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

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TheButterflyComposer

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Germany is certainly in a very tricky spot despite its rebounding and alliance with the US. Completely surrounded and far from help is not a good place to be.
 

DensleyBlair

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Germany is certainly in a very tricky spot despite its rebounding and alliance with the US. Completely surrounded and far from help is not a good place to be.

Somewhat ironically it’s sort of regressed to its late 19th century position: looking to carve itself a place as a continental power while hemmed in by an almost wholly unfavourable geopolitical reality. So even with a reformist Kaiser it’s the new kid on the block all over again.

The US will be getting much more involved once the Democrats get in. As much as Nixon would like to do his international stuff, there’s only so much the MacArthur Republicans will tolerate.
________________________

Update on the last page for anyone who may have missed it.
 

Tommy4ever

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I enjoyed the little touch of a Titoist taking power in Albania. No bunkers this time around! ;)

Impressive how the major powers were able to keep the situation mostly isolated to the Balkans. I know Eric writes that there was no winner here, but I can’t see this as anything new other than an unmitigated Soviet triumph. A new ally in Bulgaria and blocking Romania from falling fully into the German orbit - all without serious cost, even to the popularity of CPs abroad.
 
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DensleyBlair

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I enjoyed the little touch of a Titoist taking power in Albania. No bunkers this time around! ;)

Aye, apologies to all architecturally minded Hoxhaists out there! :D

I thought given the timeline Tito made more sense than Stalin, seeing as Joe is firmly gone by 57 and he never actually really did that much except sort of occupy the Baltic and conduct mass purges. It’s going to be an interesting quirk of mid-late c20 CPs outside of the USSR that Titoism is a viable tendency to follow for revisionists.

Impressive how the major powers were able to keep the situation mostly isolated to the Balkans. I know Eric writes that there was no winner here, but I can’t see this as anything new other than an unmitigated Soviet triumph. A new ally in Bulgaria and blocking Romania from falling fully into the German orbit

Nicky got a good win, which will stand him in good stead for some time to come. But then it was a fairly opportune time to strike, with minimal US interest in the theatre and no real German appetite for a military response. You could say Khrushchev correctly called the capitalists’ bluff – only now next time they probably won’t be bluffing (as @stnylan suggests).

Germany save face by getting Hungary within their Zone, which after all was the object of the exercise. So tactically Khrushchev didn’t actually stop what he set out to stop. But undoubtedly what he got instead makes up for it.

- all without serious cost, even to the popularity of CPs abroad.

Hold this thought. ;)
 
1956: A New Left (Part Two: The Secret Speech)

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



1956: A NEW LEFT
ERIC HOBSBAWM
1976


PART TWO: THE SECRET SPEECH



Comrades! The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has manifested with a new strength the unshakable unity of our party, its cohesiveness around the Central Committee, its resolute will to accomplish the great task of building communism.
And the fact that we present in all their ramifications the basic problems of overcoming the cult of the individual which is alien to Marxism-Leninism, as well as the problem of liquidating its burdensome consequences, is an evidence of the great moral and political strength of our party.
We are absolutely certain that our party, armed with the historical resolutions of the 20th Congress, will lead the Soviet people along the Leninist path to new successes, to new victories.
Long live the victorious banner of our party—Leninism!
—“On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”
Nikita Khrushchev, Moscow, 1956



The consequences of the January War proved much more far-reaching than the geopolitical makeup of Eastern Europe. While the Soviet invasion had had its intended effect – warning the capitalist powers off unbridled economic expansion in Eastern Europe – the heavy-handedness of the Kremlin’s approach to the crisis raised problems for fellow travellers in the West. Dissenting elements within communist groups outside of the Soviet bloc began, tentatively, to question the effectiveness of blind adherence to the Stalinist creed. Initially, dissenters were few in number. Then, in mid-March, came reports of Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech”.


His position vastly strengthened by the signing of the Belgrade Accords, Khrushchev entered the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union surer of his position than at any point since his accession in 1953. From 14–25 February, delegates from across the Union met to conclude the party’s business for the next five years. At first, there was little indication of the direction in which Khrushchev would steer proceedings. The General Secretary opened by paying tribute to Communist leaders who had died since the previous congress, including Stalin in the same breath as Czechoslovak party leader Klement Gottwald. Only on final day of the Congress did the full extent of Khrushchev’s intentions become clear.


On the morning of February 25, the Soviet delegates were recalled into the Great Half the Kremlin for an unscheduled session, to which journalists and non-party members are not invited. Delegates were met in the hall by Khrushchev, who began to address the session with vague references to the ill effects of holding someone in such high regard that they take on “supernatural characteristics akin to those of a god”. What followed was a speech entitled ‘On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences’, over the course of which Khrushchev – without condemning his political policies – denounced Joseph Stalin as a ruthless leader, who had ruled by fear and terror. Above all, Khrushchev announced, he had implicated the party in his tyranny – though the General Secretary was clear not to denounce the CPSU itself, and praised it for its ability to withstand the negative effects of Stalin’s crimes.



1956%20SECRET%20SPEECH.jpg

Nikita Khrushchev, General Secretary of the CPSU, delivers the so-called "Secret Speech", February 1956.


In the congress hall, the reaction to the speech was one of shock and disbelief. Khrushchev’s description of the former Soviet leader was at odds with orthodox party history. Several delegates reportedly became ill during Khrushchev’s report and had to leave the room. At other points, Khrushchev’s revelations were greeted by applause and bemused laughter. Later that night, representatives from ‘fraternal’ communist parties in Soviet-ally countries were invited to the Kremlin to read Khrushchev’s prepared text, which was treated as a top secret state document. In the weeks after the Congress, the Party Central Committee ordered the reading of the text of Khrushchev’s report at gatherings of Communist and Komsomol meetings, where it was transmitted also to non-party members. Thus the contents of Khrushchev’s revelations became known across the Union by the end of March. Nevertheless, it was not reproduced in the West; representatives from Western parties were not shown the text, and no copies were ever officially distributed outside of the Union by the nomenklatura. Neither has any official reproduction of the speech appeared in the Soviet Union since.


Instead, Khrushchev’s report arrived in the West by highly circuitous means. On February 26, news of the speeches well as an outline of its general contents, was conveyed to British journalist Guy Burgess, the CBC’s foreign correspondent in Moscow. Burgess sent his report back to London, and on February 27 it was broadcast across the Syndicalist International under the headline: “Mr. Khrushchev Denounces Stalin”. Burgess believed that he was provided the information from Khrushchev himself via an intermediary.


In the Commonwealth, the Burgess report was taken as a sign that Khrushchev sought to effect a rapprochement with the Syndicalist nations at a time when relations with the capitalist bloc were growing more tense. Despite this, it was evident that trust between the two European powers had not yet been fully restored; the full text remained unforthcoming.



1956%20DRIBERG%20BURGESS.jpg

Guy Burgess (right), the man who brought Khrushchev's speech to the attention of the syndicalist world, photographed in Moscow with fellow journalist Tom Driberg. Driberg was one of the highest-profile figures not to break with the CPGB following Khrushchev's revelations.


For five weeks, Communist parties in Europe could only react to the CBC dispatches. As in the Kremlin, responses swung between bemusement and disbelief. With no details of why Khrushchev had decided to denounce his predecessor, party leaders were soon able to instil discipline along the vague party line while awaiting further testimony.


Clarity arrived, finally and fatally, in the middle of April, when a bizarre series of coincidences saw a reproduction of the full text arrive in Germany, communicated by a Hungarian citizen who had encountered a copy of the speech while on holiday along the Yugoslav coast. Following the entry of Hungary into the ECZ at the end of March, journalist Sigmund Meier, and ethnic Austrian, had decided to emigrate to Germany. Prior to emigrating, Meier and his girlfriend Gyula Háy spent a week on holiday in Senj, along the Yugoslav Adriatic coast. While in Yugoslavia, Meier and Háy met Marija Vrhovec while drinking in a bar one evening. Vrhovec worked as a junior secretary at the local headquarters of the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH). During the course of their conversation, Meier and Háy brought up the subject of the so-called “Secret Speech” and began to speculate on the rumours they had heard in Hungary. Vrhovec disclosed that she read the speech, having been tasked with preparing a copy of the text for a regional party meeting. She believed that the text had come to Yugoslavia from Bulgaria, where it had been shared with Zhivkov’s government by the CPSU.


Meier was stunned, and as a journalist his reporter’s instincts were piqued. He asked Vrhovec if he could read the text. Amazingly, she agreed. She provided him with a copy the following evening, which Meier and Háy took back to their hotel to read. At the hotel, they also made a copy for themselves. Once back in Hungary, Meier disclosed the contents of this copy to Ludwig Allensteiner, the German diplomat who had assisted him during the process of his emigration. Allensteiner, an operative of the German secret service, photographed Meier’s copy and sent it back to Berlin.


By April 17, intelligence officers in Berlin had determined the authenticity of the report. Under the terms of a secret agreement with the United States, they passed on Allensteiner’s photographs to the CIA, who in turn informed President MacArthur that they had obtained a copy of Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech”. By the end of April, the CIA had confirmed the report’s authenticity. On May 5, the Agency leaked a copy to The New York Times.



1956%20SECRET%20SPEECH%20NYT.png

The news of Khrushchev's speech appears on the front page of The New York Times, May 1956.


The Times article, as intended, proved an immediate blow to the cause of communism in the West. Whereas party leaders had been able to suppress concerns in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Bessarabia, Khrushchev’s report was harder to explain away. A generation of Communist Party members and fellow travellers became disillusioned overnight, and by May 12 over 30 thousand people had resigned from the Communist Party of the USA. In Britain, veteran CPGB leader Harry Pollitt remained publicly defiant and refused to accept the revelations about Stalin’s conduct, declaring that the former Soviet leader’s services to world communism outweighed his mistakes, which he suggested were the fault of incompetent subordinates. Privately, he was troubled by the allegations; in the words of biographer John Mahon, “Pollitt was far too human a person to regard the Stalin disclosures with personal detachment.” Already beleaguered after twenty years of harassment by the Mosley regime, the CPGB was wracked by further troubles after 1956. Pollitt himself suffered a stroke only a month after the contents of the Khrushchev report became common knowledge. While he survived and continued to lead the Party until his death in 1960, the CPGB was gutted both intellectually and materially. Something like one third of its 45,000 members left the Party in summer 1956.


For those who believed that the CPGB continued to represent the only working-class party capable of bringing about the conditions for revolution, this exodus was a deep blow. At a time when leftist organisation in Britain was threatened on all sides, to contend with issues from abroad seemed to serve no one but the Mosley regime. The call for renewed Marxist opposition was answered principally in two ways. This echoed a split in the intellectual response to the crisis at hand.



1956%20POLLITT.jpg

CPGB leader Harry Pollitt remained publicly supportive of the Stalinist creed right up until his death in 1960, right down to keeping a portrait of Stalin on the wall above his writing desk.


The first tendency was the more revolutionary tendency, which reacted to the rejection of Stalinism by returning to the left-communist principles that had informed the most radical fringes of the syndicalist movement in the 1930s. This tendency coalesced around Phil Piratin, the famous guerrilla commander from 1929 and formerly one of Pollitt’s most loyal lieutenants. Piratin had been sent by the CPGB to defend the Stalinist line at a workers’ meeting in Hull. According to his own account, Piratin got halfway up the M1 before turning around and driving straight home. He left the Party the following day, and re-emerged in 1957 as the leader of the Communist Workers’ Group, which styled itself as the ideological successor to Sylvia Pankhurst’s dormant Communist Workers’ Party and became fairly popular in the radical unions.


The second tendency included the majority of the former intellectual elite of the CPGB, and organised itself around The Reasoner magazine, set up by John Saville and E. P. Thompson in 1957. These were previously loyal party figures who, over the course of 1956–7, were gradually pushed to express their critiques of the Stalinist programme through more radical means. As it emerged in autumn 1957, The Reasoner espoused a form of dissident communism that was ideologically cosmopolitan, abandoning a strict adherence to revolutionary tenets in favour of something approaching a return to the popular front doctrine of the 1930s. As much as a preference for Marxism, the Reasoner group would come to be associated with the ‘history from below’ framework developed by Savile, Thompson, Raphael Samuel and others, which directly challenged the orthodoxies of dialectical materialism. Thus what both the Reasoner and Communist Worker tendencies emphasised was a return to a popular, humanist conception of both history and politics, which discarded an orthodox view of history dictated by social forces in favour of a conception of history as evolving from interpersonal relationships. This, in turn, was a driving force behind the development of the ‘New Left’ after about 1960, which included a diverse number of revisionist Marxist groups and served as a clearing house for the left-opposition in the final decade of Mosleyite rule.



STUART%20HALL%20NLR%20VAN.jpg

Workers at the revisionist New Left Review about to make deliveries, circa 1962. Editor Stuart Hall is on the right.


More broadly, what was seen after 1956 was an inversion of Stalin’s ‘socialism in one country’ model in favour of a more nebulous ‘socialism in each country’. The most notorious exponent of this doctrine even before 1956 had been Marshal Tito, whose federal response to nationalist stirrings in the Yugoslav countries had been matched by a pluralistic approach to ideological divergences. Although this independent streak had drawn him the ire of Stalin at the end of the 1940s, it paid dividends a decade later. ‘Titoists’ took hold in the Communist Party of Romania after 1957. The following year, the communist-led anti-monarchist coup in Albania was ultimately resolved in favour of Titoist Koçi Xoxe. With Yugoslav support, Xoxe defeated his doggedly Stalinist rival Enver Hoxha and led the country into the Yugoslavian Federation in 1961.


Thus considered from a wider perspective, Khrushchev’s anti-Stalinist gambit produced mixed results. While it undoubtedly served to secure his position within the Soviet Union, discrediting powerful rivals such as Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich who had associated themselves closely with Stalin’s legacy, abroad the dissemination of his critique sparked a revisionist movement that ended the Soviet Union’s unquestioned ideological dominance over the global communist bloc. While Marxism-Leninism continued to shape the aspirations of a number of revolutionaries particularly in the post-colonial world, in Europe and East Asia the communist bloc proceeded from 1956 no longer univocal. Eastern Europe had seen the rise of Tito, while in Asia Khrushchev’s revisionism increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Strained relations between the two premier communist powers persisted throughout the 1960s, drastically reshaping the geopolitics of the Cold War.


Elsewhere, the Khrushchev report laid the foundations for the galvanising of the revisionist opposition in the Syndicalist International. Through newly visible fissures in the intellectual underpinnings of the world communist movement sprouted leftist movements – both reformist and revolutionary – that would have an acute impact on the lasting character of the Syndicalist states going into the ‘second phase’ of the global Cold War. Politically closer as never before following the creation of the European Syndicate in 1957, ideologically Western Europe was beset by instability as the short Twentieth century entered its second half. This was to be a time of uncertainty at the high point of an age of extremes. It was heralded by the shattering of orthodoxies previously held to be inviolable; it would be some time before new orthodoxies arose to take their place.
 
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stnylan

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Khruschev has certainly made some very interesting ripples in the international pond
 

TheButterflyComposer

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It also pays the precedent that you can denounce the leader of the revolution and still survive as a nation. Mosely isn't going to like that.
 

DensleyBlair

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Khruschev has certainly made some very interesting ripples in the international pond

In a world where the Soviets cannot claim to be the liberators of Eastern Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter), finding ways to throw their weight around is a very different game for Khrushchev and co. The ripples won’t be stilled for some time yet.

It also pays the precedent that you can denounce the leader of the revolution and still survive as a nation. Mosely isn't going to like that.

If Mosley even really were the leader of the revolution, of course.

Oswald has got a few things coming to him in the next few years, and very few of those things are going to look that good under scrutiny. Time to look in at what those old chickens are getting up to…
 

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Oooooh, Kruschev being Kruschev, and as ever not particularly subtle.

It also pays the precedent that you can denounce the leader of the revolution and still survive as a nation. Mosely isn't going to like that.

A very good point @TheButterflyComposer

In a world where the Soviets cannot claim to be the liberators of Eastern Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter), finding ways to throw their weight around is a very different game for Khrushchev and co. The ripples won’t be stilled for some time yet.

That's a very good point @DensleyBlair - their leverage is going to have be much more planned and careful than OTL.
 

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Oooooh, Kruschev being Kruschev, and as ever not particularly subtle.

Over the next decade, there will be a great deal of diplomacy that you might euphemistically call secretive, insidious… unforthcoming. Very rarely will it be subtle. ;)

Our esteemed guest author @99KingHigh will be filling in Washington’s side of the story in the coming days. Just to leave you all in the lurch a little longer before we finally see Mosley get what’s coming to him. :D
 

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Here's a question, not to throw a wrench into things, but would Kruschev have been able to get to his lofty position without Stalingrad? Or any of his war support?
 
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Here's a question, not to throw a wrench into things, but would Kruschev have been able to get to his lofty position without Stalingrad? Or any of his war support?
Well, part of the reason he got there was dint of managing to still being in Stalin's circle when Iosef had his little accident. I see no reason why he couldn't have played the game of the Red Tsar's Court still. And it did take him a few years post-Stalin to properly establish himself ... I suspect that might be where he struggled, especially considering he came close to losing that post-Stalin game as it was.
 
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Here's a question, not to throw a wrench into things, but would Kruschev have been able to get to his lofty position without Stalingrad? Or any of his war support?
Well, part of the reason he got there was dint of managing to still being in Stalin's circle when Iosef had his little accident. I see no reason why he couldn't have played the game of the Red Tsar's Court still. And it did take him a few years post-Stalin to properly establish himself ... I suspect that might be where he struggled, especially considering he came close to losing that post-Stalin game as it was.

It's a good question. The honest answer is I'm not well versed enough in wartime or post-war Soviet intrigue to offer a considered justification for Nicky finding his way to the top, so I'm just going to have to put it down to some particularly deterministic butterflies.

I do wish I had more time to devote to really playing around with the Union, but I think that will have to wait for another lifetime when I can do the director's cut (which, frankly, would be like some terrifyingly vast tale from a Borges story). In the meantime, there will be some more Soviet-themed divergences going forward.
 
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It's a good question. The honest answer is I'm not well versed enough in wartime or post-war Soviet intrigue to offer a considered justification for Nicky finding his way to the top, so I'm just going to have to put it down to some particularly deterministic butterflies.

I do wish I had more time to devote to really playing around with the Union, but I think that will have to wait for another lifetime when I can do the director's cut (which, frankly, would be like some terrifyingly vast tale from a Borges story). In the meantime, there will be some more Soviet-themed divergences going forward.
I have an idea for a Death of Stalin / Court of the Red Tsar HoI4 AAR, which will probably never see the light of day - partly due to time and partly becuase I don't think I could do the comic half justice (and maybe not the serious side either). My primary character would be Anastas Mikoyan - who must surely go down as one of history's great survivors. I mean, one of the "old soviets" of the revolution who survived Lenin, Stalin (though he was perhaps fortunate Stalin died when he did), Khruschev, and was given an honourable retirement by Brezhnev.
 
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I have an idea for a Death of Stalin / Court of the Red Tsar HoI4 AAR, which will probably never see the light of day - partly due to time and partly becuase I don't think I could do the comic half justice (and maybe not the serious side either). My primary character would be Anastas Mikoyan - who must surely go down as one of history's great survivors. I mean, one of the "old soviets" of the revolution who survived Lenin, Stalin (though he was perhaps fortunate Stalin died when he did), Khruschev, and was given an honourable retirement by Brezhnev.

The number of things over the years I’ve read or watched and thought, that would make a great premise for an AAR. I have a vague idea for an AAR (possibly CK) called “The Secret Life of Arabia”, named after the Bowie song, purely for the title alone. And I haven’t entirely given up on my dream of adapting Lindsey Anderson’s O Lucky Man for the medium of Paradox. I’ve actually got a number of chapters written for a couple of adapted projects that I may unleash on the boards sometime in the near future, but we’ll see about that. Still plenty to keep me occupied with the Commonwealth, even with only five years left to write of this “book”!

I do have to say, though, the idea of getting an stnylan-written Death of Stalin inspired piece is an incredibly tempting one. If you can bring the grisly, arcane world of vampires to life with such skill, Stalin’s court can’t be too far removed! :p
 
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The number of things over the years I’ve read or watched and thought, that would make a great premise for an AAR. I have a vague idea for an AAR (possibly CK) called “The Secret Life of Arabia”, named after the Bowie song, purely for the title alone. And I haven’t entirely given up on my dream of adapting Lindsey Anderson’s O Lucky Man for the medium of Paradox. I’ve actually got a number of chapters written for a couple of adapted projects that I may unleash on the boards sometime in the near future, but we’ll see about that. Still plenty to keep me occupied with the Commonwealth, even with only five years left to write of this “book”!

I do have to say, though, the idea of getting an stnylan-written Death of Stalin inspired piece is an incredibly tempting one. If you can bring the grisly, arcane world of vampires to life with such skill, Stalin’s court can’t be too far removed! :p

We literally have a list of prompts now, just so people can go look at them and think on them. Maybe something will come of it at some point.
 
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Quite right. If the prompts escape from the Royal Prerogative thread we’ll run the risk of everyone getting so excited about what could be written that no one will ever actually get around to writing anything. Reminds me of the story (I think I read it in Sebald’s Rings of Saturn?) about the guy who spent his life writing such expansive notes for his planned masterwork that he never actually wrote the damn thing at all.
 
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Quite right. If the prompts escape from the Royal Prerogative thread we’ll run the risk of everyone getting so excited about what could be written that no one will ever actually get around to writing anything. Reminds me of the story (I think I read it in Sebald’s Rings of Saturn?) about the guy who spent his life writing such expansive notes for his planned masterwork that he never actually wrote the damn thing at all.
Well, do recall that Thorn of the Rose is, in-part, a realisation of an idea floating around since HoI2 days
 
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Well, do recall that Thorn of the Rose is, in-part, a realisation of an idea floating around since HoI2 days

Aye, I do recall. It must be quite satisfying, finally being able to see the fruits of a long germinating seed. :)

I think I’ve mentioned briefly before, but I’ve had the desire for five years or so to write an alt-Sixties British AAR. So I’ve been enjoying the fact I’m now there in Echoes, even if the scenario is more than a little different.
 
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  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Battle for Bosporus
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
Quite right. If the prompts escape from the Royal Prerogative thread we’ll run the risk of everyone getting so excited about what could be written that no one will ever actually get around to writing anything. Reminds me of the story (I think I read it in Sebald’s Rings of Saturn?) about the guy who spent his life writing such expansive notes for his planned masterwork that he never actually wrote the damn thing at all.

It will have to go on the main page eventually, it's getting too big and too valuable a thing for it to be buried when RP ends. There should probably be one for each game series really.
 
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