Tuesday 6 December 2016

David McWilliams: After this crisis, nothing will be the same again

Published 03/08/2011 | 18:00

ON this day 97 years ago, Germany declared war on France, dragging Ireland into a world war that had begun miles away with an assassination in Sarajevo and finished at home with a war of independence that ended British rule in Ireland. It is interesting that by 1921, "victorious" Britain would end up losing more of her land mass than "defeated" Germany. Empires were swept away, new countries created and the entire world, as Europeans knew it, was reinvented.

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Looking back at the extraordinary second decade of the 20th Century, one of the most fascinating aspects of the story is just how few people saw it coming. With the benefit of hindsight, it is also fascinating to see just how wrong conventional wisdom was about the likelihood of war.

Equally noteworthy were the ultimate social implications of the catastrophe and the fact that the 'insiders' and the establishment in all countries tried to maintain the economic and social status quo as if the slaughter on the battlefield and its impact on the societies could be separated from the greater body politic.

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