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Stockman on World War I: 30 Days to Disaster

Posted on June 30, 2014

One hundred years ago the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every schoolboy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later.

In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath—–a century of drift toward statism, militarism, and fiat money—-that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.

Unfortunately, modern historiography wants to keep the Great War sequestered in a four-year span of archival curiosities about battles, mustard gas and monuments to the fallen. But the opposite historiography is more nearly the truth. The assassins at Sarajevo triggered the very warp and woof of the hundred years which followed.

The Great War was self-evidently an epochal calamity, especially for the 20 million combatants and civilians who perished for no reason that is discernible in any fair reading of history, or even unfair one. Yet the far greater calamity is that  Europe’s senseless fratricide of 1914-1918 gave birth to all the great evils of the 20th century— the Great Depression, totalitarian genocides, Keynesian economics,  permanent  warfare states, rampaging central banks and the exceptionalist-rooted follies of America’s global imperialism.

Indeed, in Old Testament fashion, one begat the next and the next and still the next. This chain of calamity originated in the Great War’s destruction of sound money, that is, in the post-war demise of the pound sterling which previously had not experienced a peacetime change in its gold content for nearly two hundred years.

(To read Part 1, click the link. To read Part 2, click here.)

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2 thoughts on “Stockman on World War I: 30 Days to Disaster

  1. Okay, I'll be first…
    A fantastically interesting article and analysis. I do take exception to Stockman's projection of what *wouldn't* have happened if the US hadn't intervened in WW I. The immediate consequences, yes, but–like weather forecasting–the farther out you get, the more uncertainty there is. It's interesting to speculate, but after the '30s or so, that's what it is, speculation, becoming more tenuous with each decade. No telling what evils we might have avoided, but also, no telling which ones we might have gotten that we didn't, especially since ideas DO have consequences. The basic ideational format, as you (Gary) contend, had already been laid in Western "Christianity's" rejection of basic Christian beliefs after about 1875. Stockman is arguing that *what happened* is key to understanding the modern world, but I, like you, think that ideas are king.

    I'm sorry that this article generated no response, but not surprised. Once again, you left your readership in the dust. Publish it on LRC or the DB.

  2. And don't forget the "Spanish flu" pandemic of 1917-1920 (misnamed because it actually started with soldiers on a military base in Kansas) that killed more people than all the casualties of the Great War. The last 100 years has been about reducing the number of "useless eaters" (in Heinz Kissinger's memorable phrase) on the planet. Hence our legacy of world wars, epidemics, AIDS, flu, sterilization and vaccination.