FORD AND THE DEISELPUNKS, LIVE!
This little bit of silliness is an attempt to do a 20s-punk future. As predicted by Spengler, the Colored Races have risen, and much of the world has slipped beyond European control, with a united India, an East Asian Yellow Menace, and a new and revived fiery Islam have taken places at the Great Powers table. Old-style lowest-common-denominator democracy and old-fashioned Communism have declined in significance, as scientific, rational movements have made the government increasing a matter of experts and bureaucrats rather than popularity contests: whether dominated by a successful Open Conspiracy (as in the Commonwealth)or Corporate conglomerations (as in the United States), a rationalistic, technocratic, Fordist sensibility is the dominant one throughout much of the world: even the Islamic empire sees Science and rational problem-solving as the way forward.
Of course, this approach has occasionally been abused: although what we would call Transhumanism is still popular, as are notions of the fundamental improvement of humanity, poorly thought out Eugenics efforts have led to a great deal of suffering, especially that “remove as many black Americans as possible to Africa” thing. (Nowadays, Science tells us the way to improve humanity is through direct manipulation of the germ plasm with ATOMIC RADIATION!).
It is a fearsomely advanced world, technological progress and new gadgetry coming along at the sort of dizzying pace people first became accustomed to back in the 1920s. Thanks to the development of the gravity-cancelling magnetic field, flying cars have become common (even if the engines cuts out, you fall very slowly) and the 100-propellered, 10,000-ton mega-plane has become the normal means for transcontinental flight (for those who find 600 miles per hour too slow, there are of course rockets). TV exists, of course, and informational or useful transmissions are inescapable, even in schools.
Power is transmitted through the air, and everything is done by electricity. This tends to lead to a great deal of urbanization, since it’s hard to get good reception out in the boonies. New York is coming up on 20 million inhabitants. Crystalline skyscrapers are replacing the somewhat ponderous-looking old pseudo-stone ones, and industry digs ever deeper into the Earth. Storms are dispersed with giant electrical generators, and in the US, the pedestrian levels of the great multi-leveled cities have separate lanes for those who speed along at high velocities on their broadcast-electricity-powered electric roller-skates (the corporate-dominated US of this reality is very much a Buyer Beware society). Long-distance subways zip between cities at 400 miles per hour. Headgear, male and female, usually incorporates antenna to draw power.
Things are all frightfully automated, and unemployment is high enough that some governments have been forced to create imaginary jobs pushing buttons and pulling levers to give untalented people the notion there is something useful they can do. Robots are now a clinking, clattering, caliginous part of daily life: they are still too expensive to use as manservants for anyone but the rich, but they are playing an increasingly important part in the military forces of all the major nations.
Sexbots are still highly experimental, but any fears they might put an end to human procreation was pre-empted a while back with the development of the artificial womb/baby maker, which given has allowed governments worried about slowing birthrates to pump out new citizens as needed (raising them is more of a problem, although some governments have made state institutions for raising children a virtue: much of the Japanese Empire’s special forces and other wet-work specialists are tube-grown and raised from infancy in Very Special schools). In Europe, it is illegal for people who suffer from conditions that might endanger the infant to have children save by government-approved and specialist-monitored equipment: while in the US there is also a lot of pressure to avoid the womb, principally so people will buy the new BABY-TRON-5000.
Manipulation of the baby within the artificial womb with chemicals and other methods to alter its growth is of course, in this very Scientific world, something which has been tried: only the Japanese and the Brazilians are actually trying to make something practical – and large scale - out of it so far, however.
Power comes mostly from nuclear energy (which is less useful as a weapon in this universe, if still dangerous) and from sun-power collectors (think huge tethered bubbles floating in the upper atmosphere). Oil isn’t so important, which is one reason the Caliphate managed to come into existence in the first place.
Starvation has been wiped out by electrically “energized” plant growth and cheap synthetics (fortunately, since the developed world is more crowded than OTL).Vegetarianism is much more popular than in our 2011, and some people just stick to synthetically produced synthetic foods, although such folks are generally looked upon as Holier Than Thou types. (Those who live off food pills alone are considered to be either showing off or just plain scary).
There have been no global wars, although there have been a number of local ones, including the very bloody (and melt-y) European-Soviet war, the South African-Free Africa dustup, the Yugoslav Conflict (in which Italy came a cropper), the Colonial Struggles, the third Mexican Revolution, and the twenty-six year Sino-Japanese war, and the brief and Commonwealth-Greater Asia clash than ended with northern Australia in Indonesian hands. (This led to the Australian Open Door policy and the settlement of millions of new citizens in Australia to block any further Indonesian infiltration, but that’s a story for another day).
There was no Great Depression, just a bit of a slump. Germany never went Nazi, and although there have been some other nasty economic interludes, the rate of productivity growth in this world, driven by technological and scientific invention, has always remained high enough to pull the economic car-metaphor out of the mud (indeed, government economic intervention is popular outside of the corporate-run US, since it is seen to improve the economy rather than otherwise, and the notion that Planning is a Bad Thing has never really caught on with the technocrats – if it goes wrong, it’s simply that the plans were incompetently drawn up).
Woman’s rights have mostly caught up with OTL outside of the Islamic and East Asian lands, although skirts remain popular and unisex clothing is almost unheard of. If there was a bit of a backlash against Flapperism and an era of slow progress after the 1920s, the downright regression of the Leave it to Beaver America post WWII (the Purge of the Rosies) did not take place.
The US still has prohibition, and the Mob has developed into an almost civilized organization entwined organically with the Corporate-dominated government in a positively south Italian manner: they are into all sorts of legal, illegal and semi-legal businesses, and run themselves with all the rational efficiency and scientific calculation as any great corporate kingdom - heads in duffelbags are simply gauche nowadays.
US efforts to make Latin America a fully owned subsidiary led to a reaction, with the new, “rational-scientific” Fascism of Brazil providing a forcefully anti-American ideology (their failure to regain control of the breakaway Fordist Republic of Amazonia remains an embarrassment).
The Soviets, with their religious revival, post European war, of a weird Third-Rome mysticism and “scientific spiritualism” – and their Prodigious Breeding - make people uncomfortable. So does the huge Japanese Empire and its increasingly hostile relations with the Indian-led Dharmic alliance and the Commonwealth (which it wants out of Asia/the Pacific).
Consolidation of the globe into great power blocks is ongoing, and there is some talk of Europe and the Commonwealth and the US joining into a greater union to retain (white) global supremacy in the face of growing Asian (and to a lesser extent, Asian and Middle Eastern) power. Global unification and rationalization schemes are a dime a dozen, and a great many international organizations and power networks, from such “respectable” groupings as the Forty Executives of America and the Mandarins of the Commonwealth to such stateless or state-parasitizing conspiratorial groups as the Aerial Empire.
In the Still Somewhat Poorly Lit continent, the Union of Free Africa, whose founders were dominated by American expellees, have been slowly swallowing Africa one bite at a time as the European powers withdrew from areas which simply could not be “rationalized” without unacceptable levels of carnage or race-mixing. Currently, they are trying to engineer a break between the Commonwealth and some of its African territories, and undermine the position of South Africa (which has taken Apartheid to a whole new terrifying level with Science!) in south Angola.
The Jews, figuring that everyone assumes they have such an organization anyway, went ahead and created their own internationalist and transnational association, the IJA. They have some big plans for the future. Israel is a no-go, but the latest telescopic studies show that Mars, although fairly barren, is pretty habitable…