David Davis together with Michael Winning, over some beers
We try to mark these events on here because we want to: sometimes we remember, sometime we forget. Unlike all those parsons who are said to have recycled their sermons for an easy life, one tries to write something original each time. The almost universal remembrance of lives lost, 100-odd years ago nearly, and in our wars since, seems to need something fresh to be said each year. The wounds never seem to heal, and it’s nothing to do with today’s almost cunstomary imerative of ritualised collective emoting, forced on us all by Popular Culture and the Enemy Class.
Earlier this year, the two surviving oldest Tommies, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, both passed on. About 2004 I believe, the last German Tommy also died (was he a “Fritz” or a “Berti” or a “Hans”? Who can tell?) as did the French chap, a poilu perhaps, or just “Jaques”. All were significantly over 100. Nobody knows when the last Russian or “Austro-Hungarian”, Italian or Turk – or any of the others – shared their fate: I suspect in some cases records were scant. To this day nobody even knows for sure how many Turks died.
History is useful: we _can_ know what was in the minds of those alive in 1914, and in the decades before. They told us all the time, and for 200+ years we today have never had it so good where primary historical source material is needed. Comparing the two times, why did they cheerfully go into the terror, the noise, the filth, the lice, the mud which seemed ever to hinder and engulf and drown, into places of terrible danger and risk of anihilation, for week after week and for month after month: and why did their civilian populations at home, put up with the counterpart conditions, of fear, sorrow and privation?
Today the notion of engaging sincerely in a totally-absorbing struggle, for what one thinks is the right way as opposed to the wrong way, seems alien. What is there now to struggle for? We seem to have enough to eat (no thanks to anybody on this continent, though), there is enough of different sorts of Wireless Tele Vision to watch, created for anaesthetic purposes by members of the Enemy Class, all of whom are “producers of edgy/good Television”. We can strut about on Facebook and “My Space” and other such places, showing everyone how great we are. What was the point of World War 2, if we here, although entirely Jewless, Gipsyless, Bourgeoisless, Kulakless, cripple-less, bedwetter-less, and Slavless, could still have sat about in front of our monochrome State TV (waiting list 26 months, price 30,000 GospoEuroFrancs, all TVs to be prodiu by the Glorious People’s State Television Tube Factory in Skelmersdale) to watch “Great heroes of yesterday and for ever: part XIV: Zhukov, the General Who Saved The World”, and “part XXVIII, Joachim von Ribbentropp, Giant Father of the People’s Global Foreign Peace and Love”? We’d all be told via the street-looudspeakers that State-approved mobile telephones with a range of at least 20 kilometers, would be available from 2046, to all those who had voted correctly for at least eight elections in a row, and had who had also lodged “significantly more than” 100,000,000 GospoEuroFrancs with the Gau-Voivoda-Prefecture’s People’s-High-Representative’s “Controller of Expenses and Justifiably Good Disbursements for The People’s Good”.
The penalty for being found to have watched US or Australian television channels would have been some time spent in a “People’s State Health Farm”, the death penalty having been abolished on Human Rights grounds. This “holiday” might have been in North Eastern Siberia, or even behind barbed wire, an anti-vehicle-ditch and trip-wires in somewhere like Kraliký. (Look up how near home that is.)
There can be not a lot of substantive difference between the sort of life we’d have led here, if either the Kaiser, Stalin, Hitler, or Jean Monnet and his other fascisto-Gramscian mountebanks had won, in 1918 or 1945 or the 1980s: who remembers “Euro-Communism now? But how different would it have been from any of the other kinds?
Perhaps the thousands and thousands and thousands of poor wretched chaps, from Preston, from Accrington, from Norris green, from Halsall, and Formby and Scarisbrick and Battersea and Pluckley and Slaidburn and Banks, and from Tunbridge Wells and Bromley and Bridge of Gair and Trefriw and St Enodoc and Trim and Wheddon Cross and Dunblane, and Port-Laoise and Ballintoba, and Bengal and Sydney and Jew-Burg and Pretoria and Mackenzie and Kingston and even Buenos Aires and Denver and so many others, who disappeared without trace in the second decade of the 20th Century, were more prescient than we can know. Yes, they were opposed by similar poor wretched souls who were there either because they thought otherwise or because they were forced so to be. Hayek says markets operate by virtue of myriads of small individual decisions, all affecting a macroscopic result, far more accurately than a single Gosplanner or “State Planning Department” can ever hope to do. Perhaps the idea of individual liberty was more strongly articulated then, or perhaps it just was more under threat then, than we think it really is today.
We try to go on remembering these poor chaps, their descendants of two, three, four or more generations still turning up, in ceremonies in which we do not customarily parade weapons or missiles or tanks and guns, let alone in phalanxes of tracked monsters, such as in Red Square, because innately liberalism is good and right and compassionate, and the opposite is not that at all. Liberalism celebrates the individual over the herd or the State-directed-collective, whether that latter be penal (as is mostly the case in history) or directed-by-threats, for PR reasons.
Although we could not begin to wish for a scenario in which we’d have to behave as they did (we hate war, remember??? We are libertarians!), we look to their example as individual humans who endured more than the ultimate, in return for trying to do what they thought was right and therefore their simple duty.
There is no reason why an intellectual could ever justify that people ought to give up their lives for an idea. Since we cnanot know whether God allows the Afterlife or not (nobody has returned to tell us) then life has to be better than death. But it depends what the competing ideas are, and if it’s worth trying to live under them. Mostly it might have been…just… but what do we think about the future now that New Labour will be in power for the next few centuries?