Friday, November 19, 2010

The War that Changed Britain



Here in Britain, World War I is called the "Great War."  Despite this universal attribution, the war that truly changed Britain was that conducted out of the underground rooms now known as the Churchill War Rooms.

Visiting it today, I was impressed with the solidarity of Britain's purpose in fighting Hitler's form of socialism*, a solidarity eventually shared with its Yank allies once the U.S. entered the war.

Yet after the war, Churchill was quickly voted out of office because his vision of Britain's post-war  future differed greatly from that of the war-exhausted people.  They had slept in Tube stations, blacked out their windows, and sent their children to the country so they might survive.  London's devastation was then visible on a wide scale (perceptible today only to those who recognize that the brutalist architecture juxtaposed against its neighboring "listed" buildings was built up in place of the air rade scars).  According to Robert Lacey, author of "Great Tales from English History," the people were tired, and wanted to be taken care of.  They voted for a socialized English state.

Socialism is still a dirty word around most dinner tables in the United States.  There, people get angry about 40%+ taxes and socialized medicine, well-engrained and acceptable aspects of British culture.  I had noticed this cultural difference before, but today, its origins began to make sense.  Perhaps the U.S. would look a little different politically, too, if we had endured what this brave people did in the latest "Great War."

* The word "Nazism" comes from Nationalsozialismus, or National Socialism.

Churchill wasn't well enough to receive this personally, but
its existence demonstrates the two countries' solidarty during the war. 
This map of the world in the chiefs of staff conference room
excludes North and South America, where,
with the exception of Hawaii, the war did no shown its ugly face.

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