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This is from a book.

That individual distress as such would not elicit any substantial government succour became clearer than ever during the hard-hitting depression of 1913-14. Public debate and investigation was still about all the federal and provincial governments had to offer. The outbreak of World War I did reinforce this attitude, if anything, as the war demands promised to alleviate the unemployment problem in due time.

So, the war would alleviate unemployment; there would be much demand for labour in the war industries. I understand all that. What I don't understand is the structure of the last sentence. This part made sense to me "outbreak of World War I did reinforce this attitude" but then I don't know what the author meant by "if anything, as...", especially "as".

It could be written this way.

The outbreak of war reinforced this attitude. Governments were certain that the war would increase labour demand and eventually alleviate the problem of unemployment.

There is a reason why the author chose that style. Can someone explain to me what it is and what purpose is "as" serving here?

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As is functioning equivalently to because.

Look at this rephrased and simplified version of the sentence:

The outbreak of war reinforced this attitude because the demands of war promised to alleviate unemployment.

The pieces I removed are unimportant to the essential meaning of the sentence, and I used slightly clearer syntax.


It could also be phrased this way:

The labour demand from the outbreak of war reinforced this attitude by promising to alleviate unemployment.

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The outbreak of World War I did reinforce this attitude, if anything, as the war demands promised to alleviate the unemployment problem in due time.

I'm not a native speaker. As I understand, "if anything" here refers back to the previous part of the sentence "The outbreak of World War I did reinforce this attitude". It's like saying:

If there was something(anything) that could reinforce this attitude, the outbreak of World War I was one.

"as" is a conjunction word for reasoning (like because), as indicated by the other answer.

  • Interesting. I thought "if anything" here meant: if there was anything at all the war did (to unemployment), it was that it reinforced that attitude towards the problem. Which means that even if the war truly did not increase the demand of labour, it at the very least made the governments think it would do so. – AIQ Aug 17 '18 at 6:10

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