Where I grew up, I was taught that WWI was caused by patriotism and people wearing uniform-like clothes. Okay, it was a unit on Prussia, but those were the conclusions I took from my history course leading up to WWI. It is, I think, the conclusion most Europeans take. You can see it when they look vaguely embarrassed at patriotism, or at serving in the military.
Of course, I’m old enough that most of the movies I watched in my childhood in Portugal (in the seventies, since we got our first TV in 1970 when I was eight. Yes, as mentioned recently on my blog, I did grow up in the Paleolithic) were old World War II movies.
So I’ve always been exposed to the ideas of the U.S. military, to the traditions, to the heroes revered by our enlisted men. My case was probably worsened by reading both Heinlein and military biographies.
Like Heinlein, I believe that a nation in which the young men are no longer willing to fight even in defense of their homeland is a dead nation — it simply hasn’t fallen over yet. Which is why the anti-militarism and anti-patriotism that attacked Europe in the aftermath of WWI (and was aided in no small measure by Soviet Union agitprop) is such a lethal disease.
It is particularly bad in Europe, since we know (there are several studies) that people are more willing to do things for people they are somewhat related to. Though the homogeneity of blood in Europe is very exaggerated (turns out there was a lot of traveling, invading, immigrating, emigrating and an awful lot of sleeping with cute/strange foreigners), it is certainly greater and more visible than in the U.S. In fact, my mother was somewhere between confused and disgusted by how different we look from each other. And I regret to tell you, this wasn’t even races as such, since in Colorado racial minorities are very much minorities and where I lived at the time (small mountain town) you could count them on the fingers of one hand. This was just because, unlike in Europe, she couldn’t identify people as “English” or “Irish” or “French,” which, yes, you can do if you live in a touristic country.
Sometimes I hear such homogeneity and tribalism touted as the cure for the west’s lack of will to fight or to defend itself. I often hear it prescribed for America, where I would very much like an explanation of how that would work. Cultural integration? That I can see happening, and in fact it’s taking all the efforts of our various institutions (mostly colonized by the left) to keep it from happening. However, genetic homogeneity would seem to be beyond our reach.
Never mind. These people also confuse genes and culture. Which leads to all their beliefs that a genetically homogeneous nation would be proud and capable of fighting for itself. That this is refuted by all of Europe post-WWII (and to some extent post-WWI) doesn’t seem to bother them. Like the SJWs, they live in an eternal present and think the reason for Europe’s senescence is the influx of immigrants.
The influx of immigrants is recent and is – in many ways — a consequence of Europe no long wanting to fight for itself, no longer wanting to reproduce, no longer wanting to be Europe.
As I said, this is amazing given that when this started they were pretty much “tribes,” even if hyperextended tribes. Sure, I can understand young men not wanting to defend an abstract notion like “nation” but when it’s their own flesh and blood, the graves of their ancestors, and the temples of their gods, so to put it, this lassitude and slow suicide seem astonishing.
Until you realize they’ve been taught to hate themselves and their country, and to blame their country for everything bad it ever did (and some it didn’t) while giving it no credit for anything good. Worse, they’ve been taught that patriotism is bad and brings war, and that loving your nation is a sort of a crime.
They were in fact indoctrinated in the ways of the USSR, which was supposedly international socialism, but in fact, under that disguise, Russian nationalism.
That the USSR has died the death of all totalitarian (and socialist) regimes means nothing. There are now three generations of Europeans indoctrinated in this, and as such it has become holy and unquestioned writ. Nationalism equals hatred of everyone else, and uniforms generate war in the same way it used to be believed that rotten meat spontaneously generated maggots.
Now consider that here, in the United States, as much as in Europe, we’ve been prey to the same theories, the same sort of blinkered education. Consider that our “intellectuals” cringe at patriotism and military training as much as Europeans do.
And then consider that we can maintain an all-volunteer military, even when we have high standards for the people we deign to accept. Consider that the military remains one of the most trusted institutions in America.
Consider further that even our civilians by and large (lefty intellectuals and welfare clients always excepted) take responsibility for their defense, the defense of their loved ones, the defense of their homeland and its Constitution. Last year, when I was looking at houses, it made me feel downright normal. We’re not the only ones with supplies for emergencies and defense. In fact, these days most people have a storage area for that. (Yes, yes, I craved the walk-in freezer that an hyper-prepared couple had, but unless you also have a really good generator and a supply of fuel that will be useless in a real emergency.)
This, as with the eager volunteering to serve (I know many people who enlisted right after 9/11, not despite but because they thought we’d go to all-out war) and the respect of our military, is unique in America.
That is because, in the end, we don’t listen very well.
Our elites yell and cry and wring their hands as much as Europeans do. More, maybe. Or at least they have more reach.
But we’re the descendants of those who were exiled or self-exiled. We are or are descended from the hotheads, the troublemakers, the misfits, and the idealists.
We joined the freedom gang, of which our military is just the best trained and most militant branch. We don’t care what our self-entitled betters think is best for us. We understand that liberty is something worth fighting for. And we’ll continue to do so at all levels, with greater or lesser success as time goes on.
The important thing is not to give up.
We honor those of our military who fell in the fight; whose sacrifice is far too important to deserve mere thanks. Instead, we adopt them as our spiritual ancestors, even if we arrived here, relatively speaking, yesterday.
And we’ll fight to keep the legacy they defended alive.
It’s the least we can do.