An unkind reminder of what is ignored by common consent.
New documentaries are about to hit us. Some of these are already running. What is the occasion? We prepare to remember the outbreak of World War One, for long known as the “Great War”. That nametag did not outlast the eternal peace naively proclaimed after a conflict waged to make the “world safe for democracy”.
While you smile, remember an unpleasant circumstance. It is that the follow up encounter, which we call “WW2”, has also been about freeing the world from servitude, itches, twitches and other bad things. With the destruction of Nazi tyranny in Germany and Fascist authoritarianism in Italy, the stated war aim of the Anglo-Saxons was fulfilled. Due to the real goals of Stalin, -Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s totalitarian partner-, the crucial completion of the project failed. At least what concerns ridding the world of totalitarian dictatorship in general. Because of the war, the leftist-national version of totalitarianism expanded over what had been German-occupied central and east Europe. There, with the help of the new occupier, the Red Army, communism filled the vacuum left behind by the crash of national socialist rule. Almost concurrently, in the Far East, the areas exposed to Japan’s conquest followed the example set in Europe’s center and became “People’s Democracies”.
A new era or human experience has started with the outbreak of “The Great War”. Alas, this period will not be concluded with the event’s well-behaved centenary celebrations. The age of global conflicts is not a closed chapter filed to gather dust in the archives. The likely repetition of wars waged to rule the world, make global conflict into a “current” topic. This is so even if the probability is denied and ignored by the political class that controls our democracies.
What distinguishes these confrontations is, in part, their magnitude. The size of conflicts is assured by two factors. One is the availability of technologies that allow the world encompassing projection of power.
The other force behind general war is a new type of idea. Ideology is the theory that creates the non-material motive for expansion. Concurrently, the cult of world-views furnishes a propellant for unlimited objectives. It also moves internally the systems that express themselves internationally by provoking clashes. The theory behind past, actual and planned mayhem, is the compulsion to herd mankind at an accelerated pace toward its predestined future. This is to be accomplished by converting the world through conquest. Here an interrelationship needs to be given emphasis that some, in an act of inept self-protective delusion, like to ignore.
The internal political order of systems that reach for world power should be seen as a domestic equivalent of their aggressive foreign policy. Both suppressive roles are rationalized by the claim of saving mankind from its self-inflicted corruption that is expressed by accustomed ways of life. The same goes for the supposedly democratic efforts that seek to open escape routes from the state of our confused diversity. Theories that see the end of man’s history and the beginning of stable, ordered conditions of eternal bliss, correlate with tyrannical rule on the prophets’ own turf. As a rule, ideology-based tyranny at home, if it contains an element of universal applicability, leads to conflict between states. In this conflict one party, it is generally the weaker, the surprised and the unprepared one, struggles to keep its sovereignty. Meanwhile the aggressor makes its wars appear to pave the way toward a new and therefore just world order.
Let it be assumed that the foregoing has accomplished its purpose. That objective was to create in your mind – rounding out what you knew and thought before - an inclination to connect global war with initially only locally ruling ideologies that proclaim to have global validity. The interrelationship between violence by an elite committed to redeem mankind that runs a state serving as a bridgehead, makes insights to emerge. They reject the contemporary world’s structures, challenge cherished fallacies, and they naturally despise the old wife’s tales the PC of “useful idiots” tells us to live by. The conclusion: Systems dedicated to the implementation of speculative universal utopias are a global threat.
To reiterate, a movement can claim to carry the banner of an indubitable truth. That being the case, it will presume to be predestined to apply its saving creed to mankind regardless of the divisions among reluctant tribes that make up Homo sapiens. The deadly fantasy is connected to the assumed infallibility of those that understand the truth of a dogma. This has consequences. Being right as in “the (communist) Party never errs” and the “Fuehrer is always right” do more than to justify the totalitarian rule of those self-proclaimed to be the wisest. Once the movement’s premises are accepted, the full, and if needed brutal application, of violence ceases to be an abuse because it is made to mute into an ethical necessity. A system that is by its defining principle –and not by a failing- uncompromising and intolerant, will do in the society of nations what it does in the territory it has already conquered. The logical result is more than mere conventional war. The upshot is total war. In it, the goal is not the breaking of resistance and then the gain of a limited advantage. The aim of total war is the complete elimination of the enemy and the extermination of potential foes.
The inconvenient question we face is not whether the powers of the past that, due to their political DNA, waged total war to dominate the world, are defeated and gone. The issue to cause concern is whether there are forces left that perceive themselves as carriers of a global mission to be imposed by force once, as expected, persuasion fails. An aspect of this is whether such movements are capable to gain control over a sufficient territorial and population base to develop the needed means of destruction and to challenge the world order they wish to replace with their construct.
The reader will easily identify ideologies, internationally active movements and their already captive states that fit the foregoing description. Their intolerant inability to accept a world order based upon pluralism and their developing technical means that support the temptation to change it violently are ripening.
It is misleading to talk here about a “coming conflict”. The fight is already upon us. It can be ignored because our political classes are doctrinally committed to overlook it. This ability issues from the fact that, while the preconditions of the foreseen major unlimited war are maturing, the struggle must for the moment be waged with limited means. Wisely, the ultimate strategy of the totalitarian challengers is camouflaged by a shrewd tactic. It combines low level (asymmetric) violence with the unlimited propaganda of victimhood. Their astute combination sedates those that are marked to be the ultimate victims of deception followed by aggression.