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Winston

The Great War, 100 Years Later

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Veteran's Day is coming up, a day that used to be called Armistice Day.

100 years ago, one the bloodiest conflict in human history ended with The Treaty of Versailles. The Armistice was signed between The Allies and (what remained) of the Central Powers. It was a "victory" for the allies, but at such a cost. The term Pyrrhic is hardly adequate.

Much of the primary source material from that time is hard to digest. Grainy black-and-white video and biased / censored news accounts that regularly conflict with one another.
I have been watching the YouTube channel, The Great War. It is hosted by a man named Indy Neidell, who does a great job bring this conflict to life. He references and encourages his viewers to read the works of Gilbert Martin, Peter Hart and John Keegan. They all do excellent work at distilling the gritty, and often disturbing details.

It may be hard for some to see the relevance in a conflict from a century ago. Different aspects may appeal to certain people, but there was one recurring theme that should concern all. Above, I mentioned biased / censored news. in WWI, the horror of the carnage soon leaked out to the public. By the end of 1914, all belligerents instituted some form of censorship. From a practical, Machiavellian standpoint, this made sense. With literally tens of thousands dying every week, no government could allow such information to be released, discussed and debated. They were at war, and wartime measures were needed for national security and survival.

Wartime censorship chugged along throughout most of the 20th Century; an unfortunate legacy of The Great War. But, after a few years into the US Vietnam War, the tide had turned. Real-time information was being beamed directly into citizen's living rooms. It became problematic to control the dialogue when people could actually see the horrors of war for themselves. Those cracks in the censor's shield changed the course of the war, and modern history.

Today, we are at a crossroads. On one hand, we have the world at our fingertips. In the other hand, complete ignorance. FISA Courts, renditions, warrantless searches, corporate / government collusion... We don't know what we don't know. But we are sure about what we've been spoon-fed.

We like to think that we are so much more advanced than some 8th grade educated London factory worker from 1915. But are we?
History repeats itself. Build a better mousetrap, and the rats get smarter.

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Comments

  1. escorial's Avatar
    The uniforms might change but people will just keep killing each other... quote from Robert Mitchum in a war film...
  2. TuesdayEve's Avatar
    In todays modern world with all it’s
    technology, fastest communication
    ever and Big Brother’s offspring,
    some would say, war is on purpose.
    Someone’s purpose. If education is a
    key component to enlightening human
    behavior and greed/power the motivator
    behind atrocity, everything in between
    might be highly subdued if.... what?
    If the desire was there on a global
    scale. Unity of thinking equality for all.
    Sure theres a lot of people who feel
    that way, but not enough in powerful
    positions to turn the things around
    ...yet. There’s plenty of money out
    there it’s the direction that is too slow
    turning to save some of the African
    countries. Even if money was evenly
    distributed, there would still be
    corruption, part of human nature eh?
    Or is it? Or is it survival of the fittest?
    What if there was no fittest and we all
    fit? Everyone had everything they
    needed...and ecology, philosophy
    and art were the passions of world?
    Just a thought.
  3. escorial's Avatar
    It all comes down to tribalism which survives in so many forms...all my life I have witnessed it..at school were the other schools were our enemy,fighting against other kids from other parts of the city...being a football fan..the list goes on..and it all comes under different names..whether your poor or rich it's human nature to act tribal...
  4. TuesdayEve's Avatar
    What is tribalism based on… survival.
    What if there was no need for primal
    survival? Wouldnt that then eliminate
    competition? I believe it would take a
    few generations and the world collectively
    to agree on this, and there will always
    be tribalism/family/loyalty but the horrific
    atrocities we see globally might be
    minimal. Ever see Star Trek?
    Castles in the air?
  5. escorial's Avatar
    After survival comes greed...
  6. escorial's Avatar
    Ovverheard two older chaps talking on the bus about Poppy's... does it matter whether you buy a red or white poppy...reply..not everyone died going over the top,so many died because of disease and conditions they lived in or shot or exploded by friendly fire an the military cock ups... unfortunately my bus stop arrived an I got off.
  7. Winston's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by escorial
    ...not everyone died going over the top,so many died because of disease and conditions they lived in or shot or exploded by friendly fire an the military cock ups...
    And quite a few were shot for desertion and open mutiny. Italy was one of the worst. But there was also quite a lot in France.
    The Russians knew the Germans were ripe for revolution (many thousands died from starvation alone). The newly formed Soviet Assembly tried to hold out, expecting a general uprising in Germany. Instead, Russia fell into civil war, and Germany took more land before the treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended Russia's participation in the war.

    And all those deaths with Russians killing Russians? Turks killing Armenians? Russians killing Ukrainians? Arabs killing Ottomans? Fins killing Fins...
    None of those poor souls "went over the top". They just died the old fashioned way. By the millions.

    Even poor Belgium, knocked out early, lost a significant chunk of it's population as slave laborers in German factories (disease and starvation).
    Makes ya kinda glad the 20th Century is over.
    We're so much more civilized now, right? Right...
  8. escorial's Avatar
    Death and destruction has made us civilized...I don't do faith but I'm sure there is more civilizing to come
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