Content of the article: "If anyone EVER tells you Prewar USA was a force for good… (A handy counter/reference)"
Despite the series being a brazen critique of nationalism and unregulated capitalism, there's still a surprising amount of people unirionically agreeing with the parodies of their ideals. Today's spicy take is on how every once and awhile you'll find someone defending the Prewar United States.
Normally this is where'd I make an argument to counter this idea but… honestly I don't have to because the Fallout Wiki page for The Prewar United States Of America and the Fallout Bible passages it's citing are so unapologetic the argument makes itself.
Read the entire page for it if you have the time. Seriously. Otherwise, here are some choice quotes (all of these are direct and unedited by me beyond some bolding for emphasis and basic context in brackets):
Federal presidential constitutional republic (de jure)
Totalitarian unitary oligarchy (de facto)
the American government controlled by the military-corporate oligarchs abandoned the country shortly before the nuclear exchanges began
the United States began exerting pressure on Mexico, in order to protect their economic interests there, primarily the crude oil supply. The U.S. deliberately destabilized the country using economic sanctions, before invading the country outright. American military units seized oil refineries and infrastructure to ensure that the flow of crude oil did not cease.
Canada had also begun to feel the pressure exerted by its increasingly hostile neighbor.
The federal government attempted to use the increasing national paranoia to control the situation, by discouraging assemblies, fueling the anti-communist sentiment, and encouraging the reporting of subversive elements.<20> The Vigilant Citizen's Hotline was even established to allow hysterical citizens to report neighbors to the government for any behavior that could be construed as in support of communism.<21> The Third Red Scare unfolded as a response to the increased hostility of the People's Republic of China and its operations on American soil.<22>
The war consumed increasing amounts of resources, materiel, and manpower, straining the ailing American economy even further. To counteract this, the United States military had begun to liberally exploit Canadian resources. Protests from Ottawa in return towards this blatant intrusion were ignored, as Canada ultimately became little more than a territory of the United States.<35> Riots and protests eventually culminated in a sabotage attempt on an oil pipeline in 2072. The United States military used this incident as a pretext to outright invade Canada and begin annexation.
By the end of the month, the annexation of Canada was completed. Its provinces were put under martial law, and all protesters and rioters were shot on sight. Atrocities committed in the name of the Union made their way stateside, fermenting into anti-governmental sentiment.
In August, food and energy riots had begun breaking out in urban centers across the United States. A state of emergency and eventually martial law was declared, with U.S. military forces being deployed on the domestic front to fight their own countrymen. The United States effectively became a military junta.
U.S. soldiers execute a Canadian partisan on national television. The military that controls the country at this point does not care about the outrage this imagery is going to spark.
the military junta in control of the United States deployed mechanized cavalry units to Canada and the United States in order to settle and prevent further sedition. Veterans of the Chinese and Alaskan fronts found themselves fighting their own countrymen, quelling riots and enforcing the national quarantine. Mounting civilian casualties snapped the loyalty of many soldiers, and desertions started to frequently occur.
Billions of dollars and thousands of casualties later, the war was once more at a stalemate with no clear victor or end in sight.
Another contributing factor was the increasingly dire food situation, with riots a regular occurrence. The United States Army servicemen deployed to protect food banks were known for responding to altercations with violence. One notable incident in Roxbury, Massachusetts, left four dead and eight wounded, after soldiers were laughing and picking targets out in the crowd well in advance. It was far from an exception.
Faced with a rapidly disintegrating nation, and with China backed into a corner, the oligarchs ruling the United State retreated to remote locations around the globe, expecting a last-ditch nuclear strike from China at any moment.
Bases across the United States were sealed and troops redeployed to feed more men into the meat grinder that the Chinese front became, thereby sustaining the American war effort.
By October, the United States had become virtually leaderless, continuing on simply from inertia.
All the offices of power across the United States were closed and dark, maintained by skeleton crews.
Within two hours, the United States had ceased to exist as a nation, with its cities vaporized within nuclear fireballs.<56> Abandoned by their leaders, the survivors began rebuilding on their own, while the oligarchs that controlled the country for so long ignored the suffering in their retreats. Those on the oil rig formed the Enclave, claiming to be the government of the United States, but not lifting a finger to help.
While the United States had been founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, the reality of the 21st-century resource crisis and traumatic experiences, caused the nation to abandon these principles almost entirely. The fear of communism and economic collapse led to the population willingly complying with the gradual abrogation of civil rights; trading liberty for security.
While collusion between the executive branch and the corporations dominating the economy of the United States affected constitutional freedoms, the transition towards a totalitarian state began in earnest with the Sino-American War. Wartime censorship enabled the government to confiscate and indiscriminately destroy any material deemed seditious.
Many publications became outlets for propaganda, used to mock non-nationalist sentiments and protesters.
Organized labor and unions came under heavy attack from both the government and the corporations. Repression was particularly severe in Appalachia, a strategic region supplying raw materials for the war effort and a crucible of widespread automation. Hornwright Industrial Mining Company, Atomic Mining Services, and RobCo Industries, supported by Appalachia's Governor Evans, pushed for replacing human labor with robotics, leaving thousands of workers out of jobs, fueling widespread social unrest and impoverishing the population, made worse by the Wartime Workers Act. The unrest culminated in the Appalachian mining riots of late 2077, which saw regular combat between workers and government and corporate enforcers.<63> However, even before that explosion, the totalitarian state was abusing and murdering their citizens: The United States Navy facility at Sugar Grove was a fine example of this tendency, engaging in covert surveillance of US citizens, identifying labor activists and other "traitors", which usually led to abduction, murder without trial, and any surviving children being put up for adoption by loyalist families.
Under Executive Order 99066, Chinese and Chinese-American citizens and residents were interned and placed in concentration camps without trial, sometimes by private security contractors hired by the military to conduct what were essentially abductions.<65> The Turtledove Detention Camp in Maryland was one such camp, forcing the inmates to live in squalid conditions without access to proper sanitation facilities and its inmates being subjected to abuse, torture, and brutal interrogations.<66> Eventually, the Order was used as grounds for imprisoning any and all dissidents at the military's discretion. Many ended up disappearing in the various research facilities across the United States, used as guinea pigs in various research projects fueling the war effort.
The declaration of martial law nationwide in 2076 marked the completion of this gradual process; the military had finally been given free rein and total control over the state security apparatus and public affairs. Military units were deployed to quell riots and enforce the quarantine, answering only to their own chain of command.
the annexation of Canada added a large population of disgruntled residents to the United States, victims of nearly a decade-long abuse by American military and its corporations.<35> Protests and rioting did little to stay the iron hand of their new American masters.<36> Martial law instituted in the wake of the annexation earlier in 2076 allowed the U.S. military to shoot protesters and rioters without consequence. Canada was brought to heel, although the atrocities committed in the name of the American people were leaked stateside, leading to unrest and protests despite the best efforts of American propagandists
The government of the United States of the 21st century had strayed far from the principles of governance enshrined within the Constitution of the United States, becoming an oligarchy with the characteristics of a military junta by 2077. Civil rights and liberties were increasingly curtailed in the name of national security and the war effort, until all pretense of a democratic order was dropped in late 2076, in the face of an open revolt by allies, neighbors, soldiers, and civilians. The state of emergency and then martial law granted the military and corporations total control over the country formalizing an existing state of affairs,<43> not unlike the annexation of Canada: When the fact was announced in 2077, it was largely a formality, as United States consistently exploited Canadian resources without regard for Ottawa's opinions since 2069.
The reason the military and civilian government stayed in power was in part due to Project Brainstorm, the "Induced Patriotism Initiative". Pervasive propaganda designed to instill nationalist sentiment and loyalty in the citizenry had been developed as part of the Sino-American War; a combination of overt and subtle messages integrated into popular media published nationwide had been successful in developing jingoism in the population. This provided the military with increased enlistment rates, and thus a continuous source of new soldiers to throw at their Chinese enemies, as well as an increased tolerance for excesses of the state.
the balance of power was still predictably shifted towards the Department of Defense and the military. The legislative and judiciary branches of government were severely hampered in the execution of their constitutional oversight, subordinated to the goals of the executive. A separate federal agency, the Political Office, was set up to handle investigations into internal affairs, much like Soviet commissariats.<69> The agency was empowered to arrest and allocate the interned persons for any purpose it saw fit
were intended to help create legislation broad enough to benefit those states with common regional concerns, but narrow enough not to affect those states with dissimilar interests or political cultures. The reality refused to conform, as the commonwealths did everything to promote their own interests at the expense of other commonwealths
As an increasingly militarist superpower, the United States had given priority to its armed forces, which asserted increasing control over law enforcement and public affairs. Bolstered by a jingoist culture, widespread propaganda, and pervasive domestic espionage efforts through the Defense Intelligence Agency and black projects of the various branches,<77> the military-controlled by the Department of Defense was one of the pillars of the American regime, supported by a network of vigilant citizens reporting suspected sedition and crime.
Private security companies were also contracted to perform arrests and round up civilians, completely blurring the line between the public and private sectors.
Though based on the principles of a free market and open competition, the crisis allowed a handful of mega-corporations to seize control and establish a practical monopoly in key sectors of the American and even world economy. Many of these corporations became so deeply involved and integrated in the nation's infrastructure, that trying to decide where the corporation ended and the state began, became a largely academic discussion. As a result, the corporations effectively acted as sovereign nations unto themselves. Exploitative and abusive labor practices were the norm
Worse yet, as a strategic defense contractor for the government, Vault-Tec's affairs and all related publications (including, for example, the Vault Dweller's Survival Guide) were protected by the New Amended Espionage Act and any whistleblowing attempts would likely hurt the whistleblower more than the corporation.
had a near-monopoly on the energy market in the United States, controlling nuclear power plants, exploitation of remaining oil fields, and even sustainable energy projects, like HELIOS One. It hid its involvement by operation through numerous companies established as fronts to influence and eventually control key industries.
The war with China also allowed smaller companies considered vital to the war effort to cut support for their workers by a considerable margin. Workman's compensation was among many staples of labor law suspended as part of the war effort, denying vital support to laborers injured in the course of their work.<85> The deteriorating economy also made it easier for corporations to take advantage not just of their employees, but also of the general public.
The mildest example of collusion was the ability of corporations to advertise directly to members of Congress and the House of Representatives. Companies from Nuka-Cola to the Red Racer tricycle company were able to purchase advertising airtime on the Presidential metro PA system.
Of course, giving corporations free rein did not alter the harsh reality of an imminent economic collapse.
However, voluntary compliance with government control was not enough. Critical defense contractors were effectively nationalized without compensation, by being put under military command – as was the case with West Tek's Californian facility.
All of this is just from the United States' main wiki page. Nothing from the pages on the US Military or The Resource Wars or The Enclave. Just the main one.
Yeah… Prewar USA was a trash fire in a dumpster fire in a wildfire.
Given the current… militarization and unrest in the US you may have seen some parallels. Again: most of this stuff came from the Fallout Bible back in 2002. It wasn't intended as a commentary on current affairs, it just… depressingly happened to work out that way.
The historical influence goes the other way too of course, taking from the past. The killing of protesters by federal troops at the federal ration stockpile in Massachusetts is likely influenced by The Boston Massacre. The Automation Riots of Appalachia where US troops and private contractors use lethal force against organizing miners are almost certainly influenced by the events of The Coal Wars such as The Battle For Blair Mountain and The Ludlow Massacre. The Third Red Scare was, obviously, influenced by the first two. The US pressuring, sanctioning then annexing of Mexico and Canada are likely influenced by… well, take your pick on that one cause it's a loooong list. The series' Chinese Internment Camps are propagated through Executive Order 9066, which is real and was used for the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II.
In conclusion, it's interesting to see how something presented so brazenly negatively as Prewar USA can still have supporters. Is it leftover goodwill for the real-world USA they're projecting onto the fictional one? Is it an inability to recognize the in-game shallow propaganda as propaganda and just take it at face value? Is it that they buy into the Red Scare and assume anything opposing Communism in inherently good? Is it because they are aware of the atrocities of the Prewar USA and just agree with them? I don't know, but it's fun food for thought.
Further interesting reading from the Fallout Wiki:
- Idea for Fallout Prequel Set in New York.
- Why does the East Coast use bottle caps?
- Potential Reason for North America’s Poor Performance at Worlds
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