Steven Merrill is currently the leader of the Associated Restaurant Workers Union in the territory known as the Northwest Alliance, formerly referred to as the Great Lakes States. The Northwest Alliance is currently the most cohesive, nation-like region in the Federation of Free States, owing mostly to the economic and population dominance of the city of Chicago. Mr. Merrill has been fighting for over ten years now to consolidate the five most powerful labor unions in the Federation into one governmental entity, though he is meeting with stern opposition. We caught up with him on what has been a two-year stint on the road promoting his initiative.
I get a hamburger with no mustard and a side of mayo in every town like this. It reminds me of the day I got elected to the ARW Union. The folks in this little diner in Skokie were so happy that I finally got them a union that they made one for me for free. I paid anyway. I tell that story a lot because it seems like I've got to remind someone wherever I go that I'm not after power and privilege. I know how it looks, another union leader, doing paperwork instead of using his hands, asking everybody to make a government and elect him head of state. Well, how else is it supposed to work? Give the job to a guy who doesn't know the plan inside and out? It'd fall apart.
Who are your opponents, exactly?
Take your pick. The other union bosses are too comfy right now to see the big picture benefit of a government, the militias don't want to answer to anyone and the farmers act like the only law they need is a gun rack. Ask any of them what they think they're gonna do when the oil reserves run out (and they are running out) or when one of the actual nations on the continent start getting pushy about corn or whatever. Make no mistake, things are only so civil right now because nobody wants to rock the boat. The Transition happened less than a century ago. There are still people around who are nostalgic about the United States.
You keep talking about establishing government, but isn't there already a government in place in certain regions?
If you can honestly call what they've got in Denver and Chicago a government, then yeah. Look, I grew up in Chicago, I know how it works there. Everything's Adam John Douglas. A.J. Douglas gets treated like a goddam saint when all he ever did was keep most of the people poor indefinitely. I'll admit, his worker-owned production model was an elegant stopgap for the post-Transition period but it's not a permanent fix. You've been driving around the region. You know what it looks like. Small towns are falling apart, suburbs are getting swallowed up by weeds and there are more abandoned cars on the berm than there are functioning ones on the road. That's a far cry from A.J. Douglas's penthouse in Cicero. I mean, the guy was a consummate politician. He never worked. He studied at Oxford then came home and ran for city counsel. The only reason he didn't ever get elected is because the damn Transition happened.
This is meant with all due respect, Mr. Merrill, but do you actually believe you can make the nation you want or is this a means to a different end?
There is no "different end". Things can only go two ways in this... whatever it is we have here. Either a state gets established or things continue to deteriorate until it's anarchy. We didn't ask for this mess, it just got puked in our laps.