Monday, April 30, 2018

Guest Post: St. Aphilas the Great

This post first appeared on Changing the Times

What if Christianity was introduced in Aksum earlier? muses Tom Bornholdt

Mani had said that there were four great powers: Rome, Persia, China and Aksum. Unhappy with being excommunicated for his unusual theology (Jesus was neither fully divine but the incarnation of a created Logos with a human soul), St. Lucian of Antioch had decided to leave Antioch. In the year 285, he arrived at the port of Adulis, which was part of the Kingdom of Aksum, and began to preach. The next year, he moved to the capital city of Aksum, where he proceeded to build a substantia1 congregation despite narrowly avoiding being murdered on two occasions. In the year 301, he achieved his greatest success when he converted St. Aphilas the Great, the King of Aksum. Aphilas was zealous in his new faith and early next year made it the official religion of Aksum.
 Aphilas became distressed when he learned about the persecution of Christians that the Roman Emperor Diocletian was conducting. In the spring of 303, he decided to do something about it. He had increased the size of his army because he planned to expand his nation's dominion, starting with a campaign against the Himyarites that was already underway. He would use his army to save the Egyptian Christians from Roman persecution.

The first step in his campaign was to invade the Kingdom of Kush, which was between Aksum and Egypt. Kush had once been a minor power. It had fought the legions of the Roman Republic on more than one occasion, but it had been in decline for nearly two centuries. Aphilas found it easy to defeat the Kushite Army and captured its capital of Meroë in September. The bulk of his army remained there for six weeks to rest while bringing up supplies and reinforcements. Aphilas was pleased to find that there is a sizable Christian population in Kush. As he was getting ready to resume his march north, he told them that he intended to rescue the Christians in Egypt, which earned their support. There were pagan Kushites that were unhappy with the Romans as well. A few years ago, Diocletian had invited the Nobatae to invade the northern part of their country because he thought the Nobatae would make a good buffer between Egypt and Kush. Because of this, Aphilas feels comfortable leaving behind a relative small garrison to occupy Meroë.
As they advanced north, the Aksumite army encountered the Nobatae and defeated them in a series of relatively minor engagements. The Nobatae eventually warned the Romans. In January, a small Aksumite advance force reached the Egyptian border, where it was quickly defeated by the I Maximiana Legion. This easy victory made the Romans underestimate both the quantity and quality of the Aksumite army. Three weeks later the Aksumite main force overwhelmed and annihilated a small Roman army at Syene. Aphilas then spends only nine days resting his army at Syene before continuing north. He captures the prestigious city of Thebes after a relatively brief siege. Meanwhile the Aksumite navy has captured the Roman port on the Red Sea at Berenice.
The Egyptian Christians viewed St. Aphilas as someone sent by God to rescue them in their hour of tribulation. Up until this point, Egyptian Christianity was increasingly accentuating monasticism but there was now a sudden turn towards militarism as many Christians volunteered to fight for King Aphilas. However, it wasn't only Christians who were pleased by this development. For one thing, Diocletian had persecuted Manicheans as well as Christians. A short distance downriver from Thebes was the small city of Coptos, which had revolted against Roman rule in 292. This revolt ended only after a lengthy siege of Coptos, which resulted in its almost total destruction. Then in 297, Domitius Domitianus tried to exploit Egyptian anger over Diocletian's recent tax edicts in an unsuccessful attempt to usurp Diocletian. This discontent began to reemerge.
Aphilas soon continued his march north, and in July he engaged another Roman army. This one was stronger than the one he destroyed at the border but it is still badly outnumbered. The Roman general was more cautious this time. He was defeated but avoids annihilation. He retreated into the fortified provincial capital of Ptolemais Hermiou. A siege began, which lasts until the city is captured by the Aksumites on December 17. While the siege was going on, the bulk of the Aksumite army was unable to advance any further. However, the Aksumites scouts reported that there was no significant Roman presence left in Upper Egypt. Aphilas sent small parties of cavalry raiding as far north as the large city of Oxyrhyncus. However, he gave officers leading these raids orders not to harm Christians but rather to spread the word that the persecution was over. They were to kill any Romans they found persecuting Christians. These raids caused the revolt to spread. Meanwhile, the Aksumite navy had continued to dominate the Red Sea and captured the important port of Myos Hormos. This effectively cut Rome's trade with India.
While this was going on, Diocletian was campaigning against the Capri near the Danube. While he was receiving reports of the Aksumite incursion, he initially hoped it was only a large raid and regarded the Capri as being the greater threat. In the late summer, his opinion changed, and he began to see the Aksumite invasion as posing a grave threat to the empire. However, the emperor's health had been deteriorating badly, which interfered with his ability to make key decisions. As a result, he put his Caesar Galerius in charge of the Egyptian campaign.
In December, General Constantine, the son of the Caesar Constantius Chlorus arrived in Egypt to take command. He brought substantial reinforcements with him, and Galerius was pressuring him to defeat the Aksumites as quickly as possible. For not the first time, Constantine had the feeling that Galerius was hoping he would fail and die. By this time, the rebellion has spread into parts of Lower Egypt with the rebels being disproportionately Christian. Constantine had been becoming increasingly sympathetic to Christianity and had opposed their persecution. Before leaving for Egypt, he had recommended to Galerius that stopping the persecution might makes things easier but this recommendation was ignored. Constantine initially concentrated on quelling the rebellion in Lower Egypt. As he did so, his attitude towards Christians became less favorable as he started to see how they could pose a threat to the Roman Empire. He is quite severe with the rebels.
While it was besieging Ptolemais Hermiou, the Aksumite army began to experience some problems with the Nobatae attacking its supply caravans. Immediately after the capital fell , Aphilas decided to rush a piece of his army south to counter that. He then let the bulk of his army rest there for nearly a month before continuing upriver. It was only when he entered Lower Egypt and approached Oxyrhyncus that he encountered Constantine, resulting in a battle on February 24. Once again, the Aksumite army possessed a numerical advantage, though not an overwhelming one. It proved to be a lengthy battle of attrition which, was something that Constantine could ill afford. However, late in the day, the best of his cavalry was finally able to defeat the Aksumites, but they were able to make a reasonably orderly retreat as night fell. Constantine was not very satisfied with his victory. What his scouts reported next morning indicated that the enemy was retreating but not broken. He reluctantly decided not to pursue and instead turned his attention back to quelling the Christian rebels in Lower Egypt.
Prior to this battle Aphilas was beginning to feel that liberating all of Egypt was going to be relatively easy. Afterwards he pulled back to Hermopolis to ponder his next move. While this was going on, Diocletian had been very seriously considering resigning as emperor and going into retirement due to his poor medical condition. Galerius had been strongly encouraging him to do that. Diocletian was willing to let Galerius make most decisions but unwilling to step down while Egypt remains in grave danger. Because of this, Galerius was deeply upset when he learned that Constantine did not pursue the Aksumites after his victory at Oxyrhyncus and demanded that he immediately advance into Upper Egypt. Constantine carried out these orders even though he had a significant fraction of his army tied down at Memphis fighting rebels.
After the capture of Syene, St. Aphilas began forming military units with Egyptian Christians. After a while, the Aksumites assigned to train them found that more than a third of these soldiers were fanatically brave being all too willing to suffer martyrdom on the battlefield. They were also intensely loyal to Aphilas. These Christians were separated from the others and were given more intensive training and better quality weapons and shields. The small fraction of these that were cavalry had seen some action but the infantry had only been used for garrison duty. When he returned to Hermopolis, Aphilas decided to move the elite Christian Egyptian infantry to Antinopolis which was very near Hermopolis but on the opposite bank of the Nile.
Constantine's strategy was to split his forces with the one piece on west bank of the Nile and the other on the east. Each piece was roughly equal in terms of cavalry but the portion on the east bank was much stronger in infantry. On May 2, Constantine made a diversionary attack on the west bank trying to convince Aphilas that Hermapolis was his objective. He was largely successful in this, so Aphilas' forces were concentrated on the west bank. The following morning Constantine's forces on the east bank started marching hard towards Antinopolis. They engaged the Aksumite forces north of the city, and this time it was the Romans who had the numerical advantage. However, the Roman infantry were fatigued from their hard march and were therefore unable to quickly rout the enemy as Constantine had hoped. They did have some success at least grinding down the Axumites pushing them back towards the city.
Meanwhile, King Aphalis was ferried across the Nile escorted by his personal guard. Upon arriving at Antinopolis, he found the elite Christian Egyptian infantry had not yet been committed but was being held in reserve. His senior Aksumite officers were worried that their troops were on the verge of breaking. They advised the king to quickly pull them back inside the city.
Aphilas rejected that advice. He addressed the Christian Egyptians. As he did, he showed them a Roman spear. He claimed that the Archangel Michael had visited him last night and gave him the spear, telling that it was what the Roman soldiers had used to stab Jesus while He was on the Cross. St. Aphilas told these soldiers that they would now become the spear that God would use to stab the Romans back. He was naming them the Holy Spear of God. He then ordered them to counterattack the Romans. This counterattack came at the moment when Aksumite resistance was starting to weaken. By this time, the day was getting hot, which was taking its toll on both the Romans and the Axumites. The Holy Spear of God entered the battle fresh and in their intense religious zeal seemed impervious to the heat. They fought with a ferocity that stunned the Romans and lifted the sagging morale of the Aksumites.
Meanwhile, some of the Aksumites on the west bank were slowly crossing the Nile, using the ample fleet of rafts and boats that Aphalis had at his disposal. The tide of the battle shifted and before long it was the Romans legionaries who broke. Unfortunately, most of the Roman infantry had the river behind them. Many of them ended up drowning, including General Constantine who had been at the forefront of the fighting. Lactantius discerned some poetic irony in that fact because Emperor Hadrian had founded Antinopolis to commemorate the tragic drowning of his lover, Antinous near there. Many believe that grief caused by the news of his son's death contributed to the death of Constantius a year later.
In a few hours, Aphalis had destroyed most of the Roman infantry on the east bank along with their charismatic leader. The Roman cavalry were able to avoid being trapped. There was also the smaller piece of Constantine's army on the west bank. However, these would not be able to stop King Aphalis who was soon advancing north again. On June 5, he captured Oxyrhyncus after a relatively brief siege. While that siege was going on he was able to rekindle the revolt in Lower Egypt. That soon included Alexandria which been previously spared. Galerius rushed additional legions to Egypt but by the end of September Aphalis had taken Memphis, won two major battles and was besieging Sais. In both of those battles, the Holy Spear of God played an important role in his victory but had also suffered heavy losses in the process. By this time the Christian revolt has spread into Palestine and Cyrenaica.
On October 4, the Romans tried to lift the Siege of Sais but were again soundly defeated. Once again the Holy Spear of God played a key role in the victory but again paid a heavy price. Aphalis was starting to believe he could win any open field battle by using them. The defeated Roman army then retreated to Alexandria. When Sais finally fell on November 30, the Aksumites controlled all of Egypt except for Alexandria. The Romans expected that Aphalis' next move would be to besiege Alexandria. Instead the kings splits his army. The smaller portion he kept in Egypt to keep the Roman pinned down inside Alexandria. Aphalis personally led the rest in an attack into Palestine, the Holy Land where Our Lord had lived and died then rose from the grave.
However, despite his religious fervor, Aphalis failed to plan this campaign very well. His army had serious logistical problems while crossing Sinai. As he approached Beersheba on February 12, 306, he engaged a large Roman army that Galerius was leading in person. Aphalis was convinced that he could prevail yet again by using the Holy Spear of God, but this time that elite unit which had been badly depleted by its losses in the earlier battles failed to deliver victory. Nevertheless it did temporarily check the Roman advance making it easier for the Aksumites to escape.
Galerius' impulsive nature impeded his pursuit. At times he thought he can toy with what he regarded as a doomed enemy and when they demonstrated they still have a bite he became furious. Though deeply discouraged by what happened, Aphilas managed to keep his army from disintegrating. Meanwhile Roman reinforcements arrived by sea at Alexandria. Diocletian believed that if the army at Alexandria attacked in concert with Galerius, they could obliterate the Aksumites in a pincer attack. However, Galerius believed he can accomplish that all by himself. He did not want to share the glory and so ordered the army at Alexandria to stand fast.
When his army reached Clysma, Aphalis made his stand. By this time, he hasdreceived reinforcements from the units he had left behind in Egypt. Previously he had become intoxicated with the Holy Spear of God but was reluctant to use the other Christian Egyptian units for much more than garrison duty. When Galerius attacked on March 9, these units were finally allowed to show that could fight. It was a grueling battle that started at dawn and went on for hours as the temperature steadily climbed. This was contrary to Galerius' expectations of an easy slaughter and before long his mounting frustration made him angry enough to issue some rash orders.
Aphalis waited until late in the battle to commit the Holy Spear of God using them to plug a dangerous gap that had emerged. Galerius finally gave up and withdrew. The next day he finally gave the order for the army at Alexandria to attack. When it did so it found only very weak opposition in front of it. It soon retook Sais which the Aksumites had abandoned. It then took Arsinoe, which had been abandoned as well, but when it approached Memphis on  April 5 it found that Aphalis had moved much of his army there. The Romans were quickly defeated and forced to make a hurried retreat to Arsinoe.
When Galerius learned of this, he believed that could now easily take Clysma but was proven wrong and suffered another costly defeat. One reason for this is that after defeating the Romans near Memphis, Aphalis had hurriedly moved back to Clysma with the bulk of his army anticipating that Galerius would again attack. Furthermore, after his defeat at Beersheba, he had decided to remove the Aksumite army in Himyar, which had been hunkered down in fortified positions since the beginning of the war with Rome. The Aksumite navy, which continued to dominate the Red Sea, transported this army directly to Clysma. Lastly, Aphalis had replenished the Holy Sword of God with qualified Christian replacements.
During the summer, Aphalis was content to defend a line that ran from Memphis to Clysma and enjoy the advantages of interior lines of communication. The Romans wore themselves out with their attacks. Meanwhile, the Christian revolt continued to spread. Aphalis built up his Christian Egyptian units and not just the Holy Spear of God. He made careful preparations for a fall offensive.
Meanwhile, the Romans had other worries. After several years of war, Diocletion had been able to impose a harsh peace on the Sassanid Emperor Narseh in 299. While the current emperor Hormizd was known to be troubled by some internal unrest, they still worried that he might see the Aksumite invasion as an opportunity too good resist. Ironically, another of the problems was Armenia, which the Romans had considered a reliable ally against the Sassanids. The problem was that King Tridates III of Armenia had converted to Christianity and made it his country's official religion around the same time that King Aphalis doing the same in Aksum. Diocletian and Galerius were worried that Aphilas' campaign would inspire Tridates into doing something similar.
So in July, Diocletian began negotiating with Aphalis, offering to let him keep Upper Egypt and to end the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Galerius did not care for the terms, but he went along as he saw it as a way to get Diocletian to finally step down as Emperor. Aphilas had his own worries. In June, he learned from his son, Prince Wazeba that a cabal which included pagan priests and some prominent merchants had tried to seize power in the capital. The merchants were upset the war had dried up their lucrative trade with the Romans. So the Peace of Leontopolis was concluded August 26. Aphilas then moved south to Upper Egypt. When he was sure that the persecution had indeed ended in the Roman Empire, he returned to Axum and clamped down hard on his political enemies. He also tried to make the controversial theology of St. Lucian of Antioch the standard within his expanded empire.
Maximian, the Augustus of the West, had been shocked that Diocletian had agreed to let Aphilas keep Upper Egypt. It so upset him that when Diocletian discussed his plans for both of them to retire together in early November, Maximian initially refused to resign. In order to placate him, Diocletian agreed to make Maximian's son, Maxentius a Caesar after the joint resignation. Galerius was unhappy with this but did not want the joint resignation that would elevate him to Augustus put off any longer. When Constantius had died, he had persuaded Diocletian to appoint Severus as his replacement.

Author's Note: in reality Lucian of Antioch remained at Antioch. He was executed in 312 as one of the victims of persecution Maximinus II. Christianity was introduced into Aksum around 320.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Guest Post: Sigurd the Stout seizes the High Kingship of Ireland

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History

23 April, 1014

On this day in alternate history, a Norse-Irish alliance defeated the forces of the High King of Ireland. Brian Boru of Munster and over ten thousand men were slaughtered in the bloody battle at Clontarf, near Dublin, on the east coast of Ireland.

The rival Irish Kingdoms had been locked in conflict for centuries. However, at the earlier Battle of Tara, Boru had emerged as a strong national leader that checked the growth of Viking power on the island. By the turn of the century, his principal enemy was Máel Mórda mac Murchada, the King of Leinster, whom he fought at the Battle of Glenmama. Unable to rally troops to his side from Ulster or the province of Connacht, Máel Mórda had to find allies outside of Ireland:  the Vikings. This desperation sowed the seeds of Boru's defeat.

The reasons for the victory were numerous: the mailed armour of the Vikings and of course the stubborn refusal of Boru, a devout Christian, to spill blood on Good Friday. Despite the immediacy of the threat from the men of Leinster and Dublin, Boru was actually praying in his tent when Brodir of Mann found and killed him. With
Máel Mórda promising alliance, the Vikings now held the upperhand over all Ireland.

It would have been a hotly disputed victory for Boru's Viking nemesis Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin, because Sigtrygg had promised the high kingship to both of his principal allies, Brodir, who commanded the Viking fleet, and also Sigurd "the Stout" Hlodvirsson, the Earl of Orkney. Fortunately for Sigtrygg, Brodir was killed at the climax of the battle by Ulf the Quarrelsome, so this gifted the High Kingship to Sigurd.

More significantly the power of Munster had been broken and the Viking settlements at Limerick, Cork, and Dublin had been secured. This was the outcome that Boru's predecessors, the Ui Neills, had fought hard to resist. As a result of Clontarf, the Vikings would play an increasingly major role in Irish history for over the following century and a half right up until 1169 with the invasion of the Normans, who had recently conquered England.

Addendum by Eric Oppen: With Norse leadership hopefully overcoming their tendency to infighting, the Irish might be able to keep more of their independence. And with a Norse aristocracy that's culturally closer to the Normans, Ireland would not seem quite so alien and impossible to understand.

Jeff Provine's Note: In reality Brian Boru was killed at Clontarf, as were his heir Murchad and Murchad's son, Toirdelbach. While the battle secured Irish authority over the island and severely weakened Viking power, an entire would-be dynasty over Ireland was wiped out. Mael Schnaill returned to the High Kingship, which would soon fall again to squabbles and constant upheaval. In 1169, the Normans from England invaded, breaking Irish kingship. It would be the first of many English waves of conquest over the Ireland, which would not win its independence until 1922.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Guest Post by Charles K. Alexander I: Yakov Sverdlov Named General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History

OTL, Bolshevik Party day-to-day leader Yakov Sverdlov died on March 16, 1919, most likely of influenza, but in this alternative, Sverdlov instead recovers his health and is appointed the General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party three years later, in place of Joseph Stalin.
For the Information of Organizations and Members of the RKP. April 3, 1922
Pravda, 4 April 1922.
The Central Committee elected by the XI congress of the RKP has confirmed a secretariat of the TsK RKP consisting of: Comrade Sverdlov (general secretary), Comrade Sokolnikov and Comrade Kuibyshev.
The secretariat of the TsK has established the following schedule of reception hours at the TsK, daily from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.: Monday-Sokolnikov and Kuibyshev, Tuesday-Sverdlov and Sokolnikov, Wednesday-Kuibyshev and Sokolnikov, Thursday-Kuibyshev, Friday-Sverdlov and Sokolnikov , Saturday-Sverdlov and Kuibyshev.
Address TsK: Vozdvizhenka, 5.
Secretary of the TsK RKP, Sverdlov.
Sverdlov's efforts were crucial in the slow but steady expansion of the Bolshevik Party during the Russian Civil War, and especially so in forestalling the deepening divisions of the party at it's Tenth Party Congress in March 1921. The velvet glove to Lenin's iron fist, Sverdlov was able to help Lenin win the debate over the Trade Union question that had dominated internal party discussions for months, and the near universal regard for his fairness in party matters meant that a proposal to ban party factions except during pre-Congress discussion periods was never brought forth at the Congress. In 1922, Sverdlov is appointed general secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party along with two economists, Grigori Sokolnikov and Valerian Kuybyshe, both of whom had also served as political commissars in the Red Armies of the Civil War. The appointment coincided with the general deterioration of Lenin's health and was followed by a series of strokes suffered by the Bolshevik leader. While insuring, sometimes ruthlessly, that Lenin got as much rest as possible, at times even bullying Lenin in tandem with his wife, Krupdskaya, Sverdlov also made sure that all factions within the party maintained some level of contact with their acknowledged master. In his final testament to the party, read at the Twelfth Party Congress in April 1923 and published widely thereafter, Lenin drew brutally honest sketches of the strengths and weaknesses of the various leaders of the party, highlighting, for example, the sharpness both of Trotsky's mind and his tongue, and recommended that Sverdlov serve as first among equals within the leadership of the party. He also specifically enjoined the party to resist the bureaucratism of the party and the state, and humorously directed the party to not "make too much" of his name after his death, and instead make sure that he received a "swift and proper" burial.

Over the next several years, Sverdlov is able to defuse factional struggles within the party and slowly open up the political life of the country. Trotsky is shifted out of the army and his theoretical and organizational strengths redirected toward the smart and systematic rebuilding and expansion of Soviet manufacturing, and the largely peaceful and gradual collectivization of agriculture. After the failure of the German Revolution of 1923, Zinoviev is removed as leader of the Comintern but retained his post as Party Leader in Petrograd, as Kamenev was in Moscow. Stalin moves from one administrative role to another, with mixed results, and is eventually dropped from the Politburo when he accepts a position as a professor and administrator at Moscow State University, where he becomes notorious for the petty political infighting apparently endemic to academia the world over, and a steady succession of pretty undergraduate interns and personal secretaries.

In 1927, as soon as Chiang Kai-shek turns on the Chinese working class and peasantry, the CCP withdraws from the Kuomintang and launches an uprising against Chiang with the full support of Moscow and the Comintern. Backed by the small but strategically placed urban working class and a significant portion of Chiang's military - much of the officer corps had been trained by Soviet military specialists, and besides recruiting many of the soldiers, CCP cadre had been in charge of the army's political education - the CCP makes the crucial decision to back peasant uprisings in the countryside instead of trying to tamp them down. The showdown with Chiang, the hollow rump of the KMT. and the landlords and bourgeoisie of South China is short, bloody and followed by a CCP-led Northern Expedition that ultimately unites the nation. European and Japanese military intervention is checked by Soviet troop mobilizations on China's borders on the one hand and American diplomacy, generously acknowledged and compensated, on the other. After ten long years in the international wilderness, the Soviet leadership and party membership is buoyed by the world's second successful proletarian revolution, and the Soviet populace excited by their country's central role in midwifing that revolution and in forcing the imperialist powers to back down. This first crack in the Imperialist System is also welcomed with excitement across the colonial and semi-colonial world.

With the confidence it imbibed from the successful Chinese Revolution, the Soviet Communist Party in 1928 takes the important step of lifting the Civil War ban on non-Communist parties loyal to the Soviet state, allowing Left Menshevikks, Left Socialist Revolutionaries and assorted anarchists and even left nationalists to openly organize and contest elections to the Soviets or any other organs of state power, local, regional or national. On maintaining the ban on anti-Soviet parties, James P. Cannon, a representative of the American Communist Party attending the 6th World Congress of the Comintern in Moscow in the Summer of 1928, is quoted in the press to the effect that "just as parties committed to the restoration of the American colonies to the British Crown would not have been permitted in the first decades of the United States of America, so parties advocating the restoration of either czarism or capitalism could not be allowed in the still young Soviet Union."

When Hitler is offered the post of Chancellor of Germany in 1933 the German working class, Social Democratic and Communist, rises up and prevents the Nazis from taking state power. The Nazis and other far right elements, along with a significant portion of the German bourgeoisie, are driven out of Germany after a short but sharp civil war that turns into the world's third successful proletarian revolution, the first in a heavily industrialized country. The Communist Party, maintaining its political independence but supporting working class unity in the civil war, comes to the fore as the reformist left splinters, but the deep social democratic roots in the working class result in the quick development of a multi-party, revolutionary and proletarian democratic state. While German industrialists decide to spend their hopefully brief exiles in Paris, London or Zürich, the hardcore reactionaries, fascists and Nazis are concentrated in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, Poland and, especially, Austria. The Czechs largely succeed in disarming them, the Poles let them conduct terrorist attacks across the border and are tempted to allow them to launch a campaign into East Prussia, but their awful strategic position, caught between Red Russia to the east and the new Red Germany to the west, forces them to keep the leash on the German rightist exiles.

Austria is the most destabilized neighbor of revolutionary Germany, as the exiled Nazis want to take state power to secure a solid base for their campaign to win back Germany. The Conservative Party and Austro-Fascists can find only one solution that will prevent the Nazis from dragging a much-reduced Austria into another war in Germany, while still keeping a lid on "Red Vienna" and the Austrian Social Democracy's military arm, and give the bourgeoisie, petite bourgeoisie and countryside a unifying and legitimately Austrian pole around which to rally. Otto von Habsburg is invited to return to Austria as a constitutional monarch, and while the dickering over whether he would return as an Archduke or an Emperor nearly derailed the deal, he is able to unite enough of the country - social democratic left to nationalist right, farmers, workers and aristocrats - to militarily suppress the Nazis, all without provoking either a revolutionary uprising in their rear or Red German intervention. Otto thereby proves that even in a new age of revolution, the Habsburgs still have the knack for coming out on top.

Using lessons learned from the Chinese Revolution and its aftermath, and with its Communist Party playing the goad, proletarian revolution also succeeds in Spain in the mid- to late-1930's. The Spanish Left, while still deeply divided between revolutionary Communists, reformist Socialists and both revolutionary and reformist Anarcho-Syndicalists, unites in declaring proletarian political independence from the liberal and establishment backers of the bourgeois Republic and defeat the center-right lash-up of Spanish Republicans and their Catholic, nationalist, fascist and monarchist critics. The military is undercut by the left's support for independence for Spain's African colonies, the countryside is lost to the right with the left's backing of the expropriation of the land by Spain's desperate peasants, and where France's Popular Front dithers, the Soviet Union, Germany and China provide the revolutionaries with more aid than Mussolini's fascist Italy and Britain's Tories can muster for the Republic and its counter-revolutionary attack dogs. As international volunteers from the left and right join their respective Spanish allies on the frontlines, the final act of Germany's civil war is played out on the Spanish plain, with hundreds of Nazis and more than a thousand other German rightists losing their lives in support of Spanish reaction.

Twenty years after the October Revolution, with a capitalist world still deep in the throes of the Great Depression, there exists a Soviet Union with a rapidly expanding economy and a steadily broadening political sphere, a stabilizing revolutionary Germany with a somewhat chaotic but vibrant proletarian "Council Communist" republic, a Spain flying the Red and Black flag at the end of its Civil War, and a reunified China industrializing with the help of Soviet and German experts, re-writing the rules of its relationships with the imperialist powers that had carved it up, inspiring colonial and semi-colonial peoples everywhere, and arming itself in case the European powers and America decide to back Imperial Japan in a play to roll back the revolutionary tide and grab China's resources, thereby - just as an afterthought, of course - distracting resource-poor Japan from their own Asian and Pacific colonies and territories.

All this because the nearly forgotten Yakov Sverdlov survived the flu (or was it typhus, TB or an anti-Bolshevik attack?) in March 1919 and remained in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Bolshevik Party long enough for the Civil War to end, the revolution to get some breathing room, and the bureaucracy and its creature, Stalin, to be strangled in its crib and kept from seizing and corrupting the Party, the Revolution, the Soviet Union, the international Communist movement and ultimately, the very idea of revolutionary change.

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