Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sobel Wiki: The Corruption of Progress

This week's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the Era of Faceless Men.

As I've noted previously, the history of the Confederation of North America, like that of our history's U.S.A., has several periods that have been given nicknames by historians. One such is the Era of Faceless Men, the period between the end of the Rocky Mountain War in 1855 and the Great Depression/Bloody Eighties of 1879.

The Era of Faceless Men bears a striking resemblance to the U.S.A.'s Gilded Age, a period of rapid industrialization, mass immigration, and political corruption following the American Civil War. The C.N.A.'s counterparts to Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, and Grover Cleveland are William Johnson, Whitney Hawkins, Kenneth Parkes, and Herbert Clemens. Meanwhile, some of the same corporate titans show up in both histories: Gail Borden, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison.

In both timelines, rampant political corruption and the domination of the national government by big business gives rise to a populist political party. The counterpart to our own history's People's Party is the Sobel Timeline's People's Coalition. But unlike our own Populists, the P.C. comes under the control of a brilliant, charismatic politician, Ezra Gallivan, who is able to overcome the institutional advantages enjoyed by the established parties, and gain power for himself and the Coalition.

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