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Archive for November 11th, 2018

Dedicating a day to the end of a war is a far different thing from using it to glorify the machinery of war.  –  “Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the armistice which ended what was at the time called The Great War went into effect, bringing to an end a conflict like no other that had ever been seen before.  For over four years most of the advanced nations in the world (and their allies and colonies), spread across every inhabited continent, slaughtered each others’ citizens on an unprecedented scale, using all the weapons the Industrial Age had devised and a few new ones:  roughly 18 million people were killed and 23 million wounded, and whole countries were redrawn or wiped from the map entirely.  The monumental carnage was so traumatic it produced an entire “lost generation” and shaped art and literature for decades afterward; some idealists even believed that the horror was so great people would be shocked out of supporting warfare at all any longer, or else they absurdly chose to demonize the Germans as the font of all European conflict.  These beliefs converged in the popular term “The War To End All Wars”, which more sensible heads were already mocking before the war was over; even its originator, novelist H.G. Wells, was using it ironically by the early ’30s.  The ideas that humans could ever become sated with bloodshed, or that all violence springs from some evil “other” which need only be defeated to bring lasting peace to the world, are still popular among soft-headed naifs to this very day; they are close kin to the childish belief that the “right” people can be trusted with power over others.  The truth, of course, is far darker; it is that no human can be trusted with power over others, and that humans with the power to inflict violence on their neighbors will always do so upon the flimsiest pretext.  If there is anything that the past century has taught us, it is that the only war which will truly end all wars among humanity is the one in which the human species is finally obliterated.

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