Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fatherless Generations

In an entry from Monday, The moral development of women, Female Misogynist discusses the integral moral and ethical blindness from which the female sex is suffering. In the comments section she pointed me at yet another entry's comments with the following information regarding German history:
In his Back to Patriarchy, Daniel Amneus said:
"One cannot help thinking of George Kennan's theory that the enormous number of fatherless families created in Germany by the slaughter of World War I was a principal cause of the rise of Naziism, a system satisfying the fatherless child's pathetic search for a father-surrogate with whom he could find himself in sympathetic resonance."
Item: if anyone knows where in George Kennan's work he presented this theory, please let me know.

So in Europe between the World Wars, we had a generation growing up without fathers, a circumstance which consistently leads to delinquency, and a couple of dictators playing father figure to the masses who had been deprived of real fathers. And we all know where that led.
This is a challenging thought, and, no doubt, explains a lot of the woes we are discussing here. But can it be applied 1:1 to German history?

Some data first: Wikipedia has the following figures for WWI-casualties. My brief exerpt below covers the deaths shown as the percentage of the population (military and civilian) and it is everybody's own guess how many male deaths it includes. Apart from one notable exception, which I will discuss below, the figures for the relevant countries are more or less within the same range. Notabene that in the theatre-of-war-countries the civilian losses were much higher and would thus lower the male contingent within the allover percentage.

United Kingdom 2.19%: The United Kingdom stayed safely clear from all dictatorial temptations. How much other woe was caused by the absence of so many men is beyond the scope of this entry.

France 4.29%: Well, France is France. No dictatorship, BUT...

Italy 3.48%: VERY second rate dictatorship, I'd say, and: Italy is Italy...

Bulgaria 3.41% / Romania 9.07% / Kingdom of Serbia 16.11%
The Balkan:
The same applies basically to the Balkan. The overproportional number of civilian deaths in Serbia and Romania was due to food shortages and epidemics. Would all those countries have fared better without the loss of so many men? Certainly. Decisively better? I am not sure.

Russian Empire 2.08%: I do not think that the rise of Communism had much, if anything, to do with the losses of male lifes in WWI, but with the fact that Russia was a huge, backward country with a population still deeply steeped in the Middle Ages.

Ottoman Empire 13.72%: The overproportionally lage percentage comes from the huge civilian losses caused by famine, disease and the Armenian Genocide. Still, the military casualties were, with 771,844 deaths and 400,000 wounded, huge. Yet the Ottoman Empire developed later into the only country within the Islamic world that adopted, even if only partially, some modernism, Western values and institutions. Why that is so certainly calls for further questioning.

Austria-Hungary 3.05% / German Empire 3.82%
Nazi Germany:
It shouldn't just be asked why Germany adopted a dictatorship, but why Germany adopted a dictatorship whose singular goal was the destruction of the Jewish people. I know that some Jews are deeply offended by the following, although I fail to see why and it's nothing but a fact: Germany would very probably have won WWII had it not invested its main resources into murdering the Jews of Europe. But then, WWII would have made no sense without that goal. It was only ostensibly about righting the (real or perceived) wrongs following WWI. Germany's way to the Holocaust was not a freak of history. In his epochal book "Ideology of Death. Why the Holocaust happend in Germany" John Weiss (a gentile, by the way) bursts that bubble.
The Holocaust happened in Germany, historian Weiss argues, because "the special nature of German and Austrian history" gave an utterly racist form of anti-Semitism "immense power." Weiss examines anti-Semitism's "Christian legacy" in Europe; the role of Martin Luther; the weakness of countervailing Enlightenment ideas in Germany and Austria-Hungary; and the central fact that, throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, "racism was increasingly used by upper-class reactionaries, middle-class nationalists, and lower-class populists as a weapon against the growing influence of democratic liberalism, economic modernization, and calls for social reform." Weiss reviews the rise of the Nazi movement and its fuhrer, Hitler's relationships with German elites, German (and Austrian) involvement with the death camps, and the postwar efforts of many German leaders (often with Allied support) to hide their prewar racial attitudes.
(From a Booklist review at Amazon.)

I do not think that a fatherless generation could have caused all that. Furthered it? Certainly. But caused? No.

However, I agree thoroughly with the last part of Female Misogynist's quote:
And now we have a large percentage of Americans and Europeans without fathers. And it seems that the Islamic world is willing to offer father figures, ones with a sinister agenda that is nonetheless at least not weak and feminine.
But then, post-Sixties lawlessness or better: prostitution of the law and general moral decline in the West has played a major role here. If I think of all the many German war-widows, many of them destitute refugees from the former German Eastern provinces, who have brought up their children, now in their Sixties and early Seventies, to be functioning, stable and upright citizens, I can not believe in a DECISIVE role of fatherlessness pre-Sixties. But then, those women had still internalized the values of the patriarchal society and were not spoilt rotten -- rather the reverse.

Of course, one can discuss now how many of the leading figures of the so influential and so destructive "68"-movement, who are of exactly that generation, had been fatherless, but that would be fodder for yet another entry.

This entry ends here and the picture below has only marginally to do with it. I happened to find it while I looked for WWI-casualty figures at Wikipedia:

A German prisoner helps British wounded make their way to a dressing station near Bernafay Wood following fighting on Bazentin Ridge, 19 July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Yep, evil white men oppressing helpless womyn.