A Close Call - Book 2: a Try for Utopia
As far as Doug knew, there were two ways to fight smallpox, and they both involved vaccination. Right now, his main hope was to find a case of cowpox and use a vaccine made from those pustules. The potential death rate from this source of vaccine was too small to worry about, though the possibility did exist. If he could not find a case of cowpox in a reasonable length of time, he would have to use the pustule scabs from a human with small pox as his source of vaccine. There was a much higher chance of death from this type of vaccine, but still much lower than the chance with no vaccination.
He could safely travel up and down the coast of China until he found a suitable cow since he, personally, was immune to the disease. The first thing he had to do was to discover the Chinese word for cowpox, then he could start asking everybody he met about a potential source.
He finally found somebody who spoke the Korean trade language he had learned and got the word he was looking for with a lot of work and pure stubbornness. With this word at his disposal, he spent nearly eight months searching for a cow before he finally found one. It cost him three fire starters to get the cow, but he left to meet the rest of his expedition with a feeling of relief and triumph. At least, small pox was not going to play havoc with the people he felt responsible for!
Once he found his people, who had almost given up hope of ever seeing Doug again, it only took a few weeks to have everybody vaccinated and the pots boiling to prepare more vaccine. Doug planned to cut short the expedition and head home, stopping along the way to vaccinate his people and everybody else around them against small pox.
As soon as he got home, he supervised the vaccination of every person in San Diego, and then worked east. Meanwhile, he sent a ship to India to collect as many cattle as they could find and bring them back to be the source of more vaccine. Of course, everybody on board was vaccinated before the ship left port. Furthermore, the people making the trading runs anywhere away from the coast of Doug's World were being vaccinated as fast as they could be rounded up.
When he got back from Asia, Doug found that the people had just not taken to his choice of West for the name of their hemisphere. Instead, everybody was calling it Doug's World, so he decided not to fight it, besides, he was highly flattered!
The production of vaccine was well under way, so Doug was free to return to Doug's Town, which he had come to consider his "home town." He was in a hurry to be reunited with his wives, so he commandeered a small jet and left in a hurry for home. His current chief wife, Darling, met him at the airport. She had ordered the other wives to wait at their home while she met Doug. Darling was always horny, but she rarely had a chance to entertain Doug alone, so she took advantage of her rank on this rare occasion. Doug's over 500 years of sexual experience made him, literally, the world's best lover, and Darling didn't want to miss her chance for something special.
They spent the night at a guest house at the airport and went to their home the next day where Doug greeted Honey, Sweetness, and Sugar as he came in the door. Doug couldn't remember when the practice started, but these had become the traditional names for his wives, and each one adopted the available name as she joined the family. Doug flatly refused to have more than four wives at one time, claiming that he could never satisfy a greater number. By tradition, no other man had more than three wives, though there were a few women with more than four husbands, but that didn't count. In Doug's World, people were free to do what they wanted, as long as nobody was harmed.
It took five years, but eventually everybody that could be found was vaccinated against small pox, and Doug breathed a sigh of relief. He had to admit that being an absolute ruler sometimes had its advantages. Actually, he was an absolute ruler because everybody wanted him to be. He was trusted to know what to do in emergencies and, so far, had always been right. The situation might quickly change if he was ever stupendously wrong.
The other disease that scared Doug was measles. It had a 30% death rate among undeveloped countries back in Doug's 21st century, though, good nutrition and hygiene kept that number to much less than 1% in developed countries. He had no hope of preparing a vaccine against measles currently, but he could fight it by pushing his people into eating properly and using good sanitation. There simply was nothing else that he could do at this time!
He already had a fledgling Public Health Service under development, but they had a long way to go to be able to fight major epidemics. The best that the health service could do was to educate the people in the fundamentals of good nutrition and good sanitation. They had sent out troupes of actors to put on plays which emphasized the advantages of the principles they were trying to teach. Fortunately, they did not have to face a sophisticated audience, so the little plays they put on were at about the level that would have been used for kindergarten children in the 21st century. The adults were no more familiar with stage presentations than were their children, so all could laugh and learn together. A puppet show along the lines of Punch and Judy was especially popular in promoting sanitation. A favorite punch line was when Judy dumped a full chamber pot on Punch's head.
Vaccinations were also promoted by these little plays. The children were instrumental in nagging their parents into conforming with the teachings of the plays; it was surprising how effective this sort of education was in influencing the actions of the adults. Many went along with the demands of the children just to shut them up.
Good nutrition was a little harder to sell, since there were such differences in the diet from the sea shore to the plains to the mountains. The dialog had to be tailored to fit the food the locals had to choose from. Doug was trying to get some semblance of dietary supplements, such as fish oil, made available to the interior of the continents, and vitamins distributed everywhere. He was currently pushing for a liver extract to provide vitamin A to prevent pellagra, and he hoped the fish oil would provide enough vitamin D to fight rickets. Both diseases were a problem for his people.
It had now been 1,000 years since Doug had come on the scene. Doug's World was a thriving society of nearly 300 million people with railroads and paved highways from ocean to ocean and ice in the north to ice in the south. Doug had tried to push the people toward a kind of benign capitalism, but they had turned toward socialism instead. Doug constantly had to fight the attitude of "If Doug hasn't ordered it, it's probably not worth doing." The result was that Doug was constantly nagged by the need to micromanage, and it was driving him nuts. He needed to find a rebel who could be subtilely pushed to go his own way without abusing others.
Doug's World was trading with people everywhere that they could reach. This really meant people who lived along ocean coasts and large rivers. The Black Sea flood had occurred recently and now the Danube had made possible access to Central Europe. None of the Eastern Hemisphere had the infrastructure necessary for easy trade with the interior, and Doug was caught on the horns of a dilemma. He was reluctant to order that roads or railroads be built, because he could see that as reinforcing his autocratic rule. On the other hand, he hated to see so many people go without the advantages of a modern society because easy trade was denied them.
Finally, a breakthrough! A man in India named Many Thoughts made himself known. He started what accidentally amounted to a new religion of free thought and self expression. Many Thoughts was an artist—his paintings could stir the emotions of a boulder, and he used his paintings to express his ideas. His teachings spread like wildfire throughout India and the surrounding country. At first, there was resistance when his ideas encountered the innate conservatism of China, but even that was overcome within 10 years.
The Indians traded for what they needed to start putting down paved roads and railroad tracks running all over the country. The roads and railroads were privately owned and went anywhere there was a profit to be made. Soon, India was synonymous with progress. Unfortunately, profit and progress to some people meant taking what somebody else already had.
There was no central government of India, each village, town, and city ran itself as it saw fit, so the marauders were free to roam wherever they liked, killing, raping, and stealing anything and everything which struck their fancy. Slavery became fashionable, especially sex slaves. Doug had hoped that the Indians could solve the problem by themselves, but it looked like that was a forlorn hope. Trading enclaves from Doug's World reported the growing turmoil and asked for help.
At first, Doug was reluctant to go in and straighten things out, but it looked like it was going to be necessary. He started out by sending 20 Zeppelins and 1,000 soldiers to protect the trading enclaves, but nearby communities begged for help almost as soon as word spread of their arrival. Many Thoughts, now an old man, journeyed to Doug for a personal visit, where he begged Doug to intervene to help the peaceful Indians fight off the troublemakers. The arguments were compelling, so Doug relented and agreed to send in a "peace keeping" force to stop the pillaging.
Unfortunately, many Indians who had not formerly supported the raiders sincerely resented the appearance of the foreign troops and began to resist their presence. Doug's immediate thought was, "Dammit, do I have another Viet Nam on my hands?" Nevertheless, Doug felt that he was now committed to pacifying the situation, so he sent in more and more troops and Zeppelins.
The troops were equipped with the best weapons Doug's World had to offer. The soldiers used their version of the AK-47 and the Zeppelins were armed with napalm and rockets, as well as machine guns and cannon. The fighters carried by each Zeppelin were equipped to provide close air support for the ground troops. The result was less a war than an extermination! It did not take more than six months for the army of Doug's World to eliminate all organized resistance, even though guerrillas remained all over India.
As soon as Doug's Army tried to withdraw, fighting erupted as the remaining marauders tried to regain their former control of the country. Doug saw that he was rapidly creating his own version of the 18th and 19th century British Empire. That was among the last things he wanted to do, but he seemed to be doomed to repeat that near calamity.
This time, Doug journeyed to meet with Many Thoughts at his home. Doug hoped to use this as a symbolic gesture to show that he had no intention of ruling India, but hoped to leave that to the Indians. There were several long meetings with Many Thoughts which resulted in an agreement that Doug's World would provide a police force while the Indians would provide a government.
During their last meeting, Many Thoughts said, "Doug, you must know that you will be forced to do for the rest of the world what you have done here in India. There will always be people who want to take advantage of others. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you start now to organize a police force that you can send to any place in the world to keep order. Furthermore, I suggest that you send in this police force before the situation gets out of hand."
"But what about the danger of forming an Empire where I would be the sole ruler?"
"I don't see that as being so bad. Sure, it would mean a lot of work for you, but you already have a functioning bureaucracy in Doug's World. All you need do is enlarge that, using the same model, and you can rule the world with a benevolent autocracy. I assure you, though it would mean a lot of work for you, the rest of the world would be a much happier place as a result."
"I'll think about it, but, I must say that I am reluctant to do it. However, you may be right. If the people of the world would be happier with that kind of government, I guess that I will just have to go along. The problem is, I need more advisors like you. I worry that I will simply start ordering people around without enough regard for their happiness and best interest."
"That's what I expected to hear from you. Why not create a small committee to search the world for advisors for you. A group of 10 to 20 people, and make sure that they are not all men, would never agree, but the majority could be expected to be in the right most of the time. You would just have to use your own judgment and experience to know when to go against their advice."
"I'm sure that you are right, Many Thoughts, but I just hate to be a ruler."
"That's what will make you a great ruler. Only the person who doesn't want the job should be the one to tell someone else what to do. Of course, that's not literally true, but it expresses the principle of what I am trying to say. You can see here what happens when anarchy is allowed to reign supreme."
Doug left one of the new scrambled-voice radios with Many Thoughts so that they could carry on private conversations without having to meet personally. This was needed because Many Thoughts was getting too old and feeble to do much traveling, and Doug had so many demands on his time that it was getting impossible for him to break away to visit anybody, except in emergencies.
China and western Europe soon showed the same kind of problems that were faced by India. Doug didn't want to drain his resources too far, but he had to do something. Doug decided to start recruiting "policemen" from all over the world. Hopefully, he could recruit enough people to make a truly intercultural police force that no one would see as a "foreign invader," but would accept in the spirit that they were sent.
There was a man from the jungles of what had become Guatemala in Doug's time line who was highly recommended as being a good organizer and a great general. Six Eyes, so called because he seemed to know what was going on all around him, was asked to come to Doug's Town to meet with Doug about taking on a newly created job.
Six Eyes was shocked to be picked out by the Supreme Leader of Doug's World to be called to a personal visit. Six Eyes' wife was also invited, so there was a short delay while she prepared for the trip. Doug smiled when he heard of the delay, since he was overly familiar with the problems of traveling with women.
Finally, Six Eyes and his wife, Beautiful Lips, boarded the specially dispatched Zeppelin and arrived at Doug's Town with due pomp and ceremony. Beautiful Lips was nearly overcome with the honor bestowed on her and her husband, but Six Eyes was somewhat apprehensive as to what he was getting into. The couple was put up in what was called The Bedroom. Only Doug knew the reason for that name: it was the bedroom used by him and his first wives after they moved to the Doug's Town cavern. Beautiful Lips almost fainted when she heard of the honor afforded to them by their accommodations.
The day after their arrival, Six Eyes met with Doug and was told what Doug had in mind for him to do. Six Eyes was flabbergasted! He was being asked to command an intercultural army. He would be responsible for recruiting and training, as well as for its performance in the field. That was an overwhelming responsibility; his wife would truly faint when she got the word! Of course he accepted the appointment, only a fool would turn down such an opportunity!
Temporarily, he would be stationed in Doug's Town until he found a permanent headquarters for his army. Beautiful Lips was not the shallow person she first appeared, and she was able to give him some good advice on appointments to his staff, based on what she had heard from the conversations of the women. She made it easy to pick out those men who would be devoted to their duty, but not so wedded to it that they could not see the times when common sense should prevail.
Six Eyes had his staff organized within two months, and they were diligently searching for a headquarters base and training ground. Communication was not a problem with the highly developed infrastructure enjoyed by Doug's World, so they were able to locate in an area of the Argentine pampas, near enough to several towns so that the social life of the soldiers dependents would not suffer. Six Eyes was quite happy with the progress, so far. And so was his wife!