In three major events the world changes dramatically from our own. Reforms at the turn of the century Russia and China ultimately leads to revolution elsewhere. America experiences a unique tale of revolution and reconstruction.
#1. China- Qing Dynasty reform
The first point at which this alternate timeline diverges from our timeline is in 19th century China. The Guangxu Emperor drafted a reform plan, named the Hundred Days' Reform, to transform China into a constitutional monarchy. In our timeline, opposition to this reform was intense, with conservatives condemning it as too radical. This led to the 1898 coup, in which Empress Dowager Cixi thwarted these plans and took control of the government. This, however, only further weakened the imperial government, leading to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.
In this timeline, bureaucratic reformer Kang Youwei's influence was much greater than in our timeline. Yuan Shikai and many conservatives were convinced by Kang Youwei to join the Qing emperor when the reform plan was enacted. Youwei convinced conservatives that westernization and industrialization was necessary for China to defend itself against Japan.
Consequently, Shikai never defected to the empress during the 1898 coup, and Cixi was put under house arrest instead of Guangxu. The failed coup led to a distrust for conservatives, making any further attempt to stop the reform practically impossible. The opposition to the reform was much less intense than in our timeline as a result of Youwei's actions. Guangxu then bribed wealthy Chinese bureaucrats into supporting him, by guaranteeing them seats in the Lower House of his new government. On September 22, 1899, the reform was completed. China had transformed into a modern nation, with Youwei's political theory put into effect: a constitutional monarchy with democracy.
The Hundred Days' Reform became known as the "Guangxu Revolution", as the emperor's reform plan was fully enacted as the Chinese Constitution. On December 9, 1899, the first annual election was held in China, with Yuan Shikai being voted into office as Prime Minister of China. Shikai and Youwei then drifted apart, with Shikai supporting militaristic policies and Youwei supported social and technological development. China was divided among local militias into partially self-governing "provinces" that remained loyal to the emperor and the "Empire of China" was formed, which was later renamed the "Middle Kingdom of China" by Yen Chia-kan. Yuan Shikai wanted to merge local militias into a single national army, the "Royal Preservation Army", for China to defend itself against Japan, in the event of a second war between China and Japan. Mongolia still came through a revolution, with nationalists allying themselves with the Central Powers in World War I. With the weapons given to the Mongolian armies, Mongolia was granted independence in 1915, though it continued to recognize the Chinese emperor as its monarch. This incident legitimized Shikai's fears of China not being able to defend itself, convincing warlords to unite their militias into a single national army.
The new Middle Kingdom
Throughout the early 20th century, China stabilized and gained influence as a global power, rather than suffering periods of instability and unrest as it did in our timeline. The Warlord Era never happened, because Yuan Shikai and Zhang Xun's failed attempts to restore the monarchy did not occur because the monarchy was never overthrown in the first place. The emperor remained the legitimate and legal monarch of China, protected by the Chinese Constitution, albeit in the form of an almost entirely powerless head of state. Tensions between nationalists and the communists in China still grew, though the intervention of Sun Yat-sen prevented an armed conflict.
The influence of the Xuantong Emperor prevented tensions from resuming after Sun's death, and as a result, the Chinese Civil War never happened in this timeline. Japan still invaded China, and captured the same land it did in our timeline, but held onto it for considerably less time than in our timeline, as Chinese forces quickly pushed them back. China is industrialized and westernized in this timeline, comparable to Japan of our timeline.
# 2. Russia- 1905 Revolution
In December of 1904, in the Russian Empire, a strike occurred at the Putilov plant, starting the failed Russian Revolution of 1905. A workers' procession preceded to the Winter Palace to deliver to a petition to the Tsar. Troops guarding the palace opened fire on demonstrators in an event known as "Bloody Sunday". Workers went on strike throughout the empire and thousands of protesters died. This led Nicholas II to create the State Duma of the Russian Empire on February 18 in 1905. On our timeline, this Duma would possess consultative powers only, which only caused civil unrest to increase and the revolution continued, ultimately ended in a victory for the Imperial Army as the revolution was ended. The Imperial Army's victory only highlighted tensions, eventually leading to the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union.
The Tsar turns
In this timeline, however, Nicholas II took inspiration from the Hundred Days' Reform when creating the Duma. The Russian Revolution of 1905 was simply known as the Russian Revolution, and spanned from January 22 to February 25 of 1905. He drafted and ratified a revision of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, a document that turned Russia into a constitutional monarchy. He still lost power but retained his throne, allowing the Age of the Tsars to continue. The Duma was given actual legislative powers in this timeline, and Russia's development eventually turned it into the largest democracy on Earth.
The "Republic of Russia"
The Tsar retained power, though parliament gradually removed these powers. The Tsar constitutionally vetoed these actions, but with the absolute veto he held in our timeline, his vetoes were overridden. With the adoption of a constitution, the capital was moved from St Petersburg (which was never renamed to Petrograd) to Moscow. On June 18, Sergei Witte was selected by the Tsar to be the first prime minister of Russia, though an election for prime minister was later held in 1910, with Lenin winning the election. Russia was later renamed the "Republic of Russia" by Lenin, later renamed the "Democratic Republic of Russia" by Trotsky and simplified to Russia by Stalin. The new government implied socialist policies intended to help the working class and the lessen the people's hatred of the government. Russia would industrialize, but millions would not die under the Soviet polices of our timeline. Without his arrest and escape to Europe, Trotsky's relationship with Lenin never improved.
Consequently, Trotskyists never allied themselves with Leninists and instead distanced themselves from them. Trotsky led the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks, leading to the rise of the Mensheviks and other anti Leninist groups.
Mensheviks, peace, land, and bread
Without the Tsar in power and the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks fighting each other for popularity, the Russian Revolutions of 1917 never occurred and the Soviet Union never existed. Russia became socialist, but not communist, and was only briefly involved in World War I. Casualties of the war were blamed on Lenin and the Bolsheviks instead of Nicholas II, and led to a distrust for Bolsheviks and socialists in general, resulting in the rise of nationalists and anti-Bolshevik groups.
World War I had an opposite effect on Russia in this timeline, as the Bolsheviks supported Russian involvement in the war, while Nicholas II and the Mensheviks opposed the war. Nicholas II made an alliance with Trotsky, the leader of the Mensheviks, against Lenin as they wanted to the pull Russia out of the war. In this timeline, World War I killed the Bolsheviks' support and healed relations between the Tsar and the Russian people, ending Lenin's support while growing Trotsky's support. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were discredited, and Leninism was never popularized or accepted into mainstream communist circles. The Mensheviks then became the only faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. In 1915,
Lenin was voted out of office and replaced by Trotsky, who industrialized the country. Despite its brief involvement, the German Empire initiated the Schlieffen Plan and invaded Belgium before Russia left the war, resulting in declaration of war by the British Empire, causing the conflict to grow into the world war as it did in our timeline. While the Central Powers were still defeated by the Allied Powers, it was far more brutal, as the Western Front of the European theatre became the sole front of that theatre of World War I. The development of Russian culture is never stalled by the Soviets, and is much more developed than in our timeline.
A different motherland "Russia Today"
Repression and discrimination in this alternate Russia is nowhere near the levels it is in our timeline. Under the influence of Prime Minster Mikhail Gorbachev and Tsar Nicholas III (son of Alexei Nikolaevich), Russian culture has aligned itself with that of the rest of Europe, and consequently is far less conservative and much more cosmopolitan than in our timeline. Russia grows and becomes one of the many powerful social democracies in Europe. In this timeline, Russia is a capitalist and modernized global superpower in Eurasia today.
#3. The United States- Communists and the Labor Movement
As the Old World embraced reform in the ashes of world wide war the United States found itself increasingly scarred by class war. In the Early 20th century economic cycles took an even greater toll on America's industrial working class and still large agricultural work force. Increasingly defined by its own divisions America's people began to turn on each other. The working class continued to face hardship and the middle-class felt abandoned and betrayed by ever larger cooperate blocs and a minimalist government that took little action to intervene for the plight of the people.
Americans, though focused on their own problems, took some inspirations were taken from foreign events. The media campaign against Germany waged by the government and private businesses had the intention of securing support for the war, but had unintended consequences. In the long term America's people drew parallels between the Conservative German Empire and the upper class of the United States. As Germany's workforce was exploited for profits of a market economy and mobilized to attack other countries Americans came to believe their home front was no different from Germany. President at the time Woodrow Wilson was even called by his opponents as 'Papa Kaiser'. Wilson's suppression of war time dissent entrenched more resentment of America's people in the years to come.
By contrast some foreign influences on the United States were seen as positive. The Russian Empire's withdrawal from World War I, though criticized in the media, struck of a cord with American dissenters. The sight of a young democracy exiting a war on behalf of its people was a positive example. Russian Leader Leon Trotsky was compared to American founding father George Washington as Washington had also opposed involvement in foreign wars. Some Americans visited Russia and witnessed successful socialist reforms. Returning home America's leftists had a model to follow and convictions to pursue in reconstructing the country.
Road to Revolution
The aftermath of WWI saw the flaring of tensions across the old United States. Though physically unscathed the war was the groundwork for future tensions. High casualties and expense sowed distrust toward existing institutions. The growth of America's middle-class in the post-war era increased dissent as a more educated people questioned the fundamentals of their society. Meanwhile, American officials became more paranoid perceiving an international Communist attack on the verge of threatening their shores.
General strikes of steel and coal workers were declared in 1919 and 1920 being forcibly suppressed by government soldiers. The Organized Labor Movement, radicalized previously moderate organizations such as the American Federation of Labor saw little room of compromise with management in the workplace. The suppression of left-leaning votes in the infamous 1924 election convinced many that the existing structure of the government would not permit reforms from elected officials.
The 1925 revolution broke out as a Pullman's strike before becoming a large general strike across the United States and put the United States into a year of disorder, though relatively little blood was shed compared to later events. Brutal suppression of demonstrators in Baltimore worsened perceptions of the government. Importantly, however, Sarah Leslie's reputation as a revolutionary for mobilizing urban workers nationwide for the general strike. In response to the revolution Congress passed the 20th amendment which provided for the creation of Worker Councils to represent workers each US State. These token councils were not effective in creating change in the United States.
Rebirth of the nation
After the 1925 revolution tensions dissipated below the surface and for a time there was a return to normalcy. Americans returned to work and the government increased laws on unsanctioned unions outside the new state worker councils to channel dissent in manageable directions. A developing consumer economy detracted many from unlawful political activities and some Americans returned to their lives content at conveniences provided by the consumer economy.
The Wall Street of Crash of 1929 was the turning point that led to the revolutions of 1932 and the following Civil War. In a single day - Black Thursday - millions of ordinary people lost their fortunes as speculators confidence in the economy collapsed. Poverty and hunger became widespread across the country. This was also coupled with natural disasters such as the Dust Bowl in the Central States.
The New American Workers Party led by Sarah Leslie discredited the traditional parties of the United States and promoted radical revolution as the only solution to America's corrupt society. In July 1932, the Revolution began when soldiers refused to suppress the demonstrating veterans in Georgetown. Despite attempts of mediation Communists backed by Leon Trotsky and Russia seized Georgetown in what became known as the November Revolution. Most of the city's citizens supported the uprising and the revolt spread to other states.
The American Army in most areas across the country refused to accept the revolution and attempted to preserve the old United States. Over the course of four years the nation experienced destruction that exceeded the first American Civil War. Public discontent and the seizure of state governments by worker councils assured the victory of Communist forces. The Proclamation of the United Socialist Republics of America - recreated from the old United States - started a new era in North American History.