McGoverning

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Yes, Jan 2, 2018.

Loading...
  1. TheBerlinguer New-school baby-eater

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Location:
    Sacro Romagnolo Impero
    Hi, Italian citizen here and I have something to say about a paragraph in your latest update that has left me a little disoriented. I start by saying that this is my first post in this thread since I'm still catching up with the TL (I'm currently going over chapter 10 with a fine comb, to be sure I don't miss any detail on the ATL evolution of a paramount scenario like the Middle East), but I usually glance at any new update as they are posted and since news about the Italian political situation is the very first piece of info we're given I just couldn't ignore that.

    To cut the long story short, since we all know your methodology as a writer of alternate history, I think we deserve to know something more about the victory of the "YES" front in the referendum against the Fortuna-Baslini Law since, unless I'm missing something incredibly important in the chapters I still have to read, I firmly believe that you'd need at least a swarm of Spruce Goose-sized butterflies to change the result of that referendum so radically.

    87.7% of the Italian electorate cast their votes in those two fateful days of May 12 and 13, 1974. 87.7%. A percentage that has never been reached again, let alone surpassed. And 59.3% of the voters chose not to repeal Fortuna-Baslini. Even having more people going to ballot box would be a real plausibility stretch, since I can't imagine a way that wasn't actually attempted in real life by the "Yes" and "No" campaigns to convince them to cast their votes for the most crucial popular consultation in the history of the country. And let's say that more people actually went to the ballot box ITTL, there just weren't enough of them in the country to make the "Yes" front win, even in the unlikely even teverybody decided to trace an X on the Vatican-approved option. The numbers just do not add up.

    But it's not just a matter of pure electoral arithmetics, alas. There were a lot of trends and contingent factors at work in Italian politics and society during those fateful years which rowed against a victory of the anti-Fortuna-Basalini front.

    Fortuna was a Socialist. Baslini a Liberal. Divorce wasn't and couldn't be portrayed as a product of the creeping influence of Godless Communism on the God-fearing Italian people since the PSI and the PLI were traditional, historical allies of Christian Democracy and would have stayed that way after the referendum said that their law had to stay. In fact, the Communists themsleves were unsure about the opportunity of dying on a hill to defend Fortuna and Baslini's form of divorce, which was perceived as way too timid and bourgeois ("5 years of separation before a couple can actually rescind their marriage? What's this farce?") compared to the idea they had. Only the charismatic presence of the new PCI leader Enrico Berlinguer and the enviable discipline enforced on the Party's ranks kept the official leftist opposition on the path of commitment to the "No" front, despite not being in the frontlines of the campaign. Now, a Communist Party that chooses not to die on the hill of bourgeois divorce would be an interesting point of divergence that could have some funny effects on the final result of the 1974 referendum, but that's in no way related to a rising international front hell-bent on pushing back against broad civil liberties.

    And then there's the fact that just two years before the Italian Constitutional Court had finally decriminalized adultery in a historic verdict that was perceived as common sense at the time by the majority of the population, especially since the repealed law, in typical Macho fashion, was especially punishing for female adulterers. There was a trend in motion, one towards a more laical approach to life in the country, especially amongst women. Ripples from McGovern's election in the US are expected to be there, but not to be powerful enough to annihilate the effects of the sexual revolution and the spread of a more relaxed attitude towards Catholic dominance over societal norms. It's just too convenient in a politically-divided landscape like the Italian one.

    And then there's the matter of Amintore Fanfani being once again the national secretary of DC. Several party bigwigs (Rumor, Moro, Colombo, Cossiga) did not like that. At all. He was old. His way of doing politics was old. From day one, the crusade against divorce in Italy was going to be Fanfani's crusade, not the party's. Even with the Catholic Church pressing its political arm to do even the impossible to preserve the sanctity of marriage, there's no way that DC's consolidated correntismo magically disappears and DC presents a believably united front in support of the "Yes" option. Unfortunately for the defenders of marriage, when Deep-Red Emilia-Romagna and Most Catholic Sicily vote the same way, like it happened IOTL, it means that maybe, just maybe, your front wasn't that united to begin with. And believe me, Yes, in the Christian Democracy of old religion and political orthodoxy were the rule of the land until an opportunity arises to give a cold shower to that/those guy/s. And even outside the party, support for the "Yes" option was far from consistent in the galaxy of Catholic organizations and movements. I seriously doubt that one year and a half of McGovern presidency would be enough to turn Italian Catholics into a unitary force for reaction, especially when the new breed of Catholic politicians during those years was made up of liberal, not conservative Catholics (Gozzini, Scoppola, La Valle, Prodi...). There is no direct New Right equivalent in Italy in 1974 that can ride the wave of discontent against the wave of progressivism emanating from the Leader of the Free World and his cohorts.

    That's what I have to say about this matter. I'll defer to your judgment as TTL's demiurge.
     
    lukedalton, Mwex, Bulldoggus and 5 others like this.
  2. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    This is a magnificent comment and indeed I copied it over here in reply just to make sure people give it proper attention.

    It is, however, based on a misreading of the text. "No" still won on the referendum, as IOTL. "Yes" just did slightly better than IOTL as we begin to see faint stirrings of a "counter-force" reaction to the leftward tilt in Western politics since McGovern's election, as a few people who might otherwise have left the divorce laws lie instead use the vote as a cudgel to bash the broad-left for what are really other reasons. There's really no force smaller than Skippy the Alien Space Bat that could plausibly beat "No" because as you rightly point out there was not only social progressivism but a muscular republican laicism at work too, a conscious and determined rejection of corrupt old Crown-and-Church days and their entanglement with fascism. So no worries, the divorce laws rest safe ITTL; their opponents are just cashing in on their symbolic link to That Got-Dam Hippeh Lover in the White House, much as most breeds of American Republicans would.
     
  3. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Location:
    Michigan
    I will gladly accept a PM about UK whips.

    Wait, what do you mean, it's not about that? ;)
     
    Yes likes this.
  4. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    @TheBerlinguer,

    Also:

    (1) Watch this space for more of your namesake as the TL carries on.

    (2) Love the "the Demiurge of TTL" line. Definitely going to steal that :p
     
  5. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    upload_2019-5-16_18-56-5.jpeg

    [​IMG]
     
  6. TheBerlinguer New-school baby-eater

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Location:
    Sacro Romagnolo Impero
    In my defence, I wrote that I had just glanced at the text of the update, so my text comprehension skills were only half-functional. Otherwise, I apparently did what the promoters of the "No" option feared many voters would have done on May 12/13, 1974 and didn't understand that you had to vote "No" to say "Yes". Sorry.:biggrin:

    (1) This fills me with glee. Looking forward to become an actual contributor to this thread as soon as I finish catching up with the TL chapters.

    (2) Just remember to use it parsimoniously! ;)
     
    Bulldoggus and Yes like this.
  7. Expat Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    This is a nifty look back at organized cycling advocacy in DC with its roots in the Nixon years. Might be some strands to pull at in there. Earth Day comes up, and that has me wondering what McGovern might be attempting to further the momentum of those early Earth Day demonstrations.

    Also has me thinking about trail systems. I know DC isn't the only city that's seen rails-to-trails programs take effect. To what extent are these rail conversions affected by the administration's new rail policy? Are more tracks left in place to be rehabbed, upgraded, modified, etc. and then sold back into the private sector? More rail commuting vectors would certainly benefit more people than a walking/biking trail, though it might create a split in the environmental coalition.

    We're seeing a similar split just outside of DC today, as one of these trails is currently closed to build a light rail line that wouldn't even need to be "built" in large part if the tracks hadn't been pulled up in the first place. Of course if there's enough room today for both a rail line and a walking/biking path, one assumes there would be in the 70s. But then maybe not, as I'm guessing the old tracks (the "existing" tracks in TTL 1970s) run through the middle of the right-of-way and not shoved as far to one side as possible.

    So is it maybe a trade-off? Fewer dedicated walking/cycling trails for more rail transit? Or do you think there's enough pressure to either 1) demolish the tracks for a trail, or 2) to find other trail routes to carve out in and around the metro area (and by extension other metro areas)?
     
    Yes likes this.
  8. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Location:
    Michigan
    Fun fact--Egil "Bud" Krogh (alternately known as Evil Krogh) was one of those cycling advocates!
     
    Yes and Expat like this.
  9. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    No worries at all. I'm more impressed (on Albus Dumbledore's principle that it takes a lot more guts to stand up to your friends) that you came for the (TL) king on a point of sincere historical principle and did it with such a cogent, elegant argument. Played the ball all the way into the net; Paolo Rossi would've been proud.


    It may take a little time but you can bank on it. Given that with Berlinguer you have a:
    • Handsome, actually-aristocratic rebel from the provinces (well, Sardinia);
    • Recognized across the Italian political spectrum as one of the most upright and principled figures in Italian politics;
    • Who went to Moscow and called the Brezhnev regime on the carpet over Prague; and
    • As a result may well have been the subject of at least one (possibly more than one) assassination attempt from Moscow, and;
    • Was a leading light in organizing the movement towards Eurocommunism; in which he was
    • A dogged proponent of indigenous communisms in the European nations which he thought were safer in NATO from the overweening power of Moscow; which
    • Made him a leftist who could be encouraged to pursue social justice-driven politics within existing political systems for the sake of social and economic improvement not proxy-war point scoring
    If he didn't exist, the McGoverners' foreign policy conclave would have to invent him. Indeed they'd probably like to clone him. Which gets very interesting when the governing presidential administration in the United States disagrees pretty entirely with this:
    [​IMG]

    Another great word :p Will do.

    This is all very interesting and useful stuff. You're right to pick out the Earth Day connection, given how close McGovern is personally to Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) who of course was one of the principal organizers of the first Earth Day. A very useful case where two strong impulses of the McGoverners (small-is-beautiful, green-is-beautifuler cycling on one hand, revamping the nation's freight and passenger rail network on the other) could get crosswise. Or, they could try to learn early (hi, Stewart Udall! Didn't see you over there...) to try and integrate plans until you have James Buckley frothing in drowsy vowels about the Teat of the Nanny State...

    It's always fun to find those GOP folk (from Tommy Thompson to Howard Phillips) who actually back some kind of mass transit and/or alternatives to an automobile-dominated transportation infrastructure. Fascinating quirkiness.
     
  10. Expat Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Weird where an issue can find proponents before it has political salience! I've heard (from my friend) that Bill Buckley campaigned on bike lanes and congestion pricing when he ran for mayor. But that was well before anyone noticed those issues were wedge-shaped.
     
  11. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    I could see that: it strikes me as the sort of issue (pre-wedge) where Buckley would incline to be the sort of conservative ideal he dressed up in pretty words every month in National Review. That is to say, it's a way to turn the old urban core into a verdant, ambulatory space for the Right Sort of People while THOSE People get Robert Moses-ed into their freeway-confined ghettos at more of a distance. It'd be interesting to see if anyone can square the circle between the (bike) wheel and the wedge...
     
  12. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Capital Regional District
    Gil Carmichael down in Mississippi was a huge Republican rail guy. Pity he never won a race for higher office.
     
    Yes and Expat like this.
  13. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    It's funny you should say that...
     
  14. John Farson The Good Man

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    I know you already explained all this way back when, but I've been recently reading through the alt-Tanquetazo as described by you. OTL, the September 11th coup was meticulously planned, or at least sufficiently so that the orchestrators made sure they had taken control of virtually the entire Armed Forces by the time they made their move that September morning (the Navy were the first to actually revolt, seizing Valparaiso, followed by the Army and Air Force who either closed or bombed most of the radio and TV stations in Santiago by the following hour).

    So, if Merino (the planner of the coup), Pinochet and Leigh had the patience to organize it to such an extent (I'm not including César Mendoza in this bunch; by all accounts he was little more than a greedy, cowardly opportunist who threw in his lot with the Trio once they agreed to promote him to Director General of the Carabineros... ahead of the seven guys that were ahead of him in rank; he was so weak that they referred to him as Mendocita), why attempt such a risky maneuver here, without guaranteed control over the Armed Forces? Well, for the simple reason that at this point none of them are holding positions as commanders-in-chief of their respective branches. Merino is in command of the main combat fleet, Pinochet is General Chief of Staff of the Army, and Leigh is still in the Air Force's Personnel Command.

    The biggest difference between this "Tanquetazo in steroids" and OTL's coup is, of course, the presence of Carlos Prats as commander-in-chief of the Army. In hindsight, he and his predecessor René Schneider were the biggest obstacles to any sort of plot to take over the military and overthrow the civilian government. OTL, Allende appointed Pinochet as Army c-i-c and Leigh as the c-i-c of the Air Force, essentially handing them the keys to the kingdom (after Prats was destroyed by the Alejandrina Cox incident, an event that by itself would be termed ASB here. The Tanquetazo helped salvage his reputation somewhat, but it was already too late for him). Here, the plotters have no such advantage and are more or less forced to resort to a coup de main, thinking that once they've captured or killed Allende the rest of the military will fall in line.

    Of course, another spanner in the works for the coup plotters here is Roberto Souper, who pretty much wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed to begin with. His OTL Tanquetazo basically met the definition of what in Brazil would be called a quartelada, or "military adventure" (apologies for mixing up Lusophone and Hispanophone concepts...). What the coup plotters were planning seemed like a tall order to begin with, but once Souper blabbed all about it to exactly the wrong person, it was more or less doomed before it even began.

    If I'm in error at any point here please say so.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
    Yes likes this.
  15. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    Not at all in error. You have the essentials (and I for one enjoy mixing up Lusophone and Hispanophone concepts/metaphors/etc.) "Military adventure" certainly fits the occasion; to make a pun in English on a Spanish surname Souper... wasn't. Here he has the opportunity to make even more mischief because he quite directly knows too much for his own good. And yes, the presence of a variety of constitutionalist officers (the chief of naval operations who was arrested IOTL's coup, Gen. Bachelet in the air force, etc.) capstoned by Prats at the top means that the plotters risk an outright civil war that they do not want unless they can "cut out the tumor" (hence "Operation Scalpel") at the very top and step into command position. IOTL they'd been given the roles they needed by the time of the coup, as you point out in your summing-up, and had quite a bit of passive, if not active, US and other external support. Here they find themselves much more isolated, which leads them to believe (1) there's a chance they really could lose this thing so it's even more urgent to strike before the window of opportunity passes, and (2) that they have to "come for the king" quite specifically, to avoid uncontrolled disruption throughout the system.

    To bring us up into much more recent subjects, TTL's outcome in Chile may have important ripples elsewhere, not just in Iberoamerica. To invoke fellow Careful Reader @TheBerlinguer, his namesake laid out, at book length, his proposal for Italy's "Historic Compromise" in direct relation to OTL's situation in Chile. There he deduced that the failure of the Christian Democrats and Chilean Socialists (further to the left than Craxi's Socialists, more akin to the Eurocommunist varietal of the PCI, indeed closer to Moscow and Havana than that) to make common cause in the name of democratic, republican institutional stability was fatal in Chile. The different outcome here may have several effects on Berlinguer's perspective:
    • Confirmation bias is A Thing, so the survival of Chilean democracy through a combination of Socialist and Christian Democratic collaboration (they look more collaborative here from the outside, if you want them to look that way, as a number of the fundamental stressors get removed by Allende's assassination) and also constitutionalist military officers (this possibly brings in a "people's democracy within NATO" perspective, bounced off the idealism of the McGoverners?) here seems to prove Berlinguer's point through presence rather than absence and (no real spoilers here) he could do the same turning to, say, Portugal, where for Trend-y reasons the Socialists and their allies in the military and the general public have seen off challenges from a Soviet-backed Communist faction
    • ITTL Allende's murder means he's succeeded by TTL's President of the Chilean Senate, left-Christian Democrat Gabriel Valdes; Valdes, a professorial lawyer-turned-diplomat, belonged firmly to the left of his party and ITTL was a vocal and vigorous opponent of the Pinochet regime, a constitutionalist to his fingertips, so Berlinguer may feel he should emphasize the bond between those who follow the Eurocommunist line on creating a socialist society within the constitutional system, and sympathetic christian-democratic (in both countries, also Christian Democratic) figures of goodwill who've proven they will defend a constitutional republic at all costs, wonder where Berlinguer could find one of those lying around in Italy...
    Also (T U L I P C H A I R S) while it is not quite the cause celebre priority that it was under the Allende government, the (largely) nonviolent succession of the Christian Democrats back to leadership of the center-left coalition in Chile (well, the street violence that accompanied it was not their fault, put it that way), this little experiment is still going on down there and more and more outside observers have taken an interest:

    [​IMG]

    No, that's not a production set for Logan's Run...
     
    Wash, Asteroid Miner, Gerbbro and 8 others like this.
  16. John Farson The Good Man

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    Ah, Cybersyn...

    And yes, Chile staying a democracy is sure to have ripple effects, certainly in the Americas. At this point in 1974-75, if I'm not mistaken, you got dictatorships in Uruguay (unless the coup of June 27, 1973 was butterflied away), Peru (the regime of Juan Velasco), El Stronato in Paraguay, Ecuador (junta) and Bolivia (the regime of Hugo Banzer) in South America. Meanwhile Venezuela is a democracy under Carlos Perez and Brazil has returned to democracy. On the other hand, Colombia is stuck in an endless guerrilla war with FARC and other guerrilla groups, and Argentina is being pushed to the breaking point, as you mentioned earlier. TTL, that country might take Chile's place in international infamy. And there's the perpetual quarrel with the UK over the Falklands to consider... Still, Brazil returning to civilian rule and Chile having fought off two coup attempts (if Allende's assassination is counted as one) may provide a bit of "positive pressure" for the rest of the continent. At least Operation Condor won't be a thing, or they'll have to come up with one without the support of the McGovern Administration.
     
    Batman16 and Yes like this.
  17. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    What happens to Freddie Prinze, Sr. ITTL? Assuming he still becomes famous ITTL, I hope his OTL death can be butterflied away here (BTW, they should have canceled Chico and the Man after Prinze's death, instead of trying for a 4th season)...
     
  18. Wayside If It Were Up To Me

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2015
    Location:
    Former Firewall State
    I'm quite disappointed that this forum's alert system doesn't always seem to... well, alert me. Well, que sera sera, I suppose.

    *googles* And now I have another Canadian political history moment to keep in my back pocket and be vaguely amused by.

    Not sure if Pierre Trudeau or Tom Bombadil.

    Between Sarge, Salinger, and an administration in the Élysée that'll make state visits downright joyful, I get the feeling that West Wing francophilia is going to be turned up to eleven. More importantly, though, any prospective Dirty Wars will have one less (secret) patron.


    Also... I find myself very curious as to what my mom's senior-year Marxism professor (Queens College, Class of '89) is going to be getting up to around this time...
     
    Yes likes this.
  19. King of the Uzbeks Charles Curtis is my Baby Daddy

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Location:
    Not-Tashkent (sadly)
    We riot at midnight.
     
  20. Wayside If It Were Up To Me

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2015
    Location:
    Former Firewall State
    (For the record, I meant Michael Harrington :p)
     
    Batman16, Bomster and Yes like this.
Loading...