Following comments on the immediate astronomical human cost of the Great War:
Yet this essay has to do less with numbers of ended lives than it has to do with altered lives, or rather, with changes in the status of the private life of the modern individual, the modern family, the modern community. This essay is about private property, about the autonomy of the individual, and the disastrous trend, accelerated by World War I, of the state claiming the right to take at whim everything within its territory.
A secondary theme is that this great change in private life was already in process before 1914. The real agent of change was not the war, but the state and its backers and minions. Yet war as an accelerator of change was bad enough. Political and intellectual leaders in all countries welcomed the war for the collectivist changes it would inevitably bring. In the United States, one of the more important figures welcoming the war was John Dewey, a veritable god in the pantheon of our modern civil religion. Dewey saw the war, rightly, as the accelerator of the coming industrial society—a managed positivist society, which he thought of as democracy itself.