Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Thande, Sep 2, 2019.
Man, I really hope that's the case.
I wouldn't be surprised to see *southwestern Louisiana to the the Sabine River annexed from New Ireland in return for its independence, and Carolina west of the boundaries of the Cherokee Empire as well. Definitive control of the Mississippi watershed, best ratio of relatively assimilable and empty land to existing population on the ground, and prettier borders overall.
The Societists will still have cape canaveral
The Societists will have Cape Canaveral as a space port
Space exploration hasn’t been focused upon much if at all yet in the story
At the very end, it was mentioned that the Cherokee were staying off of the ENA's radar. That leads me to ask about the Choctaws: what happened to them?
Societists should have Kourou already. However, the ENA has little in the way of particularly good launching sites... but so had the Soviet Union.
IIRC, the OTL "Five Civilised Tribes" all became part of the Cherokee Empire - note that they have an enclave in Florida, inhabited by the Seminole.
So much prettier, but I would have prefered it if the ENA had kept Nueva Irland. I'm just being demanding now though.
I suspect the Caribbean "Great Game" expy between the Combine and the ENA is going to restart fairly soon.
I wonder, is the ENA going to grab Puerto Rico when Carolina turns Societist, to protect its Caribbean holdings.
Guatemala is not going to like that.
I had forgotten that...
However, if Guatemala becomes in danger of turning Societist...
Guatemala does not really appear anywhere near the position in which what they like or not matters.
That DOES look so much better! If they integrate Carolina with pic 2 it would look pretty darn fine, and a nice vague allusion to OTL borders without really having historical similarities at all once you look deeper into settlement and history.
Begging Thande to make picture 2 canon at least.
I wonder if the Combine's use of a state church, expansionism and assimilation policies help revive the Black Legend. Further proof would be ethnic Spaniards cooperating with the Combine
The Philippines IOTL used to have a whole pan-malay movement which is said to stem from Jose Rizal, the national hero, wanting to reunite the "Malay Race" aka Austronesians in one nation and erasing colonial boundaries.
It almost happen with MaPhilIndo, an informal non political union between Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia. It lasted a month before it broke down and the later formation of ASEAN ultimately ended the movement.
Without sounding dumb but what is Nueva Ireland ITTL?
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Part #259: The Serpent’s Apple
“White Gate to Crocus Vale. Confirm authorisation. As Greenwich Greenwich is now complete, personnel identified in memo Barking Abbey Two are released from usual duties. Personnel are to report to White Gate for preliminary interview with Orpington One Two. Depending on the outcome of those interviews, some or all of these personnel may then be stationed at Gold Dolphin. Ensure transport arrangements are made. White Gate, out.”
–part of a transmission to or from the English Security Directorate base at Snowdrop House, Croydon, intercepted and decrypted by Thande Institute personnel
From: Motext Pages EX521G-J [retrieved 22/11/19].
Remarks: These pages are listed under “SAAX Political Studies Revision: Syllabus A and C”.
Extraneous advertising has been left intact.
There’s a question that’s very commonly asked by students of the political history of this period—though they not always vocalise it in these exact terms. Sometimes they just show it by a subconscious attitude! But we need to address this before we begin, or it will taint your attempts to understand the era.
This question is, simply, ‘How did Societism become so popular?’
We are, of course, specifically talking here about the 1900s and the 1910s, the aftermath of the Pandoric Revolution. People in this era had a very different mindset towards Societism—not only Societists themselves, but the average person in the street in different countries across the world. it can be very hard for us to appreciate this, here and now. Oddly enough, though, you might be able to do it better than many of your teachers. You have been born into a world without the Combine (at least in a form anyone would recognise) and can therefore view its history with fewer preconceptions and filters. Your teachers, on the other hand, may well be of a generation whose formative years were in the 1980s or 1970s. Many of them may not be able to separate the earlier history of the Combine from the ideas that they gained when they were your age. To them, the Combine will always signify a decaying, ineffective entity, unable to come to terms with the fact that it no longer represents the radical cutting edge of ideological boldness. Apparently, superficially, it seemed harmless or even comical. Yet behind the blank face it presented to the world, deep within, suppressed anger was slowly building towards the tragedy of 1990. It takes a very flexible mind to cast aside those impressions if one lived through those years.
But people in the 1900s and 1910s could not foresee the future, of course. Their impressions of the Combine reflect ignorance of days yet unborn, history yet unwritten. Just as commentators in the early 1700s might have imagined Prussia would grow to become a great power, or those in the 1840s might think that the rift between Carolina and the ENA would be a passing dispute and easily resolved. We are more tolerant of examples such as that, and too often more punishingly judgemental of the first case, just because our minds are filled with what the Combine became. Do you see now just how crucial your generation will be for historiography? In his speech at the ASN in 2015, German Interrex Ludwig Steinburg called upon the youth of the nations to deliver older generations from the taint of the Quiet War. Interrex Steinburg argued that by seeking to become the antithesis of Sanchezista views, Diversitarianism ran the risk of merely preserving the indent of those views on the world, much like an asimconic negative. (Perhaps before too long we will have to explain what an asimconic negative is, but hopefully your generation has not yet entirely been converted to bimeric cameras!) Only your generation, who have grown up without your worldview being defined by that struggle of ideologies, can truly move the world forward rather than being stuck in those old, now obsolete, disputes. No pressure!
In many ways, in fact, you’re closer in attitude to those people in the 1900s. You’ve been taught about what Societism wrought on the world, but you didn’t experience it firsthand; it’s history to you. Let’s try to immerse ourselves in a mindset of people who didn’t even know that...
The pre-Iversonian Soviet philosopher Yuri Kazmirov argued (1969) that Societism was an inherently attractive forbidden fruit to young people and the naturally rebellious, that its revolutionary attitude in tearing down the old world was a simplistic solution that the nuanced views of cooler heads could not compete with. This was soundly rejected outside Russia. Klaus Wenediger (1970) fluently demolished Kazmirov’s view as fundamentally defeatist, and essentially motivated by attempting a “post hoc” justification of repressive Soviet policies. If Societist writings were to be treated as an infectious disease with no vaccine or cure, then of course the Soviet regime was justified in keeping its people away from those books—and any others it decided they didn’t need to see. C. Raoul Lebrun (1972) further suggested that Kazmirov was setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it was the very authoritarianism of the Soviets that was making Societism into a forbidden fruit. Drawing upon some of the Carltonist economics espoused and debated in France in the early 1970s, Lebrun suggested that Societism simply could not survive in a truly ‘free market’ of ideas. He argued that it would wither on the vine if national governments ceased to draw attention to it.
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The ideas of Lebrun, Wenediger and many others (check your reading list!) influenced Angus Iverson and the other architects of Propagation Protocol A, better known as the Iverson Protocol, which came into effect in 1978. But though we can debate the effectiveness or otherwise of the Iversonian approach—Interrex Steinburg evidently believed it had run its course, four decades on—it is also possible to argue that global Societism was already in decline by the time Kazmirov was writing.
This is a controversial viewpoint, and rightly so. No number of graphs depicting falling numbers of ageing Societist groups across the free world can stand against the self-evident attitude of the Diversitarian thinkers of the day. But as we said about your teachers, even the most intelligent minds are inevitably shaped by preconceptions driven by their formative experience. For the first half of the twentieth century, Societism (usually synonymous with the Combine) had gone from strength to strength, advancing repeatedly in three huge waves and never in retreat. Fear and peril for the future were the order of the day in the free world, and the drive to prevent the ‘Liberated Zones’ from expanding further possessed a visceral urgency that your generation can scarcely appreciate. There was a sense that the nations had their backs to the wall and the floor beneath them was being undermined. Some were pessimistic enough to think that Societist victory and world conquest was inevitable, and all that could be done was to fight to keep one more generation free before the inevitable collapse.
Men and women across the nations held to this attitude as a central pillar of their existence, and found it very hard to adapt to a world in which it might no longer be true. Indeed, it can be argued that when the nations did begin to accept this, in part due to generational change, it mirrored a similar epiphany on the part of the Combine, its rulers suspecting their glory days were over—and so the descent to 1990 began.
More recently, Ertegun (2017) even suggested that these assumptions on the part of the European, Chinese and American Diversitarian theorists of the 1960s and 70s could be recognised in a parallel attitude towards the Soviets themselves. Russia had traced an almost unambiguously ascendant trajectory throughout the same first half of the twentieth century, and indeed before that. It mattered not that the Sunrise War had ended that ascent by breaking the old Russian Empire; Ertegun argues that men like Lebrun and Wenediger were still subconsciously viewing Soviet Russia as a threat to their nations almost as great as that of Societism itself. It is an interesting lens through which to view the struggles between Novgorod’s Empty Throne and the other ASN nations with, but a view many on both sides would reject.
But if we accept that the viewpoints of people are in part driven by their formative years, what does that say about that earlier generation of the 1900s? How was Societism seen at this time?
It’s often exaggerated by writers trying to prove a point, but it’s fair to say that before the outbreak of the Pandoric War, Societism was generally seen as a minor, eccentric ideology. Given its relative popularity among certain fashionable sectors of Cordoba and Buenos Aires society (no pun intended) in the 1880s, it was sometimes put on the level of a bourgeois cult akin to the Freemasons. The writings of Sanchez were treated as something between a well-meaning but naïve affirmation made with knowing cynicism and a purely ritualistic rite of passage. However, evidently, some of those young man (such as Bartolomé Jaimes, often cited as a key early figure but on the basis of little concrete information) took those rituals more seriously to heart than others.
An alternative (but sometimes simultaneously held) view of Societism was that it was an ideology sincerely held by earnest young men who wanted to change the world, and lacked the experience to recognise that there were no such easy answers to the world’s problems. This view is the one which aligns best with Kazmirov’s later position, but fundamentally fails to explain why Societism appealed to such a minority of a minority at that time. Furthermore, there were many other simple solutions for such young men to sink their teeth into, from radical Mentianism to Superhumanism to Gnativism and other heterodox religious movements. Societism was considered obscure even among that lineup to many.
Of course, that obscurity did not prevent a small number of representatives identifying as Societist from being democratically elected in that era. At the outbreak of the Pandoric War, Societist politicians in later ASN nations included Henry Palliser in Great Britain, Jules Degenlis in France, Walther Schmalz in Germany and Godfrey Rockefeller in Pennsylvania/the ENA. These men were generally regarded as well-meaning purists unwilling to sully themselves with party ties, often with great loyalty from their voters. But some also said that they would become dangerous if entrusted with power, drawing comparisons to Mo Quedling. Indeed, many of these early Societist politicians were admirers of Quedling (as Sanchez himself had been) and also members of his Pacific Society.
The previous paragraph says ‘these men’ and for good reason. Even in an era where politicians were overwhelmingly male, and women were only just beginning to make their mark on politics, 1890s Societism was described by contemporaries as male-dominated. Perhaps its character owed too much to those bourgeois secret societies and clubs that were male-only. Some have suggested the Garderista tendency might have repelled female members, but this is questionable given how theoretical that debate was at the time.
There were also proletarian Societists drawn from the Caraibas tradition, and in practice these may have been the most influential pre-Pandoric group in the long run, but typically, at the time these drew the least interest from chroniclers and little is recorded about them.
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Now we need to unlock this problem further. Just what exactly attracted that small number of people to Societism in the 1880s and 1890s—and what changed so that much larger numbers found an appeal later on?
We need to try to look at Societism with the eyes of those people and ignore our own preconceptions based on what came after. What was Societism’s biggest ‘selling point’ to the average person? It certainly came with many problematic aspects beyond those which we now think of. Sanchez’s description of his Universal Hierarchy, no matter how much he emphasised that he considered a peasant equal to a king (they merely did different jobs) could easily be seen as patronising. To turn Kazmirov’s claims back on him, in this respect it was the radical Mentians who had the ‘simple’ ideology to appeal to the rebellious (poor) youth—overthrow the ruling classes and break the chains of the workers—and the Societists who had the more ‘nuanced’, superficially ‘sensible’ approach that supposedly could not compete.
Historically, the core aim of Societism can be summarised simply as ‘prevent war by eliminating division’. While Sanchez’s writings could become far more esoteric and philosophical in terms of what the ultimate goal was—or perhaps merely the ultimate prophesised outcome, in the more passive way he regarded such matters—in terms of the average person rather than the expert, it boiled down to that. Everyone could agree that war was, in principle, a negative phenomenon. It ended lives, destroyed property and consumed resources that could have been directed to other ends. It was this argument that ultimately allowed Societism to successfully compete with radical Mentianism’s revolutionary approach to ending poverty, and for it to appeal to those working-class people who otherwise might have regarded Societism as patronising towards them. Societists adopted the Godwinist view that there was not a natural shortage of wealth or resources in the world, but that poverty existed because war consumed such a large percentage of those things.
Societist thinkers argued that a world without war would be a world in which all men and women could possess sufficient wealth and property to have happy and fulfilled lives, “without” needing to remove substantial wealth and property from those who presently possessed it to excess. In this they were influenced by Sanchez’s 1862 critique of Carltonism. Despite coming from a seemingly obscure book review, this proved significant enough to be incorporated into the 1879 “Societist Primer” compiled by Raul Caraibas. Sanchez had drawn a distinction between what he called ‘inequality of necessity’, in which one man lives in excess while a second starves, and ‘inequality of luxury’, in which one man lives in excess while the other lives in adequacy. Sanchez, and later Caraibas, had attacked Mentian thinkers for treating these two kinds of inequality as the same. They argued that the first should be regarded as an obscene outrage, while the latter should be considered a tolerable state of affairs. Caraibas (or possibly his ghost-writer) wrote that ‘It is not that inequality of luxury is necessarily an image that appeals, particularly to those of us who may feel we are much more likely to be the second man living in adequacy. But we must not only consider that state of affairs, but the alternative likely to result if we seek to redress the balance through violent action in the paleo-Jacobin manner.... revolutionary violence is a form of warfare, and is likely to consume so much of the resources that our jealous second man desires, that it cannot end in any state ... other than both men living in adequacy—or, more likely, both men starving’.
Caraibas’ ‘revolutionary violence is a form of warfare’ quote was repeatedly reused and expanded by other Societist writers. Later this often took the logical form of ‘X is war, war is wrong, X is wrong’. Of course, in the Combine’s years of decline ‘X’ was often anything that a Zonal Rej had decided was undesirable. This is an example of how people of your teachers’ generation may be unable to take this seriously (or understand how people of the 1890s and 1900s did), because they only know it in this farcical context. Indeed, the phrase was arguably finally buried by Yan Mathews’ cutting remark summarising the Combine’s actions in the crisis of 1990: “Peace is war, war is wrong, peace is wrong.”
It’s because of how the Combine ended that it may be difficult now to appreciate that Societism was once considered a form of Pacifism; indeed, that that was its defining characteristic. Caraibas might have coined the Doctrine of the Last Throw, but fundamentally before the rise of Alfarus and the Celatores, the dominant manner of Societist thinking was nonetheless that violence was never justified, and that the world could never be united by force. It is this early, naïve, paleo-Societist view that we need to bear in mind when considering how the people of the 1900s viewed Societism as an ideology.
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The key point is that this appeal of Societism waxed and waned with time and events in the leadup to the Pandoric War. There were always people who were attracted to it not because of ‘prevent war’ but because of ‘by eliminating division’. The world had reeled under Linnaean Racism, Burdenism, Neo-Jacobinism and plain old prejudice. Slavery had been largely abolished, but the abolitionist movements in many countries (especially the ENA) had scarcely come out of the struggle well. Even in nations where many different races and languages came together, as in California or the UPSA, division and mutual resentment remained. It was, lest we forget, Manuel Vinay’s successful appeal to anti-immigration sentiment in the 1843 presidential election that led Sanchez to sour on the UPSA, and drove him into writing his most significant works.
Many people of African, native or mixed-race background had similarly grown discontented with Meridians frequently saying one thing and doing another when it came to alleged equality. This was true no matter how much those people deliberately turned their back on their ancestral culture and tried to fit in with Meridian criollo norms. The same was true in the northern confederations of the ENA, where religious identity was also a particularly contentious issue. There, as in Ireland and Belgium, it was possible to find examples of sectarian violence between gangs of alleged ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants’ who never went to church and had no real religious faith, but the division lived on in its absence.
With these sorts of examples, it is easy to see how some people had begun to despair that there could ever be true equality and acceptance across racial, linguistic and religious boundaries. The Societist view, that the answer was to actively destroy those boundaries, would naturally have more appeal to people who had already been willing to abandon their former culture to fit in, yet had still been refused acceptance by society.
Nonetheless, this was a relatively small group, and we must return to the first part of the summary: ‘to prevent war’. Sanchez wrote his books and gathered his original following at a time when the Great American War had inflicted damage and losses on both the UPSA and the ENA, and when both countries seemed to have foreign policies directed to ends which their people scarcely approved of. We often focus here on how Sanchez lost his faith in democracy as a consequence of the war, but he was not alone in being upset and angry that war had not been prevented (by any means). With this recent example, many families having lost their sons on a far foreign field fighting for a cause nobody understood or believed in, it was a fertile ground for the original generation of Societists to become established.
But the Great American War was followed by the Long Peace. In this era, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Societists faded into pseudo-masonic societies and the like. The ‘war is wrong’ appeal did not work when there were hardly any (major) conflicts going on throughout the world—at least not the sort that the average person was consciously aware of. There also seemed to be other ideological challenges. Some pointed to the work of Braithwaite and Aranibar and said that democracy had demonstrably prevented wars and promoted peace; others argued that any negative consequences of democracy had been neutralised by the grown of multinational corporate entities. War would no longer be ‘allowed’, those thinkers claimed, as it would be bad for business. Both sides called attention to Alain Tourneur and the ‘voyou’ movement in 1860s France, albeit in slightly different ways, pointing out that a long-foreshadowed Franco-German war had entirely failed to materialise. Caraibas also wrote on this topic in 1873, from a Societist perspective, which began his rise to eventually lead the movement.
The status quo of the 1890s was unquestionably good for many, but despite the (mostly) global peace and trade, still presented much of the inequality of necessity that Sanchez had written of, particularly in the UPSA. It would seem that the most logical point of criticism of the status quo would not be from the increasingly obscure Societists (their key argument apparently undermined) but from radical Mentians. Indeed, speculative romantics have argued that Societists might still be obscure today if the very beginning of the Pandoric War had gone slightly differently. Monterroso’s Mentian victory over the corporate status quo could have preceded the outbreak of war, or Monterroso could have decided to back down and disown Captain Hiedler’s Auxiliaries for their actions at Mount Zhangqihe. Instead, he doubled down, launched the UPSA and the Hermandad into war, and—when this did not go well—blamed internal saboteurs and launched a campaign of repression every bit as nasty as the old Sancion Roja. It is not surprising that the Meridian people were receptive to a message that the political interests of Capital and Labour were indistinguishable opposites, as equally unpleasant for them as being immersed in a corrosive acid or a caustic alkali. The Societist message of balance, both forces tamed and subordinated to the Universal Hierarchy of Classes, was an attractive one for a desperate Meridian people.
We all know of the Scientific Attack. From a Meridian perspective, the Societists had saved them from a destructive Anglo-American invasion, a fate which their history had led them to exaggerate the significance of. Meridian Presidents-General had repeatedly pledged that never again would the Plate be occupied by the old enemy which their ancestors had defeated, and it had seemed that the UPSA had been at the height of her powers. The humiliation of being proved wrong would be crushing to the nation’s soul, and the relief unleashed by the attack, for which the Societists took credit (domestically), led to a giddy people willing to embrace their supposed saviours. Watson and Drake (1995) make a comparison to the 1993 film “Anita”, in which a mother saves her daughter from drowning, but in the process is washed away herself, hits her head and loses her memory. “The Meridian people were grateful to the Societists, in part for reasons connected with their national identity—despite the fact that the Societists’ ultimate goal was to delete that identity from existence.” Again, this seeming contradiction must be viewed in the context that few really understood the Societists’ aims, and the Anglo-American attack had seemed like a much more immediate threat.
Sanchez had also always been hostile to the idea of Societism beginning in one country (or ‘region’) rather than being a simultaneous global epiphany. Caraibas’ writings had tilted the movement more in this direction, but had not really considered whether one country might be a more fertile ground for the movement to take control than another. It is only in hindsight that the UPSA seems an ‘obvious’ setting, as Watson and Drake also write. Not only was it a melting pot in which many races and peoples had come together, but it was one in which conventional democratic politics seemed to have failed to entirely address inequality and intolerance between them. Watson and Drake point to other potential sites, such as California or even the ENA, if the war had gone differently—typically courting controversy. They also call attention to the fact that the Meridian identity was young and still being constructed, and lacked the solidity of, say, Germany—which might be a young entity as a political unit, but had a coherent identity stretching back centuries. This led Drake to famously compare the destruction of the Meridian identity as ‘the murder of a child’, which equally famously led to a hot rejection from the Russian Confederation ambassador at the ASN. Ambassador Petrov stated (in 1998) that ‘the killing of a child is a tragedy, but one which sadly takes place across the world on a regular basis; the murder of a nation is a deeper kind of evil, and one which we hope never to see again’. Naturally, many have in turn attacked this as hypocrisy given Russia’s historical actions towards Yapon.
Let us leave those debates aside. We have discussed some reasons why Societism was viable in the UPSA. But what about overseas? Why did many people suddenly turn to Societism, after being dismissive of it in the pre-war years?
Partly this must be that the impact of the war was universal, even in those countries which had been neutral. Death, destruction, and shortages were all concrete negatives, but even for those lucky people not directly impacted by the war, there was a broader alienistic sense of the rug being pulled out from under them. The comfortable old certainties of the Long Peace had been swept aside. Something new was required; and Societism, the way Alfarus and the Combine ‘did’ Societism, seemed a novel and bold way of looking at the world, not something from the stuffy old books of a stuffy old Spanish writer. Societism seemed not only a potential model for the future for those whose nations had been on the losing side of the war, but also those who had lost faith in democracy, international diplomacy and the basic decency of people. Across the world, many battered and injured veterans returned home to find their jobs were gone, many families had lost sons and husbands and even wives and daughters (to dangerous factory work). The Pacifist movement in general took a huge surge, and part of that spilled over into Societism. It was around this time that large numbers of women first became involved in Societist chapters around the world.
The First Black Scare took hold, with many paranoid commentators arguing that their country was ‘full of Blacks in the Backroom’ (it is around this time that capitalised ‘Black’ became more commonly applied to Societist politics rather than skin colour – an ironic victory for those opposing racial division?) But, as Lebrun argued decades later, clumsy attempts by the governments of the nations to ban Societist chapters only made the ideology the forbidden fruit. It also meant that those suppressed chapters, formerly autonomous and only vaguely linked to one another, turned to Zon1Urb1 for support and guidance so they could stay in existence. Amigo Alfarus was only too happy to give it...
 See ‘Interlogue: Perfidious Albion’ in Volume IV.
 Consider the comparable use of ‘wishing for world peace’ in OTL twentieth century events.
 The Rockefeller family moved to Philadelphia in 1723, predating the Point of Divergence. They are still around in TTL and Godfrey’s brother William runs a significant trading company, but they have not obtained the extreme degree of wealth they did in OTL.
 See the opening quote to Part #171 in Volume IV.
 See Part #162 in Volume IV.
 See Part #210 in Volume V.
Separate names with a comma.