Guarded from the Young as the Facts of Sex Had Been in Earlier Ages": One more quote from Rebecca West, writing about the English after World War I (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), Epilogue, p. 1122, paragraph breaks added):
The sense of guilt which is born in every man, and is willing to operate without reasonable cause, had here abundant food, and for long we had been sick with masochism.... [Many Englishmen] had lost all sense that it is sometimes necessary to fight for one's life; and many children born in the decade after the Great War can never have heard a word from their parents and teachers which suggested that their country had or could have been actuated by any motive except stuipd and credulous jingoism in taking up arms in 1914.
The idea of self-preservation was as jealously guarded from the young as the facts of sex had been in earlier ages. Thus England ... put itself in a position of insecurity unique in history by raising a generation of young men to whom the idea of defending their nation was repugnant not so much by reason of the danger involved (though indeed they were now often instructed in fear as in other times boys had been instructed in courage) as because they could not believe it would in any circumstances be necessary.
Since every day Germany and Italy were formulating in more definite and vehement terms that they meant to vanquish and annihilate England, it was amazing that it should have been possible to enclose them in the magic sphere of this illusion. It would, of course, be comprehensible had they been drugged by sensual indulgence or grown careless of honour; bet never had the mass of the people been more sober, and law-abiding, and restrained, never had they been so anxious for honourable dealings between class and class and between nation and nation.
The fault was not decadence but the desire for holiness, the belief in sacrifice, and a willingness to serve as the butchered victim acceptable to God.