Rumsfeldia: Fear and Loathing in the Decade of Tears

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Drew, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    I don't know. One of the Terminator's themes is the fear of nuclear war-although that really popped up Judgement Day.

    Under Rumsfeld, the government was more or less making veiled threads to the media to tow their line. A movie about nuclear war would, in his sick mind, "threaten national security by spreading the message of surrender and weakness to the communist menace." Remember, he thought of Europe's détente along those lines.

    They could still make the movie, but without the threat of nuclear war.

    Perhaps the future of the ITTL Terminator is one where America has been reduced to a backwater and Soviet puppet state. The puppet leader is a barely veiled caricature of Pete McCloskey who "seduced Americans with his promise of plenty, only to show his true colors and destroy American initiative".

    Kyle Reese could be a guy going back in time to prevent the election of the "future communist leader" of America (a la the Dead Zone) with a well-timed assassination, and the Terminator is sent to stop him.

    Kyle Reese would, supposedly, be a "true American warrior". Lives in a nice suburban house, is a muscular white guy, spouts the usual bromides of hard work, supports "the family", disdains "parasites and bums", opposes foreign influences, and goes to church. The Terminator is supposedly an unthinking machine, but he spouts words that sound like they came from Pravda. To add even more insult to injury, the Terminator could be made to resemble Nikolai Ryzhkov.

    The movie ends with Reese dying, but not before exposing the McCloskey caricature's communist ties. Reese is given an elaborate funeral, where a Rumsfeld-like President praises Reese as "a true American."

    Rumsfeld's Terminator, like a lot of movies made by the Rumsfeldia-CV period, is one of those movies where you end up rooting for the bad guy, because the hero is such a bastard. While he is supposed to be an American hero, the alternate Kyle Reese just embodies the vulgarity of Rumsfeldia.
    karatachi and Kennedy Forever like this.
  2. The Jovian The Red Gas Giant

    Jun 27, 2015
    England, UK
    As I've said a few times already on the subject of ITTL versions of 80s cult movies, I doubt The Terminator would be made ITTL at all. James Cameron only became a filmmaker OTL after being inspired by watching Star Wars, which in this TL is an obscure animated film. And even if Cameron did become a filmmaker by being inspired by a different film, the changes in the TL would probably butterfly away the nightmare he had that inspired the premise of The Terminator. And even if both events happened, it is still theoretically possible it was made as an European-Canadian production with Cameron leaving Hollywood after Rummy's censorship begins to stifle the movie industry or after Callifornia seceded from the Union.

    Too many things need to happen the same way as they did OTL for the film to be even conceived, let alone made. It is possible someone else could make an 80s sci-fi time travel film with a similar premise as what Bookmark suggested, but it wouldn't be called The Terminator and it would have different characters and be made by different filmmakers.
  3. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    I think a lot of those European-Canadian productions, staffed by American exiles, would feature many, many swipes at Donald Rumsfeld or the US public as a whole.
  4. PGF Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2017
    what will derumsfieldification and deCVfication look like?
  5. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    Good question. But one I thing I can imagine is specific books will be made mandatory to ITTL American school children in order to dissuade people from the ITTL attitudes that led to the Decade of Tears:

    1. 12 Years a Slave

    The fact that Rumsfeldia and the CV brought back institutionalized forced labor means many people will want to bury anything that could be considered pro-Confederate. People will see Lost Cause Revisionism as the foundation for the CV "moral correction facilities." Showing the unflinching brutality of slavery will help that.

    2. 1984.

    For obvious reasons, this will be mandatory. But their also might be an exploration of deeper themes, like the manipulative power of language, the alteration of history for propaganda, the creation of a permanent enemy, and how easily alliances can shift according to the interests of those in power.

    3. Animal Farm

    While obviously more a critque of the Russian Revolution, a point will be made about how the "American Empire" became worse then the British Empire.

    4. The Crucible

    Well, technically a play, but it is a good allegory for McCarthyism. And, by extension, Rumsfeldism and the CVs own show trials.

    One of the aspects of American life that led to the Decade of Tears is the tendency of American politics to devolve into a morality play. Politicians stoke fear, the public react, and the politicians feed off that fear. The CV was one big moral panic that devolved into a twisted totalitarian nightmare.

    So ITTL school kids will be shown why you should ignore those who seek to exploit fear.

    5. It Can't Happen Here

    This one is for obvious reasons.
  6. PGF Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2017
    I really hope a lot of people don't believe the conspiracy theory historical revisionist films that the Hughes network put out.
    FiendslayerPrime1976 likes this.
  7. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    There are going to be people who believe in that bile no matter what you do.

    The real question is if they end up being a significant political minority in the post-CV era.
  8. interpoltomo please don't do coke in the bathroom

    Sep 18, 2007
    dictatorship of the proletariat
  9. mspence Well-Known Member

    Jul 1, 2018
    Maybe the US turns into a Commonwealth with more parliamentary-style politics and no Electoral College? We know the USA survives in some form in the present day.
  10. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    Sovietlollipop likes this.
  11. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    The way it is described, it sounds like a deep state version of the Moral Majority.

    Or if the Bilderberg Group was a Christian activist group.

    TTL, the rise of "The Family" might be seen as a symbol of America's democratic decline.
  12. David Ritz Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2014
    Cambridge, the "Friendly Dictatorship"
    Blimey! There's now a documentary in OTL:

    I would also recommend looking in the Council for National Policy as a (slightly) more public version of this "deep state".
  13. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    This TL has created a shocking number of ideologies that can described in one sentence:

    1. Lesser Maoism: The Cultural Revolution (literally) on crack.

    2. Rumsfeldism: A human face speaking about freedom...with a smile that doesn't reach the eyes.

    3. Super-apartheid: Even other white people can be part of the excluded majority.

    4. Coeism: Bringing about the end times thanks to the miracle of nuclear annihilation.

    5. MBA Communism: The proletariat and the bottom line must be liberated for the masses.

    6. Cuerdism: A bunch of monks non-violently bitch-slapping Latin American generals.

    7. Bozemania: Hippies and hedge fund managers pretending to be cowboys and burning their tax forms.

    8. Super-Zionism: There can be no concentration camps on lands where Moses spent two weeks on vacation.

    9. Chinese Islamism: Some tasty rice and a bed all for the low, low price of your religious loyalty.
  14. CapitalistHippie Stassen 2020

    Apr 11, 2018
    I actually started watching just because I recognized Coe from this timeline.

    After watching it, Coe’s MO seems to fit his in this timeline too, as a behind the scenes figure who hoards influence but isn’t the face of the movement.
  15. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    The ITTL political environment seems perfect for someone like Coe to subvert the political process.
  16. manav95 Well-Known Member

    May 16, 2012
    This post can't get deleted.
  17. interpoltomo please don't do coke in the bathroom

    Sep 18, 2007
    Imagine a lesser maoist on bath salts post-CV *US. Reacting to the CV era by going "Lesser Maoist thought looks good but is too moderate"....
  18. 4WantofaNail Mr. Self Destruct

    Jul 20, 2016
    For some reason this story gives me vibes of The Stand, by Stephen King. Perhaps part of that is because the outbreak of superflu, Captain Trips, in the novel has an eerie parallel with Rumsfeld's attempt at weaponizing the AIDS virus ITTL. But what I think gives me most to think about is the novel's antagonist, Randall Flagg, a man who goes from place to place, sowing discord and chaos everywhere he goes, either directly or indirectly manipulating events to spread anarchy. His introductory chapter is the most interesting to me, because it's here where he describes drifting from different extremist groups to either push people into doing vile actions or doing things himself if he gets the chance. After the plague kills 99% of the globe he sets up a cult in Las Vegas with the intent on terrorizing anyone who won't join him. This also isn't the only novel Flagg appears in; in another Stephen King book, The Eyes of the Dragon, he tries to plunge a medieval fantasy country into a second dark age for no discernable reason other than a love for disorder and violence.

    ITTL, with the general breakdown of American society, the rising crime, the disappearance/imprisonment/institutionalization of people who speak against the government, the emergence of fringe extremist groups as mainstream political parties, the normalization of political violence in the form of the Liberty Legions (and later the Holy Battalions), half a dozen or so "interventions" in war torn countries on behalf of dictators (or even outright invasions like with Cuba), urban rioting becoming depressingly commonplace, numerous deadly terrorist attacks, and to cap it all off a civil war fought with every weapon of mass destruction possible, it could make someone wonder ITTL if there's some sort of devil or anti-Christ figure going place to place, making sure it all happens.

    Interestingly, IOTL The Stand was published in 1978. If that still holds true ITTL, then it would be published long before the Rumsfeld regime and all its excesses. I can see the book being one of many maligned by Rumsfeldian cronies and CV fanatics, as I can also easily see dissidents associating Rumsfeld and co. with Flagg's despotism and commitment to undermining peaceful societies as much as he's able. I wonder if maybe Stephen King himself would make the connection some time later ITTL, or if The Eyes of the Dragon would get tweaked slightly, to be a pointed jab at Rumsfeld and others.

    IDK, something about the character of Flagg and the whole timeline seems to click in a really weird way.
  19. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016

    Randall Flagg, to me, represents the kind of demagogic charlatans people turn to out of desperation, division, panic, and terror. Flagg's actions-destruction, chaos, evil-represent how those charlatans end up creating more terror and evil because of their twisted ideologies.

    The theme of the Gumboverse is how, in periods of chaos, demagogues have managed to rise to power, and their actions end up setting human beings back even more.

    The first example was the Lesser Mao. In the political chaos that followed the ITTL failure of the China-US outreach and the Mongolian war, Lesser Mao was able to emerge amidst his uncle's purging and dismissal of authorities. He also exploited the bad economic conditions elsewhere to dump his narcotics into the world.

    Of course, the most well-known "Randall Flagg" was Donald Rumsfeld.

    Rummy found an America torn apart by tremendous economic and social upheaval. The economy ITTL was so bad, inferior goods were becoming a huge sector. Crime rates and inner city decay soared. Terrorism was all the rage, and the American public drifted toward political extremes. The outside world wasn't much better, with terrorism, extremism, and violence all on the ri

    And Rummy and his acolytes fed upon those changes: he dismantled the welfare state, plunged America into numerous wars, created a police state, etc. In his own mind, he was ensuring another American century, but he ended crippling America badly, all the while his supporters, the GOP, and his corporate friends opportunistically fed off of his excesses.

    Of course, he would be supplanted by the CVs, who exploited the mess Rumsfeld created to enter into power themselves. On the promise of creating the Christian society and returning America to an imagined past, the CVs created hell on Earth

    ITTL, Stephen King is not nearly as famous as OTL. Because of the even worse economy, his books aren't selling as well. I don't know if he books ever became prominent. Whether or not he could gain fame later in his life ITTL is kind of...up in the air.

    But the theme that people pick up on ITTL is how fear and terror were such potent forces, that they could destroy the most powerful and (supposedly) free nation on Earth in under a generation. Rumsfeld or Coe-like characters might be common in a lot of fiction.
  20. Saint_007 The King Of Nothing

    Sep 17, 2011
    I'm pretty sure Mr. Flagg is "chaos/evil for its own sake". IIRC, he reads Mein Kampf and Das Kapital with equal gusto, and generally spouts any rhetoric that is guaranteed to cause the most trouble possible. Though he does check every box about demagoguery (and then some) once he takes over Las Vegas.

    But it won't be too hard to see him smiling in the rows of executives and politicians who have made this timeline what it is.
    You forgot "The Dead Zone", where the main character gets psychic powers after getting into an accident, and finds out a right-wing candidate is trying to bring about nuclear armageddon.

    But I wouldn't say Rumsfeld is Flagg, or anything like him. For one thing, he seems to actually believe in the insanity he spouts. Flagg just uses any cause to spread pain and misery, or anything to grant him power over others..