Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Ephraim Ben Raphael, May 19, 2011.
What became of Charles Manson and Andrei Chikatilo in this world?
I'm confused. How much of this is propaganda claims vs accurate historical record? The claim appears to be that AI algorithms capable of manipulating human behavior got good enough to effectively rig any election because their success rate for basilisk hacking/convincing was over fifty percent of everyone they tried it on. So basically a world where these conspiratorial nutjobs were either proven factually correct or they successfully overthrew the government and justified it by claiming that.
Charles Manson became a rock star whose music was loved all across the world. He would soon be mourned by millions after his death at the hands of Mark David Chapman. Chikatilo became a prominent aerospace engineer and is known as the father of Project Cosmodrome. Today, the Cosmodrome is considered the greatest Soviet contribution during the second Space Race.
I wonder if Manson's music is sampled by death grips ITTL
This is based on @Thanksforallthefish's ideas on green governments. Many thanks to him for his feedback.
Mother Earth Army
The former Soviet republic of Ukraine is still an international exclusion zone. I had to get permission from the United Nations, the European Community, and the national governments of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Russia to enter. I was given a dosimeter to clip onto my suit jacket; if it turned red, my time is up and I had to leave the zone immediately. Yet, after I crossed the checkpoint – one of the few legitimate entryways into the exclusion zone – what I found on the other side was stunning. People still lived in the Zone. I knew that not everyone could be, or wanted to be, evacuated, but given the precautions I and my compatriots had to go through, to see men and women protected by nothing but the clothes on their backs was stunning.
Heavy restrictions on international trade forced them to rely on technology their medieval predecessors would have been familiar with. Old Soviet equipment was still in use, although for different purposes; I saw more than a few truck beds hauled by oxen. The convoy carrying me passed through villages, attracting throngs of children, doubtless excited to see the rare sight of petroleum-powered vehicles. The old men and women continued on with their work; they remembered when convoys passed through these same roads for days on end during those hectic weeks in 1986. The only time we stopped was when a cow blocked the street, and two UN peacekeepers had to climb out of their lead-shielded personnel carrier and help the hapless farmer push the cow aside. I was told, repeatedly, that every hour I spent here took approximately two weeks off my life, so delays like this were stressful.
My convoy then passed through an abandoned city; evidently, the roads here were much better than in the country, in spite of appearances. Unlike the villages, these were completely abandoned, although trash piles near residential areas told me that looters had been through. Moss-covered concrete structures and rusting Soviet machinery sat where they were left back in 1986. I was informed that the urban areas were far more radioactive than the countryside, because radioactive dust had more places to settle and be protected from the elements.
As far as the UN was concerned, I was there to take interviews from Ukrainian farmers who refused to leave after the Chernobyl Incident. But as interesting as the Ukraine was, it was not my final destination. I was going to somewhere in the Romanian Carpathians, a place less radioactive but more dangerous. The Romanian government forbade any entry into their country, but the border with the Ukrainian Exclusion Zone was porous. My UN convoy would not carry me that far – a border crossing into Romania by the UN would cause a major international incident – but I arranged for transport across the border by a man I only knew as “Vasily.” Vasily told me he was a farmer who owned several plots of land by the border, and knew a way in. However, judging from his expensive clothes, conspicuous jewelry, and the large men he kept around him, I suspected he had another profession. The UN convoy dropped me off in a small town, ostensibly my final destination, and I waited for Vasily. When he arrived, I was relieved that he did not renege on the deal and leave me in the Zone to die. But I also felt a knot in my stomach knowing I was completely in the man’s power.
Vasily arrived with a convoy of Soviet military trucks, although the man himself arrived in a black Mercedes. I did not intend to strike up much conversation with Vasily, but he was an avid conversationalist. Most of the time, he asked me about the Nutshell and my adventures. Vasily told me he had an interest in the multiverse, and how he can expand his “business” to other worlds. I informed him gently that his “agricultural exports” may attract unwanted attention from unscrupulous actors. Vasily ignored my warning and told me he would take his chances. I did manage to get one question to him: why he and his “fellow farmers” continue to live in lethal radiation?
“Why worry about something that will kill you in twenty years, when so many things can kill you today?”
I did not notice when we crossed the Romanian border; Vasily informed me when I asked. After an exhausting drive, over dirt roads that a Mercedes is not designed to navigate, we finally reached an old toll booth. It was manned by several men in military garb, with green bandanas over their mouths. Vasily exited the car first, and spoke to one of the men. After a few moments, he gestured towards me to exit the vehicle. I did so, and numerous men behind me exited the trucks, and began unloading heavy boxes marked with Cyrillic letters.
“Antibiotics,” Vasily told me without any prompting. I silently nodded. Vasily told me I had two hours to interview my contact, and he was leaving with or without me.
I turned to one of the armed men, who refused to identify himself, and asked to be taken to my contact. I was escorted to one of the Mother Earth Army’s own vehicles, another large, Soviet truck. I suspected that, in addition to “antibiotics,” the Mother Earth Army had to trade for diesel.
I thought better than to ask one of the fighters about the hypocrisy of using internal combustion engines, particularly after I was ushered into the back and had a black bag placed over my head. I ignored the possibility that the bag could be inundated with radioactive dust. I could afford advanced therapy in the Nutshell, but I doubt many of the denizens of this world could.
After what seemed like an eternity, the truck ground to a halt. The bag was removed, and I was allowed to exit the vehicle. A small group was there to greet me; most were armed, but one, in a green beret, was not. The tall African man introduced himself as Pierre, and he would take me to my contact.
The settlement I found myself in was unlike those in Ukraine. While the Ukrainians were living in farm houses that were likely over a century old, the huts I found here looked as if they were a millennium old. Farmers, aged eight to eighty, worked the fields with a hodgepodge of equipment. Some looked as if they were made in the Stone Age, while others were plastic tools.
“We make most of our tools,” Pierre proudly told me. “And our homes. Of course, we will not turn away what the industrialists foolishly give us. We do reject any metal tools, because of the radiation.”
I asked Pierre about the children. My understanding was that the Mother Earth Army is a military organization, made up of volunteers.
“Many families from the Exclusion Zone, they see what we are trying to build here and they are inspired. They join our cause as one.”
I decided not to challenge Pierre on that point. I noted UN claims that the Mother Earth Army has been attacking nearby villages and making slaves of villagers. I also realized that it was only their good will that kept me from being ‘recruited’ by them.
“And of course, we will never force our fighters to not have children, so long as they are not damaged by radiation.”
I asked Pierre to elaborate on that point. He shook his head.
“Unfortunately, there are times when the child would not be viable, or their deformities are such that their lives will only be suffering. These, we regretfully dispose of.”
I chose not to elaborate as we walked into the forest surrounding the settlement. Here, Pierre noted the sublime irony of living in an Exclusion Zone.
“The industrialists have, by their own folly, created one of the most pristine nature preserves on the planet. Many endangered species are returning to these forests, because the industrial world is too scared to live here. Our presence here has only helped them. In other parts of the Zone, poachers are rampant. Here, we hunt them.”
I asked if the fighters of the Mother Earth Army hunted animals themselves. Pierre shook his head again.
“I am a vegan, so I do not endorse those actions. I believe that all life is precious, and we should live in harmony with nature. Others, they believe that hunting is part of the natural order and necessary for living a fully deindustrialized, anti-agricultural lifestyle. I can see their point, but I respectfully disagree.”
We made it into the deep forest, where a small cabin awaited. There, I could see the inside lit by candlelight. Numerous armed guards waited by the door; I had the suspicion that there were more, hidden in the trees. I was patted down by one of the guards, before being ushered inside. There, I saw one of the most wanted men in the world, enjoying a cup of tea on a wooden table.
Carlos Medina, the Green Terror, and founder of the Mother Earth Army. Normally, I would not take such large risks to meet a contact, but Medina is a legend in the Nutshell. While he refused to meet me in the “industrial” world, citing fears of arrest, he did agree to meet me near the boundaries of his territory: Mother Earth.
The Green Terror did not look the part of vicious terrorist. He dressed in simple sackcloth, which was a dirty brown or green; I couldn’t tell in the low light. His long, white beard and hair evoked the popular image of a wizard.
“I apologize for the precautions we are taking, Mr. Chana. The West’s mechanical abominations are constantly above us, looking for an opportunity to strike. Fortunately, their sensors are not sophisticated enough to detect a cabin lit by candlelight.”
Concerned about a possible missile attack, I asked about the vehicle convoy I arrived in. The Green Terror smiled.
“The industrialists are too afraid to attack the people we trade with. The image of aid workers in pieces, because they dared to give us medicine? They will not accept that possibility. They are callous and evil, but they are not stupid. As far as the industrial world knows, neither of us are here. You and your friends trading us for, what was it again?”
“Antibiotics,” I replied.
“Ah, yes. ‘Antibiotics.’ You are safe. They are Russians. These, ah, ‘aid workers’ are protected by Moscow. Not even the Romanians will touch you, assuming your friends have made the proper payments.”
Mr. Medina produced a wooden pipe, which he used to gesture towards a chair. I sat down and began my interview.
“Industrialism was a mistake,” he began. “So was agriculture. Are you familiar with the archaeological studies of the so-called ‘Agrarian Revolution’?” I shook my head.
“The studies of human remains and settlements from before the arrival of agriculture, and those afterward, show unequivocally that the lives of the average person declined in quality after the development of farming. More people died of abscesses in the teeth, because they were chewing stones in their milled grain. Their diets were more homogenous, so they suffered from malnutrition. Humans became shorter, much shorter, than their ancestors, and would not become as tall again until the 19th century!”
But what about the benefits of agriculture? Surely, larger populations and more centralized forms of organization allowed for humans to achieve more.
“You think those are the marks of greatness, Mr. Chana? When mankind was living as Mother Earth intended, everyone was happy and free. We had no rulers, we could live and die as we pleased. What happened after farming? Men, sociopathic men, could control the means of production. From there, man invented slavery, war, and despotism. Unnatural things that we still contend with to this day.”
So the Mother Earth Army wishes to turn back the clock and abolish agriculture?
“Not quite. That is the eventual goal of our movement, but we are not murderous fanatics who want to starve the world. The human population is unnaturally high, but reducing it through mass starvation is inhuman. Barbaric.”
The Mother Earth Army was one of many ecologically-focused groups that arose in Eastern Europe during the hectic 1990s. The nuclear disaster at the Vladimir I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, in what was then the Soviet Union, caused two separate explosions which spread nuclear material all over Eastern Europe. Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine were declared exclusion zones by the international community, with almost the entire population of the Soviet republics being evacuated into Russia, Eastern Europe, or further abroad. The political and economic pressures of the disaster led shortly to the fall of the USSR, while the disaster itself led to the green movement exploding in popularity. Nuclear power plants were decommissioned all throughout Europe and North America, and the “deindustrialization” movement grew among the radical greens. Green governments were elected to power, particularly in the former Warsaw Pact.
Romania was an exception, where the military seized control after the fall of the communist government. The nearby Carpathian Mountains were heavily irradiated by radioactive particles from the destroyed plant, although they prevented radioactive material from blowing into the rest of Romania. The Carpathians were thus closed off as an exclusion zone.
I asked Mr. Medina how the Mother Earth Army governed. He took umbrage at my terminology.
“This is not Russia. The Army does not govern. Every village under our protection chooses their own councils democratically. Anyone of age can vote for their representatives, who decide which policies are best for their villages. It is the most democratic system on Earth.”
But if this was the case, what was Mr. Medina’s role?
“My role is largely ceremonial. I founded the movement, but I am nothing without the men and women who joined my cause. Some people, they want a personal symbol, and while I think that every person should be their own hero, who am I to deny the people what they want?”
I asked if this was all there was to his power.
“Within the Army, I do have some official authority. I lead it as its ‘general,’ so to speak. But our organization is small, we have no official ranks. We prefer to lead through mutual trust. And of course, being part of the armed forces is completely voluntary. Most choose to farm or work as craftsmen.”
What were the Mother Earth Army’s powers, if they had any?
“The Mother Earth Army does have the responsibility to resolve disputes between villages. It is the only institution which all of the villages have in common and cannot do without, so it is in a good position to adjudicate disputes. I often ask my ‘commanders’ to resolve disputes.”
What sorts of disputes does the Mother Earth Army resolve?
“Usually, disputes over resources or the amount of work being done. Villages sometimes get into fights over such trivial things. Unfortunately, we sometimes have to break farmers’ revolts as well.”
Mr. Medina abruptly stopped, and for a brief moment, he looked as if he knew he said a bit too much. I raised an eyebrow and asked Mr. Medina to elaborate on that point. He relented.
“The farmers, sometimes they get lazy. Living out here is difficult, especially because we want to wean ourselves off the technology of the industrial world. Manual labor is difficult, but ultimately rewarding. We need every able soul to work if we are to survive. Everyone must do their duty.”
I kept up the line of questioning. What made these revolts, and not strikes?
“Violence, for one. We never fire the first shot. And at any rate, these can’t be strikes because every person of age has a voice in their village government, and they always have a way to serve their community apart from farm work.”
What could these farmers do to get out of their situation? Mr. Medina smiled.
“They can always join the armed forces. Help take the revolution to the rest of the world.”
I asked Mr. Medina to elaborate on that point. What were the goals of the Mother Earth Army, specifically? I recounted what I heard from their enemies about their goals: the destruction of industrial society in retribution for Mother Earth. To my surprise, Mr. Medina nodded.
“Yes, our goal is to destroy industrial society. We do seek to avenge the damage done to Mother Earth, for all of the species driven to extinction by our own. In that, my enemies are honest. But they insinuate that we use wanton terrorism to achieve this goal. That we kill innocent people in animalistic rage. No. The Mother Earth Army fights for all species, including humans. We understand that most people are born into their situation, and very few have the opportunity to leave the industrial paradigm and join us. We encourage as many people as possible to join, of course, but we know this is not a possibility for everyone. We fight for the people as well, why would we hurt them?”
The Mother Earth Army is the armed wing of the Mother Earth Movement, a Europe-wide movement which broke off from the German Green Party. Europeans from all around joined the Movement, which rejected the existing democratic processes in Europe on the grounds that they were inherently corrupt and compromised by “industrialist powers,” and thus do too little to combat ecological disasters such as nuclear meltdowns and global warming.
The Movement supported peaceful revolution through protests, encouraging strikes, and humiliating political opponents. However, more militant members, particularly in the unstable democracies of Eastern Europe, supported “direct action,” which meant violence against political opponents. The extreme and unstable political climate of Eastern Europe fostered the creation of political militias and paramilitary organizations, one of which was Medina’s Mother Earth Army. Once an avowed anarcho-communist, Medina was drawn to the green movement after his parents and sister died of cancer following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Believing the industrial world to be responsible, he founded the Mother Earth Army.
After numerous attacks around the world, the Mother Earth Movement disavowed its own militant wing. Shortly afterward, the international community labeled the Mother Earth Army a terrorist movement. Undeterred, many of their fighters, including Medina, moved into the Chernobyl exclusion zone, operating where the industrial world feared to tread.
I asked Mr. Medina how he and his followers felt about living in constant radiation. He shrugged his shoulders.
“I was diagnosed with cancer before I even joined the movement. I knew then that my days were numbered. Many of the people here are in the same situation. Many of them are from Belarus and Ukraine, and they resent what has happened to them with a burning passion. I believe that Mother Earth has spared me to fight on her behalf. My days are forfeit, so I offer them as a sacrifice for all.”
Now that the Mother Earth Army has territory, does it live up to its own message? I asked Mr. Medina about their operations.
“I cannot give you much information, of course. But we do have farms here. They are small, but plenty to feed us. We preserve our own food, and we have old Soviet rations if times are lean. We exist, as they say, ‘off the grid.’ We do not use electricity, we do not use petrol vehicles, we try to repair and maintain what we cannot build. Were it not for our continuing war, we would be entirely self-sufficient.”
I then asked Mr. Medina about his movement’s use of the industrial world’s fruits. I mentioned that some in the outside world see this as hypocritical.
“I do not think using the fruits of the industrial world’s labors is hypocritical at all. They have already been made, it would be a waste of Mother Earth’s gifts to throw them in the garbage. I know we cannot produce everything ourselves, only a fool would say otherwise. We are not yet self-sufficient because we only control a small region of the Carpathian Mountains. Once all of Mother Earth is restored, she will provide as much as we need for everyone.”
And what about products that needed modern science and industry? Like the ‘antibiotics’ Vasily delivered, or the same ‘medicine’ that the Green Terror’s men carried and used?
“It is no crime to use the industrialists’ tools against them. We need these things now because to abandon them, when our enemies do not, is suicidal. Then, our movement dies, and the planet with it. When we achieve our victory, we will cast aside our need for ‘antibiotics.’”
I confronted the Green Terror about the Mother Earth Army’s attacks around the world, most infamously a car bombing during a meeting of the G20 which killed several dozen bystanders, and an attack in a Bangalore chemical plant which killed several hundred workers. He had an answer ready without skipping a beat.
“All unfortunate casualties, but every war has losses. We choose our targets carefully: those chiefly responsible for the despoiling of Mother Earth. Factories which dump chemical waste into rivers. Loggers and farmers destroying thousands of square kilometers of rainforest. And of course, those who enable them: the rich capitalists and corporations, and the governments of the industrial world. They do not care about our lives, or the lives of anyone in the future. Why should we care about theirs?”
I asked Mr. Medina if he believed his movement was a successful one. He nodded.
“Of course! Our deeds have spread our message around the world! Like-minded people have taken up the cause in their own ways. Armed revolutionaries are fighting loggers in the Amazon. Others are attacking Japanese whaling vessels. More still, they do what they can within the political process. Not the most effective use of their time and effort, but with enough mass behind them, I admit they can cause some change.”
I was running out of time, so I asked about the rumors that the Mother Earth Army was scavenging the remains of the Chernobyl power plant for radioactive material. At this, Medina laughed.
“Dirty bombs! You have to be joking. Our men do not have the equipment to recover or transport nuclear fuel, let alone to build a bomb, without dying of radiation poisoning within a fortnight! This is more absurd propaganda.”
I saw the Green Terror’s face shift into a scowl, and I immediately realized how he got his name.
“Tell the world. If we did have this weapon, using it against those responsible for the disaster that is nuclear technology is poetic justice.”
This is like if Ted Kaczynski wrote a Chernobyl fan fiction, I love it.
The Agricultural Revolution and it's consequences have been a disaster for the human race.
Correction: It was a disaster for the individual and it had mixed effects on individual communities, but it was a net positive for humanity!
It enabled us to become the masters of our own fate, to have our own food supply to have culture technology medicine...
Read Yuval Noah Harrari Sapiens it concisely explains the development of the human race.
To summarise the The Agricultural Revolution and it's consequences allowed humanity as we know it to exist!
It seems Turkey is doing pretty well it seems. I can can tell alot about the geopolitics from this slice
You once again outdid yourself @rvbomally
Very interesting take on a purely ecologically-based political/terrorist movement.
While it is highly unlikely, Kaczynski is still alive so it's actually possible that he's seen or heard about the show.
All a matter of perspective and priorities. Is the individual’s quality of life more important than that of the collective? Is the humanity we are familiar today better or worse than other possibilities? Everyone has their own answers to these questions. The Mother Earth Army has theirs, certainly.
As always, this will get a world map. Not soon, but eventually.
Yes, but it started with a decline of human nutritional standards, the development of slavery, environmental damage, and disease.
I'm not saying life as a hunter-gatherer was idyllic, but civilized society has created its own brand of evils.
Honestly, I was just riffing on Kaczynski and his manifesto.
Map Analysis Time:
* Looks like the exclusion zone ITTL has taken over Belarus, all the Ukraine, and Moldova.
* Iraq and Syria seem to have unified, so I guess Ba'athism was more successful here. There's also a giant lake on the Iran/Iraq border, so maybe the extra revenue has allowed them to dam the Tigris or something. Alternately, I could be misreading the map and that's a Kurdish statelet, which means that Iran/Syria is probably run by some sort of successful caliphate.
* Yugoslavia has broken up on according to schedule, but Serbia has retained Montenegro and Kosovo.
* The breakup of the Soviet Union seems to be less severe. The Baltics and Kazakhstan have their borders, but are colored the same as Russia, so they might retain alliances with Russia or be some sort of autonomous regions?
* Western Sahara is still part of Morocco
* East and West German haven't reunified, which is surprising given the general geopolitical state seems to show the Soviets having collapsed.
Oh lord, not the Eco-we-don't-have-a-clue-what-they're-really-fighting-for-ists!!!
The Electoral Circus
This is the world map for my EEUSG entry, the Japanese Federation.
The PoD is sometime in 1943, with the Wehrmacht doing better against the Red Army. This doesn’t help the Germans win the war, but it does lead to Munich and Stuttgart being hit with the first atomic bombs while the Red Army is still in eastern Poland. Hitler is overthrown and Germany surrenders as one country, in a strong enough position to insist that Germany not be divided or occupied by the Soviets. The Soviets are forced to settle for a demilitarized, neutral Germany, which in turn has its safety guaranteed by the American nuclear umbrella.
In the East, the Japanese refuse to surrender, even after Manchuria, eastern China, and Korea are occupied by the massive Red Army, and Formosa occupied by the Americans. The Home Islands themselves are invaded in 1946, with Americans and British landing in the south, and the Soviets landing in Hokkaido. A brutal occupation period, replete with remnants of the Imperial Japanese Army causing trouble in the mountains well into the 1960s, leads to Japanese society being nearly erased and replaced with American culture. The post-war Japanese Federation is explicitly modeled on American lines, English becomes the dominant language in Japan, and American culture becomes the basis for post-war Japanese culture.
China is handed over to the CCP by the Soviets, which began with more territory. Mao’s shaky empire did not last long after him, as his death was followed by a succession crisis which brought an end to communist rule and the establishment of a federation between the democratic mainland and the old Republic of China based in Taiwan. Meanwhile, the Soviets gradually reform their system from the 1970s onward and are only nominally communist by the 2010s.
France becomes its own pole of power, breaking off from the American sphere over an alt-Suez Crisis and American refusal to support France’s war effort in Indochina. France gradually builds up its power base, maintaining close contacts with post-colonial governments in Africa and controlling them through the African Franc. They also expand their influence in Europe, bringing Germany into the French-formed European Community. This is a major cause for controversy, as the Germans were supposed to remain perpetually neutral, and so leads to a full break between the Americans and French. Germany subsequently amended their constitution to allow the formation of a new German military.
Indian independence was bloody, with Gandhi being killed by Islamic separatists (rumored to secretly be working for the British) before independence. Communists eventually take over most of India as Bharat, and become close allies to the Soviet Union. Bharat has followed in the Soviets’ footsteps ever since.
I’m running a GURPS infinite’s game and I was wondering if I could use some of these worlds?
Nice map as always, rvbomalley.
You're free to use mine!
Separate names with a comma.