A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[SHWI] If a Red Germany, can we have a French Union?

A soc.history.what-if discussion thread back in March regarding the possibility of a Red Germany and its the knock-on effects on the rest of Europe, especially France, spawned an interesting side-discussion at a CFTAG meeting in Toronto last July regarding the possibilities of a successful French Union or Community. I’ll quote from Paul’s analysis.

In France, the nation tries to recover psychologically from the Nazi occupation. In the real world, they develop and implement the ideology of a United Europe. Here this never happens as France’s potential partners are reduced to the much-smaller Belgium and The Netherlands, and the economically backwards Portugal, Spain, and the Federal Republic of Italy (“South Italy”).

Instead they continue the emphasis that the Free French placed on France’s major colonies in the Brazzaville Declaration. Merely having the Russians on the Rhine is not enough to push that idea over the top; I’ll throw in an unnamed young philosophe who has survived to 1945 here despite dying while under Nazi rule in the real world. Whoever he may be, he articulates the idea of France’s new place in the world to be radically democratic and “civilizing” throughout its empire. The ideology catches fire and is widely accepted by 1948.

The details can vary–we can get a united Italy facing a hegemonic Soviet Union at the now-Yugoslav city of Trst and along the Tyrolian frontier, or as per Rich Rostrom’s timeline of March all of southern Europe from Italy through to Bulgaria can remain neutral–but the gist of Paul’s timeline is that, without a democratic Germany, there can be no pan-European architecture comparable to the then-European Communities. Instead, for an outlet for its transnational energies and as a way to retain its great-power status, France turns to the idea of an integrated French Union.

I see two problems with pauldrye‘s uchronia.

1. Paul lets the entire Maghreb break away from the Community. I agree with him about Morocco and Tunisia, given the unique circumstances of their acquistiion and administration. This French Union will have to begin with the Algerian departments, though, simply because Algeria was the only part of the French Empire (excluding insular and quasi-insular territories) that was directly integrated into France. A greater France is going to rise or fall because of Algerian precedents. This means that, somehow, the Muslims of Algeria have to be integrated into the French political body, made full citizens and the like. Is this possible?

2. The French Union is going to need, desperately, a viable development model. Based on what we know now about economic development, the poorer territories of the French Union will require an environment with a secure and just legal system, a functional political regime, and a broad-based strategy for promoting human development (basic literacy, health care, et cetera). The Union’s African and other territories will presumably enjoy the rule of law and functional political systems. I worry, though, that the French colonial tendency on promoting the formation of colonized elites might backfire. Is this possible?

UPDATE (9:10 PM) : Originally posted on soc.history.what-if.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 31, 2005 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Assorted

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