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'The Nations old ways of life and thought perished in the mud of Flanders'. How valid is this view on the effects of the First World War on Britain?

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'The Nations old ways of life and thought perished in the mud of Flanders'. How valid is this view on the effects of the First World War on Britain? World War One, the first global war that the world experienced, brought with it a concept of total war; where the entire nation focused its activities to the war effort as opposed to solely the arms forces as had been the norm in prior conflicts. This resulted in an extreme change temporarily in ways of life and thoughts, as outlined in the question, and, arguably resulted in more permanent consequences. The question uses 'the mud of Flanders' as a metaphor for the horrific fighting of the First World War and uses the term 'perished' which signifies that the ways of thought and life were changed unalterably, abruptly resulting in permanent changes throughout Great Britain. This suggests that the First World War saw a rate of change in style of living that far exceeds the rate of change prior to, and following, the four years in which the war took place. It is for this reason that I hypothesise that the view that 'The Nations old ways of life and thought perished in the mud of Flanders' is invalid: because the war is surrounded by a period of change; from the industrial revolution, to the decline of the British empire, it is simplistic to assume that the war was the sole cause of a the great change in ways of life and thought, as it was merely part of a general trend ...read more.


This further suggests that the parties' opposing fortunes were not created by the war. Conclusion It is evident that the war did hasten the process of political change quite considerably. It is also evident that a war is not going to make intelligent people decide not to support a party for almost a century after the conflict has ended. It will however serve to illustrate that a party's ideals and ways of operating are defunct; that is to say that the Liberal Party's ideal of minimum interference no longer had a place in British politics. The rise of the Labour Party was inevitable as the working class was given the vote, as was the demise of the Liberal Party as their beliefs became outdated; however a war was needed to give the public an illustration of how liberality no longer worked in modern Britain and therefore allowed Labour to overtake the Liberal Party in the 1918 election. Ways of Thought The Great War undoubtedly affected the way people thought at the time that it took place but it is questionable whether the war has caused the United Kingdom to change the way in which it has thought irrevocably. A major way in which the war changed the way in which people thought is in that it changed the belief of glory, which had been a common place view of war, to one of tragedy, and with it the very way that people remembered the dead. ...read more.


This is just one example of how the changes in the ways of thought were permanent changes; however this is perhaps the only way in which ways of thought changed, in other respects, unrelated to the death of young soldiers, the war did not greatly affect the Nation's philosophy. Final Conclusion Changes have taken place following World War One. Ways of life did change, and ways of though were significantly altered, however; ways of life were changing regardless due to the country modernising and the war simply served as a catalyst to quicken the process of change. The way that the country thought about war was changed permanently as did the way that death was remembered but nevertheless saying that 'The Nations old ways of life and thought perished in the mud of Flanders' is an exaggeration. The First World War merely showed the people of Great Britain the tragedy of such a waste of life, not changing the entire way in which they thought, but merely identified the fact that wars are in fact horrific events that should be avoided wherever possible. In addition the war did not change irrevocably ways of life; it was a time of great political change and scientific advance, as are the majority of wars but it by no means changed the way in which the people of Britain operated from day to day with any significance great enough to state that old ways of life 'perished' in the mud of Flanders. Word Count: 1681 words (not including quotes) Alex Boorman - 1 - ...read more.

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