A few weeks ago, Patrick Crozier and I recorded a conversation about the First World War. Patrick’s short intro, and the recording, are here. (It would appear that Croziervision is now back in business.)
The “If only” of my title is because we talk about the question of “what if” WW1 had never started. What might have happened instead? The unspoken assumption that has saturated our culture ever since is that it would surely have been far, far better. But what if something else just as bad had happened instead? Or even: something worse?
We discuss the reasons for such pessimism. There was the sense of economic unease that had prevailed since the dawn of the century, resulting in a time not unlike our own. And, there was the fact that Germany, Austria, Russia and Turkey were all embarked upon their various journeys from monarchy to democracy, and such journeys are always likely to be, says Patrick, bloodbaths. Whatever happened in twentieth century Europe, it surely would not have been good.