Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Chapter 10


There’s a growing trend in history today to analyze “key” events in light of “what if” scenarios.  But what if the “What if”s aren’t actually what ifs at all?  I just read one that talked about the defeat of an Assyrian army outside of the walls of Jerusalem in 701 BC as the pivotal turning point in history because if the Jews had been defeated we wouldn’t have Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.  The problem with such narratives is they try to isolate a variable in history.  They try to isolate one moment from time, space and continuum and make a completely new history from that moment.  Consider the effrontery of a man trying to funnel a giraffe through a millimeter wide pipe and have it come out the other end as a lion, it just can’t happen.  If you can’t ever live in history, if history is always the past, then it can’t be reactionary.  It can’t be an ingredient.  Instead, history is a product; it is the product of billions of actions and thoughts built up for thousands of years.  And if it’s a product then maybe it can change, maybe even the slightest act can have a great affect.  But in the end it would look the same.  We can’t create a lion from a giraffe, but maybe, just maybe we can clip his mane, and even though it will eventually grow back, for a small time the product is change.

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