There There are about three chaps in Britain thought still to be living who fought in that great liberal-vs-socialist conflict, WW1. By contrast, there are about 70,000 memorials to those who failed to return. Many have later names carved on them; the most recent here was only last month. The 90th anniversary of the start of “3rd Ypres”, called Passchendaele, falls now. This is probably the last time such an event will mean much to anybody, as this war now passes fully into legend and memory.
This conflict should be seen as an unmitigated disaster for the British people; the start of our profitless entanglements with the European Mainland, and the theatre of our greatest single loss of life on any one day, 1st July 1916 – a still-open cultural wound that may never be fully healed. despite the best efforts and plans of their General Staffs including the honest and much-traduced Haig, entire regiments of voluteers, often recuited together from the same streets in places like Accrington, Kendal, Preston, Bradford, Newcastle, and round us here, and with their own semi-official Regimental names, were destroyed almost to a man.
I see this conflict as the natural response of a liberal pluralist nation to naked aggression and gangsterism of the worst collectivist – that is to say, European-ruling-elite- sort. We had no option but to “Do The Right Thing”.
In keeping with our outlook, there is no memorial that is just like any other. the Lutyens thingy in Whithall is a plain, bland monolith almost, with hardly anything written thereon. The one in Ormskirk down the road states, baldly; “THE BLOOD OF HEROES IS THE SEED OF FREEDOM”. Ours here is I think particularly fine; a 60-f00t obelisk on its own traffic island, with very fine classical Greek temples, each covered with names in its galleries, either side each on its own large landscaped garden, the whole occupying the broad centre of the town’s main boulevard. On the side of one temple is carved;
“Remember that the men whose names live on these walls, died in youth or prime that future generations might inherit a happier world, and a human society more righteous and more loving than those brave men and their generation knew.” I’ve uploaded a rather poor pic of it from my phone.
Austrian economists apart, this is a civilisation which gave the fully-articulated and at least partly-constructed, concept of individual liberty, which leads logically to Libertarianism, to the world. At the time of these memorials’ construction, it still thought the idea so important that it was in effect prepared to die, en masse, to bring it about. I am quite sure that no individual soldier wished to lose his life, but the collective will to overcome outright tyranny was present in an entire population, which I do not detect today. (mental note. Must rescue the word “collective” from the enemy – along with “liberalism” and “capitalism”.)