To say that that the First World War was the greatest cataclysm in human history since the fall of the Roman Empire is to put it mildly. The war destroyed so many good things and killed so many good people that civilization has not recovered and probably never will.
The loss cannot be measured in cash because it was paid in the more elusive coin of faith, morals, trust, hope, and civility. The war is the reason why Europe is no longer a Christian continent, because too many churches supported it. Pointing to the poverty and scientific backwardness of the pre-1914 world is a false comparison. Who is to say that we could not have grown just as rich as we are now, and made just as many technological and medical advances, had we not slain the flower of Europe’s young men before they could win Nobel Prizes, or even beget and raise children?
The astonishing thing is that so many conservative, Christian, and patriotic people have yet to understand the damage this event did to their causes. It is at least partly because we can barely begin to imagine the world that we lost.
Those on the Left should defend it and rejoice over it. It was the fulfillment of their dreams. No single event has done more to advance the power of the state and of state socialism. Britain barely had a state before 1914. By 1918 it was one of the most tightly governed and bureaucratized patches of soil in the world. The Russian revolution would never have happened had there been no war in 1914. The great Christian and conservative empires of the world would probably all still exist. War also brought about the sexual, social, and cultural revolutions that are still convulsing what used to be Christendom.