Long-term impacts of no world wars?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by GustavusAdolphus1, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. VictorLaszlo Well-Known Member

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    IOTL significantly more historic buildings were lost in peacetime than in war. Prior to OTL's 1970s the idea of urban heritage conservation was next to non-existent, entire quarters had been levelled to build impressive new boulevards and create wide new squares as early as the 1860's, medieval monasteries were torn down to build department stores, old city halls were happilly demolished to be replaced with new, more spacious and representative ones which would fall victim to the same procedure a couple of decades later.

    A continued peace would have led to a lot more capital being available in Europe of which a good part would have been invested in real estate. And while a part of those investments would have been used to build up previously undevelopped areas, a substatial part would have been invested in redevelopment projects in the city centres. Investors would consider those low old buildings unprofitable and want to replace them with new, higher ones. And the up and coming architects of the time they'd hire and the city planners that would grant them permission to carry out their plans had developped a real hate boner for historic buildings, going as far as to call their decorative styles of centuries past a crime and beautiful old town centres "clogged up with old junk that should be put down, the earlier the better".

    Without the World Wars we might have ended up with fewer surviving old buildings, especially in eastern Europe, since IOTL the money simply wasn't there to build new ones. Had e.g. the Great Depression not interfered, Prague's New Town embankment might have been "rejuvenated" with up to 20 floors high modernist buildings according to the plans of my grand uncle in the early 1930's. Just to give an idea of how much he disliked everything old and decorative, he had inherited an art nouveau style house and the first thing he did was to modernise it by having all the typical art nouveau decorations chipped off, the art nouveau windows torn out and having it remodelled in the then popular new objectivity style with a white, tiled facade.

    And even where single historic monuments of sufficient importance were to be preserved, it, more often than not, did end up the way of the then newly finished Cologne Cathedral, where the surrounding buildings, most of them dating back to the medieval, renaissance and baroque eras, had been demolished in the 1880s and 90s to grant an unconfined view of the monument from all directions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
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  2. NiGHTS BMC-14

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    This is pretty interesting. Thanks for the correction.
     
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  3. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    The V-2 was the first example of a ballistic missile, true (the V-1 was not a rocket at all, but a cruise missile, and that idea dates back to World War I). However, there was substantial interest in private experimentation in rocketry in the 1920s and 1930s that built the foundations for the V-2, and there was interest in rockets for more limited military uses (principally as short-range artillery, individual weapons, and for boosting aircraft; Katayushas, Bazookas, and JATO units, basically) as well. The former field is unlikely to be impeded by the absence of the world wars, and neither is the latter; in fact, without the destruction of WWI and the resulting economic impact, it's entirely possible that armies are more willing to experiment with such things than they were IOTL and there is overall faster development in the basic science and engineering. It's likely that the first spaceflights take place later, but when you really start digging the Nazis were nowhere near as important as they initially appear.

    Also, you can make an argument that the Apollo program slowed space exploration down, rather than speeding it up. The race to the Moon meant that a huge amount of funding was poured into a system designed to do one specific thing, rather than a smaller amount of money being spent on systems to allow people to do many general things, and it created a bad "race mentality" at NASA that hasn't been able to adapt to "normal" conditions. Additionally, it directly led to the cancellation of many programs for robotically exploring the Moon, which would have been less costly if less effective.

    It's hardly certain that there isn't a flu pandemic about the same time anyway, given the large and growing volume of world trade and communications at the time; no war necessary, just the same way that the 1957-58 and 1968-69 pandemics didn't have any particular connections to ongoing conflicts. In any case, while the flu pandemic may have led to certain people doing certain things which in our timeline led to certain breakthroughs, it's far from clear that corresponding breakthroughs wouldn't have been made in an alternate timeline without a flu pandemic by different (or even the same) people. For example, there had been a number of experiments into and reports of antibacterial substances from molds over the fifty years or so before Fleming's discovery, they just hadn't been followed up on the same way that Fleming's was. It seems rather likely to me that sooner or later someone will figure out how to isolate the active substance and synthesize it effectively; it may not be quite as early, but with no World War II there probably aren't as many people who need it, anyway.

    Also, humans would still be exposed to avian flu without the Spanish pandemic. Avian flu likely predates human civilization...

    The United States was one of the most influential countries in the Pacific from at least 1898 onwards...I mean, it controlled the Philippines, was one of the main foreign powers involved in China, and, of course, actually bordered the ocean, unlike the European nations you mention. After the Russo-Japanese War, it was pretty much the only serious rival for Japan in the basin. Maybe Britain could play a role, but France and Germany were too occupied with continental concerns to really be able to exert themselves, however much they might try for a time.

    Unlikely. While there might not be an overarching concept of a United Nations/League of Nations as a major international force, rather than being a mere futuristic dream, there were already a growing number of international organizations and arrangements to facilitate cooperation between nations, such as the Universal Postal Union (founded in 1874) or the World Meteorological Organization (1873), not to mention treaties like the Hague Conventions (in 1899 and 1907) or the first Geneva Conventions (1864 and 1906). More likely is that the development of international cooperation on these areas is slower to develop and more piecemeal, with individual treaty organizations focusing on specific areas like intellectual property, refugees, cultural heritage, and the like, without being part of an overarching framework. But the general idea of international cooperation was already there and developing; it will continue to do so without the wars.

    Again, no. Many human rights concepts were developing before the wars, and merely accelerated their spread thanks to the wars instead of being created by them. It's likely that you'll see slower adoption of the concept, especially without two (nominally) rights-focused states becoming global superpowers and influencing others to pay at least lip service to the concept of rights, but it will be there and will likely be fairly prominent in at least some countries.
     
  4. Gancio The Ranter Well-Known Member

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    Without the world wars, Russia will eventually come for a rematch, the tide was already turning for the Russians in the last days of the russo Japanese wars
    Also China is coming too sooner or later
     
  5. anotherlurker Well-Known Member

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    China would be an interesting case... could go 2 ways. Either the great powers come to some agreement and partition it (UK and Russian outposts kept expanding deeper and deeper into China before ww1) or start proppint it up and investing to have it as a counter weight against Japan and Russia (the German engagement in the 30s). The later would still be an interesting choice for Germany as Russia would be getting scary in the 1920s.
     
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  6. Gancio The Ranter Well-Known Member

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    American culture will be a lot more "European" and less Anglo. Also delayed great migration would greatly diminish the impact of afroamericans on pop culture
    The US would be more catholic, more Jewish and more orthodox, since European migration from Southern and Eastern Europe will continue until the 40s for the former and the 60s for the latter. There wouldn't be many Koreans and Vietnamese, since those wars wouldn't happen in this timeline. Also if living conditions in Latin America improve it means that the us may have way less Latinos.
    Art Deco will still be there but many more modern style will have more time to develop. Italian futurism for example was a big thing before the war in many different arts. Just look at the projects of Antonio Sant'Elia
     
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  7. Gancio The Ranter Well-Known Member

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    The first one is not only impossible but wasn't even considered by most countries. The only ones that want a piece of China are Japan and Russia, all the other major players are interested in keeping the enormous Chinese market open for their companies, without needing to actually control the territory
    Also China was already slowly industrializing, there was simply too much money to be made through investments in the country, sooner or later a nationalist party will unify China and kindly kick the foreigners out. This might mean war with Japan and tensions with Russia
    Also keep in mind that this China would be a much different competitor than Communist China, probably more populous (since the one child only policy wouldn't be implemented) and wealthier due to capitalism. Imagine a Chinese led bloc of new powers challenging the traditional western players like Europe, Russia, Japan and the US for world domination
     
  8. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    With Regards to China. GB signed Japan to the Anglo-Japanese Treaty to confine Japanese focus to North China leaving Southern China for GB. The Europeans collaborate in banking and investment. The Japanese were happy to tag along. The US didn’t like this, hence the Open Door policy. The reality was that the US didn’t like participating in bodies it didn’t control.
     
  9. anotherlurker Well-Known Member

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    That too is certainly possible, though after the 50s or so.

    It reminds me, the wars were big road bumps for industrializations around the world, this could end in a climate catastrophe before the turn of the century as there's so much more being done sooner or faster while the climate change awareness is still only forming at otl speed.
     
  10. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    Without a particularly unlucky 20th century consisting of the First World War, the Russian Civil War, communist oppression, famines (many of which were a result of said communist repression), the Second World War, and the post-Soviet malaise, Russia’s population would be much, much larger. The same applies to the Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia, and much of the rest of the former Russian Empire and Soviet Union as well - and here, they would likely remain part of the Russian Empire or some successor state.
     
  11. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    there are SOOOOOOO many changes from it would be hard to predict
     
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  12. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    Russia will bring Europe and Asia together much like Germany brought England and Russia together in our time. Russia would have military dominance by 1930 and no longer need France but Europe would match Russia equally without US help. In Asia, the Russian Pacific Fleet will match the size of the IJN which will be much smaller (24 capital ships each). GB and Germany will find common ground in countering Russia while France will seek a more independent role.
     
  13. Gancio The Ranter Well-Known Member

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    This is certainly a possibility, that said, the also world War stopped solar energy from being developed by Frank Shuman and the cold War demonized nuclear energy research. This two things wouldn't happen in this timeline. Also many developing countries would undergo the demographic transition earlier resulting in a smaller and older population in the third and fourth world.
     
  14. MattII Well-Known Member

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    No World Wars means 80 million more people alive for those wars alone, and more when you consider it probably stops the 1918 Influenze Pandemic, which would save most of the 50-100 million live lost there.

    Also, it's not just the humans cost you have to think about with wars, but also the industrial cost. The Atlantic U-boat campaign in WW1 resulted in the destruction of ~8 million tons of shipping, while in WW2 it was ~21 million tons. Not to mention the aircraft lost, and the tanks, and trucks, etc. Oh, and then they suddenly become war-surplus and all the factories that were built up for the war suddenly find themselves with no orders coming in (because the military is downsizing, and are letting a lot of stuff go as war-surplus), leading to massive layoffs, and/or closures. And then there's the 'technology' argument. Total bunkum I'm afraid. Oh maybe in a very few fields does war advance technology, but it only does so at the cost of hundreds of other projects that either wouldn't benefit the military, or would be rather too close to what the military is doing for them to be comfortable with.

    So yeah, war is pretty crap all around.
     
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  15. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    Inflation is very much a child of war and as Keynes said, 'inflation is the Government silently taking your money'. The German government's Hyper-inflation wiped out all internal debt and most German's life savings.

    Here are a couple of examples of wartime price rises that never returned to pre-war levels.

    Energy:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Iron and Steel:
    [​IMG]

    Machinery:
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    As a rough guesstimate of the impact of manpower losses, Australia sent 300,000 men over-seas. 60,000 died and of the rest none were discharged fit. This was 40% of the working age male population.

    Lets assume in 1913, males are responsible for 80% of GDP.
    • 1913 Population = 4,820,172
    • About 2,410,086 are male
    • 750,000 working age male (based on 300k being 40%)
    • 690,000 survivors (50% with some form of disability/injury)
    This suggests perhaps at least 8% less production for a generation on 1913 levels. Far more than the 1.2% of population loss suffered in the war.
    Perhaps by the same proportion, German losses of 2m men out of 68m Germans in 1913 would equate to a permanent loss of 13% of GDP from productive manpower.

    The loss of males in war didn't impact breeding stock, females just bred with other males. The Spanish Flu did impact numbers of healthy young females - assume 4-5 million. The bigger impact is in women chosing to have 2, 3 or 4 children. In poor economic circumstances between the wars then this would put a crimp on the natural size of families.
     
  17. anotherlurker Well-Known Member

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    Without the wars the traditional migration destinations will at first see less immigration than OTL as there's less hardship in Europe, then after the 50s or 60s maybe more than OTL as there's simply more people in absolute numbers in Europe and thus more immigration. Probably at a higher rate than OTL, the cities will be quite dense in Europe and there's simply not that much land available to satisfy everyones needs.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    You would see more sharing of technology between countries, with less emphasis on military development. Proposals for floating landing strips might have been executed for trans-Atlantic mail delivery. Ultimately, they would go obsolete by the thirties. Without war, Fritz Haber would be remembered as the man who fed the world for fixing atmospheric nitrogen, and not for poison gas in war. Ironically, Haber starved to death in the Third Reich for having been born Jewish. That’s another issue: anti-Semitism does not get squashed as well by the late forties. Keep in mind it was a problem in the U.S. as well as Europe. (I think there was another thread on this subject,) On the other hand, earlier development of television will do well to curb racism and bigotry as it did in OTL. The effect on technology will be a net positive, though the sequence of advances will be different.

    The United States will not have the same thrust of political dominance, but it won’t crawl back into a shell as it did in the twenties.

    Looking farther forward, the space program and the progress to integrated circuit chips will come along, but will be slower without the pressure of military buildup.

    Atomic/Nuclear power might be introduced with the creation of a sea level canal through Honduras, with severe environmental complications. Nukes will first be thought of as construction tools and the notion of using them in war will be unthinkable to the point that international treaties come along, Geneva convention style.
     
  19. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    People asked about movies; Hollywood would still be a thing, but it compete with French, German and Russian language industries much more than in OTL. Russia are a giant market with population rival king the English speaking world, and without the revolution and wars, it will just grow even more, and the land reforms will mean Russia will have a growing middle class with money to spend. The German market are smaller in the long with Germany and AH plus the other European countries with German as L2 language. But again it will have growing wealth. France are pretty much the same as in OTL, but with Hollywood being weaker it will have a stronger position on its home market. The other producers will simply look a lot as in OTL.
     
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  20. MattII Well-Known Member

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    'No war' doesn't mean 'no rivalry'. The various powers in Europe will continually be trying to one-up each other in terms of technology.

    Mm, personally I think nuclear power will be applied to power-stations before bombs in this world.

    There's also the question of what happens in China.
     
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