1914 -- The West Starts Dying
Most competent historians can trace the decline of the West to World War I, which started 100 years ago. The slaughter on the fields of Flanders, the subsequent influenza epidemic, the dissolution of centuries-old European monarchies and empires, and a global depression, led to a sort of cultural post after the war.
All the more amazing is that the West had totally won the war. All the retrograde powers had been defeated. The victors were America, France, and Britain, the very core of the Western ideal. They were uncontested and unbeatable.
But the victory was Pyrrhic. It had come at such a fearsome price that victory had not proved a vindication of Western ideals, but had caused many to question their merit. The resulting lack of confidence caused the West to lack the resolve to put down extremism in Russia, though it could have done so easily in 1918. European forces would abandon a hard won Constantinople -- an historic Christian seat -- and let the Turkish Muslims retake it in 1923.
Islam, which had been brought to the edge of collapse, was given a breather to recover. Peoples of color would lose all respect for the white man when their volunteer soldiers came home from the bloodbath. White claims of superiority were shown to be a lie after Africans, Asians, and Arabs had seen whites slaughter each other by the millions.
Atheism came into vogue in Europe after World War I, and never left. The clergy of each particular nation had supported the war, and encouraged men off to their deaths. To the Europeans, God had died on Flanders' fields. Europe is now post-Christian.
The World Must Be Made Safe for Democracy – President Woodrow WilsonRather than democracy being triumphant, totalitarianism arose, far more fearsome and savage than anything that had come out of the tyrannies of the Czar or the autocracy of the Kaiser. Lenin would replace the Czar, and eventually, Hitler the Kaiser.
Some historian, such as Niall Ferguson have even averred that it would have been better had Britain stayed out and let Germany win. In light of the consequences, who can say he is wrong?
Here in America, because of our brief participation in the Great War, and relatively minor losses, the full aspect of the catastrophe was not felt. We obsess over World War II, not realizing that the real disaster was the Great War, without which no Second World War would have occurred.
We had no soul searching to do. Europe broke down.
Some short numbers should help us comprehend the scale of the tragedy:
Britain lost almost 900,000 men in WW I, twice as many dead as in WW2. When civilians are taken into account the death rate runs at over 2%. WW I hammered Britain.
France lost almost 1.4 million; and when civilians were added in, over 4% of the population, about three times as many dead as in WW II.
Germany lost about 2 million soldiers; and when civilians were added in, close to 4% of their population.
Adjusted for the United States today, a 4% death rate would be roughly 12 Million people. The American Civil War, as horrible as it was, produced only 2% dead out of a population of over 31 Million.
World War I produced twice the death rate of the American Civil War in France and Germany in slightly less time. World War I produced twice or more the death rate of World War II in Britain and France. This does not even include the wounded. Other nations fared worse.
The battle of the Somme saw 20,000 men killed the first day on the French and British sides. It is not merely their deaths but the nature of their deaths which demoralized the West. The men were ordered to march into machine guns in the hopes of overrunning German lines. They were mowed down.
In American history we have only Gettysburg to compare; but Gettysburg was a three-day battle with about 8,000 dead combined from both sides. The Battle of the Somme went on for months.
By 1917, major mutinies were occurring in French lines and -- given the idiocy of their commanders -- who can blame them? Russian troops would mutiny and descended into revolution. Even some British mutinied. The war ended when German sailors mutinied en masse, leading to a revolution and forcing the Kaiser to flee to Holland.
Men cannot be pushed too far before they break.
When the survivors came home, they were shattered. One has to wonder what the alcoholism rate was among these men. Their societies had been destroyed; even the victors. A 4% national death rate when concentrated in young men translates to around 20% of marriageable young men dying. Add in the severely wounded and you have a nightmare. A generation was lost.
No wonder Europe collapsed.
Now, jump ahead to 1940, a generation later; and France has barely recovered. Then in 1 month, during the Battle of France, the French lost 100,000 dead, four times its average monthly death rate in World War I.
French military casualties about 100,000 dead, 200,000 wounded. - 1940: Battle of FranceCan you imagine what was going through their heads? Britain retreated from Dunkirk to the safety of its island, and to the French it looked as if they were being left to die. Another generation of French were going to be slaughtered.
No wonder they surrendered.
What would we Americans have done? Maybe we should be more charitable than calling the French surrender monkeys.
When WWI ended, European society would be forever broken. It has not recovered. Right now, demographic rates show that Europe is not even reproducing itself at replacement levels. Europe has lost the will to live.
Patriotism is all but dead in Western Europe.
Religion is dead. Most West European nations are nowhere near American church attendance.
It is easy for us Americans to criticize the Europeans; but we did not go through the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II in our own backyard. 58,000 dead in Vietnam over a decade was enough to bring us Americans to social disruption. Europe saw that many die in one day during the Napoleonic Wars at Borodino.
... Russian forces fought Napoleon's men in the apocalyptic Battle of Borodino, leaving 70,000 people dead - LA TIMESStarting in 1914, Western Civilization collapsed. Even the victory of 1918 by the Allies could not hide the damage. Since then, despite its rising prosperity, the West has lost the will to live… as evinced by it collapsing demographic – and abortion rates where the West kills its unborn.
The White race went from being supremacists to having an inferiority complex.
We in America are presently the last redoubt of the West. We may not be in as severe a retreat as the rest of the West, but we are retreating. We have to do some serious soul searching if Western Civilization is to survive. Europe may be lost.
A hundred years after 1914, on the anniversary of the disaster, the West has to change its attitude and policies.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is not Jewish, Latin, or Arab. He runs a website, http://latinarabia.com, where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.