Monday, May 17, 2004

The stakes we are gambling are frighteningly high

One of my favourite sub-genres to read - not high literature, but one I find largely entertaining and thought-provoking - is that of alternate history. It's an utterly specious means of argument, of course; how could one ever be certain that any particular change to history would have caused subsequent predictable results? If there'd been no Hitler, Germany still might have gone to war for lebensraum under another embittered, mad and anti-semitic WWI veteran. If the Battle of Gettysburg hadn't been an utter rout for the Confederacy, who's to say the next battle wouldn't have been, in its place? Yet the fact remains that there are certain historical junctures that seem to bear the weight of the world, and decide the future. Alternate history loosely plays with those premises, usually avoiding the petty details of what and why particular seemingly-unrelated things might or might not be affected. Instapundit had a thought on perception. Over the weekend, though, a reader sent the best argument I've heard so far for putting Kerry in charge: Overnight, the press coverage would shift from negative to positive, good news from Iraq would be widely reported, misbehavior by American troops would be put in its proper context, and so on. This would, at a stroke, deprive the terrorists of their greatest asset. Sadly, I find this argument surprisingly compelling. . . . As do I, unfortunately. We're bearing down on one of those historical junctures right now, in the next six months. Fifty or a hundred years from now, there'll be textbooks written about what we consider current events. There'll also be alternate history. Which one will be which is largely being determined right now, by those with petty partisan biases. Which path we take is being steered by blind, equivocating fools. I hope that the alternate history of the far-off future is of the Man in the High Castle or the In the Presence of Mine Enemies variety. I really do. The alternative is too disturbing to imagine.


Blogger Mike said...

Me too.....

5/20/2004 03:34:00 PM  
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