The history of the Second Dark age is well presented, in a fairly uniform fashion, around the world. The Lights went out, except for a few precious jewel cities, with great towering arcologies. These megastructures, built in the last days of the Petroleum Era would serve as the cradles protecting the greatness of human technology and science. Men and women would spend almost a century working from these great structures trying to find a way to bring the Lights back and end the suffering that was the Second Dark Age. Outside of the towers and the cities that defended them there was little but lawlessness and banditry. Some more radical historians have adopted the theory of Arcopolarity, in that the arcologies and the communities around them did not cause the Second Renaissance, but rather were territorial fortresses that supported and enforced sustained social conflict between arco dwellers and non-arco dwellers.
It's a hot topic issue in the historical community, and one that has repercussions beyond textbook histories and classroom lessons. The theory holds that the existence of the arcologies created a protracted social conflict by creating a fostering a threatened cultural group, IE the arco dwellers. The arco dweller was the last bastion of humanity, as they were told or held themselves up as. This downplays greatly the work of all scientists and engineers who worked in labs outside of arco cities, and makes the population living outside of the arcological city the innate enemy of the arco dweller. During the Second Dark age, particularly in North America, Europe, and China there were actual problems of militarized banditry and resurgences of neo-feudalism. But the examples of these events are presented greatly out of proportion to the size of their actual impact. If one listens to the stories of the armored trucks fighting their way through the Appalachian passes, one would be more reminded of a WWII bomber raid on industrial Germany when the truth was that the majority of trucks never saw the first bandit. When one truck or a convoy was stopped, a rare occurrence, the story was sensationalized and quickly ballooned out of proportion.
One of the things that prolonged the Second Dark Age was that many arcologies around the world adopted a similar solution to deal with a common problem. With space being a top commodity, arcologies seldom if ever had any sort of long term detention facilities for law breakers. The Law itself became something make of gold and ivory, sacrosanct. Breaking the law wasn't just breaking the law, it was taboo, it was a crime against the populace, against the arcological society, and against the hope of the future. This meant that there were three general approaches to dealing with criminals: economic fines and servitude, exile, and execution. Most minor offenders could expect to be fined, or have their living quarters reduced, moved to a lower level and placed under surveillance. Moderate cases could see themselves added to public works crews, such as doing unsavory work cleaning sewer lines or working in waste reclamation facilities. If a crime was deemed greater than this, the offender would be chip-marked and exiled from the arcology, and usually from the city. If it was deemed a terrible offense, the criminal would be executed.
This created a fringe around the cities of criminals, anarchists, disenfranchised people, and others who had a vested interest in revenge against the arco dwellers who exiled them from their suddenly soft and easy lives on the inside. While a few found freedom in the open, many did actually revert to joining gangs and other destructive, cultural or social organizations. Some include the infamous Foot Gang in the New York Arcoplex, the Oakland Raiders Tribe, and the Neo-Aztecs outside of Mexico City.
Us Versus Them
The growth of fringe elements simply reinforced the belief that the arcologies and arco-cities were besieged by barbarians. These populations generally grew at a slow rate, as attrition due to disease and violence was rather high. Supplies were scarce, and the hostility between arco dwellers and the fringe meant that little charity flowed from the have to the have not. Banditry and raiding did indeed exist, but the massive arcology and it's trained cadre of security personnel and attached military defenders were seldom the target. Lightly armed, unarmored bandits had little interest in facing the heavily armed and often vehicle using defenders. Instead, the favored targets of these raiders were the communities that existed outside of the lights of the Arcologies.
The Pontiac Raid of 112 BCE marked the quintessential arco versus fringe violent encounter. The Great Lakes Republic had suffered several hard winters and mild summers in a row creating a condition of food scarcity across the region. The arcology reached out to farming and agricultural communities, and used them to support it's population. This cut the supply of food in the region, and sent free market food prices soaring. The winter of 112 BCE saw dozens of attacks against food shipments as well as raids against the farming communities that were sending their products to Pontiac instead of local markets. The raids culminated in a pitched battle being fought within sight of the Pontiac arcology. Raiders and hostiles attacked the city with automatic rifles and RPGs in an attempt to seize food stuffs. Rioting and looting quickly followed, as the shortages had affected city dwellers alike. The Pontiac Massacre had these 'insurgents' counter attacked by soldiers fielding new power armor hard suits and several combat mecha. It was a victory for the arco soldiers and one of the events that solidified the militarism of the Great Lakes Republic.
The Second Dark age was a time of hardship, and the largest population contraction since the Black Plague. It is argued that the militarism espoused by the arcologies was not present in non-arcological communities, and those areas lacking arcos in any number were actually either free of banditry or it was a marginal issue. Lacking the megastructures, there was not so massive a defining difference creating an us and a them.
Had the arcologies not been built in the Petroleum Age, the inevitable Second Dark Age might have been half as long as it was. Rather than protecting and promoting technology and human achievement, the arcologies sequestered these treasures for themselves. It would make sense, as the buildings were not raised for the purpose of preserving knowledge, but were rather built by the materialism and greed of the Petroleum Age. It was planned that the buildings would be impregnable fortresses to protect the elite while the commoner and peasant suffered. And that plan worked, the arcologies protected their inhabitants, removed them from the common concern of mankind. Few of the hardships that caused the population contraction reached the tower dwellers. Once the technology of the Second Renaissance was forged what happened? Thirty years of war between the nascent city states.
Early Second Renaissance
The early portion of the Second Renaissance in the history books is a lesson in names and dates, such as when Dr. Kearney successfully started the first Dimensional Engine, or Dr. Fuchida's team sharing the plans for the toroidal continuous fusion reactor. It overlooks the brushfire wars that flared up as the lights started coming back on. In North America and Europe there was markedly more fighting than in other parts of the world. Low level wars had been going on for most of that time, but these were often local, ethnic, or cultural wars fought out between small groups of men and women armed with rifles and a few support weapons.
The Ohio War
The Ohio War was fought between the Commonwealth of New England and the Great Lakes Republic and the prize was the territory of Ohio and Lake Erie. The Commonwealth fielded a greater number of troops, but the GLR put battlemechs into the field. The war lasted two years and ended with the GLR claiming Ohio and territories down to Appalachia as well as taking the former Canadian city of Toronto. The Treaty of Newark OH ended the war, as the Commonwealth prepared to defend the Pittsburg industrial arcoplex with nuclear weapons in the face of the GLR increasingly potent mech forces.
The Mississippi River War
The Republic of Texas and the Confederation of Southern States at first seemed like they were going to get along, sharing a cultural heritage but this quickly evaporated as contention grew over access to the Mississippi River. Both states wanted the river as theirs, and it is rumored that GLR agents in St. Louis aggravated the hostilities. The war lasted three years and ended in a bloody stalemate. The Texans won most of the land battles, but the Confederate Navy destroyed almost the entire Texas navy, aside from a few damaged ships that fled to neutral harbors in the Caribbean. A peace treaty was signed in the burned out wreckage of Vicksburg Mississippi. The Republic of Texas claimed all land up to the banks of the Mississippi river, while the Confederacy did the same to the opposite bank. The Confederacy gained the city of New Orleans, but lost the raft city of New NuOrleans and paid reparations to Texas for the near complete destruction of it's navy.
The treaty of Vicksburg was negotiated and signed by the President General of the Great Lakes Republic and also set the borders between the Great Lakes, Texas, and the Confederacy. This effectively ended almost a century of skirmishes across the American Great Plains between Texas and the GLR.
The Federation War
Not officially recognized by the Atlantic Federation, the Federation War is the name given by outsiders and conquered peoples to the rapid military expansion and consolidation of power that created the Atlantic Federation. Once the four powers of the Commonwealth of New England, the Great Lakes Republic, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederation of Southern States decided to stop fighting each other, they decided to fight everyone else. The first conquest was a political one, the Annexation of Canada, and creation of two Canadian states: Quebec and Ontario (or East and West Canada). Canada had remained relatively peaceful and had very few arcologies and no real history of raider violence. The Caribbean League organized to resist the nascent Federation, and was defeated. Mexico, a state in name only was taken piecemeal and added to the Federation warchest. The march south was only stopped in Panama by the formation of the United States of South America and their diplomatic envoys. The western European nations joined the Federation, and used the combined might of the new fleets and armies to solidify their own borders. This was important as arcano and hypertech had not spread through the Eurasian Alliance lands yet and there were riots, financial melt downs and human migration events occurring. The arcopolarity mindset didn't offer to share their technology, but instead decided to protect it, with giant robots and men in power armor suits and rail guns.
A History of Violence
If the American states had not spent over a generation fighting, the Second Renaissance would have been in full swing some argue 40 to 50 years sooner than it spread. The same is held for European powers who pioneered arcanotech parallel to hypertech. The history above is predominantly centered in North America, but similar scenarios played out in Europe (remembrances of Charlemagne, and the brief resurgence of the Russian Tsarists) and in China. The only modern state that didn't see some sort of brushfire internal war was Japan/Nippon, but that country, isolated by water, dealt with it's own repeated financial and economic boom and suicide cycle.
The arcology is in modern terms painted out as a utopian ideal, the blending of architecture and ecology, responsible living and a green footprint. In literature, it is either painted as the ivory tower, or a dystopian prison. In the Cosmic Era it was a hold out from the Petroleum Era, built in the same sense as the defensive castle. Those inside were safe and removed from those outside. Those who lived in the cities that clustered around the arcologies could benefit from the technology and discipline of the arcology, and provided a buffer between the arco and the fringe. While seen in rosy colored historical glasses, the arco created both the culture of militarism and advertising that permeates the Atlantic Federation.
Additional Ideas (1)
Like arcopolarity, there is metropolarity. The sense of civic pride has created large distinct populations that are attached to cities, neighborhoods, and areas. These share a common civic and cultural heritage and in many instances have become internally organized (a legacy of the dark age) and have provided their own services, such as hiring private police operations, or having a citizen supported Civic Guard service. The most notable examples are the former street gangs in cities like Los Angeles and New York creating their own communities. There are broad swaths of the City of Angels that are controlled by former street gangs that now elect officials, train police officers and provide other civic duties and services.
These organizations are grown from the ground up, are insular in nature, and are wary of outsiders. Sandwiched between the fringe and the arcology, sometimes these groups can be more hostile, feeling more threatened than their neighbors.
The police and law enforcement agents in the city of Compton are noted for their vivid blue uniforms and the consistent use of gothic lettering in their vehicles and building names. The officers are well respected in the community, are predominantly black, and where most police officers carry a riot stick or baton, the Compton Private Security carry a walking cane.