Life in the Jungle, II (GiTO)

There are two jungles in most of the Fed. One where people have self-organized effectively, one where they (for various reasons) have not. The level of self-organization is strongly correlated with how prosperous and secure the neighborhood is.

In the majority of areas, gangs roam freely, battling at will. There is not even a semblance of order or government. These areas are no-go zones, very nearly part of the wild. They are slowly dying.

Other zones are ruled by criminals or bandit gangs, de facto dictators or warlords who make a living through terrorizing those around them, raping and murdering to maintain their power. These places are dog-eat-dog, and people have only what they themselves provide. People here live a subsistence lifestyle, barely surviving, living day to day and hand to mouth. Vigilante gangs rule some areas, but the line between vigilantes and criminals is very thin, and there is no significant difference in prosperity (though much less crime — vigilante gangs are far less likely to engage in looting, murder, or rape, so long as their “fees” are paid).

The best-off areas have organized into neighborhood alliances, as a floor, a building, or several blocks, providing for themselves what the Fed cannot. In these areas, there are neighborhood schools, food co-ops, service alliances (to supply necessaries like water and power), even job boards. The skilled work for barter, trade with other alliances, or for black market currencies. Some areas are wealthy enough to contract with private service companies for security (private police forces), water, power, and so forth. These areas are typically referred to as “settlements”, and are usually considered part of the Outlaw.

In all cases, life is hard and short. Epidemics and famine are common. Material security is unknown, and physical security is unknown. Conflicts between neighborhoods (low-intensity, disorganized wars of raid and reprisal) are routine.

As has held for most of human history, jungle dwellers live in perpetual fear of war or banditry. It is a measure of how fearsome people find the Outlaw, that they are willing to live in such poverty rather than take their chances with the dangers there.

These fears are exaggerated, and as a matter of deliberate policy. Life in the Outlaw is not as bad as jungle dwellers are told, but Fed officials spread the tales anyway. They find the jungles a useful safety valve and threat — exile to the jungles is the worst punishment enclave residents can imagine, and in the face of this threat, they toe the line.

Life in the enclaves is, of course, very different. Enclave residency is the carrot, the reward for political sycophancy.

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