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World War II and Humanism Essay

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Updated: Mar 29th, 2022

Humanity knows what a war is. It is impossible to find a part in the world where people live and who have never been involved into war relationships. War has always been considered as the final stage of solving conflicts when nothing used in negotiations helped. People understand that wars have never led to anything good, however, weapon conflicts are still used for making sure that people have done absolutely everything.

A weapon conflict which leads to the war is usually used for achieving humanistic goals. One of the main ideas of the war is to maintain justice when one country acts inappropriately. Therefore, the humanistic goals in war conflicts cannot be rejected. However, World War II was traumatizing for mankind with having an idea to break humanity into pieces rather than achieve humanistic goals.

Speaking about humanism as a theory, it should be stated that it was invented by Carl Roger and Abraham Maslow. According to the humanistic theory the have developed “all people have the potential for creativity, positive outlook, and the pursuit of higher values” (Comer and Gould 19).

Applying this theory to the war, it is essential to speak about the better future for those who were involved into the war conflict. Therefore, it is necessary to speak about the reasons of the World War II. Which were much complicated that those of the First World War.

Different countries entered the World War II to satisfy their own needs. Therefore, it is difficult to speak about humanism as humanistic goals are similar for all countries and when it goes about various purposes there is no place for humanism. What is meant? For example, the reason of Japan to attack China or USA, and the reasons of Great Britain to declare war to Germany do not coincide. Each of these countries pursued their personal goals (Ross 8).

Is not it a desire to break humanity into pieces? Following personal goals and trying to pursue individual needs government of the countries as well as the leaders of the wars never think about people, their families, etc. It is important to remember the partisan war when the family members appeared on different sides. Is this humanism? Is it possible to call the actions where people are killed a humanism? Such problem formulation is considered as the covert reason for the war in general and the World War II in particular.

However, there are still some reasons which were similar for all counties. Many scholars divide the reasons of the World War II on three major groups, social, economic and political. Each of these groups has several particular causes which lead to the beginning of the war.

Thus, social reasons are absence of the enforcement of the international community of the demands of the treaty after the World War I, Germany appeared as the main responsible party for the World War I. Considering these social reasons from the humanistic point of view, it is possible to say that they shaped society and created the particular aspects which could make the gaps in humanistic reasons of the wars.

Germany was blamed for everything, it was considered as the worst in its actions which is not what may be appreciated by others. German citizens wanted to assure that they are not worse than others, therefore, the war was inevitable. The political problems were centered on Hitler and German aggression. The problems after the World War II were not decided, therefore, there was no place for the humanistic considerations.

Finally, economical problems were the largest, as the society was divided into the successfully developing reasons and those whose economy was shaken by the World War I (Harrison 28). Considering these causes of the World War II as the most effective and reasonable, the logical considerations do not allow to call them humanistic. Returning to the discussion of humanism as the main possible reason of the war, it should be stated that humanism “in the general sense entails the replacement of despotic capitalism with democratic socialism” (Parsons 79).

However, it is impossible to agree with this statement, as fighting for general good, it is impossible to be that firm and categorical about “despotic capitalism” and “democratic socialism” (Parsons 79). Hitler wanted to be the headmaster of the whole world, therefore, he needed to divide it into pieces to be able to ruin it and impose his empire.

Therefore, refusing the humanistic theory as the central reason for the war, many scholars agree that the World War II “shaped the world in which we live now” (Ross 9). Considering the problem of the effects of the World War II in the long term period it is also possible to find the remnants of the humanistic effect, if it was, or to come across the signs of the social breaking into pieces.

Hormats and Ratner speak about the following long-term effects of the war, the emergence of women, the emergence of the global economic and financial system, the re-emergence of state-owned and state-supported enterprises, the internet and the free flow of information, the diffusion of opportunity and innovation, and globalization (Hormats and Ratner 144).

However, speaking about these reasons as a result of the humanistic war, it is impossible to refer to all of them as to the equal consequences of the war. There are a lot of countries which were involved in the World War II, but which economic situation is not that good as in other countries.

There are also many particular countries where the relation to women cannot be called as equal. Globalization has also affected various countries differently. Therefore, looking at the world after the World War II in the long term period, it is possible to say that it did not follow humanistic goals but is was rather directed at shaping and break humanity into pieces.

Many movies have been shot and many books have been written as the supportive ones for the ruining nature of wars. Reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five or watching the movie based on the book, it is possible to see how war can be traumatizing and ruining to a person. Thanks to the particular presentation of the events which flow in unstable order without time frames, a reader has an opportunity to see how specific events of the war affect a person.

Comparing and contrasting the beginning of the trip of the main character in time and its end, the shade of meaning in the text may be compared and contrasted. “Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next” (Vonnegut 23), this is how the trips of the main character begin. “Billy and the rest wandered out onto the shady street.

The trees were leafing out. There was nothing going on out there, no traffic of any kind. There was only one vehicle, an abandoned wagon drawn by two horses. The wagon was green and coffin shaped. Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim. ‘Poo-tee-weet’?” (Vonnegut 215). This is the end of the trip. In the first sentence the curiosity may be seen, while the last phrase shows indifference to the surrounding world which is anyway empty.

Considering the life of those who came through the war, it is important to state about their mental problems. Dementia is considered one of the main problems of the post war period.

Additionally, many scholars point to the fact that veterans required help when they were 20, but not when more than 60 years has passed. Although research has not been carried out on Second World War veterans it is fair to assume that a lot of the dementia we have here in that age group is a result of the war” says Rosemary Black, a correspondent of Daily News.

The problem of dementia and other types of traumatic stress disorders have been considered by different scientists. Erica Weir says that “It is normal to want to avoid painful memories, but if the avoidance is accompanied by hyper arousal, flashbacks, nightmares and a restricted range of emotions, the syndrome of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be present” (Weir 1187).

Dwelling upon the traumatism of the war, it is logical to conclude that the World War II had nothing in common with humanism. Langer said that the intention to kill and the intention to destroy ruin human understanding of morality. Morality is the “foundation of all other values” (Langer 56), therefore, being destroyed at war people cannot get used to new principles when they are at home.

Before the war people usually lead their normal lives, they experience the desire of intimacy and love, they value beauty and pleasure. However, after the “humanizing” war as many scholars try to assure us, these people return absolutely different with ruined understanding of previous moral and ethical norms.

Therefore, where the World War II was humanistic and directed at common good? Looking at the reasons of the war and its consequences, not even a word about humanistic nature of the war should be said. The World War II was traumatizing for people, it broke humanity into pieces and even after some many years passed after the end of the World War II people still unable to gather these pieces.

In conclusion, it should be stated that having tried to consider the main aspects of the World War II from the point of view of humanism, the reasons and consequences are to be considered. Neither causes nor the effect of the war have humanistic nature, therefore, the World War II may be considered as purely traumatizing with the purpose to break humanity into pieces. People are too lucky as their natural tension to beauty and good leaves its imprint and the World War II ended with the victory of the good.

Works Cited

Black, Rosemary. “.” Daily News 16 Sept. 2009. Web.

Comer, Ronald and Elizabeth Gould. Psychology around Us, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.

Harrison, Mark. , 1998. Web.

Hormats, Robert and Ariel M. Ratner. “World War II to 2011: Changes and Challenges in the Global Economy.” Business Economics 46.3 (2011): 144-153. Print.

Langer, Ron. “Combat Trauma, Memory, and the World War II Veteran.” War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities 23.1 (2001): 50-59. Print.

Parsons, Howard L. Man Today: Problems, Values and Fulfillment, New York: John Benjamins Publishing, 1979. Print.

Ross, Stewart. The Second World War, New York: Evans Brothers, 1995. Print.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five, New York: RosettaBooks, 2010. Print.

Weir, Erica. “Veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder.” CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 163.9 (2000): 1187. Print.

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