Follow TV Tropes

Following

Context Literature / WhatMadnessIsThis

Go To

1[[quoteright:350:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jfk_madness_4778.png]]²[[caption-width-right:350:''There is no hope. Only Oswald.'']]²²->''"[[TitleDrop 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?"''\²--Thomas Jefferson²²"What Madness is This?" is a [[{{Dystopia}} dystopian]] AlternateHistory timeline by [=Napoleon53=], a member of Website/AlternateHistoryDotCom. It can be read [[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=260683 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.²²Things quickly take a turn for the worse and never look back. We witness the rise [[spoiler: 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.²²[[spoiler: 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 [[UpToEleven will probably get worse]].]]²²In September of 2018, the timeline was rebooted by [=Napoleon53=], with the story and characters essentially the same but with new forms of update added on. The new thread can be found [[https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-redux-the-union-forever.451900/ here]].²²----²* AllohistoricalAllusion: ²** Alternate Lyndon Johnson is assassinated in Dallas by a Lee Harvey Oswald {{expy}} on the orders of [[spoiler:Chuck Oswald (aka John F. Kennedy)]].²** The alternate Battle of Gettysburg during the Great War is full of these.[[note]]The Union commander is named Jurgen Ailes (rather than George Meade), for example.[[/note]]²* AllNationsAreSuperpowers: Averted, despite the large number of wanks. There are plenty of smaller regional (Arab Empire, Indochina, Peru) and minor (Baden, Switzerland) powers.²* AlternateHistoryWank: 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.²* ANaziByAnyOtherName: The Manifest Destiny Party, particularly under Steele and Oswald. And to a lesser extent, their allies during the Great War.²* ApocalypseHow: [[spoiler:The original ending has a Class One, bordering on Class Two with global nuclear war. The ContinuityReboot has a Class Zero when the nations of Europe destroy each other in a nuclear exchange.]]²* AxCrazy: Charles 'Chuckie' Oswald, First Consul of the Republican Union [[spoiler:and President of the New United States of America]]. [[spoiler: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!]]²* BalkanizeMe: The fate of the old United States early in their history, and later the fate of the British and Dutch Empires. [[spoiler: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.]]²* BigBrotherIsWatching: As the timeline progresses, this becomes pretty much universal, even in more liberal places like France.²* BlackAndGreyMorality: The French, Prussian, and Russian Empires aren't the friendliest places to be, but they look like boy scouts compared to the Republican Union/[[spoiler: New United States]].²* BlackComedy: Much of the humour in the timeline, especially in later chapters, is simply a satire of the absurdity of self-satisfied totalitarian societies.²* BombThrowingAnarchists: Range from outright anarchists to pseudo-communist Beutelists. They are a major problem for some of the great powers.²* TheCaligula: This world is filled with them, from King George IV of Britain-who inherits his father's mental instability-to First Consul [[spoiler:and President]] Oswald.²* CoolAirship: Blimps get an early start in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, their early major manufacturer is Goodyear Enterprises of the Republican Union.²* ContinuityReboot: [[spoiler: [=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 [[NumberOfTheBeast June 6, 2006]], with a DistantFinale 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 [[FalseFlagOperation blames the crash]] on the Southron Remnants in the Caribbean and uses that as [[PretextForWar an excuse to invade]].]] ²* CommieNazis: The Republican Union/[[spoiler:New United States]] combine the worst aspects of fascism, communism, and religious fundamentalism.²* CorruptChurch: The American Fundamentalist Church.²* CorruptCorporateExecutive: 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. Also, he uses his money and influence to steer the RU's government into an increasingly militaristic mindset, culminating in the rise of the Manifest Destiny party.²* CrapsackWorld: Starts out innocently, but becomes one over time, in so many different ways...²* CycleOfRevenge: 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.²* DividedStatesOfAmerica: The United States collapses after John Adams and Alexander Hamilton try to set up a dictatorship. The southern states say "ScrewThisImOuttaHere" and form their own nations. [[spoiler: Temporarily undone during Chuck Oswald's rule, but then they divide up again.]] [[spoiler: EXCEPT then undone permanently by Chuck Oswald during the ContinuityReboot.]]²* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Near the end of the timeline, with most nations prepared to annihilate each other in a nuclear war and with no hope of tensions de-escalating, the suicide rates spike internationally. After the nuclear war happens, French Empress Napolena decides to hang herself.]] ²* {{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. ²* {{Eagleland}}: The Republican Union is a type II, of the worst possible sort. ²* TheEmpire: Comes in Napoleonic, Russian, Prussian, and evil American flavours.²* ExpandedStatesOfAmerica: During Custer's reign the Republican Union conquers all of Mexico and Korea. [[spoiler: 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.]]²* EvenEvilHasStandards: [[spoiler:Nixon is disgusted by Lyndon Johnson, as the latter is a DirtyCoward who prefers to oversee Catholic Hispanics get butchered rather than do anything important militarily. This happens to Nixon again when Oswald starts nuking rebelling cities, which motivates Nixon to launch a coup.]]²* EvilCounterpart: The Republican Union is essentially an incredibly dark doppelganger of the USA. Its history mirrors that of America, except with America's historical good qualities practically nonexistent and its bad qualities [[UpToEleven taken to their worst possible extremes]]. For example:²** The tales of economic opportunity that drew Irish and German immigrants to America in real life, while certainly exaggerated then and now, were true in large part: although many immigrants ended up as impoverished factory workers, many more became reasonably prosperous farmers, and even for the factory workers, conditions were generally better than they would have been in Europe. In the alternate universe, claims of such opportunity in the Republican Union are BlatantLies told by agents of the RU in order to lure immigrants from eastern Europe into the country, where they are treated as second class citizens and forced to work grueling factory jobs in conditions worse than slavery.²** American culture generally prides itself on the freedom it affords to its citizens. The RU boasts about its so-called "freedom", especially by the time of the mid-late twentieth century and [[spoiler:the declaration of the New United States of America]], even as it gradually becomes less and less democratic to the point of becoming a full-fledged PoliceState.²** The doctrine of Manifest Destiny--the idea that the United States was divinely ordained to expand westward to the Pacific--is what drove the United States to attempt to expel dozens of Native American tribes from their native homelands, and led to America gaining the borders it has today. In the case of the Republican Union, its obsession with this concept makes it attempt to [[spoiler:attempt to take over the entire Western Hemisphere, and they come very close to succeeding before their collapse.]]²** In addition, a lot of real historical figures, even mostly positive ones, receive villainous physical doppelgängers. ²* ForWantOfANail: 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 beginning in the early 18th century resulting in a world similar to ours up until the 1800s when everything changes. The complete list of [=PoDs=] can be found [[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=9955371&postcount=6 here]].²* FunWithAcronyms: The Republican Union Military Police, [=RUMP=], the [[spoiler: New United States of America, [=NUSA=], the Liberated American States Republic, [=LASR=]]].²* TheFederation: The United Nations, the closest thing this timeline has to good guys.²* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Caesarina Napoleona I, who turns the Tripartite Empire into a full-fledged police state.²* GoodRepublicEvilEmpire: Oh so ''inverted'', at least when comparing the Republican Union to the Napoleonic or Prussian Empires.²* GovernmentInExile: [[spoiler:After Columbia is annexed by the New United States, George Washington [=IX=] forms one of these in Cuba. They are FightingForAHomeland and eventually return—at least in the original continuity.]]²* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: The collapse of the old United States, and it's eventual successors.²* HereditaryRepublic: ''Surprisingly'' averted with the Republican Union, [[spoiler:until Charles Oswald II takes over what's left of it from his father]]. Played straight with the Russian Republic.²* HeWhoFightsMonsters: 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. Over the course of the 20th century, to keep fighting against the [=RU=]/[[spoiler:NUSA]] the Empire effectively becomes a police state just as bad as their American enemy.²* {{Homage}} / ShoutOut: ²** To the ''VideoGame/{{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 StepfordSmiler outer surface.²** [[Literature/JoeSteele Joseph Stalin becomes a politician in America, renaming himself as Joe Steele.]]²** Hitler's alternate universe counterpart ends up leading a group of soldiers known as the "[[Film/IngloriousBasterds Inglorious Bastards]]".²* HopeSpot: ²** The mostly-democratic Southron Nations manage to make it as far north as Philadelphia during the Great War. [[spoiler:It doesn't last long.]]²** Jurgen Ailes is described as one of the more reasonable members of the [=RU=]'s leadership. [[spoiler: He takes over much of the Midwest after Oswald's fall. His reasonableness doesn't last and his government goes full on ANaziByAnyOtherName and begins herding Jews and Blacks into concentration camps.]]²** [[spoiler: [=NUSA=] collapses, with the [[ALighterShadeOfBlack 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.]]²* {{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.²* IgnoredEpiphany: After a German immigrant to the Repubican Union gives a crowd of religious fanatics a scathing speech, he's dragged away by ORRA thugs and the crowd continues to listen to Billy Graham, only strengthening their belief. ²* InsultBackfire: ²** After Andrew Jackson creates the Confederation of the Carolinas, Madison and Jefferson call him a "vulture". The Confederation adopts the vulture as a national symbol to spite them.²** Charles Oswald is called "The Beast of America" due to his brutality. This nickname catches on with his own men.²* {{Irony}}: [[spoiler:A Jewish man named Midas Goldberg pushes the [=RU=] from merely enslaving "Inferiors" to outright exterminating them.]]²** Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is the leader of Texas in their fight for independence from Mexico.²* IstanbulNotConstantinople: A lot of cities have alternate names.²** Chicago is "Shicagwa".²** San Francisco is "Saint François", as California becomes a French possession after the Napoleonic Wars.²** Louisiana and Quebec become known as "Lewisana" and "Keybeck" under American rule²** Ironically, Istanbul is renamed Constantinople (or rather ''Konstantinopol'') by the Russians after they invade Turkey.²* JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope: It doesn't take long for the Republican Union to go from simply being horribly racist to [[spoiler:herding minorities into death camps, conducting medical experiments on prisoners, withholding the flu vaccine from "undesirables", and nuking undefended cities who resist *American rule.]]²* JustBeforeTheEnd: [[spoiler:The pre-reboot timeline takes this turn during the 1990s and 2000s as the countries of the world inch closer and closer to nuclear war.]] Even before then, it's noted that the RapePillageAndBurn that the Republican Union suffers at the hands of Britain is marked as the start of the "End Times Era".²* KingBobTheNth: Every emperor of the French/Tripartite Empire is named Napoleon. When a woman finally takes the throne, she's named Napoleon''a''. ²* ALighterShadeOfBlack: Compared to others in the Republican Union/[[spoiler:NUSA]], Richard Nixon comes down as downright reasonable. He's still evil, just not child-eatingly so.²* MegaCorp: Goodyear Enterprises from the Republican Union.²* {{Mordor}}: Due to the endless trench warfare, Maryland ends up like this.²** [[spoiler: Most of Europe is like this in the reboot ending after the Napoleonic and Prussian Empires make liberal use of nuclear and biological weapons.]]²** Ireland also ends up like this, with the added bonus of being poisoned with chemical weapons.²* MurderSuicide: King George IV is severely mentally ill, so his brothers William and Fredrick try to institutionalize him. When they come to get him George kills his Fredrick and tries to kill William before killing himself.²* MutuallyAssuredDestruction: Much like our own Cold War, once everyone gets nuclear weapons this goes into effect. [[spoiler: It doesn't work given that one side isn't rational and more than willing to strike first.]]²* [[spoiler: NukeEm: Once the Republican Union gets the bomb, they don't hesitate to use them.]]²** [[spoiler: 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 SuccessionCrisis in France [[FromBadToWorse leads to nuclear war]].]]²* OppressiveStatesOfAmerica: 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, while certainly much freer by OTL standards, aren't very saintly either.²* PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny: 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.²* PragmaticVillainy: 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. [[spoiler: 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.]]²** Done to a lesser extend with Russia and some of the Southron Nations.²* PresidentForLife: Prime Minister-for-life Sergei Romanov of the Russian Republic, and every [=RU=]/[[spoiler:NUSA]] leader from Custer to [[spoiler:Oswald]].²* PuttingOnTheReich: After the collapse of the USA, the Republican Union attempts to emulate the Roman Republic even harder than in OTL.²* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: This collapse of the United States sees the individuals such as George Custer, Joseph Steele, Chuckie Oswald rise to power.²* RapePillageAndBurn: During the War of 1812, the British forces in Canada, realizing they're gonna lose the war, decide to do this to the Republican Union as a final act of spite. [[StartOfDarkness The whole world suffers for it.]]²* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: A German immigrant to the Republican Union gives a crowd of religious fanatics led by Billy Graham a blistering one.²--> "How can you believe in this? What madness is this, that has consumed you all and turned you into [[AxeCrazy 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 [[CorruptChurch 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 [[BigBrotherIsWatching 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 [[YouAreNumberSix 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. [[PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny 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. [[WorldGoneMad You're all insane]]. You're all evil lunatics hellbent on destruction and murdering your fellow human beings. You make me sick."²* RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman: ²** ''Literally'', in the case of Mussolini, Lenin, and 'Himmler and Hess', who are all ''car manufacturers'' in this universe.²** Many political figures of real history show up in alternate roles.²** After a certain point, Stalin himself is [[spoiler:[[{{Irony}} the leader of the Republican Union]] !]].²** UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler shows up as an Imperial Austrian general, going by the name "Adolf von Branau". He's one of the good guys.²** Richard Nixon himself is still a sleazeball politician who's habit of [[spoiler: taping all his phone conversations still gets him in trouble.]]²* SelfMadeOrphan:²** [[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=8210813&postcount=901 According to]] WordOfGod, [[spoiler: 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 [[MakeItLookLikeAnAccident made it look like an accidental fall]].]]²** Both Joe Steele [[spoiler: aka [[UsefulNotes/JosefStalin Ioseb Jugashvili]]]] and Charles Oswald [[spoiler: aka [[UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy]]]] kill their birth parents, given how [=RU=] society discriminates against Orthodox "Slavs" and Irish Catholics²* ShutUpHannibal: 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: ²--> "Shut up, you arrogant freak! The Alliance as a majority has decided on peace. If you want to continue being an [[NukeEm atom-slinging]] barbarian savage, you can continue being as such. But, Gott as my protector, [[EvenEvilHasStandards we will not be associated]] with such a [[AxeCrazy 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!"²* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''Literature/DecadesOfDarkness''. Both stories have the same basic plot: The United States of America splinters early on in its history, and the rump US evolves into a racist, militaristic empire.²* StartOfDarkness: During the War of 1812 the fledgling Republican Union is invaded by the British who proceed to RapePillageAndBurn 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.²* StateSec: [=ORRA=], the American Office of Religious and Racial Affairs.²* VestigialEmpire²** 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.²** [[spoiler: 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.]]²* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Just about all world leaders in this reality. The more racist, xenophobic, and militaristic you are, the more the people will love you. The part describing the election of Archibald Bulloch as prime minister of Georgia sums it up:²--> The militarist former governor of Georgia and Revolutionary War veteran Archibald Bulloch, now in his seventies, was elected the nation's first Prime Minister. He was not known as a "bad" man or disrespected, but his militarism signaled a new political force in politics: Ultra-Right-Wing Proto-Totalitarianism supported by the citizens themselves. No cheating occurred. No bribery. No blackmail. The South had elected a militarist free and fairly. He believed in freedom, but he also believed in expansion and the destruction of neighbors. He was the one who made West Florida a satellite nation. His territorial politics brought him into conflict with Andrew Jackson as they both squabbled over who had rights to areas in West Carolina along the Mississippi River.²* WesternTerrorists: [[spoiler: 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. Nuclear war does happen, but directly because of his actions.]]²----

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report