80 years since its outbreak, World War II continues to shape the world:
A précis of some of the ideological consequences of the war
World War II and one of its main ideological results – the general discrediting of Western traditionalism — continue to shape events in the world today. Among the long-term effects of the war, there is the ongoing erosion of meaningful historical memory in most Western societies, and the delegitimizing of the possibilities of a “democratic Right” — or of a “social conservatism of the Left” — that is to say, various possible symbioses of traditionalism and liberal democracy.
Indeed, a country such as Canada today can be seen to be on the “cutting edge” of late modernity. It has perhaps not yet felt its full impact and practical consequences. Nevertheless, it can be seen that Canada is increasingly becoming a nation without history, or historical memory.
Lacking a context or mooring in a richly textured sense of history, most persons in Canada today are cast adrift on an ever-thinning, improvisational present moment, driven by consumerism, pop-culture, and a few “politically correct” clichés about the past.
Although it may seem quite remote from many persons (especially young people) today, we are in fact living in the shadow of what have become the anti-traditionalist consequences of the Second World War. In our recoiling from the horrors of Nazism, an evil ideology that was clearly buried in the rubble of Berlin, Western countries such as Canada have increasingly plunged themselves into new kinds of nightmares. Most Western societies have reacted viscerally against anything smacking of “right-wing” or “traditional” notions, often conceived as grotesque caricatures, with the result that an almost continual, uninterrupted, unremitting social liberal surge has overtaken those societies.
As a person of Polish descent and having studied history extensively, it may be hoped that one has a certain insight into totalitarianism – whether of the Nazi, Soviet, or politically-correct social-liberal varieties. Although the latter is ostensibly non-violent – not producing mounds of corpses – it can nevertheless be seen as extremely thoroughgoing in the upholding and imposition of its ideas, as well as being what its critics would call “soul-killing”. And some would indeed criticize the vast number of abortions in current-day Western societies as suggestive of actual mass-killing.
As J.R.R. Tolkien has acutely observed — “evil always takes on another shape and grows again.”
The new evil was not only the manifest cruelty of the Soviet empire, to which East-Central Europe had been notoriously betrayed, but also a rising miasma of trends and tendencies which would eventually drive most Western countries into a socially disintegrative mode. Three major prophets of this new mode were Alfred Kinsey (who — according to critics like Judith Reisman — manifestly misrepresented the reality of sexual behaviour in an attempt to create the very tendencies he purported to describe); Dr. Spock (who introduced highly distempering errors into the understanding of how to raise children); and Timothy Leary (the ’60s guru and “youth drug culture” advocate).
As of 1945, the entire “right-wing option” stood as discredited in the eyes of the broad masses of most Western countries, although very many European patriots, conservatives, and traditionalists had fiercely opposed Nazi Germany. In today’s world, those who continue to hold the ideals of such World War II heroes as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, or Wladyslaw Sikorski (the preeminent leader of the Polish Government-in-Exile and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish armed forces in the West) are often seen as retrograde reactionaries.
Therefore, it is possible to see the respective histories of a country like Poland since September 1939 (the beginning of an ongoing calamity for that nation whose consequences continue even to this day) and Canada since the 1960s as being tragic in the case of Poland and tinged with tragedy in the case of Canada — owing in both cases to forces, which although apparently dissimilar, often end up being quite alike in their disdain for living, breathing, actual societies and peoples.
Many Western countries such as Canada – under the direction of their “politically-correct” elites (or pseudo-elites) — appear to have lost their confidence and belief in themselves. They have been brought to embrace low birthrates, and high immigration policies, which, when coupled with the refusal to exert meaningful assimilatory pressures on the new immigrants, may indeed render their long-term future as increasingly problematic. What may be particularly troubling is the unidirectional nature of developments such as social liberalism, multiculturalism, and high immigration, all of which tend in one direction seemingly, i.e., towards the ever-increasing subversion of traditional society.
Indeed, it did not take too long for the Left’s “long march through the institutions” to get underway. During one year at the alleged height of “McCarthyism” in the United States, a young William F. Buckley, Jr. went around talking to thousands of professors in the social sciences and humanities at prestigious U.S. universities. Only about two or three actually admitted being “conservative” to him. And that was at the height of the “reactionary ’50s”! What may be concluded from this is that, in almost every sector of society one can think of, social liberalism has been winning one spectacular victory after another, rapidly pushing further and further into all areas of social terrain. Authentic traditionalism in the U.S., but especially so in Canada, has, despite some apparent electoral successes, been running ragged for at least the last quarter century. As to the outlook for some parts of Western Europe, it is quite dystopic indeed.
The only exception to this appears to be the economic sector. However, it should be understood that, with their manifest social prevalence in educational, academic, media, cultural, judicial, and administrative sectors, especially in Canada, social liberals can well allow the existence of a large, dynamic private sector that functions to efficiently produce the economic goods that they want to give to themselves and to their client-groups. There is also a major difference between social conservatism (emphasizing family, nation, local communities, and traditional religion), and fiscal/economic conservatism. If one looks closely enough, one can see that fiscal/economic conservatism alone can, in fact, coexist with a fair number of varieties of social liberalism (as typified by the many technocrats in the Canadian Liberal Party today). And, while the Canadian Liberal Party held the federal government for many decades of the 20th century, it embraced, for most of that time, what could be called a “traditionalist-centrist” consensus. So-called “right-wing Liberals” (such as John Turner, who invoked residues of a more substantive Canadian patriotism in his resistance to the Canada – U.S. Free Trade deal), as well as “social conservative” Liberals, had fragmentarily persisted into the later decades of the 20th century. However, by today, it is manifestly clear that such residual tendencies in the Canadian Liberal Party are being driven out, especially social conservatism.
It may also be noted that such parties as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (the predecessor to today’s ultra-politically-correct New Democratic Party in Canada) were social democratic in economics, but mostly socially conservative on issues of family, nation, and religion. Some of these residues may be considered to have persisted in the NDP’s criticisms of globalization, and their stated concern for “average, ordinary Canadians”.
As for today’s Conservative Party, it in fact appears to have embraced fiscal/economic conservatism as virtually the sole “permissible” manifestation of conservatism. The leadership of the party has been running away from any overt manifestations of social conservatism.
We have come to a social environment in Canada today where any more substantive notions of traditionalism and social conservatism, have been purged with particular thoroughness from the academic world – as well as from the education system, of course, from most of the news media, and from the (so-called) high- and pop-culture. And, for a number of decades now, it could be perceived that the Canadian administrative and juridical structures have been deployed mostly on behalf of social liberalism. The result of this is that socially conservative and traditionalist ideas are usually only inchoately expressed, in an untutored fashion, by some of the general populace, and so can be easily subjected to pejorative scorn and discredited.
The question that now faces Canada is sharp. Is it going to be “politics-as-usual”, a continuing slide in the direction the country has been going for at least the last thirty years, or will there be a belated attempt to generate some real countervailing tendencies – such as an attempt to tame the excesses of social liberalism, and of social and cultural anomie? It is possible that an uninterrupted continuation of the slide will result, in the next twenty to 40 years (a mere sliver of time in terms of world-history), in the almost-inevitable social and cultural dissolution of Canada.
Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher. An earlier version of this article has appeared in Quarterly Review (UK) and in Enter Stage Right.