Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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Tommy4ever

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And we come the very brink of thermonuclear war!

Is hard to see the Germans just sitting back and allowing the Soviets to occupy Romania. Unless a compromise can be reached, war seems inevitable.

Also want to note I enjoyed the look in on Kenya in the previous update - I hope there’s more to come from the ‘fraternal nations’ in the future :).
 

DensleyBlair

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And we come the very brink of thermonuclear war!

Is hard to see the Germans just sitting back and allowing the Soviets to occupy Romania. Unless a compromise can be reached, war seems inevitable.

Out of almost nowhere, tensions skyrocket between the European powers. The US are more or less just monitoring things at the moment, so there's still a way to go before thermonuclear war – but everyone is going to have to scramble if they want to avoid a conventional war in the East.

Also want to note I enjoyed the look in on Kenya in the previous update - I hope there’s more to come from the ‘fraternal nations’ in the future :).

Aye, there's be more on the fraternal nations to come yet. Particularly once the Americans start taking more of an interest in enforcing things like the Monroe Doctrine. Glad you enjoyed Kenya. It's a subject that has fascinated me recently, the Emergency and Kenyatta's rise to power.

____________________

In the latest stage of my grand tour of the South West of Great Britain, I'm on Dartmoor at the moment so very likely my internet will once again be patchy over there next few days. This is more to forewarn that I probably won't be around the boards so much commenting on all of your work; service here shouldn't be affected too much.

In between doing the obligatory activities one does when in Devon, I'll be aiming to get a whole lot of planning done for the final few years taking us up to the end of "book one". With any luck I might actually have this thing all written by the end of September, then planning begins for the long-awaited (?) "book two".

The next update, incidentally, takes us into the fourth part of this saga: Revision (1956–67). Plenty of political scheming, Cold War drama and of course Mosley's downfall to come very soon. So get anticipating! :D
 

Carol-Niko

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I suppose Germany will soon learn what happens when you push the envelope on another power's national security. I do find it funny that a social democrat is leading the charge into near global armageddon. Watching this with interest.
 

Wraith11B

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Did I miss it or what happened to the development of nuclear weapons? Without the bloodshed in the world through the years of 1939 - 45, what becomes of the project to split the atom?
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Did I miss it or what happened to the development of nuclear weapons? Without the bloodshed in the world through the years of 1939 - 45, what becomes of the project to split the atom?

Everyone has them because the communists developed them and naturaly had radicals share the information with everyone else on the planet.

I imagine that with the otl commonwealth non-existent, that everyone who used to be part of the empire is armed with them, as are the russians, the amercians, the Chinese, the Japanese and the syndicalist goverments of the world.
 

DensleyBlair

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I suppose Germany will soon learn what happens when you push the envelope on another power's national security. I do find it funny that a social democrat is leading the charge into near global armageddon. Watching this with interest.

Glad to have you on board, Carol-Niko. Cold warrior social democrats are nothing new, but the Germans and their allies are particularly preoccupied by the Soviet rivalry. It will get worse before it gets better.

Did I miss it or what happened to the development of nuclear weapons? Without the bloodshed in the world through the years of 1939 - 45, what becomes of the project to split the atom?

Everyone has them because the communists developed them and naturaly had radicals share the information with everyone else on the planet.

I imagine that with the otl commonwealth non-existent, that everyone who used to be part of the empire is armed with them, as are the russians, the amercians, the Chinese, the Japanese and the syndicalist goverments of the world.

Things are slightly delayed, so the first use of nuclear weaponry was an experimental deployment in Korea by the US in 1950, though nothing on the scale of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. As it stands in 1956 only the US and the USSR have successfully tested H-bombs. Other powers are trying, though. This will all be covered fairly soon so I won't go into detail now. For the present crisis, it is just worth knowing that there isn't the same level of nuclear threat as OTL.
 
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Wraith11B

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Oh... oh dear. So, instead of a nuclear club, we have just straight up nukes for all?

EDIT: Oh, well, I guess that's... better? Somehow?
 

DensleyBlair

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Oh... oh dear. So, instead of a nuclear club, we have just straight up nukes for all?

EDIT: Oh, well, I guess that's... better? Somehow?

Well, it's certainly… different?

We will, soon enough, have our world-threatening nuclear-backed existential crises. But for now everything's in a weird state of "WW2 never really happened so the interwar sort of never ended, except now it's turned into Cold War anyway and everyone's incredibly paranoid".
 
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99KingHigh

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6Venre3.jpg

Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger's Six Thousand Days (1971) is today considered the definitive account of the long Democratic administration. It was awarded a Pulitzer Price in 1972. Schlesinger's sympathetic account of the early years of the Democratic administration helped restore the reputation of President Kefauver after the disastrous events of the mid-1960s.

Six Thousand Days: Kefauver, Kennedy, and the Frontiersmen in the White House
Excepts from chapters on domestic affairs from Part I (1956-1960)

MeGXLf8.jpg

The author in 1960.

Kennedy’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was dubious about his son and the Vice-Presidency. He feared that the Democrats would lose in 1956 against MacArthur’s successor and worried that a Catholic running mate would be blamed for the defeat. But the young administrative assistant whom Kennedy had adopted in 1953 at the suggestion of Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, Theodore C. Sorensen of Nebraska, was all for going ahead. Without committing himself, Kennedy let Sorensen test the wind. Through the spring of 1956, as the Hunt scandal raged, Sorenson talked to political leaders, wrote a persuasive memorandum designed to prove from the distribution of the Catholic vote that a Catholic would strengthen the ticket and worked vigorously to line up support.

In the course of his missionary endeavor, Sorenson contacted me. I had served on Kefauver’s campaign staff in 1952 and, if he were renominated, would presumably do so again. Moreover, I had come to the view that, of the various vice-presidential candidates, Kennedy would help Kefauver the most. I also felt that putting a Catholic on the lower half of the ticket would be the wisest way to manage the taboo of a Catholic President which had too long disgraced American politics. Accordingly I told Kennedy in the spring that I wished to assist in any way I could consistent with my role in the Kefauver campaign. Sorensen came to our place at Wellfleet on Cape Cod early in July to discuss tactics at the convention.

Kennedy already had attracted powerful friends at the Kefauver headquarters in Chicago. But he had opposition within the party, especially from the professional Catholic politicians and the older generation. Jim Farley told Kefauver, “America is not ready for a Catholic.” And the older party leaders disliked the idea of Kennedy not only because of his Catholicism but because of his obvious youth and independence. Truman dismissed the thought out of hand. He already disliked the “anointed” nominee for his marked independence against the party bosses and thought the Democratic Party needed “one of their own” in the vice-presidential spot to shore up institutional support. Kefauver, however, was never one to be troubled by the reaction of experienced professionals like Truman and Farley. He had made his career repudiating the party establishment, and though it had earned him little in 1952, he wanted to give the new political generation prominence, and considered Kennedy its most attractive spokesman. As the Democrats assembled in Chicago for the convention, he decided to ask Kennedy to put his name in nomination...


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Senator Kefauver and Senator Kennedy at the 1956 Democratic Convention.

The expectations for Kennedy and Kefauver were exceedingly high. Facing down a lumbering administration that manifested all the worst caricatures of the Republican Party’s scandalous reputation, the Democrats waded into the 1956 election with supreme self-confidence. Nevertheless, trumpeted in the academic world by such bleeding-hearts as myself and Kenneth Galbraith, Kefauver and Kennedy could not have helped but to have feared for the presidential manifestation of the conservative coalition, and the fearsome defection of the South. For all the good that his beaver hat, mafia-busting, and zealous electioneering did for his popularity, Kefauver was thought dangerously ‘un-presidential’ by his populist courage and anti-institutionalism. It was no surprise then that Joe Kennedy abruptly gave into defeatism. He saw within this curious alliance of immature energy a fearsome invitation for the conservative coalition in both parties to combine behind Vice President Stassen. The old man thought the liberal ticket too similar—and bound by its immaturity to fail. Therefore, it fell upon his son to strike the contrast. The cool and ambitious Kennedy, too bored by the reflexes of stereotypical liberalism, and without a liberal heart on his sleeve, was made to “spruce up” the Democratic ticket, without abandoning its youthful vigor. In reality, the distinctions between the personalities were drowned out by the ever-growing rot inside the Republican Party, from which the public had grown to understand had sentenced Senator Lester C. Hunt to an early grave. To break from the passivity and acquiescence of the MacArthur era, Kefauver and Kennedy could give the nation a jolt back to the progressive impulse by simple process of elimination. My father had prophesied in his 1939 essay on America called “Tides of the National Polity,” in which he argued that our nation's political waves could be defined in predictable cycles, that the dominant reformist trajectory would taper off around 1945, and then would resurge, as it did, in the early 1960s. In fact, the experience of the MacArthur years soured me to his opinion. America was ready for whoever was in opposition, and few were astonished by the easy approach to complete Democratic control over the Congress and the Presidency…

For all the exhaustive wrangling that characterized Kefauver’s long march against the Democratic Party establishment, his principles on the national stage finally seemed to win out. But it was an imperfect accomplishment. Kennedy, who wanted to brandish a bold “new frontier” that was actually quite synchronous with mainstream New Deal liberalism, privately confided his disappointment that Kefauver had defaulted to “pre-Wilsonian restorationism.” Campaigning in the 1950s, Kefauver frequently sounded like an Old School populist Democrat, stirring the public imagination against issues that had long since seemed to lose their poignancy; monopolies and corruption, not the Cold War or civil rights. Eric Sevareid in the Boston Globe complained of Strassen and Kefauver that these "tidy, buttoned-down squares" were the apotheosis of the "Organization Man," antipathetic to the memory of the young who so recently were "sickened at the Republic Steel massacre of strikers, got drunk and wept over the Spanish Civil War, dreamt beautiful and foolish dreams about the perfectibility of man, cheered Roosevelt and adored the poor." Indeed, these Ivy League alumni had evaded the firebranding of the revolutionary swirl, but compensated for their supposed lack of vision with the supposed qualities of statesmen. Kefauver, cultivated in the shadow of men like Roosevelt and MacArthur, inherited an activist concept of the executive. Already ambitious, the melancholic senator from Tennessee was determined to translate his skill at self-publicity into the framework for a strong presidency. This belief in executive authority was intensified by his conviction that an antitrust offensive could put the nation back on track, and that all that was required was a focused presidency to undo the MacArthur administration’s openness to big business. As he was to find out, by the 1950s, most liberals were reconciled to large-scale capitalism, and that many of the great bastions of New Deal institutionalism, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, were becoming its enthusiastic champions…


sudxghp.jpg

Renown for his zeal on the track, Kefauver is generally thought to be one of the greatest political campaigners in American history.

After the inauguration, in my new capacity as Special Assistant to the President, it became clear that the central tension in this White House would reflect an unease at the heart of the Democratic Party. The new school of American liberalism not only sought a focused effort on the poignant issues of civil rights and the welfare state, but also disagreed with Kefauver on his terms. Liberal economists such as Galbraith and Gardiner C. Means had shifted the mainstream gaze away from anti-monopoly action and towards a form of interest-group politics in which organized labor would act as the countervailing force against big business. They did not share the president-elect’s faith in the antitrust laws, which owed more to a populist-progressive tradition rooted in agrarian distrust of concentrated economic and political power. He wanted a firm push against drug prices, solutions for the high cost of goods (especially meat), and even the creation of a “Department of the Consumer” which he argued in his inaugural would “serve the compelling need for the influence of an agency which will bring to the attention of top policy officials the ways in which their actions may affect the American people in their capacity as consumers.” The passage was much criticized, both for its circuitous language and for its supposed intrusiveness into the marketplace.

Kennedy, meanwhile, came to carry the weight of the Democratic establishment. He saw himself as the administration’s eloquent spokesmen for the broad rejuvenation of the New Deal that he knew was required. With supreme showmanship he succeeded in carving out a space in the administration as a principal policy engine, and thus the “New Frontiersmen” swarmed in from state governments, the universities, the foundations, and the newspapers. The progressive establishment arrived, impressively credentialed in war-medals, education, and public service to complete the “unfinished business of American society” and to keep the President tethered to the “needs of the decade, not crosses of gold,” as the New York Times noted in a transparent criticism of Kefauver's anachronistic instincts. These Kennedy men had a common characteristic; versatility. They would try anything with their grim, puncturing humor and their laconic tone. They looked down on Kefauver and even the old New Dealers as “incorrigible philosophers” and “chain talkers,” who never left behind the idealism of the thirties. The currents of vitality radiated from the White House as they worked with a confident rationalism, concealed behind the flood of buoyant optimism exuded by their Vice-Commander-in-Chief. Kefauver came to reign over an unfamiliar court, and competed with another, Camelot.


oQSirVL.png

“Only fools want to be great.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King (1958).

I do not mean to exaggerate their political or personal differences. At bottom we knew that all participants in this promise of hope shared a basic commitment to liberal values. The real divergences were those of style, not substance. But in American politics, as I came to understand it, divergences of style can prove as consequential as ideological divergences. On every issue the administration had to pass three tests. First, either the Frontiersmen or the President’s men would have to concur on the essential contents of a policy. Without the consent of the President, Kennedy’s policies would be dead in the water. Without the consent of Kennedy, the President’s policies would never escape the bureaucratic apparatus. Next, if both agreed on the framework, their representatives would be forced into strenuous sessions of deliberation and compromise where a reversion to the first stage was always a terrifying prospect. Finally, when the White House was unified, it had to overcome the enduring power of the conservative coalition. Though the Democrats dominated every branch of government, the party’s divisions were dramatic, particularly in the Senate where the Southern Bloc retained its influence.

The President himself was a southerner, but he did not share the segregationist views of his former colleagues, nor in fact, their economic opinions. Harry Byrd, for example, famous for his avowed “massive resistance” against the split Brown v Board decision, also headed up the Senate Finance Committee as an outspoken balanced-budget fundamentalist. There were many attempts by the administration at conciliation. For example, J. William Fulbright, a prominent Southern Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, renowned for his desire to rebalance American policy towards Europe, was given the State Department. The President, leveraging his Southern nativity, promised strict observance to the distinct economic needs of the region. But what was desired above all by the Southern Democrats was a resolute avoidance of the civil rights issue. Both Kennedy and Kefauver did not doubt the depth of the injustice, but they read the arithmetic of the new Congress and concluded there was no chance of passing a civil rights bill. Moreover, the President had a wide range of responsibilities, and a fight for civil rights would distract southern support he needed for other purposes, including bills for labor, education, and the minimum wage, which were of direct benefit to the Negro. And they feared that the inevitable defeat of a civil rights bills would heighten Negro resentment and drive the civil rights revolution to drastic resorts. They walked away from Joseph Rauh’s case for legislation on voting rights, Title III, and a permanent fair employment practices commission. Kefauver even tried negotiations with Democratic Governor Orval Faubus over his order to send in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the desegregation of Little Rock High School, before eventually sending in federal forces to enforce the judicial edict…


xMFLTdm.jpg

Nine teens braved violent protests in Little Rock after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation - but only after Kefauver negotiated with Governor Faubus to let him save face and feign hopelessness.

...thus as we have shown, Kefauver leaned into his executive activism to retain the confidence of the civil rights movement without frightening the South by legislation. He appointed Negroes to government posts and undertook vigorous pro-civil rights action through the Department of Justice. Kennedy resigned from the Metropolitan Club for its discriminatory policies against Negroes, and encouraged Kefauver to issue executive orders against discrimination in federal employment and to make a special effort to seek Negroes for federal office. Abraham Ribicoff, the Attorney General, lead the civil rights charge from the Justice Department, despite his concern that it would not help the cause if a Jewish Attorney-General was putting Negro children into white schools in the South. But existing legal protections were so frail and the unpopularity of the office so great that the Department, especially the Civil Rights division under Burke Marshall, faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Marshall and Ribicoff lacked the authority to initiate suits, and were effectively forced into negotiating with local officials involved in educational policy to give the opportunity for local self-correction, which was rarely enforceable. The issue of suffrage, paramount to the entire civil rights movement, remained inaccessible without legislative authority conferring certain powers on the judicial arm of the executive branch. Throughout his first term, Kefauver vacillated on whether to advance such legislation, distracted as he was by his political crusades, and by his reasonable fear that a civil rights bill would destroy his party when he needed it most…

...the legislative achievements of 1957-8 were certainly without parallel since the Roosevelt administration. Even so, they did not represent a radical legislative rejuvenation, nor did they capture the aspirations of a party that sought to motivate a New Frontier. Kefauver would not be persuaded out of his antimonopoly, pro-labour agenda, and in one of the all-important “test cases,” the President moved to strike at Taft-Hartley. With Kennedy’s compromise to instead attempt a “supplement bill” to appease anxious Southern Democrats, Democratic leaders enlisted the help of Senator Russell, the powerful chair of the Armed Services committee and one of the leading voices of the Southern Bloc. Russell had converted the Southern caucus, including Senator Byrd to this ‘moderated’ position back in 1952, considering full repeal a remote possibility. While Democratic leaders haggled behind Kefauver’s back on what an amended bill would look like the President mounted his attack on monopolies. It was not a perspicacious maneuver. Facing mounting concern from the business community over Taft-Hartley, Kefauver’s barrage towards a new swath of consumer protection agencies frightened enterprise against the motions. Consequently, the initial amendments to the Taft-Hartley bill were diluted by the Democratic leadership as their President took to the bully pulpit to agitate for his consumer legislation...


AR5j1wQ.jpg

Though weakened by legislation, American unions retained considerable power throughout the 1950s and were consistent supporters of the Democratic Party.

...combining the FDA, the price work of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Home Economics, the proposed Department of Consumers sounded to conservatives and apathetic liberals like another intrusion. As ever the Frontiersmen took it upon themselves to press as operators for the cause, cognizant that it was a battle that they had little confidence or interest in propagating. The ultra-conservative Democrat, Senator Coke R. Stevenson of Texas, was particularly antipathetic to the President’s proposal [1]. However, in a spectacular showcase of his exceptional capacity for self-promotion and popular galvanization—even in the absence of support from political establishment that regarded him as not one of their own and therefore ‘ineffective’—Kefauver took to the airwaves. Whereas President Eisenhower had flashed before the television with diligent propriety, Kefauver projected a message of zealous belief in his policies in such a manner that Nixon compared him to a “17th century Jesuit priest.” Over excoriating GOP criticism, he entranced his audience as he urged them to press upon their representatives for support. On one extremely controversial occasion in August 1957, Kefauver briefly donned his beaver hat while railing against congressional leaders for their lethargy. In other times, the transportation of the populist spirit into the technological era would have yielded greater achievements, but the zealot often lacks the pragmatism to materialize his missives. Nevertheless, while his occasional broadcasts could not produce an instantaneous victory, nor appease those who found these broadcasts unseemly, the President’s immense personal popularity did have a profound impact. Dashing across American cities in the furious fashion that was his trademark, Kefauver attained undeniable popular support—though one must not forget the deep unpopularity of the GOP, who knew even before the election that they were approaching a repeat of 1932—that translated into material gains…

...by the mid-summer of 1957, the first major piece of reform legislation was within range. The Frontiersmen had satisfied the AFL–CIO with the revocation of the so-called “right-to-work” states via the partial restoration of the union shop. Kefauver, by moral instinct and not by congressional acumen, insisted on the “Landrum–Griffin” amendment to the bill that attacked, in an adaption of MacArthur's former slogan, the “Three C’s:” labor corruption, labor communism, and labor crime. It prohibited members of the Communist Party from holding union office, ensured there were secret elections as reviewable by the Department of Labor, required annual financial reports, and forced minimum standards for disciplinary action or expulsive action taken by the Union. Thus the two significant concessions from opposite directions quieted the debate and allowed the Labor Relations Act of 1957 to pass. This was fortuitous timing, for the President’s popularity was soon compromised by the disastrous success of Sputnik…


jD2HxSM.jpg

Kefauver, attacked as un-presidential, nevertheless proved extremely popular for his intimate broadcasts and personal touch. Supporters likened him to early 20th century progressives, such as the late Senator La Follette.

...the problem of 1958 was the recession, which had deepened over the winter. An exception among recent presidents, Kefauver not only pleaded innocence from the causes of the recession but ignored his sliding popularity to revive the campaigning spirit that he harnessed so effectively. His broadcasts returned to carry the torch of a new crusade. But here it was Kennedy who shone the brightest, for the Frontiersmen that attached themselves to this proposal were sincere in their enthusiasm for an increase in the minimum wage. Theodore Sorensen, a Frontiersmen man with a jealous devotion to Kennedy, performed with exceptional grace and intellect in advancing the wage. He was the unchallenged master of domestic policy and domestic speeches, and Kefauver came to rely on him. Kefauver’s staff, trifles in the shadow of Kennedy’s spectacular courtiers, were chastened. That spring, Kefauver agreed on Kennedy’s advice to take on Kenneth O'Donnell as his effective Chief of Staff. Within the White House, O’Donnell guarded the entrance to the office, but he was effective and it cannot be said that Kennedy’s slow insertion into the Oval Office did not pay dividends. Communication with the House improved significantly and with few Democrats averse to spending in order to save their seats the 85th Congress passed a minimum wage bill, lifting the limit from 75 cents to $1.25 an hour, and provided a series of ‘provisional’ stipulations in subsequent legislation. These included a redevelopment bill, an omnibus housing bill, temporary unemployment benefits, benefits for dependent children of the unemployed, and a program to combat water pollution. Of course, Southern opinion left its imprint. On the minimum wage bill, for example, Rep. Carl Vinson of Georgia inserted a provision that exempted the Negro-populated laundry business from benefits. The provision was included in the bill…

Still, this was a program of welfare, perhaps a program to resolve the recession, but not a program of economic expansion. Kennedy himself restlessly sought the answer to a higher growth rate. He took advice from Robert R. Nathan, a distinguished New Deal economist, and pressed him with his concerns. Nathan replied that the Vice-President could attain that growth, but the price would be a deficit of $5 billion a year for the next decade. The Vice President skeptically responded that it was great if only Nathan could organize the political support for such a policy. According to Gallup, 62 percent of Americans opposed even cutting taxes at the cost of raising the national debt, which must have been considerably more favorable than polling on productive expenditure. On this issue Kefauver was more in touch with the New Frontier economists who were clamoring for deficit spending. The Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon, no economic conservative had asserted that “what the country needs for the coming fiscal year is the largest deficit that will not frighten foreigners, say $5 billion above the loss of outlays.” But a deficit of that magnitude was coming anyway; and Dillon did not wish to increase it, partly because he held out the dream of a balanced budget by the election, and partly because he wanted to use limited tax reduction at some later point to trade off. Sorensen felt that the new plans for military and space spending put further domestic appropriations out of the question…


71jOoH8.jpg

Illinois residents line up at an unemployment office in Chicago in the winter of 1957-8.

...the reduction of the Democratic majority by only three seats in the midst of high unemployment was noted by The Nation to be an “undeniable endorsement of the capacity for Democratic governance.” There were lukewarm skeptics, including the New York Times, which thought the chances offered by the landslide 1956 victory had been squandered by the inexperience of its captains. I admit that in my own reflections I smelt the odor of political inadequacy as well. Kefauver, discovering the bottle on a growing basis, could not maintain a beneficial rapport with Congress. He preferred an invigorating campaign or a magnificent proposal over the grind of negotiating with Congress. Kennedy worked as hard as possible to fill the gaps but he was neither a master of procedure nor subtle persuasion. The President and the Vice-President were not equipped with the deep expertise that was required to meet the moment. Their progressive laws, for programs such as elderly health insurance, education and housing reform, and civil rights, lingered in unsympathetic committees...

...with their seats secure, and the economy recovering, the conservative coalition regrouped and formed against the administration. They made clear that the gaping deficit of $17 billion would not be acceptable much longer, though we responded that the causes of the recession were clearly inherited, and that the deficit was expected to shrink considerably with the ongoing recovery. Even so, it seemed to me as if the fiscal conservatives were preparing themselves against consumer legislation. Beginning in 1958, gold had also begun to leave the United States in alarming magnitudes in order to meet the deficit in our international payments. The pressure on the reserves encouraged those tho wanted to apply deflationary remedies (high interest rates, government retrenchment) despite the fact that as Dillon put it, "the slow growth of our economy was enhancing the relative attractiveness of foreign investment.” The business community, once wrapped in with MacArthur, took again to the old rituals and devils, and they spoke out with liturgical fervor against further “socialization.” It was no surprise then that the President's schedule came to prefer foreign affairs. Among the memorable expense-sensitive proposals considered in 1959, only the National Defense Education Act and the Nuclear Safety Act escaped from congressional stranglehold. Both were wrapped in panic; the former in reaction to the launch of the Soviet satellite, Sputnik, and the latter to the infamous Windscale disaster...even the President felt confined by the fiscal situation, and he lost some of the luster that had characterized the first twenty-four months…


1BWodFB.jpg

Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, who would come to play a decisive role in the development of a "two-oceans financial system."

...we made liberal policy wherever conceivable but the irony of our condition was the recurrence of economic troubles in 1960. Another recession, this one mild, infuriated the New Frontiersmen. They blamed the persistence of a low growth policy on the contractionary fiscal agenda and once again demanded productive deficits. I shared their sympathies and pressed the President to climb the bully pulpit. This time around, however, he was facing an election, and he refused. I thought it was an abdication of his strongest attribute, others thought it a return to dignified procedure. Nevertheless we knew the imminent challenges and pressed ourselves for new social spending. The Kerr-Mills Act initiated a program for the federal government for the medically indigent and increased the funds available for the medical care of those receiving Old Age Assistance. Congress approved construction projects, including several undertaken by the Department of Agriculture for water resource programs and rural electrification. Kefauver signed executive orders that provided federal employees with collective bargaining rights and then signed various relief legislation including raising federal employee wages and benefits, providing federal reimbursement to states for social security, offering farmers income support, expanding vocational education...Kennedy worked to reduce the maximum permissible interest rate on FHA insured loans and reduced the rates on the Small Business Administration. Kefauver wrapped it up with his promise to introduce tax reform, a proposition that coincided with the improving fiscal situation, despite the contraction…

...we had failed, I thought, in our determination to win larger victories, and fight fiercer battles. Certainly there were others who thought quite the opposite, and I was destined to be their victim. A contribution in 1947 to a Partisan Review symposium entitled “The Future of Socialism” was exhumed as evidence, as Barry Goldwater put it, that “for many years Schlesinger has been writing about socialism in America and laying out a blueprint on how to accomplish it. He announces himself as a socialist.” Goldwater had obviously never read the piece, which noted: “After all which system has more successfully dehumanized the worker, fettered the working class and extinguished personal and political liberty? The socialist state is thus worse than the capitalist state because it is more inclusive in its coverage and more unlimited in its power.” Though Goldwater, to do him justice, stopped calling me to complain about my supposed socialism when the facts were pointed out to him, I could not help but wonder how we were to attempt ambitious reform in the second term if our gradualism already attracted such indignation. As we had little to fear from the upcoming election—for though we might lose the Senate it was inconceivable to abdicate the presidency at this time against a Republican—the mantle was naturally passing to the New Frontiersmen. The transition was accelerated by the President’s supposedly mature attitude. His peculiar strategies had earned triumphs, but not enough, and he came to understand that Democratic policies would be better managed if channelled through the clique around Vice-President Kennedy, rather than his own conscience and his own people. At least his principles, I maintain to this day, were distinctly American.


Lx1T8GS.jpg

New York City in 1959.

[1] Behold, your world without LBJ.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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This seems...good? A little better than otl 50s America anyway, though not sure if this huge democrat bloc is going to end up attempting any of the big ideas Kennedy and co had...though I am glad he is close to the top if a Cold War is about to go quite hot.
 

stnylan

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Joe Kennedy being defeatist? Why am I not surprised.

It sounds like a pretty pickle of an administration. And having read a bit of Schleisinger (whom I do not entirely get along with) I again "buy-into" this realisation of his viewpoint.
 
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DensleyBlair

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This seems...good? A little better than otl 50s America anyway, though not sure if this huge democrat bloc is going to end up attempting any of the big ideas Kennedy and co had...though I am glad he is close to the top if a Cold War is about to go quite hot.

Kennedy's going to have a big impact on the Cold War, that's for sure. Whether the Cold War will leave them time to do landmark domestic stuff, that's another question. One I'm not entirely sure of the answer yet.

Joe Kennedy being defeatist? Why am I not surprised.

Last night of all nights seems a fitting enough moment to read some Kennedy defeatism. :D

It sounds like a pretty pickle of an administration. And having read a bit of Schleisinger (whom I do not entirely get along with) I again "buy-into" this realisation of his viewpoint.

The States were evidently in a pickle after MacArthur (and Byrnes before him), and with the Southern Democrats retaining a decent amount of their power things are not always easy for a maverick character like Kefauver. I'm not sure where the administration will end up, so I'm equally looking forward to finding out.

Schlesinger's writing was a new one on me, but I think @99KingHigh did an excellent job capturing what I imagine is a fairly high-minded 20th century academic liberalism. Not really my bag either, but it seems like exactly the sort of thing Aaron Sorkin would weep tears of joy over so that leads me to believe it hits the mark.

_____________________

Another slice of history from OTL Mosley's pitiable career for you all: September 2 1962, Mosley attempted a rally in Dalston. The anti-fascists were out in good force, and Oswald spoke for all of two minutes before being forced to flee. You can see some of the footage via Pathé, including a very droll bit of commentary that seems incredibly of its time ("they cried, Down with Mosley! – and down he went.")

 

Carol-Niko

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Tragic that Adlai was replaced by Kefauver. He was the most articulate post-New Deal liberal out there. On the pantheon of academic liberalism, he ranks high.
 
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Tragic that Adlai was replaced by Kefauver. He was the most articulate post-New Deal liberal out there. On the pantheon of academic liberalism, he ranks high.

I do quite like Adlai, but then I've always been fascinated by Kefauver too. Can't remember how exactly the decision to go for him over Stevenson came about, but I think it makes for a nice change. Adlai's probably still out there doing something worthy, though.
 
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Le Jones

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A fascinating pair of upates, @DensleyBlair - I particularly enjoyed the Kefauver portrayal (I'd barely heard of him before reading this).

Ah, Kennedy - the partnering of Kennedy and Kefauver is an enticing one, and I can see how they'd be an attractive team. You portray the Washington scheming very well, and I wonder how many terms our elder Southern statesman will get to enjoy...
 
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A fascinating pair of upates, @DensleyBlair - I particularly enjoyed the Kefauver portrayal (I'd barely heard of him before reading this).

I like Kefauver, as I’ve said. I think both the two Democratic big hitters from that period, if you like, are both intriguing what-ifs. And Estes seemed the road less travelled compared to Adlai, so south we went. (All credit on the portrayal to our guest author @99KingHigh. :) )

Ah, Kennedy - the partnering of Kennedy and Kefauver is an enticing one, and I can see how they'd be an attractive team. You portray the Washington scheming very well, and I wonder how many terms our elder Southern statesman will get to enjoy...

As POTUS–VP pairings go, it does strike me as a particularly appealing one I have to say. Purely I think because in Schlesinger’s perfect bleeding-heart manner it does feel a bit like something out of the West Wing (but then I think anything to do with JFK has that air to it, the optimism and the tragedy etc etc). America going into the Sixties with these two at the helm is certainly going to demand attention.
 
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1956: A New Left (Part One: The January War)

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6Venre3.jpg



1956: A NEW LEFT
ERIC HOBSBAWM
1976


PART ONE: THE JANUARY WAR



The doctrine of freedom applies everywhere in the world. The only answer to Communism is a massive offensive for freedom: freedom from hunger, from disease, and a victory for the ageless hope of people everywhere; freedom from tyranny.
—Richard M. Nixon, US Secretary of State, 1953–57
January 1956

About the capitalist states, it doesn't depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig your graves!
—Nikita Khrushchev, General Secretary of the CPSU
Sofia, March 1956




When Soviet troops occupied Romanian Bessarabia on 10 January 1956, tensions in the European theatre of the Cold War experienced their sharpest spike since the downfall of the old fascist regimes. The battle for influence in Eastern Europe had at last boiled over into open conflict, and an anxiety swept across the Continent as people waited to see how their leaders would respond.


Outside of Romania, Chancellor Bonhoeffer was the first to denounce the Soviet incursion, sending an urgent note to Moscow on 12 January, the day after the invading army reached Chisinau. The German premier demanded an immediate Soviet withdrawal. The terse reply came two days later, after Soviet troops had driven the Romanians out of Chisinau, stating that withdrawal would come as soon as, in return, the Kremlin received assurances that the capitalists intended to withdraw from Hungary. Unsurprisingly, this note went unanswered.


The newfound friendship between Germany and Hungary had been a long time in the making. Hungarian–German relations after 1938 had been contentious. Hungary, having been plagued by Nazi-sympathising nationalist governments during the 1930s, was not quick to warm to the restored Reich. Following the removal of Adolf Hitler from power in Germany, Hungarian Regent Admiral Horthy had consolidated his position at the expense of the far-right wing of the governing Unity Party, which had pushed for closer relations with the Nazi regime. Horthy dismissed authoritarian prime minister Kálmán Darányi in favour of the traditional conservative Miklós Kállay, who like Horthy was wary of fascist influence. Kállay made some attempt at liberalising Hungarian society, passing a moderate reform to the notoriously illiberal franchise in 1940 and repealing anti-Semitic laws enacted by the Unity Party. This put Hungary at odds with Germany, which had yet to divorce itself fully from its fascist past.



1938%20ADMIRAL%20HORTHY.jpg

Admiral Horthy, the nationalist regent of Hungary (1920–51), pictured in 1938.


In 1942, Kállay won the first election under the reformed system by a convincing margin. Over the next four years he carried out a purge of the fascists in his party, equally keeping his distance from the nationalist government in Germany. In spite of these limited democratising measures, restrictions on the organisation of left-wing groups in Hungary were upheld; both the Communist Party and the more moderate Social Democrats remained subject of a legal proscription. In effect, this created a two-party system, where the parliamentary opposition was represented almost entirely by the populist agrarian Smallholders Party, led by theologian Zoltán Tildy.


Tildy came to power in following the 1948 general election. His government attempted some reforms of the Hungarian economy in favour of the peasantry, but their efficacy was hampered by in-fighting amongst the Smallholders. Riven between conservative and left-populist wings, the Smallholders struggled to make their mark on a country that had seen nearly three decades of nationalist rule. When Tildy was embroiled in a scandal in summer 1950, after the arrest of his son-in-law on charges of corruption and adultery, he took the opportunity to resign the premiership. His successor was the left-wing Lajos Dinnyés, who enacted a number of political reforms, most fatefully lifting the ban imposed on the Social Democratic Party in time for the general election in 1951.


Dinnyés was abetted in these reforms by the new regent István Horthy, Admiral Horthy’s wildly popular eldest son. An engineering graduate who had spent time working for Ford in Detroit in the Thirties, the urbane István had intermittently assisted his aged father as ‘deputy regent’ since 1942. In July 1951, shortly after his eighty-third birthday, Admiral Horthy ‘abdicated’ in favour of his son, hoping to secure the regency by pre-empting the possibility of calls for its abolition should he die in office. This arrangement was little contested, except for protests from the illegal communist opposition, and many welcomed the new regent as an ideal head of state. Domestically, he was receptive to liberalisation and had vigorously opposed both Naziism and Hungarian fascism. His foreign outlook resisted irredentism and worked to build warm relations with the countries of the Little Entente. After the accession of Kaiser Louis Ferdinand in 1951, the two heads of state met in Vienna to discuss their shared vision for a democratic future in Eastern Europe. This future seemed imminent following the SDP’s 1954 election victory, which ended thirty-four years of right– and left-populist government in Hungary.



1942%20ISTVAN%20HORTHY.jpg

István Horthy, Admiral Horthy's popular eldest son whose accession to the regency in 1951 signalled a shift in Hungary's nationalistic political landscape.


Four months into its existence, the new SDP government was met by the formation of the Eastern European Economic Cooperation Zone (ECZ). While the party as a whole had its doubts about the free market moralism preached from Frankfurt, prime minster Gyula Kelemen saw the benefits of aligning with the new democratic bloc. Kelemen was ultimately won over to the cause of the Cooperation Zone after meeting with the social democratic German foreign minister Erich Ollenhauer in July 1955. The two men shared a common hope of securing the independence of democratic states in Europe, and predicted that the ECZ would serve as a bulwark against both resurgent populism from within, and outside Soviet influence from the East. This utopian vision won over the Hungarian government, and the wheels were set in motion for Hungary’s accession to the ECZ in March 1956.


Following the planned accession of Hungary to the ECZ, it was presumed that the next state to be offered entry would be Romania. Striking similarities existed between the histories of Hungary and Romania in the decades since the Great War, and by 1956 the political situation in each was broadly comparable. In both countries, recent politics had been shaped by an influential monarchy working in close collaboration with a string of populist, national conservative governments, now beginning to be challenged by more liberal groups. The mood in the Kremlin therefore held, not unreasonably, that any developments in Hungarian–German relations could feasibly be applied to Romanian–German relations.


For the past two decades, Romanian policies had been dominated by Gheorghe Tatarescu, who held the office of prime minister three times during the period 1934–53. His National Liberal governments had been marked domestically by an authoritarian streak that sought to neutralise the opposition of the fascist Iron Guard by co-opting much of the group’s messaging. Abroad, Tatarescu was an independent figure who championed the survival of the Little Entente, the alliance between Romania, Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia aimed at curtailing the irredentist ambitions of nationalist Hungary. Although a staunch anti-communist, Tatarescu had sided with the Soviets during the Thirties as a means of protection against the threat of Nazi Germany. Returning to power for the second time in 1939, soon after the fall of the Nazi regime, he switched tack and sided with the restored German Reich against the Soviets. Romanian–German ties became particularly close following Stalin’s attempted annexation of the Baltic states in 1940.


Tatarescu left office for the final time in 1953, a year before the formation of the ECZ. He was succeeded by Ion Mihalache, leader of the populist National Peasants’ Party (PNT). Mihalache was a leftist who during the Forties had been a steady opponent of alignment with the German Reich. Nevertheless, he resisted the Stalinist Communist Party of Romania and remained committed to the idea of an independent Eastern Europe. Although a populist, Mihalache opposed ‘Porporanism’, a form of agrarian nationalism widespread in opposition circles in Romania since the turn of the century. Poporanism was fundamentally anti-socialist, which drew Mihalache’s distaste, and during the Thirties and Forties he had been engaged in battles within the PNT to reject this form of nationalism. Under his leadership, the PNT shifted towards a broadly social democratic position. Khrushchev feared that Mihalache would fall in line with his counterparts in Germany and Hungary and lead Romania into the capitalist bloc.



1946%20MIHALACHE.jpg

Ion Mihalache, the left-populist Romanian premier under pressure to respond to the formation of the ECZ in 1954.


As things stood in 1956, the Soviet leader need not have worried too greatly. Even had Mihalache been personally convinced of the merits of joining the ECZ, which was doubtful, convincing his party to follow him would have been a different matter entirely. Romania’s agrarian populist leanings did not accord easily with the cosmopolitan free-trade doctrine professed in the Treaty of Frankfurt. Far more pressing was the task of maintaining Romania’s independence as the tension in Eastern Europe crept higher and higher.


With the benefit of hindsight, one might suggest that had Khrushchev known of Mihalache’s ambivalence towards the ECZ, he may have contented himself with supporting Romanian neutrality. In the event, supplied with a steady litany of reports from Communist Party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej exaggerating fears of capitalist incursion, Khrushchev decided that he had to take drastic action in order to prevent the entirety of Eastern Europe from falling under the influence of a hostile power. Gheorghiu-Dej greeted the arrival of Soviet troops with jubilant messages announcing the ‘liberation’ of the Romanian people, denouncing the monarchist regime and encouraging a general strike in support of the occupation. Although support for the Communist Party (PCR) was significant (about one quarter of the electorate had voted for the Communists and their allies at the 1953 election), no strike ever materialised. Instead, the PCR had to contend with widespread civil unrest as communists, nationalists and democrats clashed in towns and cites across Romania. In Bessarabia, the advancing Red Army were by turns greeted as liberators and attacked by impromptu civilian defence groups. From Bucharest, Mihalache mobilised the Romanian army and gave his assurance to King Michael that there would be no communist coup.


By 14 January, four days after the initial invasion, the international community had united in near universal condemnation of the Soviet aggression. Commonwealth international secretary Kenneth Younger and French foreign minister Alain Le Léap led the Syndicalist International in calling for a ceasefire, though expressed hope for a settlement in Eastern Europe that respected the Soviet sphere of influence. In Washington, President MacArthur, already tied up against Soviet puppets in Asia, made limited inquiries into sponsoring an intervention out of Germany, though he soon found he had neither the means nor the congressional support. State Secretary Richard Nixon condemned the Soviets in a television broadcast on January 15, during which he declared: “Mr Khrushchev understands only strength and firmness. America must show clearly that neither it nor its allies will stand for being pushed around, anywhere in the world.”



Richard Nixon's television address to the nation, January 15 1956.


What this commitment meant in practice was less clear. His advance in Romania having been met with limited resistance, Khrushchev escalated matters with the landing of Soviet troops in Bulgaria, just outside of the Black Sea port city of Varna on January 16. By 1956, Bulgaria ranked almost alone amongst the European nations as being ruled by an absolutist monarch[1]. After 1935, Tsar Boris III exercised control over virtually every aspect of government via a series of compliant prime ministers. Opposition to the monarchy was widespread, and brought together a diverse coalition that included leftists, conservatives and corporatists. This unstable grouping was dominated by the outlawed Communist Party of Bulgaria, led by Stalinist Todor Zhikvov. Following the Soviet invasion of Bessarabia, Zhivkov sent an appeal to Moscow for assistance in overthrowing the monarchy. Emboldened, Khrushchev assented.


The arrival of the Red Army at Varna was greeted by general acclaim, and only in isolated pockets did the Soviets encounter resistance. On January 17, demonstrations against the Tsarist regime erupted in Sofia. Attempts by Boris and his ministers to subdue the uprisings hit fierce resistance, and on the night of January 18 the Tsar fled Bulgaria for Switzerland, from where he eventually found refuge in Portugal. Supported by the Soviets, Zhivkov announced the overthrow of the monarchy on the morning of January 19 and declared himself the interim premier of Bulgaria.


In Bucharest, news of the coup stoked fears of a similar uprising. With the Red Army at Iasi and renewed threat of a general strike from the PCR, King Michael was quietly evacuated to Munich on January 20, although he returned two days later. Nixon condemned the Communists’ seizure of power in Bulgaria and expressed hope that the country’s future would be decided by a free election. Reaction from the Syndicalist International was muted.


On 21 January, having achieved success in Bulgaria and with events heading towards a stalemate in Romania, Khrushchev accepted an offer from Marshal Tito to broker a ceasefire at a quadripartite summit in Belgrade. Khrushchev, Mihalache and Chancellor Bonhoeffer arrived in the Yugoslav capital the following day. The meeting was testy, though ultimately productive; while the wider question of capitalist expansion in Eastern Europe was left unresolved, the four parties agreed to a ceasefire. Khrushchev was satisfied that Soviet power had been demonstrated, and was content with gaining an ally in Bulgaria. Mihalache was eager to conclude an armistice in order to subdue the domestic communist threat, while Bonhoeffer had no desire to escalate the situation into an all-out war. Tito, for his part, came away with a greatly burnished reputation as an independent, conciliatory influence in the region.



1956%20TITO%20KHRUSHCHEV.jpg

Tito and Khrushchev at the First Belgrade Summit.


Although Soviet troops remained in Bessarabia until the end of the Second Belgrade Summit (30 January – 3 February), the worst of the crisis was over. In Bucharest, communist unrest continued as the hope of Soviet support for a change of regime faded. On January 25, 20 thousand demonstrators clashed with police in the Romanian capital, and across the country wildcat strikes broke out in regions where dissatisfaction with the prospect of ECZ membership was highest (mainly in the industrial south). These continued until the ratification of the Belgrade Accords on 3 February, which formally concluded the ‘January War’ and assured Soviet recognition of Bessarabia as a Romanian territory. The Accords found a compromise on the issue of ECZ membership by stipulating that accession would henceforth be by referendum. (Hungary’s entry was confirmed, on schedule, on March 30.) Bulgaria was confirmed as a republic (an international recognition of the results of a referendum held on January 25) and a new republican government was to be elected freely within one month of the treaty’s ratification. On February 8, Zhivkov claimed victory in an election result that was disputed by the capitalist powers, although Yugoslav observers attested to its validity.


The new balance of power evident as the dust settled on the January War did not immediately favour any one power. In Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade, each side could claim their own victory. For Chancellor Bonhoeffer, Hungarian accession to the ECZ had been all but assured, and unity amongst the capitalist democracies was reinforced under threat by a common enemy. For Khrushchev, Soviet power had been demonstrated in the face of the capitalist advance, and the Union and gained a new ally in Zhivkov’s Bulgaria. For Tito, Yugoslavia was now looked upon in Eastern Europe as a conciliating influence, and an independent communist power in its own right. He was further rewarded when Titoists triumphed in Albania after the 1958 anti-monarchist coup, bringing the country into the Yugoslavian Federation in 1961.


Although the intervention had done little to restore the faith of any Eastern European country in the benevolent influence of the Soviet Union (Bulgaria is the obvious exception), Khrushchev was vindicated by an emboldened communist opposition across the region. In Hungary, the country’s entry into the ECZ in March was accompanied by strikes by workers in heavy industry. The Romanian communists, meanwhile, spearheaded the anti-accession movement that won the day in September 1957 when the country voted to reject ECZ entry. Thus the capitalist–communist boundary in the East seemed settled along the border between Romania and Hungary.


1956 marked the high point of tension in the European theatre of the Cold War during its first phase, arguably bringing this phase to a close. The next decade would be marked by the emergence of a new, multi-centred conception of the Cold War – no longer neatly divided into East and West, but split along an innumerable series of contested boundaries.



1: The exception was Albania, ruled by the eccentric King Zog. Zog was nominally bound by a constitution, but in practice ruled as a military dictator. Since the overthrow of the Fascist regime in Italy, Zog’s control over Albania had been under threat from various opposition groups.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Eastern Europe seems fiarly wrapped up in the red bundle now. Hungary is surrounded.
 

stnylan

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Well, it is a most interesting set of events. Yes Soviet muscle has been flexed, but also its threat been demonstrated sufficiently to solidify the very opposition it is afraid of ... I sometimes think one of the interesting disconnects between autocracies and democracies (in the very general sense) is that autocrats have a hard time understand that democracies will hardly ever agree wtih one another unless they have a clear threat to agree against. So trying to assert yourself just makes the threat obvious which gives energy to the block you are trying to assert yourself against.

Moseley in this timeline might consider this lesson as well, come to think of it, and the stuff on the radical left. Because when we get to it I am as sure I can be Moseley will ultimately have been the midwife of his own demise.
 

DensleyBlair

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Eastern Europe seems fiarly wrapped up in the red bundle now. Hungary is surrounded.

From the Hungarian point of view, the question is whether closer ties with the Reich (and the US by extension) are a decent trade for strengthening the Soviet resistance and assisting rapprochement between Moscow and Belgrade. For now the answer is, probably yes. But the US are only going to become more interested now that they’ve got a toehold, of course. Romania isn’t a sure thing on either side – and for Washington to stick its nose in now would be unthinkably reckless – so it’ll stay a battleground for some years to come, even if there aren’t going to be armed confrontations on the border.

I’ll do a pretty map of who’s aligned with who at some stage once the dust has settled. Got to put those Adobe skills to some use, after all.

Well, it is a most interesting set of events. Yes Soviet muscle has been flexed, but also its threat been demonstrated sufficiently to solidify the very opposition it is afraid of ... I sometimes think one of the interesting disconnects between autocracies and democracies (in the very general sense) is that autocrats have a hard time understand that democracies will hardly ever agree wtih one another unless they have a clear threat to agree against. So trying to assert yourself just makes the threat obvious which gives energy to the block you are trying to assert yourself against.

Aye, in a way Khrushchev is in a pretty bind: if he does nothing, he’s weak in the face of capitalist expansion on his doorstep; if he reacts with words alone, likely nothing happens; if he reacts with more than words, the capitalist states are justified in their moves and have their locus for unity. The gamble, of course, is whether he is strong enough (and secure enough in his own position) to face down the unified response.

Moseley in this timeline might consider this lesson as well, come to think of it, and the stuff on the radical left. Because when we get to it I am as sure I can be Moseley will ultimately have been the midwife of his own demise.

We will be returning to Mosley, if gradually, in the next few updates. You are right, of course, that all of this has considerable implications for his own position. January 56 will be useful in the short term for giving him a chance to swing at the CPGB while also seeing Germany delivered a bruising (to a point) – but the CPGB has been long defeated, of course, and as in our world 56 will inspire some renewal on that front.
 
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