What do I think of this? We are approaching Remenbrance Sunday, and the third part of the ongoing World War – the bit from 1914-1918 – passes finally out of living memory and into a sort of perverted legendary existence, in politically-coorected school history books.
But something about the reasons for which hundreds and hundreds of thousands of perfectly ordinary human beings willingly volunteered to go, must be said in the light of my earlier and frequent calls to consider what a free society would have to do to defend itself from its less-free neighbours. We must remember that until almost 1917, enlistment in Britain was voluntary (I do not care about France, Russia and the Central Powers and the like – they were not free societies in any meaningful sense.)
It’s all very well to go and indulge in emotional catharsis as encouraged by today’s UK school history teachers, perhaps writing some approved formulaic phrase in each cemetery’s visitors’ book, such as “NEVER AGAIN”…perhaps if they are lucky they might get Richard Holmes, one of his officers, or Ian Hislop to take them round at least, and say a few more sensible things about the reasons for these sad battles.
Bit I’m worried that these trips are taken out of context by the teachers on purpose, and the pupils by accident. I fear that nothing today is done to emphasise the willingness with which most of these millions – at least of the British and Imperial soldiers – went to war…and to let the children ask “for what exactly?”
As I keep repeating on here, Free Civilisations go to war for principles. Unfree ones go to war for power, influence and territory – just view the treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918: it’s clear that it was really what Imperial Germany thought WW1 was about.
The poor children ought to be told that these men, whose graves they visit, went to war because they freely though it was a good and right thing, and therefore a needful thing to do. They were not “lions led by donkeys” either – this is a monstrous calumny upon the memories of (mostly) devoted and brave officers, who were doing the best job they could in newly terrifying and unfamiliar kinds of war.
If ever a libertarian society emerges, then it will have to consider the possibilities of conflict with unfree outfits surrounding it. Furthermore, its children ought to begin learning the process of deciding things like “why ought we to fight, if it’s needed, and what for?”, as the war will undoubtedly be long. This is because the socialists, Utopians and other Nazis like them don’t take hints about their mortal error easily.