here goes one last, big authorial good-bye update, with a long look back at the TL, and of course the invitation for all of you to share your thoughts and reflections, because while I won’t write any new content for the TL, I’ll still gladly discuss this or that topic with you for a few weeks if you want to.
I’ll start this with a reflection on what I’ve tried to achieve with this TL, and how things have turned out, sometimes railroaded by my firm authorial intention, at other times developing in directions I had not foreseen at all because of inspirations you provided me with, or because things just turned out more plausible on a different path.
So, what I was – and still am – convinced of and wanted to explore with this TL was the possibility of the Russian Revolution stabilising itself and leading to some sort of democratic system in the former realm of the tsars. I’ve never bought into the narrative that Russia is unfit for democracy for, whatever reason really. This much has certainly become clear. I’m not entirely convinced of the plausibility of the outcome reached so far, but I’ll address that in greater detail with regards to countries, ideologies, and other topics. On the rest of the world, I didn’t have many preconceptions, except that I was set on Germany never becoming a Nazi dictatorship, which has driven me towards balkanising it the way it happened ITTL. I like the German outcome mostly, although some parts of it look more plausible to me than others, but that’s also because I just know so much more about German history than I do about Russian history.
Having disclosed these intentions and doubts, I’ll go on to divulge what I had in store for years and years of TL development... in a nutshell. I’ll start with political ideologies
, since you can probably tell that this is an area I’m really interested in exploring.
So... the obvious one: No Bolshevik revolution, no Marxism-Leninism as we know it. There have been quite a few threads on the forum over the past couple of weeks asking where, or when, another Communist revolution could have taken place if it had not taken place in Russia. My take on this question is: Nowhere, at least not in a way recognisably similar to Marxism-Leninism. Therefore, I haven’t planned any late-hour crypto-Leninist revolution or coup anywhere in my TL’s world just for the heck of it. You may disagree with me on this question, but I think without the October Revolution, radical Marxism / socialism would, even if it had ended up in power somewhere, not take the Russian path. All OTL events of such a nature were styled on October. The Russian situation was a unique blend of a botched revolution a decade ago, of the ruthlessness which tsarist autocratic oppression had inspired in its victims, and – I think the first Narodniks around Herzen really had a point here – the socio-cultural organizational patterns of the Russian peasantry which had been deeply scratched and disturbed by Stolypin’s reforms but not dismembered yet and made the Russian peasantry into the numerically incredibly strong force which it would be for any revolution which promised them “their land”.
No Bolshevik-inspired capital-C Communism means major changes on the political left, but this also has massive implications on the rest of the political landscape, too.
Let’s stay with the labour movement
’s parties for a while. This TL has brought us a chasm between an internationalist and orthodox-Marxist IRSDLP and national, reformist, revisionist labour parties. This was not something I had planned beforehand. Actually, I had thought that social democracy might stay together without October. And it might have. But the rift was already deep late in the war, and the IRSDLP as a global phenomenon is a reaction to the war first and foremost, at least outside Russia. Of course it is also true to Marx’s and Engel’s dictum that the proletarian has no fatherland – but it is the horror of the Great War in which the fatherlands devoured each other’s sons in such quantities that endowed the idea of pacifist internationalism with quite a momentum. This is a momentum from which some communist parties benefited IOTL, but also other political groups. ITTL, I think it’s not going to be enough for the IRSDLP to remain a major political force shaping the 20th century, like the Comintern parties were IOTL. Not having a blueprint for the revolution and the post-revolutionary state is an electoral and organizational disadvantage. Pure Marxist thinking will be plentiful as it was IOTL, but, for better and for worse, it will be less powerful and less associated with the raw power of the Soviet Union and later Communist regimes. It will not occupy quite the centre stage it did IOTL. But it will also not be tainted by the atrocities committed by Stalin et al. The IRSDLP is a vehicle for theoretical coherence, which strengthens tendencies for orthodoxy. Marxism was prone to that, but it was also prone to being borrowed and synthesised with other ideas, and that would happen ITTL, too. I have not envisaged much of those thoughts, except for two main pillars: one of them is the leading role of Petrograd and its university as beacons of Red thinking and (counter-)culture, as a city upon which lots of things would be projected in TTL’s 20th century, perhaps – a bit – like OTL’s San Francisco. Only a bit. (Much colder in the first place.) The other is an increasingly anti-colonial streak in Marxist thinking. In the developed countries, the IRSDLP is ultimately going to be sidelined – or, as would be the case in Latvia, it’s just a radical name for an ultimately reformist, OTL mid-20th century-style social-democratic party. But in the colonies, the anti-imperialist message of the “Militants” will fall on fertile ground, and India was, in my plans, key to this.
Why would the IRSDLP be sidelined by other political forces in developed countries like Britain, France, the US, Netherlands etc.? Well, the orthodox Marxist parties were IOTL, too, and the horrors of Stalinism are not the real reason for it, at least not until the Cold War time. Labour parties with a reformist agenda had much better chances, and even with less of a red scare ITTL, I still think this is the case here, too. Also, without Comintern-style ruthlessness, Marxist orthodoxy will not be able even effectively crowd out other radical leftist competitors. One such competitor which I’ve wanked a little already and planned to wank even more is Syndicalism. I know letting them do their thing in the Ruhr under the tutelage of a conservative (!) French government is pushing things. Even though I have and would still argue that the Syndicalists of the Ruhr make the perfect neighbour for France: pacifists who are OK to sell you much of their steel and coal and don’t even want to form a state! – the establishment of their social system and its coexistence with the French and Belgian troops has gone a bit too smooth. I know I know. They’ve been a little regional pet project of mine – and one with potentially wide implications. In some parts of Germany, the Syndicalist model can be another model in which modern living and modern expansion of infrastructures like electricity, running water, sewage etc. can be built up, which is one of the challenges awaiting all countries in the 1920s, and their model was never tried, although this kind of “natural monopoly” markets is where they have their greatest strengths. Having an existing Syndicalist “laboratory” on the Ruhr allows others to copy it – one place where I imagine it could be adopted is revolutionary Spain, see below, and that would have yet more far-reaching resonances.
Still, TTL has also become some sort of a Labour-screw, too. The SPD is not the largest and republic-founding party ITTL’s Germanies; the Italian PSI is split down the middle, the French SFIO and SFIRT will, divided as they are and without a Ruhr crisis, too, not experience any OTL-comparable electoral breakthrough in 1924, and the Labour Party can provide for hung parliaments in Britain for a while, but Britain’s role as the UoE’s major geopolitical rival does not bode well for it. THAT was certainly not something I had planned. But it came to make sense in my head. Here is how:
OTL’s interwar political scene was marked by the triumph of mass politics, and this created – more or less – three large blocs: Communists, centrist democratic reformers, and the reactionary Right (fascists, Nazis, Integralists, Falangists, remnants of old conservatives who played along with these groups). Given the lack of credible rivals in many places, social democratic parties (in their OTL sense of the word) often played the leading role among the centrist democratic reformers.
ITTL, there are strong contenders for the leadership of this place in the reformist Centre
. I’m not talking about British Liberals and French Radicals really, although they might get luckier than they did IOTL. I’m talking about the “Eastern / Russian” model and the “Italian model”. The Eastern model, of TTL’s Russian Revolution (and of Bulgaria’s), the “Green Internationale
”, is a path for all those society still predominantly shaped by rural structures: My thought was that “Left-Agrarianism” would, on many different paths in many countries, slide more and more towards the centre of the political spectrum. There are tons of reasons for that: When peasants have received their land and are sufficiently certain that no-one will take it away from them, they’re naturally economically conservative. As their work requires less formal education, they’re usually less inclined to follow lofty ideologies. And as people living in close-knit communities deeply marked by traditional structures, they’re not necessarily very anti-conservative. Hence no big surprise why many rural electorates have turned even very much on the Right of the political spectrum IOTL. Starting from so far on the Left as the SRs – and others whom they inspire, from Spain and Latin America to China – did and do, I think they wouldn’t quite end up on the right in the next couple of decades. And not just out of ideological inertia, but also because in a world where, as the Great War has shown, industrial capacity rules supreme, “the countryside” knows the markets are not naturally working in their favour, states and governments are not necessarily their mouthpiece unless they stick together and make it so. The 1920s are the time when, in many different countries around the world (though certainly not everywhere), electricity and running water are reaching the countryside. There are many different narratives for how this came to be – but in many Eastern (and Northern) European countries, TTL’s narrative will be that it was “the peasants’ / farmers’ party” who did it, and electrification, water supply and sewage in the countryside (just like an expansion of education, healthcare etc.) will be linked to the concept of “equalising living conditions in the town and countryside” because that is how “Green” / Left-Agrarian / Populist parties will sell it. That’s a lasting legacy. In the village I grew up in, some 1,500 inhabitants strong in the mountains of Northern Hesse, where climate and soil were never sufficient for peasants to subsist since the 19th century and people worked both in factories and in the fields, the 1920s were the time when running water, electricity and asphalt streets were laid, as a communal effort, and even though it was a private company, PreussenElektra, who did most of it, it was the SPD mayors of the time who had organised it and were credited for it, and that was enough for my village to vote SPD with more than 50 % in every single election until the 2000s. I imagine similar effects are going to happen for the Romanian Peasantists, once they get back to power – which they would, I’m rather sure –, for the Bulgarian BANU, the Russian and Ukrainian SRs, the Finnsh Maalaisliitto and all their left-agrarian sister parties, too. They will be seen as the parties – or at least as parties quintessentially contributing to, together with moderate labour parties and others – building the modern, egalitarian, communitarian, democratic, ... state people live in. The “Green” parties will continue to sprout right and left wings, find communitarist / welfarist / centrist / distributist / social credit-ist / ... ways to appeal to urban voters, too, stretching across much of the political spectrum and, where they achieve political hegemony, making it really difficult for challengers to displace them. And at least in Russia, they will also grow such a network of clientelism, nepotism and corruption in the vast countryside, mixed with control over key infrastructures, that, as I’ve discussed with @galileo-034
often, their rule will come to resemble that of Mexico’s PRI IOTL to a significant degree. Not a dictatorship, and through the other federative republics making up the UoE, it won’t even be quite as structurally unfair as Mexico’s PRI rule after all, but expect parts of the Russian countryside to be as “structurally entrenched” SR from the 1920s into the, well, maybe 1960s or 1970s, as the US South was Dixiecratic for a long time, just not along racist lines, well, a limited analogy again.
You got my meaning: I think a Red-and-Green Russia instead of a Bolshevik one could mean that Populism could deeply influence the political landscape of the 20th century in many countries and implement more or less the agenda which IOTL was implemented by social democrats. (After all, welfarism and public infrastructure development etc. are all not really from the classical Marxist toolbox, either.) And while some of its sister parties are undoubtedly already on the conservative side of the spectrum, I had planned new addition on the left fringe of the Green spectrum: see my comments on Spain below, and how it radiated into Portugal and Latin America.
Although I’ve created an Italian SR Party, I think it won’t become a powerful force there because Don Sturzo’s Popular Party can occupy the niche of the communitarian party there, strong in the countryside, which leads its country, in a coalition with moderate socialists, Radicals and the true SRs, and against opposition from both left and right, into the era of mass democracy, equalisation of living conditions and the welfare state. Its example is radiating into the Catholic world, too, and potentially finds adepts in the German and Benelux countries as well as Western Yugoslavia, because I planned Italy to play its good deck of cards more wisely than Mussolini did IOTL. The Mediterranean League is the beginning of this development. Italy had a good potential to become, if not a great power, then at least a very solid regional power, and good relations into Arabia could boost things even more.
The occupation of the Centre (and Centre-Left, and a bit of the Centre-Right) of the political spectrum with more strong mass parties with a widely appealing reform agenda than just the social democrats (who in many countries were still somewhat too radical to become hegemonial around that time) is a game-changer for interwar political development. Classical Liberalism was no longer able to fill this, and it took deep ruptural transformations for liberalism to reinvent itself in several new branches post-1960 IOTL. Classical liberalism, like its old counterpart, traditional conservatism, is really ill-prepared, IOTL and ITTL, for the challenge of universal franchise mass democracy. Into this void, groups from the right and left, often even from the right-most fringe in the form of fascists, Nazis etc. entered, capturing middle class electorates which had often voted for national liberal parties pre-WW1. ITTL, this opportunity does not arise.
That is why the closest thing to fascism which has developed is Serbian Unitarism, and it’s not making much headway. While I am aware that the Right groped, in many countries, for ways to reinvent itself in the era of mass politics, and it clutched at Fascism, Integralism, Sidonism, National Socialism etc., so I can’t pretend the concept is entirely absent, I do think that a Centre which holds stronger is likely to prohibit the radical Right from gathering power – just like it prohibits the radical Left from doing so, too, with exceptions like Hungary (bordering Serbia, the two opposite poles facing each other... that’s a recipe for conflict, of course, but see below). There are more reasons why I’ve come to see this TL as one in which fascism and its sister ideologies (all lumped together as “chauvinism” in various updates) don’t make a big appearance: one big and dynamic model – even though it’s the political enemy – of a totalitarian state is missing without Leninist Bolshevism. And without all the wars of the dwarves and with the federalist model of the UoE shaping the post-war landscape more than Wilsonian ideas did IOTL, rivalling nationalisms don’t get their second chance at screwing up, at least not on such a general scale as it did in OTL’s 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
With liberalism still needing a lot to reinvent itself, and no fascist wave, the Right of the political spectrum is waiting for its coherent answer to the challenges of both a reformist-populist Centre and a socialist Left. Here, developments in the US will set the practical example, which political thinkers elsewhere will flesh out and corroborate soon into a pro-capitalist, anti-egalitarian version of liberal-conservatism. Time to divulge what I had in store for the US, and thus to switch from ideologies to states and regions:
For the US, I was never sure about large-scale direct logical consequences. I had thought that the Red Scare might be avoided at first, but soon realized how home-grown it was, and that if the Bolshevik bogeyman wasn’t there, it would not be absent, just take a different form. From then on, discussions with @LuckyLuciano
gave things various twists, and I must acknowledge that I often picked what I thought was narratively most interesting. Therefore, as has been speculated about, Warren Harding will be the second president to die within a single term in 1923. Next in the line of succession is the Secretary of State, Elihu Root. I loved @LuckyLuciano’s idea of Root declining because of his old age, which means the presidency would then fall to the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon.
Mellon’s projects of financial deregulation and much lower taxation will reach new amplour with him at the helm. It’s going to be all-out capitalist bonanza. With a recovered economy, his deep campaign pockets, the Democrats focusing on cultural issues and foremost Prohibition, nominating another conservative Dry candidate, thus bleeding the minority and worker vote even more to parties to their left, but these parties not finding any way to form a common front behind a single candidate, also because Robert LaFollette wouldn’t work with Socialists, therefore splitting the leftist vote between Progressive, Socialist, and in some places united Farmer-Labour lists, Mellon wins a term of his own in 1924, and now he really starts. The mid-1920s boom appears to prove him right, and in the British political landscape, both among Conservatives and the right wing of the Liberals, there will be an orientation towards this, and a growing opposition against expanding state expenditures, increased taxation, and redistribution. In Germany, a bright bourgeois mind who might well pick up these threads and weave them into an even more elitist, anti-socialist and anti-populist whole is Thomas Mann, who IOTL received the Nobel Prize for Literature later.
Back to the US: Under Mellon, the US is intervening in Latin America wherever it sees corporate interests threatened, antagonising the nascent agrarian-syndicalist / red-green / APRista revolutionary movement there. I had not reached clarity with regards to 1928 yet – I was thinking about Mellon claiming that he had not yet had two terms, and the rule isn’t fixed yet anyway, so my thoughts tended to go towards another term for Mellon, and that one would be rocked by alt-Black Friday. An even more unregulated financial bubble than that created under Coolidge can only burst at least as loudly as IOTL. It would mobilise a by now numerically much stronger Labour / Left, and I’m not sure if ITTL a Democrat like FDR could bring them under his umbrella in 1932.
Talking about Latin America
I’ve not commented much on it in the TL, and that’s because I haven’t looked at it in much detail. The situation in every country was slightly different. But we do often have an old duopoly of Liberals vs Conservatives that’s increasingly entering a crisis here, too. The pre-Communist Left was often somewhere between Populist and Anarchist/Syndicalist. Thus, without Communism, and instead with the example of a Spanish Revolution, I think this is the path on which the Latin American left is most likely to tread on. Strong, where it can fuse both, and reconcile anti-clerical forces with those who draw inspiration from Christian teachings for the liberation of the exploited. The appeal of the Russian and Spanish models of land reform is going to be much stronger and requires less adaptation in predominantly rural and very unequal Latin America, when compared to the theoretically complex, industry-focused and state-fixated Communist message. Even then, Communism did make its inroads there, but I find it plausible, like @Zulfurium
has fleshed out in his great TL with its depictions of a Sandinista Central-American Republic and yet more socialisms and radicalisms in Argentina and Chile, to assume that a non-Marxist left would be even more successful in Latin America, even without any material support provided by a Soviet Union. After 1925, it would also receive a fresh infusion of syndicalist revolutionary fighters from Germany (see below) who might arrive here after having used Spain as a springboard.
But the focus of the TL is, of course, on the UoE
I’ve revealed already what my very general plan and intention has been. Here are also some of the reflections / doubts that came to me over time:
I fear I’ve kinda downplayed the resistance, anger, obstruction and trouble that emanates from a disowned class of landowners, urban tenement landlords, and to some degree also industrial capitalists (which, to make matters worse, were often the same people), and other people who felt loyalty to the ancien regime for other reasons. Sure, there was an alt-Kornilov Coup, and the VeCheKa persecuted malcontents if these were found suspicious of “sabotage”, and when Markov’s collaborationist dictatorship fell, there were both spontaneous-violent and judicial reckonings. And with the Great War, which Tsar Nicky and his high-bred generals had screwed up, triumphantly concluded by Kamkov’s Commission (or so at least the pro-Revolution newspapers would put it), fundamental opposition to the new regime was thoroughly discredited, and new groups of people could discover the good side of the new order, especially as this new order toned down its rhetoric of class struggle.
Still, there was a civil war in Finland which, thanks to the great input provided by @Karelian
, I portrayed in some detail. While the dynamics in Russia were not the same, and I still think all-out civil war is by far not the likeliest option, there should probably have been more tumult and struggle, not just conspiratorial “Cherry-Tree Picknickers” and a terrorist attack on Avksentiev, even if that latter brought with it another wave of imprisonments. I’ve not spent enough imagination and detail on how these people, who might not feel threatened enough to emigrate, but who would still fight claw-and-teeth for their ancestral estates, their productive factory, the return of their monarch etc., would behave. How both fundamental and violent resistance to the new order on the one hand, and attempts to “march through the institutions” and undermine them, carve out the content of the socialist provisions and let one their facade stand etc. would play out. And how badly economic life and administration would really be affected by such disruptions.
Also, the military forces are a factor I have neglected. Even if the worst anti-democrats and anti-socialists were replaced by adherents of the new parties in power, a downsizing and isolationist policy like Volsky’s would not go down quite so silently as I projected it (or rather, simply neglected reflecting on it). When I realised that, I had the idea of nationalist military circles propping up Savinkov and trying to pull the strings so that he would end up in power and then restore Russia’s honour and glory, or at least stop cutting the military’s budget.
But I realised that that was still too tame – especially since I would either have to make enough local SR potentates back him, and then stare a rupture of the party in the face, and if Savinkov really won on a Russian nationalist agenda, attempts by various republics to secede, so potentially civil war. I did not have the guts for that, and the utopian centre of my brain kept telling me that this would not happen, that Volsky’s good relations with the provincial party leaders would keep him in power and that soldiers’ councils would prevent a coup, or that all the political militia would prevent that coup from succeeding. And that was the moment when I realized that I should stop writing this TL: I did not want my baby to suffer. It always happens this way. I can’t write differently, but I can know when to stop because it’s pushing things too far.
I had thoughts about a long SR dominance, not a utopian vision of Russian society, but a stable system, and Mexican PRI-style entrenchedness would be counterbalanced by the many other federative republics, so that it would be more like a US situation where, even if a party manages to uphold an unfair regime which disenfrachises its opposition in some parts of the Union, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole system becomes a party dictatorship. But a more realistic outcome would probably require more pains of socialist birth, deeper economic malaise in the first years etc. Well. I’m not sure at least.
Now, this being said, I am more content with some of the other developments of the TL so far and with the ideas for where I wanted to take further developments:
Earlier European co-operation
is an idea which, if I’m not misinformed, has not been developed in many TLs, so this is something I stumbled upon and then thought worthwhile to explore in my TL with the meagre beginnings of the European Federation of Peace. It was, to me, at the same time a result of the Great War, of no isolation of Russia, and less dependence on Wilson’s US. Given that colonialism and imperialism still hold sway, and some European powers are very actively involved in it, the pan-European idea would still have a very long way ahead of itself if it ever is to become something akin to OTL’s European Union - but maybe that’s not its path at all. Supra-nationality can take many forms. While there are good reasons why OTL European co-operation focused on economic integration, free trade, freedom of movement, student exchange, a common currency and parliamentary as well as inter-governmental strategy formulation which is then implemented by the member states, one path or domain which lies in the shadows IOTL is supra-nationality in the domain of “law and order”. Legal systems differ greatly, and there is little plausible chance to overcome this, but a confederal, and at some point federal, police force is something which the EU has barely toyed with, although, under different circumstances, it might well have become one pillar of integration and as such is at least as logical as, say, agricultural subsidies. ITTL, the early strengthening of the Hague Court and the creation of a common agency which seeks out war criminals as well as terrorists, are pointing in that direction. Given that ITTL, free trade between imperial blocs is less likely and the entire afterthoughts are different from OTL’s post-WW2 attempts to reign in Western German militarily relevant coal and ore as well as provide impulses for quick economic recovery in the face of the systemic rivalry of the Cold War, I would say that the EFP would continue to take a different path of development. A common agency to combat war crimes and terrorism, and the courts to judge them, can be door openers for co-operation on other types of crimes and threats which make co-operation plausible, like money laundry, tax evasion, arms and drugs smuggling, human trafficking etc. The other aspect of the EFP which has worked so far – relief for refugees and the displaced of the war – could become a second pillar which could come to include common relief in cases of natural desasters, industrial havaries, famines etc. Economic integration, freedom of movement, or a European parliament are things which I would see as very removed from TTL’s present yet, on the other hand.
Even if this is a very loose co-operation and not at all a military alliance or anything of the sort, Britain’
s remaining outside of it was, I’ve thought, both logical and full of consequences. It’s symptomatic for how a continuing Franco-Russian alliance – and this alliance is very much alive and will remain focused on maintaining their control over Germany, a vital imperative for both countries – could have sidelined Britain, especially when the US turn their attention away from Europe again, as they do IOTL and ITTL. Britain’s not-so-splendid isolation, deepened by international criticism of events in Ireland and at least a skeptical attitude towards what the hell they’re doing in Arabia, is not exactly comfortable. I have envisioned British politics in the 1920s to become increasingly torn between a conciliatory attempt to break out of this confrontational isolation on the one hand, and a defiant focus on knitting the Empire more closely together, not ceding nor retreating anywhere, and attempting to destabilise and undermine the continental bloc instead (e.g. by supporting Serbia and Greece) and pursuing decidedly anti-socialist policies (on the Iberian peninsula, by supporting the opposition in Hungary and secessionists in Lithuania, the Ukraine etc. as they have already done in Azerbaijan). Even conciliatory British politicians would pursue much more military “readiness” instead of OTL’s appeasement, though, in such a geopolitical context.
These swings between rapprochement and an almost Cold War-esque confrontation would make themselves felt first and foremost in Ireland and Germany. Ireland first:
The bloody finale to the first act in the Irish Drama is the Fight for Dublin, after the city had been encircled and sealed off and various ultimatums have gone unanswered. British military moves in and encounters no organised military defenses. Instead, it is being sniped at from windows, rooftops etc., and when the commando units force their entry into the dwellings of suspected rebels and encounter anything other than immediate unambiguous surrender (and sometimes even then), much innocent blood is shed. It takes weeks to comb the city; weeks which are an utter PR disaster for the Law government. And a futile one, too, as it turns out: While hundreds of rebels have been killed in that last campaign, too, enough have escaped from the island, or managed to hide, and new martyrs have stepped in their shoes, on both islands. More terrorist acts in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow shake the nation. Bonar Law, who had been key in implementing the hard-line stance against the Irish nationalists, steps down as PM in an attempt to save his party’s chances at the polls, but the Conservatives, now led by Stanley Baldwin, still lose their majority in the 1922 general elections. A controversial Lib-Lab coalition under the Liberal PM Donald Maclean now tries for the conciliatory approach. They announce elections for the Northern and Southern Irish Assemblies, at last, even though they still go with Churchill’s plan to make Home Rule feasible through disenfranchising anyone who had been found even remotely involved in the insurgency. Of course, this is not acceptable for either the Irish nationalists or the Unionists in the North, and after a fresh wave of violence in Ireland and terrorist attacks in Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow, they are answered with more British military repression, causing heated debate in the coalition and defections in both parties, the Liberal PM Donald Maclean throws in the towel in 1924, too. New elections still produce a hung parliament, though both Liberals and Labour lose seats to the Conservatives (and the latter votes to the IRSDLP). Churchill is instrumental in forging a coalition between the Liberals and the Tories under a PM Baldwin, who suspends the Southern Irish Assembly which had declared its secession, and cracks down on political terrorism with far-reaching powers for the police and harsh penalties. The new generation of Irish rebels is radical and diverse: some of its 1910s leaders have been killed, others have been influenced by radical English or US socialists with whom they hid / are hiding or inspired by the Spanish Revolution – and then there is another movement around a Catholic priest who had already shown great civil courage in the Troubles of 1919-22, and who had led large processions for peace during the tumults of 1923. I imagined him as a sort of Irish Gandhi. While he preaches non-violent resistance, he still insists on full independence and complete British withdrawal from the entire island. He’s going to suffer the same kind of disillusionment with his confessionally divided people when the Brits are finally leaving – but it might take until the Great Depression and the collapse of the Liberal-Conservative coalition.
Maclean’s Lib-Lab government is also the one which makes peace with a Hashemite-dominated Arabia (more on that below) after a full Saudi collapse. Some successes of Maclean’s conciliatory foreign policy are treaties of friendship and alliance with Norway and Sweden, who are thus kept out of the EFP (in the latter’s case not just as a continuation of neutrality policy, but also because the influx of right-wing refugees from Finland and bad feelings about the “Red Earth” Finnish coalition’s policies towards its Swedish minority have tipped the political balance against the Swedish Labour Party thus far), and the Treaty of San Remo concerning the future of the German lands signed by Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and the UoE as well as by twenty heads of German polities in 1923. It not only finally seals peace after the Great War; it also includes a recognition by all signatories of each other’s independence and legitimate existence and borders (there were some roundings and equalisations and rationalisations concerning weird enclaves and exclaves included, too) – which for Germany meant a lot, given how it was a mixture of old aristocratic principalities, free cities and new free states who had emerged from the corpse of the overturned monarchies of Prussia, Oldenburg, Bavaria and Hesse. A few years ago, recognising this splintering of Germany would have been seen as a defeat of British foreign policy – and there were some who still viewed it that way. But most observers even in Britain had come around to seeing that the momentum of the Scheidemann talks heading for an indirect unification of all German lands under a common EFP umbrella of whatever sort was clearly, well, momentuous, and that many German politicians in Hannover and Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, and Kiel agreed with it, too, and even though they said nothing which would openly anger the British, they would face overwhelming popular pressure from other, less pro-British forces if they boycotted the initiative too unambiguously. If “British Germany” was to be saved, the status quo had to be cemented, and those German political leaders willing to co-operate had to be given something they could show.
What was given to the Germans was a renewed Zollverein with a common Bank of Germany which would issue a single gold-backed currency for all of Germany after the co-existence of the Bavarian Gulden and the Prussian Mark had proved very impractical (the more inflated Mark would outcirculate the more solid Gulden which people tended to save, thereby proving the economic principle that bad money drives out good money). It also brought down the Damoclean sword of reparations which had hovered over German governments for five years – now the very limited reparations which some individual German polities had already agreed on with their respective occupying powers were definitively declared as the sum total of all reparations due. San Remo also meant a rapprochement between all signing great powers as it also included the posterior acceptance of all the various side deals concerning former German colonies by all parties involved – which included the first time a President of the UoE signed a document which assigned specific colonial possessions to specific third parties (a move which could not be popular with the left at home).
This reaffirms the path which I have laid out for Germany
in this TL:
The development of TTL’s Germany – fractured and divided into different spheres of interest of great powers – owes, I believe at least, both to my authorial intent and to consequences flowing from previous divergences. My authorial intent to avoid German Nazism could be achieved on various paths, but in the middle of the Great War, two paths open themselves to everyone’s eyes: you can either have Germany come out of the war much better than IOTL, like @Zulfurium
did in his July Days TL, or like in Kaiserreich etc. Or you can screw Germany much harder than OTL’s Versailles. I chose the latter. And I think it is quite a plausible path in any TL in which *Russia stays in the war and there is no Brest-Litowsk. On the one hand, Germany is not going to deceive itself about its possibilities of winning the war, so protests like the January revolts of 1918 will be more widespread and the leadership should try what it can to include a Defencist SPD (who also don’t have Lenin’s defeatism to reflect upon) before it’s too late, which would stabilise the regime a little in the face of a militarily much more hopeless situation. Because, on the other hand, Germany and her allies will be exhausted and overwhelmed on even more fronts. Keeping Willy2 in power half a year more was something that could have happened but didn’t have to flow from this – but I liked the idea of him screwing up again and rejecting what is planned in Paris, especially since in that final showdown of the May War of 1919, I was able to kill off many of those who IOTL would terrorise Weimar as Freikorps and then end up in important positions as Nazis, including Adolf.
OTL shows us that it’s possible to divide Germany into middle-term stable separate states, but TTL is different. It doesn’t have the complete national catastrophe of WW2 and the Nazis to precede it, but it also doesn’t just cut the country along arbitrary lines and subsumes it into opposing Cold War blocs. Post-WW1, regional political entities and heterogeneous traditions were still much more alive, and TTL’s carving up follows these lines to a good degree. It is self-evident that there will continue to be German nationalists, in many parties and organizations, who demand reunification and the restoration of national sovereignty – more so than after WW2 IOTL. After the Armistice of Absam, the May War, and then the Nazbol afterplay in Prussia, the idea of restoring it forcibly is quite dead for the foreseeable future, though, except for the terrorist fringes. Together with the failure of the Frankfurt Vorparlament, it really only shows the utter bankruptcy of the national liberal idea in Germany, which had been so strong in 1848. But OTL’s Bismarckian unification had already pushed the national liberals into schizophrenia, and the utterly hollow and hopeless state in which they were in IOTL contributed a great deal to the weakness of Weimar and the ease with which the Nazis captured bourgeois electorates. TTL is no different, except ITTL, Germany doesn’t even try to follow an essentially national-liberal idea of the state or path of development (which it did IOTL, in a way, like a belated 1848). The various different regions experiment with different political approaches, all of which have the potential to turn out better than OTL’s Weimar. (Well, it’s hard to end up worse...) Also, they kind of suit the regions where they’re strong (except for Bavaria, where a change was planned at the polls in 1922/3 by me). The Treaty of San Remo finally perpetuates this situation and turns temporary provisional solutions into permanent ones:
- The British sphere of influence is consolidated into a loosely federated “Kingdom of Hannover”, in which various cities, free states and small principalities all kept far-reaching autonomy, with a relative of the British royal family on the throne. With it, the British are controlling almost all of Germany’s sea ports. After most of the remaining (non-scuttled) German High Sea Fleet had already fallen into British hands (and a small portion into the hands of the UoE), now the bulk of German sea trade and commercial fleet are also under a British umbrella. Politically, “Hannover” is centrifugally diverse, and its ideological alignments have great potential for historical irony. The first one results from a comparison with today: this portion of Germany has been governed for decades now by social-democratic and other centre-left parties and is renowned to be much more culturally liberal than the South of the country – here it gets a constitutional monarchy and the least progressive constitutions in all of Germany. But that is not so much of a surprise and rather fitting much of the region when we look at it in the more distant past. While its port towns certainly have a strong and militant labour movement, they also have an entreched Hanseatic bourgeoisie. And the countryside – here, as opposed to East of the Elbe, mostly consisting of small and middle peasants working their own land – was very conservative until well into the second quarter of the 20th century. – The second irony could well be that the seceded Welf kingdom might end up the favourite destination for Prussian Junkers who flee from Red East Elbia, where they were expropriated and many of them wanted for war crimes committed as officers, and the Hannoverian Party, whose very raison d’etre had been their hatred of Prussia, welcomes them with open arms as fellow aristocratic conservatives. And the third irony with which I wanted to toy was that this regionalist, restaurationist, British-led betrayal of the national German idea might be what could save and reinvent German (right-wing) liberalism. I had two men in mind for that worldview-building: on the one hand, Thomas Mann – he won a Nobel Prize for Literature IOTL, but he also wrote an elitist, anti-democratic manifesto in 1918: “Reflections of an Unpolitical Person”. He is just the Lübeckian bourgeois kind of intellectual who might wed Burkean conservatism with the classical Liberal Hanseatic culture and tradition. The second is Ludwig von Mises – I thought he might not wish to return to SDAPÖ-led Austria after his journey through Hungary, because the government there is not listening to him at all and he isn’t offered a professorship in Innsbruck, so instead he might participate in the founding of Hamburg’s University and teach his anti-socialist Marginalist Theory of Economics there. Between Mann and Mises – men who tended to view Britain quite positively BTW, it is also where Mann went into exile IOTL –, they might formulate a fighting right-wing (Conservative) Liberalism which has severed its ties to the hopeless national idea and focuses on combatting socialism and “overbearing governments”.
- For the moderately reformist checkerboard of polities under French and Italian control – from the Rhineland to Bavaria – I had lots of plans for tiny little details, from the electoral victory of the CVP in Bavaria in 1924 over Scheidemann’s unification of Hesse and emancipation from under the EFP Mandate, to the question of where alternate railroad lines would run.
The big picture would be that, as broad reformist coalition governments in many smaller polities who can look back on long particularist traditions are doing an overall solid job, restaurationist German-nationalist forces would become more sidelined and mainstream politicians would speak about national unity in Sunday speeches but work to cement their own little state’s position the rest of the time. After San Remo, Scheidemann’s idea of German unity in a united Europe is not dead at all, it resonates with the Catholic parties, too, and the internationalist left isn’t objecting, either. But it becomes a somewhat more abstract long-term goal. Things could really settle down...
- ...if it weren’t for the Syndicalist Ruhr. If there is no longer a German nationalist-revivalist threat to the French (and Belgians), then there is also no longer a need to tolerate a politically dangerous experiment just because a red-and-black militia fighting on your side comes in handy. And if Spain turns Syndicalist and the French conservatives are scared of that, they might want to get rid of Rocker’s Ruhr rulers. But that is easier wished for than achieved. So, here is how I thought it would go:
After the EFP Mandate of Hesse is peacefully transformed into the Free State of Hesse, the provincial administration and almost all non-syndicalist political forces want the same to happen in Westphalia, too. Led by SPD, Zentrum and Liberals, the Westphalian provisional parliament and government petition the EFP Mandate Council, offer the syndicalist workers a political compromise, but demand on the full restoration of the rule of law in the Ruhr industrial district, including property rights, and the disarmament of all paramilitary forces. The FAU will have smelled a rat long before, and especially with the Spanish Revolution as wind in their wings, they will have sent syndicalist emissaries across all German lands to encourage workers to emulate their example, form free associations and shake off the yoke of their oppressive governments and capitalists.
This is going to be become a rivalry of systems. And the syndicalists have little chances. There may be a long run-up to the confrontation because the French are probably not exactly eager to have to put down a rebellion of a very entrenched syndicalist workers’ army. In the end, though, I don’t see any exit strategy.
That means, a horrible butchery on the Ruhr. Of course the French and Belgians prevail. But the FAU is not going down without a fight, and there will be voluntaries from across Germany and maybe even syndicalists from elsewhere, too, trying to help them. In this losing fight, the schism between the FAU and the more national-syndicalist group around Barthels would close ranks again. But, it must be remembered, this is a fight which has been started by the bourgeois-parliamentarian Westphalian administration, it’s not only a German-vs-French/Belgians fight (only), it’s clearly predominantly a class struggle and a political struggle over systems, and it’s going to be viewed that way.
After their defeat, there will be an exodus of the most politicised syndicalist workers, primarily to Spain, I would imagine. Now while it’s also ironical that while we had Spanish migrant workers in Germany IOTL, ITTL we will have German workers seeking asylum in Spain, only few of them are likely to settle down soon. Many will try to continue the global struggle, and that’s increasing the momentum for expansion (see the comments above on Latin America).
For Germany as a whole, the Battle of the Ruhr is going to be a scarring experience. The non-syndicalist Left will suffer from its role on the fence, the radical fringe of the German labour movement might reorient itself in idolisation of the martyrs of the Ruhr, even though new uprisings will be discouraged for the near future. For the centrist and bourgeois parties, it is another step away from the lure of nationalism, as all of them have openly embraced the French and Belgian intervention against the syndicalists and they can’t discuss that away.
I haven’t commented much on the Eastern third of Germany (Prussia and Saxony) which I really had not fleshed out. On the whole, the Battle of the Ruhr is a paradigm-changing event catalysing a realignment towards which other factors are also working: as the parties from the Conservative-Liberal Right to the parliamentarian Left distance themselves from pan-German nationalism, underground revolutionary syndicalism becomes the last torch-bearer of the hope for a liberation struggle of the German proletariat against its occupiers and their bourgeois collaborators. And – ta-da! – the endgame of my scheming for Germany’s development takes shape: Going into the 1930s and the age of the Great Depression, different entrenched parties of the wider parliamentarian-democratic spectrum might implement regional reform agendas, or tumble and be replaced by the opposition, and they’ll talk about the economy and jobs and bread and railroads and motorways and monetary policies. The rallying call of Germany’s liberation and unification will, to a great degree, be heard from under Black banners, and mean a proletarian national revolution which hopes to wipe away the bourgeois statelets and drive out the colonial powers – but which will never come.
That is fairly good news for France
With TTL’s Ruhr troubles taking place in 1925 instead of 1923, and with the events unfolding in Spain in 1924 worrying the French bourgeoisie to no end, I think the elections of 1924 are going to produce quite as centre-right a parliament and government as the preceding ones which had been called a “blue wave”. A conservative-liberal French government is the one which aims to contain the “Spanish virus” and thus betrays and cracks down on the Ruhr syndicalists. When revolutionary Spain appeals to become a member of the EFP, that is going to be a source of serious controversy between France and the UoE. If, as I said above, a new UoE government post-1922 is probably going to be more assertive in its foreign policy and has to play the patriotic card for its home audience, where internationalism is going to lose its appeal – nothing else is to be expected of a Populist regime really... –, that might cause the UoE political elites to lose some of their enthusiasm for the EFP, too, if France, Italy and other governments really block Spain’s entry on transparent pretexts. But back to France: It still has financial troubles (like the UoE, too), so the 1920s aren’t going to be an era of quick and massive infrastructural development and related economic boom. Reconstruction and recovery will take place, but not with breathtaking speed. Through ten years of opposition, the various parties of the Left are probably moving closer together. The big question is who is in power when the Great Depression hits, and how they react. I have not thought about that.
But after so many foreshadowings, finally – Spain
I expect Miguel Primo de Rivera’s government to unravel much faster than IOTL. There are at least three reasons for that:
- Without Italian Fascism as an inspiration, and without a whole lot of other, smaller influences – who also don’t come to pass because post-Great War Europe is, at least until 1925, but in many ways even beyond that, not quite as polarised as OTL’s and a more inclusive Left is occupying a much wider political space into the centre, together with progressive Catholic models, see above, leaving little space for an Integralist, Sorelian, Sidonist, Maurist or whatever appeal to “mass mobilisation”, “corporatism as a third way between capitalism and communism” and generally a great appeal of autocratic governments on the Right and Radical Right, who instead continue on a much more elitist, anti-mob and private capitalist ideological trajectory (sorry for the awfully long bracket) - all pointing in the same direction, Primo de Rivera’s regime is going to be much less carrot and more or less only the stick. A panicked coup with as little popular backing and appeal among the toiling classes as, say, the recent military coup in Myanmar (more examples from recent history might be Honduras, or Thailand, though both have achieved their objectives pretty middle-term already). As such, the Socialist Party is not going to stay silent on it, hell, not even the traditional parties are going to just acquiesce with their being swept aside.
- As has been alluded to above, there is a stronger Spanish revolutionary movement, especially in the countryside, which complements the urban proletarian revolutionary potential which was high IOTL, too. This stronger revolutionary movement is an outflow of the greater diversity of TTL’s Left in the absence of the homogeneising force which was the Comintern IOTL. In Spain, up to our PoD, Marxism really did not dominate the Left, it was not even one of the stronger forces. Anarchists and syndicalists, radical left-republicans and left-nationalists all were stronger, and in the big PSOE and its affiliated trade union UGT, non-Marxist voices dominated. The huge magnet of the Comintern caused, even though it did finally achieve a deep transformation of the Spanish Left IOTL, massive reorientations which, at first, must have felt more like disorientations. Its message towards the landless peasantry, which would have to be the backbone in any successful Spanish Revolution, was ambivalent, to say the least. – Not so the message of TTL’s Russian Revolution, and of the other, smaller revolutions which followed it. Land for the landless! is one of its primary claims. On matters of religion and cultural tradition, there is a much greater diversity of voices, instead of the often challenging rupture with all traditions which Marxism-Leninism called for. Well, not only M-L really, the Internationale already had one verse saying: “Du passé, faisons table rase!”, and the French Revolution already attempted this, too. The Narodnik strand of thought, on the other hand, really was never that way. It wanted to overthrow the autocracy in a revolution, yes, and it wanted a radically different path from Western capitalism, yes. But it looked to traditional Russian models for inspiration. It idealised them, of course, and twisted them in ways which peasants wouldn’t often recognise. But still, that’s a wholly different approach towards rural culture. – So, long story short: I’ve been thinking a lot about a stronger diverse Spanish Left.
- And finally: Primo de Rivera does not have OTL’s solution for the Rif War at his disposal. The Treaty of Constantinople has very explicitly outlawed the use of poison gas internationally, and by 1922/23, there have already been the first cases of German generals and other high-ranking officers indicted by the Hague Court for War Crimes for their use of poison gas, especially against civilians in Petrograd. Gassing the Kabyls would be a crazily reckless move, the French are not aiding this, and there are not much German gas leftovers available for sale on the black market since the Entente have moved in and taken control of whatever the Germans had by 1919 in their occupation of the entire former Reich. Without the chemical option, Primo de Rivera can either retreat, fortify and wait – which looks like admitting defeat – or bring massive amounts of troops and hope that a second offensive goes better than the first. Massive amounts of troops require drafting many Spaniards into the war and shipping them to Morocco, which was a wildly unpopular thing in Spain at the time, understandably after Annual. I’ll go with the latter because Primo de Rivera’s entire power rests on the military leadership who simply would not admit defeat to Rif Kabyls. Another major conventional offensive in 1924, resulting in another catastrophe similar to Annual, is what ultimately tips the balance and sets the Spanish Revolution in motion.
So, mutinying soldiers start the avalanche. In the countryside, anarchists and syndicalists with peasant backgrounds like Joaquin Maurín
have put together an underground organization which, instead of Leninism, has absorbed a heavy dose of left-agrarianism and the Russian “soviet” / council model of organization which has become popular in so many other countries, too. From among the old parties of the Cortes and the press associated with them, as far as it has not been repressed, the demission of the Directorate and the return to parliamentary democracy are demanded more and more loudly. The PSOE, republican leftists and groups demanding Catalan, Andalucian etc. autonomy join in the protests. UGT and the syndicalist CNT, both victims of Primo de Rivera’s oppression, co-operate for once and launch general strikes. In the countryside, “consejos de campesinos” form, arm themselves (mutinying soldiers help here), and co-ordinate their “spontaneous” campaigns against landlords and the pistoleros they are sending against them. When Primo de Rivera wants to employ the military (whose rank and file are more and more unreliable) to drown the revolts in blood, a junta of less reactionary generals push him to the side and convince Alfonso XIII, who had been very openly taking Primo de Rivera’s side from the beginning of the coup (as IOTL), to abdicate. Elections free of the old vices of the turnismo are promised, and a coalition government of liberals, left-republicans, and the PSOE is formed. But the genie is out of the bottle, and the countryside is not going to calm down just because it’s a republic now instead of a monarchy, or because other people have become ministers now. Consejos de trabajadores form in the towns, too, and following the lead of their syndicalist members, they occupy their factories and oust their directors and managers in some places. The provisional government seeks to reign them in, promises a land reform bill, and a reform of labour legislation, but when clashes between police and workers end in dead workers, the situation boils over and the Asociacion de los Consejos, the congress of soviets, announces the abolition of “all and any forms of oppressive statehood in the Spanish region”. Half a year of bloody clashes and civil war ensue, but with the peasantry firmly on the side of the Revolution, there is no way for the anti-consejistas to prevail. Thus, Spain as the first (predominantly anarcho-syndicalist) Free Association...
When people reflect about where a “communist” revolution could most likely succeed other than n Russia, we often hear “Germany”, sometimes “France” or “Italy”, too. And that although the Spanish Left fought a civil war for three years against Franco’s Axis-backed forces. It makes sense if you look at how weak radical Marxism was in Spain in the early 1920s, but not if you widen your perspective to imagine a leftist revolution following a different model. Spain was a very polarised society with a lot of class-related violence and a highly dysfunctional political system. I didn’t see this when I started writing the TL, but as this world took shape before my eyes, it made more and more sense to have Spain become the main stage and motor behind the next phase or wave of revolutions. As alluded to above, events in Spain tend to exert influence on Latin America more easily than events in, say, Russia, hence another reason – beside the predominantly agricultural socio-economic structures of that continent – why I envisioned various movements in Latin America to become highly inspired by the Spanish Revolution. – As for Portugal, I have not conversed about this with @Ricardolindo
, so I’m not sure how exactly it would go. Capitalist powers, and especially Britain which has maintained close relations with Portugal for a very long time now, would have a heightened interest to keep the red-and-black wave from washing over Portugal, and ancien regime-Spaniards might well seek refuge there and strengthen anti-syndicalist tendencies. Portugal’s leftist scene is similar to Spain’s in various regards, especially as far as the relative strength of syndicalists and anarchists are concerned. On the other hand, its labour movement is overall weaker. Spain and Portugal often developed in synchronicity IOTL, though. You see, I was not decided here.
I’ve talked about Italy a little and how I planned it to develop into a successful model of peaceful social reform (after its botched revolution, to be honest), just for a change. Any future details I would have discussed with @lukedalton
– alas, it won’t come to pass now. There were also escalating tensions between Italy and Greece in the air (over Albania, Corfu, the Dodecanese, policies vis-a-vis the Ottomans etc.), but like IOTL, this isn’t going to escalate into war. It’s just a stand-down that keeps both sides more firmly in their respective camps: Italy in the core of EFP nations, and Greece, although an EFP member, too, more closely aligned with Britain and supportive of Serbia’s ugly regime as well as of the putschists in Romania.
We’re geographically moving Eastwards in the Mediterranean, so here comes the penultimate region – the Middle East:
The Saudi-Hashemite War ends with a negotiated peace brokered by both Maclean’s Labour Foreign Secretary Ramsay MacDonald, France’s Paul Painlevé, and the eternal Kerensky. Before this happens, the Saudi rivalries escalate into factional warfare, the Shi’ites in al-Hasa and Qatif seize the moment for a rebellion on the Gulf coast and the Muttawakalites of Asir join opportunistically creating a pincher against a disintegrating Saudi presence in the Hejaz. In the intra-Saudi rivalry, Saud ibn Abdulaziz prevails on the wings of the more extreme faction among the Ikhwan and alienates many former allies of his father’s. He only gives in and signs the peace treaty when the situation is clearly and truly lost, long after the British have proposed this move for the first time. At that point in time, the Holy Sites were no longer salvageable for the Saudis, and so the Sharif of Mecca returns triumphantly, with restored Arab emirs from Asir to Ha’il having sworn allegiance to him as Caliph. The peace deal includes a small independent Israel under British protection, the secession of Soran from Kurdistan and a recognition of its borders by Iraq’s King Abdallah, and the conversion of al-Hasa and Qatif into British protectorates like other trucial states along the Gulf. (Persia is left out of the deal because the two warring Persian factions are not open to any compromise.)
This is something I wanted to explore in much greater detail in the future, and I feel particularly sorry for no longer being able to take the time to discuss it in depth with you all, and with people like @Falecius
in particular, who has helped me a great deal to understand the intricacies of Islamic politics in the first third of the 20th century. What I wanted to explore was a triumph of Reformist Islam in Arabia. I don’t think it’s been done on this site anywhere. Yet, it would change not just the 20th, but also our own century. The course of the Arabian War and the centralisation and militarisation it required, as well as Faisal’s and Abdallah’s OTL records as monarchs are giving us plenty of reasons to suspect that even in this Reform Islam-wank, the Hashemite realm is not going to be a progressive utopia at all. How it would look like, and how it would continue to inspire (or cause to react) Muslim thinkers from India to Africa, how its (probably increasingly close) ties with Turkestani Jadidism develop – I would have loved to think more about it. As it is, I don’t have the time to conceptualise it all in the detail necessary to warrant a properly written TL.
The last region which I had some plans for was China. For the moment, and for a while in the 1920s, the Federalists are firmly in control. But the seeds for a peasant revolt led by the Chinese SRs have already been sown. It would be a case of UoE-backed revolution, and Britain, the US, France, Japan and others would stand against them. That’s a delicate thing, and it doesn’t look easy for the revolutionary side – even if numbers could be on their side. I must say that all of this would probably depend too much on external factors of 1930s geopolitics which I have not yet come to flesh out, so to be honest, I’ve come to doubt all those plans. China is therefore quite an unwritten page.
Oh, but not to forget Eastern Europe
(a region I found more and more interesting the more I delved into it, and one most thoroughly affected by the divergences of TTL)
In 1923, elections would come up in Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, but the year starts with another, intra-Unitarist, coup in Serbia. Serbians had to admit defeat to the Italians over Montenegro and Albania, and retreat with their tails between their legs. Time to look for a scapegoat! That would be the Marshall, Racic, upon whom the ghosts he had called now fell, swept away by a takeover by angry Chetniks who blamed the "civilian" leadership for not devoting sufficient effort and resources to the war effort, and also for not delivering on the promises to the fighting Serbian men, of course because the old Radical leaders were too reluctant to let enough heads of Bosnian Muslim landowners roll so as to provide land for Serbs. That would change now! (You can probably tell I took inspirations from Romania's OTL fascist history, where every radical right-wing government was in danger of being couped away by another yet more radically right-wing group...) And so 1923 descends into nastiness in Serbian-controlled Bosnia, which prompts the EFP to finally make progress with the construction of a sovereign and self-defending Western Yugoslav state. Serbia's image abroad is worse than ever; even among Romania's old political elites, many are slightly disgusted.
The Bulgarian elections are easiest. Most of the opposition has been jailed in the context of the coup attempt, so it's only the IRSDLP and a few minority groups who can competitively contend with the BANU for seats. It's an orange landslide, and Stamboliysky is using it to clean up among the country's administration, appoint hundreds of new BANU-sympathising judges and professors across the country and generally entrench agrarian power in the country.
In Romania, the elections are accompanied by mass violence. This was a problem of OTL, too, and after TTL's coup, it's only getting worse. Averescu would try whatever he can to tweak the results. But he has little power on the ground in Transilvania, and much of the Wallachian and Moldavian countryside are in open conflict, while Southern Dobrugea is rocked by separatism. And for all the attempts at intimidation, electoral fraud, and smear campaigns of the press, the old parties still don't muster a majority. (People haven't forgotten they just voted for a constitution and were then told to stick it up their a****... also, which peasant wants to give back the land he just received?) There's a crisis, and King Ferdinand might continue to try to pull some "expert government" stuff, who would never get their budgets through parliament and would have to govern by decree - basically a sort of royal dictatorship, it isn't as if that hadn't been tried in Romania IOTL, or in Yugoslavia. It might take a year or two, or maybe four - but the tendency is clear for anyone to see. There's growing anti-royal resentment if he goes that path, such as had never widely existed IOTL in Romania, except that people didn't want Carol for his personality on the throne, but that was a different issue. And the Peasantists and Transilvanian Nationals are no radicals who would really deeply scare the small Romanian bourgeoisie deeply enough to make them long for autocracy. In the end, the "Bratianu system" will come to an end. Romania's reformist course will be reaffirmed, and when Ferdinand dies in 1927, it's surely a centre-left parliament who decides the future of the Romanian monarchy, and if it stays one, its monarch knows he's at the mercy of democratically elected politicians.
In Hungary, the Social Democrats are surely losing their majority. And then we have the interesting situation, for the first time ITTL, that a new coalition, whichever colour it may take (the social democrats could try to co-opt the Smallholders with concessions to agricultural independence, or a great non-socialist alliance could form, which would have to unite monarchists and republicans and people who had tried to kill each other, but nothing is impossible), must decide what to do with the centrally planned economy the social democrats have created. I'm going, for the heck of it, for the big anti-socialist coalition, and for it breaking apart in less than two years over the question of how far restitution of property should go, worn out by month-long general strikes. And another coalition forming, this time with a much less ambitious agenda as far as economic roll-back is concerned, probably just allowing some small-scale private enterprise. Because, systemic change is a hard thing to achieve, in either direction really. It was pushed through rather energetically in OTL in the 1990s in Eastern Europe because there was a near-consensus that communist central command economy had historically failed, and that there was no alternative to private market economies. Well, that's not the situation ITTL's 1920s, the whole discourse has never gotten that far. In the long run, Hungary still has a numerically strong peasantry, so while the loudest anti-socialist voices come from old regime politicians in Budapest, who must really be accomodated in any Hungarian society is the rural population. There are models and potential aid from the UoE in that regard
An all-out restoration attempt would probably shatter on the Red Militants. Actually, every reform might have to deal with them. As you can see, I wasn't finished with my ideas on Hungary. I found this experiment particularly exciting, but the only thing I'm sure about is that it is going to run into problems - now political ones after the economic ones. How it comes out of them...? I don't really know.
Czechoslovakia and Poland are somewhat easier. CZ has its huge coalition, who must stay together for ethno-nationalist reasons, and which has embarked on quite a reformist course ITTL, and proudly wears the laurels it has achieved in the Great War and subsequent German troubles. If no dysfunctional customs barriers are erected in Eastern Europe, then Czechoslovakia could become a rather prosperous country, to the extent that it might shine as a "model" for others in the region. I specifically have Romania in mind here: CZ is going to be just another piece in the big puzzle for the centre-left "new majority" to show that their way is really the way to pursue if you want to break out of underdevelopment and achieve general prosperity.
Poland, too, has it easier than IOTL, not having to be afraid of either of its neighbors too much, specifically not Germany. I've earmarked it for ND domination, but I think the ND have the potential not to slide down their OTL slope towards radical anti-semitism if this isn't a wider tendency.
And Serbia? Unitarism might collapse at some point over its own militancy and its failure to achieve much more. Or it might swing back to a more moderate version of autocracy and stabilise itself. But even then, it would be the odd one out in Eastern Europe, and actually all of Europe. So Unitarism is probably going to disintegrate and collapse at some point, either earlier or later. If it comes down, much else comes down, too, probably: the monarchy included, most likely. Depending on who is in power in Hungary and Western Yugoslavia at the time, this could be an opportunity to dogpile on the Serbians - but I doubt it. Also, the Militants in Bulgaria and Hungary and WYUGw would probably see it as the big opportunity to achieve their dream of a Red Balkan federation - but even if they try, it would fall flat, even in a troubled context like the Great Depression. The Chantilly borders, with the Serbian "self-corrections", are most certainly there to stay. Not every TL needs war on the Balkans all the time
And that was it. That was the TL as I wrote it until mid-1920. Having written this TL over the course of 2019 and 2020 was not always easy, but it was always great fun. And that was first and foremost due to all my loyal readers and their lively discussions. Let me, once again, say a big
to them. If you want to read up on all the discussions, here is the original thread:
Hello everyone, this is my first timeline in the After 1900 section, and I'm still somewhat insecure about it all. I have a lot of ideas for this timeline, but this is part of history where, even though I have spent the last months reading up, others are way more knowledgeable than me, and...
Another big thank you also goes to all those who have contributed their own updates and thus helped me with this TL: @Falecius
with the Middle East, @Karelian
with Finland, @lukedalton
with Italy, @galileo-034
on many aspects, @LuckyLuciano
with the US. It was an honour and a great pleasure having worked and discussed with you.
Two years have passed now since I had ended the TL. Just frequently, I had answered another question by @Ukrainian Victory
, so here are two last addenda to the TL which I wrote only weeks ago. The first one was in reply to a question which has become fairly evident now, but which wasn't so much to me back in 2019/20. Since then, in the heartland of TTL's Red-and-Green Revolution, a horrible war has unfolded with the military aggression of Putin's Russia against Ukraine. In this context, it makes sense, of course, to ask whether TTL's Union of Equals could fall apart, just like OTL's Soviet Union did, leaving behind all sorts of unsolved conflict potentials. My answer to this was:
I tend to consider it a lot less likely. IOTL the Soviet Union was kept together by a globally ostracised ideology and its power apparatus. When that ideology suffered a global defeat, the USSR fell apart just like Yugoslavia, when various groups wanted both their own national thing and out from the sinking ideological ship . ITTL, while ideology plays a role, too, it is closer to global general trends,.so even crises and reforms need not create such uncontainable centrifugal forces.
Then again, while thr USSR and post-WW2 Yugoslavia were held together by communism, interwar Yugoslavia was not, yet possessed many centrifugal forces. Serbian dominance there was not by far as strong as Russian in the UoE. So while it isn't an automatism, breakup might still happen.
One fault line I had thought of was in the Islamic South. Its initial pro-UoE forces were either Jadidist or corrupt or both. Given that conflicts between conservative and reformist forces would continue, radical conservative Islamist groups, backed by ethnic dynamica, might try to break free.
Another fault line is Russian chauvinism It must come back at some Point, and when it does it's toxic and fatal for the union. How breakup might proceed then, I am not sure.
And then, Ukrainian Victory had another question, this time about Jews living in the former Pale of Settlement, and immigration from Western Europe into the UoE. Here is the full reply - and the ultimate conclusion of this timeline. Promised!
Jews in the Former Pale
The Jewish population in the Pale had started to decline long before 1917. From its peak at around 5 million, it had decreased by something between 25 and 40 percent over the next 34 years, i.e. before the war began. Poverty was not the only reason (that had not changed from before); it was the repeated pogroms of the 1880s and 1900s, the rabid antisemitism of Tsar Alexander III. and the new restrictions he introduced, in a time in which global mobility was rapidly expanding, and especially the USA had become an attractive destination for Jewish migrants (and Zionism was forming, too).
Would this trend continue?
Well, first of all, the official end to the restrictions on Jewish settlement issued by the Provisional Government in March 1917 meant that Jewish citizens of the former Russian Empire could now freely choose where to live in the new Union of Equals. Thus, to some degree, movement out of the Pale and into other parts of the UoE would happen and lead to some degree of deconcentration. Open-minded young Jews from the Pale will start studying in Petrograd, Moscow and elsewhere within the UoE. Zones of heavy industrial production across the Union will attract Jewish workers. And so on. This alone will probably drive down the number of Jews in the Pale to some extent, though I find it hard to predict exactly by how much.
Emigration to the US will be limited by the US itself, first by restrictive laws comparable to OTL, then also by the economic breakdown and poverty that the US experienced IOTL and experiences ITTL, too, after 1929. It will not completely stop, but slow down considerably.
Entirely different pictures compared to OTL are Germany and Palestine. Some emigration of Russian Jews to Germany had occurred pre-WW1. IOTL, the Bolshevik takeover caused a new wave of Jewish emigration in the 1920s. That completely ended in 1933, of course, although very few „Ostjuden“ living in Nazi Germany fled back to the Soviet Union. Palestine, on the other hand, is not a League of Nations mandate ITTL, but an utterly dependent British client state, wrought from the hands of the Hashemites in the treaty that ended the Hashemite-Saudi War. The new Palestine iss maller than post-WW2 Israel, by a lot, and hasn’t been officially declared a „Jewish state“, but it’s been designed to be majority-Jewish and controlled by pro-British Jewish groups. Jewish immigration is allowed, but numerically limited. Without the Holocaust, I doubt that this changes soon.
Which takes us to the biggest elephant in the room – the Shoah, whose victims were to a very significant degree Jews from the former Pale. And to a smaller elephant, namely the question of whether decolonisation will proceed differently from OTL.
Addressing the question of decolonisation is a bit too huge, to be honest, and might derail my attempt to answer the question. Let us just say that the British Empire holds on to its Palestinian client state well into the second half oft he 20th century, all the while keeping the lid on Jewish (and other) immigration on, late enough for a Jewish migration from the former Pale into Palestine to require a new, different reason from the ones that had driven the dynamics of the pre-WW1 emigration, and of course a different reason from OTL’s Shoah, which does not take place ITTL, neither in Germany, nor anywhere else.
No aliya to Israel waves, no Bolshevik revolution and civil war, and most importantly no Nazi invasion and no Shoah all mean that the Jewish population in the former Pale of Settlement will remain incomparably more numerous than IOTL. It might shrink for a while still, probably rebound a little, before the anti-baby pill brings down birth rates in all more or less developed countries.
Thus, a figure somewhere between two and three million Jews in the former Pale of Settlement, or more precisely, in the Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Bessarabian Federative Republics, makes sense to me. (For we need to take into account that of the 3-4 million Jews living in the Russian Empire in 1914, about a fifth ends up in TTL’s Poland.)
So… is the end of the shtetl averted ITTL?
(I know this was not the question, but I’ll address it anyway.)
In a way.
Sure, once it becomes easier to move out somewhere else, some people will do that, and most of them will blend in or form less compact communities. Sure, modernity’s teeth are gnawing at all culturally coherent communities.
But the mere fact that no Shoah is killing off the majority of the former Pale’s Jews and motivating many of the rest to emigrate e.g. to Israel means that these communities evolve without great exogenic shocks through the 20th century. Ethnic and cultural enclaves exist across the world, and while some dissolve faster, others remain distinguishable for many centuries, and our modern (post-)industrial age knows quite a lot of coherent, compact, distinct communities in small alleys of the global village. Hasidic Jews have been particularly known for such behaviour. Now, the different course of TTL’s 20th century must change Hasidism deeply, too, when compared to OTL. Still, it doesn’t change everything.
And I believe I have already set the ground for more structural reasons for the shtetl to maybe take on new forms, diversify, in some parts modernise, but not necessarily to disappear. In various post-revolutionary governments, Jewish groups have played a small but indispensable role in the formation of coalition majorities. And they have delivered to their constituents things which I believe will not be taken away from them in the decades that came after the revolution: tax money going into (formally democratically overseen) Yeshivot and schools in general; the formation of a Jewish militia as a component of the Republican Guards etc. All of this strengthens the cores and the function of existing Jewish settlements for Jewish life: sure, now there will be Yeshivot in Moscow and Petrograd, too, but the existing traditional important ones will continue to shine brighter for quite a while still. The paramilitary arm can protect Jewish inhabitants of compact communities a lot better than Jewish citizens living somewhere else among the gentiles. While I don’t see another significant wave of pogroms in the cards ITTL, some unfortunate events here and there can never be excluded, considering how deep antisemitism runs in most European societies. There will be modern, urban Jews who frown at the narrow-minded traditionality of the shtetl and would never move there, not even if it would protect them better, and there will be traditionalists who see their compact community as the centre of their world. And there will probably even be new thinkers who will draw on some of the communal traditions of the shtetl even in new places and new contexts.
Now, the other question: Immigration from other European countries
… hm, probably not much. Petrograd, with its wild anarchist flavour / sub-culture (and no tuition fees) will certainly attract students from all over the world, and of course in a globalised economy, you will always have people moving from here to there, working in another country for a while. Few of them will stay for ever. Some people move to where their heart draws them. But the big push and pull factors of migration are wars, violence, catastrophes, and huge economic disparities.
In terms of economic disparities, even the most rose-tinted optimistic view on the UoE’s economic development compared to Western Europe and North America will have to acknowledge that the UoE will most probably continue to lag behind to some degree. To overcome or reverse the structural differences in development between Western and Eastern Europe – another interesting topic for a TL! – might require a much earlier PoD, maybe even one which sees no Mongol invasion. A world in which the UoE continues the former Russian Empire’s trajectory of economic development roughly still means a world in which e.g. Southern Italians looking for better paid jobs will more likely go to the US than to Ukraine, Russia or Turkestan. So, no mass immigration from Europe. Especially since I don’t think we would see another horrible world war in the heart of the European continent without the Nazis, which I have nipped in the bud.
That does not mean that the UoE would not attract immigrants at all. In comparison to other regions of the world, it is more developed, and elsewhere, violent conflicts will happen. Conflicts in China and Southern Asia might push some people (not unlikely of Muslim persuasion) into the UoE (maybe into Turkestan, but not necessarily exclusively). Speaking of Muslim immigration: the close ties between the UoE and the Hashemite kingdoms which I have already begun to build would only consolidate in a world where the main rivalry is between the UoE and Britain, and the British have lost their favor with the Hashemites. This is a tie that specifically binds the Jadidist-led new political entities and forces in the UoE to the equally reformist elites of these MIddle Eastern nations. If conflicts should break out somewhere across the globe, and reformist Muslims come under attack by whomever else, then the UoE generally makes a lot of sense as their place of asylum.
Thus, I expect the UoE’s countries to look a lot more diverse and colourful than IOTL, especially compared to OTL’s Russia, which has seen little immigration.