The world is not growing more peaceful….
November 11 is Armistice Day, marking the end of the Great War on the Western Front – the war continued for a time in parts of Russia and Turkey. The name of the day has evolved, to Veterans Day or Remembrance Day.
The story of the war represents as much as anything else the beginning of the end of Western Civilization; a death by suicide. In addition to the death of millions, western society was forever changed through the war. The role of government throughout the Anglo world was sent on its way toward exponential growth, abruptly eliminating all of the gains made toward a classical-liberal society in the preceding century.
Armistice Day certainly marks the end of the Great War, but it can also be considered the father of Nazi Germany and at least the uncle of Communist Russia. It can just as easily mark the beginning of World War II. It was the opening act in what was the bloodiest century in history.
Which brings me to the title of this post and the quote from The Daily Bell; I guess one’s view on this all depends on two things: time and place.
Over the last twenty years or so and in specific regions, this is a reasonable position. However, when considered globally and considered over the last 100 years, the world is growing more peaceful – far more peaceful.
While not minimizing the horrors of today, nothing happening today compares to the Great War, Stalin’s famines, Stalin’s purges, Hitler’s aggression, the carpet bombing of civilians, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mao’s China, Vietnam.
Further: peace is more than the absence of war. The world has grown more peaceful for the billions freed from what came before in both China and the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe – whatever one might say of the economic and police-state conditions of these regions today, they are far freer than under Stalin or Mao.
Which might make today’s actions all-the-more evil. Absent global nuclear destruction, the horrors of war could not have been put on display any more thoroughly than occurred during much of the twentieth century. Yet war is chosen and sold to the masses as the path toward peace; even more troubling, this in a world where numerous actors have the ability to end life on earth…today.
Control and centralization could not have been more discredited than was witnessed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet we are offered global solutions to dubious (at best) problems.
After the experiences of the twentieth century, why revisit any of this? Yet, this is what we are offered, daily.
Remember the Armistice. Remember the bloody twentieth-century. Remember the countless tens-of-millions who were murdered – the overwhelming majority of whom had no quarrel with “the other” before their government drove them to it. Remember the police states and centralized control.
Remember that the world is more peaceful today than at almost any time during the last 100 years. Remember that the lessons seem to be too-easily forgotten.
Remember that all of the glorifying of veterans desensitizes the people to this history.
This is what today will mean for me.