Had Archduke Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated, there might not have been a First World War.
Had Trotsky not been ousted by Uncle Joe, Soviet Russia would not have become the corrupt, Stalinist state it became.
Had Hitler not possessed a hypnotic stare that could seduce the masses - or been saved by Irishman Michael Keogh - Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the horrors of World War Two would not have occured.
Or closer to home: if Michael Collins had not stopped a bullet from a fellow countryman adapting the same tactics he had used against "the British", Ireland would have been a paradise on Earth instead of the bankrupt little basket case it is today.
All nonsense of course.
Whether it was the system of alliances built up prior to WW1 and the various countries' jealousy of others overseas possessions ; a bureaucratic caste which formed in the Soviet Union after the revolution and cemented its own power ; lots of unemployed soldiers, anti-Semites, and a fearful and ruined middle class in Weimar Germany ; or a backward gombeen ruling class, using Catholicism and neo-Gaelicism as tools for its autonomy to take the reins of 1922 Ireland - the results would have, more than likely, been the same in each case.
Funny then, that Collins - if you read the papers, the blogs, or turn on the radio or TV - seems to be up there with Padre Pio (not to be confused with Paddy Pee) in the saintly stakes at the moment.
All Collins did was provide a template and a pretext for generations of Lemming-like Shinners and Rah-heads. Each one doomed to make the same mistakes as the ones that went before.
Collins - like de Valera, Pearse and the rest of them - was a narrow cultural nationalist. Nothing more.
His death in Cork just made him the eternal poster boy for a certain strand of Irish nationalist what-might-have-been.
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