This world diverged during the First World War; a more successful Germany saw France and the UK wanting to negotiate peace, as they knew they had no hope of winning after Russia had asked for unconditional peace. Thanks to butterflies from a stronger - even victorious, one might say - Germany, the Russian revolution took a turn for the better, and the democratic and egalitarian nature of communism was maintained. Of course, this took years of violence and rebellion, and left Russia a broken shell of her former self - but precisely because all of Russia had to be rebuilt, the people could implement the changes they wanted to, to establish an extremely progressive society for its time.
Western Europe was a more war-torn place than in our world, thanks to a stronger Germany. Not on the same level as Russia, but still, age-old problems of nationalism, racism, and sexism were exposed all over the continent. They weren't really addressed, as those with power stood to lose a lot - the horrors of the French Revolution were an oft-discussed subject - but change still happened.
Austria-Hungary crumbled under waves of ethnic nationalism, which made Germany intervene. The rebels were crushed, and for a few months, it looked as if Austria-Hungary could live on as an extremely totalitarian and oppressive dictatorship practically puppetised by Germany. Alas, the new regime clashed with the Islamic Empire, war broke out, and Austria-Hungary finally collapsed. Germany took over what it could - most of Austria - and civil war flared up in south-eastern Europe.
The Ottoman Empire, too, faced rebellions and civil strife. However, instead of collapsing, the leadership managed to create something akin to pan-Arabism - Muslim nationalism may be a better name - on the positive side, and anti-imperialism on the negative side. Soon, instead of being torn apart by a storm, the Ottoman Empire rode the storm as liberators of the oppressed colonies, Muslims, brown people, and so forth. Imperial Dar al-Islam, also known as the Islamic Empire, was born.
Western Europe saw this happening, but it's hard to get over nationalist sentiment. Still, monarchs approached other monarchs to discuss their shared problems, and French merchants doing business with German companies noticed that the Huns weren't brutish beasts of savagery. An almost entirely theoretical construct - aside from a council-cum-meeting place for foreign dignitaries - was born; the Cooperation of Europe.
The USA saw all of this happening, too, and concluded that there was one simple truth behind it; people couldn't fulfill their potential. In Europe, a Jew, for example, was treated as a subhuman, not equal with the white populace at all, unable to fulfill his or her dreams.
So on one hand, Christian morality - love your neighbour, care for each other, regardless of gender or race - became more prevalent, while on the other, (legal) restrictions were abolished to allow each and every human to live up to his or her potential. This took more than a generation to fully achieve, including a second semi-civil war; the march of progress is a long and hard one. But in the end, the NSA would be born; National-Socialist America.
At the same time, the DDR had finished dealing with all her troubles; the Democratic Duma of Russia was now back on the world stage, spearheading values of freedom and democracy. Not exactly the same as the NSA, but the differences were tiny; both were in favour of equality and allowing people to prosper, and where the one maximised freedom within a legal framework, the other simply abolished laws. Certainly in the beginning, the dawn of the sixtieth century, the nations were extremely similar in ideology, and it looked as if these colossal powers would grasp the world and reform it in their combined image. Not a bad thing, many a minority would say!
In the meantime - five centuries - Europe had changed drastically. The Cooperation of Europe evolved and evolved; not only was this EEC analogue almost half a century before its time, once it came off the ground and gained useful purposes, it evolved very rapidly indeed. Germany and France, surprisingly, were the most in favour of cooperation, and the Benelux quickly jumped on board, of course; it's good for business, trade, and all that. Rapidly, these five countries cooperated and integrated more and more.
Their first joint military exercise was putting down a nationalist revolution in Spain; in response to the growing Continentalist movement - as it was called then - part of Spain and her army rebelled and declared independence. The Continental powers - who, throughout the war, adopted the term Unionist instead of Continental - reacted with much enthusiasm, as well as needless brutality, which made the war take longer than it should have. Indeed, while most of Spain disagreed with the extreme ideology of Nationalist Spain, lead by Franco as chairman of the Falangist Vanguard in charge of Nationalist Spain, many Spanish people felt sympathy for them, especially when the media publicised the atrocities committed by the Unionists.
None the less, the Union won - and never left. It was but two decades later, in the fifties, that the Unification Act of Brussels would see the complete unification of all Unionist countries, setting the stage for a second World War. Because indeed, while France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Denmark were in favour of integration, and while northern Italy - they had a civil war over the issue - or Spain - but much less so, after what happened to Nationalist Spain - were amicable to the idea, for example, northern Europe wasn't. The United Kingdom had always been independent and aloof, above the continental troubles, superior thanks to her navy and the water surrounding her. Similarly, Scandinavia had always been more independent and less involved with the continentals as well. These nations had been moving closer ever since the Cooperation of Europe had been established, but they had one weak point; the city of London, and most of England. The heart of the northern economy, most of the bankers and businessmen realised their future lay with continental Europe. And continental Europe had few qualms with propping up this sentiment here and there, enabling and contributing to an uprising that gave them a perfect casus belli to occupy England. And once having crossed the North Sea, thanks to England's help, the northern powers stood no chance against the Unionist armies; the rest of Britain was forcibly puppetised. More excessive brutality and warmongering overreaction - a trend had started...
The third war the Union fought was against the Islamic Empire. When Austria-Hungary fell apart, Germany saved (it's actually fair to use the word 'saved' in this context) Austria. With Russia - the traditional patron of the Slavic people - busy with her internal situation, there was nobody to take charge and put the house in order, so to say. And while the Islamic Empire was busy 'helping' and 'uplifting' (both true, in a certain sense - just like Imperial Japan in our world 'helped' the native inhabitants of European colonies) the Middle-East, who knows when this Islamic Empire would turn westwards and roll all over the Balkans?
Visionary, revolutionary, and all-around hero Tito realised this. He managed to create a pan-Balkan ideology most could get behind. He managed to rally diverse ethnicities and nationalities, all with huge problems and distrust for others - but he managed to make it work. Greatly inspired by the quick death of nationalism and the growing trend of cooperation in western Europe, the People's Republic of Slavia became the eastern and smaller counterpart of the Socialist Union of Europe.
Of course, at this point, nobody realised nationalism hadn't died, but had merely been channelled into more advantageous forms; massive pro-Union supranationalism enabled the ruling elite - monarchs, businessmen, politicians... - to consolidate and then greatly expand their power by setting up an organisation that ruled over multiple countries; the Socialist Union of Europe. It was the perfect coup, planned this way at the very establishment of the Cooperation of Europe back when the first World War had just ended.
This didn't really matter initially, but by the dawn of the sixties, a split between the Socialist Union of Europe and the People's Republic of Slavia was fast approaching. Wasn't the SUE the father of the PRS, the patron and the progenitor of this child? But wasn't the PRS the vanguard against the Islamic Empire? Wasn't the PRS guaranteeing the safety of the SUE? Then there was the ideological split, with the PRS slowly coming back from the 'multiculturalism all the way' position, easing down on the reverse-discriminatory laws, and starting to view Muslims with suspicion.
Still, the Socialist Union of Europe had, directly or indirectly, gained control of almost all of Europe. The Islamic foothold was unsustainable, the proxy war with the Democratic Duma of Russia was a fun side activity - except that, unlike in our world, battles were actually more or less continuously fought here, both sides being careful not to let it spill across the border - and the northern powers were rather scared.
Scared, but smart; if the choice is standing together or falling apart, well, they, too, started integrating. The United Kingdom of Great Scandinavia and the Northern Baltics was born, a very decentralised union, perhaps best comparable to our European Union with a central fiscal, monetary, economical, and military position (although even so, all states have an independent army as well).
Scandinavia found a lot of allies in a world slowly tilting itself in an abyss of death and destruction. Indeed; Scandinavia may be comparable to a more conservative European Union as we know it, but the Socialist Union of Europe's - that is, the ideology of socialism, also followed by the People's Republic of Slavia and other associated nations - progressive and socialist policies have gone overboard, most would say.
Throughout the years, socialism's right of existence was the eradication of inequality. That was the reason for its birth and the reason for the birth of the SUE - well, a clique of powerful people wanting to hold onto that power but recognising they'd lose it all if the minorities and lower classes would rebel, as seen in Russia. So, throughout the years, discriminatory policies have ended. Women are equal. Ethnicities are equal. Nationalities are equal. Poorer people get money from richer people through taxes, welfare, and other forms of government reallocation. Undeveloped areas get developed by funding from developed areas. And ever so on.
Sounds perfect. And while we're doing this whole progressive shtick, we should do away with all those conservative nonsense; sexual liberation - nothing wrong with nudism or sexual activity; it's fun and enjoyable for everyone, right? - dress codes - eh, let people wear whatever they want, why not? - etiquette - a useless relic from a class-dominated era - and ever so on.
Societal norms were all torn down; men can cry and be emotional, women can drink alcohol and like sex, men aren't gallant crusaders protecting the weaker sex, women can be awesome soldiers, and, again, ever so on.
Mental issues are serious and shouldn't be neglected, people aren't weak for suffering - in fact, suffering makes them stronger, braver, more courageous than others; their lives are hard and terrible, that should be respected and they deserve as much help as they can get. That, too, goes for trans people; you, as a cis person, can't even imagine how much they suffer.
So is it unfair to allocate more resources to trans people? No; their life has been worse than that of cis people, ceteris paribus. And, why would it then be worse to allocate more resources to women, who have traditionally suffered more as well? Ethnic minorities, in the face of a huge white majority?
The descent into madness was gradual. But in the end, socialism is now an ideology triumphing the different, the unique, and the special, at the cost of what is perceived to be the norm (white, male, straight, and a plethora of other labels). Indeed, every year, government officials go round all houses to write down all the labels applying to everyone; PTSD, depression, eating disorder, blind, dead, and so forth. Depending on the amount and the severity of labels, you get money, support, and other resources from the government. In fact, depending on your labels, some laws do or don't apply to you, and this goes so far that 'minorities' will almost instantly be hired whereas white men suffer in perpetual poverty and discrimination. After all, you don't want to be arrested for not properly supporting minorities, do you?
A relic of the foundation of the SUE is the fact that the government is all-powerful. 'Fair' - as in, not a selfish dictatorship - and accountable to her citizens - who suddenly disappear more and more often, in recent years - but possessing approximately (nobody is sure) nine spy agencies to guard the equality and happiness of all citizens. 'He', 'she', 'businessman', 'and other gendered words are practically non-existent, as declaring oneself to be a man or a woman - a he or a she - would mean one is cis, and if one claims to be genderfluid or trans or anything similar, one gets more benefits. Besides, accidentally misgendering someone is a crime worthy of one year jail time (intentionally doing so is at least five years plus mental therapy). Offending anyone is a crime as well - because it makes people unhappy - which is why everything is becoming more and more bland and dull, and people say less and less. Precisely because of enshrining uniqueness, society is slowly becoming monotonous, bland, dull, and boring... Unless doctors can prove you have a mental condition, that is; in that case, you can get away with a lot of things (even including rape, at times), as you can't be blamed for your mental state. Predictably, a lot of so-called mental specialists are shady, corrupt, and not at all knowledgeable about their work.
Aside from socialism, particularly in southern Africa, communism is on the rise. Aligned to socialism and the SUE, the difference is that communism likes to work with communes; very local, very decentralised, as opposed to the all-powerful governments and spy agencies of socialism. Well, that, and an openly racist (not 'equal' with many apostrophes and asterisks) policy favouring black people.
None the less, European citizens enjoy the highest standard of living, and not every place is as gloomy as described above. Besides, the elite - now more akin to a shadow government like the fabled Illuminati - keep the abuse of power by the all-seeing and all-powerful government in check. And hey, at least you're still alive; by practically abolishing the whole legal framework and doing away with a police corps - well, they were integrated into the bloated and way too huge army - the Democratic Duma of Russia has certainly maximised 'freedom'. Such as the freedom to murder your neighbours without much if any punishment or consequences; the horrors of stereotypical anarchism.
However, democracy hasn't become that perverted as one might expect, just like how socialism isn't as horrible as the worst-case scenario described above (which isn't to say the world isn't heading there...). The DDR is actually democratic, in an extremely decentralised and direct (direct democracy) way. On the other hand, the military apparatus has been taking lessons from their socialist neighbours to the west, and has already covertly subverted much of the democratic process. Soon, it'll be quite clear to see that the military is actually in charge of the DDR, but they haven't yet subverted everything, and for now, the people live under the illusion of democracy.
The military of the DDR is, paradoxically enough, almost the complete opposite of everything the DDR stands for (in theory). It is authoritarian, extremely hierarchical, and requires absolute and instant obedience. It's huge, and in practice, a nation all on its own. Of course, the military is supportive of spreading democracy and freedom at all costs; much like how our USA did this in South America, but then a lot worse. Central Asia is, as such, full of puppetised dictatorships, and the military is having a jolly good time collapsing and carving out puppet states of China.
The United Kingdom has seen this democratic power slip further and further into the abyss of insanity and authoritarianism, much like the rest of the world, but for now, they're allies of convenience. Even though the DDR is responsible for the horrible collapse of India, without the DDR, the SUE would probably move against the UK.
And the DDR feels that it needs the UK as well, for it has lost its previous ally; the NSA. National-Socialist America has moved towards a different kind of 'maximising freedom'; the DDR simply allows everything (well, with a legal structure being largely absent, except for the army and 'enforcers' who're tasked with carrying out the will of the people - these enforces are part of the army, of course), but the NSA has retained its legal structure. In fact, its police force is huge, and the government is quite totalitarian. However, the government is also firmly in the pockets of powerful and wealthy, for objectivism, corporatism, and hyper-capitalism is in full-swing here. Restrictions are abolished to give the powerful more reign, and laws are more of a theoretical concept to those with money and power. Anything goes, as people unlock their true potential by surviving the epic struggle of nature and humanity; survival of the fittest and all that. Much like in the DDR, in practice.
However, this isn't exactly objectivism or capitalism gone horribly wrong; there's a strong religious component as well, in that one's neighbour should be loved, and that those with power should help those worse off. Which, like much of the NSA, is quite paradoxical. It's also, in practice, mostly untrue - and yet, one can definitely see these religious niceties if one searches hard enough. Too bad they're slowly disappearing - or perhaps it's more accurate to say that paternalism is turning into feudalism. Within a few decades corporatist feudalism could be an integral part of national-socialism, who knows.
On the surface, the NSA has a very unlikely alliance with the Islamic Empire. In practice, however, it's not that unlikely; replace the Christian morality with a honour code, replace the rather hypocritical corporatist power structure (yeah, 'maximum potential', sure - try 'keeping the powerful in power') with a more honest hierarchy of absolute obedience (to Allah, and from Him, to all of His representatives, beginning by the Caliph, the physical embodiment of Allah and the most venerated and powerful person of the Islamic Empire), and replace the widespread participation of everyone in various rival corporations with the widespread participation of everyone in various rival armies, and you get the Islamic Empire. In theory, the two nations are wildly different. In practice, not so much.
An interesting quirk of the Islamic Empire is, for example, that she has multiple armies, independently formed, vying each other for more power and control of the nation. Much like corporations, but with more violence and death (although, corporations in the NSA are slowly redefining 'corporate warfare' to include private security firms). A lot of the Islamic Empire's honour code and the way society works is comparable to the Japanese Empire of our WWII, actually.
So there we have it; three blocs, at the edge of a world shattering war. The roaring sixties indeed; but will this inevitable second World War be the last roar of humanity? Will National-Socialist America and her values of potential and paternalism - objectivism, capitalism, and corporatism - together with the Islamic Empire - duty, honour, militarism - stick together with their Pact of Duty? Will the Socialist Union of Europe, founder of socialism, patron of equality and happiness - a populace forced to be 'equal' and 'happy' by a gigantic spy apparatus and a shadow government - rally her allies in Slavia and communist nations to present a united front against the world, as the Unionist Bloc? Will the Freedom Force stick together, despite the massive differences between the Democratic Duma of Russia - maximum freedom, direct democracy, minimum restrictions - and the United Kingdom of Great Scandinavia and the Northern Baltics - conservative, but comparable to a conservative European nation from our world? Who knows what the sixties will bring.
1) A wasteland inhabited by guerilla troopers, mercenaries, and glory-seekers. A sort of mini Borderlands or Fallout. Some NSA citizens go here to 'unlock their full potential', but in practice, this results in them accidentally unlocking their own ribcage and unleashing a flood of warm, red blood.
2) Much like 1), but now you can play your own non-virtual Borderlands game around high-tech laser defences, satellites shooting down rockets at you, and who knows, maybe you can even catch a ride to the moon; these islands contain lots of abandoned space-related infrastructure. And yes, the moon actually does contain two permanent settlements; one of the United Kingdom, the other of the NSA.
3) If you ever wanted to see how fantastically large a fortress could be, look no longer. You thought all those video games with huge and impractical fortresses and other defensive structures were unrealistic? You thought floating structures the size of multiple street blocks armed to the teeth were impossible? You thought using nuclear missiles as artillery is laughably foolish? Think again.
4) Somewhere, someone woke up after having dreamed of a cross between the Great Wall and the Great Barrier Reef. The results? A Great Wall spanning lots of fortified islands and fully automatic shipyards producing AI-controlled drones and ships - including huge battleships. Sometimes, the automatically produced AI is faulty and decides to lay waste to the NSA, but oh well, such are the risks.
5) Portuguese and Spanish people mostly ended up in Brazil, fleeing from an invading SUE. Too bad Brazil chose to side with the SUE, years later, but hey, there was a very successful rebellion in the south-east. Of course, there is no way the UK can help, should the NSA or the SUE choose to invade - but the fact that the DDR might back up the UK has kept the peace here, for now.
6) Peruvian nationalism was a threat, but could have been turned into American nationalism. Peruvian communist tendencies, on the other hand... Well, history books make no mention of Peru anymore, and you won't find any mention of Peru in what was originally Peru either.
7) Supporter of the NSA before the NSA even existed; the most fervent and loyal ally anyone could ever ask for. Soon they'll get to annex some more lands, so that their whole eastern border touches the ocean.
8) Honest, we're aligned to the DDR, we're very democratic and not at all national-socialist, truly! And, why yes, we are dancing and making faces at you! Ha-ha! Screw you Argentina! We're independent and extremely democratic! Post scriptum, we may actually be as national-socialist as Argentina, but hush!
9) Not exactly sure what to think about the whole situation; England getting preferable treatment, the United Kingdom continuing in Scandinavia... Eh, time for a cup of tea.
10) You really don't want to be seen in the North Sea. Or the Baltic Sea, for that matter. Or anywhere in the whole area, what with (sometimes weaponised) satellites pinpointing your position, and hundreds - thousands? - of submarines waiting for an intruder.
11) Someone played a game of Conquest & Commanding and thought it'd be a great idea to develop an Ion Cannon. Soon, it will be ready. Also coming up soon; [URL="cnc.wikia.com/wiki/Firestorm_b…"]Firestorm Barriers[/URL].
12) Nikola Tesla's spirit lives on here; Tesla Coils and Weather Control Devices - lightning storms! - are such awesome weaponry. What is with people putting their high-tech science apparatus in frozen places?
13) Poor Poland. These proxy wars really aren't fun, and a massive drain of local manpower. On the other hand, this frees up lots of Ukrainian food to be exported (forcibly seized, if you prefer) to the DDR's military apparatus.
14) Austria is happy. She's glad to be part of the SUE, and she's glad to be marrying so many people that, in a few decades, the whole shadow government will be Austrian. Hopefully.
15) Italy, meanwhile, has suffered from her civil war, and isn't very happy. She is especially unhappy at being paired with whiny, snobby Switzerland and Switzerland's precious neutrality, ugh...
16) Could a Slavia-Europe split happen someday in the future? The DDR has recently discovered the possibility of such a thing. Very interesting - but the DDR's military doesn't really have a spy apparatus to infiltrate Slavia. That can be created, however.
17) One of the reasons for a deterioration of the Slavia-Europe relationship is that Slavia has seized formerly European territory. Of course, that is because Slavia, not Europe, has conquered it back from the Islamic hordes, but still.
18) Morocco, proudly independent, is one of the drivers behind this deterioration; she really wants the northern half of her country back.
19) The message of Christianity, paternalism, and loving your neighbour has really found fertile ground in Congo. It's actually a pretty decent place, combining totalitarianism with an actually caring dictator who tries to increase wealth, happiness, and equality. 'Course, when this dictator dies, that is when all these nice things die too. Why Congo is National-Socialist is anyone's guess.
20) Unfortunately enough, the authorities from Madagascar, influenced by the DDR's warhawks, decided this was the perfect place to begin offensive operations against National-Socialism. The UK tacitly supports the effort, as South Africa's National-Socialism contains a feudal-corporatist white upper class, and a practically enslaved black lower class. Practically the opposite of the communist neighbours up north.
21) All the quasi-independent armies make it hard to form a single nation. But so long as everyone worships and obeys the Caliph, there is no problem with warlords carving out their own nations. Israel is a funny place where Christian crusaders have sworn fealty towards the Caliph in person - the Crusaders are now both an elite army and the personal bodyguard of the Caliph.
22) This is where the UK said 'no more' and called in the DDR. The DDR seized the non-coastal areas of the UK-aligned nations here, but they did successfully halt the Islamic advance.
23) Persia (China) is being invaded by the Islamic Empire (Japanese Empire), but a growing socialist movement (Mao Zedong, is that you?) is proving to be a successful counter to these foreign, Islamic devils. Not that the DDR likes this one bit, but, what can they do?
24) One day, the Islamic Empire will roll past the border and initiate hostilities here. That will be the day the DDR declares all-out war. Rumour has it, however, that the DDR's president is intentionally goading the Islamic Empire in attacking. Other rumours make mention of 'Pearl Harbour', but what does that even mean?
25) The main administrative base of the UK in India. It's sad to see how their jewel is falling apart, but between two socialist powers aggressively pushing their ideology - it greatly appeals to those lower on the caste system - the DDR's meddling - colonies are evil (but the puppet states we install are perfectly fine of course) - and India's natural tendency for National-Socialism - it appeals to those in power, and a caste system is such a handy tool of oppression - India is falling apart all over the place.
26) One wonders who is supporting the rapidly growing Islamic movement here. One also wonders whether this united front may not seize India all for itself in the ongoing chaos. Then one wonders what kind of Islam would support self-immolation and the murder of 'intellectuals', and why it appeals to the people here. Well, it's not as if those in the lower castes can read or write or anything...
27) Nationalist China has discovered a truly great strategy; the DDR keeps invading northern China and carving out puppet states, so China will keep invading southwards, into the UK's lands. The UK will ask the DDR to stop, the DDR will say 'nope', and wham, the alliance between the DDR and the UK is broken. Too good to be true? Maybe. Maybe not.
28) We'd really like to establish a Pacific empire, but this world is too dangerous for us, so we'll be content with Korea. Just leave us alone, okay? Japan is becoming more and more isolationist - but also more and more self-sufficient and high-tech, so she can afford it.
29) Establishing totalitarian puppet states, literally the playgrounds of generals and other higher-up people of the DDR's military, is a great way to keep the military content. Wait, what are we saying? We're spreading democracy and freedom, totally!
30) Lots of democracy and freedom! But whereas the countries relating to 29) have a populace and all that, in the cold wastes of Siberia, only prisons exist. Still, ruling a prison fiefdom isn't much different from ruling a country; both can be great fun and very profitable.
31) Oh, we're socialist? And you're democratic? So we're enemies? Well, that is what Indochina and Australia tell us - they're really bossy and ideological, don't you agree? Yeah, well, okay, I don't really care about those two, let's be friends and wage a fake war through piracy, to keep up pretences.