In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Europe is dying of a WWI wound. And America is suffering the contagion.
The best of Europe at the time died in Flanders (And France) fields, and all the poppies that grow upon them obscure that in their absence the weasels, the sentimentalists, and most of all the demagogues seized upon their sacrifice to tell future generations what it meant.
Not even World War II, born of new internationalist movements (even though one of them emphasized imagined national identity) convinced people that the problem was not nationalism, instead of, say, crazy prescriptive just-so philosophies, or totalitarianism, or considering humans no more than widgets.
And so the world went careening after “internationalism” and “world government.” Both of which are not just bad ideas, they’re suicidal ideas, where the West is concerned.
Race is of relatively little importance in human affairs. (Genetics, maybe, but even then it’s iffy.) Culture, however, is of massive, overpowering importance. And culture is markedly difficult of change. Archeological anthropologists can trace survivals of culture in places where the normal human pattern before the 20th century prevailed, and all the men were killed by the invading tribe, and all the women impregnated by the invaders.
Words and tales survive of the old culture, because mothers sing lullabies and talk of homely things. Patterns of behavior survive too, enough to make the new colony not a replica of the motherland.
Since — thank heavens — none of us is talking of invading the whole world and replacing it with western culture by killing everyone over the age of three — thank heavens because even when very mild and relatively successful rule by conquerors has odd effects. Witness Japan’s population crash — talking about a world government or internationalism is insane talk. Inviting horders of unaccultured (and unacculturable because hordes) less successful (by the only measurement that counts, of decreasing human disease, hunger, misery and mortality) cultures is inviting them to influence your culture till you too can’t survive. And letting the world tell you how to live results in rule by envy, at least if you’re as rich and powerful as the US.
It’s time to take a deep breath. Remember the dead of world war I — sacrificed to a web of crazy international alliances and the last reverberations of the industrial revolution disturbing society — remember the dead of world war II — dead over infatuation with a crazy ideology that promised heaven on Earth and the need to stop it — remember the victims of communism, and those who died fighting it — dead over infatuation with a crazy ideology that promised heaven on Earth and the need to stop it — and here, at the eye of the storm take a deep breath and reconsider everything you were taught.
Then refuse to hate your country or your culture. Refuse to hate the West too. Sure, we’ve made mistakes historically, but what culture hasn’t. And at least what resulted is the best society for humans yet, where our poor suffer from obesity and expensive addictive substances.
Square your shoulders. Those young men, sleeping under Flanders fields, might have died in a misguided clash from the age of empires, in a misguided attempt to end all wars. The war in which they died is best known as the War of the Two Defeated.
But they were the best of the west.
And we will not let them down.
It’s time to rebuild.