Armistice Day, 2017

by John Quiggin on November 11, 2017

Another Armistice Day and the prospects for peace are bleaker than they have been for years. Not only are militaristic demagogues in the ascendancy just about everywhere, but the cult of the military is increasingly unchallenged, even in countries generally seen as peaceable, like Canada. Then there’s the threat of nuclear war posed by a much more capable North Korea, and the erratic responses of the Trump Administration.

It’s a day on which I feel increasingly alone. It seems obvious to me, 100 years after the bloodiest year of war in Australia’s history and the revolutions the war produced, that war and revolution are almost invariably a pointless waste of life and human potential, usually ending in disaster for all, and that even grave historical and social injustices are better resisted by peaceful means than by resort to force. But every military anniversary reminds me that this is the view of a small and shrinking minority.

One day, perhaps, peace will come. But not today.

{ 47 comments }

1

chris heinz 11.11.17 at 3:35 am

I am increasingly upset by the militarism infecting the US. 3 TV series based on the military. The 17 YO war in Afghanistan. The 15 YO war in Iraq. The drumbeat for war in Iran. (You know, Syria used to actually present a possible threat to Israel. Now, like Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, they have descended into chaos, and could not vaguely create a coherent offensive against Israel. Seems like Iran may be added to that list soon :-()
And the mandatory military adoration at all sporting events. The many, many commercials that portray a service member coming home as the holiest of events.
But, underneath that, the economic reality, as it was portrayed heartbreakingly in “Winter’s Bone” – for the vast majority of red-state high-schoolers receiving a totally mediocre education, the US military is their only chance out of a life as a meth cooker or user. 80% of our voluntary military comes from red states.
Really upsetting, but what to do? Still WIP in my brain. !st time I have dumped on this.

2

some lurker 11.11.17 at 3:55 am

Is is possible to read the linked story at The Australian without subscribing?

3

Val 11.11.17 at 4:25 am

I’m trying to not to comment on CT these days, but I had to make an exception for this. I wholeheartedly support what you are saying and urge you to keep saying it even more.

4

Alan White 11.11.17 at 4:27 am

Eloquent and apposite.

Peace for small stretches of time used to be in part a function of the lag-time of national actions and reactions, dilated by means of slow communication for much of history. That’s no longer possible. Periods of peace due to that are largely gone. I wish I could optimistically say that fast communication could also make reconciliation and mutual understanding more likely–but Trump’s ascent to power due to the knee-jerk populist perversity of faster communication seems to speak to a much more pessimistic assessment.

We should count ourselves fortunate if we avoid tactical nuclear conflict, and more so if we do not engage in all-out nuclear war.

5

John Quiggin 11.11.17 at 4:39 am

@2 Sorry, I can’t find a good link without a paywall. But the only essential point is the one in the OP, so there’s no real need to follow the link.

6

Placeholder 11.11.17 at 5:45 am

You may be interested to know the White Poppy appeal is actually very popular in New Zealand. Or it used to be.

You see, when the Yanks started A-bombing the Far East the Aussies call the Near North they didn’t just inspire Japanese horror movies. It inspired a massive anti-nuclear peace movement in New Zealand. White Poppies were mass distributed around Hiroshima Day to fund New Zealand CND.

Now that New Zealand has declared itself a nuclear free zone for about 40 years New Zealand CND has closed down.Why not move aggressively toward the goal of world peace?

7

Dan OH 11.11.17 at 7:30 am

On the credit side for revolution, you also need to count the reforms made to defend against the threat of revolution. A lot of the achievements of Social Democracy came from the fear that, if you didn’t give something to the workers, they would completely upend the apple cart.

Same principle as for strikes: shitty for all sides when they happen, but the threat of a strike changes the balance of power in a (usually) positive way.

So the revolutions that succeeded are the ones that didn’t happen: their aims were (partially) achieved through the threat of force, and the establishment’s decision to compromise rather than be deposed.

8

bad Jim 11.11.17 at 7:40 am

In the United States, November 11 is a celebration of war, not peace. It’s Veteran’s Day, not Armistice Day. It would seem that we actually enjoy something the rest of the world would rather eradicate.

“The land of the free because of the brave” is a commonly expressed sentiment. I don’t think a single soldier has died in my lifetime to protect my country. I barely missed enlistment in the Vietnam war; my sole service was marching in opposition.

Nicholson Baker’s “Human Smoke” was, for me, a heartbreaking slog, the enthusiastic rejection of pacifism, the futility of pacifism in the face of fascism, the allies immediately adverting to war crimes like civilian bombing. But WWI and WWII barely figure in the American imagination; for the most part we’re stuck in the Civil War.

9

Val 11.11.17 at 8:00 am

And one more thing – I believe it would help the cause of peace a lot if men would stop treating women like fools, and treat our views seriously, including here on CT.

10

Val 11.11.17 at 8:59 am

There is an interesting report here
https://www.inclusivesecurity.org/publication/why-women-inclusive-security-and-peaceful-societies/

From the conclusion:
“The empirical evidence is overwhelming: where women’s inclusion is prioritized, peace is more likely—particularly when women are in a position to influence decision making.”

11

Neville Morley 11.11.17 at 9:07 am

One of my academic research areas, the modern reception and appropriation of the Ancient Greek writer Thucydides, offers an additional example of this trend. Pericles’ Funeral Oration offers a eulogy of Athens as a justification of the necessity of fighting for it, a glorification of sacrifice, and a call for the total subordination of all other interests and relationships to the state. A decent case can be made that Thucydides intended his readers to be shocked by, or at least suspicious of, much of this rhetoric – but instead, throughout the 20th Century and up to today, the speech is taken at face value and used for the same purpose as the original, to justify war: propaganda in WWI, quotes on war memorials, quotes in Veterans’ Day and ANZAC Day events, endless citations of a few key phrases on the Twitter (sometimes misquoted) to celebrate the troops.

12

ph 11.11.17 at 11:20 am

Deaths from War

Likewise, the number of war deaths has also plummeted. In the 1950s, there were almost 250 deaths caused by war per million people. Now, there are less than 10 per million. “There are have been some pretty extraordinary changes and they haven’t been recognized,”

13

Jim Rose 11.11.17 at 11:49 am

Australia and New Zealand were filled with first and second-generation migrants happy to rally to defend their mother country: 12 per cent of the population of New Zealand volunteered to fight; and 13 per cent of the male population of Australia volunteered to fight in World War 1.

The people and governments of New Zealand and Australia of that time were British to their boot straps. The Union Jack was in their flags for a reason.

In the September 1914 election, both opposition leader Andrew Fisher and Prime Minister Joseph Cook stressed Australia’s unflinching loyalty to Britain, and Australia’s readiness to take its place with the allied countries. Labor Party leader Fisher’s campaign pledge was to:

… stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling.

Labor defeated the incumbent government to win majorities in both houses. Billy Hughes and his nationalist party won the 1917 election in a landslide.

New Zealanders had even a better chance to reflect on the war-making choices of their leaders in 1914. Our election was in December of 1914. The passions of the moment had some chance to calm, and the fighting has started for real.

The will of the people at the December 1914 Parliamentary elections was a 90 per cent vote for the war parties. New Zealanders could have voted for the Labour MPs, several of whom were later imprisoned for their anti-conscription activities or for refusing military service.

The reasons for New Zealand and Australia fighting were the just cause of fighting militarism and territorial conquest, empire solidarity, regional security interests such as the growing number of neighbouring German colonies, and long-term national security. A victorious Germany would have imposed a harsh peace.

New Zealand and Australian national security is premised on having a great and powerful friend. That was initially Britain. When the USA arrived in 1941 as a better great and powerful friend, the British were dropped like a stone.

14

Neville Morley 11.11.17 at 1:14 pm

And from the Funeral Oration, a data point for Val’s thesis: Pericles’ notorious dismissal of grieving mothers and wives on the basis that their role is to be silent and as little talked of by men as possible.

15

t. gracchus 11.11.17 at 2:04 pm

Could you give a general idea of how you do the analysis or calculation yielding your conclusion “that war and revolution are almost invariably a pointless waste of life and human potential”?

16

steven t johnson 11.11.17 at 2:22 pm

“Another Armistice Day and the prospects for peace are bleaker than they have been for years.” Since there has been war after war for decades it is entirely unclear how anyone saw any prospects for peace previously. Peace has been a mirage. How anyone can think the mirage is suddenly further away is puzzling indeed.

“Then there’s the threat of nuclear war posed by a much more capable North Korea, and the erratic responses of the Trump Administration.” This hints that the fear is more the fear of a war in which North Korea might inflict mass casualties against invading nations unaccustomed to suffering mass casualties? Be that as it may, the notion that the Trump administration is “responding” to North Korean moves disappears the complete continuity of policy from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump. Trump’s supposed erraticism, by the way, is entirely consonant with the desire to provoke a constant state of alert in North Korea, which has the effect of normalizing the alert. This permits surprise when the US launches a decapitation strike. It is not clear whether this would be disapproved by the OP, were it properly successful.

(Clinton’s denuclearization deal was never fulfilled, and only arose as a face saving way to back down from a war which was facing an extremely hostile reception, unlike now. The Clinton administration stalled on fulfilling the denuclearization tray, instead of expediting it, so as to preempt an open reneging, as Bush promptly did. I think the simplest interpretation was that the deal was a face-saver, meant to hide a temporary climb down…but the policy of unremitting hostility aimed at regime change never changed.)

“It seems obvious to me, 100 years after the bloodiest year of war in Australia’s history and the revolutions the war produced, that war and revolution are almost invariably a pointless waste of life and human potential, usually ending in disaster for all, and that even grave historical and social injustices are better resisted by peaceful means than by resort to force.” Is there any content here other than nostalgia for the Raj? The notion that the English empire and the French empire and the German empire and the Russian empire and the Ottoman empire and the Japanese empire and the US empire could peaceably redivide the world is exactly the same kind of thinking that convinces economists that the proper economic policy will prevent business cycles, or at least make them always manageable. The careful way revolutions are equally condemned as futile along with the great imperialist conflagrations like the Great War makes it perfectly clear that one of the greatest failings of the war to end war was that it lead to the Bolshevik revolution. China Mieville agreed with the OP that was a tragedy but the failure of the revolution in Germany wasn’t. I beg to differ, and hold it to be the other way round. Nor do I agree with the pacifist principle that every injustice is preferable to violence.

17

George de Verges 11.11.17 at 2:58 pm

Reading this post so soon after Maria’s on the Middle East is just too depressing, or at least more sobering than I am prepared to bear. In spite of my discomfort, please accept my thanks for the posts and my request that the work continue. The posts need to be read, and considered, even though the ideas are unpleasant to contemplate.

18

novakant 11.11.17 at 3:47 pm

When I see these smug people with their red poppies here in the UK I have to wretch – most of them wouldn’t hesitate to support a bombing campaign or military intervention anytime anywhere as long as the target is far away and the justification includes the words “terror”, “freedom” or “national interest”.

19

Stephen 11.11.17 at 3:53 pm

JQ: I wish the world were such that I could agree with you. In one way I would go. further than you: war and violent revolution, absolutely invariably, destroy life and human potential. But that this destruction is a pointless waste is not to me obvious. It would be true if all wars and revolutions were pointless; I’m sure you can think of cases where the war, even the revolution, did have a point . Saying “even grave historical and social injustices are better resisted by peaceful means” is good sense if peaceful means have a chance of working. What should be done if they have no chance?

20

Anarcissie 11.11.17 at 4:02 pm

Maybe people really don’t like peace very much. They say they do, but a lot of them act differently. I am not speaking of a particular gender, race, nationality, religion, location, or class here.

21

EWI 11.11.17 at 4:48 pm

Here in Ireland the ‘poppy’ has led to the usual furious rows. Time to decouple this entirely from the promotion of Anglo-Saxon militarism.

22

Lupita 11.11.17 at 4:49 pm

Val, your article fails to even mention the global system of Western dominance and measures violence using the number of conflicts, including small regional ones, while ignoring the number of dead, maimed and displaced. Instead of concluding that the nation that bombed is the cause of violence, it takes the territory that was bombed and attributes the violence suffered to the level of female participation in politics. Your article is sheer Western propaganda.

23

EWI 11.11.17 at 4:55 pm

Dan @ 07

That’s a really good point. There is is much to be said for realising that ‘bloody’ revolutions are really just the ones which are resisted by force, rather than politics.

24

Tom Hurka 11.11.17 at 5:23 pm

I’m just back from a neighbourhood Remembrance Day ceremony in my part of Toronto, and not a shred of glorification of war. Instead a speech urging us to work for peace and to resist the current attempts to revive the fascist ideas some of those being remembered fought to defeat. It’s one day of the year, sombre and thoughtful, and the poppies are appropriately red.

25

Scott P. 11.11.17 at 6:27 pm

Peace for small stretches of time used to be in part a function of the lag-time of national actions and reactions, dilated by means of slow communication for much of history. That’s no longer possible. Periods of peace due to that are largely gone.

The world is more peaceful now that at any time in its previous history.

26

EWI 11.11.17 at 6:35 pm

Jim @ 13

British to their bootstraps? Really?

‘British feared Irish takeover of Australia in 1916’
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/british-feared-irish-takeover-of-australia-in-1916-1.2687874

Tom @ 23

and the poppies are appropriately red.

What are your opinions on white poppies, then?

27

Eamonn 11.11.17 at 7:59 pm

In spite of the atrocities our side committed, that there was no clear democratic mandate for it, the Civil War that followed it and the fact that in many ways we wasted the first decades of independence, I don’t regret the War of Independence, indeed I think we’ve been a bit too reticent about recognizing its importance as an example to the more severely oppressed by the British elsewhere.

28

Stephen 11.11.17 at 8:52 pm

EWI@22: trying to think of a revolution, however justified, that was not resisted by force. All that comes to mind is the collapse of actually existing socialism in Central Europe, after Moscow had made it plain that unlike in previous years force would not be used.

On the other hand, you could reasonably think of Indian/Pakistani independence in 1947 as a revolution that was not resisted by force. Saying that it wasn’t bloody, however …

29

Stephen 11.11.17 at 9:00 pm

JQ: going back to your saying “even grave historical and social injustices are better resisted by peaceful means than by resort to force”. Consider the state of affairs in the (not exactly) United States in 1861. The Confederates have declared secession: the CSA are bombarding Fort Sumner.

Would the appropriate Northern response have been: oh all right, off you go, secede and preserve slavery, capture Federal forts, we won’t fight, we’ll resist you by (unspecified and probably unspecifiable) peaceful means?

Or: this means war?

30

b9n10nt 11.11.17 at 10:02 pm

Nothing better demonstrates the need for peaceful social revolution than the modern institutions of war. The politicians and generals seek to inflate their personal status with empire-building. They are drunk with power. The beaurocratic managers seek the spiritually void safety afforded to yes-men. They keep their heads down. The soldiers seek self-improvement and belonging. They are ignorant and unconscious.

A healthy community would demand that the politicians and generals be ostracized and exiled. No one who steals and lies for self-aggrandizement has any claim to The Commons. A healthy community would demand that the beaurocrat exercise her full conscience and exist as an equal; the only orders she follows are those she helped create. A healthy community would demand that all who wish to join and serve likewise do so but only on the basis of full equality, with clear rights of passage.

Do not support the troops. Too many show no more courage or self-sacrifice than any 9-5 office worker who is actually raising their kids rather than cowardly abandoning their families and communities for some soulless foreign adventure. Do not support the beaurocrats. Their admirable skills are corrupted by their sub-human aquiesence to follow orders and serve Moloch. Do not support the generals and politicians. They are Moloch themselves, who lie and dissemble for their own aggrandizement.

And yet, let our compassion be commensurate to our outrage. Compassion for the soldier: there never was a right of passage and there is no “The People” to belong to. Compassion for the beaurocrat: you are not offered equality in your institution and your honor was never cultivated or evoked; instead, you were offered an undignified payout in return for your blind loyalty. Compassion for the politician and general: your sickness was never diagnosed, you were never confronted with the opportunity for true honor and dignity: serve the common good as an equal, or go off to the hills and starve.

Compassion for all of us: in our free time we find what we can of our humanity (or head for the bar). We have yet to found a Commons that will satiate our need for true citizenship. Until we do so, we have war and interwar. No justice, no peace.

31

Val 11.11.17 at 10:26 pm

Hi Lupita, I’m happy to discuss this further at my own blog, but I don’t want to get involved in debates about feminism here.

32

Omega Centauri 11.11.17 at 10:28 pm

Here in the USA, the cult-of-the-warrior is continually re-enforced by charities for wounded vets. Commercials start out with something like “I gave my leg for freedom”. I’m like, no you didn’t, you gave your leg because you were naive enough to believe the myth. And that myth seems to support the type of politics that insures the future will be well supplied with victims.

The cult of the heroic policeman is also strong, and responsible for the fact that its almost impossible to convict a cop of killing a civilian.

Unfortunately our culture creates a lot of young men who value honor and glory, and are more than keen to believe the myth.

33

John Quiggin 11.12.17 at 12:32 am

Val, if you could take any further discussion to my blog, that would be appreciated.

34

Mario 11.12.17 at 10:10 am

Unfortunately our culture creates a lot of young men who value honor and glory, and are more than keen to believe the myth.

It seems to me that this is a fundamental feature, not of our or your culture, but of all human societies, indeed, of the human species. Society is a lot about dealing constructively with this impulse, but it makes for destabilization. I fear, also, that this impulse has some evolutionary advantage that will keep it with us for a while.

35

EWI 11.12.17 at 3:39 pm

Stephen @ 28

EWI@22: trying to think of a revolution, however justified, that was not resisted by force.

I suppose I should have qualified that by ‘lesser degrees of’. The vote for women, union rights etc.

Eamonn @ 27

I don’t agree with ‘no democratic mandate for it’, the 1918 election results in Ireland (the first, moreover, permitted by the British with anything near a democratic full franchise) were overwhelmingly for Sinn Féin, whose platform wasn’t at all in doubt.

36

Anarcissie 11.13.17 at 2:47 am

Mario 11.12.17 at 10:10 am @ 34 —
Possibly even a strong genetic predisposition could be dealt with culturally in some way. It’s not hard to imagine, but it’s hard to see how to get people interested in it when death, destruction, and domination are so exciting and are so passionately espoused by our great leaders and their followers.

37

Atticus Dogsbody 11.13.17 at 6:35 am

One day, perhaps, peace will come. But not today.

My prediction is that it will come after the next comet strike.

38

MFB 11.13.17 at 8:23 am

World peace, as in perpetual peace, is surely impossible. However, it would theoretically be possible to reduce the level of wars in the short term (decades, I mean). It’s happened before. Essentially, the source of such peace must be either making conflict very expensive and difficult (which was why there was no full-scale war between the US and the USSR) or a situation where one hegemon is so powerful that it is impossible to attack it and it will not permit its subaltern countries to go to war with each other.

I may be wrong, but I think we are drifting towards a situation in which China will be too powerful to attack and too involved in exploiting smaller countries to permit subalterns to attack them. In which case, maybe the world will become more peaceful.

It won’t happen on moral considerations, however. As far as I understand history, it never has.

39

Amb 11.13.17 at 12:33 pm

Venturi Omega
Your point is important, but I suspect not in the way that you, and many posters here super.

That limbless veteran is being used to sell. And the thing about sales technique is that it’s neutral- it just wants to tap current demand and/or develop future demand.

One of the reasons that a (as you correctly point out) victim of war like the limbless veteran is being used to present his loss in such a manner is that other approaches won’t work- and that’s because of the sort of people who might see through the lie make themselves so unamenable to the overall aim (which is to raise money for one set of war victims).

It’s like when you wear a white poppy you’re actually giving up the symbol of the red poppy to nationalists and militarists. Remember that the war weary generation in the years after the first war weren’t sending a militaristic or nationalistic message, but the poppy is relentlessly being stolen and used for these purposes. And the white poppy is a losing strategy bevause it’s based on personal virtue signalling that falls precisely into the trap set by the militaristic and nationalists.

On Armitice Sunday you should simply and with humility remember the dead of war.

And I condemn those of all sides who veer from that simplicity and humility.

40

Mark H 11.13.17 at 1:05 pm

Remembrance Day in Britain, at least, has little to do with the “cult of the military”. It is both more pervasive and more inclusive than it used to be when I was growing up (in the 1970s). The other day, for example, there were German soldiers laying poppy wreaths before the England v Germany football match – unimaginable a generation ago. I also like the fact that, today, the poppy no longer belongs to the British Legion or the Haig Fund and that it’s been ‘democratised’. It’s also right we remember the fallen and Remembrance Day is one of the ways which we do this.

And people have fairly sophisticated views about war precisely because we keep the memories alive. I don’t know anybody who has ever been persuaded by Remembrance Day that the Somme was a glorious battle, or that the Hamburg firestorm wasn’t a calamity. Likewise, there’s no evidence at all that remembering the Blitz or D-Day makes people more warlike or more aggressive.

There are undoubtedly some contemporary cultures which glorify ‘the military’ and allow soldiers to act, with impunity, as torturers and policemen (Syria being the exemplar today) but compared with, say, the 1930s or even the 1910s, the ‘cult of the military’ is nowhere near as strong as it was in continental Europe. That’s progress.

41

Mario 11.13.17 at 11:04 pm

Possibly even a strong genetic predisposition could be dealt with culturally in some way.

I have very serious doubts about that in this particular case. You can create a society that is just waiting to be taken over by a ruthless invader that doesn’t share your sensibilities, because mounting an effective defense is war, and it requires warriors.

From inside – well, you’d have to ban centuries of cultural heritage. Otherwise, someone, some day, may read something about heroic deeds of warriors of old and be surprised and thrilled by the feeling of having his blood boil. Contemplating the leaden and inane peacefulness of his surroundings he might exclaim, I didn’t know how empty was my soul…until it was filled.

42

Anarcissie 11.14.17 at 12:19 am

Mario 11.13.17 at 11:04 pm @ 41 —
People could still have war experiences of a limited sort through something like gladiatorial combat (limited to small groups and using only light weapons in isolated areas). The peculiarity of modern industrial war is that its main targets are defenseless noncombatants. There seems to have been some hesitant movement toward confining wars to those who signed up for them in the 18th and 19th centuries, even though the whole state thing was in full force.

43

J-D 11.14.17 at 1:08 am

Youtube often offers me the opportunity to look at videos in which, according to the uploaders’ chosen titles, somebody ‘destroys’ somebody else. The rhetorical question which often occurs to me is ‘Why would I want to see somebody destroyed?’ I know the destruction is only metaphorical, but the uploaders writing the titles must be choosing that metaphor because they think it will be an enticing prospect for potential viewers. Evidently there are people, in significant numbers, who are attracted by the idea of viewing destruction (and Youtube titles aren’t the only evidence of it). I hope there are also people in significant numbers who are repelled by the idea, but I think there is a connection between people finding destruction (including destruction of people, at least in some cases) an attractive idea and attitudes to war.

I’m sure those same attitudes were around a long time before Youtube; I don’t know of any particular reason to think things have got worse in this regard. But ‘not got worse’ isn’t enough; this is something that needs to get a lot better.

44

Ben Philliskirk 11.14.17 at 8:56 am

@ 40

“Remembrance Day in Britain, at least, has little to do with the “cult of the military”. It is both more pervasive and more inclusive than it used to be when I was growing up (in the 1970s).”

My impression is completely at odds with this.

While I was in the Boy Scouts in the mid-to-late 1980s we attended Remembrance Parades, which still contained a couple of WWI veterans and quite a lot of ex-servicemen from WWII. There was always the sense that we were commemorating the victims of war in a general sense and, even though it was only a few years after the Falklands War and the army was still heavily engaged in Northern Ireland, there was no talk of ‘heroes’, especially with regard to contemporary soldiers.

The wider aspect was limited for reasons of dignity and respect. Poppies were not omnipresent in the media, and if worn on TV it was a few days around the 11th and the nearest Sunday, not a month in advance. Sports matches were not preceded by military marches, and supermarkets did not sell food in the shape of poppies, or with poppies stuck all over their packaging. Newspapers did not offer free posters of WWII aircraft around Remembrance Day.

If all this seems like ‘democratisation’ rather than an insidious cult of militarism in an age and in a country that doesn’t have to directly experience the worst of war, then I am afraid that you are sadly deluded.

45

Jim Buck 11.14.17 at 9:14 am

War gives ugly guys opportunities to “get” lots of girls (perhaps that’s why our blood boils when reading tales of gore?) :

RICHARD: Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that lowered upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them–
Why I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determinèd to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunk prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other;
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
About a prophecy which says that “G”
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul — here Clarence comes!

46

EWI 11.14.17 at 8:12 pm

Mark H @ 40

There are undoubtedly some contemporary cultures which glorify ‘the military’ and allow soldiers to act, with impunity, as torturers and policemen (Syria being the exemplar today) but compared with, say, the 1930s or even the 1910s, the ‘cult of the military’ is nowhere near as strong as it was in continental Europe. That’s progress.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/the-torture-centre-northern-ireland-s-hooded-men-1.2296152

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_Research_Unit

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Reaction_Force

47

Amb 11.15.17 at 8:50 am

Ben @44
I can’t agree more whole heartedly. Sadly it seems to be part of a general politicisation and polarisation that’s going on.
And I think the OP contributes to this (on this issue at least)

Comments on this entry are closed.