Look to the West Volume VII: The Eye Against the Prism

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Thande, Sep 2, 2019.

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  1. 245 Well-Known Member

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    Mar 7, 2015
    I just hope thande develop the other previous ideologies of LTTW, anarchism in otl dint stop developing after its time in the limelight, same for communism.
     
  2. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

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    Oct 30, 2014
    Mentianism is about "human potential" right? Maybe they give up on trying to take over governments (ASN probably doesn't take kindly to coups) and instead become more of a social or cultural movement, pushing for college free speech and free love and the like. And then they might be able to affect legislation from the bottom up. That might be one of the ways Diversitarianism remains an ideology of questioning narratives and embracing difference instead of "stop criticizing us for racist policy, you Societist."
     
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  3. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

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    Oct 30, 2014
    Telugu names in Novalatina surprisingly don't sound or look half bad, there's always vowels to work with and not that many dense consonant clusters:

    Ravi Narayana Reddy -> Raues Narianus Redii, preserving the long "i" in the caste surname by making it a Latin genitive-- "of Reddy". But with the Societist insistence that occupation/status come from merit, not birth, the caste name may be dropped in favor of the patronymic, as is the case in Tamil Nadu.

    Damodaram Sanjivayya -> Damodarmus Sanzivaeus. As a Dalit he has no caste name. Going off Franziskus Borbonus I guess Z is the substitute for sharp S or similar sounds (and in Tamil at least, J/CH may sometimes simplify to S in speech).

    Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao -> Pamulapartes Venkatus Narzimus.

    Even if the insistence on conversion to the Universal Church derails the whole thing, I look forward to seeing what happens there-- I can't recall Andhra ever being a major plot point in any TL I've ever read :closedeyesmile:
     
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  4. 245 Well-Known Member

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    Mar 7, 2015
    speaking about the church, there has not been a lot of focus on religion has change to be different from otl.
     
    xsampa likes this.
  5. Kaiphranos Hydraulic Despot Donor

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    Oct 9, 2009
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    Southern Hos-Harphax
    It's too bad they probably don't have a coastline, or someone could write a comic opera about the Pirates of Pendzhab!
     
  6. Thande I could not fail to disagree with you less Donor

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    God's Own County
    Thanks for the comments everyone. Incidentally, if you want to know what was the main inspiration for LTTW's India, check out Tony Jones' "Puritan World" scenario. While that one doesn't greatly develop India (it's one of his earlier works) that's where I got the general concept of 'no single European coloniser dominates the coastlines, leaving the Russians to push down from the north'.





    Quick advertisement: Sea Lion Press is commissioning a short story collection themed around the First World War, edited by ME, and we need submissions!





    Dear all authors of AH.com,

    Are you interested in the First World War?

    Do you like writing short stories?

    Do you want to combine these two interests?


    Sea Lion Press, the home of Alternate History Publishing (founded by authors who cut their teeth here on AH.com) hereby announces an upcoming anthology of short stories about the First World War.

    Thank you to David Flin (author of the many excellent WW1 articles on the SLP blog) for writing the guide below for prospective authors:

    The 'no supernatural stuff' rule should be considered somewhat flexible, it depends on what the focus of the story is (but that's harder to define in words - just ask if unsure).

    If you want an idea of what this collection will look like, why not check out SLP's three existing published collection of short stories - the one most similar to this will be "Fight Them On The Beaches", stories about the planned German invasion of Britain in WW2 (Operation Sea Lion, from which SLP takes its name!)


    View attachment 504704

    10 Leaders Britain Never Had
    Remain Means Remain and Other Stories
    Fight Them On The Beaches: Short Stories of Operation Sea Lion


    One other point: this collection will be headlined by the story "N'Oublions Jamais", by @Doctor What and myself, which was originally published in the Martinus Publishing collection Altered Europa and reached the shortlist of 4 for the 2018 Sidewise Award for Alternate History Fiction (Short Form). In the end we lost out to Harry Turtledove himself, so no shame there. Martinus has kindly given us permission to reprint it here on SLP as the lead story for this collection.

    If you wish to express an interest in submitting a story, as a first point of contact please send a personal message here on AH.com to me (Thande) and we will work out a better way of doing it from then on.

    OVER THE TOP!
     
  7. 1SaBy Enlightened Radical Alt-Censtrist

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    Cassovia
    Nice. Why do you have Bhutan and Sikkin as part of Gurkhana though?
     
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  8. xsampa Well-Known Member

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    Mar 23, 2014
    The Combine has arrived in Indi! Maybe Corean India is only part of the IGR.
     
  9. John Spangler A man of wealth and taste

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    Nov 14, 2013
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    Somewhere in Southern Italy
    Great, now Societism is going to ruin India, too. I feel sorry for them.
     
    Hawkeye likes this.
  10. Indicus Stuff

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    Aug 1, 2014
    Location:
    Torontum, Ontarium Minor, Imperium Romanum
    It also shows that Romanization of Russian works differently than IOTL - after all, we don’t call Tajikistan “Tedzhikistan”.
     
    Born in the USSA likes this.
  11. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

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    Oct 30, 2014
  12. Jared LoRaG is now published

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    Kingdom of Australia
    I know I've posted it before, but India was where Societist-style tendencies showed up in OTL, so it's hardly surprising it would be appealing ITTL:

    upload_2019-11-26_6-41-3.jpeg
     
  13. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2014
    Scrolling through this J. Krishnamurti's Wiki page... what a wild life. Dude really got adopted/lowkey stolen by American cultists and raised to become the "Maitreya Buddha" but then dropped it all to pursue... whatever he felt like saying. But even then "what he felt like saying" didn't contradict the teaching instilled in him, even if it opposed the organization that instilled it. How bizarre.
     
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  14. xsampa Well-Known Member

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    Mar 23, 2014
    The Combine seems to invade areas that are a)so oppressed nationality matters less than material needs b) never had a strong identity anyways.

    Also, the Russian/Chinese practice of using vassal as colonies reminds me of the British presence Iraq and Egypt.
     
  15. xsampa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    I assume the Combine has captured Java, providing logistics to Andhra.
     
  16. Threadmarks: 263

    Thande I could not fail to disagree with you less Donor

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    God's Own County
    Part #263: Mending the China

    “White Gate to all stations. Gold Dolphin has received DESCARTES. Barking Barking Six confirms. Consultation is ongoing. (Pause with some static) Keep a Tyburn Islington Neasden Lewisham Islington Deptford on this one, lads!”

    –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 Page AD903A [retrieved 22/11/19].

    Extraneous advertising has been left intact.


    BEIQING CERAMICS EXHIBITION AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ENGLAND

    12th September 2019 – 14th March 2020
    R15.0.0 adult entry, children under 12 and pensioners R5.0.0
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    Although skilled craftsmen still practice in China to this day, the porcelain of the Beiqing Dynasty is considered by many scholars to be the last true product of traditional Chinese ceramic artistry. In the nineteenth century, when the precursor to modern China was rapidly industrialising and turning out identical factory-made, process-production wares to feed the appetites of a growing middle class, its northern rival modernised only slowly and reluctantly. The ruling classes in Beijing, then the Beiqing capital, yearned for earlier and simpler times. They idolised the traditional arts of a single gifted master, whether it be in the fields of calligraphy, painting—or pottery.

    Towards the end of the Beiqing period, this preserved remnant of the old Qing Dynasty was also hamstrung by its Russian ‘protectors’. The Russians deliberately also limited Beiqing industrialisation to keep the northern state dependent on its distant masters. The Russians more or less unilaterally conscripted Beiqing peasants as corvee labourers to work in the RLPC factories of Siberia, Yakutia and New Muscovy in North America. As well as the poor majority, who were plucked from a desperate farming existence to an equally desperate factory one in an unfamiliar setting, the Russians also took others. Some Beiqing artists and craftsmen, in particular those who had offended Emperor Jianing or his successors, were also forced into these Russian factories. While some of them rose to become foremen or designers, it is true that (as the Feng Chinese poet Tang Binglin would later write) forcing an artist to churn out soulless process-produced wares was a punishment far more diabolical than any of the mutilations that historical emperors had favoured.

    Some of these geniuses resisted their captivity, however, and found ways to put their own mark on the supposedly identical factory-made bowls and cups being issued to Russian soldiers serving in Tartary or Yapon. Rare examples of such wares have earned pride of place in this exhibition, dull and mean though they may appear at first glance in comparison to the glittering masterpieces of those master potterers in Beijing who had kept the Emperor’s favour.

    Of course, by the time of the Emperor Quanyu, better known to history as ‘Little Weili’,[1] the Emperor’s favour was often what his Russian ‘advisors’ had told him it was...

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    From: Motext Pages CU145D-F [retrieved 22/11/19].

    Extraneous advertising has been left intact.


    Leaders Who Changed the World, Episode 3: The Xuanming Emperor (1837-1905) These pages supplement the IMB moto series with further information – see page CU145A for index and time and date for the next episode to be broadcast.

    The man known to history as Xuanming the Great was born in 1837, the third son of Zhu Zhengyu, the Prince of Deng (who became the Jixu Emperor in 1843). His father’s title is indicative of the ambitions that a prince of the new and still-shaky Feng Dynasty should possess. While Chinese historians did (and do) disagree over exactly where the capital of the historical state of Deng was, it is certain that virtually all its territory lay in Henan and Hubei provinces, both of which were almost entirely outside Feng control when the future Xuanming was born.

    The Emperor Xuanming did not create or lead the rise of Feng China from a mere southern rebellion to one of the most powerful dynasties China has ever seen. The process had begun before he was even born. Yet to many both inside and outside China, he is personally synonymous with that process. His reign is often portrayed as one of unambiguous victory piled upon victory, the unstoppable ascendancy of the Middle Kingdom back to its rightful place and under a legitimate Han dynasty. It actually contained a number of reversals and missteps, like that of any earthly ruler. The fact that these are ignored or dismissed is an illustration of three things. Firstly, that Xuanming was wise and capable when it came to manipulating the narrative, both of present and of past. Secondly, that he had good advisors and strong allies he could rely upon, speaking well of his judgement of character. Thirdly, a factor which was quite outside the control of the man himself, as it only became relevant after his death; under Xuanming, Feng China knew what its driving purpose was. The people occupied an only somewhat modernised and reformed version of their traditional hierarchy, loyal and devoted to the idea of restoring all the Celestial Kingdom to the sole control of their rightful Emperor. That great cause could excuse any of the practices that past generations might have sniffed at, such as engaging in trade with Europeans and Novamundines as equals, adopting new technological innovations, or tinkering with the organisation of the state itself.

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    Xuanming was born Zhu Yaoli, and succeeded his father as Prince of Deng when he ascended to the throne in Hanjing as Jixu. For simplicity here we will anachronistically call him Xuanming at any age. The boy was intensely interested in the world around him. His was arguably the first generation to see the open presence of European traders, the existence of Outsiders’ Villages and of steam engines as a normal, everyday matter, not a startling innovation. His tutors despaired that the young prince seemed to care little for Confucian philosophy, traditional poetry construction, or the classics of warfare and statecraft. After many complaints, the Jixu Emperor demanded his third son account for himself. Xuanming proceeded to write a “baguwen” (eight-legged essay) in the traditional format as used for imperial civil service examinations at “shengyuan” level and higher. His tutors confessed that he had written according to all the correct forms of essay construction, showing that the boy had been paying attention after all. However, Xuanming’s essay audaciously employed its own arguments to demolish itself. Xuanming wrote of the futility of basing one’s governance on the writings of men who had lived before modern firearms, steam engines, Optel towers and the like. Tactics based on the assumption that the enemy must secure hay for their horses, not coal for their steam-tractors, no longer applied. So too did advice on statecraft from great men of the past, who had never had to contend with rumours that could travel across the country in a matter of hours via clattering shutterboxes.

    A popular story says that Jixu read the essay, conceded that his son was right, and then had him whipped within an inch of his life for his impudence, before immediately writing his name on the hidden tablet that declared his heir. Despite an inventive bloody hand print added to the battered copy of Xuanming’s essay open to public display in the Heavenly Jade Museum, there is no evidence for this story. Some have argued that if anyone would have been whipped for Xuanming’s actions, it would have been his friend and confidante Wu Mengchao. Wu was a grandson of Wu Bingjian (also known as Hu Kwa to Europeans), the spectacularly wealthy trader who had helped bankroll the original Feng rebellion.[2] Though he possessed the title Marquess of Yue, he was often portrayed as a disreputable idler who was a bad influence on the young prince. The ‘idler’ part, at least, is unjust. Wu worked industriously for the sake of the latest scheme he had concocted. It mattered not that his family already enjoyed vast wealth and influence. For Wu, it was all about the thrill of the hunt, the love of the game. Sometimes it was new inventions, whether imported from Europe or devised locally. Sometimes it was about having discovered a struggling new novelist or artist who might be the next best-seller. Wu’s schemes usually proved to have about fifty-fifty odds of spectacular success or spectacular failure, but rarely turned out in an unmemorable fashion. And the young Xuanming frequently found himself dragged into them.

    The two would remain friends throughout their lives, even when Xuanming became Emperor in 1867. His father Jixu had died, after 23 years on the throne, out of what was apparently natural causes—although some unsuccessful assassination attempts with poison darts might have shortened his life, as even the best antidotes were not perfect. Despite some attempts by advisors to make Xuanming exclude Wu from the court, he remained a prominent figure there. He even served on the Imperial Council for a time, and left it more because of his own boredom than the pressure from his scandalised colleagues.

    Xuanming came to the Celestial Throne at a time of turmoil. The Feng and Beiqing had been bitter enemies for almost sixty years, ever since the proclamation of the Feng Dynasty in 1812 at the height of the War of the Three Emperors.[3] That war had ended with only two of the Emperors remaining, Chongqian of the Beiqing in the north and Dansheng of the Feng in the south. (The third Emperor, Yenzhang, had died on the battlefield of Second Ningyuan in 1813; his supporters maintained a farcical warlord state in Yunnan Province until 1828). The two dynasties, refusing to recognise each other, clashed briefly in the Anqing Incident (1826-1831) before coming to serious blows in the First Riverine War (1844-1850). That war was a victory for the Feng, who obtained control of the previously-contested Yangtze River and its cities, as well as securing pro-Feng neutrality from de facto independent Sichuan province. Feng China had also fought the First Sino-Siamese War (1832-1838) in which it (temporarily) conquered the northern reaches of Daiviet from the Siamese Empire. The limited modernisation of the Feng military had seen substantial effect.

    Nonetheless, technological modernisation is often regarded as being synonymous with the Xuanming Emperor’s reign. He was certainly an enthusiast for such innovation, but naturally it is a little questionable to suggest that the filmish successes of the Feng military in the Second Riverine War (1863-1868) were due to the influence of a man who only obtained the throne one year before that war’s end. In many ways, though, Chinese historiography has emphasised the symbolism of an era rather than direct notions of cause and effect.

    It is all the more striking that the one war which Xuanming did attempt to direct was also the one war of this era that Feng China lost. The Second Sino-Siamese War (1869-1871) saw the Siamese Empire successfully reconquer the territories it had lost thirty years earlier. While those battles were decided on land, the biggest embarrassment for the Feng was the defeat at the Battle of Qiongzhou Strait. The Feng Navy, which had so recently humiliated its Beiqing counterpart, had been defeated in turn by the Siamese. Xuanming’s survival as Emperor after this defeat is an achievement in itself, never mind the fact that the loss is almost brushed over in hagiographic accounts of his reign.

    Xuanming’s success can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, rather than finding scapegoats for the defeat (he refused to execute or attaint the disgraced Admiral Rui) he poured the Imperial Treasury’s trade-fattened coffers into investigating the debacle and planning to prevent similar defeats in the future. That would require new schools of military strategy, as well as new approaches to domestic governance to increase tax revenues and improve troop conscription. Both, in turn, demanded radical reforms to the hidebound old imperial examinations procedures that he had railed against as a child.

    This might be seen as a challenge to any Emperor, never mind one in an embattled position. After all, Xuanming had plenty of brothers and cousins, who might make a more pliable emperor to the more traditional interests at court if he could meet with an unfortunate accident. However, Xuanming acted with some of the same audacity of his friend and confidante Wu Mengchao? What was this, if not another risky but magnificent scheme? Whether it succeeded or failed, no-one would forget!

    The years of approximately 1871-1891 are known as the Weixin (Reform) Period in China. To western eyes, it might seem that Feng China had already committed many radical moves against the status quo. Born out of fairly proletarian rebellion and European alliance, the original Phoenix Men had promoted a relatively distant relation of the last Ming emperor to the throne. The direct descendant, who held the title of Marquess of Extended Grace, remained loyal to the Chongqian Emperor of the Beiqing. That title would come to an ignominous end when his grandson fled the Feng advance in the Pandoric War and dwelt in exile in California; his own son would proclaim himself Emperor of Fu Sang in 1925, thereafter regarded with affectionate curiosity as an eccentric madman by the people of the Adamantine Republic.

    The Feng had adopted technological innovations and opened their ports to trade, at least reluctantly and in a controlled manner. However, until this time, the Feng Emperors had sought to ape the constitutional practices of the past (often Ming revivalism over the Qing status quo) rather than innovate and reform. This is arguably reasonable considering that the new dynasty had initially struggled with legitimacy, and its supporters felt the need to cloak it in tradition. Now, however, Xuanming made a bold move on his political Weiqi [Go] board in quite a different direction.

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    Xuanming’s opponents frequently accused him (or ‘the emperor’s evil advisors’) of tearing up centuries of Confucian examinations and replacing them with European innovations. However, this is not strictly true. European (and Novamundine) universities were, themselves, going through crises of confidence in the nineteenth century as they struggled to remain relevant. Ancient universities like Bologna, Paris and Oxford had to make a decision whether to remain focused on their traditional specialisms and be left behind, or to innovate by giving dignity to subjects such as mathematics, the natural sciences, and even engineering. The latter was often a bridge too far for stuffy academia, which blanched at the idea of granting doctoral dignities to what they regarded as uncouth men in boiler suits with blackened hands. The countries that led the way in granting this, a radical reform, were the UPSA, the ENA—and Feng China under Xuanming. Xuanming did not copy European academia, except in a few ways. He and his supporters designed a new examination system from the groundwork up. Rather than a dichotomy between ‘Chinese or modern (i.e. foreign)’ the Weixin period promoted a new ‘Modern Chinese’ way of approaching the world.

    Naturally, this attack on a system which had existed (in varying forms) for over a thousand years did not pass without the Emperor making enemies. His philosophy was that he would already have met with opposition from the loss of the Second Sino-Siamese War, and at least this move ‘puts all my enemies where I can see them’. Xuanming’s survival in the resulting cut-and-thrust political environment is sometimes attributed to his friendship with the great Mauré war leader Tamahimana, who had won the Battle of Suqian for the Feng in 1865.[4] The reality appears to be that Xuanming had made many similar contacts of loyal and capable men who could out-think and out-fight his opponents at court, but naturally the exotic Tamahimana is of most interest to historians and scholars. As censorship on portrayals of the Emperor and court has gradually relaxed in modern China, the Weixin period has proved a fertile subject for plays, operas and films based on its political intrigue. Lady Zhang Yilin’s “A Thousand Daggers for One Back” (first performed as an opera in 1992, with a film adaptation following in 1998) proved such a great success of this genre that one overcome critic shocked Chinese public opinion by pronouncing it ‘the new “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”’ on leaving the opera house.

    Of course, in the end Xuanming was successful, and Feng China was reformed. The Emperor reigned throughout the Long Peace (as westerners call it) and the Pandoric War. The Second Riverine War and the Pandoric War therefore form bookends to his reign. At the start of that reign, it seemed likely that the reduced and humiliated Beiqing state would soon be absorbed by the Feng and China would be once again united. By the end, before the outbreak of war, it conversely seemed that the Beiqing would stagger on for ever with Russian backing, and Chinese unification was nothing more than a hopeful pipe dream. Over the decades of his reign, Xuanming had changed from a symbol of disruption to one of stability—the stability of a new kind of China.

    Under Xuanming’s reign, factories did not merely manufacture new rifles and steam-tractors for the army, armour plates for the Navy or steerables for the new Kongjun (aeroforce). They also began to make tools and even machines that could be purchased by a rising middle class, first in the cities and then later in the countryside. Optel towers criss-crossed the land. The government invested heavily in the older technology and was then almost caught offguard by the successful of Lectel (which had initially been dismissed as a mere rumour of the Great American War). However, reportedly after a suggestion from Wu Mengchao, Xuanming’s government hit upon the idea of making the Optel network available for public use, as had been used in countries like France. Though fairly expensive at first, the novelty of people being able to send messages across the country and receive news led to rapid takeup, and the additional revenue raised paid for the roll-out of a more limited Lectel network for strictly government use only.

    Hailed as a master stroke at the time, the decision had some unintended consequences. For the first time, China’s vast population began to have a clearer idea of its place in the world. Even illiterate peasants could pay for a scholar to encode an Optel message to their son, conscripted as a soldier or corvée labourer and taken to a province on the other side of the empire. Granted, the son would probably have to pay someone at the other end to read to him as well, but that was changing, too. As the new system of examinations became open to a wider range of people, literacy increased as farmers and workers saved their meagre wages to pay for tuition for their children. They might be trapped in the lower reaches of the same hierarchy that Confucius had written of (and Sanchez had plagiarised) but their sons—and maybe even daughters—might not be...

    *

    From: Motext Pages SX212B-E [retrieved 22/11/19].

    Remarks: These pages are listed under “SSAAX Foreign Literature Revision: Syllabus A” and have been decrypted by Thande Institute personnel.

    Extraneous advertising has been left intact.


    The Xuanming Emperor, so dynamic in his youth, had largely stepped back from day-to-day governance by the time of the outbreak of the Pandoric War in 1896. Though then only 59 years old, he had been prematurely aged by the strains of his rule and fending off political intrigues and assassination attempts. Some biographers suggest that the final straw was the death of his lifelong friend Wu Mengchao in 1891. Wu was killed in an accident involving the takeoff of an experimental rocket-powered aerodrome; his luck when it came to mad, audacious schemes had finally run out. This suggestion is supported by the existence of imperial state papers which advise messengers to remove references to the Kongjun from military reports when presenting them to the Emperor—even if those references described triumphs by the steerables and early aerodromes of the Empire over the Siamese or the Beiqing. One might suppose that Xuanming still found it too painful to hear about flying machines after the death of Wu.

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    The Pandoric War is frequently presented as the final crowning achievement of Xuanming’s reign—but, as with the Second Riverine War that formed the beginning of his reign, it is a conflict in which he therefore had little direct influence. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to attribute Feng success on the battlefield to the years of patient reform, industrialisation and military buildup in peacetime which Xuanming had presided over. Feng China was the only nation to come out of the Pandoric War with unmitigated victories on all fronts; even the neutral ‘French Vulture’ had lost Dufresnie to revolutionaries. However, the dark side of that triumph was that she had paid a heavy cost in terms of the lives of her young men (and a handful of women). Chinese history was no stranger to bloody and never-ending wars, but no previous war had come close to the level of murderous industrial warfare that Chinese troops had faced against the Siamese, Beiqing and Russians.

    In countries like America or Germany, the survivors could react to such losses by changing their government by democratic means. In some such countries, even the women widowed by the war could vote to express what they felt about the leaders who had sent their lovers and husbands to their deaths. But China had never had a tradition of this kind of representative government. In Europe and the nations that had grown from European colonies, parliaments had descended from groups of nobles, ecclesiarchs and wealthy burghers which could potentially stand up to the power of a king. Such intrigues in China had historically usually taken the form of either coups or the formation of breakaway states. Europeans had also been able to look back to the Senate of Rome as a model. Though the Senate had been reduced to a rubber-stamp for the final centuries of its existence, the perpetuation of self-congratulatory Roman writings about the old Republic, and the continued veneration of Rome as a model by its European successor states, meant that the idea of a parliament was never too far away from European consciousness. When absolutists like Louis XIV had ruled without an Estates-General, it had been easy to portray this as a radical departure from the norm, rather than a normal state of affairs.

    This was not the case in China. But China had been exposed to new ideas for a long time. The Feng dynasty had been born with European help, after all. Outsiders’ Villages and ostracism of those who violated curfew could only do so much. Optel messages also allowed thinkers outside the usual social structure to exchange ideas in a way which the imperial government could not always control; though the messages were obviously read by censors, many Chinese subjects became adept at developing codes which passed unnoticed. Some used these techniques for organised crime or unscrupulous insider trading, but many instead used them to discuss forbidden and radical philosophies, foreign ideas, and more. Furthermore, there was the influx of Huaqiao, ethnic Chinese people who had grown up outside of China. These had already existed, particularly in the Nusantara, but the Qing had forbidden people from leaving the Empire (or returning once they had left). Many more had fled at the time of the Three Emperors’ War. With widespread reports of the improving standards of living and opportunities in Feng China, the descendants of some of these people now returned to seek their fortune. There was a grass-is-greener effect here. Many of the second- or third-generation Huaqiao in lands like California or Peru were sick of continuing Racist discrimination from white-dominated governments. They often found they were regarded with even more hostility by the Feng Chinese, startled to be confronted with these Chinese-looking people who had never known an Emperor and spoke ‘their own’ language only haltingly and as a second tongue. Though there were many tragedies of such returning Huaqiao being attacked or even killed by mobs, many survived and prospered.

    These processes had already been ongoing before the Pandoric War, but accelerated after it ended in victory. Huaqiao refugees from the battered Nusantara were a particularly large group, escaping the Siamese—and later the Societists.

    The driving question for Feng China at the dawn of the twentieth century was ‘Now What?’ No-one, it seemed, had thought beyond what would happen if the old dream, the old cause, finally ended in victory. Beiqing China had been destroyed and its territories once more absorbed into the righteously-governed kingdom, aside from those areas still under Russian occupation. Evidently the Russians had decided there was no point persisting with the fiction of a continuing Beiqing line. The Quanyu Emperor, scornfully dubbed ‘Little Weili’ by many Feng, disappeared at the end of the war. It was not until 1904 that it was revealed that he had passed away after ‘illness’ at a Russian ‘convalescence home’ near Irkutsk. For the latter, read ‘labour camp’, for the former, ‘acute lead poisoning through the back of the neck’. Russian Tsar Peter V had always disliked being saddled with his father’s decision to recognise the Beiqing as the sole China. It may have made sense at the time, but it had shut the RLPC out of the far more lucrative Feng trade. Peter also found it humiliating to have to write letters pretending to respect the worthless Beiqing scions, who still defiantly insisted they were the masters of the world and all others were merely their vassals. Now, failure could not be tolerated. Perhaps it had been a rash decision to wipe out every last descendant of the once-great House of Aisin Goro that had been founded almost three hundred years earlier when Nurhaci had led his horsemen out of Manchuria. But the Tsar had acted nonetheless. The Qing were no more, and the final revenge of the Sanhedui had come to pass.

    Now what, then, for Feng China—now merely ‘China’, the China we know today, unified and complete? Mostly, that is; many European observers began considering whether China would next go after the Formosa or Liaodong Republics, or the remaining formerly-Chinese territories currently controlled by Russia or Corea. Those observers were writing based on the continuing assumption that China was a land apart, a land different to Europe or the Novamund, whose people were just terracotta soldiers happy to remain in the rank and file decreed by their Emperor.[5]

    The reality, as discussed above, was quite different. Two factors combined to produce a restive population: the losses of the war and, paradoxically, its triumph. With the Beiqing definitively destroyed, the overarching cause that had united Feng subjects of all classes had vanished, and the sense of unity faded with it.[6] Political theories were whispered in the cloisters of temples, behind the paper walls of palaces, and in the tall, crowded, pagoda-shaped brick tenements built over the last thirty years. Many opinions clashed. There were some, perhaps influenced by the Regressives in Britain and elsewhere, who argued that the changes made by the Feng dynasty should be regarded as temporary, necessary evils. With the hated Tartar invaders finally vanquished and a proper Han successor to the Ming dynasty restored, the government should now seek to turn the clock back to 1644; to reverse not only the changes made by the Feng themselves, but to tear the Qing’s page out of history as well. The Regressive philosophy was popular for its own sake among some, but was frequently alloyed to New School Confucianism.

    Broadly speaking, the major historical divide in Chinese Confucianism involved the reconstruction of Confucius’ writings after Emperor Qin Shi Huang allegedly burned his books and buried many Confucian scholars alive in the third century before Christ. ‘New School Confucianism’ was based on reconstruction of Confucius’ texts from surviving fragments, while ‘Old School Confucianism’ (which, confusingly, came later) was based on intact copies of the original texts which were discovered hidden in the walls of Confucius’ old house a century later. The New Text School supporters, led by Dong Zhongshu, had claimed these findings were forgeries. This dispute was revived centuries later when the Qing began encouraging the revival of Han Dynasty learning. The New School texts tended to emphasise the idea of Confucius as a religious prophet, whose descendants should perhaps even be given the throne (the title of Duke of Yansheng was given to a descendant of Confucius).[7] The Old School supporters, by contrast, emphasised Confucius as more of a secular sage and regarded the Emperor as being personally responsible for keeping the Mandate of Heaven.

    Other thinkers at this time argued for the innovations of the Feng to be kept (naturally, these were often people from backgrounds which had greatly benefited as a result of those innovations) but that the new China should re-embrace the Neo-Confucian ideas of isolationism as the only correct state of affairs for the empire. These wanted Europeans kicked out and trade cut off. Of course, they were often criticised for failing to realise that the innovations they defended required that the trade be maintained.

    There were many other schools of thought at the time, but behind all the disquiet was the vague sense that the ordinary people, who had suffered and died for their Emperor, should have more of a voice in the running of the country. Feng China, especially the coastal Guandong and Fujian provinces that had formed its original heartland, had been exposed to Europeans for a long time. The Flippant subculture that flourished after the war in Europe and North America also appeared in these parts of China, something which shocked both Chinese and Europeans. The world was more interconnected than ever before. If democracy or parliamentary representation was still perhaps not the most obvious solution within the framework of Chinese culture and tradition, it was at least an idea that was becoming better known.

    The Xuanming Emperor might have been a great reformer in his youth, but he was in no position to respond to this new and troubling shifts in his reunited empire. With his death in 1905, the throne passed to his designated successor, his second son. Zhu Baoding, the Prince of Tang, took the regnal name Huifu (‘revival’ or ‘restoration’) to celebrate the reunification of China under his father. If one man in China had ever thought about what to do after that reunification was complete, at a time when it had seemed a pipe dream, it was the new Huifu Emperor.

    Not soon after he took the throne, in 1908, China suffered floods and concomitant famines. Though nowhere near as devastating as those of thirty years later, the loss of life threatened to spark the traumatic aftereffects of the war losses into real unrest. The Feng Dynasty had rarely had to confront the problem of subduing revolts; historically, most such revolts had been against the Beiqing and in favour of the Feng by default. Now, the effect of removing this convenient enemy became clear.

    Just as his father had, Huifu used such a crisis as an excuse to confront his planned reforms. There were many lesser innovations, but the two best-remembered changes were the capital city rotation and the One Hundred and Eight Mandators. These ideas were born through Huifu’s conversations with the Old School Confucian scholar Xi Juzheng. Xi’s adherence to the Old School’s secular emphasis may have been born of the fact that, though a political Confucian, he was suspected to spiritually be a secret Christian. Under the Feng dynasty, Christian missionaries had gradually become tolerated under pressure from European traders, but Christian believers (as well as Muslims) had originally been discriminated against in the civil service examinations. Xuanming’s reforms had changed the exams and taken away these discriminations in law, though unofficial prejudice tended to prevent Christians from reaching high office. Xi ‘officially’ went through a deathbed conversion to Christianity in 1927, but most historians regard this as being a quiet political recognition of a longstanding status quo.

    China had had many capitals historically, but Hanjing (formerly Guangzhou) had never been one of them prior to the Feng dynasty. Hanjing was now on the southernmost coastline of the vast, reunited empire, far from a good position to govern it all. It would not have been realistic to abandon Hanjing and all its symbolism (and infrastructure) altogether, however. Huifu announced the capital would rotate each year, spending winter in Hanjing, spring in Nanjing, summer in Beijing and autumn in Xi’an. (By doing so he evoked the idea of there being four great historical capitals of China, although he had swapped out Luoyan for Hanjing in the traditional list). The infrastructure required to move the modernised court was far less than it would have been in the past, and the Optel and Lectel networks (soon to be joined by Photel) ensured that business could continue regardless. Foreign powers began planning whether it was feasible (or dignified) for their ambassadors to follow the Emperor on his annual trek around the country. It remains controversial to suggest that Huifu may have been inspired by the then-contemporary move for rotating Zonal Rejes in the Combine.

    Secondly, and more controversial, Huifu created the office of the One Hundred and Eight Mandators, who would follow the government around. Traditionally, a Chinese Emperor was held to have lost the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ when disasters began to abound, such as the natural disasters of flood and famine (hence why Huifu was worried) but also the revolts of ordinary people. Some more open-minded theorists, such as Xi Juzheng, argued the reverse—that keeping the support of the people was the key to keeping the Mandate of Heaven, and that European-style democracy was only one possible means to do this. Rather than open that can of worms, Huifu chose 108 subjects at random (the number being one of significance in Buddhism) to endorse his decisions, thus signifying he retained that mandate. While the Mandators were originally bribed and leaned on in order to produce unanimous votes, the selection procedure really was truly random, via a lottery. Being selected as a Mandator for a one-year term was not always regarded as a positive, but exemption from taxes for the Mandator’s extended family helped soften the blow.

    Ironically, it seems Huifu originally regarded the Mandators as a purely symbolic gesture to the poor and of no real worth. However, when his nobles kicked up a fuss about poor subjects being feted in the new Palace of the 108, many of them uncouth peasants, Huifu changed his mind. He opened up the lottery to the nobles and wealthy as well, and forced his detractors to sit alongside those peasants. This set in action a course of events which still echoes through the China we know to this day...

















    [1] As we’ve seen before, even some historians inadvertently call him ‘Emperor Weili’ (Weili was his personal not regnal name) because the disparaging Feng term is so omnipresent.

    [2] See Part #91 in Volume 2.

    [3] Also in Part #91, but this is technically incorrect, as the dynasty that became the Feng were originally proclaimed as the Houming (Later Ming).

    [4] See Part #202 in Volume 5.

    [5] An anachronistic choice of metaphor, as the Terracotta Army hadn’t been rediscovered yet.

    [6] The push for reform in TTL China is therefore very different to OTL, where it was driven by factors including repeated defeat and humiliation by the western powers and flawed modernisation attempts under the Qing.

    [7] In OTL, the Duke of Yansheng title was converted to a non-feudal one by the Republic of China in 1945, and a 79th generational descendant of Confucius, Kung Tsui-chang, currently holds the successor office of Sacrificial Official to Confucius in Taiwan.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  17. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Somewhere in the Khazar Empire
    Chinese demarchism... now I've seen it all.
     
  18. 1SaBy Enlightened Radical Alt-Censtrist

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2014
    Location:
    Cassovia
    Without Emperor Xuanming, there would be no New China! (The Union of China IIRC?)

    Erm... Foreign Food Points... ?

    I blame Societists.
     
  19. Codae Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Location:
    Bloomington, Riverlanderland
    Oh hey, it's a Ming Norton.
     
  20. 245 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    I just hope we get to see how the former qing citizens feel like, in the new Feng territory, there might even be qing nationalism happening in the future.
     
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