Before the 1st world war the world experienced an era of peace and plenty. There was hope that the horrors of the past would remain in the past. Women were fighting for their rights. The welfare state was being developed in Germany. There was a belief that the future would be better than the past. People believed in progress. People had hope in the future.
. When the 1st world war started there was hope that it would be a short war. But this war was a long war. It created chaos, death and destruction. This war produced political philosophies that influenced the 20th century. Communism, fascism and militarism can only be understood in the context of the 1st world war. The 1st world war undermined the international economic order. Instead of international free trade national governments took over their economies. National governments took control of their economics. They put their economies in the service of the war machine.
. Before the 1st world war the spirit of the major nations was a pacific one. With war the military spirit dominated societies. The military spirit manifested itself as blind obedience and putting the unit ahead of the individual. This is the spirit of collectivism and irrationality. As a temporary measure to depend as a nation on the military spirit is vital. But if this spirit of militarism becomes permanent then liberty and individual enterprise suffers.
. During the later part of the 19th century there was a belief in progress. People had faith in the future. But the 1st world war destroyed this faith in the future. Instead of hope despair became the mood of many people. When people want a better world they need to have hope that their projects will succeed. Feelings of despair is fatal to humanity. When people believe that they can’t change things then they wouldn’t bother making the world a better place.
. During the later 19th century both the conservatives and the liberals and the socialists believed in democracy and they sought to help the poor. But military spirit in society due to the war affected politics. The Communist Party in Russia split from other socialist parties. It was run using military discipline. The success of the Communism in Russia scared many people in Europe. Fascism became a real alternative to communism especially in Italy and Germany.
. The 1st world war undermined many old monarchies. It lead to the extention of democracy to women and to poorer people. It also unleashed anti democratic political forces that wreaked havoc on the world.