Blinded by government propaganda, most people continue to think of the World Wars as a struggle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. On one side were the Western nations, and on the other side were the totalitarian regimes of continental Europe.
This naive view leaves out several inconvenient facts. It ignores, for example, the deliberate targeting of civilians by Allied forces in the bombing campaign against Dresden, as well as the completely unnecessary annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bomb. Left out also is the provocation of Japan by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – provocation that historians have shown led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
But most thoroughly whitewashed from the annals of collective memory have been the domestic impacts of the wars.
In Australia, a tremendous increase in the size and scope of federal government occurred during the conflict period. The wartime socialization of the economy left fiscal, institutional and ideological legacies that allowed for the rise of Big Government throughout the remainder of the century. For example, the High Court discarded the original intent of the Constitution and greatly expanded the Commonwealth’s power vis-à-vis the states. Also, the World Wars were an opportunity for demagogues to play up nationalist sentiment; appeals to the flag were crucial in implementing a program of economic fascism and undermining free-markets.
Eventually, the Australian government “won”. But the price paid was steep: Australians had lost the rule of law and the free-market.