The Extra Girl: For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dr. Waterhouse, Apr 19, 2018.

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  1. AJNolte Life keeps getting in the way of writing.

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    By your definition, there's absolutely nothing necessary about the evolution of socialism. "Abolition of the private means of production" is a very nineteenth-century idea directly inspired by certain of Rousseau's utopian theories of human nature. Change the French Revolution even slightly--which a POD this early certainly will--and that doesn't emerge. Also, I assume you exclude social democrats from the socialist label entirely; I don't. Social democracy is a species of socialism, in my view, all be it one that favors not so much government ownership of the means of production as extreme government management of the economy to promote social harmony/cohesion.

    I'll grant you that not all interventionists are socialists--Kenesians really aren't, whatever members of the Austrian school might argue. But all socialists are interventionists, and so by my definition, the party that's closest to the idea of intervening to promote social harmony/social cohesion is the closest equivalent to socialism. I do think it's natural to have some sort of ideological/political communalism--which, to me, tends to be the argument for/appeal of socialism in a democratic context--as juxtaposed to the individualism you get from liberal capitalism. So, call Homeland communalist/interventionists, but they still look like the closest thing to the modern socialist movement, as it actually exists in today's democratic nations, not as it is theorized by long-dead intellectuals we make college students read in political thought classes. :p

    As for class antagonism and/or political parties motivated by class interests: that's the Brotherhood. If it's a labor union that grew a political party, as the notes the OP provided indicate, than transactionalism actually makes sense, if the development of a sub-class of economists drunk on Hegel and Rousseau never happened ITTL. They probably started out advocating for something like workers owning at least partial shares in the companies for which they work, and once they achieved their goal but still had a constituency, decided to represent the interests of that constituency by selling their votes on issues they don't care about to the highest bidder. Frankly, that makes a lot more pragmatic sense than a trade-union-based political party advocating the abolition of private ownership, with whom they can negotiate, in favor of state ownership, with which they, well, can't. [Negotiations with entities that have a monopoly on both the means of production and on the use of force don't go well, generally].

    We're habituated to the idea that it's natural for workers to support state-ownership of the means of production, because that's the way it happened IOTL. But practically-speaking, I'd say that's far from a guaranteed outcome.

    And there's another factor that, I think, explains why even social democratic thinking is less important in TTL Germany. It's hard to overstate the impact of full state establishment in northern Europe, and the corresponding Lutheran political view that the ruler is head of state, head of church, and basically unquestioned and unchallenged leader of the nation, on the development of the Scandinavian-style model of state/economy. In effect, for northern European countries, the church became just one more service provided by the state, and that set the stage for the development of a much more state-centric view of politics than you get in, say, the United States. ITTL, not only do you not have a 500-year history of the Lutheran Church in Germany tamely doing what the state wants, you also haven't, apparently, had anything like Bismarck's kulturkampf, and ideology of state supremacy. You can't really even get to social democracy, I don't think, without a certain kind of state-centric nationalism as a pre-cursor. So if the Lutheran Church retains more ability to tell the state no, that duality of authority's going to really change the German perception of the centrality of the state to everyday life.

    Actually, what does surprise me a bit is that there isn't an explicitly religiously-based communalist ideology extant in German politics, given the more robust nature of TTL's German Lutheran church. I wonder if the RCR has something to do with this lack?
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
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  2. Nyvis Well-Known Member

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    Social harmony/cohesion is just short for "pretend the class divide and their irreconciliable interests isn't a thing while fucking the working class up the ass". Look up who use that kind of ideas of pan-societal cohesion and working-across-classes. Whoops, that's fascists!

    When I say socialist, maybe I should say communist, if you want modern labels, since socialist parties of the last centuries have decayed into mild social democrats at best.

    But in any way, I'm not just speaking of the modern day parties. Those, I can totally buy having pushed the radicals out of the accepted spectrum. What I'm not buying is that the idea of abolishing private property and the exploitation it enables wouldn't pop up. That idea even existed in the middle ages, though often paired with radical religious groups! Some even implemented it, like the Hussites. Of course, at the time, it was applied to land, not factories, but that's a pretty quick substitution.

    Yeah, on that, you're right. Brotherhood looks a lot like what American unions ended up becoming for example. Or failed West European communist parties. They fell back on their core demographic and gave up on changing society itself or defending the rest of the working class.

    As for the state... When a party advocating for dissolving private property actually get to it, they usually control the state, or made their own. If you don't, yeah, it's kind of a dumb move to reinforce its hold on power.

    Again, this isn't about the bourgeois state owning things. It's about worker ownership of the means of production. Of course, if the state is democratically run, that's one way to move towards it. But it's always just that, a mean, and not really the one socialist thinkers thought about, unless workers were the ones building that state.

    I wager it's more a case of multiple protestant denominations being tolerated and seen as useful. Those parties are harder to build without a single uniting church.
     
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  3. AJNolte Life keeps getting in the way of writing.

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    Marxists, or communists, or whatever you want to call them, were every bit as much about social cohesion as fascists. They just base that social cohesion on class, not nationalism. Whatever their differences may be on other issues, in terms of their theory of society as one organic hole, the only difference between a communist and a fascist is the color of shirt they put on when they assault people in the streets for showing too much individuality.

    The difference between the Hussites--and other medieval peasant groups--and modern communism isn't just a difference of degree but of kind. None of those medieval peasant groups had a historically deterministic view of class as a unified theory of history. At most, they were arguing for very small-scale communitarian projects and land reform. Modern communist thought starts from a fundamentally different--and, I might add, flawed--conception of human nature than the Hussites ever did. So while the Hussites never would have thought eliminating the wealthy was in and of itself a cure for all social ills, Marx and company most certainly did believe that. The reason you can't get to Marx from medieval communalism, despite Marx's own claims, is that the reduction of human nature down to a person's relative position in the class hierarchy makes possible the notion of worker's ownership of the means of production as a cure-all for everything.

    And, here's the thing, if you're not ideologically committed to that notion of worker's ownership as the means of production as a cure-all for all social problems, you're going to give up on the idea the first time you try it and it doesn't work. You have to have that tenacious belief that "this is heaven on Earth and if it's not working we're just not doing it right" to stubbornly cling to that kind of utopian belief in the face of near constant failure.

    So, like I said, absent Rousseau's concept of human nature and Hegel's dialectic, which Marx could then combine into his theory of historical determinism, it's very, very easy to imagine communism not emerging. It's very much an ideological reality conditioned by certain strands of thought emerging in specific ways after the French Revolution. And absent that intellectual pedigree, yeah, the Brotherhood's probably what you get.
     
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  4. Nyvis Well-Known Member

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    I think you're confusing the result, aka the USSR and friends, and the parties. Most socialists weren't that way before the soviet succeeded in implementing their own vision and leveraging that into transforming every other party to match.

    I doubt you read Marx. Or most modern Marxists. No one is trying to say you can reduce people to class, just that class is something they belong to and separates them from people on other classes because their interests are directly at odd. Nor is it brandied as a cure for everything, just one for the inherent inequity of the economic system.

    Communism, definitely.

    The idea that rich people owning factories have different interests than the people toiling in them and no amount of unity propaganda could paper that over? Yeah, no, I don't see that one staying down as long as the industrial revolution and its transformation of the nature of labour towards increasing alienation happens.

    Quick reminder: the Paris commune wasn't Marxist and didn't need Marx's work to spark.

    Maybe anarchism will bear that torch, and its greater openness to the threat of other hierarchies and issues will result in something different. Maybe something new will emerge to answer the question of why a few people get to exploit others' work. But you can't keep a lid on the fact that people have to work for the benefit of a few to survive.


    Edit: sorry for perpetuating that fight. I genuinely believe this is something to consider and work with when developing history of political movements, but I think this has grown out of proportion. I'll let the author decide where he wants to take this.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
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  5. Threadmarks: The Life of Elector Friedrich IV, Holy Roman Empire 1554-1560

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Is your hectic schedule of internet commentary getting in the way of other responsibilities like work, family, or the enjoyment of major holidays? Well, friends, do I have the service for you! Risible! Berec. offers you a premium subscription plan whereby their synthintelligences analyze the corpus of your online contributions about everything from your favorite imagebox shows to what you think of the RCR's new Mars colony (Nuns! In! Spaaaaace!). It then develops a set of smart protocols that reproduce with 98 percent accuracy your opinions in response to different political happenings, financial scandals, celebrity marriages, sports events, anything, really, that would normally get you going. It then reproduces these opinions in a pretty much exact reconstruction of your communications style, complete with writing tics, favorite expressions, preferred cultural references, usual typos, words you never figured out quite how to spell, but can't be bothered to look up. And it then unleashes this second you on an unsuspecting world, to controvert to your heart's content, all without impinging on your actual life. So you never have to choose again between teaching little Timmy how to ride a bike and letting the world know you think the Dreadnought series went straight to hell after that fourth installment with that can't act his way out of a paper bag Eddie Truro. Risible! Berec. For all your artificial opinion needs.

    Anyhow this…is Resignations, our now conctinuing privatcast look at all the great quitters of history, and the story of how they all came to make the decision to walk away from it all.

    Last week in our penultimate episode on the rivalry of Friedrich IV of Saxony, and Charles V of pretty much everything that is not Saxony, we spent some time with the Emperor in his final years in retirement in Spain. And so this week, we say goodbye to Friedrich. Now, unlike Charles, Friedrich finished with a crown, or in his case a coronet, still on his head. He had survived the clash, despite so many expectations to the contrary, with his titles, realms and creed intact. And yet, for all that, I would wager by the time he finally does shuffle off in 1560 he would just have soon accompanied Charles to Spain.

    There is some controversy about the state of Friedrich's health in these years. Beginning in 1550 when he was chasing the Duke of Alba's army south towards the Alps in the company of Moritz, Albert Alcibiades and Philip of Hesse--say, whatever happened to those guys?--he suffered spells of weakness and dizziness which medical historians now associate with the early onset of heart disease. This creeping loss of health may have influenced Friedrich's decision to stay out of the league the French king had organized to menace Charles, but whatever the case it gradually became more serious.

    To some extent, this was just one more matter for Friedrich to dissimulate. He went to great lengths to present himself as vigorous, fearing that personal weakness on his part would bring the armies of Saxony's enemies into the field. For this reason, he rode to the Diet of Augsburg in 1554. But then, exhausted by the ordeal of the travel and the still worse ordeal of seeing Charles out the door, and understanding a conclusive peace had now been reached, he traveled back to Saxony in a sumptuous closed coach.

    With the stress of a likely return to warfare passed, his health rebounded as he preoccupied himself with matters like Lutheran church government and installing new schools in the vacated shells of the old Saxon monastic houses. He even managed one final expansion of Saxony, negotiating an inheritance treaty with Count Wilhelm of Henneberg whereby that family's lands would go to Saxony on Wilhelm's death. He even managed to leverage Saxony's influence over the Baby-Hesses that had come into being after Philip's death to prevent the town of Schmalkalden from going to the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, as had been agreed upon in a previous treaty way back in 1390. Such was Friedrich's reputation by this point, no one was even willing to contest the matter with him. Essentially, they just let him have it.

    But in 1556 Friedrich suffered badly when his seven year old daughter Elisabeth died of a plague. Friedrich never had a close relationship with Alexander, for all the reasons you might think, and more besides. Once asked whether his son had forgiven him, for that whole surrendering him into the hands of his greatest enemy and then essentially daring him to kill him thing, Friedrich replied he honestly did not know, for he had not seen Alexander display one heartfelt emotion, ever. Even the Electress Dorothea's passionate attachment to the boy was reciprocated with a language of obligation, duty and honor, but not affection in kind. So Friedrich, not unlike many fathers, hoped to make up for with his younger child the mistakes he had made with the elder. And so he had doted on the girl, until she was gone.

    Now it would be remiss for me to imply that Alexander and Elisabeth were Friedrich's only children. While Friedrich had remained mostly faithful even up to his capture by the Emperor and his captivity in Spain, following the trade of Alexander for himself and the end of his marriage in all but name, he began collecting, relatively late in life, the usual Central European assortment of mistresses. With them he had five acknowledged natural children: Georg (1553), Artur (1555), Sabine (1555), Greta (1556) and Uwe (1559). However, unlike Friedrich the Wise, who died in 1532, this Elector expressed no great affection for his natural offspring. They were provided for in his will, but that was the extent of it.

    At this point Friedrich was running short of confidantes and colleagues generally. Like Moritz, Albert Alcibiades and Philip of Hesse--say, whatever happened to those guys? Even Lucas Cranach the Elder, whom we should remember was not merely a portraitist but some manner of jack-of-all-trades, a trusted adviser and fixer, and above all a dear friend of the family, had passed away in 1554. And Julius of Braunschweig was now attending upon Alexander, by none other than Friedrich's command at that, as the Elector had realized the slender reed of Alexander's life was all that lay between the Johannines and the electoral dignity, and so the place for his most trusted man was actually not at his side but his heir's. Instead, the most prominent adviser who attended him these years was no highborn prince or smooth-tongued courtier, but Philip Melanchthon.

    Stung by the repudiation of Melanchthon at Wittenberg in 1557, and perhaps shocked by it all into a sympathy for the man he had previously not yet shown, Friedrich found an additional role for him other than administrative chancellor for the Lutheran church in Saxony, that of vicegerent of schools. In this grand title, Friedrich had given Melanchthon a singular job which really only one of Melanchthon's learning could undertake, deciding what books should be used to teach Saxon youth. It was in pursuance of this task that Melanchthon wrote an involved treatise in 1559 trying to distinguish between what should be taught as an authority, and what should be taught as mere literature, or as the knowledge of what others believe or what has been believed before. As with virtually any words put to paper by Melanchthon, this triggered vehement condemnation and sparked a lengthy and vituperative back-and-forth, during which Melanchthon suggested that in the end pronouncements in ancient texts about the physical world should be systematically tested against the evidence of the senses to determine their validity. This would have some effect on the course of sixteenth century intellectual life in central Europe, to put it mildly.

    One problem Friedrich had during these last years was basically where to live. The schloss at Wittenberg, including its charming Englisch wing built by Johann the Steadfast for the comfort of Elizabeth of England early in their marriage when she was producing heirs and not trying to overthrow the state, was cramped and confined within the walls of the bustling and ever more crowded town. And it was mostly given over to the transacting of official business. Wittenberg, with its position on the Elbe upstream from Hamburg, was especially useful for communications with England and Scandinavia, and so it was especially valuable as a center for diplomatic correspondence. Friedrich's estranged electress, Dorothea of Denmark, had more or less established herself at the hunting lodge at Lochau, which had been a favorite haunt of Friedrich the Wise and then Elizabeth of England. Duke Johann had transformed Schloss Hartenfels in Torgau into a family home a decade before, and now even with the loss of his wife and the departure of most of his children saw little reason to leave. Duke Alexander and his tutors alternated between Weimar and Altenburg, in the highlands of Thuringia, and like Wittenberg these castles were also centers of administration for the now-sprawling electorate. Even Johann's son Johann Wilhelm had been allotted the scenic residence at Coburg. And as to Dresden and Leipzig, the old seats of the Albertine dynasty, they were occupied by the tiny pitiful court of Moritz's widow, Agnes of Hesse, and her daughter, the much kicked-around Anna ("You marry her!" No, you!").

    Perhaps it was all the time he had spent on campaign or in stir, but gradually Friedrich had built a realm in which there was now, quite literally, little room for Friedrich. It was not that Friedrich lacked the appetite for spacious accommodations, luxurious trappings and formal gardens that characterized virtually every other renaissance prince. At first his plans, which varied from time to time but revolved around a German equivalent to the splendor of Windsor or Richmond that he had seen in his youth, were simply too grand to be realized given the limitations of the tax base of the Saxony he inherited. Then everything he could lay his hands on had to be pumped into the war. And now, his ambitions for a new grand residence took second priority to the schools.

    Finally, around 1557, Friedrich settled on a place to call his own, the tiny fortified hunting lodge that Duke Moritz had kept for himself near Dresden. While it did not abut the Elbe, making it more troublesome to reach from Wittenberg or Torgau, Friedrich had by now decided the seclusion of the spot from his family might not be a bad thing. He planned the flooding of the marshy land around the castle to make it into a well-defended wasserschloss, and a vast expansion that would in fact make the end product look like a Tudor palace transposed to the wilds of Saxony. Only the very beginnings of this project had been undertaken when Friedrich died, and what he bequeathed to his successor was little more than a construction site that could be easily abandoned while the inheritance was fought over and everyone had more urgent business to attend to.

    Though as a young man Friedrich had been somewhat impressive on the tilt yard, and had even rejected innovations like having the riders not stand in the stirrups when they met in the lists, he had never taken to hunting in the way most German princes, or for that matter most Tudors, did. It's not precisely true that he was said that he found Habsburgs more sporting quarry than harts, but that likely summed up his attitude to the matter. But for whatever reason, he lacked the taste for hunting, and with that lack of taste came eventually a lack of aptitude. And so when he was pursuing a stag in June 1560 on the grounds of his new residence at Schloss Moritzburg, he rode into the low branch of a tree. Knocked from his horse, he suffered an open fracture to his leg. It became infected, and he died three weeks later in nearby Dresden.

    Luftbild_Schloss_Moritzburg_2014-03-29_1.JPG

    The Baroque Hunting Lodge of the Albertine Electors of Saxony, Schloss Moritzburg, near Dresden.
     
  6. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Thank you! The hard part here is not letting things get too out of hand and unrealistic. Like I've said before, this was a problem in the first timeline. But this is definitely the part of writing the timeline that makes me most excited.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Additional Discussion of Contemporary German Political Parties

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    First, thank you for the compliment, and for the thoughtful discussion.

    So, Homeland. I once read an article about the emergence of Die Linke/The Left Party in our contemporary Germany that quoted one of the Left's leaders as saying they are open to asking "the system question." Which is to say, at least as I understood the phrase in that article, whether the system is working, whether other systems might be better, not taking for granted the most basic questions about whether the society we are living in is properly organized. While my previous answers about socialism stands, I would say Homeland asks the system question. That's why they introduce very fundamental reforms like the weighted voting proposal, and why they're good at handling massive issues that require big-picture thinking like climate change, and a major alt-twentieth century issue we will be discussing shortly. Literally they're not even analogues to the SPD because they're wilder and more unconventional: don't think CSU, think Die Linke. And that formulation is important too in thinking about their shortcomings. Imagine if somehow our Germany got a Green-The Left coalition government. Then imagine that government faced an unexpected military emergency of a truly colossal, overwhelming nature, made hash of the situation, and the nation only barely made it out.

    As to Audacity, yep. Kemp works. You can also think of them as Project for a New American Century-like neo-cons, which are possible in the alt-German context because there was no World War II, but there was the aforesaid dire military emergency that restored the popular belief in substantial military budgets and overseas mischief. Where it gets really interesting of course with Audacity is that we might be tempted to think in terms of their racial policy in terms of race-blindness or bootstrapism. But no, their policy is actually that the state has to actively engage in a process of making the new arrivals stakeholders in the nation. They think the way they do for several reasons. First, they came to power in aforesaid dire emergency. The country probably was not going to make it without extraordinary sacrifices by everyone. They didn't want anyone to be held back, or to be holding back. Second, and this is related, they see themselves as rationalists and see racial prejudice as irrational. They don't want human talents untapped because of that irrationality, and they don't want reservoirs of resentment damaging social cohesion. So they moved quickly and decisively to integrate the New Germans into society. And this policy worked well enough that the New Germans are distributed among the classes pretty much the same as their white counterparts, so there's no dissent among New German members of Audacity over the party's harsher economic policies.

    And by the way, we can take the neo-con analogy a bit further: just like Audacity sailed in to clean up Homeland's mess before, occasionally at times since Audacity gets a bit, to use an American colloquialism, too big for its britches. What's promised to be a brief, cheap and painless intervention overseas gets out of hand, or it's suddenly discovered the government is selling weapons to someone it's not supposed to, and at that point Homeland gets to run the same campaign it did all those years ago that led it to power in the first place: "What are we doing over there? Shouldn't we be putting those resources into making here a better place to live?"

    Yep, and I see your points about German Republic and Kaisertreu.

    You are right about Brotherhood's ideological effectiveness. The one thing I would add about Brotherhood is that they serve the function of a kind of ideological brake in certain circumstances. When they're in government with Audacity, Audacity can't attack the welfare state because they guard it zealously. Likewise, Homeland can't pursue a habitatist (environmental) policy that would result in de-industrialization when they're in bed with Brotherhood because Brotherhood is all about preserving assembly line jobs. And Brotherhood, though it bounces back and forth, and is transactional, is definitely not a party of the center or what we think of as the Third Way. Any party leader who returns from negotiations to enter into government announcing the new coalition is going to pursue, say, liberalization of the labor markets, would probably leave with a black eye, at the very least. But no Gerhard Schroeder, Tony Blair, or Bill Clinton would rise to the top among them, anyway.

    Imperial Democracy would like to have Brotherhood's influence, but they're generally too small (the list actually does proceed in order of size). If Audacity has a really good election though, then it's possible to get a dog-falcon coalition. In which case, it's tax cuts and helicopter gunships time.
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Additional Discussion about Analogues to Socialism

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Well like I said in my previous discussions of socialism, I'm trying not to be too precise yet as to what we're calling the ideological responses to modernity and to industrialization because there's still things we need to see play out in how industrializing societies incorporate democracy and adapt their older structures of government.

    But I did say something in those discussions about how the party structure is turbulent, and how parties that could have instigated major reforms, including aspects of what we call socialism, may not have survived. I guess this might be where the idea that the analogues to socialism in the timeline are discredited comes from? But then, there are several options, including that parties rise, pass reforms, and then get extinguished for other reasons, leaving the reforms behind like monuments to their former splendor.

    We do have one party that sees itself as the guardian of a particular class of persons within the society. We don't know enough about its policies to say what its position is with respect to what we would call socialism. We haven't even engaged in an in-depth discussion of what the forms of business ownership are in the alt-present. (Other that there's something called Berechtigt, which is a stand-in for Chartered, or Incorporated, in the alt-German corporate law), much less the sort of policies like employee ownership rights or employee-elected seats on boards of directors that would constitute real socialist ideas in the economic structure. That gets down to a level of nitty-gritty policy discussion I'm definitely not prepared to have yet, either way.

    But I do want to say definitively I'm not arguing that the alt-present is in any way in a post-socialist situation.
     
  9. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    This whole discussion is very interesting. And your note on the "religiously-based communalist ideology" is fascinating. Remember the great struggle that determines the shape of early modern German society (the reign of the princes, the need for order, the control of the church by the state) is not the Thirty Years War and its not the Schmalkaldic War, it's the Peasants' War. The authorities would respond to the first hint of an egalitarian political movement, communal or otherwise, making use of religion with abject horror, in our timeline, or otherwise.

    Now what's interesting for our purposes is that Friedrich has a bit (emphasis on bit) more of a complex relationship to the other side of the Peasants' War because of Karlstadt's influence. But in the end, at the first hint of some charismatic populism in the countryside, the hammer is coming down. Also, worries that the RCR will inspire domestic political movements will be a significant worry in the Catholic countries when the Ploughing Under occurs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  10. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Actually, I want to thank both Nyvis and AJNolte for that discussion. Literally I have said several times now I'm experiencing significant uncertainty about how to approach these issues. So this debate is a great way to help me consider the fundamental questions I have to identify and confront in grappling with industrialization and industrialized society. And I think both sides conducted the discussion in a very productive way. When I first saw the messages, the thought that went through my head was "Oh no--are we debating the definition of socialism for the 783rd time since I've been a member of ah.com?--Abandon all hope ye who enter here." But no, that went well! :)
     
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  11. Nyvis Well-Known Member

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    Illinois makes me think there's still hints of OTL socialism in your plans, and not just in the form of a few reform planks getting integrated in a more traditional society. It may just be that Germany isn't fertile ground for it because it's doing quite well for itself and its existing political institutions are doing okay at papering over the holes in society with one hand while wielding cultural and moral authority in the other. Sort of carrot and stick approach to dealing with radicals.

    For example, the fact no one is afraid of entering a coalition with Brotherhood and giving them concessions means the approach to economic conflict will be different, just like OTL Germany's approach to labour disputes through conciliation reduces tensions when it works.

    Oh yeah I didn't think of that. With the Habsburg and protestant princes led by Saxony finding an equilibrium without the devastating religious war, the Peasants' War would remain present in the minds a lot.

    On the other hand, this could be analogous to the French revolution in that it did terrify every leader of nations even once extinguished, but that didn't stop its seeds from taking root. So the other side of the coin may be that radical people also remember the Peasants' War more, and do not discount the revolutionary potential of religion the way they did OTL. I have a soft spot for the few times christian movements attempted to point out the iniquity in society.
     
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  12. AJNolte Life keeps getting in the way of writing.

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    I hadn't realized we weren't getting a thirty year's war, but yeah, that's going to change things a lot re: perceptions of radical religious communalism. Particularly if one or more radical strands of Protestantism adopt a communalist ethos, complete with the idea of the commune as the basic unit of economic organization. [That much you probably can get from the New Testament].

    What's also interesting to note is that, before he became an atheist, Marx wrote some rather gloomy and extreme eschatological work. There does seem to be a natural human tendency toward some kind of eschatological utopianism. So one could certainly see a Christian group with an eschatological vision adopting the logic that sees the abolition of private property as necessary to the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. But to make it viable as a long-term ideology rather than a circumstantial flair-up, you'd need a form of Christian perfectionism you really only get with certain strands of the radical reformation. In other words, you have to believe that God's kingdom can be built here on Earth by human hands, and further believe that abolition of private property is a key element of that process.

    And, of course, Lutherans are going to _hate_ that. Not on class-prejudice grounds--and I could certainly see some Lutheran clergy pushing for greater welfare to the poor precisely to counter this kind of doctrine--but precisely because it strikes at the core tenet of the Lutheran reformation: justification by grace alone through faith alone.

    It's interesting: Lutherans never worked out their social teaching and doctrine of politics with the same riggor as Catholics. But if Lutheranism is both integrally tied to the German nation but somewhat separate from the German state, they're going to have to do so to a much greater degree than just "trust the prince". That, in and of itself, is going to create a massive C-change in German philosophy and political thought moving forward.

    But I'm now imagining a settler colony based on non-pacifist Anibaptist communalism with a healthy dose of eschatologically-minded kingdom politics, settling in, like, the southern cone, or the Cape, or Oregon country. Somewhere remote enough to let them get established. They'd either wind up really pleasant hippies with very earnest missionaries, lavish social spending, and very little industry, or as a crazy egalitarian fundamentalist state that's the terror of the neighborhood...

    But you kind of already have the latter, right?
     
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  13. Nyvis Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't mind a taste of the former, though!
     
  14. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Oh, I didn't mean my remark that the Peasant's War is the ur-conflict on which the ensuing early modern history of Germany is based as a description of the timeline. That's what I feel about the actual history. The Peasant's War actually decides the structure of German society going forward. The Thirty Years War is more like two mirror images of that structure with some differences in theology and religious practice going at each other until exhaustion. Of course that oversimplifies matters more than a little, but I think the worries about control and disorder, and much of the deep and abiding distrust of what ordinary people would do with freedom if they had it, that characterize the rest of German history arises from the moment of the rebellion.

    But you are very definitely getting The First General War. The Spanish War really is just sort of the appetizer.
     
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  15. Threadmarks: Supplemental Note on the History of Tournesol

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Tournesol.png

    Six Surprising Facts about the Sunflower Republic (Republique du Tournesol).

    1. It is the only francophone country of North America that was never an actual colony of France.
    Before Europeans arrived, the area that is now the Sunflower Republic was inhabited by the Cree, Assiniboine, Ojibwa, Santee, and Chipewa peoples. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the fur trade attracted Frenchmen to the area, who married women of these tribes and permanently settled there. They created the Metis culture, which adopted aspects of both European and aboriginal ways of life, and developed a diversified economy that included forestry, farming and ranching in addition to the fur trade. Later it would extend to include mining and industry. Technically during the early years the Meti settlements were within land claimed by the Hudson's Bay Company, though there was little contact with English-speaking explorers, traders or settlers. By the time England attempted to assert its claim to the area in the early nineteenth century, the Metis were too numerous and too established, and in the wars that followed (The Button River Wars to the English, the Premiere, Deuxieme, and Troisieme Guerre Nationale to Tournesol) they successfully resisted the English and retained their independence. By that point, French, and even Louisianan, control over the various francophone colonies of North America was a thing of the past. Whereas relations with France itself have always been friendly, and Illinois exerts a strong, albeit sometimes resented, influence on Les Fourches, Louisiana is not recognized, and certainly not as the surviving sovereign government of France, which is its preference.

    2. The Tournesolians have a close relationship with the RCR, which complicates their foreign policy. Essentially, from the earliest days in which the RCR could be said to have a foreign policy more complicated than a quest for the immediate dissolution of all nation-states, it has extended broad guarantees of the Sunflower Republic's continued independence. It also has a 150-year history of arms sales and military assistance to Tournesol. The reasons for this close relationship lay in obvious ethnic and religious similarities, though the preference of some Tournesolian Metis for native-born charismatic permutations of Catholic teaching is a source of tension between Tournesol and the much larger RCR. In the Treaty of Montreal, England recognized once and for all the Tournesolians' borders, on the condition that no RCR military assets are ever permitted in the Republic. The English have long feared the RCR could use Tournesol as a means of attacking the Crown Commonwealth of Arctic North America (formerly the Hudson's Bay Company territories).

    3. Fears of price exploitation by outsiders and the expatriation of profits has led to a vigorous and continuing tradition of publicly-owned industries. The Republic maintains its own corporations for marketing the petroleum, grain and maize produced within its borders. The agricultural public corporations were the first, organized to make sure the individual farmers of Tournesol received an equitable price for their products. Commodity prices of certain staple agricultural products beneath a lower limit set by the state are to this day illegal in Tournesol. When petroleum and coal exploitation began in earnest in the Republic, it was a small matter for this model to be adapted to that lucrative sector. This has meant, when paleofuels were in favor and prices for coal and oil high, Tournesolian families enjoyed several generous amenities, most notably completely free post-secondary education in the republic's somewhat well-respected public universities, and a per capita payment to each citizen.

    4. Do not talk to a Tournesolian about the Furnace Effect. The previous importance of paleofuels to the Tournesolian economy, much as it was in several other aboriginal North American republics, cannot be ignored. For an extraordinarily long time, virtually any discussion of climate issues was deeply disfavored in the political culture across the ideological spectrum. Combined with the importance of large agricultural interests, this led to an intense disfavoring of the habitatist movement generally. Feeling themselves ignored and the situation desperate, domestic members of habitatist reform groups became radicalized, which in turn furthered the backlash against them in wider Tournesolian society. At several points the Illinois Republic and other neighbors threatened to close their borders to traffic from and to Tournesol to coerce the republic into some kind of action on the Furnace Effect. Even now, with wind power essential to the republic's economy as a replacement for the declining paleofuel sector, popular anger runs high, and popular nostalgia for the generous payments that used to come from the state oil business remains intense.

    5. The Sunflower Republic has the toughest immigration laws in North America. Partly to safeguard the local indigenous culture from what it sees as outside corrupting influence, and later to prevent interlopers from taking advantage of the republic's paleo-fuel wealth, Tournesol restricts immigration to (1) blood relatives or spouses of current republic citizens, (2) who speak and write either French or one of the Aboriginal languages found therein and can demonstrate their proficiency on demand, and (3) have employment already procured in the country. The only carve-outs in addition to these rules are for (1) financially independent people (2) possessing necessary skills and (3) working in a core industry of vital importance to Tournesol's economy. Several years ago, a book by a prominent Tournesol intellectual alleging such policies are a kind of racism resulted in vehement public debate.

    6. Why the Sunflower? In the foundational crisis whereby the peoples living at the time on the Riviere Rouge united to expel the English, a fundamental problem was one of definition. Some people with French heritage still identified primarily with the original native groups, and the idea of an either-or choice implicit in declaring a specific Meti republic was offensive to them. At the same time, no tribe wanted to identify or be included within a state named after another tribe, its territory or even with a word from another aboriginal group's language. Thus the sunflower was seized upon as the name for the new entity and a national symbol, by virtue of its neutrality, and its analogous indigenous connection to the land.

    To this day the "peoples question" in Tournesol is fraught with difficulty, as citizens sometime continue to prefer to identify with their aboriginal tribes regardless of the presence of European ancestry. Likewise, at certain points in the republic's history some of these other tribes undertook warfare to maintain their own separate governing authorities on territory that was originally claimed by the Le Fourches government. And like many North American Republics, both settler and aboriginal, Tournesol's original territorial claims were ludicrously broad, and were only gradually whittled away by treaties with the English, Sovereign Cree, and others.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  16. Threadmarks: The Life of Elector Alexander of Saxony, 1560-1562

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Vespasiano_I_Gonzaga_(att._Bernardino_Campi).jpg

    Vespasiano Gonzaga by Bernardino Campi as the Elector Alexander I of Saxony

    Olivia Rosen, Transformer: A Life of the Elector Alexander.

    From "Chapter 4: Funeral Games"

    On the surface the investiture of Alexander with the electoral dignity was the smoothest transition of power Saxony had known in living memory. Emperor Ferdinand threatened no dispossession of the Ernestine line due to its support of the Reformation. The 1485 Partition of Leipzig had been undone, uniting the lands of the two factions of the House of Wettin. And the line of succession from father to sole living lawful son was clear. For the people of all social classes of the new Saxony, Alexander's investiture was an opportunity to celebrate the stability of the realm post-Augsburg and assess the progress since Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg, which increasingly served as the marker for the beginning of the present age.

    Within the House of Wettin, the situation looked far different. Johann, Duke of Saxony, younger brother to Alexander's father Friedrich IV, had been invested by the Saxon estates with the regency for his nephew, though Alexander was only two years short of his majority and showed no defects of intellect or competence. Alexander's mother, the Electress Dorothea, had been organizing a party of resistance to Johann for the past decade, and saw the regency as little other than an opportunity for Alexander to be usurped and replaced by Johann, who in turn had three sons who would then inherit Saxony. The oldest of these had already married a royal princess, Anna of Denmark. Anna had proved, to the great inconvenience of Alexander's party, fruitful in marriage. She bore her husband, Johann Wilhelm, a daughter, Sybille, in 1555, a son, Friedrich, in 1557, and another daughter, Maria, in 1558. Sybille had died in 1556 and Friedrich not long before his namesake in 1558, but Maria showed signs of robust health and the Johannine Wettins were confident Anna would produce heirs. By contrast, Alexander had yet to marry, and his marriage now presented the most pressing issue of state, it would seem.

    For his part though, the Duke Johann disagreed. He wasted little time following the death of his brother reinstating the arrangement whereby princes of the House of Wettin were married off in order of their age. Thus the German princes who had been in correspondence with Friedrich IV over potential matches between the daughters of their houses to his heir Alexander were surprised, shocked even, to find the Duke Regent Johann instead offering them his sons as potential grooms.

    Most notable among these was Wilhelm III of Juelich-Cleves-Berg-Mark-Ravensberg. The Elector Friedrich IV had stepped in at a crucial point in the beginning of the Spanish War to preserve Wilhelm's rule from the Habsburgs, at great risk to himself in the notorious Ride to Dueren, and though Wilhelm's continuing need for self-preservation on the doorstep of the Habsburg possessions in the Netherlands had prevented him from being a loyal ally in the ensuing convoluted maneuverings of the German princes during the Spanish War, he had attempted to serve as an honest broker between the parties. Switching from the Lutheran Confession to the Catholic partly in exchange for a prestigious match with a daughter of Ferdinand, Wilhelm had hoped to marry his own eldest daughter to Alexander, bridging the dynastic gap between Catholic and Protestant in the Empire. Among other advantages, there was only six years' difference in the ages of Alexander and his Marie Eleonore.

    Wilhelm was thus not pleased to find the Duke Regent offering instead to marry Marie Eleonore to his second son, Johann Heinrich. This would entail an age difference of not six, but sixteen years. He rejected the notion out of hand, and moreover took away from the exchange the darkest possible gloss on Johann's intention toward the boy who was the new Elector of Saxony. Other princes of the empire reacted similarly. Johann's efforts proved fruitless, and seemed to be resulting in yet another delay in any more members of the next generation of Wettins actually finding wives. Both Johann Heinrich and his younger brother Johann Georg had been long since ready for marriage, and appealed to their father to once and for all end the uncertainty.

    To this purpose Johann hit on a novel solution, matching Johann Heinrich not to Anna, the surviving daughter of the Albertine Duke Moritz of Saxony, whose marriage had long been an issue to the House of Wettin. Instead, Johann Heinrich would marry Moritz's widow, Agnes of Hesse. Agnes still possessed intact her properties held by right of her marriage to Moritz, as well as assets bequeathed her by her father, Philip of Hesse. Marrying Agnes would thus invest Johann Heinrich with substantial wealth, and increase still further the bonds between the Johannines and the House of Hesse, whose princes had long worried over Agnes's treatment by the Ernestine Wettins. It might also dispossess Anna of those parts of her inheritance which descended through her mother, which could now go to the latter-born sons Agnes might bear to Johann Heinrich. And as to those heirs, Agnes was still 33, perhaps past the years of peak childbearing, but having given Moritz two live children in a relatively brief marriage a son for Johann Heinrich might still be possible.

    Thus in 1561 Johann Heinrich and Agnes wed. Johann Georg was widely anticipated to be the next Wettin to be married, but instead Johann ended the ordeal of Anna of Saxony by accepting the proposal of Willem, Prince of Orange, for her hand, and approving for her an enormous dowry to cure the defects of her loss of stature due to her father's death and the termination of the rights of the Albertine Wettins. Dorothea's party wasted no time speculating Johann was doing this to remove Anna as a possible bride for his third son before Alexander reached his majority.

    At the same time, Johann moved to implement his own agenda in other matters. He suspended much of the Strangers' Law in 1561, throwing the status of the new arrivals to Saxony into doubt, eliminating the affirmative promise of freedom of worship within its purview, but not the regulations it imposed on Protestant religious groups of foreign origin. Thus they could be required to divulge their texts and permit agents of the state to attend services, but on no basis whatsoever those churches could be outlawed and their practitioners expelled. Anna of Denmark, who following the death of Johann's wife Sybille was the highest-ranking woman in the Johannine Wettins, first became a trusted advisor to her father-in-law Johann in the matter of the marriage negotiations. And now it was believed it was her influence that was making itself known in the suspension of the Strangers' Law, as a more tightly regulated Nordic approach to Lutheranism began to substitute itself for the latitude Friedrich had allowed his subjects.

    Thus, without doing anything, Alexander became the recipient of much affection from the Calvinists of Saxony, and Johann's partisans wasted no time referring to Dorothea's court as the French party. Julius of Braunschweig had anticipated just this turn of events for the better part of a decade, and had long since formulated a plan. He proposed to the Duke Regent that the Elector Alexander go on a tour of the other princely states of the empire, to build relationships with Saxony's necessary allies and also to ascertain in person the suitability of potential consorts. Coincidentally, Alexander's planned return would be just after he reached his majority. Johann refused this request on the grounds of the duke's safety, and moreover he dismissed Julius from service as the young elector's head of household.

    Clearly, matters were now approaching a crisis. Importantly, the terms on which the Estates had granted Johann the regency concerned the management of the state, not the physical custody of the young elector. Probably by the design of the Saxon nobility, Johann could have power, but he could not play Richard III to Alexander's Edward V. However, the elector leaving the realm to visit other princes also clearly constituted a matter of state in which the regent's authority naturally held sway.

    Thus the Elector Alexander resolved the question by leaving Altenburg to go hunting. It did not matter that Alexander, like his father, did not particularly care for hunting. He headed into the woods with a strong guard of seventy intensely loyal soldiers, and it would later become apparent, his personal treasury and a good portion of his mother's jewels. When later questioned by a very frustrated Duke Regent, the chamberlain of Altenburg simply replied that he had been given no authority over the prince's movements, nor could he expect to have authority over a prince who was seventeen years old, who was under no suspicion of any wrongdoing, and who was plainly in possession of his senses.

    But by the time Johann even knew of the Elector Alexander's hunting trip, the young prince was being entertained at a castle of the surprised Elector Palatine, in Amberg. And in what must have been a special pleasure for the Duke Regent, the Elector Palatine was forwarding to him the bills run up hosting and entertaining the young Elector and his companions. Some of Alexander's party believed it best to seek assistance directly from Emperor Ferdinand, brother to Alexander's dead grandmother, Isabella of Spain, Queen of Denmark. But while Alexander clearly understood the value of the threat of Ferdinand's involvement, he knew allying himself with Saxony's hereditary enemy would come at a steep political price.

    So instead, he chose to make his tour, visiting Nuernberg, Ansbach, Wurttemberg, the Rhenish Palatinate, and eventually the agglomeration of lands that served as the realm of the Duke of Juelich-Cleves-Berg-Mark-Ravensberg. The whole situation was becoming an enormous embarrassment, especially as the young Elector had told the Duke of Juelich, whom he had first met when he had been charged with inspecting the circumstances of his captivity in the Netherlands, that he felt himself more in danger under the regency of his uncle than he had in the clutches of Emperor Charles. Suddenly the empire was buzzing about the possibility of a crisis in the Saxon succession, despite Alexander having already been elevated to the dignity in name. If these rumors ripened into a dispute in fact, it would inevitably draw in the imperial courts and the Emperor Ferdinand.

    In these same travels Alexander used the promise of a marriage alliance to extract the support from the princes who were his hosts. Elisabeth of the Palatine and Marie Eleonore of Juelich-Cleves-Berg-Mark-Ravensberg were the most notable of the matches considered. The Saxon Estates, hearing of Alexander's exploits, greatly feared imperial involvement in Saxon internal matters. By early 1562 it had been made clear to Johann an extension of his regency would not be considered, just as a message was likewise sent to Alexander making clear that any formal appeal to the empire would be both unnecessary and deeply injurious to his legitimacy in the country.

    While he was still in Juelich, Alexander concluded a marriage alliance with Duke Wilhelm, albeit with an actual wedding and consummation delayed, ostensibly on account of the bride's youth, but in actuality because the duke wanted guarantees of Alexander's unquestioned rule in Saxony first. At first, Johann was tempted to treat Alexander's treaty with Wilhelm as a legal nullity, but it was coupled with the news that the elector would be returning home mere months after his birthday, with an additional guard provided by his new prospective father-in-law. But the Saxon Estates approved the marriage, eager to suppress any hint of dispute in the succession, and when Alexander arrived back in Saxon territory in late 1562 at Goslar, he was received as the ruling prince, without question.

    As if to punctuate the new situation and leave no doubt in anyone's mind, Alexander's first official act was the expulsion of Johann's court from Schloss Hartenfels in Torgau. The largest and most important of Saxony's castles would once again be a seat of the elector. Alexander did not even do Johann the courtesy of exchanging it for another residence: the former duke regent would have to build a new castle or accommodate himself to a much smaller domicile. There was no denying the statement being made to Johann. In fact, it quickly became apparent that Alexander was anticipating the possibility of an attempted usurpation or rebellion, and in fact might even be hoping for such, given that this would in turn provide him the opening he needed to recover all the lands that had been granted to the duke over the previous thirty years, to the exclusion of Johann's own children.

    For his part, Johann's own long experience let him know he was being goaded. He refused to oblige his nephew by bearing arms against him and giving him cause to take away everything. But at the same time, nothing was resolved. The Johannines were as wealthy and powerful as ever, and could impede or even endanger Alexander's rule almost at their whim.

    One final postscript to this struggle is necessary: Johann's partial rescinding of the Strangers' Law had also provoked a response inside the court itself. The "Englisch Wettins", or the House of Brandon, or at least those still in residence in Saxony following the accession of Elizabeth, were dismayed by Johann's move against the churches many of them regarded as cognate with their own beliefs. Thus no sooner did Alexander appear at Goslar, but Henry Brandon Earl of Lincoln, Guildford Dudley and Jane Dudley all left Wittenberg to meet him and endorse him as the unquestioned ruler of the country. And with them they took Henry's mother Katarina, still styling herself Queen Katherine of England. Alexander received them all graciously at Magdeburg, relishing the symbolism of the rest of the House of Wettin closing ranks against the Johannines. Together, they returned to Wittenberg, where Alexander entered in great state.

    Alexander in turn reversed Johann's brief change in policy toward the Calvinists and other Protestant sects, and went a bit further. On his travels he had developed a close friendship with the Elector Palatine, who had recently converted to Calvinism, and had intensely considered his daughter Elisabeth as a potential electress. Instead he negotiated a match between Elisabeth and Johann Georg, Johann's youngest son, infuriating the Johannines and most especially Anna of Denmark. When Johann Georg lodged a weak protest, Alexander made clear it would be either Elisabeth or no wife at all.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
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  17. Threadmarks: Supplemental Note on Twentieth-Century International Satire of the RCR

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Airing from 1956 to 1980, the Scottish imagebox show The Non-Children's Hour aired skits parodying the leadership of the RCR, most especially its chief judges, whose supposedly fearsome noms de guerre and coarse manners became a running joke. The following is a list of some of the chief judge characters who appeared on the show.

    Friendly Dog
    Spittle Fleck
    Puddingmaker
    The Godbothererer
    Non-Spayer of Pets
    The Intimidationist
    Morals Charge
    Blood Stool
    Something-Killer
    Cashasa Cask
    Ballast
    Bullet Cushion
    Crinoline Whimsy
    My Wife
    The Killing Bottom Burp
    Non-Sharer of Toys
    The Massacre-ist
    Maintainer of Dangerous Workplaces
    Failed Librarian
    Time-Waster
    We've got to have some more cocaine somewhere
    Buffet-Destroyer
    Feral Kitten
    More Kill-y than the Last One


     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
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  18. Threadmarks: The History of Saxon Finance, 1562-1570

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    "Easy Money"

    from Paper Realm: The Rise of Saxony, 1533-1676, by David X. Haller

    When the Elector Alexander took the reigns of the Saxon state in 1562, he found the electorate in trouble. His father's educational foundations were proving more costly than forecast, and though Saxony itself was undivided, its tax monies were supporting five separate Wettin households. On the income side, the accession of Elizabeth to the English throne had not meant the restoration of Saxony's much-needed subsidy. Moreover, though the state monopoly on loans had meant an infusion of proceeds for the electorate, it did not outweigh the fact that the flood of precious metals from the New World was both causing a depreciation in the value of money, which meant an appreciation in the price of goods, and was at the same time hurting business for Saxony's silver mines by undercutting them with cheaper competing product.

    All this was compounded by the military problem. Alexander, though no soldier at heart, had used his time abroad to compare the militaries of the other German princes with that at home. What he found was that after a decade of peace, Saxony's most experienced and capable men now served other princes. Those that remained had only dated knowledge of present-day tactics and military technology. Saxony's weaponry itself seemed woefully dated. It was Alexander who finally ordered that instead of longbows, Saxon distant weaponry should be, finally, primarily gunpowder. But Alexander understood that the problem of Saxony's lack of readiness could only be resolved by investments that he could not as yet make. War with the Emperor then would have been unthinkable.

    Thus began the search for loose change beneath the couch cushions that would help make the modern world. In January 1563, Alexander issued a new law on loans for interest. He would replace his father's state-run monopoly, as lucrative as that was, with the establishment of a system of licenses permitting private parties to lend for interest. This would occur alongside, and supplement, the state-run loan business. However, even in the early considerations, there were obvious problems with this scheme. First, the Saxon elector through his relationship to the realm's extracted mineral wealth, had more money, had the mechanisms of the law to use to extract payments from borrowers or force the surrender of collateral, and had a strong basis of stable customers. In short, it held every competitive advantage over the pool of private lenders Alexander was creating, and so could conduct its business at lower interest rates.

    By necessity, this meant the private lenders would take the riskier, less desirable business, and would compensate themselves by charging higher rates. This in turn made the distinction between private and public lending even sharper. By the end of 1564 all the private lenders who had initially received licenses were out of business, and it seemed the matter was dead, ironically a victim of the success of Friedrich IV's enterprise. Except Alexander decided now to establish a new set of minimum rules by which the private lenders would abide, making them more attractive to reputable borrowers, including those from outside Saxony. These would include state inspection of the actual coinage they handled to ascertain purity, the use of Saxon law courts as fora for the deciding of civil lawsuits between borrowers and lenders, and robust rights of state inspection modeled after those in the Strangers' Law. Only now, instead of Protestant places of worship, the state could require finance houses to open up their books, and lenders to make available for inspection any collateral and any business for which money would be borrowed, as well as its books.

    In short, the state was intervening to prevent fraud on both sides, on the notion that its reputation for doing so would increase confidence and attract borrowers to the nascent Saxon credit markets. At first, these laws included a top limit on interest rates to prevent gouging. And at first, the result seemed once again, failure. The critical moment came in 1565, when Alexander, understanding that by definition the private credit market he sought to create to supplement the state lender inevitably attracted worse risks, required that the lenders be able to legally charge higher, perhaps even extravagant, interest, in order to compensate themselves adequately for the risk they undertook. Thus Alexander withdrew the notion of a state-created ceiling on those interest rates provided by private lenders. This in turn made Saxony attractive to borrowers seeking funding for the riskiest ventures.

    Now, to a modern audience this talk of unlimited upward swings in interest rates might imply unconscionable exploitation, and of high risk ventures, rank speculation, but we must recall some crucial differences between today and the early modern world. Long distance trade voyages between the East Indies and Northwest Europe, for example, could still result in a 100-fold--or 10,000%--return on investment, because it eliminated the costs, hazards and unpredictability of travel over great distances on land. At the same time though, these great voyages were not without their own costs, enormous for the time period. So merchants engaged in long-distance trade and the explorers who went before them began beating a path to the larger towns of the Electorate of Saxony, most especially Magdeburg, but also Wittenberg, Leipzig and Dresden.

    Nonetheless, hiring inspectors and maintaining records cost more than issuing the licenses made until about 1570, long after Alexander intended to begin reaping what he at first thought would be the quick and easy profits from auctioning off the Saxon state's exclusive right to loan money to private parties. One reason for this slow start was the sheer unfamiliarity of this type of finance north of the Alps. Another was the deep suspicion of opening up private financial records to the state in this way. And finally, the reputation created by these regulations actually had to travel and become absorbed in the behavior of economic decision-makers.

    But in 1567 there were two licensed lenders meeting the minimum requirements of Alexander's Second Money-lender's Law. By 1570 that number had already grown to five. And by 1580, twenty-six. Saxony was known not merely as a haven for lending in the disreputable medieval sense, but as the place where the practice was honorable, or at least as close to such as was humanly possible. After all, if it was good enough for the Holy Prince, it should be good enough for you, the common reasoning went. In particular, the Saxon financiers' relationship to the great trade enterprises was such that in 1581 Hamburg granted the agents of the elector a house from which his agents could operate in inspecting the ships and trading companies seeking money from the Saxon private lenders. A similar office was established in London in 1583.

    But what difference the emergence of Saxony's surprisingly sophisticated financial system made in the long run to the fiscal situation of the state was not so much direct, in the form of the actual licenses. Access to capital meant mills were built, trading journeys were undertaken, land was cleared for crops. The people operating those enterprises in turn made money they spent with which to satisfy the appetites they otherwise would not. Saxony by the 1570's was crackling with economic activity, fueling a strong surge in the by-then long-needed tax money.

    Dresden 1521.jpg

    Dresden, 1521
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  19. Threadmarks: Supplemental Note on the Returner's Curse Pandemic

    Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    1280px-HIV-budding-Color.jpg

    from The Encyclopedia Pro Publica

    Returner's Curse

    See also Congo Curse, Mesman-Lefebvre Syndrome. Returner's Curse constituted one of the worst pandemics of the modern era, as measured by loss of life, economic cost, and social disruption. During the peak years of the disease, 1928-1946, one-hundred million people, three percent of the world's population, died of Returner's Curse or the opportunistic infections to which its victims were left vulnerable. Perhaps twice as many were infected by Mesman-Lefebvre, (abbreviated conventionally as M-L) the virus that causes Returner's Curse, who then survived until more advanced anti-viral medications could be engineered in the late 1950's, or who died of other causes. Since 1946, perhaps another hundred million people have been infected, but with much lower levels of death and serious illness due to continuing refinements of treatment and improved public health services.

    First clinically observed in prisoner of war populations held by the Allies on a ship off Cabinda toward the close of the General War of the Colonies, it took a long while for medical practitioners in Allied-member states to connect the unusual, varied and apparently unconnected symptoms they began seeing in populations of war veterans returning from the conflict to the underlying disease of the immune system first identified aboard the Prinz Georg. Apparently, the disease had been present in colonial African populations for some years before, originally having originated in simians some years prior, but inadequate health care and state disinterest in studying the emerging pattern of unusual mortality meant it was not until the virus was observed in the populations held in wartime custodial circumstances by the Allied powers that Returner's Curse became an object of scientific study.

    The fact that Mesman-Lefebvre was frequently transmitted by sexual intercourse, intravenous illicits use, blood transfusions, and other direct transmission between the blood of one person to another made it far more difficult to combat the virus's spread than conventional illness, as did the sometimes months'-long duration between infection and the first sign of illness. A high percentage of infections early in the spread of the pandemic through the Allied forces did not involve sexual intercourse at all but contact with blood in unsanitary battlefield conditions and in front-line medical care. A particular unfortunate practice was the frequent re-use of needles. It was estimated in the Lakes Campaign a single needle at an English mobile hospital may have infected 1,600 soldiers over a two-day period of high-casualty fighting. Similar problems were widespread in blood drives and blood transfusions in areas with stressed medical personnel, limited resources and poor conditions.

    Nonetheless, the most common eventual means of transmission of M-L was sexual intercourse, specifically in circumstances involving blood. Though for obvious reasons this social history has been intensely controversial, in the context of the concluding days of the General War of the Colonies, transmissions between the native African population and the Colonial Allies occurred in circumstances involving (1) companionate consensual relationships between soldiers and local men and women, of all races; (2) consensual commercial interactions involving soldiers with prostitutes; and (3) non-consensual interactions, including those involving the use of sexual violence as a means of war.

    As Returner's Curse began affecting the populations of soldiers returning home to Europe, initial reports of simple respiratory illness, malaise and weight loss were incorrectly attributed to the stress of readjustment to civilian life and emotional difficulties due to wartime experiences and the nature of the war's end. Simultaneously, the newly independent nations of Africa, which had also experienced increased rates of infection due to the war and the movement of infected Allied soldiers, were experiencing a full-borne panic over the sudden crisis in morbidity, illness, and the phenomenon of children being born already infected with M-L. At the same time this was happening, the political isolation of, and economic dislocation in, the former colonies meant they received little help or sympathy from Europe, and the tone of much media coverage in the former colonial powers was dismissive or resentful.

    In its next stage of expansion the pandemic received substantial assistance from what can only be called sexual hypocrisy. As doctors began to connect the mysterious ailments that were now killing former soldiers still in their twenties and thirties to the reports of the colonial pandemic which had been attributed in the "patriotic" media to native sexual practices, they also began to find a parallel population of the afflicted among these soldiers' sexual partners, both prostitutes and in many cases, wives and fiancees. People suffering from potential Returner's Curse symptoms frequently refused to admit their symptoms, seek treatment, or accept diagnosis from a medical professional, because they feared the moral judgment from society for the disease.

    At this point European governments already ambivalent over the conduct of the war, and in some cases seeking to shield their veteran populations from what was seen as unkind scrutiny, undertook various levels of voluntary media censorship. This in turn delayed widespread public knowledge of the problem by up to a year, which was highly significant in a population where the successful introduction of cures for many other serious sexually transmitted diseases in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had left a society unused to prophylactics and other precautions in sexual intercourse. This was the case even though they were quickly found to stop the spread of Returner's Curse.

    It was the papers of the United States, particularly the Bulletin of Amsterdam, that broke the story in a way that first revealed the size of the problem. Following a series of legendary exposes by the Bulletin, the Kingdom of England became the first nation to change its official policy on the nature of the health problems now collectively known as Returner's Curse. Predictably, paranoia and panic ensued. In Paris and other major cities sex-worker populations were scapegoated, and some brothels were burned, sometimes even with the prostitutes trapped inside. Even in western Europe with its strong traditions of the rule of law and civil society, this violence may have killed 7,000 women. Even where direct violence was not in evidence, protests throughout Europe demanded that sex-workers suffer everything from exile, to life imprisonment, to summary execution, for their role in spreading the Mesman-Lefebvre virus.

    Quickly mainstream political parties in what were now the former Allied powers obliged by suspending much travel and commerce with the former African colonies, passing stringent new criminal laws against prostitution and against the use of prostitutes. Even where more compassionate policies obtained like the German Empire, the focus of policy was on transitioning sex-workers to other means of supporting themselves. Former colonial subjects who had relocated to the Allied powers also found themselves subject to abuse and intrusive attentions, including in the English context a regime of mandatory testing applicable to those former colonials who were already English citizens resident in the country.

    Everywhere, national and other biases found their way into the discussions around Returner's Curse in unhelpful ways. The RCR initially responded to news of the disease by saying it was the just reward for the colonizers' oppression of subjected peoples. This in turn made for a more difficult situation when military advisers sent to support the other side of the General War of the Colonies began returning with Returner's Curse themselves. Thus the state found itself in the unenviable position of having promoted the stigma that was now obstructing identifying and treating people in the RCR with Mesman-Lefebvre.

    Moreover, in a way not unlike the countries of Europe, the RCR was paralyzed for a disconcertingly long time by vicious debates in the Chamber of Judges and between religious and secular authorities. During this year rate of infection in the RCR was believed to be the highest in the world, and the military issued a confidential anonymous report saying that though the European powers that were the RCR's conventional enemies were as yet still hurt worse, extrapolating the rate of infection forward indicated the Republic might face great difficulty fielding an army in the future. And given the RCR in the General War of the Colonies had just provided the European powers the most extreme provocation, such a situation could well present an existential threat.

    This uncertainty ended with the crisis selection of Carlos Lazio de Soto as Chief Judge. Called Steeltoe, he spearheaded the appointment of a board of epidemiologists, biologists and medical practitioners to whom all public health decisions with respect to Returner's Curse would be delegated by the Chamber, with no political or religious interference, not even by himself. The public campaign to win approval only succeeded after Lazio de Soto got a slate of 12 other judge candidates elected to the chamber, had 3 removed and executed for alleged financial malfeasance, and in an odd turn of events held power in a year where 3 members of the chamber died in car accidents, and one in an unexplained house fire. However, once the Steeltoe Plan was instituted, the rate of infection in the RCR began to flatten, and eventually the most dire fears about the unrestricted spread of Returner's Curse in the RCR did not come to pass.

    For his efforts, Steeltoe would be lauded by many in the RCR as a savior. He would also face 17 separate trials for removal from the chamber, was the first chief judge to be tried not on the basis of an alleged crime but for his policy decisions, and though not expelled and executed, at his death in 1976 he was denied both a state funeral and burial according to the rites of the Church.

    A similar situation governed in Russia. Initial overconfidence over the lack of exposure to tropical illness and a pre-emptive closing of the borders turned out to be in error. And there as in the RCR, state media promoted the idea the infection was an indicator and a consequence of the decadence of liberal society, which then made those actual Russians with Mesman-Lefebvre less willing to come forward.

    Worst still, the state's restrictions on travel, and many other public health measures generally, were deemed inapplicable to the empire's nobility. Many of these then contracted Returner's Curse on their visits to the Russian elite's favorite haunts in Switzerland, France and Italy. They then carried it home where sex-workers of major cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow became central to the infection of the wider population. While the most violent popular reaction in Moscow was the anti-prostitute riots of 1934, which may have killed upwards of 10,000 women, far more famous is actually the riot the next year targeting the nobility, who were chased from the city for fear of their lives. It took the Governor of Moscow 120,000 police officers, drawn from across the Empire, to quell public disorders that killed 3,000 people in that instance.

    In the end, the Russian Empire's policy response to the crisis is not well-understood by outsiders. Requests for documentation of policies by outside governments, public charities, rights groups and individuals have been rejected outright. Anecdotal evidence, including memoirs, journals, and instaletters, have emerged suggesting a general disregard for the well-being of the infected in a rush to quarantine those experiencing actual illness. This in turn created a powerful further incentive for those affected to avoid treatment and hide symptoms. Thus while exact figures have not been released, it is believed M-L infections in Russia continued more rapidly than in the rest of the world, peaked later, and that this even contributed to the labor shortages and other unrest in the empire during the 1950's. Nonetheless, state media hailed Peter VII's bold response to the pandemic as having saved the country on his death in 1957.

    Also badly affected were those colonies, former colonies, and other theaters of the General War of the Colonies outside Africa to which infected soldiers and administrators were rotated toward the war's end. Taken by surprise at the spread of Returner's Curse, infection rates in Southeast Asia and some coastal Chinese provinces were as high as those in France by 1935.

    Less affected were the settler and aboriginal states of North America, who were not directly involved in the War and who were able to institute screening and public health programs in advance of large-scale infection. Individual republics instituted by and large their own policies, with wildly varying outcomes. Neupreussia spent lavishly on research, education and treatment, with the result that in 1950 it had a very low infection rate. Illinois's response was mired in controversy and politics much like the RCR's was, but without the intervention of a figure like Steeltoe the result was a generally high rate of infection and death relative to its neighbors. And in Louisiana the response of the state was openly derided in the broadsheets of Philippeville as simply unconcerned with who or how many lived or died.

    Those European countries without substantial colonial possessions in the early twentieth century, or who were otherwise uninvolved in the General War of the Colonies, also were less immediately affected and so had time to institute precautions and adjust their public health policy. Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland and the nations of Scandinavia, Italy and the Balkan peninsula all faced lower rates of infection. Due to the serious economic and cultural effects of the crisis, and of the General War immediately preceding it, this meant there was a sudden increase in the affluence of these nations relative to their neighbors who had previously enjoyed the wealth created by the colonies and the trading networks they maintained, and this in turn contributed to Central Europe's period of social and cultural exuberance known as the Mit-Mit.

    In the former Allied powers, the policy prescriptions for dealing with the pandemic following the initial shock generally revolved around screening, education and care for the afflicted. In many countries, the sudden resurgence of an infectious disease that both created a general public health crisis and in many cases was well beyond an individual's financial ability to treat led to the immediate creation of mechanisms to deliver universal health care, because the consequences of individuals not receiving diagnosis and treatment was too great to society generally. In addition, Germany, England, Scotland, France and the United States committed lavish public resources to research for treatment, resulting in progressively improving therapies, that, though short of a cure, were introduced to the general public in 1939, 1946 and 1957.

    That is not to say these countries were not without their own paranoia and social unrest. A movement in France to condition free treatment on sterilization and a poorly-defined policy of "containment of diseased persons" led to the first emergence of a political movement among infected persons asserting their rights. In England, similarly, a campaign to secure donations for a monument to "innocent and undeserving victims"--meaning children born with the disease, wives infected by cheating husbands, and so forth--triggered emphatic protests that shocked wider society. Of course the tone of the discourse in the Kingdom around what was simply called there "Returner's" changed dramatically when, in 1934, Henry the Prince of Wales died. Eltham's official statement on his passing attributed his death to early-onset heart disease, but his physical decline as witnessed in the media was almost indistinguishable from that of other people suffering Returner's Curse. A decorated veteran of the General War whose home life was thought exemplary, he was greatly mourned by all quarters, and a less judgmental tone toward the affected followed his passing.

    Eventually, almost all nations, including, it is believed, Tsarist Russia, gravitated towards science-based policies and away from those grounded in paranoia or abject fear, for the simple reason that the demonstrated cost of continuing to do otherwise was simply too high. Still, the disease would continue to excite strong feelings. The first global conference on combating Returner's Curse/Mesman-Lefebvre, held in Luanda in 1952 on the 25th anniversary of the initial recognition of the pattern of the disease aboard the Prinz Georg, fell apart when the former colonies could not secure language in a general statement whereby the former colonial powers would admit to the role of sexual violence as a weapon of war in spreading the disease.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
  20. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Oh, now we're seeing the downside of a more advanced world; this reminds me of Male Rising, which also had a worse *AIDS epidemic...

    My second thought: YIKES!!!

    Nice to see the world-building going on with your updates, @Dr. Waterhouse; hopefully, this gets a Turtledove nomination/award...
     
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