How Not To Write a Red America Story

Avoid:
  • Social norms suddenly bouncing from 1930's to 2010's as a result of the revolution (Looking at you Reds!)
  • Everyone being portrayed as willing to go along with the new regime (See above)
  • Open dissent is tolerated and there is no friction to radically restructuring the whole economy (Looking at you Kaiserreich CSA)
  • Libertarian Socialism suddenly working on a great level with no public blowups (Looking at you Reds! again)
  • The USSR being recreated 1-1 (Because this is America, and the population isn't starving illiterate peasants)
  • The "Whites" all being frothing-at-the-mouth fascists (Looking at you basically every Red America TL)
Do:
  • Cast historical figures that were general careerists as finding their place under the new regime
  • Show the rough transitition period from A to B
  • Write about how the new regime appropiates the old decorum of Old America to fit their purpose
Actually the KR CSA does have considerable friction in the flavor events now--ironically more so than the other factions because the Reds have gotten the most love. (If you play Huey, Huey comes off as a lot better of a leader and person than he probably would be IRL, and the most flavor comes if you pick Pelley and he turns America into a decaying KKK shithole)

As to OP's question; I think that there are a number of ways to do it with a number of PODs. The normalization of left-wing views early on (Bryan somehow successfully courts labor in 1896, wins, the left becomes a dominant force in American politics in the late Gilded Age?) could cause eventual reform of the American system along libsoc lines. If you want a more authoritarian setup, violent revolution in the interwar period due to some sort of tragedy of errors stemming from some bad decisions in or before WW1 is probably the best way to do it.

I really like the story of a Reed-victory or Olson-couped Commonwealth of America in Kaiserreich's current build myself. As to why:
  • The Reds in a Reed-victory scenario are sort of the legitimate faction, standing for a President who was couped by a treacherous egomaniac who jumped the gun and threw the nation into chaos. In an Olson-couped scenario, they and Huey are fighting against an oligarchic junta that betrayed the very foundations of America itself in the name of the dying system as it stood, right on the cusp of salvation. Both of these give the revolutionaries the moral standing to plausibly win due to military defections and national chaos.
  • The Reds have a senior military officer and significant numbers of military defectors on their side. This gives them military expertise to support their advantages in manpower and industry.
  • The Reds explicitly call back to the American Revolution and call their forces the Second Continental Army, because most of their supporters like the idea of America and just want to make it better for everybody rather than to tear it all down and replace it with something else like your average Joe in state that's been a crappy authoritarian regime for decades would.
  • Even if you are really really good at the game and can win the war by Christmas '37, America is still left a broken wreck that takes years to recover. And you're dealing with pro-MacArthur and pro-Huey terrorists for most of that.
  • There is an "old America" splinter state in the form of the PSA (which if I were a dev I would redesign as the "Pacific Defense Command of the Several Free and Loyal Democratically-Organized States of the United States of America", a legitimist organization explicitly dedicated to the reform and support of healthy American democracy) that is often willing to rejoin the successor state of the USA if it is actually a democracy, and will fight back if the new America is authoritarian. This will bring a significant force of participatory moderates into the fold and present some variety to the politics and challenges to the new political establishment.
  • Tying into the above, it's effectively canon that hardcore anti-socialist forces are resolutely abstentionist. It will take decades for the new America (if democratic) to live up to its promise of participatory democracy.
  • Even within a democratic Red America, there are explicitly significant challenges to progress. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn can get the new Congress to redistribute wealth from the Vanderbilts and the Fricks and the Morgans, pass laws banning racial and sexual discrimination, leave a wide-open exception in the Family Code that technically legalizes homosexuality, and otherwise tack socially left as far as she likes, but she still has to deal with:
    • A scandal involving a documentary finding white union bosses trying to charge double dues from black members
    • Women trying to set up gender segregated unions after experiencing workplace discrimination as others object to the very concept of women-only unions
    • Years of terrorist attacks by MacArthurite and Longist diehards
    • The Klan, which mostly got killed off in the war but still supports Southern terrorism with what it has left
    • An economy that remains in the shit for years even as she tries to comprehensively restructure it along anarcho-syndicalist lines.
    • And if you pick Norman Thomas, the exact same thing happens except he's more openly pacifist.
  • Canada is hyper-militarized and hates the Reds (yes, they are a shitty authoritarian craphole running well beyond what they can sustain while led by a bunch of idiots who think they're still a world power, but they have a big military and it's aimed south)
  • In any MacArthur coup scenario, the junta wearing America's skin like a grotesque mask has no legitimacy beyond what it can buy with its corporate backers' money and seize with its arms, making the revolution a lot easier.
All in all, after the guns stop firing, it takes around five years for the new America to once again be a world power capable of power projection. And the periphera like Hawaii and Puerto Rico are gone.
 
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Don't recreate the USSR. America certainly isn't Russia, and the American people aren't possessionless illiterate peasants.

Don't wank libertarian socialism too hard, nothing stretches plausibility more than "consensus democracy"* and other academic memes suddenly working on a national level.

edit: and ffs don't make MacArthur a dictator. We're talking about the man who democratized Japan and warned against going to Vietnam. American Caesar he was not!

edit2: *anarchist definition
I can see MacArthur becoming a dictator in sheer self-delusion, the man had an ego the size of Jupiter. "I am saving America from the Reds and traitors! Once we put down the rebels who rebelled because we arrested the people they elected on trumped-up charges, we can go back to democratic norms!"

I would have Red America eventually settle down to a representative democracy with (ironically) a stronger federal government and a larger, unicameral House of Representatives. The revolutionary propaganda would also be less "building a new society" and more "finishing the American revolution". Expect the military to be called the "Continental Army" and the statues to evoke Washington crossing the Delaware.

It would probably be a somewhat nicer place to live than OTL America by the modern day, but the revolutionary and immediate post-revolutionary periods would suck.
 
This sounds more like a social democratic America. Not a socialist America.
America has no need for capital S Socialism. The yeoman farmer has nothing to gain from surrendering his land to the commissar and the collective. The urban worker has no interest in trading his boss on the top floor for a boss in distant Washington. A red America will quickly become a shade of pink or fall to counter revolution.

Their wouldn't be much need for trade unions and class struggle after econmic classes and the market have been abolished.
Ok, so what's going to organize the shops and services once the companies are torn down? The government? This is America, there isn't going to be any patience for Soviet-style economic commissars.

During the USSR, and Maoist China unions were basically rubber stamps.
Because all but the party unions were banned and party unions served the party not the workers.

Not because the leaders of those countries were anti-union
Oh no, they absolutely were.

because what purpose did the unions have?
Opposing the state's heinous abuse of the working class and dominance of their workplaces?
 
One cannot compare the USSR and Maoist China to the US, especially given the latter 2 were previous reactionary monarchies that lacked the cultural infrastructure to support communism. US I see it as a combination of communes, worker counciles, farming communes (supersized Amish-like stuff) and so on, just all following the same basic rules.
You can't directly compare them, but you can draw similarities. Before 1914 the US and Russia had a lot in common. Both were expancialist and settler-colonialist states in the previous century. Both were rapidly industrializing, both had agricultural exports as a significant part of their economy, both were rising powers that seeded hegemony at the expence of other great powers. Econmic planning would deffently be a form of american socialism because if you get rid of the market you need planning in order to distribute goods and services.

To a degree it wouldn't, but communists tended to be focused on domestic affairs rather than foreign ones.
This is only true when they are not in power.

It would probably be a somewhat nicer place to live than OTL America by the modern day, but the revolutionary and immediate post-revolutionary periods would suck.
Depends. If the whole world was socialist probly. If not expect TTL's version of the cold war to never end. Russia lost the cold war mainly because they never fully recoverd from Germany's invasion during WW2. Obviously in no timeline would America suffer the same fate.

America has no need for capital S Socialism. The yeoman farmer has nothing to gain from surrendering his land to the commissar and the collective. The urban worker has no interest in trading his boss on the top floor for a boss in distant Washington. A red America will quickly become a shade of pink or fall to counter revolution.
This isn't true though. Working conditions at the turn of the century were very poor and this radicalized a lot of people. While those people sizing power was unlikly, we are talking about what would happen if the did. Not what would happen if some other group did.
 
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Rather than get into the tired usual debates around Red America AH stuff (I will say I think Reds! is getting a little slandered but w/e), I'm going to pose a different question: Why is this Red America collapsing? Because I highly doubt that it suffered a genocidal mechanized war on its most productive and industrialized land that cemented a siege mentality and drive to be constantly arming itself. A civil war would of course be rather devastating but at the end of the day, America is still the most industrialized and largest nations in the world, and for it to have a successful Communist revolution means that the only real external threats to it are ICBM-level nuclear war. Its two land borders are with countries that cannot stand up to it, and it will have near-total control of its local seas. So if you really must have this tired trope happen, it's not going to look anything like the OTL Soviet collapse.
 
Rather than get into the tired usual debates around Red America AH stuff (I will say I think Reds! is getting a little slandered but w/e), I'm going to pose a different question: Why is this Red America collapsing? Because I highly doubt that it suffered a genocidal mechanized war on its most productive and industrialized land that cemented a siege mentality and drive to be constantly arming itself. A civil war would of course be rather devastating but at the end of the day, America is still the most industrialized and largest nations in the world, and for it to have a successful Communist revolution means that the only real external threats to it are ICBM-level nuclear war. Its two land borders are with countries that cannot stand up to it, and it will have near-total control of its local seas. So if you really must have this tired trope happen, it's not going to look anything like the OTL Soviet collapse.

This is an important one. Any type of state that has access to all/most of the continental US has a monolithic access to population, resources and industrial capacity. As a result of this do not assume that America will commit atrocities to try and rapidly industrialise. Why would they do that when they are already the most industrialised place on Earth by a gargantuan margin?

Basically Russian history in the 20th century was Russian history and American history in the 20th century was American history. Sure, some of the reasons for this had to do with politics, but geographical and sociological factors featured far more heavily. So if you want to know what the foreign policy of Red America would look like, it's probably more helpful to compare the Monroe Doctrine to the Good Neighbour Policy than it would be to study the lead-up to the Polish-Soviet War.
 
This isn't true though.
Compared to every single country that has fallen to a communist revolution? Yeah actually, it is true.

Working conditions at the turn of the century were very poor and this radicalized a lot of people.
"Radicalized" into joining capitalist unions. Not into becoming fanatical devotees of the communist party.

While those people sizing power was unlikly, we are talking about what would happen if the did.
They'd set safety standards and ensure equitable distribution of their shop's profit. There'd be no tolerance of the man coming down telling them how to do what in their workplace.
 
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These days Canada is often considered America's socialist neighbour, so many are surprised to find out that socialism largely entered Canada via the USA; our earliest movements were based in the West and were Farmer-Labour coalitions;

Turn of the century left populism in North America centered on unionization and farmers co-operatives, not Soviet-style collectives.

North America's first social democratic government was elected in Saskatchewan in 1944; a heavily rural province, and the CCF ("Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation") were heavily influenced by Christian Socialism - I think this is an effective method to "Americanize" socialism.

A midwestern populist movement that holds it is your Christian duty to love thy neighbour by taxing the wealthy to provide for free education and health care, family allowances, pensions, EI, food stamps, crop insurance, etc etc.

If the Labour movement becomes more prominent in America at the same time as a grassroots Christian socialist movement begins, you could butterfly changing the way the Senate is elected as the fear of "mob democracy grows" - the depression hits and Labour-Farmers are elected to a majority of House seats but their progressive measures are continually blocked by the reactionary Senate; populist support grows and the Labour-Farmer government eventually succeeds in having the senate chosen by the state Federation of Labour (Trade Union reps) - which is a method by which they can control the selection. Eventually the Electoral College is chosen the same way, by which way they can control the Presidency, and through the Presidency and the Senate they control the Union under the guise of "workplace democracy".
 
I do see Christianity being recontexualized. Given how the "Christ is King" would be see as some sort of problem, they would likely use deist arguments from the Founding Fathers and probably promote a "divine watchmaker" mentality within this American communist Christianity. God made us and this world, but now we have to take care of it. "There are no king, but there are free people" sort of thing, maybe like a platonic ideal.
The American Communists would probably depict Jesus as a proto-Communist figure, citing passages from the Bible that could be interpreted as promoting socialism. The story of Jesus expelling the money-changers from the Temple would be an excellent example.
 
Given how the "Christ is King" would be see as some sort of problem, they would likely use deist arguments from the Founding Fathers and probably promote a "divine watchmaker" mentality within this American communist Christianity. God made us and this world, but now we have to take care of it. "There are no king, but there are free people" sort of thing, maybe like a platonic ideal.
I mean, "Christ is King" sounds problematic at first sight, but if you spend a few moments thinking, it really isn't--after all, if Christ is King then no mortal man is King. Ergo, gross inequalities in the material world are unchristian (i.e., socialism is Christian!). Note that you can find a lot of support for this kind of idea in the Epistles, as well as very strongly in the prophets of the Old Testament, so it's really quite easy to sell this idea of Christianity, and it is likely to be more successful than crushing Christianity in the United States.

That being said, the problem is that historically most churches have been quite hostile to socialism or Communism, and vice-versa most self-described socialist or Communist states have been rather hostile to religion. Now, the latter is less likely to apply here, because they would likely trigger counterrevolutions in the United States (and also the principals are likely to be somewhat religious themselves, overall), and anyway the church (in the United States) is neither literally part of the state (as it was in Russia) nor an agent of foreign domination (as it was in China). However, judging by OTL it's very likely that a lot of Christians, especially conservative Christians (but also large swathes of the liberal denominations, since they often serve privileged portions of the population) will vociferously oppose a socialist regime in the United States. This will likely make the regime itself hostile to them. It probably won't engage in actual violence, but I could see extensive bureaucratic oppression of churches (especially those opposing the state) and propaganda programs trying to break people away from churches.
 
In those polls on "The Greatest Person from (insert country here)" that were popular around the turn of the millennium, Canada voted Tommy Douglas our greatest Canadian. He was a Scottish immigrant former travelling Baptist preacher who led the aforementioned CCF to electoral victory in 1944.

What America needs is a Tommy Douglas - a popular, charismatic, travelling Social Gospel preacher who ties anti-Capitalism to being a good Christian. The CCF original manifesto pledged to "bring the Kingdom of God, now" by "not resting until the capitalist system of production is overthrown".

Edit: quotes are paraphrased as accurately as possible. Source, Regina Manifesto 1933
 
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Rather than get into the tired usual debates around Red America AH stuff (I will say I think Reds! is getting a little slandered but w/e), I'm going to pose a different question: Why is this Red America collapsing? Because I highly doubt that it suffered a genocidal mechanized war on its most productive and industrialized land that cemented a siege mentality and drive to be constantly arming itself. A civil war would of course be rather devastating but at the end of the day, America is still the most industrialized and largest nations in the world, and for it to have a successful Communist revolution means that the only real external threats to it are ICBM-level nuclear war. Its two land borders are with countries that cannot stand up to it, and it will have near-total control of its local seas. So if you really must have this tired trope happen, it's not going to look anything like the OTL Soviet collapse.

Essentially this - the Soviet bloc collapse was due to a long series of historical pressures and internal malfunctions building up in a multi-national federation leading to a final "fall", an American context would look insanely different in my mind, it would be very difficult to draw parallels between the two. A Red American "collapse" would look far more like the ideological repositioning of Deng Xiaoping than the fall of the Soviet Union, if we assume it happens. Just as people point out that copy pasting a 1:1 copy of Russia or China or making a ton of allegories is tropey, so is shoehorning in a Soviet style collapse or even general disintegration of the American government. Granted @RiverDelta's concept sounds like an interesting read, but yeah the factors and pressures on a Red America are far less than the trial that.. y'know.. "centuries old reactionary monarchies with only burgeoning industry surrounded by strong neighbors to threaten it, emerging out of disastrous wars and widespread collapse of the state", or "Third World former colonies emerging out of violent struggle with colonizers and co-opted by a global power struggle" were under. Hypothetically, attempting to build socialism in "a highly industrialized nation with access to many resources and a long history of western-style democracy surrounded by fairly weak nations" would seem like a cake walk in comparison.
 
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I can see MacArthur becoming a dictator in sheer self-delusion, the man had an ego the size of Jupiter. "I am saving America from the Reds and traitors! Once we put down the rebels who rebelled because we arrested the people they elected on trumped-up charges, we can go back to democratic norms!"
So MacArthur has the potential to be a dictator because... of how he was portrayed in a mod for a video game?
 
So MacArthur has the potential to be a dictator because... of how he was portrayed in a mod for a video game?
...no. He has the potential to become a dictator because he was an egomaniacal glory-hounding martinet who ran a tremendously fucked-up organization and thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
 
...no. He has the potential to become a dictator because he was an egomaniacal glory-hounding martinet who ran a tremendously fucked-up organization and thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
He also cheated on his wife, was petty, demeaning to some of his subordinates, insensitive to his Australian allies, and often overconfident. Yeah it's not hard to come up with a laundry list of Doug's vices and personal failings.

But that's not the same thing as demonstrating patterns of anti-democratic behaviour.

The reason why MacArthur is so often cast as a dictator is quite simple, he's both iconic and relatively easy to dislike. It's narratively convenient.
 
He also cheated on his wife, was petty, demeaning to some of his subordinates, insensitive to his Australian allies, and often overconfident. Yeah it's not hard to come up with a laundry list of Doug's vices and personal failings.

But that's not the same thing as demonstrating patterns of anti-democratic behaviour.

The reason why MacArthur is so often cast as a dictator is quite simple, he's both iconic and relatively easy to dislike. It's narratively convenient.
Also he had a record of disrespect for civilian authorities, a willingness to attack US citizens (admittedly he had orders from the Executive Branch that time, but still), and an ego larger than some stars. He was exactly the sort of egomaniac who would destroy democracy in a foolhardy and arrogant attempt to "save" it from "dangerous radicals".
 
Also he had a record of disrespect for civilian authorities,
With regards to military matters. There are entire history books dedicated to military and civil authorities butting heads over jurisdictions and overall direction. MacArthur was not special in that regard. Key point, he accepted his dismissal when it came without any resistance (admittedly there was a heaping helping of his typical ego-driven pettiness).

Importantly, when he did try to enter civilian politics he played by the rules and respectfully exited stage left when he proved far less popular than he (and many others) expected. Those aren't the actions of a dictator in waiting.

a willingness to attack US citizens (admittedly he had orders from the Executive Branch that time, but still),
Already covered this in another comment, but an overzealous defence of an elected government is a world away from attempting to overthrow one.

and an ego larger than some stars.
See previous response.

He was exactly the sort of egomaniac who would destroy democracy in a foolhardy and arrogant attempt to "save" it from "dangerous radicals".
No, he really wasn't.
 
Key point, he accepted his dismissal when it came without any resistance (admittedly there was a heaping helping of his typical ego-driven pettiness).
Key point in response: This was after his "genius" strategy had blown up spectacularly in his face due to problems that were clearly, obviously, and unavoidably his own damn fool fault, and years after Ike had given his ego its first actual puncture. The Japanese jumping his incompetent ass in Manilla he could blame on insufficient support from overextended and confused allies. The initial UN losses in Korea? Dirty Commies stabbed us in the back. But literally every single thing that happened post-Inchon was his own fault, obviously his own fault, and entirely his own fault to such a degree that there was nobody else for even a rabid egomaniac like Dugout Doug to blame. Not to mention the Joint Chiefs had made it clear that this was a matter of civilian control over the military so he would have to launch a clearly unjustified (and near-certain to fail) coup in the name of his own ego if he wanted to keep his job.

Also, as for "supporting democracy" in Japan, he didn't do great at that either. He made sure that the one guy who personally kicked his ass due to just plain out-generaling him was executed on flimsy justifications, then let the Japanese answer to Mengele and a bunch of complete monsters like Shinzo Abe's fanatically racist sex-slaver (and general slaver) grandfather out of prison, the latter eventually becoming Prime Minister of Japan with US support because better a comically evil fascist than a commie.

In short, MacArthur was a petty, incompetent egomaniac whose eye for PR and one genuine moment of tactical skill against a vastly overstretched enemy launched him far above the bounds of his severely limited ability, and who had no respect for his duty or his chain of command either.
No, he really wasn't
I strongly disagree. But it's clear that we won't agree on anything other than disagreement.
 
Given US culture, fanatacism is baked in.

Red america's most likely latin american policy? Generalplan ost but done by people with the industrial capabilities to pull it off and enough fanatacism to keep making the piles of skulls needed. After all the indian/mestizo/african/mullato peasants stand in the way of Building Socialism...
If America didn't pull this off IOTL given how "fanaticism" is intrinsically baked into its culture, I don't see a Red America doing something like this either.
 
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