“Only when the generation that survived the war is no longer with us,” said Angela Merkel last year, “will we discover if we have learned from history.”
—The Economist, in ‘Historical memorials are not enough to stop anti-Semitism in Europe’
This aligns with what I’ve said about the relative liberalism within Europe vs US and India. Europe has seen wide-spread war on home ground within generational memory. This has kept alive the memory of pain that accompanies extremist, xenophobic or populist policies. Both US1 and India2 haven’t had such a war for centuries. This long peace at home has inoculated a majority of the population from the effects of wars fought at home—a common result of exclusionary, extremist policies that have had wide support in both countries.
- Last time the US had widespread fighting on home turf was the Civil War. They responded by becoming isolationist for a century. All the wars that the US has fought since then have been overseas or at the frontiers. The homeland population has been largely spared the devastation. ↩
- I do not recall the last time India faced widespread fighting in the hinterland. Colonial subjugation, and even the Mughal conquest were effectively battlefield based wars without widespread conscription, occupation or scorched earth strategies that would leave the population remembering for generations. All the wars that India has fought since Independence have been frontier wars, sparing most of the population from any devastation. ↩