Spectre of Europe - An Alternative Paris Commune Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Reydan, Aug 17, 2015.

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  1. rjd1997 Well-Known Member

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    The beginnings of a democratic world state?

    YEEEEES! :)

    I already loved this TL, but I love it even more now. Keep the chapters coming.
     
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  2. Reydan Well-Known Member

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    I can't possibly say, but glad you are enjoying it.
     
  3. Reydan Well-Known Member

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    I agree (and covered this in the following post) but it wouldn't be a post-war conference without someone storming out would it?!

    Maybe - I think at any rate there will be some serious thinking about tactics post-war.

    As always, great input on Italy especially. I know it seems like Italy could have taken more in Africa, but there are serious reasons why Rome is wary that I will come to in a post very soon. As for Illyria, yes. I think it needs a serious protector or it might just go under. "Quasi-Allies" is a good way of putting the French-Italian relations but you've got to add into the mixture an Italian left that is seeing other parts of Europe become a socialist "paradise" whilst themselves being stuck in a constitutional monarchy. How Paris will balance the power of Rome as an ally against the ambitions of the Italian Socialists is a major part of the upcoming post-war world.

    I'm always wary about things that people see as "inevitable" in history, but I do see the two Germanys as a source of tension.

    As for southeast asia, we'll be shifting focus back east soon enough!

    Thanks again, all, for the lovely comments!
     
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  4. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Interesting situation in the Balkans. Italy seizing Slovenia is interesting strategically, because can allow the Italians to have a strong natural defense line towards Austria, and also a good comeuppance for the same Red Austria; plus is indeed a great access door for all the Balkans. Hungary is the potential strong horse there, Romania would go revanchist and surely whatever alliance will come up would see Budapest and Bucarest at the extreme edges. Constantinople is a big shot for Greece, we will see how would handle it. I don't know how the Greek emigration in America was OTL prior the Greek-Turk conflict, I guess it spiked after the war, probably TTL Turks would eject soon or later Greeks from Smirne area and viceversa for Constantinople...

    Still, I am thinking this is one of the most stable Balkan scenarios ever in an ATL, because Germany is dead, Turkey out of Europe, and Russia cut out because of Ukraine (unless to weight her power to the Black Sea)...
     
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  5. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

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    So this is equivalent to a Versailles Conference in which Ho Chi Minh successfully crashed the party? This should be interesting, though I suspect that after such a close call and with a Cold War on the horizon, France might retain more of its wartime siege mentality and authoritarianism than we would hope.
     
  6. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Thanks:).

    Italy don't take too much Africa it's credible, as frankly i'm with BM here and i think that the european population in the Kingdom of France (Africa) it's much more than OTL and this mean a lot of problem in absorbing any new territory...and in any bid for independence.
    The problem with the italian socialist stance will be a lot:

    1) - there will be a division between the one that want to become now part of the Socialist European Union and the other that see that as a long term objective and for now things need to be gradually changed within the state and using the democratic process...plus the one that frankly thinks it's better independent from the French.
    2) - the French communard itself (or at least many of them) will be a little wary in bringing Italy on board, not for the diplomatic situation but more for the fact that ITTL Italy it's not a pushover but by now one the biggest european powers and this mean that if it become member of the ITTL EU this will not be a France-run show anymore but more a condominium between Paris and Rome; and IMVHO for all they talking about socialist brothers, they will think of themselfs as always the first and the best communard and the light of new era...plus i doubt that they will really dislike their position of the biggest fish in the socialist european pound.
    3) - Italian Socialist also due to the unification being recent and even ITTL WWI basically being the end of the italian risorgimento will be characterizated by a stronger nationalism than the various counterpart in the rest of europe; and even the anti-imperialism stance can create division as there is the problem of Tunisia and Libya, that by now they will have a strong italian presence (Libyan costal cities will have probably an italian majority by now)

    BTW what's G in the post-war map?
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
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  7. Reydan Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you regarding Italy, Slovenia, and Hungary. I'm honestly not sure about politics in Romania - I need to do some more research on it before just assuming it goes revanchist or something like that. Sandwiched between two socialist states and aching from defeat, I imagine politics in Bucharest are...interesting.

    Greece has held Constantinople for almost twenty years ITTL, but yes I imagine the tension between Turkey and Greece will be severe and involve [sometimes forced] population exchange.

    I agree with you about the lack of great power influence in the Balkans, but I don't think the coming decades will see the area as stable. Too many tensions and without big powers to back them, we could see lots of smaller 20th century Balkan Wars.


    You know, I didn't even know that about Ho Chi Minh. To be honest his life must be very different in this timeline as French involvement in South-East Asia has been very limited. Italian control over Cochinchina will be interesting and turbulent though. I take your points about French politics, but I don't want to say too much about it and risk spoiling what I have planned. As with everything with the Commune logical developments in politics have to be passed through the weird filter that is Communard political thought. Its so hard to present it as more chaotic and free-flowing than dogmatic communism of OTL.

    Yes, agree with all those points. I think a shake up in Italian politics is due though, as the structural pressures that broke apart the old parties pre-1914 are still in some respects here ITTL. Also, now risorgamento is essentially complete to the fullest extent it could be, that issue is going to quickly fade as a unifying focal point for politics across the Italian Spectrum. Also, although things may change, currently Italy is heading for an OTL Algeria in the 1960s situation in Libya and Tunisia.

    G was the short-lived Litorial Socialist Republic which was, so far, the only victim of a 'free and open' Italian plebiscite agreed to by the Montagnards. Expect this issue to crop up VERY soon.
     
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  8. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    While i agree that the structural problem are still there ITTL; there are also many difference, from the less problematic social instance of pre-war to the succesfull war (and more importantly much much less expensive).
    Basically the old liberal enstablishment can go out of the political scene not tarnished like OTL but instead in an high note having finally achieved the final destiny of Italy; in poor word they can set up as the old men of the political life.
    Sure i expect political violence, but nothing comparable to the OTL 'Biennio Rosso' or a total loss of confidence in the enstablishment and the monarchy
    Socialist IMVHO while will become the dominant political force, will not going for any 'revolution' or immediate change of form of goverment, probably the contrary, as said while there will be a certain minority that will support becoming part of this EU, the greater majority will prefer stay out and play their own game and while Paris will be officially displeased will not press too much as Italy in, mean divide the power.
    This can create problem in the long run as usually the most nasty ideological fight are between current of the same ideology than between total different ideas.
    The problem of any analogy between Algeria and Libya it's the population level, even in OTL in 1960 there were just little more than 1500000 people there...basically the italians will simply become the majority there, even because the place as Tunisia will become one of the premiere location for emigration (and Libya as been in italians hand for more than 20 years by now) and any rebellion will be more or less suppressed with similar method of OTL; Tunisia it's another matter and more possible near that situation but still i expect a sizeble italian presence there.
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Interlude – Kedgeree, Ratatouille, and High Tea at the Waldorf Astoria

    Reydan Well-Known Member

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    Interlude – Kedgeree, Ratatouille, and High Tea at the Waldorf Astoria.

    Kedgeree, Ratatouille, and High Tea at the Waldorf Astoria – A Potted History of Fine Eating and Worker Dining.

    Kelly Murrigale

    TIME MAGAZINE 1st January 2017

    The rise of British Cuisine to the lofty heights it assumes today arguably rests on the shoulders of women. Currently, as I write this, I am sitting in the tea room of the Waldorf Astoria, on Fifth Avenue, spreading potted ham over curried toast. A simple meal, despite the $17 price tag that comes attached, and one that predates the gorgeous 1890s hotel by some forty years. Eliza Acton, the grand Victorian dame of English cooking, had a whole section on Potted Meats in her 1845 Modern Cookery for Private Families though I doubt she ever imagined it would become a staple of international fine dining in the way it has.

    “In Acton’s day” write food historian A.D. Haw “it was French cuisine, not English, that looked set to take the world by storm”. Yet it was the tumult of the 1871 Socialist Revolution that put paid to that. One of the lesser known off-shoots of that world-changing event was the chaotic flight of French chefs, food writers, and producers and sellers. Scattered all over the world, Haw tells me when we met in person over High Tea, the culinary explosion of the end of the nineteenth-century was forestalled in Paris. It was London, particularly the big hotels of the Victorian age, which took up the slack.

    The week after my chat with Haw I was on a plane, on her recommendation, to London. The first, and most obvious, stop for any foodie is the palatial Royal Favour. Now serving a five course meal that averages out at £220 a head, far in excess of the meagre budget I have allowed myself, the restaurant was the crowning achievement of Miss Rosa Lewis. Lewis, born in London to a poor watchmaker, worked her way up through the kitchens of the nobility to become chef and owner of the Cavendish Hotel. Her family still own it but Royal Favour is deemed the better venue. Springing from her close, some say sexual, relationship with King Edward VII who was a regular patron, it was Royal Favour that by 1911 had cemented the primacy of English Food. It was, famously, the first restaurant to receive the now highly coveted Yellow Rosette of Excellence.

    Thankfully I am saved from my urchin-like window peering by British food writer and chef Jennifer Singh. She has come to take me to her own restaurant, The Bombay and Baroda, which is the latest Yellow Rosetted venue in the capital. Singh, like the food she serves, is a blend of English and Indian. “Acton and Lewis are amazing” she gushes over a plate of fried fish, roasted Bombay potatoes, and mint peas that make my mouth water as they arrive, “but you mustn’t forget how vital Asian figures like Sake Dean Mahomed were – without them English food would not have moved beyond its 18th century position as stodgy and bland.” Mahomed, who’s picture adorns one wall of her sleek modern restaurant, was a Bengali Surgeon who helped popularise curry and Indian cooking in Britain before his death in 1851.

    Still, such adventures in high cuisine can only satisfy a girl so much. On the way back to my hotel after a full day of research at the British Library, the simple aromas of a fast food outlet tug me in by the nostrils. “French food went a different way” Blaise, a Dakarian immigrant, informs me as he serves up a steaming portion of ratatouille for me. “Cheap, nourishing, socialist food” he chuckles “and vegetarian. Very good for you!”.

    Some of the other patrons chip in on the conversation and one in particular, a tattooed man from near Carlisle serving in the Royal Navy, asks if I have ever had Cottage Pie. When I reply no, he sighs. “No-one outside of the countryside has. That’s the effing problem with how fancy English food became” he says sagely “they pushed aside all the regional recipes in favour of the stuff people thought high-class”.

    I am left, as they say, with food for thought.
     
  10. Ryan Who? Donor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  11. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    This is totally ASB, not only English cuisine it's impossible to redeem with less than a thousand year PoD...but everyone know that's Italian cuisine the best;):):) (just joking naturally)
    Speking seriously, well not only we have hint that the United Kingdom will continue to exist but that some unforeseen change had happened to make this TL...btw i like that
     
  12. TsarSaucybottom Pretty Space Emperor

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    Interesting. I can imagine that Siam might be happy about that, if the Franco-Siamese War doesn't happen and they could keep more of Laos--and most likely other parts that they had to concede to both the British and the French in later years following that conflict.
     
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  13. Simurgh Well-Known Member

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    Apr 10, 2014
    Quite surprising that the french chefs would mass emigre enough to make a difference, as aren't they normally portrayed as one of the most left-leaning professions at least historically due to the conditions of the kitchen and the work hours required?
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Chapter 117: Factions. Damn Factions

    Reydan Well-Known Member

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    Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen: Factions. Damn Factions.

    “What follows from this? If factions are not wanted, there must not be any permanent groupings; if permanent groupings are not wanted, temporary groupings must be avoided; finally, in order that there be no temporary groupings, there must be no differences of opinion, for wherever there are two opinions, people inevitably group together. But how, on the other hand, avoid differences of opinion in a party of many millions?”

    Leon Trotsky, Letters from Prison – On the New Course, 1922

    “The Politician is an acrobat – he keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does’

    Maurice Barres, Journalist, 1921

    The elections of December 1920 were somewhat of a farcical affair in the “liberated” countries of Europe. Whilst France, Wallonia, and Catalonia were used to the usual back-and-forth of socialist politics the elections elsewhere were chaotic to say the least. The huge upsurge in revolutionary fervour in Germany saw, after the period of “free movement” ended, voting patterns that would have made the most hardened operative of Tammany Hall blush. The embarrassment of more than seven times as many Germans leaving the new Red Republics for the new Germany in the east than emigrated the other way was bad enough for the KPD, but the sporadic break-out of the revolution that year also played a major role in the confusion. Each area, sometimes each town or village, insisted on its own slate of candidates in defiance of party protocol, whilst in the big cities red militias stuffed ballot boxes and intimidated voters. Each new state was different – Hungary simply kept its old pre-Republic voting system but the tainting of the right by collusion between with the invading Austrians meant that it was really just a contest between the liberal centre and the socialist left. In Austria the only voting that took place was amongst the Trade Union Congress who selected which of the KPO members would go forward to be ministers.

    Out of the chaos, though, discernible factions began to emerge that would dominate European socialist politics in the years to come.

    [​IMG]
    Workers in the Wallonian Railways Works pause during a Work Council Meeting, 1921. Industrial workers were the backbone of the Anarcho-Syndicalist movement.
    Anarcho-Syndicalism

    Perhaps the most obvious boon was that of the Anarcho-Syndicalists, of whom French President Jean Jaures was a leading light. Their willingness to work with the new communal and work-place council forms of popular government that had sprung up saw them take votes across Europe.

    [​IMG]
    Leon Blum and other Centrist Delegates at a rally in Lyon in September 1920. "Return to the Centre" was an effective campaign slogan
    that played upon the natural position of the Centrist/Varlinist movement as the party of peace in Communard history.
    Centrism

    In France, however, jubilant but exhausted by war, it was the Varlinist-inspired Centrists who made a come-back. Varlin had been, at one point, the most respected man in International Socialism and although events had eclipsed him on the world stage, Centrist figures like Leon Blum and Lev Kamenev were still wildly popular in France itself.

    [​IMG]
    The Phalanstere Movement fed the Purist tendencies but also served to isolate it from the mass of voters in the big cities.
    Here a new Phalanstere opens in southern Ukraine in the aftermath of war.
    Purist-Anarchists

    Annoyed by the increasing tend towards state-ownership in the Commune, the Anarchist movement split. Particularly popular among the young and the veterans of the Phalanstere system, these more “pure” anarchists rejected the statist tendencies of socialism. Outside of the supportive atmosphere of France, though, where their lifestyle could be easily lived they had limited support. Although he refused to be named as a direct candidate, there was much speculation that the young hero of the Ukraine, Nestor Makhno, was at heart a Purist.

    [​IMG]
    A rare image of a moderate faction meeting in rural Austria.
    Moderates were at pains to prove their loyalty to the new Republics but also test the limits of "Socialist Democracy".
    Moderates

    Many candidates, after the chaos of war and revolution, were too afraid to stand as official Moderates, the catch all term used to refer to non-socialist politics in the Commune, but a sizeable minority did were voted in to form an isolated block in the European Congress.

    [​IMG]
    Although the power of the Committee of Public Safety was rapidly waning post-war, the trio of Montagnards and the wider Blanquist Party
    could count on the almost religiously fervent support of the military who saw them, not unjustly, as the "Architects of Victory in Europe".
    Blanquist (Montagnard)

    The three remaining Montagnard leading lights, LaGrange, Jorda, and Martel, helped revitalise the harder left of the Commune. Although the taint of war saw them change their name to the older brand of Blanqui, they still had an almost totemic appeal to some sections of society, especially military veterans.

    [​IMG]
    "I am a man who can be trusted - I made mistakes in the past, and I will make mistakes again, but I am not a radical. I am an achiever, a worker, a pacifist"
    Bela Kun, formerly an admirer of Blanqui, had been tempered in by the Republican movement that succesfully defended Hungary during the war.
    The Pragmatists

    Tired of factionalism, the Pragmatists were probably closest to the Centrists but without the ideological baggage. The de-facto leader was Hungarian socialist Bela Kun. A man who had built a reputation as an uncompromising firebrand, the shock and horror of the Austrian invasion had moderated his opinions. He now stood for a “getting things done” platform, willing to work with both sceptics and moderates in the Republics and non-socialist powers without.

    [​IMG]
    Luxemburg's increasingly radical views about international relations stood in stark contrast to her more conciliatory and moderate
    proposals for domestic government. She spoke almost non-stop in 1920, as seen here in the 1973 biopic "RED LEADER".
    Internationalists

    Finally, in contrast to the more introspective Centrists and Pragmatists, the Internationalists were galvanised by the recent revolutions and called for more provocative actions. They attracted different passions, from anti-Imperialism to International socialist-cooperation, to the beginnings of the ideology of World Revolution. The three most prominent figures, representing those passions, were Blaise Diagne, the Austrian Otto Bauer, and Rosa Luxemburg.


    Although the votes were in and counted, all observers knew that the real horse-trading and power-grabbing would occur in the first week of 1921 when the delegates took up their seats in the new European Congress. Faction allegiance was not set in stone, nor were inter-faction alliances, and the competition for the five seats on the Supreme Council (which were intended to last three years) was predicted to be fierce. Who the leading factions were, and how they would work together, remained to be seen. As did the question about whether any faction might employ force or violence to secure control of the new state.
     
  15. Dr.Kafka Well-Known Member

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    Seeing Otto Bauer caucusing (or whatever the appropriate term is here) with Rosa Luxemburg is deeply amusing to me. Considering how he handled the SDAP before the Civil War, it's hard for me to really see him as a revolutionary. Despite that, it makes sense for him to be there, since the Internationalists seem to focus more on foreign policy than domestic policy.

    That said, council communism was rather popular among the SDAP's urban working class base. With the popularity of anarcho-syndicalism and anarchism in the timeline, I can see Austria becoming a proper Raeterrepublik. Perhaps that would push Bauer to the left?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  16. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Mar 18, 2015
    Great chapter!
    Seven times more migration from West to East than otherwise sounds weird at first, but makes sense at second glance, although I expect total migration numbers to be low.
    There will still be solid anti-Communard strongholds in Western Germany (rural Westphalia and Lower Saxony, for example) and pro-Communard pockets in the East (Saxon and Thuringian industrial zones, Berlin, Silesian coal zone...
    Are there no fascists contending in the elections? Or do they count as "moderate"? (Which would be ironic...)
     
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  17. Reydan Well-Known Member

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    I agree that OTL they would be an odd fit. But remember that ITTL the Austrian Party has been persecuted and underground for a decade. I imagine that has radicalised Bauer and other survivors.
    In contrast the Hugarian situation, much more stable, has made Bela Kun more moderate and compromising.



    Thanks.

    OTL there isn't a 'fascism' per se, although the right of politics is about to undergo dramatic reshaping. But remember as well these aren't proper elections in a free and democratic sense. Moderates essentially represent those non-socialist political groups that Communard authorities tolerate and they've never held any real power. In fact even in France they've often been persecuted during crisis moments.
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 118: The Four Corners of the Compass

    Reydan Well-Known Member

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    Chapter One Hundred and Eighteen - The Four Corners of the Compass

    'The Study of History lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice'
    Alfred Thayer Mahan

    'Between 1871 and 1949 no British thinker was as instrumental in modern politics as Halford Mackinder'
    Vernon Bogdanor, Modern Politics in an Imperial Age: Britain 1911-1944, 2010

    Halford Mackinder was a geographer and historian who, when he published Liberal Ideals in a Hostile Age in 1922 set British political and strategic thinking alight. Initially attracted to the reforming zeal of socialism, Mackinder had fallen out with Sidney Webb [currently Rowntree's Chancellor] and during the war in Europe had become increasingly hostile to the actions of the radical socialists of the continent. Frustrated by Britain's seeming inertia in a world so rapidly changing, he put pen to paper in late 1920 and sought out a solution.

    His ideas, which were summarised and popularised in cheap cut-down copy, are rightly seem as one of the first major considerations of geo-strategy and geo-politics. Mackinder drew out four areas, four of what he called 'pivots' of the world that he understood as crucial to maintaining the balance of power world-wide. If socialism was to gain control of all four of these, he claimed, their grasp of the world would be uncontestable. If non-socialist forces could hold them instead, socialism would be at the very least constrained and at best strangled in the cradle. Critical of the current government, Mackinder also proffered an opinion on whether each pivot was already lost or could be saved.

    Pivot One - 'The Near East'
    [​IMG]

    Turkish Socialists Parade in Ankarra 1921

    Mackinder's Verdict: Threatened

    The near-East, also known as the Middle-East, was a mixed bag in the early 1920s. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire decades earlier had seen the British prop up Egyptian and Arab groups, as well as make further inroads of political influence in Iran, but this situation was under threat by a somewhat resurgent Turkey. Although the Turkish state was not officially Communard, the bloodless coup of 1922 saw the Communard Party surge into power largely uncontested. Carefully cultivated by Paris and aflame with a pan-Islamism fueled by the growing popularity of so-called Islamic Socialism, Turkey was a threat to British puppets who were, Mackinder noted, themselves deeply unstable.

    Pivot Two - South America

    [​IMG]

    Chileans listen to the announcement of the official union with Argentina following the Socialist-Compact of 1921

    Mackinder's Verdict: Lost

    The retreat of the United States from the Monroe Doctrine following European intervention in Venezuela decades earlier, Mackinder argued, had opened up the Southern continent to socialist aggression. The revolution in Argentina, now firmly established, had spread to Chile during the economic collapse of the 1910s. By 1921 Buenos Aires was able to support a popular movement that swept aside the panicked military junta which had unwisely overthrown the popular Liberal government two years earlier. The two countries announced in December of that year that they were now in 'complete socialist union'. Unless America could be persuaded to act, Mackinder argued, there was little any European power could do to forestall socialism there.

    Pivot Three - North East Asia
    [​IMG]

    An advert for the Japanese-British funded South Manchuria Railway

    Mackinder's Verdict - Safe but in need of shoring up.

    Mackinder was, like many of his age, a firm believer in the power of the Anglo-Japanese agreement in Asia. Despite the seemingly bounteous resources of Dr Sun's Republic in China, both London and Tokyo were of the opinion that the monarchist Empire of Manchuria in the north could still be an effective counterweight. A building up of the British naval station in Hong Kong, supporting the expansion of the Japanese navy in the China Sea, was accompanied by an influx of 'soft' informal economic power as British and Japanese companies led the way in investing in the northern state. The Guangxu Emperor, a firm believer in modernism, surrounded himself with foreign advisors and western-educated officials. Slowly but surely the natural resources of Manchuria were being put to good use developing a modern state intended to rival the Republic.

    Pivot Four - Eastern-Central Europe

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    Yet another election campaign in Berlin, 1923. Political factionalism and instability marked out the new Democratic Germany

    Mackinder's Verdict - Ripe for intervention

    'Britain must break its belief in non-intervention' Mackinder wrote. His argument that Russia represented a dangerous powder-keg proved, as the century wore on, the most prescient aspect of his book, but at the time of writing many were unsure about building potentially dangerous bridges with the new regimes in eastern and central Europe. But Germany, Czech and Slovak states, the Baltic Confederation, and even non-Communard Poland, Mackinder argued, were all potential allies who not only had an interest in opposing Paris's overreach but could prove a buffer between it and Moscow, allowing any anti-Communard forces to operate their influence unopposed.

    Although in 1922 no British, or world, Government was ready to accept Mackinder's ideas at face value they increasingly became a key theme in geo-strategy in the twentieth-century.
     
  19. Reydan Well-Known Member

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    Chapter One Hundred and Nineteen – How to Crush a Socialist Revolution: Switzerland 1921.

    ‘It is not truth that matters, but victory’

    Adolf Hiedler, The Swiss Strike: Lessons and Opportunities, 1922.

    ‘Is this brutal boot-heel crushing of the Jura to be allowed? Is this what we expect of our new Government of Anarchists and flighty Internationalists?! The dead of Romandy demand justice! Citizens be sure – the former Committee of Public Safety would not have betrayed the socialist cause so basely…’

    Editorial in the Blanquist Attaque! 14th March 1921 slamming the Anarchist-Centrist majority coalition in the new European Congress of the People convened in late January.

    In retrospect, despite the sometimes incandescent tone that surrounded it, the so-called Romandy Revolt of early 1921 was really nothing more than a General Strike. Yet the mythos built up around the responses, or lack of responses, to it rapidly made it more of a political issue. Beyond the dramatic effects it had on Swiss Politics for the next half-century to come, the actions of the Perchten movement and the Swiss military became a model for counter-socialism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Adolf Hiedler’s embellished tale of his own role in establishing the Perchten movement and supporting the military propelled him into international limelight. Finally, the political fallout over the inaction of the European Union was to have potent effects on the politics of the new socialist super-state.

    Really the “Romandy Revolt” was little more than a boiling over of tensions in the labour market in Romandy that had little to do with European socialist revolution. The collapse of both Germany and Austria had seen Switzerland flooded with almost 72,000 German-speaking refugees, from wealthy businessmen and former royals down to poor peasant families, fleeing from the rise of the Red Republics in their former countries. Likewise the chaos of revolution in those countries had seen the conservative majority in the Swiss Parliament accept the impromptu plebiscites in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg and the German areas of Konstanz and Waldshut to join the Confederation. It was an influx of German-speakers, German money, and German workers desperate for employment, that caused the economy of the French-speaking Romandy regions to stutter and dissatisfaction to grow.

    [​IMG]
    Swiss Soldiers set up a roadblock and machine-gun post in a Bern street, February 1921

    The popular manifestations of discontent, of course, were not limited to just Romandy and most big cities in the country experienced some sort of disruption as a transport strike was joined by other industrial workers. For a week, which felt like months in the tense atmosphere of 1921, the Parliament prevaricated. The Liberals, not particularly in favour of strikers, felt this was the opportunity to punish the Government for its unilateral decision to accept these new regions whilst the Government itself was terrified of provoking Paris.

    [​IMG]
    General of the Army Ulrich Wille. His actions during the Strike, and subsequent feting as a National Hero in the right-wing press
    would soon go to the elderly officer's head.

    On the 13th February, though, public antipathy had risen to such a fever pitch that a minor scuffle at a picket line in Geneva between police and strikers was blown out of all proportion by a military itching to act. General Ulrich Wille, the elderly pot-bellied German-Swiss officer who was high commander of the army and a traditionalist through-and-through, took command instantly. In a move widely welcomed by conservative groups, much of German-speaking Switzerland, and the many “white” refugees in the country, Wille ordered soldiers out in force onto the streets. They did not use violence, unless provoked, but they did display an overwhelming force. A series of strategic arrests were made, especially of key socialist leaders, and some pickets moved or broken up.

    It was the upsurge of sudden, anti-socialist, volunteers though that broke the strike properly. Volunteers from across the social spectrum responded to Wille’s nationalist call as galvanised through the Schweizerischer Vaterländischer Verband – a largely German-speaking right wing group. Set up by the radical Doctor and Army Officer Dr Eugen Bircher in 1919 it had been where the young Austrian NCO Adolf Hiedler had found purchase post-war. Unable to return to Austria, Hielder had been sponsored in his immigration application by Bircher, who saw in him a gifted orator and committed anti-socialist. The two helped organise what became known as the Perchten movement. Named after the followers of the Wild Hunt in Germanic Folklore the Perchten were, actually, a diverse group ranging from hardened anti-socialists through to well-meaning liberals and many who had never been that interested in politics but were simply keen on a return to order. Staffing trams and trains, running government offices, and patrolling the streets, the Perchten broke the strike and a collective sigh of relief echoed throughout Swiss society.
    [​IMG]
    Adolf Hiedler, surrounded by fellow SVV members, watches a speech by Wille, March 1921.

    Yet the myth-making did not stop at the borders of the Confederation. The backlash in the European Union, where no decision about intervention had been made, drew pronounced criticism from the hardline elements of the political spectrum. The wobbly coalition of Centrists, Anarcho-syndicalists, and so-called Pragmatists had left some deeply uncertain about the direction of the Union at the top. It was a stark contrast to the clear leadership of the wartime Committee. Many Blanquist papers, particularly in France, called on the Montagnard faction and Lagrange especially to step into the breach and do something.
     
  20. lukedalton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Location:
    North Italy
    Nobody expected...fascist Switzerland:confused:; really it's not something you see often here.
     
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