Before I get to the main topic of this essay I want to discuss a promotional ad for the Amazon TV series The Man in High Castle. The show depicts an America conquered by the Nazis during World War 2.
This ad was actually run with the hashtag #whatifwelost. I’ve done marketing work in the past, and I can tell you that had I been involved in the marketing campaign for this TV show I would have spotted the problem instantly. That they didn’t is both amusing and disturbing.
Vox Day explains why this poster was quickly pulled; it had the exact opposite effect they had intended by acting as “effective propaganda for the very ideas and peoples it was attempting to denigrate.”
What if we lost? That snapshot of a supposedly scary future looks like a considerable improvement on 21st century America, in which single white mothers raise irreligious, low-IQ, racially-mixed bastards in tenements without support from the children’s fathers, most people are up to their eyeballs in debt with less than $400 in savings, no one under the age of 40 can afford to buy a home, and it is illegal to fly the American flag lest it harm the tender sensibilities of young Aztec invaders.
Notice also the neighborhood is clean and well-maintained. One would assume there’s little to no crime on that street.
This ad might have served as effective satire during the 1950s, considered the apex of America’s economic prosperity. But in our post-modern culture the average person probably looked at it and instinctively thought, “Gee, that family looks happier than the typical one right now, including mine. That neighborhood looks friendlier than mine.”
However, the damage was done.
The ad asked #whatifwelost.
The answer was also an honest question: #whatdidwewin.
The Greatest Question Never Asked
Was World War 2 a terrible mistake for the U.S.?
It’s a question I’ve seen raised by people on the Alt. Right recently, and I think it will soon become a major part of national political discourse. Lest anyone accuse me of dismissing the sacrifices of World War 2 veterans let me point out that my grandfather flew The Hump, one of the most dangerous flight routes in the world. I’ve interviewed more than a few veterans. One of them fought with Patton and was the first man out of his landing craft at Omaha Beach on D-Day.
I know what winning the war cost the average man.
This isn’t their efforts. It’s about whether or not their efforts achieved the end they sought.
On June 6, 1944 (D-Day) Franklin Delanore Roosevelt offered an on-the-air prayer that included this statement (bold emphasis added).
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Nevermind FDR’s deplorable record as a president, how he ran rough-shod over the Constitution. That’s not the point. Americans genuinely believed they were fighting to protect the things he described. That’s what we’ve been taught never to question for 70 years.
But did the war’s successfully completion really achieve this end?
A quick glance at pre-World War 2 America makes it hard to argue it did. Obviously the country had problems prior to 1941. No sense in whitewashing the past.
I’d like to take the opportunity here to explicitly denounce the logical fallacy that defending the admirable of a bygone era is de facto justifying the disreputable aspects of it. For example, it’s a common Cultural Marxist tactic to dismiss any and all attractive aspects of the pre-1970s because of the unrelated wrongs committed during that time.
It serves no purpose to ignore fundamental differences in a society before and after a war – differences people noticed enough in the Man in High Castle ad for Amazon to yank it – because it leads to uncomfortable questions about what was lost for the sake of what was gained.
Whether or not the U.S. should have fought in World War 2 is a question not asked previously because there was no need to; it was self-evident.
But now things have reached such levels of degradation it’s no longer obvious. As things get worse and worse the answer will become self-evident again, just not the way it used to be.
It’s a horrifying proposition for any American raised on the myth of the Good War in which the virtuous Allies defeated the evil Nazis. D-Day is as sacred a national holiday as there ever was in America. The Greatest Generation is called such partly because of the sacrifices they made to win the war.
Yet consider a few observations:
- Before World War 2 America wasn’t an empire. It had toyed around with colonialism during the late 1800s and early 1900s, but the military actions that took place were trivial compared to what occurred after Berlin and Tokyo fell in 1945.
- There was no Pentagon or military industrial complex; America hardly had a standing army to speak of after World War 1. After losing 100,000 Americans for no apparent reason in World War 1, noninterventionism dictated foreign policy for the next 20 years. Hardly four years had passed after World War 2 before the U.S. was fighting again, this time over Korea. Now the U.S. is the largest, most militarily aggressive, intrusive and meddling government in the world.
- Prior to World War 2 few people had health insurance because it was mostly paid out of pocket, which kept costs down. World War 2 made health insurance inextricably linked to one’s job. Further regulations followed. Today healthcare not only practically requires you work for someone else but it’s up there with finance and banking as the most heavily regulated industry in the economy.
- In 1940, society was undoubtedly in need of improvement but it was nevertheless stable, and more importantly it adhered fairly closely to the natural order of things. Divorce was rare, and so was illegitimacy. Marriage was the norm and people tied the knot young. I think no comment on our current situation in these areas is necessary.
- There was a relatively minor surveillance state on a handful of individuals. Now we have a total modern Police State. Local cops are armed to the teeth and act like paramilitaries. There’s the CIA, NSA, and all sorts of ABC government agencies either created or empowered by actions taken during World War 2. Whole sections of the world have been destabilized due to an interventionist U.S. foreign policy.
Mind you, not everything I described above happened immediately after World War 2 or was a direct result of it. But the foundation was laid for it by the conflict and the powers the feds exercised.
It either set the precedent for it or failed to prevent it. There’s no point fighting an enemy overseas that wants to enslave you if your own government eventually does the same.
Yes, the Nazis were defeated. But the U.S. was too late to stop most of the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing that occurred. In the process of winning the war the Allies destroyed the cultural heart of Germany by firebombing cities such as Dresden and Nurmberg. As we’re witnessing now in Germany, the civilization never truly recovered.
The war also gave the communists big chunks of Europe including half of Germany. For all the horrors the Nazis carried out, their atrocities paled in comparison to what the Soviets did to their own people and to others. Had the U.S. fought alongside the fascists during the war against the Soviet Union it wouldn’t have been any less morally defensible than supporting Stalin.
Japan was bombed by the U.S. into the Stone Age yet despite major economic and social dilemmas, today it remains a homogeneous society that didn’t riot after a devastating earthquake. It’s biggest problem, a declining birth rate, can be theoretically solved without violence or government spending. Meanwhile America is becoming increasingly ethnically balkanized and heading down the path to a partition, civil war or some version of the Irish Troubles. Or all three.
Captain America Answers The Question
It’s here we turn to Marvel Comic’s film version of Captain America (Warning: Movie spoilers).
Whether it’s the intent of the scriptwriters or not, Steve Rogers is a highly subversive character. His words and actions undermines the mainstream narrative about World War 2 and our modern culture. I’m amazed it has yet not raise enormous controversy or backlash.
Some leftists have attacked him for his libertarian-leaning views, but I am much more fascinated by his transformation throughout the films and what that tells us about his attitude regarding World War 2.
What he is, is a symbol of pre-World War 2 1940s America looking at post-modern America and saying “it wasn’t worth it.”
In the 2011 film Captain America: First Avenger Rogers is the quintessential 1940s American who wants to serve his country and stand up for justice. He is altruistic and, as are most Americans at the time, naive about his government. Yet he possesses a strong moral compass that will remain with him even as his circumstances radically change.
After transforming into a superman he successfully (or so he thinks) defeats the evil Hydra. However, he is forced to crash land a plane in the ocean and is frozen for 70 years. The film ends with him waking up to find the New York and the world utterly different from the one he knew.
Fast forward to 2012’s Avengers. The first scene with Rogers has him anxiously pounding away at punching bags by himself in a gym. Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) wonders why he’s not out seeing the world. It would make sense for him to explore America and see the country he gave up the life as he knew it to protect.
Instead of excited Rogers is, for a lack of a better word, distraught over what he’s woken up to find.
I went under, we were at war. I come back, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost.
I remember watching this scene in theaters when the movie came out. I was absolutely stunned to hear that statement in a 2012 film intended for an international audience in an era where social justice monopolizes our culture.
For the last 20 years Cultural Marxists have done everything to convince us that America prior to the Great Society, Civil Rights Era, and the modern feminist movement was a bigoted, prejudiced nation in need of total transformation. They want us to believe we’re far more advanced, tolerant, and morally superior to previous generations.
Rogers’ quip was an indirect way of saying “your country is worse than the one I left.”
It is a very nuanced moral judgment on post-modern America.
Even Fury doesn’t argue with his conclusion, saying “we’ve made some mistakes along the way.”
In Captain America: Winter Soldier, Rogers’ distrust in government is further cemented.
He is starting to adjust to the modern world and still thinks World War 2 protected American freedom despite some of the unsavory things they did to win. Because of this he is extremely suspicious of S.H.I.E.L.D., the government agency he works for, when it plans to “point a gun to everyone on earth” and call it protection. He points out that this exactly what WW2 was supposed to protect America against.
He then discovers to his horror that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been secretly run by elements of Hydra for years.
Again, I don’t know if this was the scriptwriter’s intent, but the plot serves as an effective allegory for our own government; it fought against the Nazis but has now become that which it supposedly destroyed. The filmmakers have openly stated they incorporated aspects of our modern political debate into the story but the story’s literal plot concerns a Nazis organization hijacking its American foe so that it survives even in death.
We now come to this year’s Captain America: Civil War. Tony Stark (Iron Man) tries to get Steve Rogers to sign to a U.N. agreement placing the Avengers under government control. He offers him one of the pens used to sign the Lend Lease Act during World War 2.
Lend Lease had the then-neutral U.S. supply the Allies with food, oil, and other material essentially for free. The act allowed the U.S. to help the Allies without declaring war or getting involved militarily. It’s a good example of mission creep.
In the film, Stark thinks the pen is appropriate for the occasion because without Lend Lease Rogers wouldn’t have become Captain America.
Rogers’ reply is brief, but it speaks volumes about his attitude. A World War 2 veteran, he suggests Lend Lease brought the U.S. closer to war – which is exactly what it was intended to do in the first place.
But that he would speak of this negatively, rather than see the necessity of it, greatly suggests he would rather have had it not occur. He would have rather remained a weakly man unfit to serve in the military and hopeless with women than for it to be signed and the country get embroiled in a war he knows ultimately failed to accomplish its intended ends.
Captain America answers the greatest question never asked in the affirmative – but he does it in such a way that it is easily missed.
Like the The Man in High Castle poster, the film character unintentionally raises the question in the mind of moviegoers. And the audience may not even realize it themselves.
That’s what makes Rogers so subversive.
My estimation is that when the crisis in this country reaches a fever pitch many ordinary Americans will come to the same conclusion as they look at our modern culture and then try to figure out what was won through World War 2 at the cost of half a million young American lives in a short four-year span thousands of miles away from their homes.
This is mere speculation on my part; but I think sometime in the future there will be increasing nostalgia for pre-World War 2 America for the reasons I described above. It will reach the point where people concede World War 2 was a mistake.
When that happens, our perception of the Good War will be altered forever. You’ll know the Overton Window has radically shifted and the country is about go a different direction.
Further reading: Rethinking the Good War by Laurence Vance.