Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Centenary

The dominant news story of the day has been the centenary of the Armistice which ended World War One. I spent much of my day with visiting family, heading to the American Museum of Natural History with my sister, her husband, and my nephews, then headed north to go to work.

The coverage has gifted us with accounts ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime- with Trump putting his combover over honoring the fallen and Macron speaking out against nationalism. One of my favorite posts about the day was Doktor Zoom's invocation of Kurt Vonnegut, who lamented that Armistice Day was turned into Veterans' Day here in the 'States, a move which de-emphasizes the value of peace while extolling the warrior, which jingoists often conflate with support for war.

World War One is a strange war, one not often talked about here in the 'States. The most appalling thing to me about the war is that it was, in many ways, a family squabble, with an inbred aristocracy throwing the flower of their nations' youth into a meatgrinder, a situation described with the proverb lions led by donkeys. The saddest thing about the war is that it had the potential to end in 1914 when soldiers ceased fighting in order to celebrate Christmas together. Suppose they gave a war and everybody decided to party instead. I also find the Treaty of Versaille, with its crushing punitive stance toward Germany's people, to be particularly horrible in light of the eventual rise of Nazism. The war was a nasty bit of bad business, leading to tens of millions of deaths and decades of misery.

In my estimation, the great poet of the First World War is Scottish born Australian Eric Bogle, whose antiwar songs have passed into the status of standards. I usually embed one of his tearjerker ballads in my Memorial Day posts. Mr Bogle doesn't sing of the 'glories' of war, he writes of the stark aftermath... death or dismemberment.

One hundred years after the end of the War to End all Wars, as Mr Bogle plaintively notes, war has happened again and again, and again, and again, and again. Hateful rhetoric, the plundering of natural resources, war profiteering- all occur, and until the human race eschews hate, fear, and greed, it will be another hundred years... if we survive.


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

a)my grandfather went from indiana to the trenches of france - for the rest of his life he would from time to time wake up screaming in the night

b)maureen dowd's column this weekend in the nytimes was titled 'who's the real american psycho?' and was illustrated with a photo of darth cheney

my comment was published - 8 people recommended it:

I wish Maureen had drawn the contrast even more starkly:

while both forms of mass murder are indicative of moral insanity -

the shooters we see at home are motivated by hatred growing out of their twisted personal lives -

while the crime of war, with its destruction and killing and theft and lying on such a vast scale, is organized within our power structures, and led by men and women, motivated by an all-pervading lust for wealth and power - and enabled by the gigantic lies about "nationalism" and "defense" and "sacrifice to maintain our freedoms" which reach a fever pitch on this day, November 11 - and also in our spring and summer holidays in honor of war, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. We should give winter a holiday in honor of war as well - how about My Soldier Valentine's Day?

things are not going to get better gradually - it would take a major shock to the system, and revulsion against our national inhumanity, a massive wave of conversion and repentance, to extirpate american militarism - it is not a flaw, it is a feature

what can't be cured must be endured

"father, forgive them - they don't know what they're doing" - as someone is alleged to have said

Sirius Lunacy said...