Ok: a couple of my usual crapsack worlds tonight. First, the sequel to this map: [link]
OTL, as always, stands for "our timeline."
"For all Time", 2050.
The NAC has gone through a few political changes. The bloom was before long off the Libertarian lily: aside from the shift towards an oligarchic control of the nation as government shed responsibilities as fast as it could, the increased expense in medical care, the various abuses carried out by corporations that oddly, lawyers proved unable to resolve, what really led to something of a sea change in public feeling was the stock market Big Oops of ’34 and the wiping out of most of the value of privatized social security.
The calm explanations that this was just a temporary correction did not cut much ice with those needing money now or soon: combined with the two intervals of reactionary Federalist rule during the Libertarian Era, it was unsurprising that the Socialist Rough Beast at long last slouched towards Washington to be inaugurated. More surprising was the response from the upper crust, along with many members of the other two political parties, which not help at all. (Think the “Business Plot” but with a hell of a lot of actual money behind it. And firepower).
Still, the Confederation of North American Socialist States (CNASS) hasn’t turned all the way back to Soviet-style totalitarianism: there still are elections, and even though the Constitution has undergone a wee bit of re-writing, they are still four legal political parties, the non-Socialist ones occasionally winning elections. And the new Socialist regime in the Semi-Incorporated State of Mexico is doing a better job than the previous *fascist puppet (put into place after the Mexican Revolution of 2015 required intervention and Stern Measures to restore stability.)
Energetic Keynesianism and government intervention has finally given the US a first-rate infrastructure, a functional social safety net is back in place, and black people will be served at a diner no matter what the owner thinks of black people, an imposition on the small businessman’s rights many Libertarians look upon in horror. Efforts to create a scientific/technical revolution which will reshape the nation in a blaze of SCIENCE are going a bit more slowly than hoped, though – the Japanese remain ahead in the production of home computers.
Somewhat unnerved by the changes in their neighbor are the Quebeqois, who have been trying to join the European Federation (successor to the old European Customs Union). This has been loudly nixed by the government in New Washington (the old capital was one of the two cities where things got a little out of hand during the Third American Revolution) and further soured relations, which had sadly gone downhill from that era in the teens and twenties where the Big Three all seemed fairly much on the same page, working together to reduce chaos and contain aggressively expansionist nations such as Israel and India.
Germany has succeeded in creating a Europe finally united and (relatively) at peace, although at the cost of kicking the Brits out - the new Europe could not, after all, stand divided leadership! (The French, their nation finally mostly reunited, are content to let the Germans take the lead and enjoy a little peace and moderate prosperity). The economy is dominated by German corporations, but then that’s better than American combines or Japanese Zaibatsu, people suppose. Order has been established, old and dinky nuclear arsenals disassembled, and a new Pan-Europeanism is energetically expounded, no longer based on irrational prejudice against fellow European Slavs, but on rational prejudice against Americans, Africans, most Asians…
The Big Issue of the day in Germany is European assimilation – making all those immigrant Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Poles, etc. into good Germans (some older Germans, admittedly, are rather doubtful about the Slavs).
In spite of the hopes of the late 2000s-early 2010s Era of Good Feelings, north and south Italy failed to reunite: it turned out in the end that they really didn’t like each other very much.
The Scandinavian block remains only associated to Europe, rather than becoming full members (they don’t want too many of their fellow European Slavs, Italians, Greeks, etc. moving into their countries, for one thing: although Latvia and Estonia became full member states, the Leningrad Protectorate remains a mere Associate State (and plagued by Muscovite pro-Unification terrorism).
Russia is currently suffering from half a dozen terror movements, each supported by the rival New Moscow and Vladivostok governments in efforts to detach the various associated or federated Russian-speaking states from each other and reunify the Motherland. So far, they have avoided atomic weapons, perhaps out of a sense there aren’t enough Russians left to spare: although there is finally medicine effective against SPID, and population is actually starting to grow again (mostly in New Moscow controlled areas, where pro-reproduction laws of WWZ-esque harshness have been implemented and the spread of SPID was brought under control by the most draconian measures), there are currently less than 70 million people in all those territories which still call themselves “Russian.”
After the use of only a few dozen very crude atomic weapons – nothing, really, compared to the hell unleashed by the Soviets back when – the Chinese successor states are once again united (except for the Kam-Tai of what was once Guangxi and points west, who are clear on not wanting to be Chinese, and have an alliance with Vietnam to prove it). The Most Exalted President-for-Life of the Restored Chinese Republic is by no means such a bad guy: sure, his government management style has resemblances to OTL Saddam Hussein’s, but he isn’t eating anyone and he’s actually implementing sensible policies to increase his country’s poorer-than-OTL-Pakistan standard of living for his 220 million half-starved and frequently mutated subjects, which makes him nearly a philosopher-king by FAT standards. He wants the east coast back from Japan, but recognizes that’s a job for generations, not years.
The British, having been pushed out of Europe and unwilling to hook up with the untrustworthy Americans, have surprisingly revived the Commonwealth, having allied with Australasia (which, after a couple of false starts, managed to transit back to democracy in the wake of the comical/tragic death of their highly competent Evil Overlord in an erotic bondage experience gone bad) and the Cape (the Saving Remnant of Greater South Africa), Botswana, the Philippines and a few other nations into the closest this world has to a League of Good Guys.
The British are actually apologetic to the Irish nowadays about the Re-Occupation and the Catholic expulsions from the north, although they have yet to apologize to the Nigerians for the whole Assassinating our Hero-President thing, probably since they don’t want to admit doing it.
The Brazilians managed to make themselves the effective overlords of South America when the US went through the convulsions of the 30’s (the Greater Venezuelans were hardly in a position to object, having been reduced to a rump state after they were discovered to be developing a bio-weapons program and blew up a couple of Brazilian cities with supposedly destroyed nukes when called on it). It has formed a cross-Pacific alliance with the Japanese, who love Socialists even less than the Europeans, and is less disposed to meddle in South American politics. The current government is authoritarian, but generally law-abiding (except when they aren’t).
While some countries have been joining together, others have been coming apart: united India is no more. The positively genocidal violence inflicted upon Muslim resistance to its rule had by the 20s started to squick out a world beginning to feel guilty over the horrendous Islamic massacres carried out by various governments over the course of the 20th century. Then, in the mid-20s India embarked on a large-scale expansion into central Asia: the reports coming out of the area reminded many of the Maghreb Federation’s “pacification” of NW Africa. The leadership, perhaps overly confident in its weapons (the manner in which the US dictatorship had put an end to their previous nuclear program may have exaggerated their power) ignored multiple warnings.
In the spring of ’28, as Indian forces approached the borders of the Russian states and former China, the Indians found themselves on the receiving end of simultaneous nuclear attacks from the US, Japan and the Russian states. (The Japanese and Americans were civilized enough to aim mainly for military targets. The Russians, not so much). Indian delivery systems (those not destroyed in the first strike) proved inadequate: a few Russian and a couple Japanese cities were smashed up, but the Indians had few ballistic weapons, and none capable of reaching the US, while their best fighter planes (bought from the Brazilians) proved inadequate for escorting bombers over thousands of miles. A collapse of authority, mass uprisings, an invasion by the remaining armies of Central Asia and US-backed Iran: the Indian empire came to an end.
(It was a civilized sort of war by FAT standards: the population of India bottomed out at over 80% of its pre-war level. Large chunks of India remain rather un-gently occupied by Islamic forces.)
After a bio-weapon escaped from one of the various research labs of war-torn southern Africa and killed roughly 90 million people world-wide in ’17 (mostly in poorer and crappy countries), the so-called Triple Intervention of the Great Powers (Europe, Japan, the NAC) finally restored order to the area, if often in a Roman Peace sort of way. Some organized ethnic cleansing later, the area was Apartheid-ed the hell out of into five confederations only roughly matching former colonial borders, and one (extensive, the neighbors grumble) reservation for the melanin-deprived. Two of those are currently having civil wars, and one has collapsed, but at least nobody is making genetically targeted bio-weapons anymore. (Not that the one which got away really worked that well: it killed _anyone_ with dark hair and eyes, not just Africans).
The Israelis, when their showdown with the US came over Iranian and Gulf oil (the Israelis already had the Saudi and Iraqi oil, but you can never have too much), proved superior diplomats to the Indians. Although the rather aggressive President of the time was, it was later revealed, only narrowly persuaded by his staff to not preemptively nuke Jerusalem, in the end a peace was negotiated (with the Germans, amusingly, as Honest Broker) in which Israel agreed to withdraw from Ilam and Kuzistan and make steps to neutralize Southern Iraq.
By 2050, Israel has pulled all troops out of most of its puppet regimes (in any event, retaining control, given Israel’s relatively small population, would have required the continued use of genocidal tactics no longer in good odor with the major powers), although it still retains the (largely ethnically cleansed) soil over some still-profitable oil pools. It has also created a series of nuclear-powered “linear cities” across the deserts to disperse its population, and obtained a small fleet of stealth submarines, to maintain an effective second-strike capacity in case any big powers try to bully them in the future. With an eye to their small population, Israel has established laws making it easy for (non-Muslim) immigrants to convert (although the snip-snip is still necessary).
Libya is rather more populous than OTL, thanks to a great many immigrants from the Maghreb horrors. It has managed to keep its economy afloat as the oil supply began to dry up, having invested heavily in developing local industries while it flowed: it is currently closely tied to the EU economically.
Egypt’s population has grown vigorously to 18 million, of which about 40% is of Palestinian descent, the rest roughly evenly divided between locals and refugee descendants, and first-rate farmland is starting to get a bit scarce again, what with the floods resuming their traditional uncertain height. (A speaker at the latest meeting of Parliament suggested tentatively a new dam might be a good idea. He was nearly lynched by his colleagues).
Africa has seen increased foreign investment and interest in recent decades, now that the Great Dying appears to have bottomed out and a sort of Darwinian sorting of dictators has taken place: those which can guarantee stability for foreign mining and agribusiness corporations get goodies both financial and military, which has led to some border changes. A couple of African countries are currently run outright by former NAC/CNASS/US corporations whose leaders needed to get out of the country fast after certain events in the 30s. This does not include Nigeria, which broke from Britain rather violently when the army overthrew London’s hand-picked successor to that national hero which they still insist they didn’t murder. The nation is currently suffering from rather serious overpopulation: in this technologically backwards world, there has yet to be much of an improvement on OTL’s original Green Revolution, and with over 300 million people, they’re having to import increasing amounts of food – and the oil is running low.
The Japanese Empire had to pull in its horns a bit after their occupation of Taiwan (“to prevent their use of weapons of mass destruction against Japanese interests”) had brought about a storm of condemnation from the NAC, the Australasian block, and others. In spite of that, the Japanese have continued to pursue an expansionist policy, albeit in a more cautious manner -which, however, seems to have reached its geographical limit. It has also run into demographic limits – although a poorer and more conservative society in the south hit the demographic transition later than OTL, it still did, and as for the north…well, Soviet-style Industrial Misery generally tends to depress birth rates. There are simply too few Japanese to effectively settle the no-long-very-radioactive bits of Eastern China they control, too few to prevent the Chinese from filtering back in. Since imposing pro-birth legislation of a Muscovy-type harshness would be a serious loss of face among the other major powers, after furious debate (and at least one assassination) the ruling party has forced through laws greatly simplifying foreign immigration and naturalization (in Japan proper, it still takes a while to get citizenship. In the Chinese territories, all you need to do is show up and be anti-Chinese).
The Koreans (a fair number of which survived the fallout from Kim Il Jong’s experiment in Bond-type Archvillainy) are being troublesome again, memories having faded of the last suppression some 25 years ago. The Japanese government is currently debating whether to resettle some of them (say, about half) in the Chinese territories.
A continuing sore spot between the CNASS and the Japanese Empire is the Republic of Hawaii, which (along with Alaska) declared itself independent during the immediate post-coup instability, and, unlike Alaska, managed to make it stick by inviting in the Japanese – something which many of the locals have come to regret.
Vietnam is back, baby.
Technological progress has been slowed by economic chaos, paranoia, the Sovietization of rather more of the world, a billion or so surplus deaths, etc…a basic home computer comparable to what OTL had in the early 1980s was not available till the mid 2020s, and although the rate of technological progress has sped up a bit since, and supercomputers have baffled chess masters, the kinda-sorta internet systems developing in Europe, Japan, North America and a few other places are more limited than our internet, principally due to security concerns. Information technology and communications are generally inferior, and the “constant crisis” experience of the last century means that such things as just-in-time inventory and highly specialized supply chains are unused due to being un-insurable. Pollution is generally worse than OTL, economic growth being far ahead of environmental concerns in most people’s priorities.
On the positive side, biotech is a bit ahead of OTL, thanks to an energetic history of biowarfare research: the latest antivirals will actually clear out SPID for good if you follow the six-month regimen (which many, being human, fail to do). Nuclear power plants are surprisingly safe and numerous: after going through multiple atomic horrors without either the world ending or being overrun by giant mutant bugs, people are rather more blasé about the dangers of nuclear power than OTL. (The advances in biotech are helping with the higher-than-OTL cancer rates, too. At least in those countries rich enough to afford medical services).
Space travel has undergone a bit of a boom, national dick-swinging contests being as popular as OTL: the Japanese stole a march on the (substantially delayed) ECU mission by launching a crude but functional nuclear rocket from a largely uninhabited portion of Sakhalin Island and landing on the Moon in 2017. Since then several more missions have been launched by Japan, the ECU (later the EU) space agency and by the NAC, a lunar orbiting station built as a cooperative project between the Japanese and the EU – and a great deal more activity has taken place near-Earth, with several stations currently in orbit. A Mars expedition has often been talked about: however, the expense has always been seen as too great. The CNASS President recently announced that an American would walk on Mars by the end of the decade, but foreign observers generally pooh-pooh this as propaganda and compensation for the humiliation of having their main space station mothballed for over a decade while Politics happened.
OTOH, Space science is behind OTL: nobody has “wasted” money on flybys of the outer planets or huge telescopes in orbit.
People in the industrial world are generally more religious than OTL, but in a fatalistic it’s-all-in-the-hands-of-God sort of way rather than the militant activism of US Evangelists OTL. Great political movements usually end in disaster, you never know if there is a nuke out there with your name on it…cultivating your garden and getting right with God so you will be ready when the overpressure wave hits is more important than canvassing for votes. Getting into politics is dangerous.
Oil prices are rising sharply, and the German government has recently declared its intention to make Germany entirely energy-independent by 2065.
Global warming, although delayed by the considerably smaller CO2 output of countries such as China and Russia and a poorer and less motorized West, is coming along nicely, and food prices have recently surged, setting off turmoil in the poorer nations (the term “Third World” does not have much currency in this world, given the impoverished nature of much of the area between Portugal and Vladivostok before the 21st century).
Still, things are in some ways looking up. As the US and Japan said (a bit apologetically) after the India War, genocide is no longer an acceptable approach to internal ethnic conflict (expulsion, on the other hand…). SPID deaths globally are down to under two million a year. Egypt has had its first genuinely free elections. A tepid prosperity has finally spread over all of Western Europe, and the new information and computing industries are exploding. And a courageous judge is currently defying the CNASS government on a human rights issue – and almost incredibly by FAT standards, he hasn’t been murdered yet…
 The latest OTL estimates are more like 400 million, but (hopefully) better farming tech will be on hand by then.