“If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied.” ~ Rudyard Kipling
In sharing Kipling’s sentiment that reflected upon the reasons behind the great loss of life in the Great War, it is alarming to consider that even today, the same Great Lie continues to be perpetuated: socialism is good; nationalism is bad.
In the second of a two-part Remembrance Day reflection, our conversation with Salim Mansur connects the dots between the First World War, the Second World War, and beyond. With Remembrance Day now behind us, we can turn our attention toward the present and future to consider how the lessons of WWI and WWII should be applied.
The period between the two world wars saw the collapse of European empires, the creation of nation states, the rise of communism and national socialism in Germany, and the adoption of socialism as a ‘remedy’ for economic hardships in all European states. The ‘witch’s brew’ in which they all simmered resulted in both WWI and WWII – a “collective suicide” that is an inevitable consequence of collectivism itself.
Alarmingly, today we increasingly find ourselves in that same collectivist brew, suffering under the same ideologies that precipitated both wars – ideas that originated and germinated in Europe. (Consider that ANTIFA today flies the German communist flag.)
Though all European nations involved in the last two world wars practiced both nationalism and socialism, nationalism became to be seen as the evil, while socialism was portrayed as the good. In creating this moral inversion, a ‘false lesson’ was gleaned from history – that ‘nationalism’ was the problem and therefore, ‘globalism’ was the solution. However, history repeatedly demonstrates that it is not ‘nationalism’ but socialism that is the true evil. Socialism (whether ideologically motivated by communism or fascism) is the common denominator that leads to mass death and destruction.
Today’s globalists “are the children of Marx and Engels and Lenin,” warns Salim, after enumerating socialism’s recent history of unparalleled death and destruction. The connection between socialism and war is a ‘history lesson’ yet to be accepted.
In her 1966 essay, The Roots of War, Ayn Rand identified the root causes of war in a way that clearly demonstrates how history’s lesson goes unheeded to this day:
“Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history – a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world – from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
“Observe that the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, who dragged in their freer allies. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland.
“Observe that in World War II, both Germany and Russia seized and dismantled entire factories in conquered countries, to ship them home – while the freest of the mixed economies, the semi-capitalistic United States, sent billions worth of lend-lease equipment, including entire factories, to its allies.
“Germany and Russia needed war; the United States did not and gained nothing. (In fact the United States lost, economically, even though it won the war; it was left with an enormous national debt, augmented by the grotesquely futile policy of supporting former allies and enemies to this day.) Yet it is capitalism that today’s peace-lovers oppose and statism that they advocate – in the name of peace.” (Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, June 1966)
More than half a century later, Ayn Rand’s insight – both about war and about the Leftist ‘peace lovers’ of her time – sadly continues to be Just Right.