The war in Europe ended 70 years ago today. It was the most destructive conflict in human history, but it was not the most important. In metahistorical terms it was but the second round of Europe’s extended suicide which started at the height of the Old Continent’s economic, scientific and civilizational achievement in July 1914.
In legal and technical terms both wars were caused by Germany’s elites. The record set by Fritz Fischer et al. half a century ago still stands unchallenged by the hacks and charlatans of Christopher Clarke’s ilk. The Kaiserreich could have dominated Europe economically and therefore politically by 1920-25 without a shot being fired, but its leaders were gripped by an almost McCainnesque neurosis. A generation later Hitler kept playing va banque, and it was mathematically predictable that he’d meet his comeuppance sooner or later. He did in the East, and had there been no D-Day the Red Army would have reached the Channel in 1946.
Fundamentally the catastrophe of 1914-1945 was due to the growing schism between Europe’s heart and mind. It started in the Renaissance, matured under the Philosophes, tasted blood with the guillotine and the Vendée, and produced – well before the Guns of August – the modern times’ four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Marx, Darwin, Freud, and Picasso.
The trail of destruction made by this monstrous quartet was made possible by the Europeans’ growing conviction that human reason, reinforced by science and technology, contains the clue to all key dilemmas and challenges of human existence; and, at the same time, that human yearnings and passions should not be and must not be fettered by the shackles of natural law or morality. This is where Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Tito, Mao … came from in the 20th century. This is where the Clintons, Obama, Soros, the collective Beast of Brussels, and the rest of the elite class come from today. They all belong (“objectively,” as Marx would say) to the same camp. They hate societies still based on national and cultural commonalities. They view all tradition (unless relegated to harmless “heritage”) and all organically developed institutions with blind animosity.
And they have won. As the Italian coast guard successfully brings further thousands of “migrants” to European safety every day, and fresh millions are getting ready to make the crossing, it become clear that – sub specie aeternitatis – the VE Day signified less than is comfortable to imagine. Hitler’s defeat marked the beginning of the Long March for the Stalinist-fascist liberal synthesis. Seven decades later, the liberal West – by now completely devoid of any sense of purpose and history – is unable to protect itself from those who want to destroy and conquer it. It is in need of salvation which Christian charity is powerless to effect. A stronger medicine is needed, with possibly unpleasant side-effects. The alternative is death.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.