/or hidden. Capitol-States, as an entry point to our nation, may be more public, but less forthcoming with their status as a member of Katastenu.

b.     Foreign relations: Before The Beginning, we must work to keep our physical presence as minimal as possible. This is why we recruit personally before The Beginning. After The Beginning, citizens may allow new members into their Homestead-States should they choose. Communal-States must direct potential new members towards the nearest Capitol-State, as those will be the main entry point to Katastenu. Should a person be denied entry into Katastenu, for reasons other than minor health concerns, those people have learned too much about our nation and therefore must be terminated.

Law enforcement and crime

a.     All states are to determine their own system of laws and punishment, and may implement their strategies as is necessary for each individual state. Law enforcement within each state shall be dealt with internally, by each individual state. In the case of the Homestead-states and Capitol-States, any and all means necessary may be taken to defend the homestead and its’ residents. In the case of a Communal-State, the community must work together to establish a system of law for the entire community. (Martial law)

b.     Militia: By becoming a citizen of Katastenu, all citizens agree that in the unlikely event of a substantial external threat, they will defend the nation as part of an army unified under the Katastenu flag. However, given our nation’s secretive nature, an outside threat situation is not forseeable. In the event of an outside attack however (say, an outside party discovers one of out strongholds attempts to raid our stockpiles), our best offense will be a strong defense. Our first line of defense will be a line of traps place around the perimeter of the State (except for the Capitol States). These traps vary depending on the climate of the state and will be made from whatever supplies the State has to spare. Should those prove unsuccessful, citizens of the state will play opossum, taking any means necessary to make the town appear vacant, abandoned, already ransacked. This means that citizens should have a plan for this scenario already in place before a threat rises. The absolute last resort that should be taken is direct confrontation. If a few supplies are lost in the transaction, this is acceptable. However, if it is believed that the outside party will return, or if they discover any of our citizens, they must not be allowed to leave the State. If they can be taken in as a worker or refugee, that is fine. Otherwise, they must be removed as a potential threat.

i.     Note: Great measures must be taken to hide our resources, or else prevent them from being taken. This includes, but is not limited to having caches of important supplies, locking them in safes, having guards, additional traps, etc.

ii.     Designated sentinels in Communal and Capitol States, and individuals in Homestead States, are responsible for keeping watch for intruders and alerting their community to the threat via established ‘signals.’

iii.     Any guns used within the state must have silencers, even if they are improvised. The noise they create may be heard by outsiders. In the case of defense or hunting, guns are a last resort- behind bow and arrow, traps, rope, knives, etc.

c.     All states are on their own in regards to defense. Given the distance from state to state, as well as the emphasis on maintaining only the supplies you may need, seeking help from any neighboring state is all but futile.

Economy

a.     To avoid any of the pitfalls associated with being a part of a large-scale economy, the economy of (our nation) is based on a system of bartering and self-sustainability. While the structure of our nation consists largely of independent homesteads, the need for a commerce system remains. Much trade will be inter-personal bartering, with traders setting their own rates for what is traded. Communal-States will be supplemented with small marketplaces, where citizens may offer up goods that they have in surplus in exchange for goods they need. (Our nation) does not have a unified currency for he reasons that A) if there is no one system of currency, there will be no oppositional currency to drive it down in value, and B) it is a step (our nation) takes in preventing he rise of the 1%- the stockpiling of capital. In this way, we promote access to the goods people need to sustain themselves and their Homesteads (WC).

The exchange of goods between citizens, in the case of both the Communal Market and interpersonal trade, will not be a major functioning part of our nation until after The Beginning.

Education:

a.     On the base level, childhood education is almost exclusively self-contained, IE homeschooling. Focal points of education include wilderness survival training, sciences, agriculture, environmental studies, basic health, home repair, cooking, and sewing. The passing on of each ‘clan’s’ individual heritage and traditions will also be a large component of each states’ teaching, and will vary state to state. (Practical knowledge will remain more or less similar between states is the same environments, whereas cultural knowledge will vary greatly.)

In regards to spreading information between states, Capitol-states will be responsible for getting information from one Capitol to the next, and then onto their respective Communal- and Homestead-states via a Pony Express-type system. This responsibility is given to Capitols as they will be the only ones who know the given locations of these communities.

Infrastructure:

a.     Architecture will vary greatly from climate to climate. The one unifying principle when it comes to habitation in Katastenu is the idea of camoflague- the idea that we must be hidden in plain sight; this includes both architectural features such as false rooms, panic rooms, and fall out shelters, as well as utilizing natural architecture, such as in/under trees and rocks. Much of the architecture after The Beginning will be thusly predetermined, with any new structures needing to be either well concealed or easily removable. Structures may be built before The Beginning, not only because supplies will be more readily available, but because the time and consideration may be put in to make these erected structures truly ‘invisible’ (IE, designing a new house with solid panic rooms, digging out areas under rocks in the desert, establishing a home-unit in a mountainous rock shelf, etc.).

b.     Before the Beginning, transportation and energy needs will be met the same as they always have been, with the technologies that currently exist. After the Beginning, it is assumed that electricity will no longer be available. Therefore, all technologies and transportations will have to be in the form of antiquated/ manual technologies, such as those of horse, bike, foot, or water in terms of transportation; or windmills, watermills, manual, or wood-burning in the case of energy. Some generators with stock piles of gasoline may be used for extreme circumstances.

i.     NO LARGE FIRES IN OPEN SPACES. While fires will be needed, great care must be taken to keep their smoke signals concealed, so that they may not be tracked. In addition to this, in the case of an intruder, fires are a giveaway that a space is inhabited.

ii.     As far as corpses go, we must not burn them. This may promote the spread of disease, but more importantly is will create a signal fire that may be tracked. Corpses may either be buried in disguised graves outside State borders, under crops to promote the fertilization of the soil, or consumed as it. If animals can be rendered, so can humans.

Health:

a.     Before a new citizen joins Katastenu, they must first undergo a series of medical screening which will ensure that they are fit to be a member of this society. These tests will be more rigorous before The Beginning, but will still be thorough after. Especially after the Beginning, the tests will be critical in ensuring that no new diseases are brought into the nation. Even if a virus does permeate the nation, our emphasis on small, remote communities will be a safeguard for containing the viruses and preventing a massive die-off. Apart from those viral threats, basic health care will shift from modern medicine (as supplies run out) to traditional regiments of natural/herbal cures.

Communication:

a.     Visual communication in Katastenu takes place on two very distinct levels.

 b.     Before the Beginning: Communication before the Beginning will utilize traditional means of communication, including but not limited to websites, pamphlets, and commercials. In regards to mass media and social media, these means of communication will be highly coded, meaning that we can communicate on a largely accessible plane, in the open without fear of detection. Sworn in members of the nation will of course be trained in how to decipher these codes. In regards to smaller communications, such as most printed matter and interpersonal communications, these messages will also be coded, likely the piece of information that helps decode something else. Ultimately, these smaller communications will more often than not be meaningless to a general public, because they only inherit meaning when combined with something else. When this is not the case (and the information contained in a piece is both intelligible and critical), the deliverable will be handled with the utmost security. In regards to the form itself, it needs to be easily hidden, and presented in the same way our founders present themselves: with a sense of hyperbole and charicature, exaggerated.

c.     After the Beginning: Communication after The Beginning will be far more restricted, and will take place largely in a printed platform. It will be dispersed between Capitol States, originating from a Minister of Communications, and each Capitol State will be responsible for dispensing the information and materials to their corresponding Communal-States. Printed materials will be very similar to what they were before the beginning. As far as verbal communication is concerned (IE, between stranger citizens of the nation), it will be formal: still heavily coded and very ceremonial. Non-verbal communication will also be key after the Beginning, and will include things such as landmarks on the outsides of states, flags, and other public ‘codes.’ Direct communication between states (with the exception of Communal/Capitol states) will be infrequent, given the fact that travel between states will likely be not only grueling, but unnecessary.

Flags and the national motto (rules of engagement):

 a.     Each state has a flag that represents its’ position within the nation to all outside parties. However, these flags must be not immediately distinguishable as national emblems, given our secret status. (X) represents a Homestead State (must be a readily available material or way of making, since these are the independents, can be different); (Y) represents a Communal-State (must be uniform since it is in correspondence with Capitols), and (Z) represents a Capitol-State (must be most recognizable, since it is an entry point to the nation). (are there conditions for flying/not flying these?)

b.     Ni vidos, do ni postvivi. We see, therefore we survive. Our national slogan is a call-and-response greeting for members of our nation to be able to test whether or not a stranger is also a member of our ranks. While our states may be many and different, our motto is the one thing that unifies us. Example for encountering a stranger, most likely in Capitol of Homestead States:

Person 1: I believe in learning from my past.

Person 2: All I can do is to try and learn from the mistakes of those before me.

Person 1: Ni vidos…

Person 2: … do ni postvivi.

In situations where communication is not face to face, such as when entering a new territory, individuals would first locate the flag of the State they believe themselves to be in. They must then recite the whole motto on their own. A citizen on guard in the ‘abandoned’ state must always be within earshot of their states flag, so as to be able to recognize a member of their own nation.