Alternative History
Editors welcome
This 1983: Doomsday article is considered canon, but experts on particular regions are still welcome to make changes or additions as appropriate.

The intellectual world was shaken by the events of September 1983, as was everything else. Every field now became almost completely fixated on responding to the disaster and the ensuing crisis: philosophy, the social sciences, literature, the arts, theology, even the theoretical natural sciences.

This article will look at the world of ideas holistically; please also see the following pages for information on some specific topics.

Related articles
Education: general descriptions of education in different regions
Colleges and universities: a long list of institutions
Science and Technology: a history of the applied sciences
Religion: a list of specific religions and denominations
Literature: descriptions of influential works of fiction and nonfiction

The losses

It almost goes without saying, but the Doomsday attacks destroyed almost every major intellectual center of the Western world. Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale and Berkeley, Paris and Rome - most suffered direct hits. For the most part those major universities that were not destroyed, such as Stanford, soon had to be abandoned in the harsh conditions of the Aftermath. The blasts destroyed not just buildings, but also books, research equipment, institutional knowledge, and most of the driving force behind 20th-century intellectual culture.

Even in areas that remained relative islands of stability within targeted nations, local communities often lacked the means to support higher education. They had to devote their resources largely to food production and self-defense; holding classes and conducting research were very far down on the list of priorities. A majority of the intact universities in Europe and North America had to shut their doors during the 1980s, sometimes temporarily, but often for good.

A few nations in Europe survived that day, notably Sweden, home of the Nobel Foundation. But by far the largest bloc of learning and research centers to survive was in South America and Mexico. Latin America has consequently become the center of world thought in the postwar era.

Trends and movements


Specialization had been the key intellectual trend of the twentieth century. Every academic field and subfield had built up elaborate methodologies and bodies of theoretical knowledge. Most academics, with the exception of a few towering polymaths, had come to focus on extremely narrow areas of inquiry, mostly opaque to non-specialists. Doomsday reversed this trend.

For one thing, the loss of so much of the infrastructure of academia forced scholars to broaden their fields of interest. Historians had to do sociology, for example, simply because there were not as many people doing sociology. In addition more non-academics now had the opportunity to contribute to intellectual life. Opportunities appeared for the lone thinker, writing and sharing ideas outside of any formal institution. This was especially true in targeted countries but also held in Latin America to some extent.

A final cause of despecialization: thinkers and scholars had to step outside of their particular subfields because every field was now responding to the same event. Historians, psychologists, economists, scientists, medical doctors, political theorists - everyone now turned their attention almost entirely to the Doomsday event and its aftermath. Scholars had to read and respond to peers in different fields. With the intellectual center of gravity having moved from the secular Europe and North America to the more overtly religious Latin America, religion also now dialogued with science and philosophy more deeply than it had for the last century.

The Political Turn

All fields of inquiry had always concerned themselves with political topics to a greater or lesser extent. But the Third World War showed just how high the stakes of politics were, especially international politics. Understanding the origins of the war and preventing another now took on the highest urgency. Thinkers in all disciplines therefore turned to questions of power, conflict, and peace.

In Africa, South America, and elsewhere, the near-unanimous call for a new world order based on nonviolence had effects in the practical sphere. It was a major force behind the internationalist movements that ultimately produced both the West African Union and the South American Confederation.

Much activity focused on the search for an alternative to the two ideologies that had dominated the prewar world, namely liberal capitalism and Marxism-Leninism. Many writers in Latin America and elsewhere looked to their own local traditions for ideas that could be newly applied to the modern world. Others sought to transcend politics entirely through an embrace of technocratic principles. If governing could be viewed as a technical skill rather than as a semi-sacred, value-laden process, then perhaps the irrational steps of the past could be avoided. The turn toward technocracy was most explicit in Siberia and other parts of the former Eastern Bloc, where it built on an earlier culture lifting up science and engineering. It seemed to offer an update of Marxism-Leninism for the new era.

The lingering effects of colonialism also remained a topic of interest and study. It's a common observation that the nuclear war turned the world order on its head: the nations that had done the most to control other parts of the world were the ones that most suffered. Therefore many people have explored the question of what it means for a formerly colonized people to suddenly have no (former) colonizer. Throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, intellectuals urged their societies to construct new, positive identities for themselves that were not defined by relationships to the destroyed powers.

Educational theorist and marxist Paulo Freire (died 1995, Brazil) taught liberation as an inner phenomenon that allows the oppressed person to become fully human.

Some, especially indigenous thinkers and leftists, extended this attitude to new calls for liberation from the local power structures within their own countries. These structures, they argued, were a legacy of colonialism now made obsolete by the destruction of the imperialist world. The movement for indigenous rights was centered in Mexico, Guatemala, and Bolivia, but its effects were felt throughout the Americas, including the former territory of United States and Canada, as well as Africa. All of these places have seen movements to revive indigenous languages and forms of government.

Some theorists went further still. People like Brazilian Paulo Freire stressed the need to decolonize individual attitudes and beliefs, liberating society one person at a time through education and consciousness-building.

The natural sciences were also part of this Political Turn. Medical research, for example, came to emphasize public health and health policy much more than health problems affecting individuals. Researchers in the physical sciences tried to make sense of they and their colleagues' role in developing the weapons that destroyed so much of the world. In many departments, original research into pure physics practically came to a halt for many years as scientists turned to ethical and political questions in their writing. These questions remain salient within the physics community today, even as national governments continue to sponsor research with military applications.

The Ecological Turn

An illustration of Doomsday from space. Thinkers in the Ecological movement have compared this planetary trauma to that done to an individual body and mind.

Especially since 2000, the Political Turn has produced another movement, usually called the Ecological Turn. A new emphasis on conservation can be seen among political and scientific writers, which has been reflected in a strengthened Green movement in many countries. But it involves much more than that. Really it means bringing a new ecological perspective to all human studies.

In the social sciences, scholars have built up a set of theories to use as a basis for studying humanity as part of the natural world, and interdependent with it. Different researchers have used this approach in psychology, history, anthropology and the other social sciences, and artistic and literary criticism. These studies have tried to examine the subtle ways that nature is inextricable from human systems.

Both Catholics and Protestants sought to develop an ecological Christianity in this context. Important source texts included the teachings of Francis of Assisi and biblical injunctions to care for God's creation, in particular from the book of Genesis. The New Testament, while containing less material about creation specifically, includes many directions to live simply, avoiding excess money and possessions; these were given a new Ecological interpretation.

Some Ecological thinkers have gone further, broadening their view to take in the entire planet - a development of the Gaia Hypothesis put forward in the 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, biologists respectively from England and the United States, both of whom perished in 1983. The new Ecologists argue that the planet can be viewed and analyzed as something like a single organism. This idea has philosophical implications; see the following section.

Idealism, Mysticism, and Existentialism

Both in Latin America and in many of the damaged Western nations, different philosophical movements have emphasized the inward human experience. Some of these movements trend toward a kind of philosophical mysticism.

A movement sometimes called Brazilian Idealism (because its first adherents were based in São Paulo) picks up where the Ecological movement leaves off. Thinkers associated with the movement have returned to the Platonic concept of the World Soul (psyche kosmou, or alma do mundo in Portuguese), the idea of the entire Earth as a single organism possessing a kind of consciousness. Incorporating the findings of environmental science, the Brazilian Idealists have examined the ways that the Doomsday event wrought a collective trauma that damaged the Earth as a whole.

To an extent this philosophical project has been connected with the search for an alternative to the prewar ideologies. Both Western science and economics (implicitly) and Soviet Marxism-Leninism (explicitly) took a materialist stance on metaphysics. Everything was held to be grounded in matter and the physical world. As thinkers looked for ways to turn their backs on the politics of the failed superpowers, the new Idealism gave them a way to turn their backs on their metaphysics, as well.

Theological thinkers have looked for parallels to this in religious traditions. Christians have explored ecological themes and support for the idea of the world as a consciousness, citing such passages as Psalm 68: "Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord." And passages like Isaiah 24 resonate with the idea of global trauma: "The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant." Dialogue with Hindu and Buddhist writers has produced a new tradition of interfaith theology centered on the goal of unity and healing for the whole world.

Within nations like the United States, Australia, and Western Europe, this same need to cope with the disaster has led some to a more introspective, often pessimistic philosophy. Just as Camus's Absurdism was appealing in France after the Second World War, so a similar ethic of embracing the idea of the meaninglessness of life has spread in the West after the Third. Writings of this sort were especially popular in the 2000s, when literature was first being produced and shared in many of the survivor nations. Religious thought took a similarly pessimistic turn, equating Doomsday to the events described in the Book of Revelation, or at least as a divine punishment for humanity's hubris in the 20th century. Since 2010, a more optimistic kind of existentialism has spread in the Western countries, influenced by some of the Idealistic and mystical ideas coming out of Latin America. But it has not replaced either nihilism or beliefs in divine retribution.

The rise of Deism in North America can be seen as another Idealist trend. Deism had been popular among intellectuals during the American Revolution, and its revival in American survivor communities is part of the more general embrace of pre-Cold War American ideologies. It carries the idea that the world was created according to a divine plan; that this plan is wise and rational, discoverable by human reason; and that humans have the power either to follow that plan or deviate from it - God does not intervene in creation. The new Deists interpret Doomsday as a gross deviation from the underlying ideal of the world and stress the power of human reason to return to that ideal.

Nationalisms and Regionalisms

Varied as the above responses were from the world's intelligentsia, they all broadly agreed on some basic assumptions: that the ideological and national power conflicts of the past generation had reached their natural conclusion in the Third World War, and that humanity had to transcend these conflicts or face further catastrophe. However, there was a strong countercurrent to this, more influential perhaps at the level of popular politics than in the elite discourse normally called "intellectual". This was a discourse of retrenched nationalism. Sometimes called "the new nationalisms", this current made its impact on the history of ideas.

Nationalism took many forms in the postwar world. In nations that had been directly attacked, it most often took the form of blaming and hating the other side. This meant militant anticommunism in the West, hardline communism in the East.

The collapse of South Africa in the 1980s illustrates both of these tendencies. The South African government had long identified anti-apartheid groups like the ANC with the Soviets. The nuclear war justified taking an even harder line against these groups than before. The crackdown fueled support for even more militant anti-apartheid parties and helped to swell the ranks of their armed wings. Two years after Doomsday, the two sides were in open war. Liberals and moderates seeking reconciliation were sidelined.

In some places, people rejected commitment to the old nation-state in favor of an equally fervent devotion to a region or other alternative identity.


Sexuality and Gender

The social movements for feminism and gay rights, and the intellectual traditions that backed them, suffered greatly in 1983. The countries that had been at the center of these movements tended to face the worst destruction. In the communities that emerged from the ashes, equality often seemed like a secondary concern to mere survival. The often heavily male-dominated military states that emerged in many areas were also not very receptive to concerns of gender and sexual equality.

Despite this major setback, feminist and queer writers and activists continued working where they could, offering their own lenses for viewing the crisis caused by the nuclear war and its aftermath. It is not difficult for feminist theorists to interpret the nuclear exchange as a case of masculine aggression gone totally out of control.


Fields and methodologies

Doomsday studies

Research and writing about the Event itself has naturally occupied many scholars, both professional and amateur. Historians, scientists, novelists and filmmakers have put a lot of effort into tracing exactly what happened on 26 September 1983, on exploring its underlying and immediate causes, and on tracking down what happened to the key people behind the most fateful decision in human history.

Many explanations have been proposed for why Doomsday happened, many of them mutually exclusive. There are furious arguments throughout much of the world over this topic, and not much consensus has been reached. Historians, sociologists, psychologists, and scientists have different approaches to the question.

Generally, though, these are divided into two camps - those that believe that was inevitable, and those that don't. Both sides have generally convincing arguments, and which is correct is, of course, impossible to know.

Historical arguments

Many historians tackling the topic have focused on the question of fault. Who struck first, and why? Of course many details are obscure, but sources include analyses of known troop movements, reconstructions of the timing of different waves of missile launches, written records of Soviet and Western military doctrines, and interviews and oral histories of surviving officials and their confidants. These are fraught questions, and every historian who explores them faces accusations of political and national bias.

Among mainstream historians, the prevailing consensus is that the Soviet Union launched the first strike. The strongest evidence for this is the conventional attack launched along several fronts in Germany, Scandinavia, and Greece: Soviet forces appear to have started advancing before nuclear attacks in eastern Europe would have prevented such movements. Extensive interviews and memoirs with George Bush and Margaret Thatcher, two of the most senior Western leaders to have survived, paint a strongly consistent picture of total shock and astonishment on their part. Even skeptics generally accept that these were Bush and Thatcher's genuine feelings, contending instead that President Reagan ordered a first strike without the knowledge or involvement of either his Vice President or the British government.

Historians arguing for a Western first strike point out that Americans like Bush and Reagan survived (Reagan known to have died after the nuclear exchange, in a plane crash over the Pacific) - whereas senior Soviet officials including General Secretary Yuri Andropov did not survive Doomsday, suggesting that they had no time to escape to safety. To explain the evident advance of Warsaw Pact armies, they point to the simple fact that Eastern conventional forces far outnumbered those of the West, so they could have forced NATO troops back even after being hampered by nuclear attacks.

Philosophical and ideological arguments

It has become quite common to assert that the nuclear exchange was a natural or even inevitable result of capitalism, or communism, nationalism, militarism, or whatever set of ideas a given author is attempting to refute. Capitalism because it promoted an irrational zero-sum game in which the West sought any short-term advantage, even one that would result in its own destruction; communism because it presupposed a worldview of good versus evil where no opposition could be tolerated.

Few people are making these arguments outside of hardcore ideologues for communism and anticommunism, respectively. They have quite a lot of influence at the popular level. In much of the West, communism and socialism are still synonymous with nuclear armageddon, while people in leftist states make similar associations with imperialism and capitalism. However, there is a robust academic dialogue that traces the war to the ideology behind Cold War superpower politics. In this interpretation, both Russia and the West were captive to the same narrow ways of thinking, defined by nationalism and militarism. In this way, the Third World War can be compared to the First: the key players were driven inexorably toward armed conflict because their political cultures did not permit any other course of action.

Another body of research looks at the impact that philosophies and ideologies had on various nations' responses to Doomsday. The collapse challenged dominant worldviews in every possible way, and every society had to adjust its thinking to the new reality. Historians have documented how within the USA, Europe, and the Soviet Union, some local towns took the distrust and hate toward the Cold War enemy and transferred it to local rivals, intensifying conflicts there. At the same time, some communities found a way to transcend the old ways of thinking and cooperate with former enemies. Examples abound of survivors in capitalist countries adopting a more communitarian ethic, and of Soviet survivors turning toward pluralism.


A Nigerian microeconomist conducts interview-based research in a Sudanese refugee community.

Beginning in the late 1990s, ethnography became a major area of growth as scholars set out to study the diverse societies that survivors had built in the targeted zones. For students and researchers in Latin America, Oceania, and other areas, ethnographic fieldwork has become a common activity and almost a rite of passage. Groups of students from the stable countries now make regular treks to small, isolated communities.

The practice of fieldwork extends well beyond ethnography and anthropology, the traditional homes for this kind of work. Historians of the war and of the postwar era travel to isolated villages to make use of interviews and oral history. Economists trace the new patterns of production and exchange among the survivors. Scholars of the humanities seek to catalog the new kinds of folk art, music and literature that have emerged to help people cope with their situation. The natural sciences have also embraced some of the methods of ethnography. Environmental scientists go out to study the lingering ecological effects of the missiles. And more and more medical students are expected to spend time doing fieldwork in survivor communities. In some schools, this has become a requirement, especially in Mexico and Europe.

The WCRB has stepped in to fund and organize this kind of research on a global scale. Its mandate includes both exploration and relief; on the one hand, documenting and cataloguing the world; on the other, providing resources to improve its infrastructures of communication, economy, and public health. The WCRB's many regional offices partner with universities, government agencies, and other institutions of learning on various projects of study and relief.

Foreign fieldworkers face obvious risks. They must spend months at a time cut off from home, trying to learn something from locals who may not be altogether disposed to welcome them. They may travel to regions that face ongoing instability, along with other risks like disease and poor sanitation. Still, fieldworkers carry on. There is no topic worth studying more than the effects of Doomsday, and it's considered impossible to study these effects without experiencing them firsthand.

Fieldwork also serves as a conduit for new ideas from the core societies of the world to the periphery. In some of the isolated parts of North America, China, and other regions, the main source of new literature and ideas are these resident scholars, who spend time interacting with and sometimes teaching the locals.

By region


African intellectual life had already experienced something of a "political turn" in the 1950s and 60s as thinkers around the continent turned their attention to the fight for independence and the need to build the new nations. In the process they attempted to discover or construct a foundation for a new African identity free of colonialism and its associated prejudices and systems of control. Most often these thinkers sought inspiration in traditional African culture. Bt the 70s, this approach had become controversial: many were criticizing the enthusiasm to find philosophy in traditional culture, asserting that it did not hold up to the scrutiny of modern logic, most often defined from the tradition of Analytic Philosophy. The African intellectual scene by 1983 was divided between "traditionalists" or "particularists" on the one hand, who wanted to keep building their philosophy on recovered pre-colonial wisdom; and "modernists" or "universalists" on the other, who wanted to build a totally new philosophy that would be up to rigorous Western standards.

Henry Odera Oruka (died 1993, Kenya) sought to reorient traditionalist African philosophy from the past to the present.

In many ways Doomsday turned back the clock to the early 60s. It forced attention again on political thought, and it produced a climate that strongly favored the traditionalists. As was true in many other places, for Africans the nuclear war demonstrated the practical and moral failure of Western civilization. Traditional African wisdom now seemed like the natural place to look for ideas to replace it. African thinkers turned not just to precolonial culture, but also to the political writers of the previous generation. They engaged in new and critical ways with the philosophies of Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, Senegal's Léopold Senghor, and Tanzania's Julius Nyerere. These philosopher-politicians had largely advocated African forms of socialism. Socialism itself was now falling out of favor, and in West Africa especially there was a desire for a new political philosophy free of undue influence from the West or the Soviet sphere. The meteoric rise of Adeyemism in West Africa, a political synthesis built on ideas from Ashanti and Yoruba traditions together with pan-Africanist and distributist ideas, has been the most visible example of a new Africanist philosophy.

Sub-Saharan Africa's largest concentration of global universities had been in South Africa, which experienced near-total collapse in the 1980s. The center of activity shifted to the stable nations of West Africa, especially Nigeria, where the University of Ibadan became the new academic capital of the continent.

Zimbabwe has become another major center of higher learning in Africa. Its two most prominent political leaders, Mugabe and Muzorewa, had backgrounds in education, and they emphasized the foundation of new schools and colleges with the goals of fighting the institution of child marriage and of training a new generation of farmers for the country. They have begun to draw students from outside of Zimbabwe. Since the mid-2000s the nation's schools have focused especially on improving the teaching of mathematics and science. Zimbabwe's Staff College also gained a reputation for producing high-quality officers dedicated to their duties, thanks in large part due to the roles given to the members of the British Military Assistance and Training Team that found themselves stranded in the nation. Zimbabwe's health education system also became a model. With limited resources the nation worked to infuse scientific research into medical practice. Education, prevention and quarantining methods have mitigated the AIDS epidemic, showing how a nation with limited infrastructure can combat the disease.

One prominent issue within African education is the question of language. Nkrumah himself had argued that to be free of colonization, Africans had to free themselves from the colonial languages. And the creation of the West African Union, which united countries speaking English, French, and Portuguese, caused some to question just how universal these languages were. But they were still well-entrenched as the languages of education and wider communication; most African languages by contrast were highly localized. Still, there was a new push to use them in the classroom from the primary level to the universities. A few academics boldly began to publish in local languages, then either translating them for a wider audience or relying on others to do the translation. A somewhat more common practice is to translate the abstract of a publication into one's native language. And many college professors now encourage classroom discussion in local languages, even if the colonial language is used for most of the class's written texts.

These symbolic shifts in higher education have been matched by some genuine changes at lower levels. Many countries have implemented or strengthened programs of native language literacy, and instruction in local languages has moved into higher levels in many schools.


The thousand or so scientific workers in Antarctica in 1983 suffered death rates close to 100%, and this has made most countries reluctant to go back there for research. Some scientists have also expressed an uneasiness with Antarctic work, worrying that governments might use their work simply as a way to claim territory. For these reasons, there are still only three countries with permanent research stations on the continent: Chile, Argentina, and the Dominion of South Africa. Several research teams from Australia and New Zealand have visited Antarctica without building permanent stations; opposition to "science in the service of geopolitics" in the ANZ scientific community is especially strong.

Arab world

Intellectual life in the Middle East and North Africa also had to respond to the massive geopolitical changes of 1983. Like other areas with a history of Western colonialism, the Arab nations had to cope with the sudden disappearance of both the West and the Soviet Union as world powers. However, in this region it may be fair to say that "the more things change, the more things stay the same." Several battered Western nations, in this environment of chaos and struggle, tried to keep projecting power over the Arab states: Sicily and Greece meddled in Libya; the Spanish remnant government reasserted control of Western Sahara and openly supported separatists in Morocco; while Israel, though severely weakened by Soviet attacks, launched a nuclear missile of its own over Cairo in 1988, creating an electromagnetic pulse that crippled the country and indirectly caused countless deaths. This ensured that Israel would remain the face of evil in the region, and the West more generally would continue to be perceived as an imminent threat, in a way that it was not in most other parts of the world.

On the other hand, circumstances have also served to stunt the spread of reactionary Islam and political islamism. Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabism, experienced catastrophic economic collapse and famine due to the world war. When the Gulf re-emerged as a regional power through the consolidation of the Gulf States Union, it owed much to the economy and leadership of Oman, whose dominant Ibadi school was not friendly to Wahhabism. Shaykh Ahmad ibn Hamad al-Khalili, Oman's Grand Mufti since 1975, is famously a moderate who advocates for tolerance among all Islamic sects, though he has also condemned both the Western and communist worlds. In Cyrenaica, the return of the Sanusi, which is both a dynasty and a Sufi order, has also provided a powerful counter to jihadism. On the other hand, opponents of the regime, most of whom are adherents of the Salafi movement, sometimes use the rhetoric of jihadism to criticize the Sanusi.

Egypt had been another center of Islamism, largely underground, the home of the Muslim Brotherhood and the midcentury islamist intellectual Sayyid Qutb; and the country came under islamist rule for a period in the 80s. The Brotherhood's rule was largely a failure, but since that failure can plausibly be blamed on Israel, it still has supporters in the country. Islamist ideas have spread in the relatively open society of reunified Egypt but lack the institutional support to go very far outside the country.

The upshot of all this - a rise in anti-Western sentiment together with factors hindering the spread of islamism - has been a resurgence of Arab nationalism, which had been on the decline since the 60s. Arab nationalism is especially strong as an intellectual movement - pan-Arabism has not been able to form any coherent political program due to the physical and political fracturing of the region. Israel and Europe, though not so much the United States, are seen still as threats to the Arab people and barriers to their progress. The hardships caused by the Doomsday event are seen within that framework of oppression and colonialism by Europeans.


While the colonized world had to reckon with the fall of the colonizers, Europeans had to face the same problem from the opposite point of view: how to deal with the sudden loss of global influence, the sudden displacement from the center of world civilization.

Much of Europe's scientific, intellectual and cultural output has come from the three blocs of neutral nations that emerged from the war more or less intact: Sweden and Finland, which formed the core of the Nordic Union; Switzerland, the core of the Alpine Confederation; and the Republic of Ireland, which along with the surviving nations of Britain united to form the Celtic Alliance. All three continued to fund the sciences, especially those that could address the practical problems of the war's aftermath. Ireland and Scotland in particular have become a force in medical and public health research.

Outside the three major stable blocs, the history of ideas has in part been carried out by nonspecialists, many independent thinkers and literary writers who are trying to come to terms with both the Event itself and the changed world. Much of their philosophical work has explored the personal and psychological impacts of the nuclear war.

Political thought has come to the foreground especially since 2000, when Europe has again begun to resemble something like a community of nations, each struggling to form and define itself. Nationalism has entered the political discourse once again. In part this is because of the urgency of the project to rebuild the nations of Europe. But it is also a response to the conditions that led to the war. Most European nations had aligned themselves to the major power blocs led by the USA and USSR, and were destroyed as a result. Nationalists believe that rather than entering such dangerous international alliances, the nations of Europe should focus on building and strengthening themselves. Autarky became the guiding political philosophy in many circles.

In a further consequence of the rise of nationalism, several European nations have sought prestige and resources by invading or interfering in the affairs of their former colonies in Africa. Many intellectuals, especially those from Africa, have denounced this new imperialism as a desperate attemot to cling to past prestige, and as a show of force toward other European nations. Examples include the Italian colonization of Tripolitania between the 90s and 2011, Greek investment and troop presence in Cyrenaica in the same era, the Spanish annexion of Western Sahara in the late 80s in collaboration with the Polisario Front, and the "colonization" of South Africa by British refugees joining the exiled monarchy. For these reasons many nations in Africa refuse to hold diplomatic relations with Sicily, Greece, Spain and the Dominion of South Africa.

East Asia



The sudden destruction of both the West and the Soviet bloc confirmed the legitimacy of Iran's still-fresh ideology of revolutionary Islam, which combined eschatological Shiism with elements of Marxism. Iranian revolutionary intellectuals carried this sense of triumphalism into the war against Iraq, in which the country was devastated by chemical weapons, and with government support tried to maintain it through the second war in 1989-90.

Since 1990 Iran has emerged as a stable and secure regional hegemon, which has allowed its intellectual culture to become more relaxed and open. A generation of writers, in particular journalists, began to question the revolutionary ideology more openly starting in the late 90s and early 2000s. The strident calls to oppose the West seem less relevant now that the West has been eliminated as a threat.

At the same time, some scholars have sought to rediscover and revive Iran's earlier intellectual traditions, especially medieval Islamic writers in the Persian language. Some calls for reform have been framed in terms of a return to these earlier traditions.

The ideologues of the revolution have not disappeared, however. They remain a part of Iran's world of ideas, and to some extent enjoy government favor. They have become particularly influential in the parts of Central Asia that have come under Iranian influence.

Latin America

Mexico and South America collectively have the largest and most diverse intellectual culture in the world. The national universities of this region have become the world's leading centers of learning and research. They have come to exert a great deal of influence on the thought of other regions. All the important conversations of the postwar world are taking place here: the search for cultural identity, the establishment of a peaceful world order, and the ongoing dialogue between science, philosophy, and religion.

The presence of the Vatican in Rio de Janeiro means that it is an important religious center as well. While the Papacy officially remains committed to returning to Rome someday, this remains impossible; and in the meantime, it is impossible to miss the effect that the Latin American setting has had on the institution and on the Church as a whole. Pope Antonio, elected in 1999, is from Mexico and serves in Brazil, so he bridges the two largest countries of the region.

Optical and radio telescopes at the observatory of La Silla

South America contains some of the only large-scale equipment necessary for advances in astronomy. Major radio telescopes are located at Itapetinga in Brazil and La Silla in Chile. The Guiana Space Centre is the world's undisputed center of space exploration since the launch of the Odyssey rocket in 2001.


North America

In North America, one of the regions to have suffered the most from the events of Doomsday, most of the institutions of learning were destroyed in 1983 or collapsed soon after. The intellectual life that has grown since then had to be rebuilt from scratch.

Much of the thought in this region is still being created by nonspecialists: journalists, secondary teachers, politicians, poets, novelists, and others who speak and write on a range of topics. Some journals and magazines now have a regional circulation, and they have helped to create something like a North American intellectual community.

In many parts of North America, religious leaders comprise a large part of the intellectual class. Many Christian denominations have come to hold that the events described in the Book of Revelation have now come to pass with Doomsday. This led to a flowering of dispensationalist literature, genre that is still one of the most popular within the former United States. These arguments proved both popular and persuasive in the postwar era. Even Christians from outside fundamentalist circles have been influenced by them; they often argue that Doomsday was not the fulfillment of any specific prophecy, but more broadly was a punishment for mankind's hubris in the 20th century. This can be seen as a more Christian take on the Deist argument that the war was a violation of the divine plan for the world.

The rise of the United States especially since 2011 has put the old American ideals into the foreground of this conversation. Some people have rallied around a return to Cold War-style patriotism; many branches of the CRUSA have tapped into this. The militaristic society of Virginia has also encouraged this outlook, seen for example in the multi-volume memoirs of its founding president, General James E. Thompson.

Others have looked to even older ideas in the American tradition, trying recover a pure Americanism from before it was corrupted by the events that led to the nuclear war. Writings of the American founding generation have been particularly influential. Washington's Farewell Address has become a foundational text of non-interventionism. This current has been influential within the restored USA itself, and it has deeply affected its approach to expansion, for example. Hoping to avoid the imperialist mistakes of the past, U.S. leaders have sought to welcome new states slowly and organically, always with the consent of the citizens living there. These ideas have also been an influence on the USA's largely neutral stance toward the new world powers.

Beyond this, North America since 1983 has served as the most popular location for fieldwork by researchers from Latin America and Oceania. Some schools have set up branches in North American towns, and this has helped to spread ideas from those places. A notable example is the current of indigenous thought, which has been influential in Lakotah and the U.S. states of Absaroka and Kootenai. These new Native-centered states have found inspiration in Latin American theorists over questions of identity and ideology.


the University of Otago, New Zealand

The nuclear attacks did not damage Australia National University, the premier research university of the country, but they crippled Australia and made it impossible for ANU to keep functioning as normal for many years. For this reason the center of scientific and intellectual life in what became the ANZC shifted to New Zealand. Since then Australia has struggled to catch up.

New Zealand thus considers itself to be something of a lifeboat for the intellectual traditions of the English-speaking world, though even here many scholars have tried to differentiate themselves from those traditions, often turning to the country's Polynesian heritage for inspiration. Some philosophical work continues in the Analytic tradition, while other thinkers have wholly embraced the Ecological Turn in this country that helped found the Green movement.

The relocation of many American military and government people to Oceania has made the United States and its fall a frequent object of study; in fact some academics have criticized their colleagues' obsession with the topic. The wildly popular 2000 biography of George Bush is just one example of this. The attitudes of Australian and New Zealand writers toward America vary from nostalgic to highly critical.

The University of the South Pacific has remained an important institution in the smaller islands of the region. Based in Fiji, the USP struggled as Fiji withdrew from most regional organizations in the mid-2000s, a response to the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. But the University managed to stay independent of government control. It is in fact the only Oceanian institution not to be co-opted into either the Oceanic Organisation or the League of Nations. More recently, Fiji has gone back to a policy of engagement with the Pacific region and world; this has been good for the USP. It has helped to educate a new generation of leaders for Oceania.


Intellectual life in one-party Socialist Siberia and its satellites has been defined by the ongoing project to update Marxism-Leninism to make it relevant in the postwar world. This project is felt in all areas of intellectual life, from the arts to politics to the natural sciences.

The Communist Party has struggled to stay relevant as the center of the world socialist movement; this required the party to reinterpret Marxist-Leninist doctrines in a less dogmatic, less certain way. One example of this is the introduction of modest market reforms. Another has been the return of religion to Soviet public life. The Russian Orthodox Church, now based in Ulan-Ude, has been able to present itself as a force for peace and reconciliation because it had been sidelined before the war. Its influence can be detected in a softening of the Party's rhetoric, not only regarding religion but also on a variety of other issues.

The most prominent ideological update has been the party's promotion of "Technical Socialism." This program has amplified the historic Soviet emphasis on engineering, the physical sciences, and empirical studies. Theorists have promoted objective expertise as an antidote to the corruption and the blind orthodoxy that weakened the late prewar Soviet Union and which, it is believed, helped to precipitate the nuclear exchange of 1983. A large number of positions within the government are now determined by batteries of academic and practical tests. While a measure of political orthodoxy is required, expertise is valued much more. Promoters of the new ideology argue that an organized, technocratic, bureaucratic state is the best way to find pragmatic solutions to the problems that confront modern humanity.

The nation's people have also shifted their outlook from considering themselves a Eurasiatic nation to a more Asiatic one. This viewpoint has only been reinforced with further expansion into what had been parts of China and Mongolia. Although the government and a section of its people do believe the state will return to Europe, there is now a generation emerging that has never lived in Europe and feels few ties to it. This has begun to force conversation more on the peoples of the region already living there and the more Asian peoples the USSR now seeks to incorporate into the state apparatus as well as how the addition of more Buddhist peoples will affect the religious makeup of the nation.

South Asia


Southeast Asia


West Indies

The nuclear war that fragmented so many regions actually resulted in more unity and integration for the Anglophone Caribbean: many of its nations united as the East Caribbean Federation (now the Caribbean Federation) in 1987, and the Caribbean region as a whole joined forces reaffirmed CARICOM (which had existed before Doomsday), revamping the organization as a regional bloc of Caribbean nations that share a single economic market, join together for cultural events, pledge mutual defense to each other, and generally operate as a mostly-united bloc at the League of Nations.

The region's university system, the University of the West Indies, has been a dominant force in the intellectual life in the new country. It had to drastically reduce its normal activities in the 80s and 90s, but it recovered. No campus had to permanently close.

One interesting effect of Doomsday on social life in the Caribbean is that although more mainline branches of Christianity remain the majority religious groups, Rastafarianism has seen a notable boom in popularity since the mid-1980s. Many sociologists have noted that 1970s-80s era Rastafarianism tended to be very critical of the outside world and believed that the modern world at that time was on a destructive course. Many people in the Caribbean saw Doomsday as a vindication of that idea, and many embraced the Rastafari belief system in the aftermath.

Hinduism continues to be the largest minority religion, thanks to the presence of the Indo-Caribbean population in many parts of the West Indies, with Islam having a presence as well (also due to the Indo-Caribbean presence).

Major concerns have mirrored those in Latin America, with Britain generally replacing the United States as the now-gone former colonizer, and instead of the exploitation of indigenous people, the English-speaking Caribbean thinkers have to reckon more with the lingering effects of slavery and racism. Many of the best-known thought leaders in the region come from the worlds of art and literature rather than academic research.


The Nobel prizes resumed in 1990. The prizes had been suspended indefinitely to cope with the massive grieving process, but the creation of the Nordic Union that year inspired hope in the Nordic nations. At that point Scandinavia did not have steady contact with distant parts of the world, so for a few years most prizes went to people from the NU and Celtic Alliance nations. As the years have passed, the Nobels again took on a more global outlook. In 2014, the Nobel Foundation followed the lead of other organizations like the WCRB and the World Wildlife Fund: it established a set of regional offices to coordinate its activities and keep the prize committees up to date on developments in different parts of the world. Now, rather than considering an open-ended list of just anybody, the Nobel committees chose from among slates of candidates submitted by the regional offices.