Another repost from before my purge. Ok, here's one that was on here before but expanded a bit.
Here's a scenario inspired by Herman Kahn's "The year 2000", with influences from B_Munro/Quantumbranching's own set of scenarios on it. This one explores Kahn's "Surprise free" projection and takes them to the present. In it, detente continues decades longer than OTL, the postwar economic boom continues into the middle of the 1980s and there's generally a smooth evolution from 1965 onwards. This is the start of a probably irregularly updated set of scenarios based on Herman Kahn's stuff.
The history of the last 47 years has three major themes: The slow decline in importantance of the cold war, secondly the shift to a more "post-ideological" environment and lastly and probably most importantly, the rising economic integration of the world.
Like in OTL, the postwar political arrangements that prvailed during the cold war have ended but in this world it's been a case of evolution within the system or modifications of that system as opposed to revolution. As a result many features of the cold war era of OTL such as the soviet union(complete with military parades in red square), the warsaw pact, the division of Germany, Taiwan's being a recognized United Nations members, Yugoslavia, etc to name a few all either survived to the present or lasted longer.
Part of the reason behind the existence of the system of de facto permanent detente has been the world's shifting to a post-ideological mindset. Both "Communism" and "capitalism" as is understood in both east and west are more reformist a bit less ideologically charged than OTL. On the communist side, besides just market reforms this includes taking features from "goulash communism", "Socialist self-management", "socialism with a human face" and of course social democracy. On the capitalist side, this simply means no neoliberal hegemony on economic issues, more acceptance of "heterodox" economic theories and more acceptance of protectionism to name a few differences.
Just like as happened in OTL, the world has become more economically integrated thanks to technology combined with receding cold war tensions. However, with less neoliberalism the process is different than OTL: instead of deindustrializing, the advanced nations moved to capital goods, high tech production and third world nations focused a bit more on economic reform and promoting. Yes, there is export-focused development but it's less important than OTL. While the world has become more integrated, there is more regional economic integration(NAFTA has a common tariff, the "Asian Tigers" of Japan, south Korea and Taiwan have an "East asian economic community") with varying results and a bit less global integration than OTL -- people are less willing to sacrifice their jobs for people outside of the block. For example, outsourcing to China is much less because Mexico exists as an option and it'd cost more with tariffs factored in.
The United States is of follows vague clinton-style "centrist" economics and is less recognizable to visitors from OTL than one might think -- it's a rather less rural and exurban nation than OTL. These dayss a slight majority of the population lives in a few large urban sprawls. Without a watergate scandal, people have more faith in the government and there remains more expectation of goverment honesty as opposed to OTL's malaise. Perhaps as a side effect, it's a rather more secular nation than OTL and somewhat more relaxed re: alternative lifestyles and other vices. With real competition to contend with along with no watergate, American political discourse is a bit more rational and somewhat less toxic than OTL. Our world's america saw it's national solidarity fraying starting in the 1980s, with the yuppie vs reaganite infighting, while this country's solidarity is (slowly) only now starting to fray on right-left lines. It's also a more populist and egalitarian nation thanks to more nationalism leading it to handle world trade in a more mercantillist manner. Another positive side effect of these policies, combined with different cultural trends is that America is a visibly more racially integrated nation than OTL. Thanks to different economic trends, combined with a somewhat altered policy environment America is a bit more populous than OTL(340 million and a total fertility rate around 2.4 instead of 312 million people and one of 2.1). These same fertility trends, have made native-born growth a higher component of population increase than OTL. Yes, the post-1965 immigration still happened but the demographic impact has been slower to take hold, with side effects such as Puerto Rican statehood in 1983 and Taco bell's taking longer to really take off to name a few butterflies.
The soviet union is of course still around and rather economically reformed by now, with a standard of living on par with say Romania. it's gone from full central planning to a mix of yugoslav-style "socialist self-management", tolerance of small-scale capitalism, "goulash communism" and of course even some (rather limited) market reforms. The fact that the cold war has stayed in a tepid detente, which prevented the military-industrial complex in the USSR from being run at a suicidal siege pace probably helps. Alas, it's still an authoritarian regime albeit one that follows the rule of law. A mix of 1970s Yugoslavia along with current Belarus combined with 1980s south Korea is still an improvement over OTL's pre-gorbachev status quo. Birthrates have of course fallen but it's not the catastrophic fall we saw in OTL.. The resulting labor shortage is turning the Soviet Union into a country of immigration, so far mostly from China but with increasing number of third worlders which include quite a few north koreans unhappy with the move away from Juche. There is of course lots of worker unrest from workers not happy with the transition away from socialism. Unlike China which had a relatively painless transition away from communism to fascism thanks to having such a small urban working class at the time of economic reforms, the USSR with a powerful working class faced quite a bit of unrest which led to one general secretary retiring to a siberian dacha and the military having a bigger role in soviet politics. As is probably the case in 95% of all timelines with a surving soviet union that diverge after 1952, Vladimir Putin is still leader of the soviet union. He does wear an eyepatch, though.
Eastern Europe has fewer soviet troops than it did in OTL before 1989, but is still largely in Moscow's sphere. Bulgaria, Romania and Albania are all still outright dictatorships even if they aren't as nasty as OTL's pre-1989 regimes and better-run. Poland and Hungary are dominant party states, but enjoy better civil liberties than they did -- instead of shooting the opposition they just rig elections and do occasionaly petty harrassment on the model of Singapore. The warsaw pact still exists, but now includes free trade between the member states.
The Western European Union extends from Poland to Portugal and is roughly as integrated as the pre-maastrich EC in OTL. As an organization that's largely a bit of extra socioeconomic integration for states that are all mostly NATO members, the WEU is a bit less vulnerable than OTL's European Union to financial problems. Germany even has reunified, but it's been a complex process and even now the former east is still more of an associate than full member. Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Cape Verde have all joined recently. Birthrates in the states of Europe have remained higher than OTL and went below replacement decades later than OTL, and with less of a demographic 'bulge'.
Yugoslavia, Austria and de facto East Germany are all associate members of the WEU. All are democracies, with Yugoslavia enjoying roughly an Italian standard of living by now. Austria, Yugoslavia, Finland and Germany's eastern lander are all significantly wealthier than OTL due to money that in OTL went to lifting up the former Warsaw Pact ending up in those places. Germany's case is complex because of the extra conditions that the soviet union placed on East German reunification in the early 1990s, which amounted to making it a 10 year process along with establishing certain limitatiosn -- no WEU military forces to be stationed there and legalization of the communist party in Germany.
By now, Japan's attempt to become a superpower has petered out, but it's still got the second largest economy and highest per capita GDP in the world. This is a country of shining skyscrapers, excess neon, lots of high tech factories and of course lots of anime. This world is one where the large boom of interest in Japanese culture in the United States began 10 years earleir than OTL(In the late 1980s instead of late 1990s) and is going on even now, instead of petering out as of the last couple years like our world's anime boom did. Japan is still generally pro-United States, even if the alliance has declined in important but now has it's own grouping of nations called the Transpacific Coalition which includes both Koreas, Taiwan, the free city-states of Hong Kong and Macao, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and nowadays a lefty "neutralist" vietnam that doesn't care much for China. These countries don't care for Japan much, for WWII-related reasons but find either Beijing or Moscow to be more annoying which is the biggest factor keeping this particular alliance from turning into a farce or collapsing.
North and South Korea are still seperate nations, but by now there is extensive economic linkage and occasional removal of barriers. The Kims were sidelined by the army following the crisis of '76. Kim Jong Il is in slightly better health and has a massive palace but has been "retired" from leadership -- the cabal of generals that took over has gone in for economic reform and a limited degree of opening up -- it's less open than 1980s south Korea, but more open than the People's Republic of China. It's not yet first world or ready for democratization, but it's getting there. South Korea is similar to OTL, except with fewer American military bases and much more wealth -- it's upper-end first world.
Taiwan, as the third asian tiger is doing quite well. Instead of being lower-end first world, it's upper-end first world. The fact that Taiwan is the recipient of large-scale chinese immigration from professionals who want higher wages and or political freedom helps defuse domestic troubles within China. President humphrey negotiated recognition of Taiwan as the concession China needed to make for admittance into the United nations back in '71 and it's stuck.
Both Hong Kong and Macao are cyberpunky, extremely rich city-states and the entrepot to asia. Beijing occasionaly offers some bribe to try to get them to agree to annexation, but due to both place's value as a safety valve doesn't press the subject. The fact that neither are democracies, but instead are "Sovereign Corporate Republics", which are governed under corporate structures is part of why Beijing tolerates them -- The Party is taking notes on how to run China based on inspiration from the Sovereign Corporate Republics.
The other members of Japan's alliance are more similar to OTL. Malaysia and Indonesia are more secular and wealthier than OTL, but would be recognizable to visitors from OTL. Australia and New Zealand are of course near-clones of OTL, with Australia's government even still implementing it's internet censorship.
Cuba is once again a partying place, as the United States removed the embargo in bits and pieces from 1978-1989. The government is still (theoretically) communist and Fidel Castro's successor, Raul is trying to transform Cuba from a dictatorship into a dominant party state and keep communist rule in place even as rising expectations leads to increased unrest.
The People's Republic of China has modernized just like OTL. Thanks to the differing international environment and a regime just as "lovely" as OTL's it's more isolated than OTL. There has been no one-child policy yet birthrates still dropped, with only 250 million more chinese people than OTL. Higher military spending, combined with a lack of "most favored nation" status have set back Chinese growth enough to be no more than OTL. The lessened relative growth has the advantages for the party that there's less of a problem with rising expectations and more examples of authoritarian regimes that at least sorta work.
The middle east is a bit different, but is still similar to OTL in many ways. A somewhat smarter Israeli government never touched the poison pills of the golan heights, gaza or the west bank outside of jerusalem so the region is at least somewhat less at risk of war. The arabs still don't have formal peace, with the exception of Egypt but the situation is merely frosty instead of glacial. The fact that the post black-september Republic of Palestine, centered in OTL Jordan has took in the palestinian diaspora in the late 60s is another stabilizing factor. The Federation of Arab Republics is still in business and includes Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Sudan. Side effects of the altered situation in the middle east include no oil embargo in the 1970s, no Iranian revolution and Lebanon avoiding it's civil war. The saudis are still horrible people, but at least aren't in the business of financing terror outside of the region itself.
Most of Africa resembles OTL, except with some relatively minor cosmetic butterflies. There are more successful post-colonial federations than OTL with Senegambia, East Africa and the Sahel union as examples. Unfortunately, they are for the most part no better run than OTL. In positive news, when apartheid ended the boers were able to get a better deal with protections for their rights, a capitalist economy and the ANC's right wing in charge so South Africa is better off. Rhodesia was able to make the 1979-80 compromises of OTL stick, and thus remains Africa's breadbasket and not devolving, even if the electorate is 95% black nowadays and the country named Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
Latin America is richer, more urban and more stable than OTL. This, however came at the price at the region's trend of transitioning towards one-party regimes like PRI Mexico as opposed to either the old military regimes or full democracies. Yes, some areas such as the southern cone, Mexico or Brazil are full democracies but this transition is something of the last decade. Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela are all low-end first world by now. THere is a tier of states that are upper middle income to borderline first world -- Mexico, Colombia and Brazil with the rest of the region being middle income. Unfortunately, being richer doesn't solve all problems since all of the latin republics have issues with strong income inequality, regional disparities, race/class disparities, etc, but to a visitor from OTL it's clearly better off. The problems mentioned above translate into the United States's still getting largescale latin immigration like in OTL -- the main difference is that the immigrants from Latin America are both a bit more educated and a bit less fertile than OTL.
India resembles OTL with positive trends like more extensive economic reform being counter-acted by India's being less open to world markets combined with there being more competition for outsourcing(latin america, north korea, japan's allies, South Africa, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia) and more naxalite trouble.
Various international institutions are all more powerful and respected than OTL. Several decades of detente have produced an environment of joint American-soviet interests in things like non-proliferation and other issues. It's still merely a detente and not an outright entente as the occasional crisis shows but the increased cooperation has translated into a slightly stronger United Nations with some teeth. Alas, the UN's input re: advanced nations is still ignored when they find it inconvenient.
With the postwar boom continuing until the mid 1980s, more money being pumped into the space race, and the resulting bust bein less severe than our 1970s combined with a tepid cold war to drive R&D budget, technology is about 5 years ahead for civilian purposes and 7 for military and aerospace. Certain areas such as materials science, biotechnology and synthetics do even better. It's also a bit better distributed with Latin America, the OTL former soviet union and other areas that benefitted in this world all having more tech.
Without watergate, and with a somewhat different evolution of both parties in the United States, the space race has been a bit more active. Both the United States and soviet union have a moonbase and there's a couple hundred people living in orbit either in government or corporate stations. The private sector has begun expanding to space, but the Space Sector is right now digging out of an embarassing bust and the company that wanted to try mining diamonds on the moon was dismantled with it's CEO ending up in prison for fraud.
Despite the more stable international situation, nuclear proliferation has happened to a bigger extent than OTL. 50 countries have nuclear weapons, most of them having them as loaners from the US or USSR. However, outside of the US, USSR, China and Japan most naiton's arsenals top out at around 50. Japan, Germany, Israel, India, South Korea and Taiwan all have their own small arsenals. Sweden and Switzerland both have a few nukes as a national insurance policy.
Different economic trends have lead to the advanced nations continuing the early 20th century trend towards more leisure time. The four day full-time workweek and three months of paid vacation is normal in the United States with Europeans working even less. This has led to a mix of positive consequences like less stress, but on the other hand to a bit more decadence -- the group of youth born after 1990 has started an annoying new movement of radicalism motivated by boredom with peace and prosperity. Thankfully, the style of these radicals is raver with a dash of J-pop and not a revival of hippiedom.
Popular culture is even more "emo" and excessive than in our world wih less real trouble to worry about. There is more of a "dark and edgy" trend in comics and animation. DC is on their third batman, with the deaths of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both getting long and notable storylines -- there is a movie adaptation of 1979's "To kill a bat" currently in the works. Heavy metal was the genre of the 2000s.
Eugenics experienced a revival in the 1970s and 1980s in this world instead of ending up suppressed. Various hereditary or other congenital disorders are less common than OTL, there are programs attempting to raise national IQs with little success at trying genetic measures so far(The efforts that involved using prenatal vitamins and enriched food in third world nations have worked, though.) and the anti-abortion movement in many nations is far weaker than OTL to namea few of the side effects.
Unlike our world, the demographic transition in industrialized and semi-industrialized nations is a bit slower -- the bulk of the third world is roughly the same in population but there are more people in the developed world, parts of latni america(particular the middle classes or southern cone), east asia. Perhaps as a side result of healthier demographics in western nations combined with majority rule in both South Africa and Rhodesia being handled better than OTL, there isn't OTL's undercurrent of fear of western nations becoming majority non-european in population. This is why the world population has reached 8.5 billion as of 2013. There are more megacities out of 80s science fiction in both developed and undeveloped nations.