By the turn of century, the world was a very multipolar place, dominated by strong empires, most notably Britain, France, Germany and Russia, with smaller but relevant powers: United States, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Qing China, Japan.

That's a free exploration thread, under the premise all/most of those empires survived for best they could throughout the century, averting events that led to their downfall/weakening, WWI being the most important.

- How would they evolve, socially, economically and geopolitically?

- For how long European empires would remain intact and powerful without the destruction caused by great wars, revolutions, etc.?

- For how long the United States would remain isolationist and military weak?

- How would a Qing China emulating OTL Imperial Japan impact the world?

- How the balance of power would be by the 1920's or 1950's or 1980's?

- What alliances could we expect to be forged or disbanded over the decades?

- Would the world remain multipolar indefinitely or at some point one or two would have a clear head over the world's affairs?

Feel free to explore all possibilities and scenarios.
 
I'll start with some ideas and questions for the main players:

BRITAIN

Britain managed to remain as world's banker and to have the most powerful navy up to the 1940's in OTL. In this ALT scenario, without world wars destructions, that could buy them two, three extra decades in those fields.

Decolonization movements would be delayed and weaker, which might provide them time to turn into a more viable, long-lasting organization. And who would be the main British foes in this scenario? Germany, Russia, France, United States?


GERMANY

Germany would probably remain the wealthiest country in Europe throughout the century, specially with Austria-Hungary turned into its exclusive economic hinterland. Could it avert the war? It's conservative and agressive monarchy could eventually tone down? And their main antagonist? United States, Britain, France, Russia?


RUSSIA

Could Russia eventually becoming as powerful as OTL post-WWII Soviet Union? If so, how would they interact with other powers? The main antagonist would be Britain, Germany, China, Japan?


UNITED STATES

That's the most intriguing case it's the US. In OTL, they remained relatively isolated till Pearl Harbour. In this ATL, they would probably be relatively less stronger compared to European powers, which could delay their debut on the world arena. And who would they antagonize with? Britain, Germany, Japan?


FRANCE

France would be a degree below Britain and Germany and would probably remain that way throughout the century. Would they keep their Entente with Britain and Russia or would try to approach Germany? I guess they could eventually be caught in a conflict with a stronger China in Indochina.


CHINA

If they mimic Japan, that could make them clash with European colonial empires in Asia or get into a never-ending cold/hot war against Japan. Their relations with Russia and Germany, with their agressive presence there would be interesting to follow. I guess Britain, economically the most important power there, would try to avoid a war there. Not sure how the traditional good relations with the United States would be eventually a factor.


JAPAN

A stronger China would probably limit Japan's ability to be more assertive on international arena. Without WWI, the German and Russian presence nearby would also be a con for them. Not sure if it's possible to forge an alliance with China, hostile to Europeans or would try an alliance with an European power against China and other European powers.
 
Germany is the wrench in these gears. Unless there is a major change in Germany’s mindset, there is going to be a war with France and Russia that will destabilize Europe. Possibly Britain as well: Germany was, at this point, quite resentful of Britain’s position and Britain was in turn, becoming increasingly inclined to regard Germany as the principal threat in the world. To prevent this war, Germany must not be aggressively trying to get the upper hand over other powers. Eventually, Russia’s likely to get strong enough that Germany can’t really beat it in a war, at least, with France. That could defuse the powder keg.
 
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Germany is the wrench in these gears. Unless there is a major change in Germany’s mindset, there is going to be a war with France and Russia that will destabilize Europe. Possibly Britain as well: Germany was, at this point, quite resentful of Britain’s position and Britain was in turn, becoming increasingly inclined to regard Germany as the principal threat in the world. To prevent this war, Germany must not be aggressively trying to get the upper hand over other powers. Eventually, Russia’s likely to get strong enough that Germany can’t really beat it in a war, at least, with France. That could defuse the powder keg.

As the aim is to build a multipolar world where most of those empires remain, let’s say there is a small change on German mindset, where they are still assertive but responsible enough to not wanting an European War.

In this case, I guess Germany could be stronger than Russia till the 1950’s or so, which might change once again British perceptions on their most important rival in Europe.

Still focusing on Germany, without WWI, their presence on Pacific and China would lead to interesting developments. Clashes with China, Japan, Britain or the United States might be expected.
 
Ok, well in the long term, they are going to get nuclear weapons. Everybody will probably develop them at approximately the same time because as soon as it’s clear that somebody is working on it, they’ll all make it priority 1. Once that happens, you’ve got a deterrent effect But you also have a big danger and nobody ever made a League of Nations. So you need treaties to start limiting the nuclear arms race. The advent of nuclear weapons might help facilitate an end to the old locked in alliances as well.
 
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British Empire - I would reckon a confederation is the likely outcome, and EU/NATO with some extra powers tagged on. With a POD at this time, I could see a significant part of the African colonies brought in but I would say India is probably out
Germany - Likely the scientific, military and industrial heart of Europe. German Southwest Africa could potentially become a serious settler colony.
France - French integration would continue in Algeria, but for full integration France would need to become a fully multicultural state. Either multicultural utopia, apartheid empire or OTL France plus some small outposts in Africa.
Austria-Hungary - Serious economic power if the cultural issues could be sorted out. And thats a big if, especially if Franz Ferdinand (who wasn't a fan of democracy IIRC) takes the throne. We could see Anchluss if it is horrifically mismanaged.
Russia - Industrial giant for sure, but reform or no reform is the choice. There is every chance psuedo-fascism could show its face in Russia.
USA - Greatest economy as OTL, but most of the world is richer so the gap between the US and the rest would be smaller.
Italy - Libya is either majority Italian or close enough to make no difference (this may include pro-Italian natives, especially if Italy remains democratic).
Ottomans, Japan and China - Don't know enough to comment much. Ottomans probably in the clear if they get oil money, China and Japan probably confront each other at some point. No communists=better China.
 
Honestly, if the US stops being isolationist and starts expanding its influence (maybe Mexican and Central American crises make it go further into exerting military influence), you'd end up seeing America clash against naval overseas powers like France, Japan, and most definitely the UK. They're the ones that would most challenge the US over Pacific and new world influence. Given Germany, Italy, and Austria are more connected to European affairs than the new world, America in this scenario would likely drift towards them
 
Ok, well in the long term, they are going to get nuclear weapons. Everybody will probably develop them at approximately the same time because as soon as it’s clear that somebody is working on it, they’ll all make it priority 1. Once that happens, you’ve got a deterrent effect But you also have a big danger and nobody ever made a League of Nations. So you need treaties to start limiting the nuclear arms race. The advent of nuclear weapons might help facilitate an end to the old locked in alliances as well.

That's another interesting subject. Without WWs, only scattered smaller wars, I guess nuclear weapons would be developed later, maybe the 1960's? Britain being the first, followed by Germany?
 
That's another interesting subject. Without WWs, only scattered smaller wars, I guess nuclear weapons would be developed later, maybe the 1960's? Britain being the first, followed by Germany?
Yes, I believe Britain would probably be the first nation to develop them, out of a sense of necessity, though Germany and the USA would come soon after. I’d put the date in the 1950s personally.
 
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British Empire - I would reckon a confederation is the likely outcome, and EU/NATO with some extra powers tagged on. With a POD at this time, I could see a significant part of the African colonies brought in but I would say India is probably out
Germany - Likely the scientific, military and industrial heart of Europe. German Southwest Africa could potentially become a serious settler colony.
France - French integration would continue in Algeria, but for full integration France would need to become a fully multicultural state. Either multicultural utopia, apartheid empire or OTL France plus some small outposts in Africa.
Austria-Hungary - Serious economic power if the cultural issues could be sorted out. And thats a big if, especially if Franz Ferdinand (who wasn't a fan of democracy IIRC) takes the throne. We could see Anchluss if it is horrifically mismanaged.
Russia - Industrial giant for sure, but reform or no reform is the choice. There is every chance psuedo-fascism could show its face in Russia.
USA - Greatest economy as OTL, but most of the world is richer so the gap between the US and the rest would be smaller.
Italy - Libya is either majority Italian or close enough to make no difference (this may include pro-Italian natives, especially if Italy remains democratic).
Ottomans, Japan and China - Don't know enough to comment much. Ottomans probably in the clear if they get oil money, China and Japan probably confront each other at some point. No communists=better China.

- India could be probably more friendlier towards this ATL British Commonwealth. With an EU/NATO type of organization, they might be in, as both have very heterogenous members. With Britain and White Dominions tied together earlier and without the destruction caused by WWs, India independece would happen a bit later. And some colonies might remain as such indefinitely as happen to OTL Puerto Rico and New Calendonia. In OTL, if a territory wasn't granted independence by the 1970's, than it remained tied to the metropolis as it clearly becomes more interesting to do so.

- The problem with Southwest Africa is the desert. I can't see it go much further than 500,000 or so. It might be German Nevada. German East Africa might have some potential, specially with farmers. German China/Pacific would be an interesting place to look

- What I said regarding Britain, might happen to France. If they hold to some smaller colonies longer enough, they might be not be independent at all. Algeria would probably go, but it would take much longer than OTL.

- Yes, a war, against Serbia and Russia might eventually break Austria-Hungary entirely and Germany could pic some pieces: Austria proper, Czech lands, Slovenia. A Polish state might emerge, being linked to either Russia or Germany.

- I thought about some form of fascism (much milder, I'd hope) to emerge along the imperial regimes of Russia and China.

- Indeed. And as no WWs, destroying Europe and breaking isolationism, I can see Britain tied to its Commonwealth to be the world's cop pretty much indefinitely.

- Italy would probably outright annex Libya, Eritrea and Somalia. They have lots of settlers to send there and as it's much more populated it could largely assimilated the locals.

- If China rises earlier, Japan's action might be quite limited, also boxed by Russia in Manchuria, Germany in Tsingtao and Micronesia, Britain in Weihaiwi, Shanghai and Hong Kong, France in Indochina and the United States in Philippines and Guam.
 
Honestly, if the US stops being isolationist and starts expanding its influence (maybe Mexican and Central American crises make it go further into exerting military influence), you'd end up seeing America clash against naval overseas powers like France, Japan, and most definitely the UK. They're the ones that would most challenge the US over Pacific and new world influence. Given Germany, Italy, and Austria are more connected to European affairs than the new world, America in this scenario would likely drift towards them

I would add Germany into the mix. In OTL, they developed strong economic interests in South America and in this ALT that might become more political. Problems might also emerge on the Pacific, with Germany controlling all Micronesian islands and Samoa. German attitudes towards China might conflict with the US.
 
The United States was strengthening militarily and would keep doing so to an extent. Perhaps something like what House and Wilson were floating in the summer of 1914 takes hold.
 
The United States was strengthening militarily and would keep doing so to an extent. Perhaps something like what House and Wilson were floating in the summer of 1914 takes hold.

And when/where/how they would debut on world's affairs, in a no-WWs scenario?
 
By the turn of century, the world was a very multipolar place, dominated by strong empires, most notably Britain, France, Germany and Russia, with smaller but relevant powers: United States, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Qing China, Japan.

That's a free exploration thread, under the premise all/most of those empires survived for best they could throughout the century, averting events that led to their downfall/weakening, WWI being the most important.

- How would they evolve, socially, economically and geopolitically?

- For how long European empires would remain intact and powerful without the destruction caused by great wars, revolutions, etc.?

- For how long the United States would remain isolationist and military weak?

- How would a Qing China emulating OTL Imperial Japan impact the world?

- How the balance of power would be by the 1920's or 1950's or 1980's?

- What alliances could we expect to be forged or disbanded over the decades?

- Would the world remain multipolar indefinitely or at some point one or two would have a clear head over the world's affairs?

Feel free to explore all possibilities and scenarios.
Great thread concept! So much of post-1900 AH speculation assumes the inevitability of one, possibly two "world wars" (I'm sure some even three) in the 20th Century.. Fascinating riddle to postulate what may have happened had none of that occurred!
 
Russia would be far, far stronger. Three devastating wars that destroyed her population and industrial output (which is why i personally think ww1 is inevitable- Germany needed to cripple the bear, but that's beside the point) only recovering well after ww2 and with a miniscule population compared to the other powers. This only takes into account ww2, but it really shows my point. the Soviet Union as we know it was a shadow of what could have, and should have been
 
That's another interesting subject. Without WWs, only scattered smaller wars, I guess nuclear weapons would be developed later, maybe the 1960's? Britain being the first, followed by Germany?
This touches on an interesting point, that of technological development. Not just nuclear weapons...
So much of the technology we take for granted today grew out of either necessity, one-upsmanship, or desperation in the course of the two world wars and the Cold War. Would nuclear weapons ever have been developed? Without the perceived necessity for them, nuclear weapons, or nuclear power in general, could've remained just some scribbles on a university physicist's chalkboard. Space programs? Nope, not for a long time. Could've taken rocketry quite a while to get past the Robert Goddard stage, not to mention the guidance technology to make such things possible. Jet propulsion could've happened sure, but a few Comet-type disasters in the commercial sphere could've caused public distrust to the point that something like a Lockheed Constellation could still be considered the height of technology today. And military development may not have surpassed the subsonic stage. No space program would've impacted the development of advanced computing - a "computer" could still take up an entire floor in a large office building, and we certainly wouldn't be posting on threads in alternatehistory.com right now. And that's just a few.
I'd say the balance of power in the multipolar world would still be determined by the number of dreadnoughts a nation could build, and the most area on the globe that could be turned the same mapping colour as the mother country, for a long time to come.
Social development would be impacted greatly, but that's probably a topic for another post...
 
This touches on an interesting point, that of technological development. Not just nuclear weapons...
So much of the technology we take for granted today grew out of either necessity, one-upsmanship, or desperation in the course of the two world wars and the Cold War. Would nuclear weapons ever have been developed? Without the perceived necessity for them, nuclear weapons, or nuclear power in general, could've remained just some scribbles on a university physicist's chalkboard.
Certainly there would be no crash program to develop nuclear weapons, but it's not like pre-World War I governments were ignorant of the utility of new military technologies, and in fact often invested fairly heavily in them. And even from the beginning it was seen that nuclear power could have military applications just as much as nuclear weapons--you really think the Royal Navy is going to pass up the chance to make its ships independent of refueling?

And once someone demonstrates that nuclear weapons do work and are very powerful, then of course all of the major powers will want one. Without World War I or World War II, there probably won't be a non-proliferation treaty (although there is the counter-example of the Hague treaties...)

Space programs? Nope, not for a long time. Could've taken rocketry quite a while to get past the Robert Goddard stage, not to mention the guidance technology to make such things possible.
Neither is actually nearly as necessary as you think. The instructive example here is the Japanese space program, which launched its first satellite on top of an unguided all-solid vehicle in 1970, and which was pretty much a project of one dude at the University of Tokyo. The modern composite solid propellants needed for this were invented quite independently of Goddard for use in JATO units and are quite simple, so there's no particular reason to suppose that they wouldn't be invented here, too and, well, unguided. Now, if you want to do a lot of useful things in space you need guidance, but once you demonstrate you can throw something up there's not going to a problem getting the necessary funds to work on it.

Besides, a lot of the actual work done for guidance mechanisms for space vehicles was initially for bombers and missiles. And those are still going to be around and just as important if there isn't a war as if there is. More so, even, since there are more players involved.

Jet propulsion could've happened sure, but a few Comet-type disasters in the commercial sphere could've caused public distrust to the point that something like a Lockheed Constellation could still be considered the height of technology today. And military development may not have surpassed the subsonic stage.
Extremely unlikely. The OTL Comet hardly impacted the development of jets; everyone knew it was a matter of time until they displaced propeller aircraft, because they were, in principle, just plain better: simpler and easier to maintain, capable of reaching higher speeds, even more efficient in some cases. The only real question was just when they would come into their own to displace props from most routes. A relative lack of military spending (but there would still be Cold War-type pressures) would only delay, not prevent this.

And there is no way that the militaries of the various countries are going to be bumbling around with subsonic aircraft for decades. Even before World War I and between the wars much of the progress in aviation came from making airplanes go faster and faster (indeed, the wars probably slowed this trend, since the military wasn't as interested in setting world records), so once something as powerful as a jet comes around there will be a lot of interest in using it to get a plane to go faster than sound. They knew it was possible, they just had trouble getting the thrust necessary.

No space program would've impacted the development of advanced computing - a "computer" could still take up an entire floor in a large office building, and we certainly wouldn't be posting on threads in alternatehistory.com right now. And that's just a few.
The impact of the space program on the development of computers is greatly overstated. Integrated circuits were invented before the space program was much of anything, and while NASA was an important early customer there were other, smaller ones, and generally it was known that they were an attractive option for further improving the performance of electronic devices once the gains from transistors were harvested. At most, deleting the space program just pushes things back a few years, it doesn't mean that no one ever builds small computers (indeed, some of the first desktop computers, like the Datapoint 2200, actually used discrete logic, not integrated circuits).
 
There were feminist movements even in non-Western places like Bengal and the Ottoman Empire, and some colonies like Ghana and Madras (southern India) had working elections after WW1. Without WW1, the process would be delayed, but elections would eventually become the norm.
 
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