There was nothing neat about the chronology of the crisis. It did not start in 1919 and end in 1939. The wars at either end of the period are inseparable from our understanding of the crisis, the first as cause, the second as terrible consequence. Even before 1914 the effects of industrialization and mass politics were evident in sharper social conflicts and a shaky balance of power; science and medicine were dissolving the material certainties of the nineteenth century. The war itself was a powerful transformer, wrecking the old international and political order, pulling down the pillars of economic stability, and opening the gate to social revolution. The revolutionary chaos encouraged by wartime hardship cast a shadow across the whole inter-war period. The triumph of Communism in Russia threw all political conflicts into sharper relief, and reduced prospects for social compromise and evolutionary democracy. It helped to generate a strong counter-revolutionary movement which mobilized the socially conservative masses in defence of Church, property and order. Fear of revolutionary crisis and the weakness of parliamentary systems pushed these groups to the political extremes in Italy, in Germany, in Spain and in a dozen other places. Dictatorship came to be preferred to democracy, repression replaced compromise.