Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

World War II The First Culture War

4 minutes reading time (742 words)
RO-Book World War II The First Culture War

Robert Oulds new book, 'World War II The First Culture War', is a remarkable literary accomplishment. This is history of a different sort. It looks in detail at nations, cultures and people and examines the reasons for events. Rather than a catalogue, with endless references, of events, it examines the reason for the event(s). When the events themselves are examined they are described with clarity. Page turner is an overused description. This book is one of the very few that deserve the accolade. It is hard to put down. The author explores history and sheds light on aspects of it that others have left in the shadows.

Oulds guides the reader through a worldwide web of history, culture, national animosities and ambitions. Religion; Political doctrines; Eugenics; Racial Stereotypes and belief in Master Races are all examined as are economics and productive ability. The causes of conflict are varied and in some cases become national obsessions. For others, guiding principles play the major role and are sacrificed with unforeseeable consequences. The author examines WW2 from a world perspective. It is extraordinary how he is able to highlight events in countries most thought had nothing to do with war. He draws all these strands together to present a truly holistic all encompassing history of a global catastrophe.

Knowledge of history is vital. It is where we come from. Today is its result. Tomorrow will be largely the result of ignoring its lessons. The mistakes made in the aftermath of WW1 made WW2 inevitable. The author believes that the result was inevitable. That Anglo Saxon exceptionalism, the result of common law, democracy and self reliance, would triumph. The war was hard fought. Even among allies competing interests witnessed the USA achieve its long-term goal of replacing Pax Brittanica and the British Navy. Having fought alone and almost to the point of penury, Britain sacrificed a great deal to preserve freedom and democracy. The list of British inventions and knowledge given to the USA, without acknowledgement or recompense is staggering.

England, later the UK, had had a guiding principle since the reign of Elizabeth 1. It was to stay out of Europe unless intervention would prevent the creation of a European Empire. That principle stood until the end of the war. The elite, he argues, lost faith in Britain and its future. Pushed by the USA it led to the UK's involvement in the EU. The genesis of the EU can be traced to the ambition of many. Karl der Große, Louis XIV, Bonapart, Kaiser Willhelm, Stalin, Hitler all of whom wanted to create a European Empire. In 1942 the Nazi central bank proposed a Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft (European Economic Community). After a Nazi victory a supranational German dominated bureaucracy would manage the economy of Europe. It involved a customs union and even introducing a single currency. At the end of the war, continental countries, particularly France, believed the only way to control Germany was to create a European Political Union. To this end On 9th May 1950 the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, made what became known as the Schuman Declaration. This called for a supranational higher authority above the governments of European states. The plans he espoused led to the European Economic Community, later renamed the European Union.

Oulds quotes George Orwell who observed that; 'In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.' Orwell further observed that the working classes remained patriotic and that this culture would endure '...England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.' He could have been prophesying the result of the BREXIT referendum.

Robert Oulds has produced a masterpiece. It is a book that places him in foremost rank of historians. His detailed knowledge and ability to convey that in an exciting way is exemplary. A careful reading of this fascinating book should be compulsory for all who aspire to lead. Too often the past has been ignored. The author with painstaking care demonstrates why that has been a mistake. A mistake that should never be repeated 

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