Meanwhile, the world order collapsed and reformed without any definite end in sight. It began with the collapse of Tsarist Russia and the rush of bolshevism on cold steppes and basins; Marxism, like water down a wadi, poured forth with no fertile soil to soak up its precepts. Instead it cut the earth with Leninist interpretations, followed on with deeper cuts from Stalin; soon the waters began to dry, leaving a malformed ditch of communist collapse in the region least suited to thrive from the wash of its bright ideas.
South of Russia, the Ottoman Empire's medieval bureaucracy, like that of Russia, failed the test of the First World War. It gave way to the pencil markings of the feverish, soon to take sick British Empire, France, and their local allies; the modern map of the Middle East has retained nearly the same fragmented aspect, despite the passage of a hundred years (Anderson, 2013).
Italy and Japan allied themselves with Britain and France in the First World War; they suffered sleights both real and imaginary. Mussolini encouraged Italian efficiency and centralized state power, but he also mobilized puffed up armies who never mastered the force they so readily projected on parade grounds and against unindustrialized African states (Taylor, 1978).
In imperial Japan, a generation of young officers seized control of the state and outbid one another in the sentiments of aggression (Taylor, 1978). The Japanese coterie rightly understood European colonialism prevented Japanese ascendancy as the dominant regional power, and that the United States would not allow them the natural resources necessary to challenge the European holdings. As the economic noose tightened, the Japanese kicked wildly at their American and European executioners. They inflicted blows, but ultimately knocked out the stool beneath their feet, and into the noose they fell; after the war, the Americans restored the stool. Failure was followed by submission, and an eventual rebirth.
Meanwhile, China--the most significant victim of the bloody Japanese outburst--saw its own meager attempts at fascism collapse with the post-war defeat of the Chiang-Kai Shek government; the Maoists wiped the mainland Chinese state free of American intervention. Then Mao, like Lenin and Stalin before him, thrust the same Marxists waters down a different dry wadi; the death of Mao, and the eventual Soviet collapse, allowed Chinese communist party leaders to adapt to the rapidly changing global environment without a sudden loss of power. Three-thousand miles west of Japan, India chaffed under the increasingly ill fit of colonial rule; the reckoning of the Second World War shattered the final confidence of the British Empire--the same empire that Wingate was fated to die for. Wingate served across the wide world in the service of the British Empire. By mid-century it was a political body clawing for survival in the last years of life, sinking tired claws into its furthest outposts, ismuths, and islands. The empire failed the local peoples it promised to protect, and its vulnerability sent shockwaves that shattered generations of expectations (Bayly & Harper, 2004).
The continents of South America and Africa, though not spared intervention and exploitation, saw unprecedented gains in population. Latin America and the Caribbean witnessed seven-fold growth, to upwards of 521,000,000 persons. Africa's population climbed six-fold to 800,000,000 ("Geohive," 2011).
A friend once suggested to me that personal stakes are higher than political stakes; but political stakes are personal; in times of peace this requires wit to notice, but in times of war it is unflinchingly obvious. Political life dictates not only what you can get, but shapes what you can want, think, and feel; politics shapes who you desire and, having obtained your desires, politics determines under what conditions you will keep them and for how long. Politics can shorten your attention span, heighten your aggression, mitigate (or exacerbate) your fear. Politics can seem a toy, a plaything, a luxury. But politics is as inescapable as breathing--as are, incidentally, toys, playthings, and luxuries. We are the sum of our activity, not a severable aspect. The great political stakes of the 20th century shaped the personal views and ambitions of people like Orde Wingate--not the other way around.