'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.'
So said Karl Marx, a bearded German bloke who invented Communism. One person doesn't make a difference, I mean, come on! One person in the billions that have lived? Not a chance. If you want, we can make it even more impersonal. Want a meaning of life? Ask Bertrand Russell; it's all about water.
'Industrialism is due to modern science, modern science is due to Galileo, Galileo is due to Copernicus, Copernicus is due to the Renaissance, the Renaissance is due to the fall of Constantinople, the fall of Constantinople is due to the migration of the Turks, the migration of the Turks is due to the desiccation of Central Asia. Therefore the fundamental study in searching for historical causes is hydrography.'
Move over 42, here's H2O! So what's the point in all this? To re-enforce that life is a meaningless struggle and we're all just cogs in a machine because everything's based on mass movements and ideologies? Cold War, ideology. World War 2, ideology. American War of Independence, ideology. Stands to reason doesn't it?
Not when you take into account one thing. The way history's progressed into the modern age isn't about water, or mass movements of ideas. It's about one fundamental fact. Anne Boleyn was a looker.
'Hang on!' Say you, oh narrow minded readers.
'You said it's all about hydrography and a German with a beard and ideas and loads of people moving house and stuff!'
Yeah, well, I lied. It's all about Anne Boleyn. And now, I'm going to show you why.
King Henry VIII goes cavorting, the randy begger that he was. All of a sudden he spots this fantastic piece of totty. Ok, she's got too many fingers, but that's of no bother to him; he's ginger and he'll take what he can get. All of a sudden Spanish Cathy's gone, the Pope's pretty narked off and there's a ginger called Liz wandering about the palace. The rest, as we know, is history. Anne loses head, Cathy's countryman Phil sends an Armada to nick the realm from Liz, etc, etc, and here we are reading this. Very good.
But suppose that Henry hasn't quaffed quite so much mead and notices that Anne's a freak. Or that Anne gets a slap down ye olde inne the night before Henry meets her and doesn't look quite so appealing. What then? Well first up Henry's going to stay married to Cathy for a bit longer. She might even save their marriage. No divorce = no break with the papacy/formation of the Church of England. Not such a big deal at first is it. But let's fast forward. Liz isn't born, so after Henry and Mary (Edward having never been born either) cark it, there's no great Virgin Queen to take over. No-one to challenge Spain's supremacy. And because Britain's still nice and Catholic, there's no colonisation of the Americas (which the Pope kindly gave to Spain for its birthday. Or something). So with no English Protestants (or Dutch, an unchallenged Spain's annihilated those heretics) in the Spanish Americas, there's no tradition of Magna Carta, no sense of freedom bred in the Protestant states (Middle Ages Catholic Dogma's hardly conducive to revolution), and no 13 colonies anyway, so there's no War of Independence, and no USA. No Anne Boleyn = No USA. No USA = No Cold War for a start. And no American Globalisation, no NATO, no McDonalds.
But that's not all. Let's go further back. With no USA we can assume Europe will remain dominant in world affairs. But what sort of Europe are we looking at? Can there be a French Revolution? Well there are no seeds of revolution spreading in from the Netherlands anyway, so let's assume there isn't a Revolution. Besides, Spain's supreme, not Britain or France. No Revolution = no Napoleon. No Napoleon = a security of the status quo in Central Europe anyway. Prussia's not going to be forced into forming a German Empire. And without the Revolution there's no Enlightenment and no Nationalism to spur on Prussian expansion. No Germany = No WW1 (or its sequel). No WW1 = no Bolshevik Revolution in Russia = no USSR. At this point, we've come so far from the path history actually took that we can't possibly imagine how events would unfold1.
Just try to imagine a world with no USA or USSR. No British Empire or French Citizenry. No WW1 or WW2. No Hitler or Stalin.
And remember, history might seem vast and impersonal, but everyone can make a difference. Even if they do have 6 fingers on one hand.