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Chapter One: The Prodigal Son of Darkest Africa (January 1st, 1936)

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The Black Star: A Kaiserreich Liberia AAR

Hello, and welcome to my second attempt at posting an AAR. This will be a Hearts of Iron 4 Kaiserreich AAR focused on the tiny country of Liberia. It will be told in a mixed style, primarily as a scrapbook of writing from the point of view of alternate historians with some narrative segments. One of my goals is to lead the nation Liberia to freedom with the assistance of a chaotic international system and become important enough to have an impact on the outcome of the Second Weltkrieg, but my primary goal is to tell an entertaining story of idealism and cynicism in an often-overlooked corner of the world using a country with only three starting factories.

The mods being used for this playthrough will be Kaisereich and Player-Led Peace Conferences, and the enabled DLC include Death or Dishonor, Together for Victory, and Waking the Tiger.

Table of Contents

Part One: The Black Star’s Nadir


Chapter One: The Prodigal Son of Darkest Africa (January 1st, 1936)

Chapter Two: Crabs in a Bucket (January 1st, 1936 to July 1st, 1936)

Chapter Three: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (July 1st, 1936 to January 1st, 1937)



Chapter One: The Prodigal Son of Darkest Africa (January 1st, 1936)


The Republic of Liberia’s borders circa 1936.

“Out of the tumult of the Weltkrieg, the Peace with Honor, and the Syndicalist revolutions in Europe, the map of Africa was redrawn. Unfortunately, the result was, overall, not a victory for the native population of the continent but a reshuffling of the colonial powers that had divided up Africa into their own spheres of influence. Whereas the British had once held the premiere place in the Dark Continent, that role was now held by the far-less experienced German Empire of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the government of which had organized the dizzying amalgamation of German, French, Belgian, and British colonies into one edifice, the colony of German Middle Africa. The French imperialists, exiled from their homeland by the Syndicalist revolution, moved to exert a more direct and brutal control over their North African colonies and added some formerly British possessions to their sphere as well…

“When Black Monday struck the capitalist economies, in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa there existed only three independent, black-ruled states. Each was a unique creation and represented some of the different currents of the age… In the Horn of Africa, preeminence was contested between the Abyssinian Empire and the Kingdom of Somalia. Although both of these states were monarchies, each derived its legitimacy from a different source. The rulers of Abyssinia could trace their dynasty back to the 13th century and ruled over a diverse array of subject peoples, especially after the expansion of their empire’s borders to encompass the former Italian colony of Eritrea. In a way, the Kingdom of Somalia was as much a counterpart to Abyssinia as the German Empire was to the Hapsburg Empire in Europe. Similar to the Kaiserreich, Somalia was founded as a federation of ethnically-similar kingdoms united under a single monarch with extensive powers, and had nationalism to thank for its unification. The disputed region of the Ogden was a constant source of tension between the two powers, eventually leading to war in East Africa…

“The last of the independent and black-ruled states of Africa was of a different nature altogether from Abyssinia and Somalia. The Republic of Liberia had no king, but rather a president, and a constitution slavishly modeled after that of their benefactors, the United States of America. Founded by freed slaves returned to Africa by American organizations or intercepted by the U.S. Navy in transit to the New World, Liberia was granted independence in 1840 on the ideals of freedom and liberty rather than hierarchy…

“Those principles became a cruel joke almost from the outset of the Liberian project. The native population of Liberia had not been consulted and soon found themselves exploited and even enslaved by the Americo-Liberians, who largely set out to re-create the same plantation society that they had been escaping. Nearly a hundred years later since the granting of self-rule and independence to the county, and Liberian society was facing the challenges of struggling to uphold its archaic system of extreme minority rule in the face of mounting financial difficulties and civic unrest. If Liberia could not successfully respond to these trials, then this project and the hope of freedom for Africans from tyrants both foreign and domestic risked being lost forever.
- The Struggle for Africa: A History of Liberia in the Second Great War by Vernon Bartlett


For decades, every Liberian politician of importance had pledged allegiance to the True Whig Party, but nominal party loyalty was being eroded by the changing situation in Liberia and abroad.

The Liberian presidential cabinet was meeting for its inaugural meeting, and George Padmore was already growing impatient with it. The treasury secretary, Railey, was droning on about the current trends in overseas investment in the country. It could have been interesting information in the hands of another man, but Railey had been chosen to fulfill a quota and lacked any semblance of charisma. He was a tolerable administrator, and that was it. So, Padmore’s mind was wandering.

The last presidential election held over the previous year had been more competitive than expected, with the long-defunct True Republican Party managing to emerge from the shadows to field a credible challenger in the form of a young senator from a prominent family, William Tubman. Even the socialists had tried to press their luck and tried to disrupt the election, with pitiful results. The True Whig Party had held strong though, and elected their man, but the writing was on the wall. 1940 promised to be a much more exciting year in Liberian politics, at least it would be if the current system could hold out that long.

Because the True Whig Party had been the only functional political party in the country for decades, it became much more of an amalgamation of different cliques and interest groups than a focused political machine. That was how George Padmore had risen to prominence, as leader of the faction of the True Whig Party that advocated for a more independent foreign policy and some fledgling steps towards economic justice. It was a sign of the growing public sentiment in those directions that he was appointed to the post of secretary of state in the new administration. From such a post, he could continue to build up his reputation and maybe succeed President Barclay in 1940 or, more likely, 1944.

Padmore wanted to snort derisively at the very thought, but he held back so as to not attract the attention of his fellow cabinet members. In eight years, Liberia, and the world, would be a very different place. A man who waited too long could miss his chance, and that was one thing that Padmore would not let happen to him.

Something caught his eye, and Padmore turned to glance at the man sitting across the table from him, Attorney General Frank Tolbert. He was regarding Padmore with some interest, as though he could read his mind. With the network of informers and influence that he had spread around Liberia, it was not entirely outside of the realm of possibility for Tolbert. But Padmore had his own sources and thus his own suspicions about his rival. The two men had clashed earlier in the cabinet meeting, and to an outside observer it might look as though the two men were sullenly licking their wounds after their inconclusive bout, but the truth was that Padmore and Tolbert had been testing one another and not been entirely disappointed by what they found.

Neither of them felt particularly beholden to the name and so-called ideals of the True Whig Party, and both of them would not mind seeing it fall. So, for the time being, they could clandestinely work together towards that cause. The only question was which of them would be able to get the upper hand in the ensuing chaos. Padmore leaned back in his chair and turned his attention back to the treasury secretary’s report. He could afford to be patient, if only for a little while.


Firestone was the largest employer in Liberia for most of the interwar period, its reign characterized by the influence it exerted over the country’s government and economy, and the brutality with which it treated its workers.

“Liberia’s economy was already in a fragile state of affairs before the German stock market crashed. Exports of agricultural goods and raw materials had never been enough to balance the trade deficit that Liberia had with more developed economies. Even before the Great War, Germany had been a preeminent trading partner of the small African state, and this dependency only grew more and more pernicious, even as the American government imposed tariffs and other restrictions to limit German penetration into Liberian markets in favor of their own countrymen’s firms…

“The primary Liberian product in the global marketplace was rubber. With heavy investment by Henry Ford, the rubber plantations in Liberia became the primary source for tires in the Western hemisphere and in parts of Europe as the world left the age of the horse and carriage and entered the age of the automobile. The sight of rubber trees sprawling over what seemed to be every spot of arable land in the country was a breathtaking sight and, in partnership with American companies like Firestone, Liberia enjoyed a surge of overseas investment and development as foreign technicians and experts came to the shores of Africa to advise and plan for the most efficient way to produce, extract, and transport rubber…

“The huge plantations also required a large workforce, and this was supplied not only in the form of coerced employment by members of the native tribes of Liberia’s interior that verged on outright slavery, but also by immigrants from elsewhere on Africa’s western coast. The changeover of administration in Sierra Leone from British to French produced a wave of new arrivals in Liberia who already spoke English and were generally more skilled then the uneducated tribesmen of Liberia’s hinterlands. Working-age men from lands that had once been part of the Ivory Coast, Gold Coast, and other colonies flocked to Liberia, sometimes bringing their wives and children with them and other times leaving them behind in order to live in the barracks hastily erected by Firestone and its partners to house these workers…

“These new arrivals may have assisted with the transformation of Liberia into the so-called ‘Rubber Coast’, but they also presented a host of problems for the current social order in the country. Having been exposed, if only in some small part, to ideas of trade unionism and even outright Syndicalism from British and French sources, the influx of new Africans intermittently agitated for improved wages and working conditions and spread their ideas to the native Liberians that they worked alongside and even to some of the Americo-Liberians as well. Furthermore, although divided by tribal and ethnic differences, the new arrivals shared an important connection with the tribesmen of Liberia in that they clearly did not see themselves represented by the ruling Americo-Liberians. Already a delicately situated minority in the country, the Americo-Liberians were at risk of losing their power and standing under the sheer weight of the number of new arrivals.”
- The Roots of the African Revolutions by Yekutiel Gershoni


Liberia’s armed forces was paltry, especially when compared to the great military powers of the age. The Republic had no air force or navy of which to speak, instead relying almost entirely on the United States navy for protection from foreign threats.

“The military of Liberia, the so-called Frontier Force, was a woefully anemic collection of malcontents and opportunists before its reorganization. It only consisted of a few undermanned divisions and had been shown time and time again to be even less impressive in reality than it was on paper in its poor showings against repeated British and French incursions. The imperialists had been able to forcefully adjust Liberia’s borders on several occasions, halted only by the intervention of the Americans when they felt compelled to protect their former colony. The most egregious example came during the First Great War when a German ship was able to bombard the Liberian coast with impunity…

“Command of the Liberian Frontier Force was held by General Jenkins Yancey, whose primary recommendation for the position came from his relationship with his older brother Allen Yancey. The elder Yancey served as vice-president of the Liberian government for a period and then collected a paycheck directly from Firestone as a ‘consultant on labor relations’ until his sudden and violent death. General Yancey enriched himself over his tenure as head of the military by embezzling money and guns from the soldiers under his command and covering for these losses by engaging in several punitive expeditions against the tribes of the frontier over real or imagined slights such as avoiding taxation or Syndicalist organizing…

“Morale was low as a rule and even though they were recruited almost entirely from the Americo-Liberian population of the country, the soldiers were eager for a way out from under the boot of their tyrannical general.”
- The Red Army of Africa: A Short History by Edgar O’Ballance


Despite its poverty, Liberia’s strategic location between the German Empire and what was left of the French Republic, and its instability, made it a frequent object for intrigues and schemes between the intelligence services of various states.

“Before the Great War the greatest challenge facing the French so-called Republic, beyond its corrupt and reactionary nature, was its inability to match the size of the armies fielded by Germany, in terms of standing army, reserves, etc. Beyond reliance on their Russian allies in the East, the imperialists sought to reconcile this material reality to their ambitions through an extensive process of recruitment and fielding of colonial troops, primarily from their holdings in northern Africa…

“The current government organized for the people of French has made great strides in the conditions of the workers and peasants of France, but the material facts of demographics and training remain. The revolution is in even greater danger from German imperialists than its class foes were in 1914, for we have no access to colonies to supplement our armies, and despite the variety of pro-natal efforts we have undertaken have, thus far, been inconclusive. Our revolutionary allies in any coming conflict are also suffering from a lack of manpower due to their incomplete revolutions.

“Adding to the disparity between the populations of the French and of the German metropole are the populations of German colonies and dependencies that can marshaled in order to support their imperialist exploiters. Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles, Indochinese, and Africans, as such, can all be called up to supplement the already-overwhelming numbers of the German armed forces.

“The RG must shift to a policy of active disruption of the German colonial empire, highlighting and exacerbating the contradictions in the current system of German domination of these lands. In such a way, the material conditions can begin to be rectified towards a more favorable state, eventually gaining its own momentum.

“At the same time, it is not enough to simply remove numbers from the German side of the ledger, it is necessary to add revolutionary forces to the other side. There are existing revolutionary movements that can be nurtured, some operating within the current confines of the German imperial sphere. A reversal of, say, Indochina from its current predicament to a state more aligned with the free nations of the Third Internationale would be a huge boon.

“Africa in particular can be a valuable target for engendering a revolutionary consciousness and encouraging anti-imperialist actions. While the continent’s human capital is largely unimpressive, its wealth of resources and manpower could address the two material shortcomings facing the revolution.

“In order to maintain a sharp contrast between ourselves and the Germans or the Pétain Clique, options for engendering native leaders must be pursued. Contacts in former French colonial possessions should have the highest priority, and agents have made contacts with elements of the Somali army that can also be developed. This could have the added benefit of extending revolutionary consciousness to the Islamic world, possibly even managing to endanger the German control of the Suez Canal.”
- Excerpt from Renseignements Généraux Internal Memo N-63

“We hardly need to remind all parties involved that any proposed or actual actions must be conducted in the spirit of fraternal cooperation in line with Syndicalist internationalist principles.”
- A hastily scrawled note written in the margin of Renseignements Généraux Internal Memo N-63

Mais bien sûr
- Second note written in the margin of Renseignements Généraux Internal Memo N-63
 
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Chapter Two: Crabs in a Bucket (January 1st, 1936 to July 1st, 1936)

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Chapter Two: Crabs in a Bucket (January 1st, 1936 to July 1st, 1936)

“We are engaged in a kind of war, a war against poverty and disease, against ignorance, against tribalism and disunity. We need to secure the conditions which can allow us to pursue our policy of development in all spheres: social, economic, and political.” - Excerpt from a pseudonymous article in Africa’s Destiny by Kwame Nkrumah, 1936


The ripple effects of the German economic crisis were the last straw for the already overburdened Liberian economy.

“The stock market crash in Germany had worldwide implications. ‘Black Monday’, as it came to be known, would be felt in every corner of the world. Only the economies of the Syndicalist sphere remained relatively unfazed due to the large degree of isolation imposed on them by a frightened capitalist world order. If anything, Red France and its allies found their hands strengthened as the financial turmoil, and the inadequate responses of various governments, helped give rise to Syndicalist-aligned movements around the world…

“Among the richest and most developed capitalist powers, the resulting economic crisis prompted less cooperation than heightened competition. The United States, already suffering from a severe economic depression before Black Monday, was the first country to devalue its currency and raise tariffs in an effort to boost the fortunes of domestic manufacturers and farmers. Although the countries in the Entente bloc were relatively untouched by Black Monday owing to their relative self-sufficiency and suspicion of Germany, this move by the Hoover administration was seen as an attempt to undercut the Canadian economy. The reduction of the American dollar’s value in gold prompted a reprisal devaluation of the Canadian Pound, followed in short suit by similar shows of solidarity throughout the rest of the Entente governments. Within a week, the German Reichsmark also experienced a sudden drop in value, as well as the formation of a separate Kolonialmark designed to keep the German dependencies overseas in Africa and Asia afloat…

“Suspicion and paranoia gripped finance ministries across the capitalist world and sharpened the divide between the competing Entente, German, and Japanese blocs as trade between the various powers slowed to a trickle. The retributive approach to international economics not only hindered the recovery of the capitalist economies, but also gave rise to a new outbreak of bad blood between the leading powers. Conflicts within the capitalist camp distracted leaders in Berlin and elsewhere from the Syndicalist threat.”
- The Economic Roots of the Second Great War by David E. King


The initial Liberian response to Black Monday was largely shaped by complementary advice from Washington and Firestone. Widespread and rapid economic and political liberalization was held to be the cure for the Republic’s economic and social ills.

“What do you mean that we cannot devalue our currency?” Frank Tolbert bellowed at the ashen-faced Treasury Secretary.

“I have been notified by Secretary Chapin that any attempt to adjust the Liberian dollar downwards would be seen as a violation of the terms of our six-and-a-half million dollars of debt to the United States.”

“And we are not allowed to raise tariffs either?” Tolbert growled.

The Secretary, Railey, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Secretary Chapin informed me in his cable that Liberia may raise tariffs within reason, including on American goods. He fears that any attempt to raise tariffs past the levels he recommends would cause Germany to press for similar barriers to be raised, especially in China.”

George Padmore’s voice was as hard as Attorney General Tolbert’s, but he kept his anger from boiling over. In a way, this made him seem even more dangerous when he said, “So, we are nothing more than an American colony, are we? Was our declaration of independence in ’47 for nothing?” When none of the other cabinet officials said anything, Padmore tapped one of his thick fingers on the table, its sound echoing in the sweltering room, and continued, “And I want to know what the U.S. government was doing contacting your office, Mr. Secretary, without notifying me.”

“George,” said President Barclay from his seat at the head of the table, but he was tired and his voice lacked the power necessary to stop his Secretary of State from barreling onwards.

“It is clear to me,” Padmore said loudly, “that the Americans have made Mr. Chapin in charge of American colonial policy as well as the Department of Commerce, but I see no reason for us to go along so meekly with being reduced to a column on the ledgers of Ford and Firestone!”

“Hear, hear!” said Tolbert.

The Treasury Secretary looked to the President for support, and, after a moment’s hesitation, Barclay gave it. “Calm down, George, please. We are not going to get anything done yelling at each other like this. John, see to it that George is included on all communications between your office and the American government.”

“If,” Padmore said heatedly, “this country is still an independent nation, then my office should be the first point of contact for any foreign government officials. The Treasury Department should be asking to be included on my office’s communications with the Americans.”

“Fine,” said Barclay with a sigh. “John, inform Secretary Chapin that George here will be his primary point of contact from now on.”

I’ll inform him,” said Padmore.

Attorney General Tolbert leaned back in his chair and asked, “Can we move on?” As soon as the argument had cooled and begun to be resolved, he had lost interest in the details of the debate. The sentiment was echoed by most of the other men seated around the table and the rest of the cabinet meeting concluded without incident.

An hour later, as Padmore was leaving the conference room, he nearly ran into Railey who had been waiting for him outside of the door. “What do you want?” Padmore asked brusquely as he shouldered past the other man.

“I just wanted to talk to you, George,” he said quickly. “I’m working to arrange a deal with the Americans to forgive Liberia’s debt to them and take on the rest of it themselves.” Padmore’s eyes flashed dangerously and Railey hastened to add, “I’ll send over everything that my office has exchanged with the Americans, but what I am trying to say is this, please don’t antagonize the Americans, at least for a few months. We need their money to get us out of this financial hole we are in.”

“We don’t need them,” said Padmore automatically. “We shouldn’t need them. How is Africa ever going to stand on its own two feet if we cannot do any better than begging for the white man’s scraps?”

Railey laughed nervously. “I’m on the same side as you, George, believe me, but the way you talk in those meetings sometimes, it almost sounds like you want to go to war with the Americans!”


The face that Firestone put on its operations to the outside world was a far cry from the reality of its operations in Liberia.

“The ‘partnership’ between Firestone and the government of Liberia, as it was euphemistically referred to was in many ways a relationship akin to those of the British East India Company and the Indian subcontinent and the East Asian General Administration and the provinces of southern and coastal China. Like these other ventures, Firestone’s business interests repeatedly clashed with those of the local population until Liberia exploded under the pressure. Like the Sepoy Rebellion in the preceding century, the sudden and violent reaction to Firestone’s presence in Liberia came as a complete surprise to the company’s leadership. After all, they had made great investments in Liberia. Most, if not all, of these efforts were conducted with an eye toward improving the efficiency of their rubber operations in the country, but funding from Firestone helped fill gaps in school budgets and Firestone engineers tutored local Liberians in the latest developments in industrial production. Furthermore, a great deal of railroad tracks that connected coastal Liberia to the country’s interior was the result of extensive Firestone investments…

“Unfortunately for Liberia, the heavy hand of Firestone was cloying even while it was at its most generous. A great deal of the debt racked up by the Liberian government was the result of failed public-private or even outright state-owned infrastructure projects that could not compete with Firestone initiatives along the same lines going forward often only miles apart from one another. Stubbornness on both sides hindered cooperation and communications between Monrovia and Firestone frequently broke down, leaving deep scabbed over wounds of distrust that would bleed forth in due time…”
- The Roots of the Liberian Revolution by Yekutiel Gershoni

News from Elsewhere


The Entente alliance marked the ascension of Edward VIII to the British throne by throttling the life out of a backwater country located in the middle of nowhere and scarcely out of the dark ages.

“Death came quietly for King George V in his Canadian exile. All of a sudden, his 41-year-old son ascended to the throne under the regnal name of Edward VIII. If Britain had won the First Great War, such a development might have been unremarkable with a strong parliament still exerting its control over governmental policy. But in Ottawa, it was not clear who held power between the domestic Canadian government and the one that the British exiles had brought with them from Whitehall. George V had resisted the temptation to use that divide to expand his own powers, but the new king was not tempered by any experience of balancing royal prerogatives with parliamentary supremacy. Edward VIII immediately set about inserting himself in nearly every governmental debate, making his opinions known across Canada, and eventually over the rest of what remained of the British Empire through the power of radio communications…

“The new king fancied himself a young and vibrant man of action, and he yearned for the chance to flex the muscles of his dominion. His experiences visiting soldiers in their trenches during the First Great War gave him an appreciation for the hardships that soldiers faced, but also for the camaraderie and unity forged by those same soldiers through their common suffering. If the Fifth Anglo-Afghani War had not occurred, it may have had to be invented to sate the king’s desire, even need, for glory for himself and for his subjects…

“In previous conflicts, the mountainous country had first developed and then held up its reputation as the ‘graveyard of empires’, with the fourth Anglo-Afghani War serving as a particular humiliating experience for the still reeling Entente alliance. This time, as it were, the Afghan government in Kabul grossly miscalculated the measure of their foe when they announced a war with the Delhi government in India. What had been planned as a quick land-grab quickly turned into a brutal rout as the Entente forces, armed with the latest technology in the waging of war and grimly determined to hold onto what land they still possessed, marched against Afghanistan…

“In a little more than a month, the war was over. Aging rifles and fanaticism had been no match for aeroplanes and machine guns. Kabul sued for peace and King Edward surprised many by accepting the Emir’s overtures. Delhi regained the territories lost during the last conflict with Afghanistan, but the country was allowed to retain its independence...”
- A New History of the Entente, Volume Two: Empires in Exile by Barbara Tuchman


With the central government in Beijing lining up behind the Nanjing clique and against the anti-concessionists, the German Empire was given a free hand to send troops to the coastal provinces to “restore order” and “protect German lives and investments”.

“The Kaiser was not to be outdone by this upstart young monarch on the other side of the world. Even while the German economy crumbled, there still was enough support within the German government for another imperialist venture in China. Although of a much smaller scale than previous German interventions, the marines and other local forces provided by the German East Asian fleet proved instrumental to the survival and rapid triumph of the Nanjing Clique over the mingled force of Chinese nationalists, religious fanatics, and outright Syndicalists that sought to topple it. Even though the German unemployment rate was climbing every day and gangs of youths were roving the streets of Berlin and other major cities, the Reichstag in Berlin still found enough money in the budget to authorize the military expedition to protect the East Asian General Administration and its investments in coastal China…”
- Chinese Collaboration with Germany: “Concessionism” Explained by David Barett


For all of the propaganda, both favorable and unfavorable, about Syndicalism doing away with multiparty systems, the competitions between different factions in Syndicalist countries could be just as fraught and dramatic as those in so-called “democratic” countries.

“The twin occasions of German and Entente interventions had immediate effects on the outcome of the elections that decided the leadership of the Commune of France and the Union of Britain, with surprisingly different outcomes. In the former, the German intervention in what was supposed to be an internal Chinese affair sparked anxiety among the military and the general population that the German Empire was on the march. Even after the revolution, the French malaise and fear of being eclipsed by Germany had been inherited from the Third Republic, and this combined with a carefully engendered revolutionary zeal in the populace to bring the Sorelian faction, led by Georges Valois, to power. After years of relying almost entirely on the support of soldiers and the communes closest to the French border with the German Empire, the prospect of a revitalized and expansionist Germany gave Sorelians leadership in the Committee of Public Safety, the executive arm of the Commune of France…

“Across the English Channel in the Union of Britain, a similar election to decide the direction of the country took place two and a half months later. There, a fierce debate had broken out within the Congregationist, and Federationist factions over what should have been a minor matter, namely a resolution condemning the Entente war with Afghanistan. One side of the debate held that since both Afghanistan and Canada were both monarchies, there was a moral equivalence between the two or, if there was a country that should be condemned it was Afghanistan for being the aggressor. The other side portrayed the conflict as one between a colonial people and its imperialist aggressor, playing up the fear and antipathy that many Britons held towards the British exiles in Canada. Hot off of his participation in the drafting of the Totalist Charter, the charismatic Oswald Mosley, leader of the Maximist faction in Britain, had put forward a novel argument that the annexation of formerly Afghan territory to the Delhi regime actually represented a victory for Syndicalism since that the semi-democratic regime in Delhi was further along the arc of progress towards Syndicalism. Besides, Mosley argued, that land would inevitably go to the Indian Syndicalists in the Bharatiya Commune soon enough…

“As the various factions split and reform, the election of a new Chairman for the Trade Union Congress ground to a halt. After twenty-seven ballots, a dark horse candidate emerged. Members in the Congregationist and Federationist wings of the Congress on both sides of the debate bolted from their parties to support the relatively overlooked leader of the Autonomist Wing, Niclas y Glas, a Welshman and a poet. Their reasoning were varied. Some were opposed to stoking tensions with the Entente by condemning the war in Afghanistan while others were rejecting any hint of support for a new wave of British imperialism. Disorganized and contradictory, these defectors nonetheless proved numerous enough to swing the election towards their chosen candidate, who frankly seemed as confused by the surge of support as anyone else present…

“Ironically, while the Sorelians were able to point to their leaders’ cooperation with Mosley, Mussolini, and others in drafting the Totalist Charter as proof of their ability to garner support for France among her allies, the same document and its associations with the militant Sorelians distressed the normally isolationist British population and hurt Mosley’s chances. Whatever disagreements existed between Valois and Niclas y Glas were shunted aside, for the moment, in order to coordinate a way to meet the challenge of German imperialism…”
- Elections in Syndicalist Countries: A Comparative Analysis by Dr. John Phillips Huntington


For the time being, the Liberian government had to swallow what little pride it had left and ask for economic relief.
 
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stnylan

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Like a raft afloat on a stormy sea, one can just hope and pray the waves do not dash one on the rocks.
 

Ebanu8

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Quite frankly, last I played Liberia in Kaissereich, I often went down the route of Firestone for a bailout, if only because I didn't want to be subservient to the Us or Germany.
 

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Good mix of narrative and history book. :)
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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Very interesting beginning. Subbed.
 

The Living Hive

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Sorry for the delay, people. Lots of excitement going on in my neck of the woods, but we should be rolling semi-regularly now.

The world is swiftly descending into uncertainty and chaos -- and though Liberia is far distant from the epicenters of these titanic tremors, it still feels the sharp aftershocks.
Like a raft afloat on a stormy sea, one can just hope and pray the waves do not dash one on the rocks.
As Pablo Picasso observed, "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction", and now that events have provided the destruction something new can be born from it, either beautiful, terrible, or both.

Quite frankly, last I played Liberia in Kaissereich, I often went down the route of Firestone for a bailout, if only because I didn't want to be subservient to the Us or Germany.
I always take that path myself, and did so again here. I think that there are better bonuses and narratively it's a pretty shocking development for the country to turn a blind eye to forced labor occurring on the rubber plantations. Just the kind of thing that could push Liberians to more radical political options.

Good mix of narrative and history book. :)
Thank you very much! It is a fun exercise to come up with the names for some of these sources I am "citing".

Very interesting beginning. Subbed.
Thank you, glad to have you aboard!
 
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Chapter Three: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (July 1st, 1936 to January 1st, 1937)

The Living Hive

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Chapter Three: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (July 1st, 1936 to January 1st, 1937)


In his boundless self-regard and messianic reputation which cruelly came crashing back down to earth under the weight of developments he helped to precipitate, President Olson may have held more in common with Stephen Douglas than with Abraham Lincoln whom he consciously tried to model himself on.

“Four years have come and gone, and once again the American people, black and white, have opted to voice their passive acceptance of the system of exploitation and oppression that rules over them. Numerous voices in the pages of this publication have urged our African brothers living in the United States to boycott the election, if they were ‘fortunate’ enough to be able to vote at all. None of the candidates put forward by the oligarchs controlling the parties of the American republic represents the interests of the African man, woman, and child. Even Senator Reed, the candidate of the Socialist Party of America primarily represents the interests of his race, even if it is primarily the working-class subset of his race. Africans will never have a seat at the table in the United States, and so I once again exhort them to come home to Africa, to Liberia, and build a nation free and proud…

“However, although this latest election was as much of a sham as any of the other American political contests we have seen, the man who the ruling cliques of Washington, New York, and Chicago have put forward as their champion is, without a doubt the worst possible man among those running for the office of President. Floyd Olson, and the type of man he represents, is the greatest enemy of the American people, black and white.

“Let us dissect the man and his so-called ideas:

"The Floyd Olson-type is a man who does not have any compelling vision driving him forward. He is primarily a creature of the status quo, but represents an evolution in the oligarchy’s attempts to maintain their grasp on the masses. He will claim to offer progress on a number of social and economic issues, but he pleads that peace and civility are essential preconditions for any advancement on these issues.

“Good manners and respect are not the basis for any philosophy, they are merely an excuse to silence those working for real change while attempting to paint the people’s champions as unreasonable and ill-mannered. No matter how nicely the masses dress up their needs and demands, the only language that their oppressors know is force! No lasting concessions will ever be granted by the oligarchs, they must be ripped out of their claws! Power is not something given, it is something that must be seized and violently held onto against all opposition!

“Furthermore, the Floyd Olson-type is the most insulting of all of the oligarchical archetypes put forth in these electoral contests. Senator Reed may attempt to honestly work for the betterment of the people, only to be hindered by the pits and snares of the system he finds himself in. The ‘center parties’, the Democrats and the Republicans, are afraid of the people finding their voice and even Senator Long of Louisiana is afraid of the people so much that he is attempting to placate them with his own program of half-measures and empty promises. Even the dreaded Ku Klux Klan is motivated to terrorize out of a real fear of the black man.

“The Floyd Olson-type, by contrast, does not respect the masses, much less is he afraid of them. He views them not as men with agency, but as wayward children who must be reprimanded and guided to proper behavior in the manner of the schoolmarm. The Floyd Olson-type with lecture the men who he is claiming to help and then blame their bad behavior for the unwillingness of the bankers and the bosses to come to the table and give up their power.

“Do not buy into the false promises of this Pied Piper, this serpent in the garden who offers the people salvation if only they would quit mentioning their chains! We Africans are familiar with this type of man, we have seen his lies laid bare. Do not be fooled again, brothers!”

- The American Elections and a Portrait of the Floyd Olson-Type by “Africanus” (suspected to be a pseudonym of Marcus Garvey) in African Dream


As with so many small countries, Liberia’s economic fortunes were subject to the whims of larger and more powerful countries.

Although he was the country’s Treasury Secretary and nominally one of the most powerful men in Liberia, none of that had been enough to save Railey from the fear that he felt when he made his announcement to the rest of the cabinet. To his surprise, there had not been an immediate explosion of anger at him. Instead, it was hanging heavy in the air, like a storm just waiting to break.

“So, the die is cast,” said President Barclay solemnly. It was a good line, and Railey was grateful that he had tried to head off the coming confrontation by presenting it as a force of nature, something that had to be dealt with without blaming anyone. He knew that it wouldn’t be enough though.

Padmore and Tolbert both started to speak, and it was a sign of how far their shared opposition to his handling of Liberia's debt and Black Monday response had gone towards burying the enmity between the two rivals that both men offered to let the other speak first. Finally, Tolbert took the baton and asked a question that was straightforward enough, “Was Firestone really the only option for our bailout?”

Railey nodded and then said, “Yes. Our previous entreaties to Berlin and Washington,” he paused to gesture at Padmore, “undertaken in partnership with the Department of State were rejected.”

“I hope that you are not trying to pin this failure on me, John,” interjected Padmore coolly.

“Of course not,” said Railey immediately, “I mean, it is not a failure, that is, it was not due to any action or inaction on our part. Both Germany and America are facing budgetary shortfalls as they struggle to cope with lost revenue. Furthermore, what funds Berlin does have available are being directed to subsidizing the economies of her dependents in Eastern Europe and Asia, and there is talk of the American Congress passing a similarly expensive relief bill.” Railey licked his lips and said, “So, you see, gentlemen, we had no choice.”

Padmore tapped his finger on the table in front of him and said brusquely, “On the contrary, John. My office came up with a number of alternate funding solutions.”

“George,” Railey said to try and stop the other man, but it was too little and too late.

“Tokyo and Paris were also put forward as partners for bailing out our economy, but they were rejected outright by the Treasury Department.”

President Barclay was compelled to add his own voice to the discussion, this time in a less stately manner, “Are you mad, George? If we went to the Communards for help, there would be German and French troops crossing the border tomorrow! It’d be better for us to just declare bankruptcy!”

Padmore met the other man’s eyes evenly. “We also discussed that as an option.” Then, his attention returned to Railey and his voice rose in volume. “At no point did we ever discuss going to Firestone and asking our slave masters to tighten our chains!”

“That’s enough!” said Barclay, but it wasn’t enough.

“Why wasn’t my office included in any of the negotiations with Firestone?” Padmore asked Railey.

“It wasn’t a matter between governments. Since it was an agreement between our government and a private firm, there was no need to bring in the Department of State.”

With Padmore holding his tongue, Attorney General Tolbert jumped into the conversation, “Was there no need, or no will to do so? Isn't Firestone an American company, with American shareholders and an American board of directors?" He spread his hands wide and added, "My own office was also unaware of these negotiations. This is the first time that it is being presented to us, and we are being given no chance to review it or object to it. You are merely dictating the results of your private talks to us.”

President Barclay looked at Railey and raised one eyebrow. “Is it true that this is already done? We don’t have any ability to alter the deal or to reject it?”

“We had to act fast, sir,” explained Railey feebly, “that was the only way that we could keep from falling into further economic chaos. There is a bright side, however,” he attempted to sound more cheerful than he actually felt, “as part of the deal Firestone will also fund some additional public works projects including a full repair and modernization of the Main Line Railway!”

The stony silence that met his announcement was bad enough, but what made Railey’s blood run cold was the way that Padmore and Tolbert were looking at him. The two men were fixing him with matching predatory gazes, like he was an animal caught in a trap. As he hurried out of the sweltering room a few hours later, Railey could not help but shake the feeling that in a sense that was just what he was.


Indochina, a once over-looked part of the world, was suddenly on the lips of men across the world, no two of which seemed to be able to agree on how successful the revolt would be or what it meant for Germany and her standing in the world.

“Contrary to the intentions of its advocates in Berlin, the immediate effects of Germany’s Second Chinese Intervention was to weaken rather than strengthen its standing in East Asia. The shifting of troops from Indochina to the Chinese mainland weakened imperial control over the restless provinces just when Black Monday was at its most dramatic and the colonial government attempting its most controversial actions as a response. Men and material, not to mention attention, that had once deterred any outright action by the Viet Minh organization were suddenly being redirected abroad and the local Indochinese nationalists stepped into fill the sudden power vacuum. Much like the Russo-Japanese War some thirty years earlier, the uprising by the Viet Minh against their German masters inspired excitement among colonial peoples all around the world, as well as among Germany’s rivals in Tokyo, Paris, and London, even as it seemed certain to end in failure…”

- The Roots of the African Revolutions by Yekutiel Gershoni


Secret societies in Liberia were not limited to the Freemasons for well-to-do Americo-Liberians. The Poro, for instance, began as a hunting society, but developed an underground political wing that was associated with radical political causes throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Former Vice President of Liberia and Chief Justice of the country’s Supreme Court, James Jenkins Dossen was one of the premier voices of opposition to the True Whig Party’s dominance of Liberian politics. He was one of the few open leftists in the country, lending a sympathetic ear to Syndicalist men and ideas and even supporting the causes of the working class as much as he could with the decisions that he handed down. His long, respected career and much-vaunted moderation had made him a harder man to smear with the label of “foreign agent” or “radical” than other would-be leaders of Liberia's left.

That provided a welcome cover to his activities with the still-nascent Liberia United party. Outwardly, Dossen was a man above reproach, but behind closed doors he was not above dirtying his hands to some degree.

That was how he had found himself working with the Poro. As an Americo-Liberian and a committed democrat, the masked men who he met in the villages that dotted the Liberian hinterlands made him very uncomfortable. But somehow, someway, they had been exposed to socialist ideals and had taken to them with an eagerness that bordered on fanaticism. Not that it was possible to detect this enthusiasm in the features of their ornate masks and the in the stoic expressions of the rare faces that went uncovered. But actions spoke louder than words and the enthusiasm with which the Poro tackled the missions that Dossen assigned them were proof enough. Whether it was organizing the men working on Firestone’s rubber plantations or engaging in small acts of sabotage of the country’s transportation infrastructure, the Poro always went above and beyond what he asked.

Sometimes, however, that dedication became too much. On several occasions, and more frequently now, members of the Poro had exceeded his orders and even engaged in missions that Dossen had not given them. These missions seemed to spring forth from their own enigmatic minds. Local politicians were assaulted, or even killed, prompting reprisals from the Frontier Force and leaving Dossen to try and smooth over the damage that had been done. He had tried to reprimand the strange men that made up the secret society again and again, but it was hard to tell how much his words got through to them and, besides, he didn’t want to push them too far. It was still an important relationship to cultivate and Dossen had his own survival to worry about.

The task that he had for them was important enough that the austere man was able to come over his recent unease and arrange to meet with some of the masked Poro men in a small village on the outskirts of Monrovia. The two men that he was talking to were wearing ornamental masks stylized after a crocodile and a hyena respectively, and although he could not be sure Dossen thought that he had their full attention. “The chief of police is unleashing a new crackdown on men with union connections in the capital," he explained calmly. "The more of them that are arrested the greater the chance that he will uncover a connection to myself and the Liberia United Party. What I need you to do is intimidate him.” There was no spoken question, but Dossen felt the need to assuage his worries anyways. “Only intimidate him, do not kill him or permanently maim him in any way. That should be enough to convince him to ease off his investigation. Can you do that for me?”

The men stared at him through the dark portals of their masks and then, with glacial slowness, the man in the hyena mask nodded.

“Good.”
 
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Nikolai

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  • 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 Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Some skullduggery at work