The cartography, writing, and ramblings of one crazy winter lover who likes to blog about the fun and inconsequential.

The Czar's AESTHETIC



This world diverges from our own in the early 20th century, in which rising tensions in the Balkans don't quite explode without the assassination of a certain Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince. While the continent is still straining to go to war, it is forced to wait until 1917, at which time Russia ends up invading Austria-Hungary due to the latter's refusal to back down from demands on Serbia that could have ended with Serbian annexation. Germany leaped into the war, with her generals having even modified their beloved Schlieffen Plan to be able to deal with Russia's much more powerful military that it had prepared by 1917. Even with this, however, the sheer might of Russia's new military, when combined by a booming leadership and the vastly improved leadership under the Emperor Mikhail following Nicholas II's abdicated after the death of his son, was too much for Austria-Hungary and Germany to bear. Italy and the Ottoman Empire refused to join, not wanting to get further drawn into the war, especially as the United Kingdom remained neutral so long as they did as well. Germany even refused to move into Belgium over the British Question, instead defending against France in Alsace-Lorraine for much of the war though a few breakouts were made. Ultimately, the combined power of Russia and France (along with allies Romania and Serbia) was enough to break down Germany and Austria-Hungary by the spring of 1920.

The peace that followed allowed Germany to keep its imperial government, but the Germans lost their empire, a good amount of territory, and their dignity with their military greatly reduced in the peace. However, much to French anger, Russia at the time did not agree to French demands of Eastern Europe, choosing to annex German Poland and handing out territory primarily to its more erstwhile ally Romania than to the pro-French Serbia (the Serbian government having grown cold to Russia over the course of the war). Russia's support for the failed Arab Revolution also struck a chord in Paris due to the French policy of ultimately trying to pick up territory in the Middle East for itself than let the Arabs rise up. These tensions, and the unsettled questions over Austria and Germany, would lead to the two former allies having a breakdown in relations throughout the 1920s. By the 1930s, the Franco-Russian alliance was little more than a piece of paper. Far-right politicians in Germany had seized the government in Italy (anger at the government's refusal to join the war reached fever-pitch in the economic depression that followed), Germany (the President of the Reichstag seized all power from the feckless and weak Kaiser Wilhelm II), France (Franco), Portugal (Estado Novo), and most importantly France. French nationalist and opposition to Anglo-Russian domination of Europe led to a warming of relations between former enemies of Italy and Germany. While the French had little love for Germans, they saw that pan-"European" opposition to the Russian and British colossi would be best for France in the long run. This was only furthered by Russian and Greek intervention into the Second Arab Revolution during the late 30s. This revolution resulted in Russia taking yet more of Armenia as well as Istanbul/Constantinople/Tsargrad, Greece taking several Aegean islands and most of Turkish Thrace, and the formation of a number of new states: the Kingdom of Jordan, Kingdom of Iraq, Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud being the only ones left after the first failed revolution to take power in the peninsula), the Kingdom of Kurdistan, and the Republic of Turkey. French attempts to undermine the revolution and bolster Ottoman forces almost led to continental war, but ultimately the financial weakness of Western Europe and military overextension of Russia delayed conflict.

Conflict did eventually come, however, in the early 1940s. An alliance of Germany, France, Italy, and Hungary attacked Russia in order to try to break the empire's hold on Eastern Europe and so much of the world. Japan, already fighting via proxies as it warred against China, joined the war shortly after. Despite the great odds (Russia's only major allies in Europe being Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia), Russia prevailed in the ensuing conflict that was to be the largest conflict in human history. It was not easy, but several factors helped. For one, Russia's capitalist market, which had been booming since the early 1910s, had put it well above most European states in output and not far off from nations like Britain and the United States. This was only heightened by the wartime economy which saw Russia become the single largest economy on Earth from 1944 (the second year of the war) until the end in 1946. For another, Russia received help from the United States and United Kingdom once they joined the war in late summer 1942 following Japanese attacks on the Malay States, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Though the United States and United Kingdom, isolationist to a hilt and not seeing any obvious gain outside the Pacific, didn't join the war in Europe militarily, they were able to use their alliance in the Pacific War to funnel in great amounts of supplies and raw materials to the Russians, only increasing the sheer material advantage that Russia held over the European Axis. Finally, the nationalist governments in Europe, while extreme, lacked the military skill which Nazi Germany enjoyed, partly due to incompetent leaders and partly to many of the best and brightest being replaced by lackeys much earlier in time. The war would end following the Russian taking of Berlin in September 1946 (with the German government fleeing to Frankfurt) with Russia in control of most of Eastern Europe and deep into Italy. The peace that signed allowed the western European states to continue to exist, but with reduced militaries and with the creation of new nations from Russia-controlled territory: Prussia, Veneto, and Sicily.

The postwar world was far different than the one that had entered into the Eurasian War in 1942. Russia emerged as the single-most powerful state on Earth, stretching across it, controlling hundreds of millions, and having the largest economy and military on Earth. Russian money soon began flowing into the Eastern European states occupied by the Russian army and the Eurasian Union was formed in 1949 to reflect this new reality. The states in the Eurasian Union were largely constitutional democratic monarchies like Russia and saw their qualities of life, far below that of Western Europe before the war, vastly improve in the new world. Manchuria was able to join as well after Russia kept it from Chiang Kai-Shek's Republic of China following the end of the Pacific War in early 1947. It was kept due to a fear that the increasingly anti-Russian RoC government would use it to seize the pro-Russian government in Korea and the regained territory of Port Arthur, and so a new ruling family and government came to power in the state and it became an ally of Russia, which it continues to be to this day. That same year, Russia also took a radical step forward in the formation of the Russian Imperial Union. The formation was done following the creation of a new Constitution to solidify the de facto status of the elected Russian government as the true head of the nation following reforms through the 1930s and 1940s under the able (and rather intelligent) hand of Czar Mikhail who recognized the threat of continuing the autocracy. The Emperor would continue to have some power, but the Duma would be the ultimate ruler of the union, which was made to better unite the empire as a single nation.

The decision, of course, could not be made in a vacuum. The world response to the formation of the Eurasian Union would radically alter the rest of the 20th century for the entire world. While the Pan-American Accord had technically been created the year before, the original economically-focused agreement was expanded into a political and, later, military agreement during the 1950s and 1960s. This was to reflect the growth of American power following the Pacific War and status as the second most powerful nation in the world following Russia. Emerging from its neutral cocoon to fight Japan, the United States had ended the war with an atom bomb dropped on the Japanese fleet during the closing stages of the war (though not as bad as the Nazis per say, the German ultranationlists managed to get many of its scientists to flee, as well as Italy getting Fermi to flee to the United States and thus still result in the US coming first in the race for the Bomb). The United States would also be largely responsible for Japan's postwar recovery as well as the independence of the Philippines and helped guide the states drawn from French Indochina into independence. Though not willing to move towards full involvement in the world, the United States ever since has sought to preserve its own power in the Americas through the Accord. Wealth and power in the Accord has helped the Latin American nations in them greatly improve, and with the lack of communism as a specter has not prohibited the formation of any non-conservative nations in Latin America (in fact, the United States would back any who was willing to work with them). Today, the United States continues to move forward in its status as second place to Russia, and hopes to unseat it one day with its growing population, sizable industry, and political stability that has let it and the Accord be a calm in the storm of world affairs.

The British were the second to realize the need for more integration. With the Raj gone, Britain was in a vulnerable position and facing both far right and far left political movements at home. In response, the British Commonwealth was formed that had the goal of better helping the Empire work as a single unit rather than be solely dictated from London with a few self-governing parts. Though it shrunk over the years, the British Commonwealth has remained a major player in world politics. In fact, the decline has helped the Commonwealth become more and more a single whole as it became more manageable. Economic, political, and military power have allowed the British Commonwealth to stand up to larger alliances while keeping its goal of improving the lives of those living within. London, and the UK itself, remains the top power of the Commonwealth but Australia and Canada are growing in influence as countries while Hong Kong threatens to usurp London as the largest city in the Commonwealth and is an economic powerhouse in and of itself. Though the growing tides of change could vastly affect the Commonwealth as it still stands.

Next came the European Community. Though defeated, the war had brought much greater integration of Western European countries in their common goal. Many of them had not been horribly hurt by the war in economic terms, with industrial areas in Germany, France, and even Italy largely untouched. Though Spain and Portugal had not joined the war, after the war they were more willing to join in with their Western European friends and together they created a bloc able to extend from Lisbon to the very edges of Russian territory. They were also joined by the Low Countries and Denmark, and together have opposed the Eurasian Union for the last 36 years. Their power has, however, slid over time as their colonial territories were lost to rebellion, revolution, or simply release when they knew they could not hold them any longer. The last vestiges of these empires are in their African allies, who are primarily white minority rule nations who rule through terror and economic, political, and military domination of the countries. This has greatly alienated the rest of the world, though not enough for it to yet shake up the EC. Many of the countries within the EC are undemocratic or semi-democratic, dominated by far right and nationalist governments who typically ban parties on the left and have rulers for decades. Think of our own world's Francoist regime and Estado Novo. Human rights lag in these states alongside their economies as their regressive policies have kept them from advancing as quickly as the rest of world, particularly the Eurasian Union and Anlgo-American blocs.

The next bloc to be formed was the most radical at the time as it was the first to be made of formerly colonized nations: the South Asian Commonwealth. India formed its nexus in the form of a powerful, united state that was growing in power and prestige that the rest of the world could only look at in awe and worry. The situation in India owed its birth to the political situation during the Pacific War. During the war, Indian/Hindu nationalists had joined a Japanese puppet government in the eastern Raj with the goal of taking India from the British at all costs. The remaining native government officials, most of the Indian National Congress, were no friends of the British but refused to be a puppet to yet another colonial power that had so brutally been killing the Chinese, Indochinese, and Burmese at every opportunity. The pan-Indian faction of the INC was on the winning side of the war and, thus, got to call the shots at independence in 1948. The India they formed was more integrated and united than our own world's and was able to use that to its advantage, creating a powerful unitary state. While facing many difficulties and challenges, a desire to grow and move forward has helped India dominate its own alliance of like-minded South Asian states who wished to throw off the European-dominated paradigm and allow for the creation of a more diverse world order. India, even with its challenges with religion, culture differences, and inequality of the spread of economic prosperity, far and away dominates the alliance in every aspect from economics to population to resources to outer space to cyberspace. The humming server complexes in Mumbai and the click-clacking in the financial offices of Chennai ensure that India's domination in South Asia, and thus the dominance of the SAC, are to continue unabated at least into the 21st century, even if Indonesia is itself increasingly a contender.

The final actual bloc to form was that of the African Union, created by West African powers led by Ghana in the early 1960s. Formed as the African Economic Community soon after the beginning of the end for colonialism in Africa, it has been a major force in ending European domination of the continent since 1963 and has only continued. In particular, the African Union and its many members were instrumental in getting Algeria's independence earlier (though it's meant Algeria even today has a sizable white population with a very...complicated relationship), the end of the Civil War in Angola, a stop to ethnic violence in Burundi and Rwanda, and perhaps most notably a major part in the overthrowing of the governments in Northern and Southern Rhodesia and formation of the unified Zambia afterwards. While all this came at a great cost (including alienating two native big players, Ethiopia and Egypt), it has solidified the African Union as one of the dominant forces on the continent. Things have only continued to move forward as the African Union, renamed as such in 1981, has taken a new step towards pan-African integration. The African's Union new goal is to create a single market for African nations with its own currency, ease of travel, greater cultural mixing and contact (particularly over arbitrary European-established borders), and a unified political and military policy. Though most of the AU's population and nations are still in the partial members stage for the full integration, the nearly 200 million Africans in the full member countries have entered a new era. This is an era in which Africans can increasingly create their own destinies and carve out a niche for themselves both in Africa and the rest of the world removed from the trap of colonialism that once held sway over them for so many years. The road ahead is long and full of many hardships, but determination and force have gotten the AU further than any in it or out of it ever imagined and so the hope is that they can only keep moving forward.

The other power that came out of the postwar paradigm was not a bloc at all, but rather a single powerful nation: China. Led and ruled by Chiang Kai Shek's nationalists, the Republic of China is a massive country in every way: territory, resources, population, military, and weight on the rest of the world. Though aloof from any major alliance system, it is nevertheless felt on the world stage as a giant and contender to be one of the next century's heavyweights. The republic itself has gone through many changes, both political and economic, since the Pacific War. The Chinese government has finally let up on its brutal hold on elections, though they are still rather limited. Personal freedoms are improving and choice of jobs is an actual thing now rather than being used for the state's needs (think our own world's South Korea). Economically, like India, China has improved itself from the tatters it was following the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War. State capitalism as well as the beginnings of a fully free market have let China's economy expand and let itself be felt across the ocean in America and north in Russia. The Pearl River and Yellow River are particularly booming areas that have attracted tens of millions of Chinese looking for a better life. Conditions are hard at the moment, but are improving overall and look like they willr esult in a far better China than what went into the 20th century. What that will tell for the rest of the world is still, as of yet, unknown.

Overall, the world in 1991 is a very different one from 1917. Those years have created a multipolar world in which Russia stands atop of. With the help of the top minds of Russia, Eastern Europe, and even Germany (conspiracy theorists claim that Russia prolonged the war to capture more German scientists), Russia launched the first rocket into space, launched the first satellite, and put a man on the Moon before anyone else. Russians, working with Brits and Americans, helped developed the first postwar computers and the Russian consumer market would be one of the first and largest in the world for consumer-grader computers and other technology products. Moscow grew and prospered in the postwar years as a haven for many peasants who had left their farms for the war and now wanted a life of happiness and prosperity. Brand new buildings were erected almost weekly to serve them and while Russia would never quite have the suburban boom our own world's USA did, housing, food, furniture, appliances, and jobs in surplus were all had by them. Russian-made cars zoomed by on Russian-made roads while Russian bands played on the radio. A more free cultural mixing with the Anglo-American world, partnered with since the Pacific War and without the Cold War to get in the way, allowed for technologies, ideas, and habits to trickle into Russia and back out to the Anglo-American world throughout the period. Not everything has, of course, been peachy. There have been crises, bush wars, ideological issues, and recessions. But in general the Russia that has moved into 1991 is one that enjoys a standard of living and way of life many Americans in our world can understand and Russians of this world have come to greatly enjoy. The newest movement is definitely into cyberspace as an internet-like technology which sprung up in the late 80s in America has taken Russia by storm. With personal computer sales at an all-time high and many companies turning them out to one day be in every office, school, and home, Russia is set to be a world leader in the new world of online computing. And that is not, of course, even getting into literature, art, cinema, television, and the new video game market.

And even more, the world is about see a great amount of change in 1991. The biggest issue facing the world has been the European Community and its undemocratic nature that has plagued Europe and Africa for decades. While the other blocs at least somewhat get along, or at the very least aren't outright hostile to one another, the EC has kept Russia locked in a cold war since both sides got their hands on atomic weapons in the late 40s and early 50s. Yet, that is changing. Another bogus election in Germany, this one just a little too obviously manipulated, is going to push the people too far. Facing weak economies, fewer job prospects, and the rest of the world leaving them behind, the Germans will take to the streets in protest. Police will come to crack down, and this will lead to a wave of revolution sweeping Germany and, eventually, much of western Europe against the far right governments that have been in place for over half a century. Within a year, many of these governments will come down to brute force, abandoning their posts, or simply dissolving with too many switching sides. The European Community, the greatest threat to world peace since the Eurasian War, will crumble to pieces by 1992. What will come after, though, no one will know right away. What the world will hold in which Russia, the United States, India, and China are all moving as the biggest powers for the 21st century is unknown to everyone, but promises to bring with it an unseen era in world history. It will be a world of technology, of cyber space, of changing social norms and ideas, and of the people who will strive to build it into the best that they can.

More detail on the map's pixel art depicting a cold autumn night in this world's Moscow, in 1991:



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