The 21st century was supposed to herald the dawn of a new age. The wars, famines and suffering of the last 20 millennia were to become a distant, fading memory, as scientific advances brought global peace and prosperity. Toward the end of the 20th century, a now forgotten US president even went so far as to officially proclaim the arrival of a New World Order, in which right, not might, would govern international relations. This bright future was not to be. First came a meltdown of the international stock and currency exchanges. Then the major international conglomerates were dissolved in a vain attempt to stop the fiscal hemorrhage. By 2012 the world economy had collapsed. Poverty and hunger caused social and political tensions to flare. As the crisis wore on, few were bold or naive enough to predict anything positive for the future. Most realized that the planet was on the verge of global conflict.
In 2048, the anticipated global conflict broke out with a violence that shook the planet to its core. All major centralized governments were destroyed in the maelstrom. Europe and Eastern Asia bore the brunt of the devastation, as entire urban centres, from Madrid to Moscow and from Seoul to Singapore were literally wiped off the map.
The human race has always been known for its resiliency. Within a dozen years, the Earth's inhabitants had begun to restore their old nationalities - with a few twists. Twelve states of the former United States joined together to form a new country, called the United Civilized States. The UCS citizens had essentially given up their old roles as producers and leaders. Nearly all work was being performed by robots which are controlled by expert computer systems. Not surprisingly, the human inhabitants of the UCS had become lazy and decadent.
The 20th-century dream for a better world had ended in death and destruction.