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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.
  • 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.
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    • 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 aging 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."
  • 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 signs a non-aggression pact with the Republican Union and nabs some of Virginia's territory when Virginia falls.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • A president of a totalitarian United States named Joe Steele.
    • One of the stories in the Expanded Universe thread is about Abaddon Earnhardt and his "Redneck Rampagers", who cut a swath of terror and bloodshed in the Philippines before being killed with his wife. After his death, he is nicknamed "Abaddon the Despoiler". His role as a mad white man creating a nightmarish reign of terror in a tropical country brings to mind Heart of Darkness (or Apocalypse Now, given that it's set in the same country Apocalypse was shot in).
  • Sketchy Successor:
    • Napoléon Bonaparte defeated England and laid the foundations for French hegemony over Europe. His son Napoléon 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 lacking in ability to deal with the growing unrest and malaise in the Union. Their weakness paved the way for Custer's dictatorship.
  • 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 a 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 prescribe 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. 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.

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