People living in each era of human history have viewed their time as the ultimate phase of society. After all, there is never evidence to the contrary. Behind them is a practically infinite expanse of time reaching back to creation, but the path ahead is always obscured by the heavy fog of uncertainty.
This was of course true of the people occupying the late stages of the Age of Nations. Few sensed that they stood on a great precipice of history. Yet all the same, these men and women would witness a transformation that was in every way as dramatic as the abandonment of tribal life for the first city states and empires.
A few wise sages had put forward theories of the impending collapse of civilization quite sometime before the transformation began in earnest. The works of Thomas Malthus, for example, raised the question of man's ability to cope with the pressures of expanding population and limited resources. Even certain popular entertainment of the time explored the possibility of a much changed human civilization lurking somewhere on the horizon. While these writings and other media each put forth a model of humanity's path forward, only a handful presented the model of the future humanity.
For a time, the great contiguous fiefdoms which were typical of the Age of Nations existing alongside the very micro-nations and transnats that threatened to unseat them. The rise of the global multinational corporation as the single most powerful organizing force in human life was a necessary prerequisite to the formation of true sovereign transnations.
In fact, the first transnation, JDarco, began as a quite humble joint venture between two corporations in the nation known as The United States of America.1 Indeed, the name of the transnat grew out of the name of that original corporation-- Jackson & Dewitt Arcology Corporation. As Jackson & Dewitt grew nationally, and then internationally, it was able to pressure key figures in the reigning national governments to cede increasing power.
The nations grew to fear companies such as JDarco and Unillac. These powerful entities provided sustenance for the citizenry, provided work for idle hands (which could have otherwise been free to revolt) and funded the lavish lifestyles of the ruling class. In the end, the nations were in no position to negotiate.
The pivotal moment came when, in 2113, JDarco demanded the rights of sovereignty-- to make citizens and criminals, to establish and defend a border, to collect taxes and mint coin. The truth is, the nations of the world had given away these powers far before they formalized the arrangement in writing.
A few transnats evolved from multinationals, while others formed from tribal and ethnic groups which had survived the national era unscathed. The growth of worldwide information networks paved the way for another class of transat-- the Free Association. The first ssoces were formed by like-minded people all over the world who were free to connect despite miles of physical separation thanks to global networking technology. These groups were not united by shared geography or common profit motivations, but rather by shared interests and a desire to rebuild basic human connections previously obliterated by the ever grinding march of progress.
It is unknown how The 101 began, or even if they were the first free association. The historical record is far too fluid (and the definition too vague) to pinpoint a single originator. It is clear, however, that The 101 is one of the most successful ssoces. Their stronghold fortresses scattered fortresses dot the North American landscape like a chain of islands standing alone, unconquerable (and sometimes undetectable)in a sea of aggression.
This book is not about history though. It is at its core an anthropological text. It is a survival guide for anyone who must travel the fractured North American continent and interact with its widely various people.
1The U.S.A., as it was commonly known, or simply America, occupied the central North American temperate climate band for the later portion of the national era. Several factions of the former nation's government still exist in the form of a smattering of isolated settlements and a dozen or so major mercenary companies.