Guy Crouchback Inspiration for U.S. Conservatives

The current issue of The American Conservative magazine carries an article about the leaders of the post war conservative revival in the U.S. This is on the occasion of the publication of a book about one of them–Russell Kirk:American Conservative by Bradley Birzer. The author of the article in the magazine, its editor Daniel McCarthy, sees Kirk as well as two other leading U.S. conservatives, Peter Viereck and Richard Weaver, as having shared Guy Crouchback’s path to their political and moral stance:

[Their] outlook was like that of Guy Crouchback, protagonist of Evelyn Waugh’s “Sword of Honor” trilogy of World War II novels, at the beginning of the conflict. With Nazis and Soviets on one side and the Christian West on the other, everything was clear to Crouchback: “The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms.” But at the end of the war Stalin controlled half of Europe with the West’s acquiescence. For Crouchback, as for his author, this amounted to unconditional surrender of the very principles of civilization for which the West had fought.

The quote occurs at the beginning of volume 1 (Men at Arms) of the Sword of Honour trilogy (Penguin, p. 4). This comes after the announcement of the non-agression pact between Hitler and Stalin, eliminating whatever lingering doubts Guy has previously had about war’s justness as well as its inevitability. Before that, he feared England would go to war “for the wrong reason or for no reason at all, with the wrong allies. But now, splendidly, everything had become clear.” At the war’s end, however, Guy suffers disillusion when he ends up  serving in Yugoslavia where his country is supporting Tito’s Partisans, who are opponents of religion (including the Roman Catholic church) and allies of Stalin’s Communists (Penguin, pp. 653-54).

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