Friday, August 12, 2005

Not Exactly Turtledove

>Interesting review of “What if We Don’t Act Now?”, a series of essays by historians about alternative-history theories, and what events would have happened if key event X had not taken place. I enjoy alternative fiction, and I also have little respect for “great man” theories of history, so it’s interesting to me.

The reviewer writes about how this field enraptures conservative historians and writers far more than liberal ones. Which is ironic (according to both him and I) because leftist causes are not really as inseparable from unique events as it is common to think. Yes, Marxism is a deterministic philosophy. But the actual play of Communist revolutions is generally inspired by random individuals.

Which makes sense; I’ve long considered Lenin the most influential person of the 20th century because he definitely seems pretty key to events and yet isn’t a natural and predictable result of social forces. He organized the conspiratorial revolutions, he brought Marxism to Russia, he took Russia in a more centralized direction, etc. In contrast, the Western leaders of the Great Wars were generally reacting to attacks on themselves or pre-existing cultural alliances.

(Which is not to say I like Lenin. In fact, if I had one bullet to use on anyone in their infancy during the 20th century, I would use it on him. One for Stalin or Hitler would be wasted, as both countries were ripe for autocracy and terror by the time they came to power.)

Courtesy of Cliopatriarch.


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