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Literature: What Madness Is This
There is no hope. Only Oswald.

"What Madness Is This? That brother might fight brother, and father might fight son? That countless homes and families be ripped asunder all for the sake of their piece of dirt? of their political party? Why must we hate each other so?"
—Thomas Jefferson

"How can you believe in this? What madness is this, that has consumed you all and turned you into genocidal freaks?! I came to this country ten years ago, seeking freedom and opportunity. I was met at the docks by armed thugs. I was met at the hotel by armed thugs. I was immediately forced to sit down with a pastor of your so-called Church and was forced to undergo tests to see how vulnerable I was to the 'Devil's wiles," like whether I would or would not be willing to report a neighbor for speaking against the government in private to me. Whether I do or do not find Irish women attractive and/or worthy of carrying on my genetic lineage with. After that, I was given a punch card for an ORRA computer, and I was assigned a job in a factory. Then I was drafted. I lost most of my left foot in combat against Virginia in '56. It took me two months for your so-called 'government healthcare' to get me my painkillers. What kind of freedom and opportunity is this? Since I got off the boat from Baden, I have been mugged, assaulted, forced into conversion, worked half-to-death, and been shot at by some guy I've never met in a war both of us got literally nothing out of. You're all insane. You're all evil lunatics hellbent on destruction and murdering your fellow human beings. You make me sick."
—an unnamed German immigrant to the Republican Union

"What Madness is This?" is a dystopian Alternate History timeline by Napoleon53, a member of AlternateHistory.com. It can be read here. It starts with the corrupt dealings of the American Federalist Party, whose attempts to gain supreme power lead to the collapse of the United States. Meanwhile in Europe, Napoleon has defeated his enemies and stands as master of the continent.

Things quickly take a turn for the worse and never look back. We witness the rise and fall of the fascist Republican Union: the northern successor to the United States, the RU's rivalry with the democratic Southron nations of Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and Carolina—and see the development of a world that is very different yet frighteningly similar to our own.

The story "ended" with a massive nuclear war, but Napoleon53 has done an "alternate ending" where the Republican Union's successor—the New United States—doesn't fall apart and goes on to finally conquer the Caribbean and the remains of the Southron nations. This is still on-going, but it looks like things aren't going to get any better and will probably get worse.


  • Allohistorical Allusion:
    • Alternate Lyndon Johnson is assassinated in Dallas by a Lee Harvey Oswald expy on the orders of Chuck Oswald (aka John F. Kennedy).
    • The alternate Battle of Gettysburg during the Great War is full of thesenote 
  • All Nations Are Superpowers: Averted, despite the large number of wanks. There are plenty of smaller regional (Arab Empire, Indochina, Peru) and minor (Baden, Switzerland) powers.
  • Alternate History Wank: Starts as a Napoleon-wank, then becomes an evil United States-wank. Also to a lesser extent a Russia, Prussia, and Arab-wank. Also includes minor Peru, Netherlands, and Indonchina-wanks. Basically, if you're not getting screwed in this timeline, you're getting wanked.
  • The American Civil War: Averted, the ACW of our history never occurs in this timeline. But things are effectively much worse, as the successor states of the former US live in an endless Cycle of Revenge ever since the first half of the 19th century. And things only get much, much worse as the world enters the 20th century.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Manifest Destiny Party, particularly under Steele and Oswald. And to a lesser extent, their allies during the Great War.
  • Ax-Crazy: Charles 'Chuckie' Oswald, First Consul of the Republican Union. You know this timeline's a creepy dystopia when the alternate doppelgänger of John F. Kennedy is even crazier and even more hateful than the alternate version of Stalin (i.e. Joe Steele), who led the RU before him!
  • Balkanize Me: The fate of the old United States early in their history, and later the fate of the British and Dutch Empires. Done again in the late 20th century, when the New United States collapses. Reversed during the same period with the Southron nations, which regain independence and unify into the Confederacy.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: As the timeline progresses, this becomes pretty much universal, even in more liberal places like France.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The French, Prussian, and Russian Empires aren't the friendliest places to be, but they look like boy scouts compared to the Republican Union/ New United States.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Range from outright anarchists to pseudo-communist Beutelists. They are a major problem for some of the great powers.
  • Cool Airship: Blimps get an early start in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, their early major manufacturer is Goodyear Enterprises of the Republican Union.
  • Continuity Reboot: NUSA falls apart after a depression, and a new Cold War begins between the Tripartite Empire, NUSA remnants in the Midwest, and Russia. Ultimately, this ends with the world being consumed in nuclear fire on June 6, 2006, with a Distant Finale showing that the Americas have been united by a Napoleon-like Emperor, and that Europe has fallen back into the Middle Ages......THEN another ending was posted, diverging way back in the 1970s. Chuck Oswald gets word of Nixon's betrayal and avoids the depression that destroyed NUSA. Oswald arranges Nixon's assassination via airliner crash. He blames the crash on the Southron Remnants in the Caribbean and uses that as an excuse to invade.
  • Commie Nazis: The Republican Union/New United States combine the worst aspects of fascism, communism, and religious fundamentalism.
  • Corrupt Church: The American Fundamentalist Church.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Charles Goodyear, who lures immigrants to the Republican Union with promises of freedom, then puts them to work in factories in conditions that make black slavery look easy.
  • Crapsack World: Starts out innocently, but becomes one over time, in so many different ways...
  • Cycle of Revenge: A major characteristic of the wars in this alternate history. Political rhetoric of all the various powers is frequently steeped in the most unreasonable revanchist propaganda imaginable.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Much of the humour in the timeline, especially in later chapters, is little else than just laughing at the absurdity of self-satisfied totalitarian societies.
  • Divided States of America: The United States collapses after John Adams and Alexander Hamilton try to set up a dictatorship. The southern states say "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!" and form their own nations. Temporarily undone during Chuck Oswald's rule, but then they divide up again. EXCEPT then undone permanently by Chuck Oswald during the Continuity Reboot.
  • Dystopia: You would not want to live in this particular alternate history, especially by the time the 20th century rolls around. By the century's midpoint, there's only a handful of struggling democratic countries left, with the rest of the Earth covered by militaristic authoritarian countries and their smaller, like-minded allies.
  • Eagleland: Of the worst possible sort.
  • The Empire: Comes in Napoleonic, Russian, Prussian, and evil American flavours.
  • Expanded States of America: During Custer's reign the Republican Union directly controls all of Mexico and Korea. Steele's reign sees the American South reintegrated and much of South America conquered, while in the reboot Oswald expands to control all the above plus the Caribbean and looks well on the way to conquer the rest of the Americas.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Republican Union as the largest surviving chunk of an alternate USA gradually becomes what is effectively an evil and militaristic version of the United States, to the point that it could give Nazi Germany a run for its money. A lot of real historical figures, even mostly positive ones, receive villainous physical doppelgängers.
  • For Want of a Nail: Unlike most alternate history stories, we never actually see the Point of Divergence, as when the story starts there are a few things already different: the United States has a weaker, more decentralised federal government, George III's madness is more prevalent and gets passed to his sons, George Washington has biological children, and so on. According to the author, there is no single PoD and instead a series of small changes going back to ancient times resulting in a world similar to ours up until the 1800s when everything changes.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Republican Union Military Police, RUMP, the New United States of America, NUSA, the Liberated American States Republic, LASR.
  • The Federation: The United Nations, the closest thing this timeline has to good guys.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Caesarina Napoleona I, who turns the Tripartite Empire into a full-fledged police state.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Oh so inverted, at least when comparing the Republican Union to the Napoleonic or Prussian Empires.
  • Government in Exile: After Columbia is annexed by the New United States, George Washington IX forms one of these in Cuba. They are Fighting for a Homeland and eventually return—at least in the original continuity.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The collapse of the old United States, and it's eventual successors.
  • Hereditary Republic: Surprisingly averted with the Republican Union, until Charles Oswald II takes over what's left of it from his father. Played straight with the Russian Republic.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Compared to the other Great Powers, the Tripartite Empire during the 19th century is liberal, progressive, multicultural, and vaguely democratic—in short everything the Republican Union is not. By the time the 20th century rolls around, to keep fighting against the RU the Empire has effectively become a police state just as bad as their American enemy.
  • Homage / Shout-Out: To the Fallout series. The Republican Union and its later successor polity become very reminescent of the pre-War United States from the Fallout universe: A virtually stalinist/nazi-esque regime with a Stepford Smiler outer surface.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The mostly-democratic Southron Nations manage to make it as far north as Philadelphia during the Great War. It doesn't last long.
    • Jurgen Ailes is described as one of the more reasonable members of RU leadership. He takes over much of the Midwest after Oswald's fall. His reasonableness doesn't last and his government goes full on A Nazi by Any Other Name and begins herding Jews and Blacks into concentration camps.
    • NUSA collapses, with the fairly reasonable Richard Nixon in control of the most populous areas. A racist but weakened military regime controls the Midwest. The old fundamentalists control only a small part of Texas. The old Southron nations are now united under a democratic Confederacy. However, as always thing's don't stay this way.
  • Hypocrite: Charles Oswald and Joseph Steele try to pass themselves off as "pure, true Americans" to further their ruthless climb to political power, despite both of them originating in ethnic groups that are viciously despised by the alternate US' regime and elites.
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: A lot of cities have alternate names.
    • Chicago is "Shicagwa".
    • San Francisco is "Saint François", as California becomes a French possession after the Napoleonic Wars.
    • Louisiana and Quebec become known as "Lewisana" and "Keybeck" under American rule
    • Ironically, Istanbul is renamed Constantinople (or rather Konstantinopol) by the Russians after they invade Turkey.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: It doesn't take long for the Republican Union to go from simply being horribly racist to herding minorities into death camps, conducting medical experiments on prisoners, withholding the flu vaccine from "undesirables", and nuking undefended cities who resist *American rule.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Compared to others in the Republican Union, Richard Nixon comes down as downright reasonable. He's still evil, just not child-eatingly so.
  • Mega Corp.: Goodyear Enterprises from the Republican Union.
  • Mordor: Due to the endless trench warfare, Maryland ends up like this.
    • Most of Europe is like this in the reboot ending after the Napoleonic and Prussian Empires make liberal use of nuclear and biological weapons.
    • Ireland also ends up like this, with the added bonus of being poisoned with chemical weapons.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Much like our own Cold War, once everyone gets nuclear weapons this goes into effect. It doesn't work given that one side isn't rational and more than willing to strike first.
  • Nuke 'em: Once the Republican Union gets the bomb, they don't hesitate to use them.
    • In the reboot ending the Napoleonic, Prussian, and Russian Empires utterly annihilate each other along with a good amount of Europe, Asia, and North Africa after a Succession Crisis in France leads to nuclear war.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Republican Union starts as a highly-decentralised version of the former United States, with a nasty fundamentalist and nationalist streak, but slowly evolves into a totalitarian dictatorship.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Despite all their racism and xenophobia, one group that the Republican Union surprisingly doesn't oppress are blacks, who enjoy almost equal rights to whites, provided they are blindly loyal to the government. Once the RU invades the South and gains a much larger black population and Chuck Oswald goes insane, the RU begins an ethnic cleansing campaign to rid themselves of their black population.
    • Done to a lesser extend with Russia and some of the Southron Nations.
  • President for Life: Prime Minister-for-life Sergei Romanov of the Russian Republic, countless RU leaders.
  • Putting on the Reich: After the collapse of the USA, the Republican Union attempts to emulate the Roman Republic even harder than in OTL.
  • Oppressive States of America: After the original United States collapse in the early 19th century, North America becomes an increasingly worse place to live in, especially in a country as totalitarian as the Republican Union. The other, more democratic remnants aren't very saintly either.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: This collapse of the United States sees the individuals such as George Custer, Joseph Steele, Chuckie Oswald rise to power.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman:
    • Literally, in the case of Mussolini, Lenin, and 'Himmler and Hess', who are all car manufacturers in this universe.
    • Many political figures of real history show up in alternate roles.
    • After a certain point, Stalin himself is the leader of the Republican Union !.
    • Adolf Hitler shows up as an Imperial Austrian general, going by the name "Adolf von Branau". He's one of the good guys.
    • Richard Nixon himself is still a sleazeball politician who's habit of taping all his phone conversations still gets him in trouble.
  • Self-Made Orphan: According to Word of God, Charles Goodyear II got tired of waiting for his father to die and leave him the family business, so he pushed his father out of an airship and made it look like an accidental fall.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Prussian Kaiser Helmut Wilhelm decides to seek peace with the Tripartite Empire due to the endless trench warfare and flu ravaging his population. Oswald, Wilhelm's ally, is not amused by this and severely insults the Kaiser over the phone. His reply:
    "Shut up, you arrogant freak! The Alliance as a majority has decided on peace. If you want to continue being an atom-slinging barbarian savage, you can continue being as such. But, Gott as my protector, we will not be associated with such a crazed lunatic. The Alliance expected this to happen from the likes of you. As such, we took a vote. We are expelling the United States from the Grand Alliance!"
  • Start of Darkness: During the War of 1812 the fledgling Republican Union is invaded by the British who proceed to Rape, Pillage, and Burn everything. Boston and New York are razed to the ground, while the Southron nations do nothing to help. This gives the Yankees a severe xenophobic and revanchist streak.
  • State Sec: ORRA, the American Office of Religious and Racial Affairs.
  • Vestigial Empire
    • The British Empire utterly collapses, even Scotland and Wales break away. British colonial holdings get split up: France gets India, Canada, New Zealand, and half of Australia, while the Netherlands gets the rest of Australia and South Africa.
    • After NUSA's collapse, the Tripartite Empire and Southron Nations are left to pick up the pieces. Legacy of *American rule has left an English-speaking Korea and Mexico, NUSA remnants in Texas, the Midwest, and New England, and racist tin-pot dictators in Britain, South Africa, and Indonesia.
  • Western Terrorists: The Reverend-Prophet Billy Graham becomes this after the collapse of NUSA. His goal is to bring about the End Times using as many machine-guns and bombs as it takes.

What If Gordon Banks Had PlayedAlternate History Web OriginalA World of Laughter, a World of Tears
The Whale Has WingsWebsite/Alternate History.comWorldwar: War of Equals

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