Here is why I insert a “sic” along with every reference to “World War” in Learner.
We have been taught that there have been only two World (sic) Wars, both dating from the 20th Century of the Common or Christian Era (CE). Another weapon lie.
Here we are, two thousand years after the Sermon of the Mount, and look at the pathetic progress we’ve made! The ideological descendants of those who crucified Him remain in charge with our consent. Like Gandhi’s assassins in modern India.
War is not a momentary aberration the weak shun and the strong shut down as quickly as possible. Instead, World War is a continuous practice of mankind. A long string of paroxysmal massacres is only interrupted by intervals of violence somewhat lessened to rearm, replace casualties and readjust alliances. Across the planet, perpetual war starts again soon after. To be more precise, we should call World Wars I and II the Great and Greater Paroxysms of Perpetual World War.
We are setting ourselves up for our ultimate paroxysm, instead of humbly offering PeaceWorld on the global altar of God.
Many conflicts have wracked the “known” world while slightly less regimented humans murdered one another with undocumented abandon. During the 18th Century, along with a climatic optimum and corresponding population surges, the wars of the “Enlightenment” raged around the world.
Indeed, any significant climactic variation triggered human attack reflexes. Those for the better exploded runaway population density; those for the worse depleted resources. Either way, war broke out once again.
During their metastasis and apoptosis, prior empires wore themselves out to achieve devastating casualties we moderns induce with push-button ease. While disease and starvation scourged ancestral combatants even-handedly, we mix machete-wielding ethnicity with IED-vested pseudo-creeds, stir them together with torture rendition and drone strikes, and then inject additional starvation and epidemics on demand.
A thousand years from now, horrified archeologists (not necessarily homo sapiens) will dig up more blade-split, club-shattered, bullet-riddled, deliberately starved and diseased skeletons from 20th Century mass graves than in any older excavations.
What an “advanced” civilization ours turned out to be!
Nation-states at war follow an aperiodic cycle, a chaos equation, a kind of Morse code of alternating war and pseudo-peace. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy concluded that America undergoes a social revolution – almost like clockwork – fifteen years after each of its wars (in Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1938, p. 128). A Learner response to recent mayhem may remedy our knee-jerk, Reaganoid reaction to prior debacles ― or not. The political triumph by Trump and his masters of sociopathy has merely cultivated mass paranoia and subverted the Constitution by leaps and bounds.
Each in turn, military age cohorts let their golden youth be wrecked in war – win, lose or draw – then settle down. Recovering or not from the crippling aftereffects of combat, survivors inculcated their offspring with the same lunacy they were raised on, then sent them out to be shredded in turn.
Often enough, a pandemic of ultra-violence seems to have infected entire peoples. Almost every society has grappled with every neighbor. All of them conducted “World War” as deliberate foreign policy.
At one time, Chinese Emperors drew their palace guards from a remote colony of Roman legionary slaves they’d received as tribute from victorious Parthians. That empire stood between Rome and China, both of which fought and bartered with them and their ancestors through the ages.
Go anywhere fertile soil, abundant minerals or (worse yet) sacred ground has drawn humanity. There, in dirt at your feet, you will find traces of human blood spilt in organized violence. The artistic and reverential Neanderthals (whose brains were larger on the whole than ours) were hunted off the face of WeaponWorld. This Earth is pockmarked with the remnants of civilizations annihilated since.
“It is important to recognize that all wars are holy wars, not because of theological banners that may or may not be flown, but because the flowing of blood and the ripping of flesh consecrate the ground in the oldest and simplest sense we know. To kill and die on the battlefield, to mutilate and bleed, brings one before the dicing table of the gods, where luck and skill and courage combine to name the players definitively. Some will be chosen to play again tomorrow, some will be wounded and scarred, and some will be mutilated beyond recognition; but all have been gathered in the presence of the most real thing, to know and be known with the utmost clarity in an orgiastic festival of generosity and hatred. Where else can one find the opportunity to employ one’s deepest energies, so hedged and constrained as they are by common purpose? Where else can one freely offer them up to the gods to whom they so manifestly belong?” Dudley Young, The Origins of the Sacred: the Ecstasies of Love and War, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1991, p. 224.
Libraries great and small have attracted mass destruction ― from ancient China and the Near East to Dresden, Tokyo, Beirut, Amritsar, Sarajevo and Baghdad. Knowledge is power. Mass killing gets easier once the enemy has been blinded and deafened. (See).
Aryeh Neier wrote from the sniper-riddled rubble of Sarajevo, Bosnia, for The Nation magazine (May 3, 1993, p. 585). He concluded that a new pattern of assault is emerging: not targeting a specific prey population and its identity politics as one would expect, but attacking urbanity in general.
City dwellers develop a basic set of survival skills: cosmopolitanism, tolerance for strangers, broad-mindedness and a walk-a-mile-in-his-shoes attitude. The reduction of tensions becomes an ingrained habit among strangers who share a city ― in short, they become urbane.
There would be no need to lock your front door in a truly healthy community. The freedom of forgotten Babylon, of the world’s disappeared great-great grandparents. Abundance and justice brought forth by humanity and duty as predicted by Mengzi, (Mencius). Goodbye, devastating technologies; perhaps a passing interested in the best of them and their peaceful applications…
Enraged weapon sectarians (usually rural bigots and small town thugs) call for remedial doses of genocide the minute these urbane reflexes menace their stunted prejudices. They brand as cowardice any civilized attempt to ease their common dread of the Other.
Magnificent cities ‒ renowned for their brilliant commerce, piety and hospitality ‒ have been ravaged in recent years. A short list includes Jerusalem, El Qunietra, Nicosia, Belfast, Hue, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Jolo, Kabul, Beirut, Tehran, Baghdad, Herat, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Vukovar, Kuito, Ngiva, Monrovia, Grozny, Kigali, Oklahoma City, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Kuwait City, Baghdad, the cities of Palestine, New York City, Aleppo, Homs, Aleppo and Damascus. Many more have been targeted for this kind of destruction. Forgive me if I left out your war-torn hometown.
Alas, this all-too-human prejudice is nothing new. Chaosism – the deliberate infliction of ignorance, destruction and suffering for their own sake – may constitute weapon managers’ penultimate goal. Nuclear, biological, scalar and/or nano-biochemical omnicide would be their ultimate masterstroke ― assuming we let them get away with it.
Maturing weapon states can saddle themselves with elaborate, pauperizing arms industries. Nevertheless, it will take them years to maximize weapon production, long after every grandpa and child soldier has been marched off to die. Battle gear made during peacetime will be obsolete when it’s the most called for. Yet every nation-state stockpiles expensive and obsolete weapons – and deeds them to foreign nations in shady foreign aid schemes – to subsidize domestic weapons industries during peacetime. From then on, these weapons are handed down to countries the least able to afford their upkeep and the most vulnerable to the ruin they induce. They wind up ripping apart the poorest of the poor.
What about the international massacres we witness against our will during newscasts almost every night? Virtually every one of them has been a masterwork of one or more members of the United Nations Security Council that has remained shameless, unrepentant and so far unpunished for its unremitting sins.
It will be up to the World Court to compensate those victims at the expense of the Security Council every time it fails at its primary task: ensuring more security around world, not less.
Defeated nations often win the technological arms race. They tend to adopt the most up-to-date weapons and lethally modern tactics. Since their obsolete hardware was destroyed, their replacement equipment is state-of-the-art. On the other side, victorious generals often prepare for the last war they won and thus lose the next one.
Every weapon government adopts at least a dormant weapon technology. In so doing, it tries to deter takeover by more aggressive neighbors. Somnolent liabilities instead of emergency assets, these vestigial technologies atrophy, then bloat into pretexts for elite corruption, political repression and undue taxation. We info proletarians are compelled to exploit short-term profit, usury, environmental and workforce craziness to satisfy unsatisfiable weapons overheads.
Instinctively, weapons elites step up the level of social stress. If no valid reason exists, some bogus Cause can always be found. Class privilege; economic shell games; race, ethnic or religious bigotry; meaningless cultural controversies; private drug use; faith, magic and hysteria: the more trivial the controversy and the more intractable it seems, the better.
Political contenders renew factional bloodshed and police. Any stupid excuse will do. The silliest rivalries can be cultivated, shelved for a while and then dusted off at leisure. Smug bullies can always be recruited and handled with much less effort than the exceptional, charismatic peace leader who is manageable except by Truth and Justice. Entire societies revisit the evil consequences of repression (unforeseen as usual).
First, those of victims. They magnify the harm done to them, their absolute innocence and the bestiality of perpetrators whose ancestors, descendants and imitators are cackling demons of evil incarnate.
Second, evildoers attempt to erase public recall of the harm they’ve done. Creative explanations – both rational and irrational – justify much of their evil. Prior victimization figures prominently. Perpetrators find some way, any way, to shrug off their aching shame and ward off criticism after the fact. Their reflexive reaction is to protect their pricked conscience, if not their psychopath’s lack of such.
“Nothing much really happened. Their accusations are gross exaggerations. Everything that did take place was beyond our control. Someone else gave the orders. Besides, they deserved what they got.”
The third attitude is perhaps the most significant: that of onlookers. Many react with studied indifference and passivity, concluding that their interference could not influence outcomes except to earn them the role of next victim. On the contrary, the slightest interference by random onlookers makes most perpetrators hesitate; it allows their victims a momentary opportunity to defend themselves and slip away.
Every eyewitness to evil should grasp this basic truth: he protects himself best who obstructs it fearlessly and without hesitation. Learners must broadcast this lesson assiduously while info elites tend to suppress it. “Let the authorities handle that!” as they look the other way or direct the pogrom.
My own experience as a common witness? I must admit that I’ve trivialized the suffering of victims I’ve observed, more so perhaps than the victimizers have. I am therefore guiltier than them in the long run. And my well-deserved turn will come next, without anyone intervening.
When unspeakable acts are committed with official sanction, survivors must bear their share of guilt. According to Antjie Krog in Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa (p. 123), German theologians formulated four categories of war guilt after World War II (sic):
· criminal guilt for the hands-on killers;
· political guilt for politicians and their supporters who hired the killers;
· moral guilt for those who hated the killers but did not resist them to the death; and
· metaphysical guilt for the victims who survived.
Few German war resisters survived. The Nazis hunted them down with Teutonic thoroughness. I suspect that many more Germans resisted than those publicly admitted. Honest folk (both in and out of uniform) got so fed up with sick Nazi games that they gave themselves away. Disposing of them, their families, their friends and paperwork would have been child’s play. The Nazis’ options were many: random firing squads, the camps themselves, removal to ground zero in burning German cities, or one-way tickets to Penal Battalions on collapsing fronts.
Those few who resisted were fed into nocturnal blast furnaces, like a handful reluctant crickets in a cloud of loyal moths. A few bright flashes in a nighttime sky sparkling with uncounted sacrifices. Genuine Learners. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_resistance
What a shame that so few monuments remain to consecrate their memory, in Germany or elsewhere. This planet should be sown with heroic stone and bronze monuments commemorating every recalled act of personal resistance against tyranny. We require that continuous inspiration.
I recall a bronze statue portraying a ragged American infantryman cradling a starving child in his arms: the apotheosis of the America’s epic intervention during World War “Two.” Here is an example: http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/bw/h29275cfb#h29275cfb. (Image link provided courtesy of Christian J. Stewart Photography).
We should turn that ideal into a universal mantra. Its antithesis should become as unthinkable as cannibalism.