The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

As as a lurker, I wanted to commend Sorairo on how amazing this timeline has been. The story has done such a phenomenal job of conveying the world you've created and how different it is than our own.

I'm wondering what the demographics are of Italian East Africa, Rhodesia, and South Africa. it's going to be interesting to see how much of the status quo can remain in those states as the fascist system that supports them breaks down.
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I'm curious of the status of the Blackshirts. I'd imagine as the years go on, they become less of a Political Paramilitary Force that beat up opposition and more of a Social Club and a Think Tank. Especially as Italy democratizes, most of the Blackshirts really aren't as radicalized to go against the Reforms, since they're all just sitting around complaining about the end of Fascism instead of doing something.

Although I can imagine some Hardline Fascists angry at the end of Fascism do some drastic things like storm a government building, and make a list of demands such as bringing back Fascism.
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How repressed were the Montenegrin and Albanian languages, since the governments of those states cooperated with Italy? What's the status of the Istriot, Istro-Romanian, and Aromanian languages ITTL? What about the various Italian dialects and languages themselves?
Italy, having long fascist reign might not have a stable democratic transition long term.

Nostalgia and whatnot.

Italy will probably remain a great power, but nostalgia for the era of a practical superpower could lead to a sort of putinist figure rising. Maybe ethnic violence in Somalia or Eritrea lead do it, similar to how the Chechen war helped propel Putin.

Also western Ukraine, notably galacia’s love for Bandera, will lead probably a strong fascist movement there.

Note the UNA ideology was very similar austrofascism and the Italian model.

Fascist never discredited ttl, supporters will proudly take the term within areas that support Bandera.

In OTL Portuguese Estado Novo lasted about as long as Fascist Italy ITTL. Italian economy is quiet good and it didn't lost territories or much of its influence. So not reason to assume that Italian democracy couldn't prosper. More worried I am with Portugal and Russia.

And in OTL it wasn't only Chechen War which helped Putin. Russia was really bad conditin after collapse of USSR. Economy ruined, lost all influence and USSR collapsed.
In OTL Portuguese Estado Novo lasted about as long as Fascist Italy ITTL. Italian economy is quiet good and it didn't lost territories or much of its influence. So not reason to assume that Italian democracy couldn't prosper. More worried I am with Portugal and Russia.

And in OTL it wasn't only Chechen War which helped Putin. Russia was really bad conditin after collapse of USSR. Economy ruined, lost all influence and USSR collapsed.
Good point honestly.
Only History
Hello everyone!

This is the last in-story post. There will be an update next week bringing you up to speed with TTL's 2020 (including the fate of South Africa). There are also a few omake's that I'll be polishing up as well before letting them go ahead. After the 2020 post, I'll try answering your questions as best I can. And without further ado, the timeline is finished.

Only History

Extract from 'The Making of Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

To Chiang the Younger, Italy’s reform proved an able time to implement his own. In February 1979, Chiang announced that China would soon transition to democracy, and that the first nationwide elections in the Middle Kingdom would occur in early 1980. But to Chiang, leaving the Roman Alliance like Iberia and South America had was unthinkable. Chiang was hoping to become the dominant power of the Roman Alliance, as it was rapidly becoming owing to China’s lightning economic growth, with extreme poverty proving to be a memory in China by the end of the 1980s. With Italy’s lower population base, China was confident that it would soon overtake the Italians as the leaders of the Bloc. However, all this ensured that Thailand had their own ideas. When faced with the prospect of China becoming the dominant power of the Roman Alliance with Italy slinking into a still pacifism, Thailand announced their own reforms, pledging to leave the Roman Alliance to become observers of the Francophonie. This of course required some level of democratic reform, although the Monarchy retained significant powers just like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. As South-East Asia, particularly Vietnam, were more developed than anywhere in Asia outside of Japan, the Philippines or Hong Kong (and even then not far behind), Thailand’s joining the Francophonie was an economic bonanza. Furthermore, Thailand could finally get along without having to pretend to like China as part of their awkward alliance. With Thailand’s economic unity with the rest of Indo-China, the region continued to evolve into a fabulously developed region, even by the impressive standards of late 20th Century Asian growth. The Francophonie would soon make increasing overtures towards Japan and the Philippines to coordinate their economies to ensure they were not overwhelmed by the gigantic Chinese and Indian economies. Afghanistan and Burma would be so dominated by India economically, with most of Central Asia likewise dominated economically by China, that zones of influence were increasingly carved out of the Asian continent, with the parties vying for influence, even to the outside world. Much to French discomfort, the Francophonie would soon evolve into one increasingly dominated by Vietnam, with more Vietnamese companies growing in the West African Federation than French by the 1980s. At the same time, the new, liberalised China (dominated by the KMT despite the transition to democracy owing to its recency in defeating the Communist menace, as compared to the ancient menaces the Italians and Spaniards had forgot) would find its economy growing to unprecedented highs at the same time as the Japanese and Indian, with all three contributing together to make the continent significantly more economically powerful than Europe by 2000. With East Asia overwhelmingly democratic, the much slower transition to democracy in the Middle East became much more obvious.

Some countries in the Middle East already were democracies, like Israel, Kurdistan, the Druze and Alawite Republics and Assyria. But by the late 1970s, the first serious reforms were underway elsewhere. In 1979, the Arab Federation was given full independence owing to Britain’s reduced dependence on foreign oil due to the discovery of the North Sea Oil alongside their extensive nuclear energy development. The country was effectively an oligarchy of Emirs, with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman (finally given relief from their restrictions with Israeli Prime Minister Frank’s blessing) united into a single, sprawling country that was forced into close military ties with Britain as a default. While undemocratic, the Emirs knew full well that they were at the mercy of the Iranians and needed close relations with Britain to maintain their power. Radical Arab and Islamist groups were banned everywhere they could be found. In Lebanon, the ruling Phalangist Party agreed to elections in early 1980, with dictator Pierre Gemayel agreeing to step down in favour of his son Bachir becoming the leader of the Party. However, despite the relinquishing of the one-party state, the Phalangists would go on to win the election, promising to maintain the status quo. As Lebanon was by far the most developed ‘Arab’ state in the Middle East, its population had some degree of warm feelings towards the regime. In the Kingdoms of Hejaz and Saba, however, the reforms would be mainly cosmetic, with ultimate power still resting with the ruling monarchs – though few Western groups were willing to challenge their rulers for fear of what should happen if they came toppling down. Iran, Turkey and their occupied puppets of Iraq and Syria would be the real test. Turkey agreed to some level of democratic reform, with President Evren going on to win the 1981 election that re-established Turkish democracy. But at the same time, the military would be so thoroughly baked into the country’s government, its funding constitutionally assured to the extent that to even openly call for its removal would declare the party ineligible for government, that it would turn Turkey from a state with an army to an army with a state. Turkey remains by far the most militarised of any of the initial Roman Alliance states. Such was seen in Iraq, where Turkey adamantly refused to end the occupation of Syria despite even Israel pledging that they would incur no more punishment on the region. The Turkish occupation of Syria would finally end in 2002 for economic reasons far more so than military. This hasn’t stopped occasional re-occupation whenever Turkey feels like Syria hasn’t lived up to its side of the bargain. Their close ally Iran, close owing to their mutual fear of an Arab revival, would be somewhat kinder to Iraq and the Arabian Kingdom. This was somewhat due to a more thorough democratic reform that occurred following Karim Sanjabi’s ascension to power in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which had already broadly restored normalcy to Iranian life, certainly after the reunification. Once the Shah had died, Iran announced their own elections for early-1981, which resulted in the election of the Iranian People’s Party, a religiously themed Social Democrat Party inspired by the Tolstoyists in Russia. North Iran was far more religious than her south, and this more religious-themed government would raise the ire of thoroughly secular regions like Bandar Abbas. The new Shah, Reza Pahlavi, would affirm that he would defend Iran from any form of religious takeover that would discriminate against any of her groups, be they Jews, Sunni or anyone else. As Iran democratised however, calls for reform were quickly suppressed in Iraq and the Kingdom of Arabia owing to the sheer economic importance of oil production and fear of Arab revival. As time went on, and the West was increasingly free of influence from the oil market, the pressure would continue to build on those regions for some level of independence. It would finally be agreed in 1984 that some levels of constitutional government would be instituted in return for the ultimate veto power of the ruling Pahlavi monarchs, who would still have ultimate authority over oil policy. At the same time, the regions were nowhere near as resentful against the Iranians as the Syrians were for the Turks, as the Iranians were seen as having in some way freed them from historical Sunni abuse, while Syrian Sunnis did not see anything to like in a government they regarded as atheist. When it came to the Egypts, what was striking was the complete absence of calls for reform in North Egypt. Pope Cyril continued to rule with a clear preference to affirming Coptic values and traditions. To a people who had spent centuries seeing her people slowly get ground away under Islamic and secular dictators, to have their own power was a chance they would never want to waste under the assumption it would never come again. Tellingly, in 1978 and.1979, when the streets were swelled across the world with people demanding the fall of their own regimes, the North Egyptians were swamping the streets to demand the Theocratic government stay in place. South Egypt by contrast would be far more troubled, with riots and protests against leader Anwar Sadat rocking the country throughout 1979. Finally that August, he would announce his resignation after a stressful two decades as leader of one of the most unstable states in the whole Middle East. His successor, Yasser Arafat would prove far better at PR than his predecessor while continuing to have positive relations with the West, especially Israel. Sadat would die of a heart attack in 1990 to mixed reception in Egypt but general sympathy among historians and westerners. Arafat’s negotiation with North Egypt to have joint-tourism packages would greatly increase tourism to the travel-starved south and bring the ‘Full-Egypt Experience’ back to many world travellers. While South Egypt would always lag behind their northern comrades, Arafat would at least begin to set the country on a course out of the nightmare they had found themselves in.

But it was Africa where most of the intractable problems remained. While Biafra’s transition to democracy was relatively tame (though maintaining membership of the Roman Alliance due to their work in OPEP), the Luba Kingdom was another story. God-King Kalonji had increasingly squandered his country’s diamond wealth on his own person, to the extent that the term ‘Kalonji Economics’ became a pejorative among Africans for kleptocracy. His once intelligent figure that had charmed Mussolini during the Congo Crisis had now been reduced to a clownish buffoon prone to ludicrous proclamations that ‘Should I so order it, Jesus Christ will return to Earth and smite the usurper King Selassie!” While amassing power at a totalitarian rate, neighbouring Katanga was increasingly tired of Kalonji’s stupidity. In May 1979, King Umberto sent a letter to Kalonji to request democratic reform within his country. Kalonji reportedly tore up the letter because the letter began ‘The King of Italy sends his greets to the God-King of Luba’, which infuriated Kalonji as it acknowledged some form of king other than himself. Kalonji closed his borders to Katanga (the pathway for his minerals into Italy) in spite, despite almost all of his country’s wealth needing to be processed through neutral Katanga to reach the world markets due to Katanga’s immense economic outreach program. Diamond companies within the Luba Kingdom (by far the biggest being De Beers) were already angry with how much money they were spending on trying to bribe Kalonji (with rumours suggesting Kalonji ordered a car made entirely of diamond). Finally, De Beers decided that now was the time to act. In conjunction with Tshombe (and astonishingly, according to recent documents, proud Social-Democrat Enrico Berlinguer, who so detested Kalonji that a coup by a diamond company was preferable) De Beers sent a mercenary force against Kalonji in his palace. Kalonji attempted to escape in a Ferrari he had recently bought from Italy but ended up crashing into the gate in his attempt to escape, dying almost instantly. With his death, the impoverished Luba Kingdom was left without its founding figure. Ultimately, it was decided to hold a two-round, three-way referendum to determine the fate of the small nation. The choices would be to maintain independence, join the Republic of the Congo or join Katanga. In September 1979, the first round of elections revealed that the least popular of the three options was to keep the state going. Going into the second round of elections in October, 63% chose to join Katanga, thus ending the relatively short but infamous existence of the Luba Kingdom (South Kasai). De Beers would continue their operations in peace, but at the same time the actual social situation of the workers greatly improved with the superior health and educational services that Katanga provided. Kalonji’s name would live in infamy while Tshombe continued to grow in popularity in his native Katanga (though he remained despised throughout most of Africa for his cooperation with the Roman Alliance and his accommodation with native Whites).

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

When it came to Africa, Berlinguer was more focussed, not on the relatively easy cases like South Kasai or Biafra, but on situations that had become synonymous with intractable negotiation. Despite having already won the Nobel Prize for his peaceful transitioning of Italy from Fascism to Democracy, he wanted to do something tougher in solving a great, international problem, either Rhodesia or South Africa. Berlinguer loathed racism with every fibre of his being, having spent time communicating with former ANC leader Nelson Mandela to guage the situation in the country, which infuriated the Right of the South African National Party. He would privately tell South African dissident and Bishop Desmond Tutu that “My mission on Earth will not be completed until the people of Rhodesia and South Africa are as free as any Italian”. Rhodesia, however, was less impossible to resolve than the South Africans, and was consequently given undivided attention at the beginning in the hope momentum would spill into reform of its hardline, southern neighbour. Still riding high on the death of ZANU’s Robert Mugabe, Smith was enjoying a new wave of popularity among the White population, who by now made up roughly 40% of the country, though their growth had cooled considerably as the Bush War escalated in the 1970s. At the same time, the Black population of Rhodesia was seemingly undeterred, with more support growing for the rival revolutionary movement in ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African People’s Union) who were more closely aligned to the EAF than to the former Zaire. After ZANU crumbled in the late 1970s by the combined effort of Rhodesian and Katangan fighters, the EAF-backed the non-violent United African National Council, led by Abel Muzorewa. Muzorewa was an African nationalist, but was also a Bishop and condemned violence, thus turning him into an international superstar among those who opposed racism around the world. His name is frequently cited as one of the transformative anti-racist figures of history. While the ZAPU movement under Joshua Nkombo supported violent resistance, Muzorewa’s UANC supported peaceful transition. The EAF found that privately supporting both worked to their advantage. With the rise of a Black American President, Rhodesia found itself casually lumped in with South Africa once again, with President Brooke suspending diplomatic ties with both Rhodesia and South Africa in early 1979 for their policies of state racism – notably, Italy remained quiet. Put together, all of these things put considerable pressure on Ian Smith. Smith had, through his diplomatic games in the Roman Alliance, befriended the elites of Biafra, Mozambique, Angola and especially Katanga. He had developed a strong friendship with Tshombe due to their cooperation in defeating ZANU, despite Tshombe pleading with Smith to extend suffrage equally to natives as well as settlers (Rhodesia having strictly forbidden racial terminology in its policy despite its obvious existence). ZAPU had once again scared off immigrants from coming into the country, and the existence of new Western sanctions on Rhodesia threatened to strike a serious blow to the country’s economy, one of the most developed in Africa. Smith was informed a major sanction hit could see White emigration outstrip immigration, thus ensuring the elusive White Majority target could not be reached. For that reason, some in the cabinet argued it was best to set up the long-term structure of the country while Whites had a strong 40% of the citizenship (not to mention some 70% of land and almost all of the major industries and farms). It was this argument of relative strength that finally won Smith over. Finally, on May 23rd, 1980, Smith would deliver a televised broadcast to the nation’s citizenry to say, “Rhodesia stands at a crossroads – whether to stand proudly among the nations of the world or spiral into infamy.” He announced that talks would be commenced with Black opposition leaders to ensure the rights of the Black citizenry without threatening the White minority with pogrom and expulsion, as had happened in Zaire. The move was greeted with great approval from Rome and Élisabethville, icy silence from Pretoria, cautious optimism from America (who reduced sanctions by a small amount) and ‘grave concerns’ from the EAF as these talks did not include ZAPU. Smith had passed the first test, but many more were still to come.

British, American, Italian and Katangan diplomats would convene in Salisbury on September 9th, 1980 to begin the Rhodesian Peace Process. The dictatorial Smith government represented the White community while the Black community was represented by the UANC under Muzorewa. Complicated compromises were crafted and disposed of almost as soon as they began. The Katangans and Italians did all they could to pressure Smith into a deal with the British and Americans doing much the same to Muzorewa. An additional spanner was thrown in the works with the machinations of the EAF, whose support for ZAPU held the negotiation at their mercy. The conference was soon conducted as much behind closed doors in Nairobi as closed doors in Salisbury. Finally, a deal was reached that all parties could agree with. Full democracy would be granted to Rhodesia, giving both Whites and Blacks universal suffrage over the age of 21. The Presidency and Prime Ministerial roles would be once again separated with their own clear roles. However, it would be mandated that at any one time, the holders of the two roles could not be of the same race. Similarly, no cabinet could consist of less than a third of their members being from one of the major racial groups. Property laws vigorously protecting the land that whites owned were enshrined while Smith committed to spending then unprecedented sums on educating and modernising black communities much like the Arlington Agreement from the United States – which was cited frequently in the Peace Process. Parliament would have two major Blocs, ‘The Rhodesian Bloc’ (which de-facto represented Whites) and ‘The Zimbabwean Bloc’ (which de facto represented Blacks). At the same time, political parties were not required to join these groups – certain political parties refuse to sit in either Bloc today on the basis of being cross-community parties. Certain resolutions had to receive cross-community support, or the support of a minimum number of MPs from both communities, to be passed by Parliament. The election of the Speaker, approval of ministers, any changes to Parliamentary proceeding and the vote on certain budgets all needed cross-community support. Any vote taken by Parliament could have been forced to need cross-community support if a large enough petition was sent to the Speaker. If enough MPs thought it was discriminatory, a vote on proposed legislation would only pass if supported by a weighted majority of three-fifths of MPs voting, including at least 40% of each of the Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Blocs. This meant that if enough MPs from one Bloc could agree, the Bloc they could exercise a veto over the Parliament. For good measure, the country would change its name from ‘Rhodesia’ to ‘Rhodesia-Zimbabwe’. Of course, even today, most Whites in the country simply refer to their homeland as ‘Rhodesia’ while Blacks call it ‘Zimbabwe’ – the name is mostly used in diplomatic and official capacity. Often the term is colloquially shortened to ‘Rhobabwe’. Rhodesia-Zimbabwe was affirmed to be a ‘Christian country’ (and a mainly Protestant one at that), thus mandating prayer in school, with exemptions granted solely to Jewish students – it was hoped that creating a common religion among the people would be conductive to the long-term prospects of the region. This move was similarly to assure the White community that their traditional culture would not be uprooted in the coming years, and as a Bishop, Muzorewa was more than happy to endorse his religion. Moves would be undertaken to ensure half of the police would be Black by the new millennium, and that extreme poverty among the Black population would be defeated. Conscription would be extended to include the Black population, on the basis that it would help social mixing. The cultures of each major ethnic group were declared worthy of respect and veneration, with racial violence carrying a strong sentence. An intra-racial murder typically carried a life sentence while a racially motivated murder would almost inevitably lead to a death sentence (in a mixed-race courtroom) on the basis of maintaining social order. Much like Italy, the Rhodesian army was absolved of all its past deeds, with ZANU and ZAPU prisoners being granted the opportunity of release as well if they swore an oath to the new, mixed-community state, much as all new soldiers were forced to do so. Naturally, America and Britain promised not just an end to sanctions but a whirlwind of new business deals, not to mention re-admittance into multiple sports that Rhodesia had been barred from. That the Rhodesian Rugby team could play against Commonwealth teams once again, was a delight to long-term fans. Italy and Katanga further swore to protect all communities from violence in the event the Rhodesia-Zimbabwean state would prove insufficient. Under the table, the EAF agreed to cancel support for ZAPU (who condemned the treaty for enshrining Smith and his Party in power) and throw their support behind the Remembrance Day Agreement (so named due to the decision to hold the referendum on November 11th). Without sponsors, ZAPU found itself adrift and quickly overwhelmed, with the Rhodesian army quickly exploiting tribal divisions in order to limit its appeal to a small handful of native Blacks. By 1985, dissidents in Rhodesia-Zimbabwe would be reduced to a nuisance.

For the referendum, it was agreed that any deal would need a majority in both communities to pass. The settler community was divided between those who supported Smith and those who felt like he had sold Rhodesia out, looking longingly at South Africa’s inflexible racial tyranny. At the same time, Muzorewa was condemned in some Black circles for accepting the legitimacy of Smith and his regime. With the help of President Brooke in America and Prime Minister Thatcher in Britain, PR firms the world over descended on the region to endorse the Remembrance Day Agreement. Ultimately, with Smith’s credibility after having defeated Mugabe’s ZANU and Brooke’s credibility as the first African-American President, the polls decisively turned around in favour of the deal. The Settler community would ultimately vote some 70% in favour of the agreement, with 60% of the Native Community doing likewise. With that, Rhodesia had finally and successively transitioned to majority-rule without substantial brain-drain or economic implosion. Though White emigration spiked in 1981, it began to return by 1984 when it became clear that the state was still functioning. In May 1981, elections began to determine the Prime Minister and President. Muzorewa was elected President with Smith becoming Prime Minister (the former having more de jure power with the latter having more de facto). Smith’s Rhodesian Front became the largest individual party among Settlers at 75%, with 20% voting for the avowedly White Supremacist ‘Rhodesian Conservative Party’. The UANC won roughly 60% of the Native population, but tribal rivalries (stoked by quiet but shrewd politicking from Smith and others) would cause the Native Bloc to increasingly break along tribal lines. This would allow Smith significant leeway to run the country, as he was able to strike and break alliances almost weekly with the various parties in the Native Bloc. All the same, Smith was true to his word, with his first Cabinet after the Agreement being 40% Black, including the positions of Justice and Education Ministers. For this, he began a period of international rehabilitation, aided substantially when both he and Muzorewa won the Nobel Prize in 1981. Smith consequently has a mixed legacy in Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, with the Settler community giving him near idolatrous praise, with most Natives being more nuanced, with a typical sentiment being “He was no Treurnicht”. For their part, the South Africans remained icily quiet with respect to goings on in Rhodesia, with President Botha saying that the country had a ‘Wait and See’ policy when it came to the implementing of new reforms in his own country. Berlinguer offered further help to speed the transition in South Africa, but soon real life got in the way. [1]

Extract from ‘The Two Suns and the Eagle: Italy and Asia’ by John Landing

The Roman Alliance was faced with crisis in 1981, crystallised when China’s GDP figures overtook Italy and continued to rocket upwards. This was seen as the moment when the Chinese became seen among many Italians as actively jostling to replace them as the main influencer in the Bloc. The difference was made stark at the annual convention of the Alliance leaders that Summer in Rome, with President Chiang making clear that while he supported democracy (and had indeed implemented it in China), “We cannot cast out and revile people for having the policies we had but five years ago”. This was in stark contrast to Berlinguer’s speech at the same event where he said, “There can be no delay on justice. If this Bloc is to survive, it cannot exist with the support of the few, but with the many”. More liberal members of the Roman Alliance (notably the Iberian and South American nations) had left while the Bloc was now increasingly influenced by the more hardliner members, notably those in the Middle East. In the backroom jostles, a new fault-line was emerging between those countries who urged immediate, democratic reforms and those who felt unprepared for the change. The Bloc was increasingly broken into two halves, with Austria, Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, Croatia-Bosnia, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Biafra and Italy on the more liberal side, with Turkey, South Africa, North Egypt, China, the Kingdom of Hejaz, Iran, her puppet states and Saba on the other. An economic war began within the Roman Alliance, with China increasingly trying to flood the other members’ markets to increase her own influence. South Africa in particular relished the opportunity, hoping to find new support now that Italy and even former Rhodesia was turning against her. This gave South Africa renewed economic prowess coming into the early 1980s, which Mandela said, “Gave them just enough breathing room to implement what they wanted”. China had also managed to influence multiple states in Central Asia to accept Roman Alliance wares at cheaper prices, thus making members of the Bloc even more dependent on her. The Chinese charm offensive had by now thoroughly thrown Berlinguer off his original plan of entering negotiations with Botha to end Apartheid. In 1982, this came to a head in astonishing fashion, when Berlinguer announced that the Roman Alliance would formally change its name to ‘The Community of Independent States’ (CIS). He argued that as Iberia had left and half of its members were never under Rome that the title of ‘Roman Alliance’ made no sense in light of the developments. The plan was to symbolically reduce Italian dominance in the Bloc to stop a serious real reduction if China gained too many allies. Thus, in August 1982, the Roman Alliance was officially renamed ‘The Community of Independent States’. Furthermore, while traditionally there would be annual conventions in Rome of Roman Alliance leaders, rules were changed to ensure a rolling schedule, with new countries getting it every year until all had been exhausted and the cycle restarted. Berlinguer hoped this would make his fellow members more comfortable about transitions. But as the countries of the CIS continued to do nothing, there began a debate within the Berlinguer government that was once considered unthinkable – should Italy leave the Bloc?

In Italy, despite widespread support of Berlinguer personally, there was a widespread sense that Italy was fading back into history. When rumours floated that Berlinguer was planning on dropping out of the Roman Alliance, the once routed Fascists soon reasserted themselves. The Blackshirts in particular led the reform, going from a gang of violent street thugs to a drinking club and then to something new entirely. It expanded into a form of a personal development group steeped in tradition and reverence for Italy. A new generation of Fascist leaders understood the challenge Fascism had in presenting itself as relevant to the modern era, and so took a new course. It argued that modern Capitalistic democracy was too individualistic to give deep meaning and value to people’s lives, and that there was a gap in the political market for a group that could instil young men with a sense of worth and community. The Blackshirts set up suicide hotlines, gyms and charity events for men (even today the Blackshirts are a male-only organisation albeit partnered with female-only groups as well). The brutal past of the Blackshirts was whitewashed into bands of free-wheeling, wild-west heroes who kept the Reds off the streets. Of course, as Communism was extinct in Italy, it was claimed that the Blackshirts now had no need to resort to such measures. In 1983, Ciano made a speech to leading Blackshirts, saying that,” “The time for war is over – the time for peace is now, and forever.” That same year, all Blackshirts who signed up to the organization were forced to follow a strict code that forbade them from physical violence unless their life was in danger. It was a remarkable turnaround for such a violent organisation, but for a new generation of Italian youth, these were simply the legends of the past and not a beating reality. The new Blackshirts did much to improve the reputation of the Fascists, while more violent members of the organisation were expelled. The Italy by the end of Fascism’s reign was full of drug and alcohol addiction, ensuring a long line of desperate applicants hoping to get clean and find friends along the way. It paid off in a big way in 1983, as the Fascists, still under Ciano rebounded to second place at 24% of the vote, with Berlinguer forced into coalition with the Christian Democrats under Aldo Moro. The Fascists had slammed Berlinguer for reducing Italian influence in changing the name of the Roman Alliance and demanded Berlinguer stop trying to impose his liberal politics on the rest of the Bloc. Privately, Berlinguer had already decided that it was time to leave the community and join ITO to try and increase the pressure on the few remaining dictatorships of the world to reform.

But it was never meant to be. In June 1984, the world woke up with horror to discover that Enrico Berlinguer was dead. He left the stage on June 7th complaining of a headache, before checking into hospital and being declared dead on June 11th. Naturally, the hand of the Fascists was suspected, but nothing was ever proven. Indeed, Ciano would even help carry Berlinguer’s coffin at his funeral, visibly in tears. When asked later what had brought him to cry, he said, “I cry for everyone who never had to die because this man succeeded me”. Berlinguer’s funeral in Piazza San Giovanni was attended by more than a million people, second only to Mussolini’s (and that employed state bussing). Berlinguer had helped heal the deep wounds that Italy had in the late 1970s and helped bring the downfall of dictatorship and restoration of democracy to his native land. His defiance of Tyranny, his good humour and unbending pursuit of justice have ensured his name lives forever, not just in Italy, but all around the world. If he had lived longer, perhaps the Homeland War could have been prevented, or Italy might have fully left the CIS to join ITO, but none of this can be known with certainty. What was for sure, with the assent of Aldo Moro to the Prime Ministership, was that Italy had entered an era without great charismatic leaders who boasted or had their supporters boast grandiose claims about how everything would work perfectly in their new worlds. The gritty business of deal-making and balkanisation of great parties from personal squabbles led to the Fascist era being looked upon with a period of rosy nostalgia, particularly the Mussolini years.

Extract from 'The New Roman Empire' by David Lassinger

All in all, modern Italians are of two minds about Fascism. While Mussolini (and to a lesser extent Balbo) is looked back on as one of the great, defining figures of Italy, for whom even the Left would invoke when it suited them, that same mystique does not extend to current Fascist politicians, who are generally regarded as corrupt as their Centre-Right and Left peers. Many outside Italy (perhaps excluding places like Israel or Katanga) are often full of people asking how such a tyrant could retain so much love and adoration among Italians, despite the war crimes, imperialism and naked thuggery? But to Italians, Mussolini is no more than an Italian Napoleon, or an Italian Henry V, or an Italian Bismark. He was the man who made the difficult, bloody choices so they didn’t have to. He was the man who righted the wrongs done to Italy, put the country on a standing in the world not seen in two thousand years and made it a place that millions can be proud to call home. Didn’t all the great men of the past have a skeleton in their closet? Would it have been better to curse them for the skeleton in the closet, at the cost of a graveyard? Think of the millions of Jews who are alive today because Mussolini was the one and only man in the world who decided to help the Jews at risk to his own country. Think of his relentless stand against Communism, when all the rest of the West stuttered around and fooled themselves into making deals with Stalin. Think of his unrelenting opposition to Aflaq, and how he helped save Israel from a third and surely final Holocaust. Only one man on Earth fought all three of those great evils with all his strength without pause – how then can we condemn him?

But think again. Think about the workers with batons slammed on their heads for daring to strike for decent wages. Think about the young men beaten to death in jail cells for daring to make jokes about the regime. Think about the Slovenian nation being dashed to pieces against chemical bombardment, dissolved into the void of the world. Think about the Libyans, Yugoslavians, Greeks and Ethiopians he slaughtered for no other reasons than wishing their own freedom, which he offered to others. Think of the support he gave to Franco, Pavelic and the Turkish Junta, and how he helped spread the tendrils of tyranny across the globe. Think about how no man on Earth ordered so many nuclear detonations as he, often on civilian centres, and all his subsequent terror bombings and chemical weapon attacks on a people who were for all intents and purposes finished. Think of his support and endorsement of Rhodesia and South Africa, and their racist despotisms. Think about the corrupting intoxication that young boys in Italy were spoon-fed, that encouraged them to have untimely graves in the vast emptiness of Ethiopia. Are these to just be forgotten? Forgiven?

It’s hard for us to say, even if we could somehow excuse his injustices, whether Mussolini’s reign was ‘justified’, as we’ll never know what would have happened if he never came to power, or if Isaac Carpi had failed to save him, or indeed if Isaac Carpi had merely been another Catholic. Circumstances have bent fates before, writing great men out of history by chance accident and keeping fools on their thrones until a ripe old age. As Nazism proved, decent men can become savage monsters when placed under extraordinary circumstances, but as Israel proved, people who were mercilessly degraded without end can still have the strength to make a strong, powerful and tolerant nation. Who is good? Good compared to who? Why are they good? These questions will all depend on individuals to make the final decision. So when someone asks, ‘What sort of a man was Mussolini’, perhaps the final answer is ... that there is no final answer. Only the endless debate of scholars and writers. In short, only history.

[1] - The set-up of the Rhobabwe Parliament is identical to the modern Northern Irish Devolved Assembly. The Northern Irish Troubles ended ITTL in 1974 with the Sunningdale Agreement, as the more muscular British state was far less willing to put up with Loyalist intransigence. The violence was essentially finished a few years later, with Sinn Fein never successfully breaking through.
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It’s hard for us to say, even if we could somehow excuse his injustices, whether Mussolini’s reign was ‘justified’, as we’ll never know what would have happened if he never came to power, or if Isaac Carpi had failed to save him, or indeed if Isaac Carpi had merely been another Catholic. Circumstances have bent fates before, writing great men out of history by chance accident and keeping fools on their thrones until a ripe old age. As Nazism proved, decent men can become savage monsters when placed under extraordinary circumstances, but as Israel proved, people who were mercilessly degraded without end can still have the strength to make a strong, powerful and tolerant nation. Who is good? Good compared to who? Why are they good? These questions will all depend on individuals to make the final decision. So when someone asks, ‘What sort of a man was Mussolini’, perhaps the final answer is ... that there is no final answer. Only the endless debate of scholars and writers. In short, only history.

That's about the ending I hoped for. This Mussolini is complex enough that the answer isn't spoonfed to us and we have to make our own judgment.

Great timeline, looking forward to the 2020 update.
That's about the ending I hoped for. This Mussolini is complex enough that the answer isn't spoonfed to us and we have to make our own judgment.

Great timeline, looking forward to the 2020 update.

Of this I agree. Mussolini's legacy ITTL in a way where, there are his supporters, and his detractors. He was a man who did great evil, and yet also did great good for the world. It ironically brought orthodox fascism less into the far-right and more teetering on the edge while still being acceptable among politicians and even the general populace, even after Fascism fell. More so, his legacy in Italy ITTL would probably be seen as more positive than most, as, although he led Italy into a dictatorship, he also forever confirmed Italy as a great power and even (to an extent) superpower, which is something that I would never have pegged Italy for, and I'm usually one who feels Italy being a GP IOTL was a bit of a stretch (since I feel it's more closer to the secondary power position than the other Great Powers by a country mile.)

You've done good work Sorairo, looking forward to seeing this TL get a Turtledove.