Monday, June 1, 2015

World: The Science Crusade

Not a Worldbuilding Wednesday post. I know what I would do with this world, if I did anything with it, but with so many other things on my plate I'm not sure if I will get to it. It has been sitting on my computer for years now, and I haven't so much as added a single line to it, which does not bode well for its future.

This is an alternate history that, courtesy of Alien Space Bat-aided shenanigans, would have explored the idea that religion doesn't create a certain number of crazies but acts a lightning rod for them and frees up secularism somewhat in the process. The ASB in question in the Blasphemous Equation, which mathematically disproved the existence of God &c &c, yes I know that it wouldn't make too much headway even if it happened, but alien space bats.

The Blasphemous Equation was published in 1883, a year after the publication of The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche, which included the famous passage "Gott ist tott", or "God is dead". Despite what he really meant by those words they were still fresh in the minds of its readers when the Blasphemous Equation was published and Nietzsche, who would live until 1912, was not only regarded as a prophet (in the non-religious sense of the word) but given much better attention by those who accepted the truth of the Blasphemous Equation. Nietzsche's constantly evolving philosophy would be picked over by nearly every influential group to arise in the next few generations (while only a few of them paid more attention to what he meant than to which choice bits served their interests, this was business as usual).

Queen Victoria was the first major figure to accept the Blasphemous Equation, declaring her support in 1884 and over the next year reforming the Anglican Church into the College of England, a nontheistic organization charged with the duties of expanding the bounds of human knowledge, revering the strength of human reason, and seeing to it that the Blasphemous Equation was known of and accepted even in the furthest reaches of the globe. This decision was based in Queen Victoria's willingness to accept what was true and turn it to her advantage rather than try to deny it, and certainly helped along by the nationality of the Equation's creator and the relative acceptance of atheism and agnosticism in the United Kingdom.

At least half of the Church of England's clergy were not retained during the transition, either because they objected to it or because they were completely unsuited to the new environment. In part because of his popularity but almost certainly also because it was understood that he would only grow more influential in the future Queen Victoria extended an invitation to Nietzsche on behalf of the College of England. He would eventually decline, feeling that even as it stood presently the British acceptance of atheism did naught to improve their moral sense, despite the fact that he was still feeling the sting of the University of Leipzig's rejection of his application for professorship the past year. While he would not ever officially join the College of England he still regularly exchanged correspondence with numerous College officials, including, on occasion, Queen Victoria herself.

1889 was another notable year. While Scotland Yard was investigating the eight murders committed by Jack the Ripper, Pope Leo XIII, known for intellectualism and trying to reconcile the Church and modern thinking, was writing a thirty-page encyclical which amounted to the following: It should be impossible to disprove the existence of God. It is not something which can be disproved. The man who is convinced by it will say "Oh, but here it is all the same. Interesting paradox, but nothing more." How this has happened is clear- God wishes for us to no longer believe in Him. So who are we to disregard the will of God? This philosophy came to be known as Pious Disbelief and spread admirably quickly, especially after some more fanatical believers' actions blew up in their faces by making the position of continued religious observance look worse. The doctrine would finally die out in the mainstream partly because of repressive actions on the part of countries like the Three Romes and White Germany but mostly because Pious Disbelief is one of those things that becomes very popular among the existing elements but doesn't catch on to newcomers. In other words, while it's easy enough for already-religious people to "get it" and join, it doesn't make as much sense to new generations to believe in a philosophy which amounts to "don't believe." It's a lot easier to just ignore it as a curiosity and legitimately disbelieve in God instead of exercising doublethink to disbelieve in God because God said to do so. Which, for obvious reasons, was felt to be quite alright by the proponents of Pious Disbelief. 

Another interesting philosophy was held by the Self-Annihilationists, who believed that the Blasphemous Equation was the second part of Christ's Atonement. Not only the sins of the world had to be atoned for by Christ— by creating the world and allowing the possibility of sin, God was responsible for and thus guilty of every sin committed as well. Sacrifice was necessary to atone for this and for an all-powerful, all-knowing being the only genuine sacrifice possible would be permanent destruction (temporary destruction might suffice for a less-than-omniscient being but because He was all-knowing He would see past His death and to His resurrection, if it were only temporary, which would make it scarcely worse than falling asleep for a bit). The Blasphemous Equation was at once the suicide of God and His announcement of it, now that the world was mature enough to go on without Him.

The Catholic Church would splinter into no less than eight separate churches, the seven offshoots denying the doctrine of Pious Disbelief. Only two of these churches would survive for more than twenty years. Under the Pope's direction the Catholic Church slowly reorganized itself to focus on charity work and re-assuming role, once held in the Middle Ages, of spreading and preserving knowledge.

The League of Three Emperors was maintained in the difficult times post-Blasphemy, leading to a cemented alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia by 1916, which saw the beginnings of the three-year-long Great War. The League would include the Ottoman Empire with France as a target to hobble in any way possible, thanks to Russia's rivalry with the Ottoman's. Russia retained its easterly imperial ambitions and the Russo-Japanese War occurred as it did in our history, again with a Japanese victory. With slightly-saner decisions made by the British (who, in this history, did not take control of several ships they had been building for the Ottomans without asking), and their enemy the Russians part of the Central Powers, the Ottoman Empire ended up on the side of the Entente/Allies.

A couple of years after the beginning of the Great War, Alexander Kerensky (currently in charge of the provisional government that was created after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II the year before) withdrew from the conflict in order to ease internal tensions and focus on preventing the civil war that he foresaw as a possibility. Having been allied with Russia, Germany had no reason to send Lenin over, and the provisional government remained intact until it lost the “provisional” qualifier. It would be subverted by fascist elements when the Great Depression struck Russia. Like the Italians they drummed up visions of being the true heirs of Rome and its Empire, claiming this distinction through the marriage of Ivan III to Sophia Paleologue, who was the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor (that the tsars no longer had anything more than a ceremonial role was ignored by the fascists). While the Russian Orthodox Church had been dying this whole time, Fascist Russia would resurrect the rituals (though not the theology) of the church as an essential part of Russian culture, fusing it permanently with government offices. The Ottomans followed suit shortly thereafter and brought up their own old fancies of being heirs to the Romans. The Sultan resurrected Mehmed II's self-given title Kayser-i Rum, or Conqueror of the Romans.

In part because of the sudden pull of support by Russia, Germany fared far worse in the Great War than it had in our history, going so far as to see foreign armies march halfway to Berlin before the country's surrender was made and accepted. Hyperinflation and vast unemployment led to a Communist revolution (a surprisingly proportion of Navy and ex-Navy personnel were Communists, and this group led the revolution) in 1926, half a decade after the end of the Great War.

German Communism would quickly get caught up in racist ideologies and went down the road of YAY ARYANS. Interestingly, however, their conception of Aryans was more traditional than our present-day conception of a blue-eyed, blond-haired Caucasian: the Irish, Iranians, Tibetans, and Indians were all considered to be Aryan peoples. This may have been linked to the British Empire's hold on India and Ireland and the German hatred of said empire. By claiming these people to be Aryan, the German people were obligated to free their enslaved brothers. Communist elements in the British Empire would grow steadily stronger with each passing decade. By the middle of the Twentieth Century Communist revolutions would be seen in most of Britain's colonies, all of them aided by Germany and its allies (including Iran), and half of those revolutions would be successful. Communism disdained centralism and bureaucracy and never became the seemingly-monolithic structure that the USSR presented. Each country was an “independent republic,” and each such republic was a federation whose constituent states sometimes got along better with the states of other independent republics than the ones that were right next to them. As relations developed deepened between Germany and India and the latter became almost as important to the development of Communist theory as the country which originated it, Buddhism- in its atheistic form, of course- traveled to Europe and became wrapped up in Communism. Communist leaders especially valued the Buddhist emphasis on asceticism. The term arbeitskomfort  became common in Communist writings from that time on. Literally meaning “working comfort” but more often translated to as “labor nirvana,” it described a state of perfect satisfaction that existed when performing one's duties as best as possible.

Ernest Duchesne discovered penicillin in 1897 after expanding his studies to include humans, and this did not only result in a lowered loss of life from disease (including typhoid, which was not affected by the strain of penicillin discovered by Alexander Fleming) but managed to save Japan, which did not succumb to militarism. The cause for this lay in the Taisho Emperor, who caught pneumonia in 1926 but (thanks to the use of penicillin) was able to recover from it and live for another twenty years before dying at the age of sixty-seven. He was in as ill of health as ever, though, which meant that the Diet continued to function more independently and the parliamentary system had more time to root itself into the government before power changed hands. The Diet would successfully prevent Japan from initiating a war, but depending on history plays out the country may be dragged into one regardless. Another useful medicine developed early is the anti-malarial qinghao, discovered in the '40s along with a number of other traditional remedies which, upon thorough examinations, turned out to have basis in fact.

The Great Depression in the '30s led to what was the Russians called the Великий работа* or “great work.” These were essentially make-work programs designed to ease unemployment while at the same time performing some major task for the country. The great industrialization projects of Russia, which propelled the country from agricultural backwater to manufacturing powerhouse, was just one result of this period (indeed, these индустриализациы**  or “industrializations” actually began in the late '20s and are considered to have continued long after the Great Depression). Work on the Shakespeare-Sangatte Tunnel linking Britain and France was begun in the middle of the decade. Cross-country expressways, designed primarily for the transport of goods and important personnel, were constructed in many countries, the first being Italy. The Ottoman Empire began work on damming the Red Sea, which would produce near-limitless amounts of electricity. The “Usonian cities” (more accurately, small towns) of Frank Lloyd Wright (most principally the first, Wrighttown) were constructed by the United States Government as a means to fundamentally redesign city living at the time. The four Usonian cities constructed in this decade would go on to inspire future attempts for the rest of the Twentieth Century. “Workpartment” buildings housed both businesses and the employees who worked there, echoing the similar “integrated civic centers,” vast complexes that included everything from libraries and opera houses to shops, homes, and parking garages.

*velikiy rabota

These and similar projects like the Great Plains Treebelt (designed to mitigate the effects of the Dust Bowl in the US) may have been matched in number by more conventional fare but they sparked the Engineering Race, which saw each country trying to outdo the others in the construction of projects that had the capability to change the whole game. As the decades wore on the world saw the creation of the Gibraltar Bridge in the '40s, the Transatlantic Tunnel in the '50s (a submerged floating tunnel traveled by train and linking New York City and London), the Second Nile in the early '60s just before the Three Romes War and the mile-high California tower in San Francisco some time after its outbreak, massive seawater greenhouses and a square-kilometer radio array in the '80s, and the damming of the Bering Strait shortly after the turn of the Millennium.

Contemporary projects include the construction of a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar. TowerTown, built in Japan shortly before the end of the Twentieth Century, is a massive, almost self-contained structure that stands almost as high as the California and holds more than 100,000 people, most of whom not only live there but also work and shop in the building. Tunnels have been carved through the Alps, Berlin's cultural, art, and historical museum is nearly the size of a small town, solar collectors collectively stretch across hundreds of thousands of square kilometers around the world (to say nothing of China's “windmill jungle”), and half a million people spend at least six months out of the year on one of the world's several floating cities.

The Three Romes War was a conflict that broke out in the '60s, waged between Russia, Italy, the Ottoman Empire and their respective allies. The British Empire had previously attempted to remain neutral in dealings with Italy and the Ottoman Empire, both being old allies of the empire during the Great War generations earlier, but the British Empire ultimately sided with the Ottomans, which promised to help Britain to crush Communism after the war was over and recover her lost colonies and were in a better position than Italy to do so. The post-war map that the British envisioned saw them extending their influence over most of Europe and their original colonies and the Ottomans taking the rest of Asia and the areas around the Mediterranean. Germany remained out of the war (in the end they couldn't decide who they hated the least), as did most other White Communist countries, but a few small republics did help Russia. Russia would also be helped by most of the Slavic countries in Europe (barely any of them were not dependent on Russia to some degree) and Mongolia. Iran would fight for Russia indirectly by providing resources when needed (while considered part of the White Communist bloc it was still very much a distinct entity in its own right and was not even fully Communist; among other things it still had a shah). Italy was sadly outgunned in this conflict, counting on but ultimately unable to bring in British support and having to fall back on the aid of Spain and a couple of smaller countries. The United States just stayed out of the whole thing and managed to keep a tight grip on its isolationist policy; in modern times the US doesn't do anything so long as you stay away from the American continents and keep your finger away from that damned Red Button.

The Three Romes War saw the development of atomic weapons and their use in the final leg of the war when Russia dropped The Bomb on the city of Rome, destroying the country's command structure and the symbolism of the False Rome in one fell swoop. It was probably no coincidence that the Vatican City was within the blast radius; the morale of the Roman Secular-Catholic Church would never recover from this devastation. With the threat of a bomb being dropped on London or another city, the British quickly withdrew, and three bombs were dropped on strategic targets in the Ottoman Empire one month later.

The support of Russia and the fascist movement by Vladimir Jabotinsky and other Jewish Fascists resulted in reciprocated support of the Jewish people by Fascist Russia, which did not fail to note the advantages in being friendly to a group that was otherwise persecuted in the world. In the aftermath of the war and the so-called Breaking of the False Romes, when Russia took many Italian and Ottoman territories and partitioned some of the rest, Russia made sure to erect a Jewish puppet state in Palestine. It was constructed according to the plans laid out by Vladimir Jabotinsky years before and, logically enough, was fascist.

The Jewish people are worth noting for other reasons. A great many Jews turned to atheism, something aided by the teachings of contemporary Abraham Isaac Kook, who said that atheism was actually the purest form of worship because even the strictest Jewish interpretation of God still fell dangerously close to being a man-made idol. Kook saw the Blasphemous Equation as a miracle intended to “burn away” every false model of monotheism, which happened to include every form of religion. Regardless of whether they turned to atheism because they were genuinely convinced of the Equation's truth or because they felt it was God's will, nearly all Jews continued to observe the various traditions associated with the group, which were seen as being tied up not with the Jewish religion but with their heritage and culture. This explanation did not and does not hold water with the citizens of anti-Semitic countries, which claimed that the Jews were fools who still believed in supernatural beings and, worse, sought to force religion on everyone else. Even in modern times the Jewish people would find the most support in fascist countries, which only rarely forgot the support that had been given them by the Jews. Many different groups would develop from the Jewish people, each differing on which rituals were believed to still have relevance in modern times, and because of the increased relevance of Jewishness as culture and ethnicity rather than religion most would reject outsiders' attempts to self-identify as Jews unless they had married into the culture (and sometimes not even then).

While not much has been developed in the United States yet, it has currently been determined that the Civil Rights movement will be pushed back a couple of decades. With the lack of a Holocaust to point out how bad racism is to some people who really needed help figuring that out, increased stress, and a whole lot less success overall, the movement is likely but not definitely going to turn violent.

Thanks to Germany still being a scientific focus, German is the lingua franca of the scientific world even after it turns White. Other large alliances turn somewhat inward though (Russia, Israel, and their allies prefer Russian). French is the language of diplomacy, and also the scientific language of the Entente bloc. Science is by no means a sacred cow in this world; there's as much politicizing and abuse of it as there was in most totalitarian countries in our history, or of religion in any country in our history. In most countries a theory is accepted not necessarily because it is true but because it supports the party line. This doesn't apply across the board; a country may make heavy use of scientific racism but have no problem with what the latest chemistry theories say or the race of who designed those theories.

Russia and its allies are proponents of the Steady State theory, seeing in it parallels with the state of man (ie. Just as the universe has always existed, so too has the best kind of society always existed, as shown by the Romans and others like them). Lamarckian evolution is supported by the White Communists, who claim that cultural evolution leads to biological evolution and that Communist society will lead to the human race evolving into a higher state while all other forms of society will naturally lead to their members devolving into degenerate forms. This particular style of racism was in part implemented to justify the inclusion of non-Aryan Communists. They'll always be less evolved than Aryans because they don't have as much of a head start, but even Africans can be Communists.

The theory that language shapes thought was seized upon by several groups including White Germany, all of which claim that inferior languages lead to inferior minds and cultures and that their language is of course the true supreme language. Artificial languages in general are more accepted. One of the ongoing projects of the Anglican College since the 1970s is the creation of a language superior to all others that exist currently or potentially. The Anglican College in general has decayed into theory for theory's sake. They turned up their nose at the Engineering Race and focused instead on pure theory rather than tangible designs and proofs. Every decade that passes, the Anglicans' attention is turned to ever-obscurer fields of science, some of which only exist in the halls of the College of England, and most of the tangible projects worked on by its members are lofty, possibly-worthless things like the Babel Project.

Soap operas and talk-shows are insanely common in White Communist countries.

Pop music is mostly instrumental or mass singing with a few individual celebrities. A focus has been placed on media that is enjoyable in large groups; while televisions [incomplete]

In White Communist countries there is a focus on entertainment forms which are easily enjoyable in large groups. Cheap “pulplets,” usually derivative but on rare occasion innovative, are the most common form of fictional literature and are eschewed by members of the government and others who either have positions of prestige or wish to emulate such people. Television is usually relegated to news and talk shows, but again there [incomplete]

The recursive romance is a form of love story that began to appear in the British Empire in the late '70s, marked by its protagonists' awareness of the genre's usual tropes and, quite often, subversions of those tropes. Love stories have become increasingly more than cookie-cutter stories since the emergence of this subgenre, which is popular in other Entente bloc countries and in South America.

The home of modern animation truly must be said to be Israel. While for most of the Twentieth Century the United States and Italy dominated animation, since the 2010s animation has increasingly been done in the distinctly Israeli “superrealism” style, which is difficult to immediately distinguish from live action and is marked by the reduced cost of special effects. Several movies animated in the Israeli style take pleasure in switching between live action and animation and making it a seamless transition impossible to detect even somehow points it out to you. An older form, still common in comics and paintings, is the heavily-stylistic “ecstatic.”

Other notes of mention is that button rifling was developed in the 1930s, letting rifle and machine gun barrels be produced at a fraction of the cost and time, and wristwatches are still called wristlets even in the present.

Russia and Germany became fascist and communist respectively not just because I liked the idea of switching the two but because I liked the idea of exploring Russia's old claims to being Third Rome and I felt that Karl Marx deserved some love in his nation of origin. Despite Marx being a Jew, the Germans are still anti-Semitic because this would hardly be the first time that people were hypocritical like that. While it is unlikely that the Taisho Emperor would get pneumonia in the exact year that he did in our history, it is probable that he would have been killed at some point without the drug or one similar to it, and it ultimately makes no difference whether his life is saved in 1926 or 1936. Abraham Isaac Kook probably did not get his ideas about Jewish atheism until after the Blasphemous Equation would have likely butterflied them away, but someone was going to say it and I decided that it may as well be someone who, in our history, really did say it in that same period of history. Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect long before the Blasphemous Equation was published and the term “Usonian” was first used in the mid-1800s, similarly protecting it from butterflies.

I'm currently debating where I want homosexuality to still be banned, where I want it to have been banned up until the late Twentieth Century, and where I want it to have been legalized relatively early on. Certainly it would be accepted more easily without religious elements going against it but that's not the only reason one might speak against it (see the USSR's stance on homosexuality, for example). It's probably going to be banned, even in modern times, in White Communist countries, but I'm not sure.

The perpetrator [Jack the Ripper] is a woman, aided by the painter Walter Sickert, who had an artistic interest in the murders. Jack would resume the killings thirty years later to the day in 1929. Walter would initially help attempts to bring her to justice without implicating himself but in time got caught up in it and slipped into his previous behavior.

Anglican Church becomes humanist institution

No Nobel Prize

A book series recently commenced, with one volume every five years, which will present the Abel Prize laureates and their research.

Red Sea Dam constructed. Also a test for Atlantropa

G-Cans-like structure constructed

Atlantropa project commenced

The Great Hedge of India is not destroyed in the 1880s

Business Plot-like conspiracy that succeeds

Drive to eliminate smallpox and other diseases

Engineering Race

More barrage balloons and airships as scoutships in the Navy during WW1


[comments from other people who discussed the idea with me]

Aside from the contribution Jews and African-Americans have made to US humor, people of a totalitarian dispostion generally lack much subtlety in their sense of humor: a Jew being run over with a steamroller is about their speed. Irony is supect, and authority is not to be poked fun of (as long as it is not undermensch authority)

Movies under fascism were pure escapism. Comedies,musicals,adventures,love. technically were very advanced.

I thought that was the point I made. Westerns are an important part of US culture so Fascist American cinema would still have westerns but with a Fascist ideology, which is (inasmuch as there is one!) Us versus Them. Although Fascist Westerns may be more about Man coping in a harsh environment, and only occasionally being threatened by various degenerates, or perhaps about the temptations of frontier towns.

As for the American Civil War: The powers that be would probably have a tough time trying to figure out how to handle that one. Classical Fascist ideology, after all, exalts the unity of the state, which militates in favor of pro-Union portrayals. If you're going for more Nazi-style "white power" ideology, though, you'd want films portraying the Confederate point of view with the utmost sympathy. Birth of a Nation would be a good template for this.

Comics were historically common in poor countries

Radio novels

Suppose Britain keeps doesn't lose Tanzania to Germany, and manages to consolidate all the East African colonies; suppose Cecil Rhodes gets his Red Line, and then some, as the colonies are tied together and have a large white settler population.  Decolonization comes, none of the individual parts are able to throw off the settlers without bringing down the wrath of the state upon them. So the only way the black majority can do so is by hanging together, which means they need a non-national banner to unite behind -- and essentially, that means communism.

Desalinated manmade rivers in Africa

"Jewish philanthropists considered Mexican Jewry a worthy recipient of aid and, in 1891, the Baron de Hirsch Fund, along with the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) planned large-scale Jewish agricultural settlements in Mexico, much like the kibbutzim the philanthropists were developing in Israel. However, these plans never materialized."

I recall reading(not sure if this is true or not, but it is quite plausible) that by the 1860's and early 1870's, there was a small, but growing, urban middle-class sector composed of ex-slaves and freeborn blacks in Brazil. By the 1900's, they were mostly gone - European immigrants had took their place. Assuming the above statements are true, if you find a way to revert this situation, you get your scenario. Actually as late as the 1920's you could find an important black urban middle-class in some cities. If you look at photos from the graduation of new teachers for public schools in Rio in the 1910's you can notice that many of them were black. But when you find photos from the 1930's all the blacks disappeared, replaced by white immigrants.

What if human meat was popular with the wealthy and was being sold on the black market?
Of course, if we're assuming that this is an illegal operation, we'd be looking at a situation more akin to hunting. I've met a few people who hunt for meat (as a luxury, not a necessity, it's costly over here), and they regularly pass up the chance to shoot large, old animals in favour of younger, tastier ones even if the trophies aren't as impressive. The best place to go, I guess, would be trafficking networks. Reasonably healthy female teenagers are in fairly plentiful supply (and probably preferable to uncastrated males in flavour - it's common across many species). So that's where the supply end most like comes in. Rural third world girls would be easiest, the less attractive ones that wouldn't be picked up by the sex traffickers.  The next question is how the system would work. I assume distribution channels similar to bushmeat, with a small but very wealthy clientele supporting a highly specialised smuggling network. You couldn't trust the average trafficker not to freak if he found out where his merchandise ended up.  You know, there really is no way to say whether this isn't in existence. Who'd have believed a few years ago that girls were routinely kept as house slaves in Europe and the USA, or that people were smuggling gorilla meat as a delicacy?

By today, I'd envision Jews to have a position somewhat analogous to that of homosexuals today. Equal rights in theory, active associations with public relations wings, activist lawyers and some degree of political solidarity, with some nations being quite advanced in their integration while others actively undermine their theoretical equality. Such a world would not be antisemitic. Certainly not. Some of its best friends will be Jews. But, you know, do you really think the military is the place for them? How about banking... 

Don't forget about Argentina. At this time Argentina was one of the main destinations for Jews as well as being seen as a possibility for the Jewish State by Theodor Herzl.

I've got one: Australia has an awful lot of uranium... As said, it had a lot of uranium and wasn't it an important naval base for the RN and USN for some of WWII? (And you don't need "the bomb" to make uranium important; a society with a lot of reactors but no bombs is perfectly imaginable, in which case uranium will be a strategic resource on par with coal or oil (which have had wars fought over them). Admittedly, it's hard to imagine a society with a lot of reactors where the ability to build a bomb is unknown, but that takes a while--estimated at a couple of months for Japan, for instance--so you can imagine someone trying a hasty thrust to capture Australia for the uranium and hoping that they can negotiate a peace that leaves them in control of the place).

Humanitarian Japan

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