Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
  • Art Gifts
Download PNG 1204 × 650


Submitted on
October 6, 2012
Image Size
85.0 KB


3,580 (1 today)
23 (who?)


Creative Commons License
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
USSR 2012 by OttoVonSuds USSR 2012 by OttoVonSuds
I've seen people do detailed scenarios for cyberpunk-flavored worlds, but the other type of prediction from the 1980s: that of a status quo, business as usual type environment with a tepid cold war well into the 21st century is something I haven't seen done as much.

The POD can be dated to Andropov doing two things in the late 70s: adopting a much healthier lifestyle as well as befriending an at the time middle rank KGB agent named Vladimir Putin. As a result, Andropov is *still* alive, even if he passed on the reigns to his chosen successor, a certain KGB agent in the early 1990s. As a result, Andropov's particular style of reformism(focusing on economics while keeping the party firmly in charge) gets to play out.

As a result, when Eastern europe starts seeing a wave of protests and rioting in the late 1980s, a more vigorous soviet union is able to quash the protests. On the advice of his younger ally, Andropov 'suggests' to the eastern european nations that it'd be a good idea to do economic reforms. A smarter Andropov is able to negotiate allowing certain pro-democracy people leave, along with allowing a limited opening of the warsaw pact's internal market and of course massive amounts of danegeld from the west.

As a result, the survival of the soviet union translates into the 1990s looking more like the 1980s in some ways than OTL's 1990s. First and most obviously, the rise of the internet sets this decade apart from the past decade, but without the cold war's end isn't enough to create the same 'feel' as our 1990s. Second, the soviet-OPEC reapproachment and the beginning of the ongoing "energy squeeze". Then thirdly, we have the 'sino-soviet reapproachment' where Moscow and Beijing started working together again. All three of these trends have defined the past generation's history. As a side effect, there is more cultural continuity for the late 80s and the 1990s overall, along with the same for the altered 1990s and the 2000s. For the differences between say 1986 and 2012, in terms of level of divergence think more 1989 to 1996-level shifts than the sharper cultural changes we've seen since then.



The USSR is alive, and if not doing well at least it's gotten over the worst of it and the economy is growing again, even if it is quite slow growth. It's overall economic performance is on par with say OTL russia, which for the residents of backwater regions like central asia or the caucus is a visible improvement over OTL. Demographically, the USSR has avoided OTL's demographic collapse by a mix of better conditions, somewhat higher public health and starting in the 1990s the beginnings of a wave of immigration of chinese, 'surplus' noth koreans, pro-soviet third worlders into both the. General Secretary Putin has already called in the army a few times to deal with nativist 'protests' with the only concession he's made being the extensive efforts to culturally and linguistically russify the immigrants(and the same to non-russians in the USSR). This russification is part of an overall ideological shift for the USSR, which is de-emphasizing marxism in favor of slavic nationalism.

The second pillar of the communist world is the People's Republic of China. Less trade with the US combined with post-1989 trends towards increased militarization means that China's economy is about a decade and a half behind OTL's in terms of level of development. Outside of being poorer and thus lower technology, China isn't so different from OTL. It's still a fascist state, but unlike OTL's PRC is more willin to deploy communist symbolism and propaganda.

Following Andropov's 'suggestions', the warsaw pact engaged in economic reform with mixed results. Czechslovakia and Hungary have liberalized to the extent of 1970s Yugoslavia and by now have roughly OTL Romanian standards of living. Romania and Albania are... poor and nowadays under more soviet-line governments. East Germany is somewhere in between the soviet union and Hungary in standards of living and political freedom. Mongolia is roughly as OTL. Besides economic reform's beneficial side effects, the eastern european diaspora that has emerged since the refugee waves of 1989-90 fled west sends money back home, which helps along with eastern europe's share of tribute from Europe(called 'development aid') being put in. Thanks to Putin's pushes, eastern europe has visible immigration from the same sources that the USSR recieves.

Afghanistan is a left-wing dictatorship faced with islamic terror and warlordism, which isn't so different from OTL's situation except for the fact that it's more secular and the government is a bit more secure than our afghanistan. There are still russian troops, but at least the problems of mutiny and 'accidental' deaths of officers aren't as bad as in the 80s -- the fact that China is doing part of the military effort probably helps.

North Korea isn'tthat different from OTL, except for having more money for Kim Jong Il(still (barely) alive, thanks to more money for medicine) to blow on military spending, a lavish lifestyle and grandiose projects. Soviet aid and limited trade have delayed famine by a decade compared to OTL and thanks to this aid, the problems are relatively limited so far. This aid of course means that North Korea can field a more impressive military than OTL, and by now even has 5-10 nukes of their own. Butterflies have ensured that Kim Jong Nam didn't do his OTL embarrassments and thus remains the heir apparent for the aging leader.

Cuba is doing well compared to OTL thanks to the continuation of soviet subsidies and starting in 2005 with Fidel Castro's retirement the introduction of market reforms. The continuation of the USSR's being a trade partner and source of subsidies means that cuba's economy is 50% larger than OTL. Most of this extra wealth is put into a bigger military, a larger welfare state and the world's largest cigar collection for Fidel Castro.

Red Nicaragua is disappointingly similar to our world's version of the same country.

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all roughly resemble their equivelants here in our world for the most part, except for the American tourists being replaced by rich soviets or Chinese mandarins. Recent news from the region include a coup against Vietnam's leadership by the KGB.

The various portions of africa which were soviet-aligned continue this alignment. Somalia is under a crapsacky communist government, but at least it's less violent than the current OTL situation of anarchy. The People's Republic of Congo is disturbingly similar to OTL's Republic of congo in government(i.e. kleptocracy). Benin is of course still under an incompetent regime, which locals snarkily refer to as "laxism-leninism". Ethiopia is a largely failed state and de-facto chinese protectorate which still includes a rebellious eritrea. Both Angola and Mozambique are still communist and happen to be even poorer than OTL, if with higher literacy rates. Red africa has even more chinese involvement and usage of chinese labor than OTL, with Benin, Ethiopia, Angola and The People's Republic of Congo being more or less de facto chinese protectorates.

South Yemen is just like OTL's Yemen, except with a different flag.

Burma's government is slightly less psychotic and more willing to engage with the outside world than OTL's Myanmar. Part of the way Burma gets capital is by pretty much de facto selling the women who are members of disliked minorities as mail order brides to chinese men; this gets burma capital while demographically weakening 'undesirables'.

Thanks to arrangements made early on in Putin's reign, the fact that the communist nations get better deals on purchasing OPEC oil than say the nations of the capitalist west further helps these nations keep their economies growing

The reaction of the eastern block to the rise of the internet has been twofold: Firstly access for eastern block citizens is controlled and strictly censored. Secondly, for non-eastern block citizens the red block encourages and supports media piracy. The fact that opposition to intellectual property laws has been taken up as a cause by the eastern block makes it more popular with western left types in OTL.


With the communist world continuing to be a problem, there are more voices than OTL calling for increased integration of at least the developed portions of the "free world" but not much has come out of it except for passport-less travel between the US and Canada, reduction of ID requirements for americans and canadian travellers to europe and expanded exchange student programs. The free world does have a common issue in that OPEC is squeezing them quite hard.

America remains the leader of the "free world" and is exceedingly culturally similar to OTL. The military-industrial complex is larger than OTL, with corrosponding economic effects on places like California or the rustbelt -- both have benefitted. tHe lucky places aside, overall economic growth has been less than OTL, even despite faster technological progress, as a result America is a bit poorer and more unequal than OTL. The welfare state in the 90s and '00s was cut even deeper than OTL with the partial privatization of social security, shuttering of medicare and medicaid as federal programs(only a couple of states on the coasts have anything as extensive as old medicare/medicaid thee days) and of course even more drastic cuts to other social welfare programs. On a social level, the United States is roughly about the same on most issues as OTL with a more conservative 1990s being made up for with no post-9/11 temporary backlash. However, the splits on social issues are even more generationally-based than OTL; there is more annoying youth activism than OTL(Think OWS or "the people united" but on a larger scale and willing to throw molotovs).

Canada doesn't have bilingualism anymore and is somewhat more conservative, but is still recognizable to someone from OTL. Quebec is the fourth member of NAFTA these days and isn't very happy with the fact that an independent Quebec of 12 million people has a smaller budget to protect the french language than Quebec as part of canada did.

The European Union is rather more different from it's OTL self than the US. It is more leftist than OTL(old left sense, rather than new left) and militarized than OTL. The OTL late 20th century trend of reducing conscription has been reversed and young men from portugal to germany all spend multiple years in uniform. Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Cape Verde are all European Union member states with Senegal and Gabon as potential candidates for "associated status". Belgium split back in 2006.

Japan still crashed in the early 1990s but the twin factors of a US more willing to look the other way combined with reduced investment in china have enabled Japan to avoid a lost decade on par with OTL and merely downshift to 1-2% average growth rates. The less severe economic troubles means "Japan takes over the world" stories remained credible in print SF, movies and gaming into the early 2000s. Japanese popular culture is even more influential than in our world -- the manga boom was mid 90s instead of late 90s and early 00s.

The "little dragons" of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are roughly similar to OTL except all are on the upper tier of first world status instead of ranging from low to middle tier. Taiwan is largely as OTL, except for the fact that it's now officially recognized following a different resolution to the 1996 Taiwan straits crisis. South Korea has the bomb to counter the North Korean nuclear program.

South Africa is America's little buddy in the region and the apartheid regime is still around even if it does have problems with urban guerillas. Of course, the price of getting to retain the old order has been a few largely symbolic concessions such as allowing high ranking black veterans of the police or security forces citizenship. United States pressure has managed to achieve international recognition for Transkei, Ciskei and Venda.

Latin America outside of Cuba and Sandanista Nicaragua remains a collection of American client states. The region is more prosperous but more prone to juntas or PRI-style one party states than OTL's 2012 latin america. The only upside is that these juntas have been able to push together economic reforms and avoid some of OTL's economic mistakes like Chavez's "populism". Nowadays, there are increasing problems with rainforest tribes doing terrorism against pro-western governments or companies working in the amazon.


The middle east is roughly the same as OTL's middle east pre-2011, with the exception that Saddam wasn't overthrown. Soviet economic aid and trade are keeping the dictators in power and more popular than OTL. Forget about any sort of "Arab Spring" happening anytime soon.

Yugoslavia endures, and is able to use it's position as a go-between for east and west to grow it's economy to by now roughly OTL Romanian levels. It's more democratic than it was pre-milosevic but is still rather more authoritarian than singapore. The leaders of Yugoslavia are able to keep violence down to the level of the Irish Troubles by pointing out the potential for eventual membership in Europe if they can stay stable, as well as granting extensive local autonomy. The fact that Vojvodina and Kosovo both got equal autonomy to the other republics, despite objections from certain Serb bitter-enders shows that the central government is willing to at least try making Yugoslavia a Serb-led federation instead of a Serbian Emprie.

Israel is even more internationally isolated than OTL. With a continued cold war to make supporting Israel a potential liability combined with a lack of a war on terror certain ongoing shifts away from zionism being the prevailing consensus in the US began a couple of election cycles earlier. An Israeli PM was just assasinated by the Mossad for suggesting that withdrawing from the west bank might be reasonable.

With both powers around to keep an eye on it, to make sure the deal was honored Mugabe hasn't gotten to do large-scale expropriations or steal the country's entire wealth. Ironically, having a government that's not a failed state means Mugabe makes more money off of his corruption than from his OTL mass expropriations, but he's still not overly happy. As a result, Zimbabwe is merely low-tier third world instead of OTL's situation of slowly turning into mad max with an all-black cast.

Most of the rest of africa largely resembles OTL. Medical technology's being a couple years ahead of OTL means that the world is now only a decade or two away from an AIDS vaccine which doesn't help people who already have it. There are more african governments with the same structures as OTL that retain old cold war-era names like "the people's republic" or "the democratic republic of" or "Zaire" than OTL.

India is pretty similar, even if it is about a decade behind OTL in economic development due to less western investment, more hostility from the US. Another factor slowing economic development in India is the need for increased militarization to deal with a better-armed Pakistan. Adding more problems is the fact that the Naxalite insurgency in northeast india has lots of soviet and chinese money and weaponry.

Pakistan is doing better than OTL thanks to increased US strategic needs translating into more money from Washington ending up in Pakistan. With increased force, the government is better able to maintain order and reduce warlordism.

Islamism is a much weaker undercurrent in muslim nations such as Malaysia, Turkey, Pakistan or others. This has some political effects such as opposition movements tending to either be democratic or left-wing but the main effect has been cultural. The late 20th century return to wearing hijab in various arab or other muslim nations hasn't gone as far as OTL and Turkey's government still has headscarves banned in public to name a few change. Also, women and religious minorities in muslim nations are doing better than in OTL.

Iran is mostly recognizable compared to OTL, but there are a few major differences. Firstly, the Soviet Union's presence as an existential threat has made Iran's leadership decide to be tactful at least part of the time when doing diplomacy. Second, there's the fact that Iran is slightly more secular without the post-9/11 threat from western neocons pushing Iranians to back more hardline leaders.


Science and technology overall have benefitted from the 1945-1991 force draft push for technological advancement continuing onwards for another generation At first differences were minimal with technology by the year 2000 averaging out to be 1-2 years ahead overall depending on the particular field. As of 2012, the difference has become more like 6 to 8 years(aerospace, computer networking, fuel cells and other spinoffs from military technologies) ahead of OTL in some fields, with the overall average being 2 to 4 years ahead of OTL depending on the field for other fields. A secondary and more specific reason for boosts of certain technology has been the ongoing energy squeeze which started in the early 1990s and has boosted investment in energy efficiency, alternate energy sources. Besides a continual forced push for spending on new technology, the fact that the "Free World" has competition in the form of a re-emerging soviet-red chinese alliance provides more reason to invest in science money and trust scientists.

THe militaries of this world are roughly a decade ahead in capability overall and much larger. Think a world with 1986 levels of militarization extrapolated for another 26 years. This is most evident with the United States's military which, as of 2012 is now only 10 years away from completing a repeatedly delayed SDI system and has orbital weaponry(both kinetic energy and laser sats) in the planning stages. The soviet military clearly can't keep up, but thcey are making a valient effort of trying, which has started to become more apparent as the fruits of economic reform are beginning to allow for a so far minor increase in resources for their military. Yet another player is the People's Republic of China which is more militarized than in OTL.

Besides military technology, another area that has benefitted from the continuation of a tepid cold war into the new tens is space-related science. Private efforts at space travel are doing better than OTL due to the higher needs for defense or prestige. As a result, the wave of (so far) successful private orbital or other ventures that appeared in the 2000s instead happened in the 1990s and is by now chugging along, albeit with less success than originally hoped. Yes, launch costs are by now half of OTL, a joint Virgin Galactic-Hilton orbital hotel for the ultra-wealthy has just been opened and solar power sattelites are in the early planning stages but it's still less than promised. Besides these private efforts, there of course the efforts of the superpowers which are more extensive than OTL. This has had side effects such as advancing OTL's recent discovery of extrasolar planets by a decade(Even finding a twin earth in Epsilon Indi), providing more information about extrasolar planets in general and advancing space science. The successful soviet moon landing in 2007 has prompted calls in the United States for either setting up a lunar base or a mars mission or both to one-up the soviets.


Culturally, removing the end of the cold war doesn't change that much. The biggest change that comes out of it is removing the idealism and the triumphalism of the 1990s. Another side effect is to mute 1980s nostalgia since the 80s in this world were merely just another decade and not the end of the cold war. Ronald Reagan and Thatcher aren't worshipped as in OTL in this world. Conversely, with less of a positive reputation for both, the left spends less energy demonizing both.

Tom Clancy is even richer than OTL. A couple of authors who in OTL ended up writing MilSF for Baen books ended up going into the thriller business. Tom Kratman and David Weber are the up and coming big names in anti-communist right wing thriller fiction.

President list
1981-1989 Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush (republican)
1989-1997 George H.W. Bush/Dan Quayle(republican)
1997-2001 Al Gore/Bill Bradley(democratic)
2001-2008 John McCain/Mitt Romney(republican)
2008-present Mitt Romney/Tom Ridge (republican)
Add a Comment:
Slaytaninc Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
That's a lot of Republicans, especially following a Reagan with less of a cult following.
kyuzoaoi Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Student Artist
What would Barack do in that TL?
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012
Lose in the primaries, and watch the dem who won the primaries lose in the general election.
Eluxivo Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
any toughts on this timeline music ?
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012
Again, not that different from OTL.

A bigger 80s revival in the '00s that's for sure but beyond that I don't see too much in the way of unexpected changes.
Eluxivo Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
i was thinking, would intellectual property laws like lets say S.O.P.A get more support by being proposed as mitigation of RED piracy?
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
That is a factor in favor of them, but there's the countervailing factor of fewer democratic presidents* so it evens out to actually being a little bit less regulated than OTL.

* Note how the DMCA was passed under Clinton and SOPA was attempted under Obama.
FieldMarshalPatton Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
How would an still Apartheid South Africa deal with the AIDS epidemic?
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
Restrict black mobility to and from the townships even more, intern AIDS sufferers and generally don't provide any medicine. They'd use the epidemic as a means to deal with surplus africans without the damage to South Africa's public relations that open genocide would cause.
FieldMarshalPatton Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
BTW how does Romney become McCain's VP in 2000? OTL,he wasn't governor of Massachusetts until 2003-did he become governor earlier or somehow manage to beat Ted Kennedy and win a Senate seat in 1994?
Add a Comment: