Fri Nov 16, 2018, 04:30 PM

Technology After the Great War

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which brought the Great War to an end. The Great War, of course, would later come to be known as the First World War because an even greater war would follow within twenty years.

Although it has been eclipsed in the public imagination by the Second World War, a case can be made that the first was indeed the more significant. This is true in a superficial sense, of course: it’s hard to see how you get the second war without the first. But it is true even apart from that rather obvious claim. It was the first war that dealt a mortal blow to much of what we associate with the culture of modernity: its confidence, its commitment to reason, its belief in progress, and its faith in technology.

There are few better summaries of the losses that can be attributed to the First World War than the following lines from Jacques Barzun:

“Varying estimates have been made of the losses that must be credited to the great illusion. Some say 10 million lives were snuffed out in the 52 months and double that number wounded. Others propose higher or lower figures. The exercise is pointless, because loss is a far wider category than death alone. The maimed, the tubercular, the incurables, the shell-shocked, the sorrowing, the driven mad, the suicides, the broken spirits, the destroyed careers, the budding geniuses plowed under, the missing births were losses, and they are incommensurable … One cannot pour all human and material resources into a fiery cauldron year after year and expect to resume normal life at the end of the prodigal enterprise.”

Barzun was right, of course, and he knew of what he spoke; he lived through it all. Barzun turned twelve just a few days after the war came to end. He was 104 when he died not that long ago in 2012.

Indeed, WW I marked the end of Western Civilization. What has come after is nothing like the 19th Century culturally.

1 replies, 190 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 1 replies Author Time Post
Reply Technology After the Great War (Original post)
Troll2 Nov 2018 OP
TexMexNext Dec 2018 #1

Response to Troll2 (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 04:09 AM

1. I Idont agree with that summary

But I would share a couple thoughts on WWI. That war was instrumental in forming the League of Nations, that would eventually become the U.N. And the U.N. for better or worse has held WWIII at bay for 70+ years now.

Second, if you ever visit Kansas City, carve out some time to visit the National WWI Museum and Memorial. It’s a moving Monument to what our humble soldiers accomplished for Europe and the world.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink