No Spanish Civil War in 1936 (my new Timeline)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Dr. Strangelove, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    In case the above update was a bit dull: in OTL, by may 13 the germans were crossing the Meuse in Sedan, and the german panzers arrived to the sea in May 21, trapping the allied armies and winning the campaign for Germany. This is hailed as the first ever blitzkrieg.

    In TTL, the german change of plans and the presence of reinforcements in Sedan mean that by the end of May, the germans have not been able to cross the Meuse. which means that the Battle of France, instead of the lighting campaign that astonished the world, is becoming a sluggish positions battle. The germans will win it in the end, but not until after the allies have bled them white.
     
  2. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    From A war to be won, history of the second World War, by Alan Millett; Harvard University Press, 2000

    …In the Netherlands, the dutch army refused to cooperate with the allies, and despite initial success defeating the german airborne troops, by May 14 the germans had occupied half of the country.

    …The dutch army surrendered after the bombing of Rotterdam. The german invasion was too fast and the germans fastly achieved air superiority over this sector, and the French plans to resist at the Breda line quickly failed, allowing the germans to advance towards Zeeland and outflank the allied defense around the Dijle.

    …The battle of Gembloux Gap was the largest battle between armoured formations the world had ever seen. It started in May 15 when the germans, after failing at surprising the allied armies in Sedan, managed to cross the Meuse in three points between Dinant and Liege. By this moment, what was intended to be a swift and decisive battle to envelope and destroy the bulk of the allied army was slowly becoming precisely what the germans had tried to avoid: a positional battle in which only luck or the sheer force of numbers would decide the outcome.

    …Gamelin had repetedly pointed out that resisting at the Dijle was too risky in terms of entrenching and supplying, and would have preferred to keep the allied forces west of Brussels. It was political pressure to protect the Belgian capital which forced him to choose the Dijle river for his defense line. When the Netherlands surrendered in May 15, his north flank became exposed, and the risk of a german advance towards Antwerp that would envelope the allied army became very real.

    …It was superior tactics and training who decided the outcome of Gembloux, although at a very high cost for the Wehrmacht. The allied armour doctrine was still very inferior to its german counterparts, and the lack of radios in the allied tanks became a serious issue. Despite the superior firepower and armour of the French B1’s, soon german forces under the command of generals Rommel and Hoepner would advance towards Brussels, threatening the entire allied position. The constant german attacks through the Ardennes between Sedan and Dinant, although fruitless, were also successful tying a lot of French armoured forces far away from the decisive battle.

    …By may 20, the germans had finished reorganizing in the dutch sector and were preparing to attack towards Antwerp. The allied High Command, with generals Gamelin, Gort, Miaja and King Leopold of Belgium, decided to withdraw from the Dijle line towards Gent, despite Leopold’s staunch opposition.


    From The Second World War, by Winston Churchill, 1951

    ..Our greatest fear during late May was that our withdrawal from the Dijle could turn into a disordinate mess that would allow the germans to destroy the allies in Belgium. Fortunately for us, two weeks of endless battle had strained the germans more than us, and the allied forces were able to withdraw in order.

    …I feel sorry for King Leopold. Belgium had been the first country to see the painting in the wall and had prepared his armed forces for a german invasion ever since 1935, and the astounding performance of the Belgian forces, specially their antitank artillery, cannot be overstated in any tale of the Battle of Belgium. It is understandable that he opposed vehemently that the allied army withdrew west of Brussels; but there was no other option. Gort’s Expeditionary Force was under very heavy pressure in Antwerp, and Rommel was breaking through at Gembloux. If his panzers reached Charleroi, the allied expeditionary force would be destroyed.

    …Only in the southern sector of the front between Dinant and Malmedy, the germans were unable to progress. The staunch resistance of the French army and the Spanish expeditionary force prevented them from crossing the Meuse, and their diversion movement[1] through the Ardennes failed to surprise our forces.

    [1]Yes, the Ardennes offensive is considered as only a diversion attack in TTL.


    From Erwin Rommel’s diaries

    May 26, 1940, near Gembloux, Belgium
    …Little combat today. The enemy is withdrawing towards Brussels after inflicting us serious losses. Five panzers reported lost today in combat against British Matildas. Heavy air combat over our positions. Despite being in a position to achieve a decisive breakthrough, my panzers are running out of fuel and ammunition.

    May 27 1940, near Gembloux, Belgium
    …The enemy is escaping while my Panzers are sitting idle here. Getting fuel and ammunition is now our primary concern, but it seems that the supply lines are in total chaos due to enemy air attacks. Little advance today; my men are scavenging supplies as they can from abandoned Belgian depots. We’re losing a decisive opportunity here.

    June 1 1940, near Charleroi, Belgium
    …Radio reports that our avant-garde is at the outskirts of Brussels after crossing the Dijle line. The Belgian government has fled to Ostend. My panzers have finally reached their objective, only to find that the enemy has withdrawn towards the French border. If only we had had a little more fuel one week ago! Enemy attempts to cross the Sambre river rejected. My division has lost more than one hundred panzers in 20 days. I doubt we can attempt to invade France without stopping and losing our momentum.

    June 4 1940, between Charleroi and Mons, Belgium[1]
    …British Matildas counterattack my avant-garde. My division has suffered heavy losses. Continuing our advance would be risky and useless. Radio reports inform that Von Reichenau has crossed the Scheldt and is nearing Ghent.

    [1]The day the Dunkirk evacuation ended in OTL.



    From A war to be won, history of the second World War, by Alan Millett; Harvard University Press, 2000

    …By June 10, the germans had won the battle of Belgium, but it had been a pyrrhic victory. The panzer divisions and the Luftwaffe had suffered staggering losses, the British and Spanish expeditionary forces were still standing, and despite its huge casualties, the French army had been able to withdraw towards the French border. However, the allies had lost almost all their armoured reserves in the great battle of the Gembloux Gap, where the german tactical superiority defeated the allies’ numbers and superior firepower.

    …After one month of endless and vicious fighting, the situation stabilized for a few weeks while both sides stopped to reorganize their armies. In Paris, the French government thought that the worst had passed as the german onslaught seemed to have been stopped. In Berlin, Hitler congratulated that the wehrmacht had been able to accomplish most of their objectives in only a month, although the huge losses and the fact that the Belgian coast was still in allied hands were a great disappointment. Only a man, Erich von Manstein, thought that the campaign had been a complete failure, and that it would soon turn into a trench hell like in the last war. During June and July 1940, his lobbying would finally convince Hitler that the French had to be decisively defeated before Germany could turn east.

    This map (shamelessly stolen from wiki's excellent and detailed article on the Battle of France) represents the front situation around June 5. Note that the grey area are the german advances in OTL between May 16 and 21. The germans are happy they have accomplished most of their objectives and mauled the allied armoured forces, but they cannot even suspect what could have happened if their advance through the Ardennes had succeeded:

    1940FranceBlitz copia.jpg
     
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  3. Geordie Well Known Among the Mighty Men Donor

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    Great update. :)

    Pity von Manstein has prevented Hitler charging into a two front war.
    Then again, the Germans have to have some people with common sense.
     
  4. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    The germans have *almost* defeated the allies, but were unable to flank them. However, in the great battle around Gembloux the allies have lost most of their armoured units. The allies are in a more dire situation than they think.
    Specially if Von Manstein gets the upper hand in the OKW, gets rid of Halder and uses his remaining panzer divisions (which have also suffered huge losses) to make a real blitzkrieg. :eek:

    Actually, the germans have accomplished their objectives. They have now bases to bomb Britain and the allies are not in a situation to counterattack -although that bulge between Charleroi and Sedan seems tempting. It is now up to Von Manstein to convince Hitler that only by entering Paris the western allies will ask for peace and leave him alone to deal with the Soviets...
     
  5. Geordie Well Known Among the Mighty Men Donor

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    Yeah, I realised that the allies were in problems: after all, the Spanish appear to call this conflict the 'Second War of Independence'.

    Call me naive, but I never expected such a thing to be occurring in Belgium. :p

    However, it's a great update. You're right though, should von Manstein get the Fuhrer's ear, then there will be headaches on an epic scale for London, Madrid and; first of all Paris.
     
  6. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    Well, I always had the idea of a timeline where the germans failed in their offensive at the Ardennes. I just put it together with my other idea of no spanish civil war, and voilá. :D

    The most obvious differences with OTL even after France falls: Germany will suffer many, many more casualties, especially in the Luftwaffe, and Hitler is much more eager to listen to his advisors. :eek: Also, with the campaign against Russia still being prepared (I think that Hitler would have attacked Russia as soon as he could, even if he had only a shovel to attack) and the invasion of Spain on its way, the Luftwaffe will be too stretched to even attempt to destroy the RAF. Which means, no Battle of Britain, no finest hour, no blitz, etc. I wonder what effects will that have in the british psyche...

    I am a bit disappointed since I am writing an alt-WW2 less epic than our WW2, since the allies seem to have everything easier from the beginning.
     
  7. Alratan Member

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    I don't know. If you look at the German loses in the OTL campaign - particularly due to breakdowns, and how low the Germans were on supplies by the end, then I don't know if the Germans are much better off. It should be the Luftwaffe who are in particular trouble, as they are going to be running very short on pilots, as they can't recover them from behind enemy lines. On the question of tanks, recall that the Allies started off with 50% more tanks than the Germans, so can sustain significantly greater losses. The Allies, particularly the French, are also producing them faster.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  8. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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  9. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    I am dealing with that in the next installment, since I myself thought that the spaniards were too good guys. Bear in mind, though, that there has been no civil war, and that the radical factions have commited political suicide one after another.
     
  10. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    So I take it that there was no anti-religion/Church terror?
     
  11. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    There was during 1936 and early 1937; as there had been since the start of the Republic in 1931, but not the quasi-genocidal extent of what happened in OTL after the start of the war. As the political situation calmed down and the radicals became more interested in fighting their ideoligical buddies instead of fighting their opponents, attacks on the church would calm down.
     
  12. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    This update is kind of an interlude to cover a subject that was worrying me. My biggest flaw when writing Timelines is that I end up liking too much my characters, and that usually leads to wank. Which is bad. The spanish republic are obviously the good guys, but that doesn't mean that they have to be the all-good guys. As Stratego's accurately pointed out, the Republic commited many crimes before and during the civil war; and although the political climate in TTL is less charged, that doesn't mean that the republic's actions are all good. This update is, then, an attempt to "objectivize" an excess of hero-country-worshipping in my side. It also gives you some glimpses of what the postwar world looks like, since finishing the WWII part will take me a looong time:

    From The Times, August 1997.

    60 YEARS LATER, SPAIN COPES WITH THE SCARS OF THE PAST
    …60 years after the first communes were set up in confiscated agricultural lands, Spain is starting to admit the blame of the anarchist leaders in the chaos that followed.

    …ever since 1937, the Spanish way to anarchism has been one of the pillars of national identity. People like Durruti, Asensio or Montseny are revered as national heroes that made the Spanish republic as it is today and became larger-than-life figures during the Second World War – or Great War for Independence, as it is known in Spain- and the following reconstruction and postwar boom.

    …but despite all the rethorics and mystification, the ascension of anarchism in the Spanish countryside between 1936 and 1939 was accompanied of theft, murder, and violence. It is only after said anarchism has become little more than a national slogan and the revered war generation is starting to fade away, that Spaniards are willing to accept blame on their heroes.

    …Patricia Villegas, 77, remembers at her apartment in Córdoba: “My family had owned that farmland near Baeza for decades. That day of 1937, our workers gathered at our house, announced that our land belonged to the people and told us that we could either comply with them or leave. I remember how my father tried to resist, but was beaten by one of their leaders. That man now has a statue in Baeza for becoming a war hero, but my family lived in poverty for years.”
    Patricia’s case is not the only from a time where up to 40% of Spain’s farmland was seized and turned into “people’s communes” where revolutionaries tried to create a new society. This was done with either the complicity or the inaction of the Frente Popular government, who had to rely on the anarchists’ support after two foiled coup attempts by the right and the fears of a communist takeover. Then World War Two and the following prosperity were enough to wash away both the revolutionary dreams and the collective guilt for the forced collectivizations.

    …For decades, former proprietaries’ demands for indemnities were dismissed by Spanish courts. Julián, son of a farmer from Ciudad Real, remembers his childhood in 1950’s La Mancha, where his father was shunned as “a fascist”. –In fact, he had commited the faux pas of publicly demanding that his lands be returned to him after being seized in 1936. Julián’s father died in 1963, bitter and angry that he had never seen any compensation for his land. “We were those who lost the war so the rest of Spain could win it –says Julián with melancholy-. We’re Spain’s dirt under the carpet. Most of us were shunned as “collabos” after the war, and some even met the fate of many collaborators. But my father was not one of them. He fought valiantly in the war, and was decorated by Durruti himself. He thought that after the war, the situation would be dealt with. Instead, he only got vague promises or outright derision. It is no wonder that he died thinking that his country had failed him”.

    …The huge statue to the fallen in the Defense and Liberation of the Motherland is visible from almost all of Madrid, and can be seen easily through the window at José Iturrialde’s office in Madrid’s ministry of Justice. As a Minister in the new conservative government, Iturrialde has promised that the issue of forced collectivizations will be dealt with. “That statue is the symbol of the old times, the prosperity of the postwar together with the hypocrisy of the so-called Revolution. The Revolution brought many good things to Spain, and prepared us to fight the fascists, but those times are over. The 20th century is coming to an end, and we have to heal the scars of the early republic if we want to heal those of what happened after the war. That is no disrespect at all to the men and women honoured by that statue”.

    …Bakunia was known as Vallverd before 1937. This village near Lérida, in Catalonia, still sports the same features as many communes: a central plaza to house massive meetings, a People’s Hall –that also serves as Town Hall-, a monument to the fallen in the war –here featuring a german Panzer captured by local partisans in 1942-, a library and a school. The ensemble is very similar to Israeli kibbutzim. Just like these, what used to be a revolutionary social project has slowly faded into bourgeois conventionality, as the SUVs and teenagers sporting compmusic players in the village square can attest. But until well into the 1970’s Bakunia’s children were raised collectively, marriage was substituted by a couples’ register and religious practices were nonexistent. Bakunia’s mayor, José Luis Carod is still proud of his heritage: “It was us who made the Republic what it is today. Without our revolution, Spain would still be the semi-feudal country that was in the 30’s. We defeated the Nazis just like we defeated Napoleon, and were it not for us, all of Europe would be speaking either german or Russian”. His enthusiasm is perhaps a little excessive. When asked about the former proprietaries’ allegations, he answers with kind of contradictory evasives: “That was a very long time ago; and I think that it would only serve to open closed wounds. After all, we are now a rich and prosperous democracy. I do not see what good could come from opening that can of worms”. Unbeknownst to him, Patricia Villegas has already answered that a few days ago in Córdoba: “That land is supposed to belong to all of Spain. But it is not true. My family was stripped from it, and thus it is not our land anymore. I just want that justice be done and then I will be able to say “yes, this is my land now, I can now fully enjoy its property as the rest of the Spaniards. Until then, I will see myself as a 2nd class citizen”.
     
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  13. Goldstein By the way, it is Goldstein. Banned

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    Is Jose Luis Carod, the mayor of Bakunia, our Jose Luis Carod? :D

    How the communes ended having mayors?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  14. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    Oh, yes, that Carod.

    I only have a rough idea of the cold war years, but I think that all the Revolution and anarchism yadda yadda will be washed away during the reconstruction and become little more than rethorics.
     
  15. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    That's like asking if Great Britain and the United States would destroy Dresden and hang the German government staff if there was not a Second World War.

    The burning of churches was a result of the Church siding with the rebels. Before the war there weren't crimes against the Church, unless you think secular education and women vote are crimes against it (some people do). And anyway, it was isolate communist and anarchist groups who persecuted the Church and its ministers, not the Republican Government (which even offered to return confiscated Church properties in '38, something that the Vatican refused).

    The notion that the SCW was won by the "less bad side", as that link claims, is at least insultant. Who started a war that caused 1 million deaths because it lose an election?
     
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  16. Geordie Well Known Among the Mighty Men Donor

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    Nice update Doctor. :)

    I always enjoy it when an author fleshes out their TL like this.
     
  17. Geordie Well Known Among the Mighty Men Donor

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    I may have to sig this line. :D
     
  18. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    For point 1, I still am working on it. But postwar Spain will be an interesting place, with both a heavy anarchist and "trotskyite" slant, but heavily proamerican at the same time.

    Point 2; some will flee overseas, some will stay and fight, and some will die. But the germans will still need some time to finish off France, and after October, the Pyrenees are not a good place to cross through...



    Thanks for the support. I have had the idea in my head for years, so most o the details are already there.

    there's another update in the works covering June and early July 1940. It will be the last one for some time, since I am going on travel and exams are already near.
     
  19. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person

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    From A war to be won, history of the second World War, by Alan Millett; Harvard University Press, 2000

    …The first great german offensive in the West finished in June 13. The germans had not achieved their objective of occupying the Belgian coast and driving the british out of the continent, but the overall feeling at the OKW was that Fall Gelb had been a success. The fact that the feared allied armoured divisions had been bled white trying to stop the panzer onslaught was seen as a good sign, since despite their superior production of tanks, the French would not be able to field a sizeable mobile reserve in the next months.

    …For the second half of June both sides entrenched in their positions at the franco-belgian border as they tried to stabilize the front. In order to make for a shorter line, the French and Spanish divisions resisting at the Florennes Bulge in southeastern Belgium withdrew towards the French border. Only in the small chunk of Belgium between the Lys river and the Belgian coast, fighting would keep on during June and early July, but the Wehrmacht was too tired to attempt to cross the river, especially after the RAF managed to achieve air superiority in the zone.


    …the allies were too exhausted to attempt any counteroffensive to liberate Belgium. They trusted that, on time, they would manage to field greater numbers than the Wehrmacht, and that the germans would bled themselves against the now established and easily supplied allied positions. This defensive attitude was furthered by the success of the Maginot Line, that had repealed every german attempt against it.

    …Despite Gort’s demands that the allies withdrew from all of Belgium due to their very exposed situation west of the Lys, the allied high command insisted that the Belgian coast had to be kept at any cost, not only by political reasons, but because then the Luftwaffe would gain invaluable bases to attack Britain. In this situation, fears of a german offensive towards Lille and Calais that could trap the BEF in Belgium, were the main concern when Gamelin designed the new allied strategy for the summer of 1940. this unimaginative approach would be of great help to Manstein.



    From The Second World War, by Winston Churchill, 1951

    …In June 25, 1940, I left London to visit Paris and Madrid. In the first city, Reynaud assured me that the germans would not attack for at least a month, and that by the spring of 1941 the French army would be in a situation to launch a counteroffensive on Belgium. Our meeting was interrupted by one of many german bombings on Paris, that would take a heavy toll on the City of Lights.

    …Gort and Gamelin, however, painted me a darker panorama. The german armoured divisions, despite their losses, now outnumbered the allied ones, and, as Gort pointed me out, “in all honesty, sire, the French have lost all their mobile reserves. They have only the masse, but not the manoeuvre[1]”. This statement horrified me, since it meant a really bleak panorama if the germans decided to attempt another great scale attack, as they did. Gamelin, however told me that in a couple of months new tank divisions would be finished and trained to deal with the german menace. The germans, however, were unpolite enough to deny him that little time.

    …In June 30 I arrived to Madrid, where a large crowd received me at the airport. I still was not entirely convinced of the Spanish government’s stability and democratic commitment, and wished to have a first hand report on the Spanish situation. I met President Azaña –already with visible signs of the sickness that would take him- and Prime Minister Besteiro. It was also my first meeting with Buenaventura Durruti,, who at the time was Speaker of the Spanish congress. He looked really uncomfortable complying to the entire state protocol, and insisted in calling me Winston. Other than that, he stroke me as a capable, if too utopian, man.

    …after leaving Madrid, I went to visit the Royal Navy airforce base at El Ferrol, where our submarines and airmen were doing a superb job cleaning the Atlantic of german U-boats. The entrance of Spain and Portugal in the war was of great strategical value since the new allied bases in Galicia, Portugal, the Azores, and at the Iberian colonies in Africa were invaluable to fill the various gaps in our air and naval cover to the supply convoys that were Britain’s lifeline. During the first half of 1940, german U-boats had been all but cleared from the mid-atlantic.

    …I went back to London in July 3, convinced that the Spanish government would stay a liberal democracy, even with all the flaws that came from the excessive collaboration with antidemocratic forces, and that, if the germans didn’t try another offensive during the summer, with time, the allies would be able to repel the german aggression and win the upper hand. Unfortunately, Manstein’s great offensive would shatter my fantasies.

    [1]Gort is joking here about the french’s Masse de manoeuvre; the great infantry reserves that were France’s salvation during WWI, and that had been exhausted during the carnage of the western front. France still has troop reserves, but their mobile reserves have been depleted during the battle for Belgium.



    Let’s see if someone spots the easter egg here:

    From Towards a new concept of Revolution; by Leon Trotsky, Havana, 1942

    [from George Orwell’s foreword to a british edition, 1967]…written in the Spanish and Cuban exile during the first half of World War Two, and first published in Havana in 1942, this was Trotsky’s major contribution to political philosophy, and meant his official abandonment of Leninism after a personal and spiritual crisis during the rise of anarchism in spain in the late 30’s. This book’s influence in the progressive thought of the postwar world cannot be overstated, and most historians already consider it one of the most influential books of the 20th century, both for the good and the bad. Its provocative view of class struggle is as striking today as it was when first published in 1942. No doubt, without it, anarchist and Trotskyite[1] influence during the Cold War against communism would have been greatly lessened.


    [Trotsky’s text starts here]Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim -- for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives -- is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.

    [1]TTL’s Trotskyism is not OTL’s Trotskyism. In fact, it barely is communism at all.
     
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  20. Goldstein By the way, it is Goldstein. Banned

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    That's a quite interesting theory, specially coming from Goldst... I mean, Trotsky :p
     
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