The morning of June 28, 1914 began like any other normal day.
It was a Sunday, so a lot of people went to church. Others prepared large meals for family gatherings, played with their children, or thumbed through the Sunday papers.
At that point, tensions had been high in Europe for several years; the continent was bitterly divided by a series of complex diplomatic and military alliances, and small wars had recently broken out.
Italy and the Ottoman Empire went to war in 1912 in a limited, 13-month conflict. And the First Balkan War was waged in early 1913.
Overall, though, the continent clung to a delicate peace. And hardly anyone expected that most of the next THREE DECADES would be filled with chaos, poverty, and destruction.
And then it happened.
That Sunday afternoon, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated during an official visit to Sarajevo. And the world changed forever.
Five weeks later the entire continent was at war with itself. But even still, most of the ‘experts’ thought it would be a simple, speedy conflict.
Germany’s emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, famously told his troops who were being shipped off to the front line in August 1914, “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees. . .”
It took four years and an estimated 68 million casualties to bring the war to a close. But that was only the prelude.
Following (and even during) World War I, a series of bloody revolutionary movements took hold in Europe, including in Russia, Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Ireland.
Then came the Spanish flu, which claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. Later, Germany sunk into one of the worst episodes of hyperinflation in human history.
Communism began rapidly spreading across the world almost as quickly as the Spanish flu, often through violent fanatics who engaged in murder and arson in order to intimidate their opponents; this became known as the ‘Red Scare’ in the United States.
Of course there were some good years during the 1920s when people generally felt prosperous and happy; but it all came crashing down at the end of the decade when a severe economic depression strangled the entire world.
It lasted for more than ten years, during which time the world was once again brought to an even more destructive war that didn’t end until atomic weapons obliterated the civilian populations of two Japanese cities.
Again– go back to June 1914. Who would have thought that the next 30+ years would play out so destructively?
Even for the people who did predict that Europe would go to war in 1914, most leaders thought it would be over quickly. And almost no one expected it would spawn decades of chaos.
Today we’re obviously living in different times and under different circumstances.
But we may be standing at a similar precipice as in 1914, staring at enormous trends that could shape our lives for years to come.
Covid only scratches the surface.
We now know without a doubt, for example, how governments will respond the next time they feel there’s a threat to public health.
They’ll say, “We’re listening to the scientists.”
Really? The same scientists who tell people they can’t go to work, school, or church, but it’s perfectly fine for peaceful protesters to pack together like sardines without wearing masks because they’re apparently protected from the virus by their own righteousness?
The same scientists who want to lock everyone down to prevent Covid, but are happy to accept skyrocketing rates of cancer, depression, suicide, heart disease, and domestic abuse as a result of those very lockdowns…?
The public health consequences from this pandemic will reverberate for years to come. And that doesn’t even begin to take the economic consequences into consideration.
Western governments have taken on trillions of dollars in new debt this year as a result of the pandemic; and central banks have printed trillions more.
Even with all that stimulus, however, there are still hundreds of millions of people worldwide who lost their jobs, and countless businesses that have closed.
Future generations who haven’t even been born yet will spend their entire working lives paying interest on the debts that are being accumulated today. The long-term consequences of all this are incalculable.
And then there are the social trends– the rise of neo-Marxism that’s sweeping the world faster than Covid-19. It’s the Red Scare of the 21st century.
They despise talented, successful people. They believe it’s greedy for you to keep a healthy portion of what you earn… but it’s not greedy for them to take it from you and spend it on themselves.
Many of the people in this movement, of course, are violent fanatics who routinely engage in arson, assault, and vandalism.
Same for the social justice warriors who are just as quick to violence and intimidation; plus they’ve already commandeered the decision-making of some of the largest, most powerful companies in the world.
You can’t even watch a football game or a TV commercial anymore without some commentary on oppression and victimization.
And any intellectual dissent is met with intimidation… or censorship.
In fact the largest consumer technology companies in the world have become our censors.
We’re not allowed to share scientific information that doesn’t conform to the Chinese-controlled World Health Organization’s guidance. And news articles that don’t match their ideology are blocked.
Let’s not kid ourselves– these trends are not going away any time soon.
It’s great to be optimistic, hope for the best, and enjoy the good years as they come.
But it makes sense to at least be prepared for the possibility that we could be at the very beginning of a period of instability that may last a very long time.