Post WWI vs Post WWII Human Civilization

After the horrific agonies of World War One, the progressive worldview was rejected both in America and abroad, partly due to narrow minded self-interest, but also because humanity was otherwise preoccupied. Like careening drunks, we commenced a long and horrible infatuation with ideologies — from communism and fascism to nationalist jingoism and every other "ism" imaginable. Hitler and Stalin were no more than particularly gruesome manifestations of this fever — a passion for simplistic visions of utopia, shared with almost hysterical ardor by millions who invested their favorite manifestos with the kind of devotion formerly given to kings and religions. These hypnotic formulas were nearly always based on reducing human beings to formulas or paper caricatures, denying our true complexity.

Today, at the end of this tense century, we might look back on it as a pit that Homo sapiens fell into, then somehow managed to climb out of again, chastened and perhaps even a bit wiser. Though ideology still sings its polyphonic siren call to millions, the trend in human affairs seems now to be gradual movement toward tolerance and pragmatism... along with a healthy dose of suspicion toward all authority. Despite myriad problems, ours is a better, more hopeful world than it was in 1942, when humanity wallowed in violence, justified by frantic polemics.

[...]

Of course [George Marshall] was the guiding force behind the 'Marshall Plan", which turned the great wealth of the United States into a river for the war-ravaged peoples of Europe and Asia. In fact, if the Plan had been his sole accomplishment, it would be enough to merit placement on the short list for Man of the Century. That one act of resolve — achieved over fierce political opposition — reversed the bellicose tradition of 4,000 years by treating vanquished foes with generosity instead of vindictiveness. Among those who have been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, few names were ever so universally acclaimed.

Notes:

Dr. Brin describes one world-society obsessed with "isms" against one vowing to rebuild civilization, even those of our enemies.

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 A Quiet Adult: My Candidate for Man of the Century
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Brin, David (1999), A Quiet Adult: My Candidate for Man of the Century, George C. Marshall Foundation, Retrieved on 2013-12-27
  • Source Material [www.marshallfoundation.org]
  • Folksonomies: history