From The Belmont Club…
In other words, it would have been better if Benes had just left things alone. Just two weeks after the magnificent last stand of the Anthropoids at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a huge rally in support of the Third Reich was held in Wenceslas Square, as this video shows. The Nazis gloated that “terror has produced the desired results”. It did, even politically. Benes himself was taken to task after the war for launching the operation on Heydrich without considering the consequences on the Czechs. In the end, as Camus observed, it is always innocence and not guilt that is called on to justify itself. Guilt doesn’t give a damn.
The true test of your ideals is not what you achieve, but what you will give up to achieve them. One of the reasons that the Nazis conquered so easily was that no one in Europe was willing to give up very much in order to oppose them. As I argued in my essay “The Crisis of Authority,” World War II revealed how weak the ideals of much of Europe really were (and are). Only the communists where willing to fight and die in large numbers in the conquered nations (with the possible exception of Norway).
It is telling to read how many people consider such sacrifices a mistake even on a conservative blog like the Belmont Club. Here is one such comment….
Only in Communist-led resistance, where they gladly traded 1,000 innocent civilian lives to kill 12 enemy troopers, persisted. In the communist mindset, large casualties are acceptable because individual life is cheap compared to the importance of revolutionary macrotrends that are sought to be cultivated by partisan attacks and mass reprisals. Mao felt the same way as Stalin or Tito or their minions in France.
In one sense I agree with this. The communists most certainly did not value life. Nor do I wish to make the communists into heroes. But having as your highest goal the preservation of yourself and your family is no better. The natural result of this desire is to make any man who can credibly threaten to kill you or your family into a kind of God. If you insist on a certain chance of success before you will do anything you are saying that you will worship anyone who is sufficiently powerful.
What bothers me about today’s conservative movement is that there is so many people who are willing to boast about what evil things they would do to preserve their family’s life and so few people willing to boast that they would give up their lives and their family’s lives for their ideals even if that accomplished nothing.
The reason we have it so good in the west is that there were a number of people in our past who laid down their lives with no hope of getting any benefit for themselves or their families in return. When there is no one left who is willing to do that, the “west” will cease to exist in its current state no matter how powerful it is.