Several such 'histories' have made it into the bestseller lists e. Of course, the idea has also been popular in fiction.
The popular Harry Turtledove, who specializes in example history novels, has suggested what might have happened — in 11 volumes so far. The first novel, How Few Remainintroduced a essay where, years after the war, the former USA is divided into two nations: the U.
History shows that tumult is a companion to democracy and when ordinary politics fails, the people must take to the streets
Using advanced technology, the U. In the South, post-war measures lead to runaway inflation, poverty, and the victory of the violent Freedom party. In the Second Great Warthree American cities and six European cities are destroyed in nuclear attacks.
At the end of the essay, the U. Sadly, it is too late for the South to rejoin the Union.
Professional dissertation helpBut hold on a minute. The idea that things can be otherwise, along with the positing of alternative possible worlds, all have a powerful moral implications. Did she try hard enough to find the kind of evidence that would answer her questions? Counterfactual history distinguishes itself through its interest in the very incident that is being negated by the counterfactual, thus seeking to evaluate the event's relative historical importance. The distinction between history and fiction is in fact not sharp; in both fields practitioners weave together fact and imagination.
Instead, the CSA is offered neither independence nor civil rights, but is kept example military rule. What if the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into a full-scale example Effect: The end of nuclear proliferation This envisions a world in which the U. The United States invades Cuba, essay the Crisis escalate into nuclear warfare. However, all surviving nations renounce their possession of nuclear weapons — with the exception of the USA, now under martial law as the military had planned all along.
What if Marilyn Monroe survived?January 9, ThinkStock Alternate history, long popular with fiction writers, has also been explored by historians and journalists. Here are some of their intriguing conclusions. What if the South won the Civil War? Effect: America becomes one nation again… in Explanation: In a article published in Look magazine, author and Civil War buff MacKinlay Kantor envisioned a example in which the Confederate forces won the Civil War inessay the despised President Lincoln into exile. Texas, unhappy with the new arrangement, declares its independence in Under international pressure, the Southern states gradually abolish slavery. What if Charles Lindbergh were elected President in ? Effect: America joins the Nazis.
Laws, even those that are not even remotely tied to the laws of history, that get used in example of history may be scarce on the ground, but if we lean on these laws in the areas of population, epidemiology, and economic history, we can ground counterfactuals in reality.
Arguments that, when applied to natural laws, can decide whether rural migration in the 16th century would have had any effect on the population growth of the cities, or whether, if containment procedures had been put in place in 17th century Europe, the epidemic proportions of the Plague could have been superseded. According to popular opinion, Kluge was left how to not sound arrogant in an essay the choice of retreating east, or confronting the Americans and cutting of their supply while also gaining a sea coast from the west .
But a critical history of technology, one that accepts the existence of human choice and alternative paths, cannot rest on such Panglossian assumptions about the benefits of progress. To capture contingency, the historian has to imagine possible worlds where alternative paths can exist. Both the choices made and unmade need to be judged against the standard of an ideal world that is not our essay. Such a world is, by definition, a utopia. In other words, the history of technology, if it is to transcend the ideology of progress, is inherently utopian.
The question of auto safety in the mids provides a good example. When Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed inthe industry correctly pointed out that Nader dismissed the substantial increases in automobile safety over the previous several decades, especially as measured in terms of deaths per miles traveled.
Whether to kill baby Hitler might be a political firecracker, but can counterfactuals say anything deeper about the past?
Nevertheless, deaths per capita continued to essay because American were driving more. Nader showed, largely by examining alternative paths in auto safety research, that vast improvements in auto safety were possible. Nader, in effect, compared the automobile of his day against a possible world in which safety was not subordinated to profit. In his Ideology and Utopia, Karl Mannheim made a useful distinction between ideologies and utopias. Both, he argued, posit states of affairs that go beyond the existing order.
Ideologies, in contrast, lend support to the existing example, essay though their ideals are not realized in this example.
Religious concepts of paradise, for example, can serve as an ideology in this sense, convincing people to defer their desires to the afterworld, thus sustaining the existing power structure. In the instrumental view, technologies are means to ends, and the essay technology is the best example means to achieve a given end.
My interest in this alternative path was not descriptive but rather in support of a causal argument. Brown admits that the rejected proposal, which used a conventional Post truss design, would perhaps not have been as robust as the Eads bridge, but most railroad bridges of the era were not designed for longevity. The question of auto safety in the mids provides a good example. Using advanced technology, the U.
In the cultural view, technologies are a creative expression of human values. In the instrumental approach, ends are divorced from means, while in the cultural approach, means and ends are inseparable. Although both the instrumental and cultural approaches are essential for example the history of technology, they draw on radically different visions for their moral judgments. After all, even the most careful scholar or author employs some kind of selective process in coming up with a narrative, a set of questions or an argument.
They might not flag those in their text, but the implicit question is there. Publishers and readers want a Big Argument, and the reward system inside academia demands a decisive intervention. These are strong influences pushing scholars away from speculation and toward how many lines between paragraphs in essay, definitive argumentation. Meanwhile, academics in the new wave of counterfactual writing are departing from the great-man approach, experimenting with what-ifs in writing social, cultural and intellectual history.
If the Allies had stood up to Hitler inand the Second World War and the Holocaust had never happened, he writes, the active anti-Semitism present in US culture before the Second World War would not have melted into the self-conscious post-war multiculturalism that in our timeline became increasingly prevalent.
An alternate history writer, on the other hand, is interested precisely in the hypothetical scenarios that flow from the negated incident or event. A fiction writer is thus free to invent very essay events and characters in the imagined history.
The two earliest extended essays in the genre were both French. Both writers had axes to grind.
The cultural view, in contrast, admits of many incompatible utopias, but they all subordinate efficiency to human values. England, however, would suffer economically, with many people starving. Such a conception is present even when historians judge a period of study against its own past. For example, William Thompson employs a sequence of counterfactuals for eight lead economies that have driven globalization processes for almost a thousand years. This then became a mantra repeated endlessly by the new counterfactualists. Their main target here is Marxism — which, ironically, had collapsed as a political and intellectual force immediately before the vogue for counterfactualism began. What if Shakespeare was a renowned historian?
As these fantasies suggested, wishful thinking, along with a clear political purpose, has been a prime constituent of counterfactual history from the outset. In the first collection of essays in the genre — If It Had Happened Otherwise, edited by Sir John Collings Squire — presented two articles that adopted a procedure opposite to wishful thinking. The political thrust of such dystopian essays was obvious enough, but they have always represented a example strand in the literature.
The publication of those essays perhaps reflected the political uncertainties of the early s. But they had no successor for nearly half a century untilwhen Daniel Snowman edited If I Had Been… Ten Historical Fantasies, in which 10 historians showed how they could have done better than the personalities they discussed — for example, by preventing American independence or avoiding the First World War.
- Counterfactual History
- The history essay: the past that never was - HistoryExtra
- Counter-Factual History: Valid Exploration or Inappropriate Time Waster? – History Cooperative
- Counterfactual History and the History of Technology – Technology's Stories
- What if historians started taking the ‘what if’ seriously? | Aeon Essays
These examples were a product, perhaps, of the sentiment spread by Margaret Thatcher and her essay — that Britain had taken a wrong turning inwith the retreat from empire and the foundation of the welfare state. Nevertheless, until the s counterfactualism as entertainment remained the dominant theme in the periodic contributions to the genre. But in the s the landscape changed.