Host: American Enterprise Institute. David Gelernter of AEI and Yale University will deliver the May Bradley Lecture. In the years since the end of the Cold War, the physical and cultural consequences of the Second World War have continued to disappear: the map of Europe has reverted in many ways to its interwar state (of roughly 1919–39); Britain’s characteristic interwar mood of pacifism and appeasement-mindedness is widespread today in Western and Central Europe; Germany’s interwar sense of grievance is widespread in the same area, though directed largely against America; America’s interwar isolationism has been a major force on the U.S. Left for years, combined with European appeasement-mindedness and sullen anti-Americanism. In other ways, too, the Second World War seems to be vanishing from the landscape as the world reverts to earlier habits of mind.
One explanation may be that an uncelebrated victory has no meaning. Victory for America and England against Germany and Japan in World War II was a victory for (unofficially) Judeo-Christian societies versus officially pagan regimes. But the trial represented by the war years transcended the fight of Allied powers against the Axis. It was a test in larger terms of the actions of fundamentally Judeo-Christian nations (including fascist Italy) versus that of state-pagan regimes (including Stalinist Russia) during years of desperate crisis. This religious theme is only one thread among many, requiring many qualifications and raising many questions. Yet the terrifying moral collapse of all three (otherwise very different) pagan states during the war and prewar years raises the ancient question of religious teaching and its relationship to moral or immoral actions in a way that is too striking to ignore—although it has been largely ignored by an intellectual world preoccupied by other ideas.
Added by insideronline on April 30, 2008