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The First World War was a testimonial: human beings declaring their devotion to a sacred object, the nation-state.

The war was sacrificial competition: each nation striving to demonstrate how profligate it was: capable of “gifting” the lives of young men.

What a bizarre hypothesis that all of this happened accidentally—by chance.

Like all cultural creations, warfare expresses the desires of human beings. What is the nature of the desire that generates warfare? The wish to prove that there exists “another realm of being,” a domain separate from mere human existence.

Memorials testify to the existence of a transcendent realm. Human beings must have been dying for some thing. It is difficult to conceive that the sound and fury occurred in the name of no-thing.
The “Final Solution”—the ultimate conclusion of the First World War—lay in memorials that were erected to honor soldiers that had died. These crosses stand as testimonials—proof that young men had contributed to the cause of their nation.

What was this cause? The cause was the nation itself. The crosses stand as validation of the greatness of the nation—for which each soldier had given his life.

The crosses affirm the existence of a transcendent domain of reality—separate from ordinary, everyday existence.

The cliché is that war represents the “breakdown” of civilization. Precisely the opposite is the case. Warfare represents affirmation of civilization—at least of a certain kind of civilization defined by the nation state.

During the First World War, each nation asserted the reality of its own sacred object. Each nation struggled to assert its superiority—demonstrate its depth of devotion—by showing its willingness to gift young men.

However, there is a deeper level: the nature of the entity to which a life was sacrificed—didn’t matter. What was essential was that sacrifices continued to be performed.

This was a world war. No nation wished to be left out. It was a family affair (Sly and the Family Stone). Each nation wished to partake of the ritual. How proud human beings are of their world wars, which lie at the heart of the history of the 20th century. These wars did not happen by chance. It is no accident that the two world wars lie at the heart of the history of the 20th century.

Human beings created these world wars to exhibit the depth of their spirituality: show their contempt for mundane existence. By engaging in these monumental episodes of destruction or self-destruction, human beings demonstrated their devotion to those “sacred objects” that lie at the heart of their societies.