H/T Gates of Vienna
By Mogens Rukow
What if Bush…? What if Islam…? Think, what if the intelligentsia…? What if multicultural…? Think, what if Arafat…? What if my a.. was…? What if you could go on forever?
Now, what if there existed the equivalent of contrafactual history writing? What if there were the equivalent of hypothesizing what the world would be like out if history hadn’t turned out the way it did?
What if Hitler had won the war? What if the Iron Curtain had never been imposed on Europe? What if the incandescent light bulb had never been invented?
What if the mind could entertain these kinds of questions, which are counterfactual to the conventional wisdom.
What if some are more concrete, others more fluid. But what if all of them now work for the sake of clarifying reality, of the facts, of the sum of what we know about reality. What if we can open up a perspectives on an alternative world of thought to the one we already agree about?
What if many of them lead us directly into paradise or hell? What if they individually put history on a knife’s edge, where it balances and where it could have fallen out differently than it did?
Contrafactual questions shake the way we, by habit, react to the course of history. They are part of history’s teaching.
Aren’t there also questions which can shake up our thinking, so that it doesn’t become habitual thinking?
What if you could ask contra-conceptual questions instead of contra-factual?
To think new thoughts one often has to change concepts. Such a change of concept lies in the contra-conceptual.
Concepts are our prisons, our direction, and our freedom. They are our dreams and our nightmares.
Contra-conceptual questions do not have to be wise, or logical, or rational. Actually, they have to be the opposite. They have to be stupid, unthinkable, to the verge of ignorance.
What if Bush was a great president?
Is that unthinkable? Reagan was called a fool too, an actor, parvenu. Nor could he read — as Bush is said not to be able to — Reagan didn’t have any experience in foreign policy, should never have been in The White House. All these kinds of things they said, our foreign policy experts, many of our politicians, the intelligentsia, the intellectuals, the writers.
Now he is called a great president. By the same people, or among the same people who have little interest in what happens around them.
In those days you where taken as a big idiot if you said anything else except that Reagan was a big idiot. People laughed at you if you didn’t laugh at Reagan. But the experts say that it was Reagan’s policy that ended the Cold War, that it was his stubbornness that won it.
The man who didn’t know anything about politics, the ridiculous fool who could not read, the actor, won the biggest political fight in modern time, after forty years of cold war.
Do you have to be illiterate to become a great politician? Do you have to be a Western politician not to understand a thing?