A not-so-great war

Hello world

It’s a hundred years today since the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) landing at Gallipoli in one of the most regrettable episodes of the First World War. Here’s what I read to mostly friends at the War Memorial on Thursday: 

We have come here to remember the fallen of countries which have been, both before and since, friends. Less than a hundred years ago, my great-great-uncle died in the Kaiser’s army on the Western Front. It seems ironic that today we gather to honour our ancestors who died killing each other. And it seems odd, too, that after all this time we still find it hard to explain what the First World War was actually about. A clash of empires, yes. A fight for trade and trade routes. But why would so many people suddenly come forward to fight over things that people have, after all, fought over for millennia? What motivated men to come even from a country so far away from the rest of the world that we were never attacked or invaded?

In the eighteenth century, before Germany became a unified country, the leaders of one of the German states, Prussia, began to theorize how they could build a mighty empire. The conclusion they eventually reached was that they needed to have a totally controllable and biddable population, and that the way to achieve this was to take control of education away from the family and thus seize the minds of the following generations. Accordingly they constructed the world’s first system of compulsory state schooling, and over the next hundred years or so, reached their goal of a centrally controlled and steadily growing empire.

They might have conquered the world, had not other countries caught on to their idea and emulated it. The United States’ compulsory state school system was intentionally modeled on the Prussian system, and the other countries of the West followed suit. By the early twentieth century, all the major powers had succeeded in raising an entire generation on the ideals of the glories of war and the glory of their respective empires. That was the focus of their curriculum: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and pleasant to die for the fatherland. These things, for me, finally make complete sense of the bitterness of Wilfred Owen, the great poet of the First World War, in his most celebrated poem. Let me read it for you now.

(Read Dulce et Decorum Est)

That lie, intentionally taught to an entire generation, made possible the most far-reaching war the world had ever seen, and, a mere generation later, the most deadly conflict in human history. Today, the agenda has shifted, but the evil of compulsory state schooling contributes to making modern states more powerful than anything their distant ancestors could have dreamed of, as well as contributing to the unthinkable death toll of the abortion holocaust. My flowers today are for the half a million New Zealanders who have been slaughtered by their own country in their own mothers’ wombs, and I scatter their petals in the street, because these lost ones have no grave and no memorial.



2 thoughts on “A not-so-great war

  1. Wow, that is a profound link to be making Tani,
    It stirs long forgotten memories of sixth form History class when we studied the causes of the 1st WW. I actually remember this politicising of the education system being something which was mentioned at the time because I got terribly distracted by an incredibly cumbersome term for it…
    Bother I can’t find it. Uncle Google does NOT know everything, nor does Uncle Wiki.

    I am aware, however, that the Imperial ambitions of Prussia needed to be suppressed, with military might if necessary, so I don’t resent our soldiers going to support the Great British Empire and her allies. Educational propaganda regarding the glory of the state, is certainly an issue of concern, but the Bible also teaches that duty to ‘the king’ will also include war at times: 1 Samuel 8. It did before there was even a king at all for that matter.
    I agree with you that to give ones life for the aspirations of a wannabe tyrant is NOT the “sweet and pleasant” thing that the totalitarian governments of that time or this, made out, but to defend free peaceful lands from being overrun by those tyrants, to suppress evil and greed and defend the helpless and those who would defend us in a similar situation was certainly a cause worth dying for be it ever so bitter and Unpleasant.

    • That’s very interesting that you remember it actually being mentioned in a school class! I dare say it has by now disappeared from the curriculum, together with most of the rest of history.

      About all this imperialism, though, one has to wonder, how ‘free’ were the lands on this side? Men were conscripted and sent to war by force, and then if they wouldn’t go out and be shot by the enemy, they would be shot by their own side for cowardice. How is that ‘fighting for freedom’? I’ll happily concede that the Allies in the Second World War were fighting for the freedom of their countries against evil tyrants, but as far as the First World War is concerned, I’m yet to be convinced that either side was more tyrannical than the other. I note that 2 Samuel 11-18 is a solemn warning to the people who asked to have a king “like all the nations” (v.5) and contrasts strongly with God’s instructions for warfare in Deuteronomy 20:1-9.
      As usual, I love your comments (and you). XX

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