What if the USA collapsed instead of the USSR? (что было бы, если бы вместо Советского Союза распались Соединенные Штаты Америки?)

[Нажмите “Read More” для русского языка.] While I was on my tour through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, I thought of what could be a really fun premise for a story: what if the United States broke up instead of the Soviet Union? The story would follow an alternative reality version of myself, namely, a young Soviet Kazakh journalist in charge of newamerica.net (instead of neweurasia.net), who has just written a book about post-US North America using the blog posts from the region and goes on a tour of independent New York and Pennsylvania to promote his work. I might want to add some political intrigue or a murder mystery to the plot, but essentially it would be a road trip tale.

Obviously, the story would be very much a satire. Instead of ex-KGB oligarchs, Chechen and Uighur rebels, Uzbek-Kyrgyz strife, and authoritarian presidents, there would be ex-CIA robber-barons, Native American rebels, Mexican-American strife, and New Media-based autocrats (Obama as the Turkmenbashi of Hawaii, his home state? Bush as the president of an Uzbekistan-like Texas?) I imagine that what is today the Midwest would break down into a kind of Afghanistan: without the strong federated American state to maintain irrigation and borders, it would devolve into a war-torn wasteland as the Soviet Union, Canada and Mexico vied for dominance in a new Great Game. The coasts would probably be the most stable areas.

Beyond North America, I imagine that the European Union would be a stronger and more socialist confederacy (but it would probably be struggling to absorb Italian and Irish returnees from America, the inverse of what happened to the Volga Germans and other Western ethnic groups from Central Asia). Africa would still be a mess, while Australia and New Zealand would be some of the world’s last capitalist countries, and Afghanistan and Pakistan would be a hybrid Marxist-Islamist republic; I have no idea about India, China, South America or the Middle East. Radical Christianity, instead of radical Islam, would be the new ideological scourge confronting the world. Technologically, global warming would probably be incredibly worse, but we would probably also be mining the moon.

But these are only tentative ideas. I’d love to hear from you, my readers: what would this alternative world be like? Also, try to imagine little details. For example, what would movies be like (would we be watching Standartenfuhrer von Stirlitz movies instead of James Bond?) and instead of China, where would cheap, shitty plastics and textiles come from? Leave a comment on this blog post in whichever language you feel most comfortable.

Когда я путешествовал по центральной Азии, а именно, посетил Казахстан и Кыргызстан, я подумал, а что если написать историю о том, что было бы, если бы вместо Советского Союза распались Соединенные Штаты Америки? Было бы забавно, написать историю, о моей альтернативной реальности, а именно, о молодом казахстанской журналисте, работающим на проект newamerica.net (как альтернатива neweurasia.net), который написал книгу о пост – американском пространстве, использовав работы блоггеров. Он отправляется в Нью-Йорк и Пенсильванию, чтобы продвинуть свою книгу в массы. Возможно, я захочу добавить в сюжет политические интриги и загадочные убийства, но по существу, история будет о том, что происходит с журналистом в его пути.

Разумеется, в сюжете будет много сатиры. Вместо бывших олигархов- КГБшников, чеченских и уйгурских повстанцев, узбекско – киргизских беспорядков и авторитарных президентов будут бывшие работники ЦРУ, ставшие олигархами-грабителями, повстанцы из числа американских индейцев, американо – мексиканские распри, и новые диктаторы, базирующиеся на масс-медиа (Обама как прототип Туркмен-Баши, правящего на Гавайи, Джордж Буш младший президент Техаса, похожего на Узбекистан). Я полагаю, что сегодняшний средний запад столкнется с проблемой, царящей в Афганистане – без сильного федеративного Американского государства, поддерживающего ирригации и границы, проходящие через истерзанные войной пустоши. Советский Союз, Канада и Мексика соперничают за господство в новой Большой игре. Вероятно, что побережья будут наиболее стабильными районами.

За пределами Северной Америки, Европейский союз будет наиболее сильной и социалистически развитой конфедерацией (но, вероятно, будет пытаться изо всех сил поглотить итальянских и ирландских репатриантов из Америки, в сопоставлении с тем, что случилось с немцами Поволжья и другими западными этническими группами в Центральной Азии.) Африка так и будет поглощена беспорядками, в то время как Австралия и Новая Зеландия будут последними капиталистическими странами мира, а Афганистан и Пакистан будут гибридами марксистко – исламистских республик. Я понятия не имею об Индии, Китае, Южной Америки или Ближнем Востоке. Радикальное христианство, а не радикальный ислам, будут новым идеологическим бедствием с которым столкнется мир. Технически, глобальное потепление будет интенсивнее, но мы, будем так же доставать до луны.

Это только предварительные идеи. Я бы хотел услышать от вас, дорогие читатели, каким бы был этот альтернативный мир?так же попробуйте представить себе мелкие детали этого мира, например, будут ли фильмы такими как этот (будем ли мы смотреть это, вместо Джаймса Бонда Standartenfuhrer von Stirlitz) . и какая страна станет производителем самой дешевой в мире дрянной пластмассы, вместо Китая? Оставляйте свои комментарии в этом блоге, на более удобном для вас языке.

(переводчик: Sabina Tussopova)

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20 thoughts on “What if the USA collapsed instead of the USSR? (что было бы, если бы вместо Советского Союза распались Соединенные Штаты Америки?)

  1. Good hypothetical scenario. But a bit unlikely because capitalism is a predatory system that cannot be defeated by any other force than it itself.

  2. Are we in the present day, or in a past crisis period?

    A break-up that would be:
    Economically motivated? Eh, perhaps.
    Environmentally? Maybe, thinking along the lines of a disaster or shift in natural resources. But enough bad movies have milked that one.
    Politically? Doubtful.
    Ideologically? Doubtful.
    Religiously? See ideology.
    Opportunities — not necessarily rooted in economics — education, employment, goods? There you’d have it.

    Though, speaking in more modern terms, isn’t that why so many immigrated?

  3. As one who left Czechoslovakia the day before the tanks rolled in, this is not so much of a “fun” premise for me, hope you understand. Though it will be interesting to see where others go with it.

    By the way, I follow neweurasia on twitter and am an occasional reader. Do you happen to know Andrej Matisak?

    • Hi! I haven’t heard of him until now. Apparently a Czech specialist in security. Should I know about him?

  4. what makes people think in these kinds of binary or bipolar ways? It’s not one or the other, but both. Both prospered from the orchestrated war scares and were mutually dependent. Conversely, though always much larger and wealthier, the survival of American prosperity, even for a while, required a desperate search for seemingly threatening enemies. Even after finding them, though, it didn’t keep the wolf from the door.

  5. интересный сценарий 🙂 Например, я была бы советским товарищем, киргизского происхождения, и обязательно записалась бы в Комсомольский Корпус Мира и полетела бы на Средний Запад, в какую-нибудь страну третьего мира, конечно же только с благородной целью обучения бедных американских детей Великому Могучему Русскому языку, на котором бы говорил весь цивилизованный мир. thanx, Christopher 🙂 it’s just a huge fantasy pool…

  6. well, it could still happen, right? I think Vermont has been jokingly wanting to secede for years. Have you read ‘Ecotopia’? It was written in 1972 I think and set in 1975, when the USSR was still around of course, and is about the US splitting, not North/South, but the West coast splitting off and creating a whole society of its own. Is the US as interdependent internally economically as the USSR was? And are regional identities as important? You lack the clear linguistic definition of regions like the baltics and central asia.

  7. The simple answer is a return to the Dark Ages. As the global hegemon, America’s total collapse would signal a return to a global Hobbesian state of nature, juiced up with widespread nuclear proliferation. Worldwide financial depression and economic collapse would also be part of the package as the default on U.S. Treasuries wove its way through the world’s markets. Even America’s enemies would regret its collapse.

    • A read of the article shows that the author has little real understanding of the culture and bases of strength in the USA. He states that the coasts would be strong, while the Midwest would become a sort of Afghan no man’s land. Exactly wrong. In a breakup the Midwest would have both vast agricultural resources and a good chunk of America’s manufacturing capacity, both productive real assets. It also has a culture of rule of law and fair play which would serve it well when reorganizing.

      The East Coast would be the big loser. As financial markets collapse, New York would be catastophically impacted (I am reminded of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy which mentioned a return to farming in Manhattan). Likewise the Imperial City (aka Washington D.C.) would lose its reason for existence.

      The West Coast would fare better due to its technological base and agriculture, but only after emerging from a total financial collapse of the type that periodically grips Argentina. It would have to contend with Mexican imperialism as well.

      Right now the state most ready to be a nation is Texas. It has oil, technology, sound finance, a free enterprise economy and a strong cultural identity. Texas was barely impacted by the Great Recession that has staggered California, Florida, New York and New Jersey. Either alone or as the leader of a reinvigorated South, it woudl quickly get back on its feet.

      As the culture of the Midwest and the South are not that far apart, I could envision most of the USA reuniting fairly quickly after a collapse. The (North) East coast (in receivership) would have to beg the Midwest/South combination to take it back. California might go its separate way by mutual agreement.

      The biggest losers would be Alaska and Hawaii. The former would be attractive to Russia or China, the latter would need the protection of the Japanese navy without America ruling the waves.

  8. Yesterday’s right-wing riposte to “The Day After” is today’s alternate history scenario:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerika_(TV_series)

    On the plus side, Christopher, even the most dry-as-dust novel (much less satire) would be an improvement over this fifteen-hour slab of granite. Enduring the whole thing as a high school sophomore took effort, and an attempted reevaluation in my mid-30s became a fast-forward hunt for memorable scenes like the Capitol dome collapsing and the “under God”-less pledge of allegiance.

    Best of luck in your endeavors, but after “USSA” (or whatever) achieves literary success, don’t sell out your principles when TV or Hollywood puts a price tag on creative control. Beware the lure of the fast buck. Demand a share of merchandising fees and other residuals too. Look what those did for George Lucas.

  9. Yes, both. The West was culturally assassinated over the period resulting in the economically victorious USA and its allies no longer having the same social, political or cultural outlook that they had when the Cold War began. In some ways leftist (if not Soviet) ideology cleaned up.

    • With respect, I have no idea what Dr. Millard means. What is left and right depends on which Orwellian dictionary one reads from, doesn’t it? And on which edition?

      Frequently, history demonstrates that opposing sides mimic each other. The more that seems to be at stake, the greater the tendency to replicate what you see as the other side’s advantages. One side has machine guns, so the other side has to have them. One side has a secret political police to supersede the rhetoric of constitutionalism and liberty and the other side tends to do the same.

      In many respects, the ideology of the superstate in service to the priority of capital over people horrified the nations of the civilized world in the 1920s and 1930s and galvanized a global opposition. But, in most respects, both the USSR and the countries of the west replicated its values. And all the ideological promise of the wartime coalition and the rhetoric of world peace, arbitration, etc. came to naught because of it.

      Today, the U.S. has shaped a system where its population is kept ignorant and docile. People my age with a college education are more fundamentally ignorant than our parents’ generation that went through the Depression and World War II. I think the last survey of basic geographic information showed that something like a fifth of young people 18-24 can even find the U.S. itself on a map.

      In such a context, an actual argument about the Bill or Rights or national security or economic policy means nothing. Effluvia from the media to capture market shares means everything and makes it all much worse.

      That’s “leftist”? The last few years have rather convinced me that the present civic culture doesn’t know the difference between its left and right, any more than up and down.. 🙂

      • Well said and understood. It is all rather complicated as Mark suggests. I stand by cultural assassination but as to who or what have been the assassins and their politics… Muddy.

    • Be weary of hyperbole in professional historical discussion. The US is in no way a communist state. A more valid question, in this kind of forum, would be “Was the USSR a Communist State?” I suppose it depends on whose “communism” we are talking about. In a similiar way, when we discuss America or the West we must include the economic evolution that occurred. America went through transitions including colonialsm, mercantilism, slavery, agrarianism, industrialization, capitalism/tariff, and so on. Also, who is left? Was it not religious groups who pushed for government intervention in relation to alcohol? Was it not Christianity that took a major role in the Knights of Labor? Was it not the fire brand preacher/politician william jennings bryan who combined the populist party with the democratic party? Was it not Republicans who pushed Progressivism? Wasn’t TR the one to run on the Bull Moose ticket? Wasn’t it Lincoln and Congressional Radical Republicans who legislated social issues and government aid in terms of the Freedman’s Bureau and Southern Reconstruction?

      I believed this to be a place for historians, not hackneyed internet bloggers whose resentment and generalizations ebb and flow with the current media stories.

  10. My friends Kim Newman and Eugene Byrne have written a collection of short stories around this idea, The stories are collected together as Back in the USSR, Quite hard to get hold of but worth the effort.

  11. Imagine you’re the Soviet Union and the United States is a box. Step 1: cut a hole in the box. Step 2: put your junk in that box. Step 3: make her open the box.

    I’m referring, of course, to the deep penetration of every US government agency by our secret services. But don’t ignore the possibility of us overwhelming your moral economy, too!

  12. Marvel did a series called Red Son where Superman landed in the USSR instead of the USA. Interesting way to engage kids!

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