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Literature / "What Madness is This?": Redux

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"What Madness is This?" Redux: The Union Forever is a dystopian alternate history timeline by Napoleon53, a member of This timeline is a Continuity Reboot of What Madness is This?, beginning in a way almost identical to the original before radically diverging from both it and our own timeline. It begins with an America that fails to adopt the Constitution falling apart in the wake of George Washington's death and the corrupt dealings of the Federalist Party. Meanwhile, Napoleon defeats the British Empire around the globe and Napoleonic France becomes the global hegemon.


Things quickly turn sideways. The French force the Republican Union, the American remnant in the North stretching from Ohio to Maine, into an alliance with the Southron powers (Maryland, Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia) and itself to defeat British Canada. The Canadians essentially raze the RU, while the French and Southrons refuse to help until it's too late. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the Republican Union survives, and even gains some Canadian land. However, the betrayal of their allies and the devastation wreaked upon them by the Canadians totally and irreversibly twists the American psyche, leading to the rise of the American Fundamentalist Church. In the aftermath, the RU slowly devolves from an expansionist, revanchist state into the world's first Fascist dictatorship, even as its society develops along lines both recognizable and alien to us. It just gets worse from here...


You can read the new TL here.

"What Madness is This?" Redux: The Union Forever provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Downplayed with Charles Goodyear I. He's given a Freudian Excuse in this timeline (his father died in the War of 1812), although it doesn't stop him from being the same corrupt and cruel taskmaster he was in WMIT 1.0.
    • Zig-zagged with Czar Viktor I, who is a lot less Ax-Crazy than he was in 1.0, and also isn't a Serial Killer. However, he also has a lot more power, persecutes Jews and brutally kills anyone who goes against him.
  • Abusive Parents: Custer serves as one to Steele. Although he is not ever shown directly subjecting Steele to any physical abuse himself, he treats Steele as nothing more than a trophy child meant to aid Custer’s image by fighting and very likely dying for Custer’s honor and glory, and severely neglects him, barely ever speaking to him and leaving him with abusive tutors like the Blind Christian Gentleman who beat him and subject him to constant emotional and physical abuse, depriving him of parental love and affection from an early age until he turns to Charles Dewey and Matilda Richardson.
    • Steele later becomes an example of this trope himself. Although he is shown to love his children through actions like threatening Oswald if he ever mistreats Wyetta, asking her if she wants to meet a performer she’d listened to and get his signature to try to cheer her up when she’s depressed about her fiancé going missing in action, and he has a genuinely affectionate father-son relationship with Oswald, he orders Oswald to murder his son out of the delusional belief he is the anti-Christ and then lies about it to his daughter, who loved her brother deeply, and then directly shuts down the investigation into it when Hendrick and Nixon discover evidence of the assassination.
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    • Joseph Kennedy crushes Oswald’s dream of writing for Zap Zephyr and lies to him about his submissions being rejected for being poor work while in reality they’d been greatly praised, has him put through torturous shock therapy, and sets his sons against eachother, emotionally neglecting Oswald well showering his brother with praise, eventually leading to Oswald being driven to murder his brother. More than any other character, Kennedy is responsible for producing the monster that is Charles Alasdair Oswald through his horrible abuse and imparting of his sociopathic mindset onto his sons.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: Absolutely chock full of these, especially ones from American history:
    • For example, in this TL the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debate is actually a fight between military cadets Lincoln and Douglas that ends with Lincoln killing Douglas with a single punch.
    • The Union is an adamantly Marxist state. That's because Henry Marx and his son Charles are adamant Fascists who devise the Union's version of scientific racism and coked-out spiritualism respectively.
    • The Great American War is a giant Allohistorical Allusion to the Civil War.
    • Custers's "Washington Pub Revolt" is obviously based on Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch— except that Custer's coup succeeds.
    • The Kissimmee Conference, where the Union's leaders decide to exterminate all Inferiors, is a reference to the Wannsee Conference, particularly its depiction in Conspiracy.
    • The division of Germany into a conservative republic in the west and an Illuminist state in the east mirrors the division of OTL Germany after World War II.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Union under Custer, Steele, and in the future, Charles Oswald. Especially ironic in this case since the Union is actually very pro-Jewish and pro-African American.
  • Ascended Meme: The idea of Joe Steele eating "Pocket Bacon" as his equivalent of popcorn was originally a joke made by readers after the chapter "Yankee Stadium: A Seal is Broken". It was later canonized in the chapter "This is the War Room".
    "The ageing Supreme Marshal of the Grand Army of the Republic nodded his head in reluctant agreement. "Yes, quite, sir. I received news myself only moments before you did. I cannot possibly express my shock and dismay at this current turn of events, but I have my trust in Jehovah that we shall quickly prevail." The smoke puffing out of the President's pipe irritated his passageways, but he was just grateful Steele was not having one of his "pocket breakfasts." He had seen the man take greasy, hours-old strips of bacon out of his jacket pocket, wrapped in a handkerchief, and start munching."
    By far and wide one of the most recognizably Carolinian culinary abominations, Cackalacky mouse wine had its origins in Corean "baby mouse wine," made by drowning and soaking newborn baby mice in rice wine. Many soldiers drank the beverage on dares or out of desperation until they began to actually like it and even invent their own versions. Many of these veterans were awarded huge tracts of land in the New Cackalack African colonies, where their craving for the mousey morsels made them become even more creative. So many years passed that the drink lost its Asian connotations almost entirely and became a "roughneck drink," associated with the new generation of "Cackalacky Cowboys" settling the Sub-Sahara, working on the Congo Dam, and surviving on the swampy badlands during the aftermath of the creation of the Congo Sea. But, as said earlier, mouse wine's bizarre, almost surreal appearance in the most bourgeois of Cokie novels, The Great Goochy, thanks to its author's insane addiction, suddenly made mouse wine, specifically of the Africa, Cackalack variety, a raging fad for the ages. And the House of Gooch was not one to dismiss a potential license to print money.

  • Balkanize Me: The fate of the United States and the British Empire early on in the TL.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: No one is particularly nice in this timeline. The French were imperialist absolute monarchists until the Great World War (and even their period as a democratic constitutional monarchy is heavily implied to be a Hope Spot at best), as are the Prussians/Nordreichers/Germanian. The Southron nations have violent rivalries with one another and treat non-whites like crap. However, any of them are preferable to the later Republican Union and its Fascist Co-Prosperity Sphere.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Beutelists in this TL fit the bill perfectly, although their ideology is more fleshed out and coherent compared to the original timeline.
  • The Caligula: Oh, this world is full of them.
    • George IV's insanity costs Britain the Napoleonic Wars and its empire.
    • Czar Viktor's delusions of a Russian Eurasian Mongol Empire start the First World War and cripples Russia.
    • Napoleon III's decadence and weakness allow the Union and Russia to expand, fatally weakening the French (now Europan) Empire and indirectly causing the First World War.
  • Commie Nazis: The Republican Union, full stop. The RU combines elements of Nazism, Stalinism, Fundamentalist Christianity, and the worst parts of American history.
  • Corrupt Church: The American Fundamentalist Church (AFC). They create fake "lost writings" from the long-dead Prophet Aaron Burr to justify political moves made by Philadelphia, have a private army/spy force that they use to watch and control much of the Union elite, and to top it all off, one Reverend-Colonel, Billy Sunday, is a wife murdering philanderer and child molester. Very Christian, these guys...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Union is full of these guys.
    • Charles Goodyear I is the penultimate example, albeit with a humanizing backstory. His father is killed by the Canadians and his family loses everything, inspiring a burning hatred of all things foreign. He channels this rage into rebuilding the Union economy and constructing the largest corporate empire in human history off the backs of immigrants he tricks into coming to America before basically enslaving them. He also supports the rise of Scientific Marxism (Scientific racism), the AFC, and Fascism.
    • His son, Charles Goodyear II, also qualifies. He takes over the company after pushing his 100-year-old father off of a Zeppelin and then wages a violent mafia-Esque war against Henry Ford before being killed.
    • Speaking of Ford, he qualifies too. He designs the auto carriage for Goodyear I, founded his own car company, waged a bloody war against Goodyear II, and then pioneers the rise of vaguely mob-like Economic Clans who in effect function as corporatist cartels.
    • George Custer is this before becoming President of the Republican Union. He founds a private security company that polices immigrant ghettos, practices ethnic cleansing against Native Americans, and almost hunts the American Buffalo into extinction.
    • George Washington Carver is an aversion of this trope that still manages to be hilariously, obliviously evil. The son of slaves freed by the Union, Carver is a legitimately patriotic, faithful, family loving man... who makes his money selling cocaine soda, and candies to children and the troops (who use it to hype themselves up for genocide).
  • Crapsack World: Possibly the crappiest Crapsack World in the multiverse. Top 5 at least.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the other great powers in the original WMIT were acknowledged to be somewhat amoral themselves, it was generally overshadowed by the outrageous evil of the Republican Union. Here, the misdeeds of the Republican Union's rivals and allies are given greater attention.
  • Dirty Communists: Two variants exist in the universe: the Eduists and the Illuminists.
    • The Eduists draw from Beutelism, but with a more centralized structure a la Leninism.
    • The Illuminists, on the other hand, are anti-religious, anti-monarchist revolutionaries with a weird spiritualist bent, a la the French Revolution with a bit of OTL's Communism thrown in.
  • Dystopia: Let's see, vicious, Fascist, crazy America that covers most of North America, the Caribbean, and controls most of the Pacific. Absolutist Napoleonic Empire in Africa, the Middle East, and India. Throw in some other crazy powers and an alarming penchant for genocide, and that's about it.
  • Eagleland: The Republican Union is the very embodiment of Type II, and is all the worst aspects of OTL America cranked Up to Eleven.
    • Exaggerated patriotism and American Exceptionalism turns into a literal cult of national self-worship.
    • Bad treatment of immigrants is reflected by the Union literally tricking unsuspecting foreigners into coming to America before using them as wage slaves.
    • America's OTL outburst of Manifest Destiny expansionism never ends and results in the industrialized genocide of the Mexicans and Native Americans.
    • America's drug problem is fully condoned by the government, and meth, cocaine, mescaline, and LSD are all perfectly legal and available at your local pharmacy.
    • The marriage of fundamentalist religion and politics results in an actual state fundamentalist church.
    • American worship of rugged individualists and strong leaders becomes a twisted form of Social Darwinism where the so-called "Strong Men" of the world are expected and encouraged to do whatever they want to get power and wealth. This mixes with the American civic religion to create the AFC's "Patriot-Saints".
    • American prosperity in our universe is mainly a product of hard work and innovation, although there has also been a fair amount of imperialism to help. In WMIT Redux, the entire American project is built on innovation mixed with the most disgraceful greed and theft imaginable, including land grabs for the property of genocide victims. Of course, they insist that they are merely blessed by God.
  • Enemy Mine: A dispute over ownership of Cuba leads to a war between Virginia and Carolina which Carolina loses. As a result, during the Great American War Carolina signed a non-aggression pact with the Republican Union and nabs some of Virginia's territory when Virginia falls.
  • Evil Mentor: Stanley Morgan serves as this to Chuck Oswald.
  • Expanded Universe: "The Star-Spangled Expanded Universe of 'What Madness is This?'", a thread devoted to fan content written in the same continuity. Some of the pieces have been canonized, such as Korea becoming a territory of the Confederation of the Carolinas.
  • Final Solution: Unfortunately, TTL’s history is full of many more examples of violent genocide than OTL, most of them perpetrated by the Republican Union and it’s allies.
    • The Immolation of Mexico is one of the first major ones. Following a false flag attack on an American ship, the Union launches a full blown invasion of Mexico, which quickly leads to full occupation of the country. ORRA gets its start here driving Mexicans into the desert and shooting them dead with Machine Guns (called “Coffee Grinders” TTL). The majority of Mexicans are killed this way, and the few remaining Mexicans die out as a result of the government leaving them to die of the Becky Flu during Cleansing Month.
    By 1905, over two million ethnic Mexicans and those designated Inferior would be taken out to the middle of the desert and shot. Their corpses were dropped into shallow graves and not even filled in, depriving the Inferiors of a proper burial and leaving the animals to finish the job. The actions ORRA committed were never discussed or even mentioned in Philadelphia. Custer knew. Vice President Miles knew. Roosevelt knew. Dewey certainly knew, as head of ORRA. But in the far reaches of the desert, only the coyotes and vultures knew. In the far reaches of the desert, only the coffee grinders spoke. A nation... an ethnicity itself... was no more.
    • Native Americans are thoroughly exterminated TTL, even moreso than in OTL. Custer gets his start massacring Natives, long before he rises to power as leader of the Manifest Destiny Party.
    • During TTL’s World War One equivalent, America invades and conquers Canada and California. At the same time, it’s society is majorly destabilized by the widespread spread of a much worse Spanish Flu, called the “Beckie Flu” by Americans due to them blaming it on Canada, and numerous Inferior Ghettos rise up in rebellion, with several forming Beutelist communes. The government then arranges the Kissimmee Conference, after which they distribute poisoned vaccines among the Inferiors well giving normal Vaccines to Betters, poisoning the majority of Americans Inferior population and wiping out most Canadians and Californians. Oswald’s father makes his start leading Union soldiers to other Irishmen pretending to be a Scottish Protestant, and numerous Catholic Churches are also burned down by the Union well invading each nation. At the same time, Australia pulls something similar with French West Australia.
    • Worst of all, with the beginning of Manifest Climax, America is now waging genocidal war against the entire continent of South America, and is largely victorious, wiping out several cities with Nuclear Bombs to destroy the last real organized resistance. However, large numbers of South Americans are still implied to survive in the so called “Quarantine Zone”.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Taken Up to Eleven with figures from American history, and pretty much America itself. Name just about any major or noteworthy figure from OTL America, and in WMIT they will be monstrously evil sociopaths that make any of our world's dictators look like saints.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The liberal interlude that Europa experiences after the Great World War is implied to be this with the rise of Julius Evola.
    • Norway starts off as an island of democratic freedom in the midst of a Europe chock-full of absolute monarchies and has a major flowering of culture and art. Sadly, it doesn't last as the Norwegian Fascists come to power and they join the Republican Union's Co-Prosperity Sphere.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The Republican Union starts off as a very mildly sympathetic US remnant, albeit one that is extremely revanchist and racist. Soon they're committing genocide against Mexicans, Native Americans, and white Inferiors (Catholics, Irish, Italians, Slavs, etc), invading just about everybody they can, using poisoned vaccines to commit mass murder, and going full Orwellian.
  • Last of His Kind: Edgar Immanuel Tobiason was noted to be the last original Son of Tobias before passing away in 2020 at 105.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being very vicious racists, the Republican Union is actually quite generous to certain minorities it deems fellow "Chosen Races", like African-Americans and Jews. They're required to adopt Anglo-Saxon culture, but they're still treated as equals.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: As in the original.
    • Vladimir Lenin (or "Vladimir Ulyanov") is still a car manufacturer in this timeline. This time around, however, his poor treatment of his workers comes to bite him in the ass as they rise up and trigger an Illuminist rebellion in Russia.
    • Stalin (or Joe Steele) is the leader of the Republican Union.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche is still a philosopher, but his ideals more closely resemble humanism as he urges dropping religion in favor of friendship with one's fellows.
    • Reinhard Heydrich is "Ryan Harvey Hendrick", chief of the Republican Union's Space Force.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sketchy Successor:
    • Napoléon Bonaparte defeated England and laid the foundations for French hegemony over Europe. His son Napolé on II goes even further, conquering huge swaths of the Middle East, liberating Jerusalem, founding the United Empire of Europa, and being canonized as a saint. His successors then proceed to bungle everything up, with Napoléon III doing absolutely nothing of note other than dying in a pool of his own piss and vomit, and Napoléon IV bringing France into a World War that wounds their prestige and costs them in money and manpower. Only time will tell if Napoléon V will reverse this downward trend.
    • Abraham Aaron Lincoln's replacement as President, Hamilton Fish, was a mild-mannered man whose attempts to regain stolen Union gold from Mexico were laughed off, His replacement, George McClellan, was a fairly good president but had his terms marred by his inability to defeat the Southron guerilla movement. He was followed by Winston S. Hancock and Gideon Claywell, both of whom were lacked the ability to deal with the growing unrest and malaise in the Union. Their weakness paved the way for Custer's dictatorship.
  • Megacorp: Several examples, such as Sweet Victory, the House of Gooch, Phoenix Oil, and the Holyfield Oil Company.
  • The Social Darwinist: The Union is an explicitly Social Darwinist state, and believes that the Chosen races (non-Irish Northern Europeans, African-Americans, Jews, and the Japanese) have the destiny to conquer the world because they are "stronger." Politically, they believe in the so-called "Strong Man Theory" which holds that history is decided by certain people and that those people have the right to do whatever they please, no matter how immoral.
  • Start of Darkness: The Republican Union gets roped into a war against Britain by France, leading to the British army going on a rampage through the RU before being driven off. As a result, the Union develops a grudge against both their southern neighbors (for failing to come to their aid) and France (for dragging them into the conflict, then not giving them enough of a reward when Britain was defeated).
  • Token Good Teammate: The Confederation of the Carolinas and Norway count as this for the Fascist Free World. Neither prescribes to Fundamentalism like the Americans, Nipponese, Australians, or British. They aren't anti-Semitic like the West Germanians. And they don't appear as genocidal as the Mittleafrikans. Which one is better is up for debate. The Carolinians are more democratic than Norway, with a legitimate, if weak opposition party and a history of peaceful transitions of power. However, their colonial empire in Africa is about as exploitative as you'd expect, and they forcibly deported their Black population after emancipation (and later on deport almost all poor/lower class white people to their African Colonies to fill mainland Carolina with golf parks and suburbs for the upper and middle class). The Norwegians are a one-party state with a feared secret police (dubbed the Stasi). However, they haven't really harmed any foreign peoples. Yet.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: The Federalists in the old United States resort to electoral fraud to win the 1796 and 1800 elections. While it goes smoothly in the former, the administration's massive unpopularity with the people in 1800 means that nobody accepts the results as legitimate.