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Even as the Brujah Council’s Soviet experiment was rising to become a world power, a much less structured and refined revolt was taking shape on the opposite side of the globe. Since the turn of the century, Anarchs, autarkis and other outcast Kindred had swelled the population of Southern California to a dangerous, Masquerade-threatening level. The largest metropolis of the region, Los Angeles, was a Camarilla domain that had been ruled by Don Sebastian Juan Dominguez for nearly a century. Don Sebastian’s origins were somewhat mysterious, but he was unquestionably a powerful Kindred — a Toreador of good breeding and relatively potent generation and quick-witted enough to best any immediate challengers to his claim of praxis over Los Angeles. That said, Don Sebastian was strangely ignorant in many facets of Kindred existence and history for someone of such pedigree, and many observers have speculated over the years that he was the fairly recent Embrace of some much more powerful elder who likely ruled behind the scenes as a puppetmaster. If that is the case, this mysterious elder never deigned to reveal himself either during Don Sebastian’s reign or in the decades since.
For his part, Don Sebastian might have had good breeding and powerful blood, but he was otherwise an unspectacular choice for Prince of a city as influential as Los Angeles would become. He was competent at maintaining the Traditions, especially the Masquerade, but usually only after the fact. That is, his council of supporters was quite efficient at managing a Masquerade breach after it had already occurred, but he seemed incapable of heading them off before they became an issue. Worse, he often created Masquerade breaches through his own decadent conduct. He habitually fed in public restaurants, and his legendary Hollywood parties sometimes resulted in terrified starlets being chased down Hollywood Boulevard by a pack of nude vampires baying for their blood. No few Harpies speculated that these unpleasantries happened because some cruel Setite introduced Sebastian to the pleasures of vitae taken from vessels on a cocaine binge. Others believe that he discovered that pleasure on his own.
Even worse for the domain than Sebastian’s lax governance was his generally cruel and despotic nature. Among other character flaws, Don Sebastian was openly contemptuous of practically anyone who wasn’t a pure-blooded Spaniard of noble descent — which, by the 1930's, meant almost everyone around him. He also fancied himself an “artiste of punishment” and seemed to believe that his creative justice levied against those who displeased him represented some sort of artistic endeavor worthy of respect.
It was against this backdrop that Jeremy MacNeil, a 300-year-old Scottish Brujah, arrived in town. A more complicated man than his history would suggest, MacNeil’s defining characteristic was his support for the underdog (or, at least, any person or faction which he had paternalistically identified as “the underdog”). He was not necessarily opposed to the Camarilla, but he did believe that an unspoken Tradition was that the Prince was obligated to maintain some fundamental system of justice for younger Licks who may have been bullied and abused by those who were more powerful. In May of 1943, MacNeil petitioned Don Sebastian for an audience and asked for justice on behalf of a group of black and Hispanic Anarchs who had been assaulted by a coterie of violent Toreador for no reason save racial animosity. What happened next would change the course of Anarch history.
Tales spread by the Anarchs of L.A. say that Don Sebastian mocked MacNeil for his clan, his ancestry, his sect status and his inferior blood before ordering his ghouls to beat MacNeil senseless. All of that is true except for the last part, a lie spread by MacNeil himself to avoid personal embarrassment. In truth, none of Don Sebastian’s ghouls laid a finger on MacNeil. None of them could have possibly hurt the powerful Brujah even if they’d tried. Instead, Don Sebastian used his crushingly powerful Dominate and Majesty to force MacNeil to abase himself for the amusement of the Prince and his courtiers and then to bash his own face against the stone floor until it was a bloody mess. Only then, after MacNeil had nearly beaten himself into torpor, did the Prince’s ghouls drag him from the room of jeering Camarilla vampires and deposit him — naked, beaten, and humiliated — in a dumpster behind an abandoned building only minutes before sunrise. MacNeil had just enough strength pull the lid shut himself and then spend the next day covered in stinking filth.
The next night, MacNeil made his way to the haven of his ally, Salvador Garcia, another Brujah and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, to whom he related only that the Prince had ordered him beaten for challenging the Prince’s authority. While Garcia and others immediately demanded retribution, MacNeil, in a supreme act of willpower, suppressed his Brujah nature and counseled patience. He spread word among the Anarchs that this would be an opportunity for the Primogen to stand up to the Prince and show whether or not the Camarilla was worthy of support. And when, as he predicted, the Primogen backed the Prince (fearful as they were of his power), the majority of L.A.’s Kindred rallied to the Anarch cause. The Anarchs spent months identifying the havens of the Primogen members and of other prominent Kindred known to still support the Prince. When the time was right, the Anarchs deliberately provoked several riots among the mortal population, in some cases by firing up mortal allies in the nascent civil rights movement and in others by staging incidents intended cause police crackdowns on those very same civil rights protesters. The Anarchs used these riots as cover for targeted assaults against the Prince and all of his allies in the city. Salvador Garcia himself slew the Prince after a heated battle — or so Garcia would claim, though some found inconsistencies in his account. Most of the city’s other elders either died or fled, and within a week, the Anarchs, almost miraculously, had claimed praxis over a major city of their own.
The Birth of the Anarch Free StatesEdit
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Anarch Revolt of 1943 is not the fact that it happened or even that it succeeded, but rather that it continued. None of the Princes with domains near L.A. were particularly surprised that Don Sebastian would finally go too far and pay the ultimate price, but neither were any of them prepared when the Anarchs in their own cities rose up, without regard to how lenient or harsh the Prince had been in the past. With astounding speed, every Anarch on the West Coast seemed to know the story of Jeremy MacNeil’s cruel mistreatment at the hands of the tyrant Don Sebastian. Everyone seemed to know about the heroism of dashing Salvador. Everyone seemed to know that a Camarilla Prince could be brought down. And everywhere, Anarchs seemed bent on repeating the feat. Within a year, revolts had broken out in every Camarilla city on the West Coast, and within two years, every city from San Diego to San Jose had fallen to the Anarchs. Only the Prince of San Francisco was strong enough and, more importantly as it turned out, well-liked enough by his own subjects to hold the Anarch surge at bay.
Having taken the Revolt as far as they could, MacNeil and his allies ceased their expansion and took time to regroup and retrench in anticipation of an overwhelming Camarilla response that never came. At the time, Europe was a shambles. The Ventrue Princes of London, Berlin, Rome, and Marseilles were all missing. The Soviet Army had extended the influence of the Russian Brujah as far west as Berlin. The Camarilla was desperate to conceal the horrific Masquerade breaches that Kindred affiliated with the Third Reich had committed in Nazi concentration camps. Compared to all that, the loss of a few cities on the American West Coast was a minor embarrassment to be addressed later. Only the Nosferatu Justicar Petrodon considered the California Revolts to be a pressing concern, and he was outvoted by his peers. To the amazement of MacNeil and his Anarchs, it would be nearly two decades before the Camarilla would make a serious attempt to “realign” the Free States. It was time the Anarchs would spend well.
MacNeil’s first act was to emphatically state that under no circumstances would he become the new Prince. Instead, he summoned the most prominent Anarchs of the city to form an ad hoc Revolutionary Council that quickly established mechanisms for preserving the Masquerade and also made plans to defend L.A. against possible counter-revolution (whether by the Camarilla or the Sabbat). MacNeil also put forth a declaration of principles called the Status Perfectus, while his ally, Salvador Garcia, published the Anarch Manifesto, a semi-autobiographical pamphlet describing the history and goals of the Anarch Movement and the California Free States against the backdrop of his own personal history as a Spanish partisan. The Manifesto soon spread across the West Coast and later around the world, inspiring a new generation of earnest young Kindred revolutionaries.
Then, having achieved its immediate goals, the Revolutionary Council dissolved itself and left the Kindred of Los Angeles to rule themselves according to the principles of anarcho-mutualist theory. It went about as well as anyone with a basic understanding of Kindred nature might have expected. Within 10 years, the Anarchs of L.A. had degenerated into warring street gangs, and a disappointed MacNeil finally summoned the leaders of the various factions to establish formal Barony lines, lest inter-gang conflict leave the Free States completely vulnerable to counter-revolution. He succeeded to an extent. The Free States were able to repel a full-blown Sabbat crusade in 1965, as well as several other smaller incursions over the years. But as soon as each crisis abated, the Anarchs returned to petty squabbling and violent gang warfare, much to MacNeil’s disappointment.
Modern Nights (1989-Present)Edit
Many elder Kindred were astonished at the speed with which the world changed (both socially and technologically) throughout the 20th century, but it was nothing compared to the tidal wave of change leading up to the 21st. The 1990's were marked by three global phenomena that would have seismic impacts on both Kindred and kine: the collapse of communism as a socio-political force, the emergence of the modern anti-terrorist police state in First World countries, and, most importantly of all, the emergence of the Internet as the dominant communications medium of the era. The mortal population certainly felt the effects of these events more acutely than the Kindred, but the resulting evolution in mortal attitudes and technology has left Kindred society struggling to adapt to the changes imposed on their feeding habits, their management of the Masquerade, and (most importantly for the Anarchs) their ability to suppress dissent inside and across domains.
The fall of communism was initially viewed as an unalloyed good in Western mortal society, and the democratization of the Eastern Bloc seemed to demonstrate a triumph of Western values. But the removal of communism as an alternative to capitalism has, in the view of many, unleashed the worst impulses of the latter system. Of course, exploding income inequality was hardly a problem as far as the Camarilla was concerned. Increased poverty among mortals often made it easier both to feed and preserve the Masquerade, while laissez faire capitalism improved the financial fortunes that formed the basis of most elders’ social power and status. The Anarch Movement, however, often presupposes a closer relationship between Kindred and kine than the Camarilla: the very nature of Anarch culture typically engenders self-identification with the downtrodden mortals of the proletariat. Anarch cells in Third World domains often recruit from disaffected mortals who struggle to survive under the yoke of capitalism, and as a result, many Anarchs continue to have socialist leanings even as they become insulated from the effects of mortal economic systems.
For the Free State Anarchs, this socialist-anarchist impulse saw its ultimate expression in December of 1999, when thousands of mortal protesters rioted in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization during its annual ministerial conference. Anarchs across the Pacific Northwest used the protests as cover for an attempted coup against the Camarilla Prince. Although the coup was ultimately unsuccessful, several important Camarilla vampires were slain and the Prince only narrowly escaped assassination. The riots themselves caused millions of dollars in property damage, but police abuses nevertheless engendered sympathy for the rioters among political factions opposed to globalization as well as individuals offended by the mere existence of international organization like the WTO. Anarchs across the world cheered the “success” of the Seattle riots and laid plans of their own to use anti-globalization animus against less egalitarian domains. Then, less than two years later, an act of terrorism perpetrated by kine against kine would render all those plans obsolete.
1944 - December 21: The Second Anarch Revolt begins. Salvador Garcia raids Prince Don Sebastian Juan Dominguez's ranch, but when he arrives, the Don is already dead. Only one Malkavian remains, speaking of a golden-haired demon. Only Jeremy MacNeil, Salvador Garcia, and the unnamed Malkavian know the true story. The rest of Kindred society believes that Garcia defeated Don Sebastian in one-on-one combat, and this becomes a popular tale of valor for the Anarchs.