THERE have been few points in the world's history when those who had participated in events or seen them at first hand could say without dramatic license or exaggeration: "This is the end of an era." Anyone with even a schoolboy's slippery grasp of history has known since 1945 that the great era of Western European expansion and leadership had come to a full stop. From the fifteenth century to World War I, the outpouring of people, capital, ideas and industrial products from the European center to the world's circumference, the drawing into her markets of food and raw materials, and the recurrent shifts in strategic power associated with her expansion had made up the major theme of history. The interwar period saw renewed expansion in some quarters and held some prospects, dim as they seem in retrospect, of substantial European recovery and stability. But World War II put an unquestioned end to the chapter.
This is not to say that Western Europe has ceased to be a powerful and essential factor in the world's affairs nor even that she has become merely a focus of instability. European resources, capacities and civilization can still make her a vital force for good or evil, but she is not likely in the foreseeable future to be a dominant force. The meaning of present events can be understood only if it is realized that Europe must adjust herself to a radically changed position and that we North Americans must adapt our thinking to a changed relationship between Europe and America.
We are now wrestling with problems of reconstruction and readjustment which cannot be avoided after a desperate world conflict of all but six years. We find them deepened and confused beyond measure by great historical shifts which the war converted from gradual subsidence to a jarring earthquake. Beyond these, there is the sharp division between east and west which has made difficult problems desperate. Thus there is great dispute as to what is temporary and
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