The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

"Enrico Berlinguer Libero!"
Hello all - after this, there will be two more posts 'In-Universe' with a subsequent explanation of what 2020 ITTL looks like. We're nearly at the end folks.

"Enrico Berlinguer Libero!"

Extract from ‘The Decade of Freedom: The 70s Remembered’ by Abigail Francis

Corley had done what many said was impossible - he had not only won the Presidency, but had won two terms for the Freedom Party, a party once thought irredeemably reactionist and extreme. Even still, the 1974 midterms (despite his party hailing him as ‘The Man who Defeated Communism) were a wipeout in favour of the Republicans, with multiple fiascos within congress and the governorships of the south with members saying racially divisive and outright inflammatory statements. Lestor Maddox, the governor of Georgia, said that the Addis Ababa nuclear strike was different to the Warsaw strike because, “Blacks have been killing each other for centuries - they’re used to it”. Corley himself caused a ruckus by arguing that “Rhodesia and South Africa are our friends - it’s just that they make some mistakes is all”. Needless to say, Black Americans were resolutely behind the Republicans while increasingly, poor White ethnic groups were behind the Freedomites. As the 1976 election loomed, Vice-President Wayne was naturally considered the frontrunner for the Freedom Party nomination, having (barely) retained his broad popularity across America. But on October 3rd 1975, Wayne shocked the nation by announcing that he had been diagnosed with cancer (he did not say that it was terminal as he did not want to alarm his fellow countrymen) and that he could not in good faith nominate himself for the Presidency in 1976. A lifetime of drinking and smoking (as well as working on a filmset that had been doused in nuclear radiation) had done its toll. As he famously concluded at his speech in the Rose Garden of the White House, “I think it’s about time for the sheriff to ride off into the sunset”. After hosting the 1976 academy awards that February, Wayne resigned from office and died on July 4th 1976 (“Couldn’t have picked a better date,” being his last words). Wayne was the one person in the Freedom Party for whom a large amount of people could outright admire, and it left a gaping hole in the nomination process for 1976. Who was going to be the Freedom Party candidate? The ultimate winner would by John Connally of Texas, another racial moderate of the Corley-wing. His opponent would be a fellow Texan, Congressman George Bush. Bush was considered of good moral character and another southerner - seen as important in taking back voters who felt the Republicans were simply rich playboys who didn’t understand working people. At the same time, in order to satiate the more vocally Anti-Corley wing of the party, Bush shocked the nation at the 1976 Republican convention by announcing his running-mate: Senator Edward Brooke. It was the first time a Black American would be on the ticket of any major political party. Brooke was, naturally, considered a hardline opponent of Fascism, especially Italy and South Africa. He had earned quite a reputation in the Senate for his fiery denunciations of racism and Fascism - his refusal to run in 1976 had disappointed a few, but they weren’t disappointed anymore. His convention speech, eviscerating the Freedom Party’s apologism for the Roman Alliance, earned him standing ovation from youth and Black attendees. “It’s time for Fascism to join Nazism and Communism in the ash-heap of history!” Brook said, earning the loudest cheer of the night. Polls showed that a majority of Americans said they didn’t mind voting for a candidate with a Black running-mate (though almost all studies since have confirmed that Brooke’s name hurt the Republican brand in several mid-west seats). Nevertheless, racism was not enough to let the Freedom Party back in. Connally would lose that November to the Bush-Brooke ticket, in what became a further nightmare to the already imploding Roman Alliance. George Bush became the next President of the United States, promising to unite the country and bring in a new world order where racism would be a thing of the past. Tragically, he would never have the chance to try.

In March 1977, Bush was at an event in California when a man by the name of Charles Manson rushed through the crowd and fired four shots into the Texan’s chest, killing him before he hit the ground. Manson was quickly restrained and arrested, saying that he killed Bush to start a race-war since he believed, “The White Man will never live under Black Man’s law - and when the race war is over, I’ll be the only one alive”. Manson would ultimately be sentenced to death, meeting the gas chamber on May 9th 1978. It would be the final Presidential assassination to date, but the aftershocks would be immense. Brooke would receive broad sympathy when he was sworn into office in the north, but his ascension was bitterly resented among Southern Whites, who feared Brooke was going to unleash retribution on them. Even getting Bob Dole to be his running mate did not do enough to convince millions of Southerners that he was fundamentally hostile to Southern culture. Brooke’s hardline denunciation of Fascism likewise became a source of anger to Southerners who accused the President (in the words of North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms) of, “Thinking he’s head of some sort of Black Rights Lobby group and not the President of the United States”. The Freedom Party painted the picture of Brooke caring more or exclusively in favour of Blacks as opposed to rural, white Americans who made up their base. Brooke was certainly uninterested in this condemnation, putting strong sanctions on South Africa and lesser sanctions on Italy and Rhodesia with the help of a Republican Senate and House, though he would lose both in the 1978 midterms. There was no doubt that 1970s America was serially uncomfortable with an African-American being President.

Despite the Freedom Party’s strong opposition to Brooke for obvious reasons, he would quickly become a hero to Black Americans far and wide, as well as White youth from the Middle and Upper Classes. He would likewise be a hero to millions in Africa for seeing the most powerful man on Earth be of African stock. All the while, he would work tirelessly to “Bring the Cool War to a close as peacefully and totally as the Cold War”. He would work closely with the Jenkins government in Britain, Giscard d’Estaing’s government in France and Chancellor Schmidt’s government in West Germany (although East Germany was currently run by an elected puppet administration that swore fealty to West Germany’s decisions) to exert further pressure on Fascism. He also dropped encouraging words to Roman Alliance states who were considering dropping out, as well as having the CIA funding dissident movements within the Roman Alliance to hasten the Bloc’s decline. Inspired by France, he would begin mass construction of nuclear power stations as a way to undermine OPEP’s dominance over oil (though this project had been underway as far back as Kennedy). For the Fascists, Brooke’s ascension couldn’t have come at a worse time, with the Bloc now being hit on all sides. Perhaps the only man smiling in Italy at the time was Enrico Berlinguer.


Extract from ‘The Screams of a Continent: Africa after WW2’ by Ayaan Ferguson

The dawn of 1976 would begin the partial retreat of the Colonial powers from Africa. This began when the much feared Iberian situation deteriorated in exactly the way many had anticipated. That January, King Duarte II of Portugal passed away, his funeral procession in Lisbon marching to noticeably empty streets. His son, who would be crowned Duarte III in early April, was nowhere near as hardline as his father, and was interested in healing the rift that he well-knew was poisoning his country. At the same time, the guerrilla warfare in both Angola and Mozambique was emptying the treasury and to be resolved. Ciano warned him that any attempt to minimise his power would ultimately lead to the people exploiting perceived weakness, but Ciano was much too weak to stop Duarte himself. On April 25th, the anniversary of the failed uprising of 1973, the population of Lisbon protested in their thousands for reform, demanding more money be spent on improving the situation at home rather than spending money to build new houses in Angola and Mozambique. Hoping to endear himself to the people, Duarte announced a series of reforms to the colonial structure. Taking inspiration from Italy’s annexation of Libya, he decided to do something of his own for Portugal, though Angola and Mozambique were nowhere near as White as Libya was. He announced that both regions would be divided, with one segment being directly incorporated into the Portuguese nation as a whole and the other to become part of a Commonwealth, much like the situation with Britain. Angola would be divided along a line whose border along the line of Namibe, Benguela, Cuanza Sul, Malanje and Lunda Norte (which covered the whole coast and gave a border to the ever-more prosperous Katanga. Much like the French in their division of Algeria, the area annexed to Portugal would become ‘Portuguese Angola’ where the Commonwealth state would simply be called ‘Angola’. In Mozambique, the region would be divided along the Shire and Zambezi Rivers, with everything north going to ‘Mozambique’ and the southern region (including all the territory that surrounded Rhodesia) being integrated into Portugal as ‘Portuguese Mozambique’. The division had been done with the intent of not disturbing the Roman Alliance, as both Katanga and Rhodesia retained exactly the same amount of land protection as they had before, ensuring that supplies would keep coming. The most moderate rebel leaders of both regions (Jonas Savimibi in Angola and Uria Simango in Mozambique) were invited to Élisabethville (Katanga’s capital, with Tshombe attempting to rebrand himself as the man who could mediate between Africa and the European powers) and given the conditions: accept Duarte as symbolic Head of State and guarantee the rights of Catholics in return for almost total internal autonomy. Ironically, Savimbi and Simango were the only Black leaders in Africa who had to worry about the White birthrate being too high, with both fearing that the continued influx of settlers along with their enthused birthrate would erode their negotiating power yet further. Both would ultimately accept the offer on August 16th 1976, with the Élisabethville Agreement becoming something of a proof of concept that negotiation was possible in ending the fighting that had ravaged the continent. Portuguese Angola was roughly 65% White while Portuguese Mozambique was roughly 50% White. Both were White majority, though both had to lop off many of their black-majority areas. This wasn’t to say that all resistance ended, of course. In Mozambique, Samora Machel continued his Anti-Clerical, Afro-Fascist campaign of terror against both Simango in the north as well as the Portuguese state in the south. In Angola, Holden Roberto did much the same, attacking Savimbi and trying to make Free Angola an Afro-Fascist state. At the same time, owing to the relative tolerance of the Portuguese administrators, the Black population was treated relatively well in the annexed territories (if they were obvious Catholics). There would even be a small White population left over in both the freed Angola and Mozambique, though these would shrink to roughly 5% in each due to fears of violence. Meanwhile, the White share of the population would only continue to grow in the annexed territories. Guinnea-Bissau, which had never been attractive to Portuguese migrants, was likewise offered and consequently accepted membership of the Portuguese Commonwealth. With their old domains now either in Commonwealth or fully annexed, Portugal’s Colonial history came to a close. Duarte III hailed the agreement as an example of Portugal’s government having listened to its citizens. While it was true that many Portuguese were grateful the war was over, most mainland citizens were still angered at the favouritism the government had for their African colonies, whom the more urbanised and secular continentals looked down upon as moronic farmers. If Duarte thought he had saved the old order from further change, he was badly mistaken.

The next of a seemingly endless number of disasters were the draft riots in Greece. Dimitrios Ioannidis, the resident dictator, had actually fought against the Fascist invasion during the Fourth Balkan War, but ended up fighting alongside the puppet regime during the Greek Civil War against the Communists. His ruthlessness in suppressing Communists had been noticed and rewarded by the government, though he was reportedly thankful to the Communists for, “Getting rid of the Jew squatters" He would end up commanding Greek forces in Egypt during the Second Arab War, having witnessed the nuclear destruction of Cairo personally, an event that convinced him Greece had no chance of escaping the Roman Alliance by military means and that collaboration was the only way. His ascendency to dictator during the late 60s and early 70s (made entirely through bribing the Italian ambassador with prostitutes and sports cars) had given him total control over the country, with Turkish and Italian oversight. In the last few decades, the Greek resistance had gone from wishing for a Socialist state to a return to the Constitutional Democracy, with the exiled heir to the Greek throne, Constantine. Constantine had become a legendary figure among Greeks after he won an Olympic Medal for Britain in the 1960 Rome Olympics in Dragon class sailing, in defiance of Fascism [1]. The Free Greece movement suffered as attention shifted to Ethiopia, but the internal hatred of Italy was unchanged in Athens. By far the worst thing that the Roman Alliance forced upon Greece was their demand to send her troops into the Ethiopian slaughterhouse. Ioannidis, who had served for the Roman Alliance himself, felt he had the moral right to tell his people to join yet another foreign war on behalf of a state no one liked. Initially, the Greek ranks were volunteers or the troublesome. Many only came back in bodybags. It all came to a head on September 23rd 1976, when Ioannidis attempted to impress his new boss in Ciano by announcing that he would draft thousands more, including from the ‘soft’ middle class whom he saw as harbouring Monarchist sympathies. The result was pandemonium. The University of Athens was occupied by students on September 27th, who burned the Italian flag and swore they would never serve in Ethiopia. In the subsequent reoccupation by the Greek military (many of whom were career criminals before being encouraged to find their calling in the army), forty students were killed with nearly four hundred injured. The outrage was palpable, with the streets of Athens clogged the next day by infuriated protestors, led by the mothers whose boys were killed the other night. Ioannidis had tried to impress Rome but had only humiliated himself. Ciano, desperately trying to save the situation, ordered Ioannidis to resign. Ioannidis reluctantly complied, but much to Ciano’s horror, the protestors were unfazed. They did not blame the deaths of the boys on Ioannidis but expressly on Italy and their insane war. Again, Ciano could not afford another conflict in Europe, Africa, or anywhere. Inspired by King Duarte’s example, he reluctantly announced a joint conference with Simeon II of Bulgaria and President Kenan Evren of Turkey on a new political settlement for Greece. When King Constantine was invited along, the Greek people were overjoyed and the marches and protests finally cooled down. Meeting in Istanbul that November, Turkey was by far the most hardline on any settlement, with Simeon being the most permissive. But ultimately, Ciano was able to convince the two of his own solution. Greece would leave the Roman Alliance but would be forbidden from entering any other Alliance Bloc. With the exception of Turkish bases in Crete, all Roman Alliance troops would have to withdraw. Communists and ‘Incendiary Nationalists’ would be forbidden from power, with a rigidly enforced constitution that would ensure power could never be effectively concentrated by any one power. Constantine would consequently retake his kingdom while being constitutionally forbidden from any great exercise of power due to the creation of a democratic parliament. The Greek army would be reduced to nothingness, its government would renounce any claims over its old territory and full amnesty would be granted for Greeks who served under the Ioannidis government. Both sides were forced to make tough decisions, but ultimately, both were desperate enough to ensure a deal could work. On December 2nd, the Istanbul agreement was ratified, letting Greece leave the Roman Alliance. Of course, Greece would not be the only country to leave the Bloc in the next few years.

Privately, Ciano had already accepted that some form of accommodation with King Amha Selassie was inevitable. Ironically, it was now the Ethiopians who were reeling from victory disease despite not actually having won. Afro-Fascist agitators within the African Liberation Army pushed not just for the full liberation of Ethiopia, but shoving the Italians out of Eritrea and Somalia too, the former becoming majority White in 1972. To say that this was an immense to impossible task was well understood across Africa, particularly in the EAF, where President Kenyatta was no wild optimist and resented the more tub-thumping propaganda and incitement of Malcolm Little in Zaire. In May 1976, Kenyatta would declare to the EAF Parliament that, “If we delude ourselves into thinking we can just expel every White person or Indian from Africa like we shoo away a fly, all we may well ensure is that Africa is not fit for any man, white or black.” The speech, seen as a direct attack on Pierre Mulele’s government in Zaire and William Tolbert’s Afro-Fascist government in Liberia. He also enraged the Afro-Fascist ‘African Revival Party’ in the EAF Parliament. Fearing Kenyatta was about to pull the EAF out of the war and convince Selassie to accept truce over final victory, a coup was organised, with the ringleader being the charismatic but buffoonish General Idi Amin, who had gained fame for his work in Ethiopia. Amin wanted to establish the EAF as an Afro-Fascist state that would never end the Colonial conflict in Africa until ‘The only White people on the African continent are corpses”. Amin received significant levels of funding and backing from Zaire, who despised Kenyatta’s accommodation with the West - there was even suggestion of merging Zaire and the EAF into a super-state (though the ultimate leader of the state differed depending on whether you asked Mulele or Amin). On November 22nd 1976, Amin would attempt his coup in the capital of Nairobi. However, he faced a barrage of firepower that he never expected from an army that remained loyal to the President over Amin. Amin was shot dead in a firefight on the streets of Nairobi, leading to the entire coup to collapse on its own face. The African Revival Party was quickly banned and many thought that would be it. However, once the scale of cooperation between Amin and Zaire was revealed, a diplomatic firestorm erupted across Africa. Verbal jests between the two soon became serious threats, until December 16th 1976, when Kenyatta sent troops into the territories of Rwanda and Burundi, ostensively to kill rebels who had fled into the region. To say this was not taken well in Overtureville was an understatement, who declared war on the EAF the same day. However, while Zaire’s equipment was often of poor quality Soviet or Developing-World stock, the EAF had an extensive relationship with the British army and consequently far better equipment and training. Rwanda and Burundi were secured on New Year’s Day 1977 for the EAF, but the war was nowhere near over.

On January 10th, the war escalated when Katanga joined the fight against Zaire, with covert support from the Roman Alliance, who knew that an open Roman Alliance attack on Zaire was too dangerous. Even the Luba Kingdom stayed out of the onslaught while officially praising it. Katanga boasted what was probably the finest Black-Majority army in Africa at the time. While in 1961 their officers were overwhelmingly White, only the highest of the top brass by 1977 was still majority Caucasian. Significant work had been done by Tshombe and others to encourage a native talent pool that did not rely on political favouritism. Even more impressively, the ratio of ground troops was roughly 90% Black and 10% White, in keeping with the national ratio. Katanga’s military used more advanced equipment than any other Black-African power - much of it bought from the Italians. To say the least, the EAF was not happy about fighting alongside Katanga, who had one of the worst reputations in Africa for supposedly selling out their race. But though the propaganda boost to Zaire did exist, it could not compare to the magnitude of firepower the Katangans could deliver. Zaire had done little to actually improve its army, mainly buying cheap weapons, conscripting disproportionately Tutsi boys and men. The Tutsis were seen as collaborators with the Belgians who were seen as needing to prove their loyalty. Tribalism was a serious issue even in the supposedly ‘Black-Egalitarian’ Zaire where all Blacks were supposedly treated equally to each other. Thus, the often divided and terribly underfunded Zairean army (half of which was in Ethiopia) was made mincemeat of by Katangan helicopters and napalm. Though officially spurning contact, Kenyatta privately coordinated with Tshombe on strategy against the Zaireans. A further blow for Zaire came about when the Republic of the Congo (the successor state to the one that Mulele and others had successfully reduced to nothing, though now combined with French Congo) joined the dog pile on January 27th 1977. Once again, the Republic of Congo’s troops greatly outmatched the Zaireans due to their close cooperation with the French. Surrounded on all sides, the Zaireans didn’t have a chance. In Ethiopia, their leadership was purged by local commanders (who knew it was madness to choose who many in the international scene saw as a rabid dog over the respected EAF) and their troops forced to swear loyalty to King Selassie - those that didn’t were swiftly killed for ‘betraying Africa’, an irony given Zaire’s pomposity on the subject. On March 22nd, EAF troops finally made it until just outside of Overtureville. With help from the Katangan Air Force, they were able to obliterate local resistance within the city, before arresting Pierre Mulele. Officially, Malcolm Little was declared dead from suicide, but medical inconsistencies in the report have led to theories that he was killed by the CIA or some other institution who were scared that bringing Little back to America for trial would have seriously increased racial tensions in the South and elsewhere. With Mulele’s arrest and ultimate life sentence, he was sentenced to jail in Brazzaville, where he would serve out his term for the rest of his life, dying in 2014 at the age of 85. Overtureville was renamed Stanleyville and a joint occupation authority was established between Katanga, the EAF and Republic of Congo. In May that year, an agreement was reached where the final borders were decided. Rwanda and Burundi would be annexed into the EAF under the pretext of protecting the Tutsi minority while all that was left of Zaire would be incorporated into the Republic of the Congo. However, this Republic of the Congo would be forced to demilitarise its southern border to ensure Katanga would never have to worry about another Zaire threatening them again.

With the end of the ‘Congo Reunification War’ (which wasn’t true given Katanga and the Luba Kingdom were still independent), Afro-Fascism’s great proponent would fall. Liberia would struggle along until 1980, when a coup led by native-Liberians (as opposed to the old Amero-Liberian elite) took control of the country and slowly brought the country towards democracy under Western pressure. While Afro-Fascism did not take control over wide swathes of territory when it was a popular ideology, it unquestionably sowed the seeds of change across the African continent, with its spectre affecting politics on the continent up to this day. While exposing the limits of race-hatred and revenge as guiding political philosophies, they also inspired many Africans to take strength in their own abilities. At the same time, Katanga’s own military reputation was greatly improved, and when later in 1977 it was a joint Katangan-Rhodesian operation that killed Robert Mugabe, their reputation stretched further yet. But behind the scenes, something even more remarkable was happening. Tshombe, who had won election after election due to his astonishing political talent, endless monetary donations from mining interests and meteoric economic growth, had managed to get the ear of Ian Smith. Smith had been greatly impressed by Katanga’s growth and success, which defied his own predictions of Africa falling into disaster if White rule was ended. As Smith told Tshombe in one 1976 phone conversation, “If even a third of the Black Africans were like you, I’d have Majority Rule tomorrow”. Smith even got testy at South African diplomats for their mockery of Tshombe, comparing him to a house servant. In response, South Africa’s Andries Treurnicht went as far as to privately call Smith ‘A Keffer-lover’ - the resulting rumours of which would badly damage the two countries relations. Smith’s discomfort with the White-favoritism of his own government would only amplify as Mugabe’s ZANU fell into oblivion and White immigration continued to give Whites, while not a majority, still an immovable demographic presence. Tshombe’s pleas with Smith to reform Rhodesia were starting to become more and more seriously thought of in Salisbury. While many Africans had denounced Tshombe as a ‘House Negro’, ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘Race-traitor’ and all the rest, Tshombe’s voice in the ear of Smith, King Duarte, Ciano and others likely did more to cull racism in Africa than his detractors put together.

Ciano was no fool, his prior comments mocking the Ethiopians for not surrendering not withstanding, and he saw the opportunity to finally bring the war to a close after Selassie’s troops were divided and shooting each other. His decision was met with relief from almost the entire Fascist Council (and especially King Umberto) for finally ending what had been described as ‘Balbo’s Inferno’, in reference to the Hell that Dante so lucidly described in the Divine Comedy. The Ethiopians were also divided, but after the devastating division and conflict between his allies, King Selassie (though grateful he was no longer beholden to his promise to Zaire to relinquish his throne) reluctantly accepted the offer from Rome. On May 8th 1977, an armistice was declared between Italian and Ethiopian soldiers, marking the first time that peace had come to the ravaged backwater of Ethiopia in more than a decade. Five million African civilians and Pro-Independence soldiers were dead from everything from gas to starvation, with nearly 150,000 Roman Alliance troops and settlers dead as well. It was the ultimate meat-grinder and there was no true winner, no matter what either party said to the contrary in subsequent years. In the following negotiations in Biafra’s capital of Enugu (one of the few places both parties were fine with meeting), both the Italians and Ethiopians negotiated with all their might and prowess. Biafra, which had answered with ‘no comment’ on the situation in Ethiopia while feverishly attempting to find a settlement proved able hosts More rabid Ethiopian nationalists and Afro-Fascists wanted the whole of Italian East Africa to be put under Selassie - a declaration so bold that the Italians threatened to walk out of the meeting right there. Italy initially offered ‘internal autonomy’ for Ethiopia, with ultimate veto power - the Ethiopians likewise threatened to leave the room. Over the following months, uneasy peace continued to roam the shattered landscape of Ethiopia. But ultimately, neither party could afford another second of war - it was time to dust off all the classics to ensure something could be worked out. The ancient Hoare-Laval Pact was proposed as a potential solution, but the Italians refused as it would cut their East Africa territories in two. Ethiopia demanded a solution that resulted in them having a port, knowing they would easily be economically strangled if they were landlocked by the Italians. To that end, a modern version of the Hoare-Laval Pact was offered, which broke the deadlock.

Under this version, the Tigray, Danakil, Hararghe and Bale regions would be retained by Italy to ensure Italy maintained an unbroken connection between Eritrea and Somalia. However, the Ethiopians would be allowed to annex the Gedo, and Middle+Lower Juba regions in the far south of Somalia. This would ironically improve the security situation of Italy, as they would now have no border with the far stronger EAF and only with the much weaker Ethiopians. The regions annexed to Italy were already overwhelmingly non-Ethiopian, since the original population had been deported elsewhere, and the remaining Italian settlers had likewise been moved there. These regions were also far more economically developed than the west of the country, had more natural resources and were considered far more strategically important. The Ethiopians got a port, albeit a small, underdeveloped one in what was once Somalia, and more importantly the right to rule themselves. Ethiopia was free to develop its own economy as it saw fit, re-arm as it saw fit (though forbidden from having WMDs) and choose its own form of government. King Selassie chose to make Ethiopia an absolute Monarchy, which he could afford to do owing to the immense popularity boost he would subsequently get as the ‘Man who Beat the Roman Empire’ by the men with guns. But most Ethiopians were more relieved the war was over than happy they had ‘won’. With millions dead, their economy near literally nonexistent and the landscape littered with mines and chemical pollution, Ethiopia was perhaps the most battered, bruised country anywhere on Earth. Yet that defiance they had was unquenchable. When asked what trade terms he would like to have with the new Italian state by Italian diplomats, the Ethiopians simply replied they would have none. When informed that this would ensure his economy could not improve and that people would die, one Ethiopian diplomat replied, “I don’t think you Italians understand: every Ethiopian to a man would literally die before they give you money”. Indeed, even forty years later, Ethiopia enforces a strict no-trade policy with Italy despite the devastating effect it has had on the economy. The policy has a 70% approval rate among the Ethiopian populace. Selassie would begin his reign on the ashes of Ethiopia, now with his new capital in Bahir Dar (it would be moved back to New Addis Ababa in 1999 to mark the new millennium.) ITO countries promised to pour in financial support for the battered kingdom through their new port. As President Brooke said soon after Ethiopia’s independence was assured: “Ethiopia, you will be remembered”.

The announcement that peace was permanent in Ethiopia came on June 9th 1977. Ciano certainly hoped a similar wave of relief would pour over him in Italy as had Selassie in Ethiopia. He had expected the announcement to be met with broad indifference among the population. To his horror, he realised that a tipping point had been reached - people had not only fallen out of love with Fascism, but had irrevocably turned their backs on it. With easy access to American, British and French culture, fewer and fewer people were attracted to the austere nationalism that Fascism promised. While many were willing to accept it had once been a good idea at a time of insurrection, or WW2 or even the Second Arab War, no one was sure what the ultimate goal of Fascism was apart from maintaining obviously unfair colonial setups, naked nepotism and chronic political corruption. Ciano’s age did not help matters, which helped cast Fascism as an ideology that had outlived its use and was time to be done away with. With similar unrest spreading far and wide across the Roman Alliance, Ciano began to wonder if it was time to think the unthinkable.

Extract from ‘The New Roman Empire’ by David Lassinger

The sudden death of Balbo and likewise sudden ascension of Ciano was something that most Italians met with surprise rather than grief or happiness. Cynicism to the regime was at an all time height, with almost everyone knowing someone who had been sent to or affected by the Ethiopian War. The presence of veterans begging on the streets was new to Rome but it soon became a common sight. Likewise, with the economy strangled due to the amount of resources being sent to Africa to get a bazooka fired at it, there wasn’t much left over for the home front. Secret Gallup polls conducted shortly after Ciano’s rise showed that the Fascist Party clocked only a 25% approval rate among Italians, with most opposition coming from younger Italians who had no memory of the Pre-Fascist chaos that the Party used to justify its existence. The diplomatic spat with Israel was also highly demoralising, as Italy had always used its relationship with Israel as proof of its moral legitimacy. When that was gone, many Italians believed that the country seemed trapped in a state of permanent decline. It was in the environment that the cry of ‘Enrico Berlinguer Libero’ went from a phrase mainly used by foreign opponents to one that showed up in everyday life. It got to the extent that everyday conversations incorporated the phrase as a statement of general discontent about almost anything. Spilling coffee on oneself could result in a “Cazzo! Enrico Berlinguer Libero!” If your team lost in Serie A? “Enrico Berlinguer Libero!” Your wife was cheating on you? “Enrico Berlinguer Libero!” But behind the scenes, Berlinguer had already done a fantastic job in uniting Italy behind him.

The dissident had expressed some attraction to Communism in his youth, before his disgust at Stalin’s Anti-Semitism pushed him firmly into the Social Democrat Camp - he would subsequently denounce Communism as ‘Fascism’s Mirror’. His charisma and charm led to his becoming the leader of the Social Democrats in the early 1960s, before soon being arrested in Balbo’s crackdown and sentenced to life in prison. Yet throughout his whole time in prison, visitors and guards reported him in high spirits. His forgiving, friendly nature ensured lenient treatment by staff but also international support from abroad. But most importantly, he was able to unite the Anti-Fascist sentiment among the Working Class (which he already had a voice to as the head of the Social Democrats) with the concerns of the Middle and Upper-Classes, in the form of the Christian Democrats and the Vatican. His ability, even in prison, to settle disputes between the factions and help the warring groups unite into a combined Anti-Fascist front was no small feat and underlined his political wisdom. Even rumours of his being harmed were enough to create a serious disturbance in the affected areas - with one foreign observer noting, “The Italian people seem to have already decided who their Duce is - and he’s not the aged man who hobbles around in his dead Father-In-Law’s shoes”. Berlinguer had also created, through an international lobby of supporters, a worldwide movement aimed at his release and a return of democracy to Italy. In particular, the Mo-Town scene in American music was adamantly in his favour owing to his loud denouncement of the Ethiopian War. As Mo-Town and other forms of Black Music became popular around the world, so did the cause to get Berlinguer released. Black Artists worldwide boycotted Italy for their discrimination and made Berlinguer’s release non-negotiable. Brooke made negotiations with Italy over sanctions impossible without the pre-condition of Berlinguer’s release.

Ciano knew that simply killing Berlinguer in jail was a guaranteed way to start a revolution, and no one was willing to believe any slander they could make up about him. To that end, Ciano finally began to start seriously asking his advisors whether it was time to start talks with Berlinguer behind the scenes. The slowly increasing strikes, slowly increasing civil dissent, all this had convinced Ciano that if something wasn’t done soon, they would be too late. While many in the Party were outraged at the very suggestion, it was King Umberto himself who stepped in (literally, as he marched into the meeting without announcement). Umberto simply ordered Ciano to begin negotiations with Berlinguer to find ‘A settlement the Italian people would agree with’. Dino Grazi, one of the few veterans of the beginning of the movement, consented to the King’s request. With that, the remaining members of the Fascist Council reluctantly allowed Ciano to move ahead. On November 7th 1977, Count Ciano met Enrico Berlinguer face to face for the first time without cameras, albeit with jail bars separating them. As Ciano recalled, “He seemed fairly amiable for a man in prison”. Berlinguer would likewise recall, “Mister Ciano looked quite tired - I offered him to sit on one of the chairs in my cell but he refused”. Almost nothing of real substance was discussed, and the discussion seemed to be more about developing a relationship. But one thing did come out of it: Berlinguer promised Ciano that he was not out to destroy Fascism but to save Italy from bloodshed, and if it meant forgetting past grudges, he would do it in a heartbeat. Though Ciano had every reason to doubt, he was oddly convinced by the Socialist. The Duce left the prison after about two hours of talking, returning to the gruelling political situation. As Berlinguer recalled, “Though I was still in prison, I knew I was far more free than he who called himself Duce.”



[1] Seriously - this actually happened OTL.
 
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So how long until South Africa decides to intervene in Angola and Mozambique? I seriously doubt they are happy about the currents events in Rhodesia and their other allies in the continent
 
So how long until South Africa decides to intervene in Angola and Mozambique? I seriously doubt they are happy about the currents events in Rhodesia and their other allies in the continent
They aren't happy but they can't really do anything. The National Party don't want to upset their Italian patrons too much, but there is a growing number of Afrikaner extremists who are starting to worry that if something isn't done soon, they will be faced with a situation where their power can't be maintained. And let's be clear, many of them would rather there be no South Africa than a multiracial one.
 
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Plus the US and the west would intervene if South Africa tried anything. Plus Rhodesia may decide to make a better deal with Katanga if the South Africans intervened.
 
Damn, that sub-Saharan Africa is going very messy place. At least Ethiopia seems being bit better than I predicted altough still not great.
 
Jesus, TTL’s Ethiopia seems even worse off than OTL’s after the Civil War. It is nice to see her rebuilding and to see the Monarchy remain in power under Selassie’s line. I hope the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa gets better soon as well.
 
Oh man, I feel so bad for Finland, Greece and Ethiopia. They may be free but at what cost?

Well, at least the rest of Africa (except for South Africa) May have a chance.
 
Oh man, I feel so bad for Finland, Greece and Ethiopia. They may be free but at what cost?

Well, at least the rest of Africa (except for South Africa) May have a chance.
At least Finland is bigger than it was in 1940 when it has Republic of Karelia too. And Finland has too access to Artic Ocean. Economically Finland is anyway in poor condition but probably it will recover quiet soon thanks of Western nations. I guess that Finland joined to ITO as soon as it was possible. Demographics probably took biggest hit. In 1977 Finland despite that having bigger area has much lower population than OTL Finland had in 1977. At least there is quiet notable Russian minority and Finns hardly are very friendly towards them.
 
At least Finland is bigger than it was in 1940 when it has Republic of Karelia too. And Finland has too access to Artic Ocean. Economically Finland is anyway in poor condition but probably it will recover quiet soon thanks of Western nations. I guess that Finland joined to ITO as soon as it was possible. Demographics probably took biggest hit. In 1977 Finland despite that having bigger area has much lower population than OTL Finland had in 1977. At least there is quiet notable Russian minority and Finns hardly are very friendly towards them.
In the best case scenario Finland (and Estonia) will be both like OTL Estonia.
 
Also are we all going to ignore that this TL's Constantine actually helped ending a dictatorship rather than starting one?
I mean, after one's country has been smashed and humilliated into collaboration even worse than Vichy France that's the least thing to do.
 
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