V-E Day Is Now Just Another Day

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Writes Robert Higgs: “Perhaps I missed the celebrations, but it appears that this year the anniversary of V-E Day, May 8, 1945, came and went with virtually no public notice. When I was growing up, in the late 1940s and the 1950s, people made a bigger ado about recalling the German surrender, the ultimate fall of the Third Reich. Scores of millions of deaths, countless forms and incidents of human suffering, and almost unimaginable destruction had carried the world to that day, and when the guns finally fell silent in Europe, statesmen solemnly assured the survivors that the memory of those who had sacrificed so much to bring about the Allied victory would never be forgotten.

“Of course, those sacrifices (if that is the right word, given that so many people were simply dragged or thrown into the maelstrom against their wills) are nearly forgotten already. Time’s arrow does not look over its shoulder as it flies. Most young people today cannot identify the decade in which World War II took place, much less what, if anything, they owe to those who fought it. This horrible clash is supposed to have been the most justifiable war of all time, the one against which no sane and decent person can possibly lodge an objection. In the thickening mists of time, however, it begins to look more and more like all the others: a fading testament to human stupidity and savagery.

“The enduring lesson, in my mind, is not simply that human beings have always operated, as they continue to operate, at an abysmally low level of intelligence in organizing their affairs so as to preserve the peace and all the fruits that flow from it, but also that the state–the institution to which, unfortunately, people everywhere continue to turn for guarantees of their safety and prosperity–is in fact the most destructive form of social organization human beings have ever devised.”

3:24 pm on May 14, 2007
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