|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Monday, May 10, 2004
Molvania is one of those little-known places about which we all have too much information. Even the most casual browser of the international and medical pages of the broadsheet newspapers is aware of its key position as a mutation site for new influenza strains heading west from China. Microsoft users are wearily familiar with the ingenuity of Molvania's computer virus designers. As a staging post in a major smuggling route for heroin, cigarettes, and bonded labourers, Molvania is familiar even to the readers of The Sun. Molvania's political transition has featured in Channel 4 documentaries and long flame-wars on soc.history.what-if.
The country has moved slowly and painfully from a grotesque parody of socialism to a no less offensive caricature of free market capitalism. Its first and so far only free elections have seen a rigid one-party (formally, a two-party) state replaced by a democratic coalition of National Conservative, Progressive Liberal and Religious Obscurantist parties, all of whose leaders are united by their Communist past and divided by business interests and clan feuds. The parliamentary opposition consists of the Social Democrats-Democratic Socialists (Reformed) and the Agrarian Unity Party. The AUP, ironically, is the only party which is not ex-Communist and which was legal - indeed, part of the governing Popular Patriotic Front - throughout the Communist period. Its origins are in the electoral wing of the inter-war nationalist and militarist movement, the Steel Toecaps, which was spared the taint of collaboration with the Axis puppet government by qualms about its 'extreme racism' and 'excessive violence' privately expressed by local units of the SS, and which joined the Anti-Fascist Committee of National Salvation hours before Soviet troops liberated the capital. Extra-parliamentary opposition is confined to small, under-heated cells and to clandestine branches of the Democratic Socialists (Unreformed) who retain a certain base of support among cement workers and (in an older age bracket) the White Lung (Silicosis) Compensation Campaign.
Unemployment remains high, following the loss of major export markets and the collapse of the agro-industrial complex that supplied axle grease and margarine in differently labelled tins to the Soviet Army. Molvania's five brands of cigarette - Patriot, Peasant, Partisan, Proletarian and Partinost - once as popular as they were indistinguishable in all the barracks of the Warsaw Pact, have lost market share to ex-GI Marlboros and Camels illegally imported from Vietnam. The exchange rate of its currency, the khunta, is shown on hourly updated boards of intermittently flashing red lights in the major cities. Visitors should be aware that at other times these figures show the date (in the Gregorian calender, adopted as a concession to the Religious Obscurantist party) or the background radiation in millicuries.
Health services, once spartan but adequate, are now supplied by Christian Aid, Medicins Sans Frontieres, and (for Moldavia's often overlooked Muslim population) the Bin Laden Mercy Fund and Cross-Border Community Bank.
All of the above, of course, is merely what I know off the top of my head, and is perhaps a little impressionistic and dated. More recent and reliable information about Molvania, this forgotten aphid in the rose garden of post-post-capitalism, is available here.