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How the Years Between the World Wars Created the Modern World

January 17, 2014
6640Writes Hunt Tooley in today's Mises Daily:
All of these trends make the Entre-deux-guerres, as French historians call the period, an unusually eventful and even fateful 20 years in the history of the world. But for students of the idea and practice of liberty, the period is absolutely crucial in understanding and interpreting the twentieth century and hence our own world. For one thing, the Entre-deux-guerres practically created totalitarianism. The Bolsheviks captured the Russian government in 1917/18. Shortly thereafter, Mussolini’s Fascism took control in Italy, and later Hitler’s Nazism in Germany. All three cases featured movements that gave life to the words “terrible simplifiers,” a phrase coined by historian Jacob Burckhardt during the late nineteenth century. Burckhardt meant the kind of mass movements guided by violent demagogues to which European civilization had become susceptible. The interwar years gave us such demagogues in spades. And lesser simplifiers too. The first socialist governments ruled for various lengths of time in Western and Central Europe. And East-Central Europe was likewise guided by socialist policies, for most of the time after the mid-twenties by nationalist dictators. And where nominal socialists were not in power, the welfare/warfare state came to be the norm. The forces of collectivism found fulfillment in many, many ways throughout the world.

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