Instead of trotting out the Armistice Day story again, a story at the end of this link well worth reading by the way, I was sent a piece by one of the [more or less] regular readers at this site, The Underdoug and I asked if I could use it on my Remembrance Day post.
I was struck this Remembrance Sunday by people talking of the sacrifice of the armed forces over the past century (and perhaps even further back). I’ve been pondering what those soldiers thought they were giving up their lives for. In WW1, there was no conscription at first, just the wonders of peer pressure on volunteering, and perhaps intriguingly, the knowledge that one got better training if one volunteered early, rather than the hurried crash courses given to later conscripts.
In WW2, conscription occurred right from the start. In the first volume of Spike Milligan’s autobiography, (Hitler, My part in his downfall), the author describes the interrogation he receives from his superior officers to be for apparently arriving tardily at his barracks after being called up. Introducing himself, he adds that he has ‘come to fight for [his] King’, provoking derision from his interrogators.
Whether this story is embellished or not, I feel quite sure that the cynical regard for the sentiment expressed by Milligan was true. Some soldiers truly felt that they were fighting for their country, many fighting to protect the future of their loved ones. Soldiers as brothers in arms would give (perhaps not always willingly, but if no-one else would pay the price, they would pay it) their lives to protect their comrades.
As brothers in arms, they might be reduced to the lowest common denominator of motivation – just simply surviving with their comrades. But I wonder, how many thought, how many had the slightest inkling, that they were protecting ‘them’, enriching ‘them’? Sure, the average soldier probably had a good idea that the firing of ammunition enriched those who manufactured and traded such weaponry, but how many thought that the suppliers of both sides were indirectly linked (the Bush family, anyone)?
That wars could be started and prosecuted with the ultimate aim of enriching arms manufacturers and their associates?
Maybe such machinations have been going on for centuries. Perhaps with the invention of central banking a way was found to confiscate the wealth deriving from the economic productivity of the masses.
Maybe the trick of using inflation for such a purpose was understood and foreseen. And thus was a modus operandi, the circle of li(f)e formulated. Economic productivity allows the masses to generate wealth, with an increasing proportion of that wealth residing with the masses. Taxes can’t be used to confiscate it since excessive taxation results in a disincentive to create the wealth in the first place. To avoid killing the goose that lays the golden egg, one first scares the bejeesus out of it.
With its attention thus occupied, it is less likely to notice 3 out of 4 golden eggs in its nest being stolen. So ‘them’ being ‘them’, a reason for war is invented, a war is started and, during its prosecution, the need for money drastically rises, mostly to pay for armaments.
Money gets printed, inflation goes through the stratosphere (because the same fundamental resources used to generate economic activity are now represented by dividing them into smaller units of measurement – by fresh printing of more of the same units of measurement – therefore each piece of paper is worth less) and the group in control of resources and the money supply end up accumulating a larger proportion of the total printed money (and perhaps economic resources) than they had before (since inflation usually means that the prices charged for armaments will also rise stratospherically).
Thus the masses have their wealth confiscated en-masse. The generation that created the wealth that was confiscated come up to retirement, and with the exception of the privileged few, have a less than carefree old age. With war over, economic activity rebuilds with the next generation – those who lived through the war and now think that they can make everything better this time.
When that generation of wealth creators are closer to retirement, ‘them’ decide it’s time for a repeat performance; higher economic activity with wealth accumulation in the masses ripe and ready for confiscation. And so the cycle goes on: Crimea -> Boer -> WW1 -> WW2 -> Vietnam -> Gulf War 1 -> Gulf War 2, etc. etc. (I know I’ve missed out Korea – and probably other conflicts too – perhaps it does fit in as a small intermission before Vietnam).
The thought that ran through my mind today was ‘Are we celebrating our soldiers as heroes, or are they truly victims of the deep machinations of ‘them’?’ I would like that it be the former, but I despair and fear that it is the latter. Did the soldiers sacrifice their lives voluntarily, or were their lives well and truly stolen under false pretences? If the latter, then what are we commemorating? The ultimate victory of evil over the lives of many (often heroic) individuals? If so, one should be thankful that we are not all enslaved as yet.
I am nominally a Catholic. I say nominally in that I go through the motions, but now wonder whether since the admission of a certain Anthony Charles Lynton Blair into the fold whether I can square his presence with my conscience. Going to communion means being in communion with the whole of the church. Being unable to accept the Blair person into church of my birth and upbringing (basically for Iraq) means that I am not in communion with the church. I still haven’t worked out what to do.
Perhaps he will make enough statements about how the church should be democratised (the recent put-down by Archbishop Vincent Nichols – being new to the faith, he hasn’t got the hang of this being a Catholic business yet – was a source of encouragement) to merit his excommunication, but I suppose I will get pushed out first (or I would v. quickly if I was anyone important).
My guess is that the book of Revelation in referring to the prince that spoke for the beast was pointing to the likes of Blair. Perhaps Revelation is not necessarily a warning of one time in the far future, but a warning for each succeeding generation. There will always be a prince that will speak for the beast, i.e. ‘them’ who like to remain in the shadows, lest the appearance of the beast upsets too many people.
Perhaps we are in a unique time with a unique awareness, thanks to the internet. One of the tests will be if the powers that be start trying to make the internet multi-tier (and then eventually restricted to approved sites only – pr0n controlled by ‘them’ included). Then we can be more certain of the thought behind it and the intent that flows from the thought. As for what one can do, I am searching for information and ultimately guidance, so long as I can be sure that the guidance isn’t coming from ‘them’.
Augustine of Hippo wrote that he expected wars and other tribulation to always be, since man was fallen by nature. Even if every one of ‘them’ was exterminated, the vacuum would be filled. After all, power corrupts. Perhaps the best one can hope for is a slow generation by generation progress towards a more enlightened state of tolerance to one another.
One might not be able to eliminate conflict, but one can remove the incentive to artificially create it. My hope is that we would truly honour those lives spent in war by minimising the likelihood of further war (I suppose this was the original sentiment behind Remembrance Day – although the Goon Show in the ’50s referred to WW1 as ‘The First World War for lasting peace’). We’re just about getting an F- “could do better” at the moment.
Sorry for rambling like this, I had no idea it would be this long. And I’m sure much of the conspiraloonery is easily demolished.
Kind regards, Doug
Filed under: Society & human issues