Future history books will record that the United States lost the second world war because although she defeated her opponent, she damaged herself so much in the process that she collapsed.
Most people suffer from what I call the fundamental fallacy, which is the thought that the world they know will not change broadly even if they alter it. For example, people in the 1960s thought they would continue living in the old America, just with more Leftism, and were shocked in the 1990s when it actually changed at a basic level because of what they did to it.
Americans in WWII thought that American stability was a blank check. To them, they could bet on everything being the same, and could manipulate this population into achieving their immediate objectives without losing the vitality that made America powerful. Instead they killed the goose that laid golden eggs by savaging the founding population and replacing it with incompetents.
For example, consider the Frankfurt School. The Americans wanted some kind of philosophical justification for the war and so they went to a group of ex-European, mostly-Jewish academics and asked for ideas contiguous to the Renaissance, Enlightenment™, and French Revolution. What came out of there was a mandate for why Hitler was wrong and America was right, but it shaped America in turn.
This shaping took them by surprise. Most people have zero idea how much they are programmed. Language consists of concepts; these are taken as assumptions, and then deductive logic is applied. For example, if society is dedicated to individual freedom, why should marijuana be illegal? If America is dedicated to equality, why does that not apply to African-Americans? If people are “equal” — whatever that means — then how can some end up rich, and some poor, without “us” fixing that?
So America shaped itself by what it had to do to justify getting through the war, and then when people got home they were not interested in fixing yet another big problem, so they did what humans and other primates always do, which is blow it off. Then the next generation, looking for a cause to rebel against the greedy postwar mania for middle class values of profit and personal advancement, dusted off those old documents and took them as a starting point.
Cause to effect. Yesterday’s effect is today’s cause, like an eternal chain of events. If you whack a ball with a croquet mallet, and it rolls into another ball, it transfers momentum there. If you start with a pot of tomato sauce, and add onion, the possibilities open to you have narrowed to only some of the recipes possible with tomato sauce (if you add shrimp, the pool is even smaller). And so, the American dogma that won them the war then conquered them.
The other problem the Americans faced was that democracies are lazy and so will keep around a program that seems to “work” even if it has bad side-effects until something better — enriching the middle class more, perhaps — comes along. This meant that many programs which seemed to do well under wartime were carried into peace, making the peace more like perpetual warfare, which is generally how repressive regimes keep their people motivated. An enemy to the front, and machine guns at the rear.
In fact, people loved the sense of actual motivation through war. To see why requires looking back at recent history proximate to them. After WWI, America launched into la-la land with the 1920s, which were — like the 1950s to come — obsessed with wealth and prestige and privilege and all those other good middle class fetishes. But the mania did them in. Out of an urge to become wealthy, Americans poured money into the stock market and then engaged in herd behavior, which made them easy to manipulate by cynical investors, leading to the sheep getting fleeced as they always do. It also created such market momentum that the crash which invoked the Great Depression was all but inevitable.
The next decade consisted of people looking for scapegoats. It could not be that the greed and stupidity of the average investor brought about this crisis, oh no. It must be that some evil force is at work, perhaps even capitalism itself! Both in the US and Europe, everyone turned a bit “commie” during the 1930s, at least among the middle classes, where the bolshi “educated” people looked down on those sun-reddened lower middle class types who clung to God, nation, guns and distrust of socialism.
Once the next war kicked in, Americans were sort of glad for it. After the last war they had become much more powerful than other European-descended nations, and there was no reason to expect this one to be any different. Not to mention that they knew that to end the Great Depression, the country would need a new gold rush and also, some reason to stick together, since now that the Irish, Italians, Greeks, Jews, Russians, and Negroes had the vote, America was essentially many different groups at war, tearing the nation-state apart.
So war it was. War brings togetherness, and also, fat government contracts. Those in turn pay obese paychecks to the middle class. Those in turn spend those obese paychecks on whatever they could, which during rationing was mostly war bonds, which paid off handsomely as well. The cycle seemed like a perfect terrarium, where government dumped money in at top and then sealed the system and it kept that money in circulation, gaining value each time because someone wanted it badly enough to raise the price they were willing to pay.
They forgot traditional American and European wisdom, which is TANSTAAFL — there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch — and the notion that productivity is better than “re-financialization,” or making money by selling existing assets as investments. After all, you must plan for the next moment in order to survive the last and live in the current, and so planning for productivity in the future is the only way to ensure that your money is safe today.
On top of that, they had to engage in a number of hacks, little ad hoc adjustments which did not fit within the overall plan but helped keep it hitching along, in order to keep the terrarium thriving. First, since all the men were at war, they hired women, and found that women are in fact ideal employees.
For those who are mature enough to realize that every race, ethnic group, caste, and sex has its own advantages and disadvantages, we can talk plainly about women. Women have a certain mentality that works really well for some things, but becomes an invisible pitfall in others. For example, women love plans. You can tell a woman, “Honey, for the next six months we are going to eat nothing but bear fat and onions, but then, we will have enough oregano to head to the big time and we’ll got to Vegas” and she will relax and be happy. After all, there is a plan. The fact that it is a mentally defective plan may occur to her later, but for the time being, she is glad for stability. And it is that desire for stability that makes women so dangerous in the workplace: they act toward stability, everyone getting along, and doing what the instructions say, even when the instructions are a bit cracked.
A woman then becomes the perfect employee. Tell her what to do, and she does it. She feels comfortable the more carefully planned everything is, and shies away from those ad hoc male-style behaviors. She loves procedure and is comfortable taking time to go through the pro forma activities that protect workplaces from legal liability and too much dynamic change. If she is single, she will work long hours because being at work is better than staying at home, pining for some guy to call who is away at war anyway. In women, the American workplace found robotic little fanatics who were less likely to rock the boat and therefore, were a boon to job stability for middle managers.
Women working meant that the home was no longer the home. It was a place to be when you were not working. And even that changed, as women found they had more spending money and nothing to do but flirt around with the few men who were available. This changed American attitudes toward sex and dating, and created a precedent that a man should not know the history of his woman, mainly because he might be upset by what he finds. “With a corporal? In the coat room? Eeeyack!”
The seeds of divorce were sewn in these years. Children became accustomed to having two working parents: one was working at war, the other in the factory. Women became bossy and prone to throw their weight around, since they had paychecks too, now. Men came to view women not as perfect angels, but as properties, ranking them just like their bosses did when it came time to assess raises. Many widowed women meant that remarriage and dating became common parts of the landscape. Sudden influxes of young men back from the front created money-making opportunities that many women just could not ignore. Oral sex went mainstream because of the wartime experience.
Other changes were just as vast. People adapted to the fact that there were propaganda posters everywhere, exhorting people to do everything from buying war bonds to reporting that neighbor who might just be a German spy. Since these posters reflected real fears along with the usual government nonsense, people began to trust them, just like they trusted government and media to be telling them the truth, which brought newspapers back into renown after their reputation had taken a hit during the yellow journalism scandals of the previous century. Censorship of movies was accepted, but more damagingly, insertion of message into movies was accepted: it was generally recognized as okay and fine that Hollywood films urged us to the same things that were found in the propaganda posters. Movies, media, and government working together laid down a framework that was recognizable clear into the 1980s, when the 1920s-born people who fought the war were hitting their 60s.
As part of this acceptance of message, another framework emerged: the idea that you could not say “no” to. When the entire country is united in fighting a war, the answer is always “support the troops!” and anyone who resists is seen as in effect saying they oppose the war. At that point, the entire structure is threatened. If the war is bad, government is bad, movies are bad, and the new mass culture and its behaviors are bad. A whole roomful of scared angry faces turn on the dissenter. And so, just as in Soviet Russia the right answer was “for the Party, of course, comrade!” in America the right answer was “for the war effort, of course, brother!”
With this came the idea of diversity, or a violation of the commonsense xenophobia of all natural species by accepting certain foreign groups as “good” because they were on our side. Chinese, long the scourge of the American West for their tendency to seize who labor markets and set up opium dens and whorehouses, were suddenly the good guys, as were those Russians who had seemed a thorn in our side before. And the negroes that most people feared because of crime, unpredictable behavior, licentiousness and being genetically different? They were our negroes again because they were on our side, and so they were good, and how could we have segregated facilities for these brave men who helped us fight National Socialism?
But even more destructive was the idea that our side was not our side at all. It was the “right” side. This meant that we threw aside the old wisdom, which was that each group was self-interested just as individuals are, and if you want stability you have to manage those competing interests, and replaced it with the illusion of world government. There was a Right Way, and those who resist that are backward and outdated and evil, and so we will crush them not because we are greedy raiders, but because we are the Good Guys. Only a population drunk on profits and scared out of its mind by a real war would believe that one, but it became part of our landscape of assumptions, and persists to this day. Barack Obama’s “the arc of history” and “the right side of history” are expressions of this fundamentally progressive myth, which was adopted in order to con large segments of a population into accepting fratricidal wars.
American mass culture — different than organic culture, which is thoroughly Western European and is basically an English sentimentality balanced by a German practicality — still lives in the house that WWII built. We are surrounded by propaganda constantly through advertising, and much of it pitches to political virtue, or the art of being seen as virtuous by a herd steeped in egalitarian propaganda. We are accustomed to working women, de facto prostitution, movies with political messages, obedience at work, questions we cannot say “no” to, and other parts of the hangover of the second world war. The only difference is that back then, they recognized those as expedients toward a purpose, where now, they are purposeless assumptions that form the basis of our way of life.
Tags: america, communism, great depression, keynesianism, war, working moms, wwii