On Sunday 11 November 2012 the United Kingdom will hold a two-minute silence for our war dead, our heroes who fought in our wars, and those serving in our wars today, at 11am ‘we will remember’ – and that is good and that is right regardless of our political views. I have blogged before that the ‘silence’ should be inconvenient, because dying in a stinking trench in a foreign field is extremely inconvenient as well.
At 11am on Sunday 11 November 2012 we should contemplate the sacrifice made, should contemplate the horror of war, and that war should be horrible, it should be barbaric, it should be primal, not because of a love of violence but because it should be unthinkable in all but the worst circumstances. We should recoil from the horror of what our politicians are asking us to do – and normally wars are fought for policy, not for justice – and only in circumstances that cannot be met by any other method than the use of unbridled violence and the death of the innocent as well the guilty. The people who ask us to go to war should be prepared to go on the front line and fight along with those that who have been recruited to fight their wars.
I am not a pacifist, I don’t have the strength or courage for that, but War should be the absolute last resort.
We should also remember those wars we honour. ‘The Great War’ of 1914-1918 was fought for politicians seeking political gain and influence, it was the last clash (hopefully) of Empire that butchered 10 Million Soldiers, 7 Million Civilians and a further 2 Million died from disease and another 6 Million disappeared; his unbridled horror nearly deterred Europe from war, nearly. The Spanish Civil War claimed 500,00 casualties with 100,00 executed which was a bloody prelude to World War Two that saw between 22.5 and 25 Million killed, 6 Million Jews and Gays, and Travellers, and Communists killed.
We remember these wars, and the many many more, but we seemed doomed to make the same mistakes and the same bad choices.
Germany was gripped by crippling inflation and international humiliation, of course they would move to the right; the country was ripe for the Fascists to give them some pride, some self-esteem, a future.
I look at Greece today and see a similar situation, a country down at heel, trying to pay debts and being forced to sell its people to pay the Banks, and I read about the rise of the Golden Dawn and ask myself why we are allowing Fascism to flourish in Greece, in the UK, in France and other countries, haven’t we learned anything from our history? Haven’t we learned from the German Weimar Republic that mortgaging a country to the Banks only leads to war? Haven’t we learned that we need to stop haters before their poison can spread? Haven’t we learned that every freedom earned needs to be jealousy protected?
We need to remember the horrors of war, the inhumanity, the bestiality that goes along with them – I read a few years ago in horror about Abu Ghraib and was sickened how civilised people easily become animals (and the British have been found guilty as well) – yet we rush into our wars with gusto and jingoism. We need to remember the horror of the battle field and the horrors at home.
In Lancashire, and around the UK, during World War One ‘Pals Regiments‘ were formed, Young Men from Villages and Towns were recruited and formed into Regiment. During the battles of the Somme Regiments were decimated, entire towns lost their young men, slaughtered on Flanders Fields, of the 720 Men in the Accrington Pals Regiment 584 were killed, the pattern was repeated Leeds Pals Regiment of 900 Men 720 were killed, the Sheffield City Battalion lost half its men. Towns, Cities and Villages their youth taken in one day in July.
We need to build the land that the politicians promise, they will not, but we can – each day in our lives, it is only you and me who can stop these wars.
Tomorrow at 11am, 11 November 2012 we will remember them, and their families and towns, and the families of all those killed, but above all we must remember that we must never let it happen again.