Friday, November 11, 2022

The Past and Present of “The Great War”

One hundred and four years ago, the Armistice began. Conscripted soldiers in Europe (who were still alive) were no longer under orders to shoot madly at one another because of the incomprehensible aims and tangled alliances of power politicians. Sadly, after four years of futility, ten million young men were dead. Red poppies grew in the fields by their graves. We remember them with sorrow, and we honor them. 
Many nations mark November 11 as Armistice Day, the day “the shooting stopped.” This day in 1918 was meant to be the end of what was called “the Great War,” and what idealists termed (and many hoped to be) the-war-to-end-all-wars.

From the perspective of 2022, it goes without saying that hopes that the Armistice of November 11 was “the end of all wars” were naive. A century of wars was approaching—wars on a scale beyond anything people could have imagined. The Armistice was merely a temporary pause… and even in this respect it was only a pause for some

For others it corresponded to the beginning (or the escalation) of further sufferings under the power of revolution and dictatorship, leading to decades of oppression, persecution, genocide. Fires were still blazing. Fire in the minds of men burned new ideologies to shape their ambitions to master the world—ideologies that aimed to remake humanity by imposing huge, unprecedented, all-pervasive schemes of social reorganization on vast numbers of the human population. Disconnected from real human experience, these ideologies preyed upon the uprootedness, instability, and disillusionment that arose out the the ashes of the Great War and its consequences. 

Two forces emerged, both clothed in the mantle of Science: one was a pseudoscientific theory for constructing a new social hierarchy based on a bizarre system of racism meticulously set forth in shamelessly fabricated biological terms. The other was a pseudoscientific theory of radical “social equality” (which, in fact, sought to impose a program of comprehensive personal and collective slavery) based on the supposedly necessary historical dynamic of “dialectical materialism.” From the midst of the flames of these ideologies emerged two of the most violent dictators in the history of the world—two “monsters” in possession of gigantic power, megalomania, ruthlessness, and destructive genius.

Ideological fire soon ignited the fires of fresh conflict—at first, the master of the pagan racist state and his allies seemed to pour over the world, destroying millions of lives and committing genocide against a people beloved of God. To defeat this monster, the nations chose to make an alliance with the other monster, the fierce and cunning ruler of the dialectical materialist slave empire. Terrible technological tools brought unprecedented horrors, with not only military but civilian deaths on a cataclysmic scale. The nations negotiated with their monster ally, and the monster made promises and assurances and declarations, but they were all lies. Instead, he took over much of the territory lost by the first monster, and continued to foster “revolutions” all over the world.

After what has been called “World War II” (with Roman numerals), the world became in fact more divided and dangerous than ever. The human race, it seemed, placed its trust in the ever more horrific weapons it continued to develop. In “The Cold War,” the superpowers “deterred” one another from using stockpiles of quasi-apocalyptic thermonuclear weapons only through the “devil’s bargain” of Mutually Assured Destruction, in which the price of global stability was to hold vast populations of innocent civilians “hostage” to the threat of indiscriminate annihilation. Meanwhile, “hot wars” raged everywhere, fought with all kinds of smaller but still devastating weapons that were bought and sold all over the world.

The free nations supposedly “won the Cold War” in 1989-1991, but not before the slave empire had inspired new imitators, new totalitarianisms, new atrocities in many places, but above all in East Asia where the old materialist ideology—losing none of its relentless grip—today creates new combinations of alluring economic prosperity and draconian political control over a fifth of the world’s population. While the “free nations” become slaves to their own stupendous riches, other countries struggle for their own national identities, often within borders they did not make for themselves. The Middle East still seeths and explodes and wrestles over borders drawn in the wake of the Great War in 1919. New ideologies clash against (or sometimes combine with) reawakened old myths and fanatical dreams, whose adherents take new weapons in their hands, wreaking old and new forms of violence. 

Not surprisingly, historical (or pseudo-historical) claims are reasserted in many places, with their gods of blood, clan, tribe, and territory pitted against the power-worshipers of the dominant technocracy. Old and new hegemonies are grasping for “spheres of influence” as the latest project of “world (dis)order” has failed to deliver on its false promises, and continues to pillage the earth to serve the wealth and self-indulgence of its elites while stranding the multitudes in deserts of alienation.

And now, 104 years after Armistice Day, the truce stands broken again in Europe for the past nine months, as artillery blazes, guns fire, and bombs fall against a nation that has already endured so much of the terror of the past century.

We live in more than the shadow of “the Great War.” We are, in a certain sense, still fighting it. If we do not turn to God, we will never find peace.

The poppies are red in remembrance of people long dead, but also with fresh blood.