What are some of the biggest “What ifs” in human history?

What are some of the biggest “What ifs” in human history?

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  1. What if Germany had a successful communist revolution in 1918-19?

    This is one that Marxists have often talked about since then. Much of Bolshevik policy in Russia at the time was centered around desperately holding power until a revolution happened in more developed capitalist countries, providing a possibility of a stable international communist regime with sufficient resources to develop. And given that workers councils did form in Germany during the November 1918 revolution and fall of the kaiser, much like the workers councils that formed in Russia starting in February 1917, a communist revolution in Germany seemed very possible – and indeed was only suppressed over the next couple of years with a great deal of violence.

    After the revolution failed outside of Russia, and yet the Bolsheviks managed to hold power after a brutal multi-year civil war that led to the creation of a totalitarian one-party state, they were forced by the practical limits of the situation into pursuing a more nationalist, “socialism in one country” policy. Additionally, the constant possibility of the Bolsheviks being overthrown, and their isolation from a largely hostile capitalist world, led to increasing paranoia, use of lies for propaganda, and increasing internal repressive measures – the environment that led Stalin to power. Outside of Russia, the memory of the civil war pushed people to be willing to engage in extreme partisan violence for their ideologies. Additionally, Stalin’s ideological predominance in the communist movement led other revolutionaries to support similarly nationalistic and totalitarian formations – for instance, in China.

    Additionally, proto-Nazis were actually empowered and armed in an effort to put down the German revolution, and the imminent threat of communist revolution would be the reason why the Nazis could eventually create a sense of emergency that justified them creating a totalitarian one-party state and pushing for war. This was a pattern followed by other countries that fell to fascism in the interwar period as well: right wing dictatorship because the alternative is communism or chaos.

    Basically, this what-if poses a question of how drastically different the 20th century might have gone. Would a World War 2 still have happened, and what would it have looked like? Could communism had worked had it not started with geopolitical isolation, civil war devastation, and economic underdevelopment? What would the world have looked like?

  2. Gore v Bush in 2000

    Maybe we get Osama before the 9/11 attacks because Gore listens to Clinton about the threat.

    We lead the world on Climate Change, my generation doesn’t spend 20 years at war and we have 11 trillion dollars to spend on domestic programs.

  3. What if Ceasar was not assassinated? (What would he do?)
    What if France won the seven year war? (No englisch empire)
    What if the fourth crusade never happend? (Would Byzanz survive?)

  4. There’s a french serie of comic books that do just that “what if”, it’s called “Jour J”.
    For exemple : what if the russians where the first on the moon, what if the germans won WW2……
    If you can I recommed checking it out.

  5. What if Gavrilo Princip, the guy who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, ate breakfast?

    The route the Archduke was originally travelling took a detour, discouraged Princip went to a cafe to have a sandwich, when to his disbelief Mr. Archduke comes rolling on through in front of him just a few feet.

    Pew, pew. WW1.

  6. What if the British empire or any European empire really never existed? I imagine the world would be completely different to what it is now and some countries wouldn’t even exist

  7. The first steam engine was invented in ancient Greece by Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century AD ([https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolipile](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolipile)), and then never expanded on until the 1500s.

    The ancient Greeks could’ve become the first industrial power in the world and we would be living over a thousand years in the future if they expanded on it.

  8. What if a massive tectonic plate shift thousands of years ago broke a continent off into the South Atlantic or somewhere, and another homo species like Neanderthal or Denisovans survived/thrived/even developed sophisticated societies there? What would have happened when we inevitably (re)discovered each other’s existence?

  9. What if Neanderthals had become the dominant hominid instead of Homo sapiens? What if populations of Neanderthals and Denisovans had survived in isolated pockets to the today’s world?

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