Thursday, June 19, 2008

Balkanized North America

I've always been a fan of fictional so-called "alternate history", wherein certain pivotal, historic events are reimagined to produce a different future; the Nazi's and the Southern states winning World War II and the American Civil War, respectively, are two of the more famous examples of this. It is along these lines that a fellow named Matthew White has reimagined the North American continent:

North America must have the lowest nation/surface ratio in the world. The huge subcontinent is made up of only two sovereign states: Canada and the US (*). This is not to say that this was a ‘Manifest Destiny’: many regionalist revolts were crushed to form these two monoliths.

Which raises the question, at least in Matthew White’s mind: “What is the most fragmented that North America could have been?” White’s website (from the mid-nineties, but still online) serves up several ‘alternate history’ maps, that use a POD (point of divergence) somewhere in the past to construct a present slightly (or wildly) different from ours. White’s Balkanised North America, with 1787 as the POD, is by far the most interesting exercise.

“In this alternate reality, the westward expansion of the Anglo-American people proceeded pretty much as it did in our reality,” White writes, “but the United States government just couldn’t keep up. Every national identity crisis resolved itself in favor of the separatists instead.”
An interesting take (click the image to enlarge); of course, out here on the West coast we pretty much consider California to be it's own country anyway (hell, I'd bet that a lot of the other hater states would be just fine with that interpretation as well). I can also definitely say that there are more than a few Texans who would have loved for that state to stay it's own republic, not to mention the legions of Southerners who practically cream in their pants thinking about how cool it would have been if the Confederacy had remained a sovereign nation. The United States, indeed.

No comments: