This month (May 2020) marks the 75th anniversary of “V-E Day,” when German forces unconditionally surrendered to the “Allies.” Numerous articles, essays, and monographs have appeared commemorating the anniversary and while all are mostly laudatory, some have acknowledged that the outcome had its “drawbacks.”
By any objective rendering, for Western Civilization WWII was an unmitigated catastrophe whose reverberations continue to this day. Forty-three million troops were senselessly killed between American, British and Continental forces while 38 million civilians perished. Europe’s current demographic nightmare had its unfruitful seeds cut down with the depopulation of the Continent’s finest for the maniacal aims of the world’s power elites.
Not only the loss of life, but the destruction of property and the cultures upon which they were built have been incalculable. Although the U.S. emerged in the post-war world as the dominant economic and political power (as its mainland remained unscathed from wartime destruction), its participation in the conflict was a titanic geopolitical blunder.
The defeat of Germany and Japan, which would have not come about without U.S. military might, left vast power vacuums in Eastern Europe and the Far East that Soviet Russia and Red China ruthlessly filled. Half of Europe would fall behind the Iron Curtain, subjected to fierce political repression and debilitating socialistic economic planning. In Asia, Communist regimes sprang up with the assistance of China and the Soviet Union, which America attempted to counter in Korea and Vietnam at a staggering cost to its domestic economy and social tranquility.
Even after the fall of Soviet Communism, the U.S.’s supposed lethal enemy, America maintained its empire as its “defense” spending continued to escalate beyond all reasonable levels, which has led, in part, to the decline of domestic living standards of nearly all, except of course for the politically well-connected.
Not only has military adventurism bankrupted the country, but there is now “blowback” from the countless enemies either real, imagined, or contrived – created by U.S. overseas meddling.
Moreover, the nation’s military-industrial and security complex has turned on its own citizens with spying, surveillance, and data gathering that would be the envy of Stalin’s Cheka. Yet, it was U.S. participation in WWII which cemented the nation on its ruinous course as world policeman. This was predicted and feared by “isolationists” at the time, which is why they so courageously fought to keep the country neutral.
While the peoples of the world suffered from the Apocalyptic-like destruction of the war, certain groups did gain. The benefactors were obvious – Stalin and the Soviet state, which was given free rein in Eastern Europe; the U.S. military and security industrial complex, which had a world empire to police; Chinese Communists, with Imperial Japan decimated it left little opposition for them to gain control in China and beyond. For almost everyone else, even the so-called “victors,” WWII was a Pyrrhic victory at best.
For the remainder of 20th century American history, U.S. entry into the Second World War proved to be the catalyst which led to the immense cultural, economic, and political changes, which many conservatives, libertarians, and traditional-minded people at the time and afterwards opposed. Yet, it was U.S. participation in the war which meant that all of those changes would become permanent.
Harry Elmer Barnes, who was a keen social theorist and wrote extensively on sociology, clearly understood the effects of US entry into the war: “Drastic changes in the domestic realm can also be attributed to the impact of our entry into the second World War. The old rural society that had dominated humanity for millennia was already disintegrating rapidly as the result of urbanization and technological advances, but the latter failed to supply adequate new institutions and agencies to control and direct an urban civilization. This situation faced the American public before 1941 but the momentous transformation was given intensified rapidity and scope as a result of the extensive dislocations produced by years of warfare and recovery.”
While every sector of American life was unalterably changed, the most ominous took place in the political order. Although the federal government had begun to expand during the Progressive Era, its scope and involvement in society drastically accelerated during and after the war.
Barnes, holding many libertarian beliefs, observed the totalitarian features of the post-war nation: “The complex and cumulative aftermath of [WWII] has played the dominant role in producing the menacing military pattern and political impasse of our time, and the military-industrial-political Establishment that controls this country and has sought to determine world policy.”
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