By John David Lewis
In 1945, America earned a complete and unconditional victory over Japan. Achieved by horrific violence, the result was the most benevolent turnaround of an entire nation in history. How was this victory achieved? What is its essential meaning? What lessons does it hold for us today?
This course begins by considering the basic ideals that dominated Japanese society, including the long-term inculcation of sacrifice as an ideal, which led many Japanese to suicidal tactics. The American demands for unconditional surrender made the issue either/or, and forced the Japanese to confront and repudiate such militaristic ideals. Intellectual intransigence in the Americans - their moral certainty, and their will to win - were preconditions of their physical victory.
Following the discussion of the American victory, the philosophical meaning of victory becomes clear. Morally, the enemy population is forced to confront and reject the true meaning of their own anti-values, which allows them to adopt values that further human life. Such a victory exposes the true meaning of falsely-conceived ideas - such as war, honor and sacrifice. Following the atomic bombs, no one in Japan could ever again think of "war" without connecting it to death and failure. Such a victory affirms the efficacy of the good over the evil, thus demonstrating the truth of a premise of benevolence. To fail to attain victory constitutes the deepest betrayal possible of life, and of the good. These lessons have direct application to the motivated fanatics now threatening our freedom.
This course was recorded at the Objectivist Summer Conference 2007 in Telluride, CO.
(MP3 download; 4 hrs., 41 min., with Q & A, 205.22 MB)