Current Issues of Dynamo Island

Dynamo is a multiracial society. Though predominantly Anglo-Saxon/European, there are significant Jewish and to a lesser extent Arab communities present, in particular in the capital Veloxeter (population 1,750,000). Many Jews escaped to Dynamo from continental Europe during the Second World War whilst Arabs, in particular from North Africa, have settled in Veloxeter in some of the counties southern towns, in particular Anasi and Hadrianopolis. A significant number of Irish, fleeing the potato famines of the 1840s, settled in Dynamo, particularly in the northern regions, and contributed significantly to the development in the 19th century of the country’s transport and industrial infrastructure. New Dublin, in the province of Sparta, is the centre of the Irish diaspora and includes Guinness among its most notable manufactures.

Arab pirates set out on marauding expeditions from Maurice Island from the 18th century while Blacks of African extraction immigrated to Dynamo from the West Indies and the southern states of the USA in the 1960s. Since Dynamo’s incursion into colonialism was short-lived – its the 18th century skirmish with Great Britain over the ownership of the Caribbean island of Barbados was unsuccessful – there were in the post-colonial period of the later 20th century no major influxes of African or West Indian blacks, though the country’s general tolerance and fair immigration quotas made it an attractive destination. Dynamo was a popular destination in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Hippies and others dissatisfied with US materialism and consumerism: in particular Arcadia was viewed as a kind paradise for drop-outs who could buy up small holdings or limited tracts of land and live a more-or-less subsistence life-style. Limited growing of marijuana is still tolerated.

Pugilia, Dynamo. Mount Eoin is visible in the background.

Dynamo has a significant community of travellers although, owing to the lack of cars, lorries and any sort of motor trade, their lifestyle has remained far closer to that of European gypsies in the pre-modern period. Once again, Arcadia, with its extensive woods, open pastureland and sparse settlements, provides the kind of wilderness within which certain travelling communities like to live. A limited level of poaching and produce misappropriation on the part of gypsies (they are still called this without any sense of a slur being attached to the term) is mostly tolerated by local country communities: there seems to be an unstated understanding between the two communities – the one static, the other mobile – that both have their rights which are tolerated provided neither side oversteps the mark. Dynamoan travellers still live in traditional horse-drawn caravans and still make their living through tinkering, metal-work and wood carving (and also soft-drug pedalling). Their children are admitted to the state schools. As in Ireland, male travellers are celebrated for their prowess as boxers; their annual boxing jamboree held in the woods of Pugilia every midsummer is a key event in the sporting calendar.

The three main challenges facing the Republic of Dynamo in the contemporary world all relate in one way or another to the response of the country’s inhabitants to the global capitalist world that seems likely to be the dominant ideological reality in the 21st century: how to maintain a zero-growth economy in an economic climate dominated by slow but nevertheless exponential global growth; how to satisfy the desires of a young generation in ways ultimately different and more authentic than those offered in a capitalist system constantly exposed to the blandishments of consumerist seduction; how to maintain a tolerant secular society, imbued with traditions developed over centuries, within a world of movement and cultural change.

The maintenance of a zero-growth economy is possible within a country in which government plays an active and constructive role in maintaining broad financial equality among its population and is flexible enough to respond to the inevitable shifts in economic developments with measures susceptible to maintaining full employment and a balanced productivity. The low dependence of Dynamo on energy imports means that it can continue, relatively unaffected by international market forces, to fuel a sophisticated technological and industrial society in which a prioritization of sophisticated, ecologically favourable manufactures creates a growing export market while reinforcing the country’s ideological stance. If unemployment ever exceeds the 5% mark, initiatives are immediately introduced to absorb inactive workers. This involves the development of a psychological attitude on the part of Dynamoans whereby all those employed, whether professionally or industrially, are prepared to adopt, if the necessity arises, a ‘second’ or fall-back occupation to which they can resort if made redundant, temporarily or permanently, from their first calling. The one year of national service done by all 18-year olds, provides a training in a range of technical, social or military skills and is topped up every five years by a one-month refresher course, or a course in a new skill. Part of the ethos of the country is against the prevalent western trend towards ever greater specialization: although specialization is necessary for the development of science and technology, it need not be the prerogative of all members of the community who are as much encouraged to diversify as to specialize their skill base. The CVs of Dynamoan entrants to the employment market therefore would normally have at least two as opposed to one stated marketable skill.

Dynamo’s young people, and indeed those of any age, are compensated for the unavailability of cars and motorbikes for individual use by the world’s best public transport system, coordinating train, tram and bicycle systems, all of which are, efficient, government-funded and affordable. The country’s network of bike lanes and bicycle repair points is comprehensive and every train and tram running in the country has carriage for bikes. Individual creativity in the arts, music, cinema, sport is massively promoted in Dynamo, with many funding opportunities for creative people of any age. The country has a thriving pop music and independent cinema scene, the latter based in Anasi, which has become something of the Hollywood of Dynamo. Fashion is also an important industry in Dynamo, with a special focus on elegant cycle and riding wear. The town of Georgia is the centre of this, its fashion week in April being an important event in the international calendar. Veloxeter is the capital of the music industry though there are important pop festivals in Odessa, Upper March and Louisville.

The divide between youth and the older members of the community is generally less wide than in other western countries. This is because Dynamoans generally keep very fit, continue to practice sport and other social activities well into their lives and try as far as possible to avoid an ‘ageist’ approach to any aspect of social activity. Tolerance of different sexual orientations has been institutionalized since the 1970s and the age of hetero- or homosexual consent (at 16) is lower than that of voting rights (18). Drugs are viewed in a way similar to alcohol or tobacco: they are heavily taxed but freely available, though hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin are very expensive and it is illegal to sell them to minors. The smoking of a joint is taken as the equivalent of drinking a pint of beer or a glass of whiskey. Smoking (of any substance) is however banned in all public buildings. The question of the use and abuse of drugs forms an integral part of Dynamoan secondary education as do issues of civic and sexual responsibility. As a result, there is little drug-related crime in Dynamo, and, owing to effective government control of hard drugs, no drug mafia. People of all generations have a relaxed and tolerant view of the way fellow citizens choose to enjoy themselves, providing it does not harm or inconvenience others. Satisfaction with life indicators in Dynamo are therefore not measured in terms of wealth, prestige or televisual celebrity, but in happiness, personal fulfillment, creativity and social cohesion. Crime is looked upon as an aberration rather than a manifestation of evil, with punishment viewed as far as possible in terms of rehabilitation rather than incarceration. There is no capital punishment. With the exception of those in the armed forces, it is illegal to possess a firearm unless registered for use for shooting game, and to import any kind of gun or rifle from abroad.

The third major challenge facing Dynamo Island in the 21st century is that of how to maintain its distinctive traditions and ethos – secularity, harmony with and respect for the natural environment, regional pride and independence, social solidarity and yet recognition of individual difference – while increasingly exposed to the factitiousness, vulgarity, ostentation and triviality of western consumer and entertainment society. Television and radio, for example, is prohibited in all public places in Dynamo (except for special purposes), CCTV is strictly limited, and amplification of sound permitted only for licensed public events such as pop festivals or sports matches. Silence, like clean air and privacy, is seen as a natural right, as far as possible in the towns as well as in the country-side. House alarms are banned and there are no police cars with wailing sirens: the police are unarmed and ride bicycles, though there are electric vehicles for police arrests and conveyance of the convicted. Only fire-engines and ambulances are permitted to use warning bells or sirens.