History, as I see it, is like the waves of an ocean. You couldn’t tell one from the other, all of them, no matter how different they are, can be seen as the same. The forces that create waves may make one larger, or stronger, or more destructive than a million that came along in the years before. But whatever those forces do, the world is shaped by the waves. It’s more or less a given that it was going to happen like that sooner or later.
Think about it. All the great discoveries of all the great thinkers, sooner or later, it was going to happen, wasn’t it? Gravity, relativity, electricity, the steam engine, all of it and more. The path was always there, waiting to be followed, and for all we know, everything that has been done by someone, was going to be done by someone, eventually.
Suppose the Vikings had gained a foothold in North America and prospered there. Would they have lived in peace with the natives of this land? Would they have repelled the English, Spanish, and French from colonies along the east coast?
Clearly, when Columbus invaded the islands off the North American coast, had the natives killed him, and his men, someone else would have arrived in due time.
This isn’t to say things would have been exactly the same. Suppose the natives of North America would have formed a union to expel the white invaders, could they have held by the tide of ships sent to conquer, kill, and loot? Had the Aztecs killed Cortez, and then guarded their lands more heavily against the Spanish, could they have become a major force in North America, eventually?
But let’s make this a bit more specific, shall we? You go back to the year 1920, you find a young former corporal in the German army, and you kill him. Hitler is dead, and when you return to 2021, what will you find? If the theory of human history is more of a process than a product of personality, it’s very likely the second world war would have happened anyway. Could there have been a worse person than Hitler? It’s possible because, towards the end of his reign, Hitler wasn’t exactly competent when it came to military strategy. With Hitler gone, would Stalin have filled the void? Would the Soviet Union have risen to be a global power? Would Japan have made a deal with Stalin against the United States after Europe fell?
If the Holocaust had not happened, would Israel exist today?
But suppose with Hitler gone, Germany would have fallen into chaos. If Germany would have withered, and a new power emerged, would it have been England? Or perhaps Spain? Without a European war to get involved in, would the United States have become more isolated, perhaps?
Hitler was the ultimate evil for our time, but was he worse than Stalin or Mao? Was Hitler’s pogrom against the Jews any worse than what the United States did to the native population of North America?
The idea of going back in time and fixing things by eliminating one human being has its appeal, but it might be more important to find a way to stay in this time, and change the way the world is today.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.