Honouring the old lie

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Imagine the scene. A maniac has entered a house, intent on killing all there. The father of the family is away at work and arrives just as the maniac is about to start his lethal work. Heroically the father tries to stop the maniac in his tracks with a kitchen knife, but fails. The maniac then kills all in the family. On his way out he is run over by a bus.

If you were remembering these events, what would present itself as the most prominent feature of the slaughter? Most people, I suspect, would note two things: (i) the courage of the father in his effort to stop the carnage before it began; (ii) the horrible and meaningless waste of life all round –  no purpose, bringing only grief.

Now consider the Battle of the Somme. What happened? Well, an awful lot of people lost their lives. Counting the several months after the battle, some one million men on all sides were killed. How did they die? In a multitude of ways. The poignant lyrics of The Green Fields of France bring that home:

 

Well I hope you died well and I hope you died clean

Or young Willie McBride was it slow and obscene?

 

Why did they die? Because they were fed lies. That they were engaged in a noble battle for their country. That this was the war to end wars. That it’d be all over by Christmas. That it was a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country. The lies told by the imperial powers on both sides make the utterances of the BREXITeers today look like pure and shining truth.

What should we, one hundred years later, learn from this industrial-scale annihilation? That those who died were brave? Well yes. Although there’s no record of how many of them longed to get the hell out of there. So right,  significant bravery – that deserves commemoration.

Anything else? Yes – far more important than any courage shown by the tens and hundreds of thousands who died: the pointlessness of it all. It didn’t bring a world free of wars; it didn’t create, in England or Germany (or Ireland) a home fit for heroes. The Somme and other similar battles from the Great War simply opened their gaping mouths and ground the life out of young, gullible men.

Do we commemorate – or even mention – the pointlessness of so many deaths? Do we take any lessons from it? Do we make speeches vowing that we will never again allow our sons to be led off to foreign fields to butcher others and be butchered in turn?

No. No lessons here. Only sweet-sad bugle calls and sighs at the nobility of their sacrifice.

 

Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,

The killing, the dying was all done in vain.

For young Willie McBride it all happened again

And again, and again, and again, and again.

 

At how many cenotaphs and war memorials will that verse be sung?

 

 

25 Responses to Honouring the old lie

  1. Scott July 1, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    The Great War was one of the worse waste of life in human history. The scale and pointlessness of it is staggering and it should serve as an example of what can happen when nation states compete rather than cooperate.

    I struggle to see what the point your making here though Jude, whether you think anyone marking there deaths today are wrong or whether the tone of the commerations is what you object to or something else entirely,but I don’t really care on this day about your objections.

    The reason I will be honouring them today is to pay respect to the death of hundreds of thousands of my fellow countrymen as well as the death of my fellow human beings on the other side and as a poignant reminder of the danger of rampant nationalism with there myopic view of the world.

    Each will have there own reasons for honouring or condemning the men who died this day and each to there own. I would not assume to tell them what to do or what is right.

    • Ryan July 1, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      “I struggle to see what the point your making here though Jude”

      I don’t see how you could be struggling Scott, Jude has been very clear what his point is: the pointlessness of WW1 and almost every other War/Battle and why this is being ignored at times of Commemorations. The men who died in WW1 died for nothing, my great grandfather was one of them, he was a Sargent in the British Army. It was basically a War of Imperialism, not for Freedom, not for the Good of Humanity, etc Indeed when the War was over the great concern of politicians wasn’t making sure such a War would never be repeated but who was to get the biggest share of Germany’s colonies in East Africa, Germany’s Gold reserves, Germany’s natural resources (especially Coal/Iron), etc.

      Jude, I think, is pointing this out and how this is continually ignored. Of course everyone has the right to commemorate their dead but lessons aren’t learnt when the facts of what the War was about are ignored or at the worst faked and made up.

      “I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder” – Harry Patch, last surviving British veteran of the First World War, died 2009.

      • billy July 1, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

        works both ways how many here died for to return to stormont.

      • Scott July 2, 2016 at 1:15 am #

        Yes I would agree Ryan that the First World War was completely pointless and if that’s the analysis Jude was coming to that’s fair enough.

        It’s not, however fair to say that the commmerations have not acknowledged this point. I have watched and participated in the commenarations today and the fact of pointlessness and awful loss was plain and clear. The reasons of why the various nations fought and why the men fought were aired and debated and all sides were represented.

        The overall feeling I have from the ceremonies today was not one of glorification or militarism. The overwhelming feeling I felt from the coverage was one of sadness at the terrible loss of life, with the BBC focusing on the personal stories of the combatives.

        My question is does Jude’s article try to imply that there is a problem with this coverage and if so what specifically about the commmerations upset him? I thought they were well balanced and struck the right tone.

  2. truthrevisionist July 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    Lies indeed.

    The same lies we are fed today.

    So who had them ‘butchered’ using these lies?

    Well here’s their names again;

    JP Morgan, Paul Warburg, Bernard Baruch, Eugene Meyer, Jacob Schiff, Louis Brandeis,
    Samuel Untermeyer Alfred Rothschild.

    And if you care enough to look further into the slaughter, than the sanitised lies that constitute your daily rations, you might pass on wikipedia trash and take the time to read these two articles:

    https://thedaysofnoah.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-rothschild-1901-1919-the-secret-creators-of-world-war-1/

    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/allwarsarebankerwars.php#axzz4D9vkyVg2

    • Wolfe tone July 2, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Truthrevisionist, unfortunately some folk view the world as black and white. We have people in this part of the world who DONT want to contemplate that the democracy they believe in would actually carry out terrorist attacks. They DONT want to believe that a government would stoop so low as to mirror the ‘bad guys’ by carrying out and encouraging terrorist attacks. This kind of Stockholm syndrome allows them to make excuses and blame it on a few bad apples etc.

      These same people would howl if the IRA blamed some of their activities on a few bad apples within its ranks. A rogue unit here and there. They would howl and mock if such excuses were put forward. They would howl and claim it was a ‘conspiracy theory’ and yet they howl ‘conspiracy theory’ when others claim the British government was up to its neck in terrorism and that it wasn’t a few bad apples or rogue cops.

      • truthrevisionist July 2, 2016 at 11:56 pm #

        Wolfe tone

        Unfortunately you are correct.

        ‘Cognitive dissonance’ plagues the sheeple.

        From Operation Gladio to 9/11 – the false flags keep coming – from our ‘terrorist governments’.

        And the slaves keep parroting the ‘conspiracy theorist’ mantra that their owners tell them.

        They tell them ‘there are no conspiracies – only co-incidences’.

        And they commemorate their masters’ crimes upon them, like rottweilers listening to Mozart.

        They empower ‘species’ like Barbara Spectre ,George Soros, Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke and Christine Lagarde to steal their countries and destroy their cultures.

        ISIS, The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Al Nusra, etc etc. – ALL Mossad, CIA, MI5/6, pseudo gangs,- manufactured to keep the sheeple in fear and take away their liberty.

        Fear and Wars make money.

        Peace and love of fellow human beings, has no value to these psychopaths.

  3. Ethna glover July 1, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Some of the poets got the sentiment exactly. Gérard manly h for example

  4. billy July 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    many of the brexiteers maybe had the courage shown by their men in the war in their heads when they voted.seeing 10s of thousands of able bodied fighting aged men arriving saying they were refugees they must be thinking why didnt they stay and fight and voted on that.

  5. Twinbrook Lad July 1, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07hhvy5

    On a personal level for the average Tommy it must have been a harrowing experience. The above link is a podcast with interviews from the soldiers at the front line. Horrific stuff. Download, earphones, dark room, listen. See how you feel after that

  6. jessica July 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    I would say WW1 was mainly down to colonialism.

    The best way to avoid another such war would be to an end colonialism in favour of better relations between nations, respecting differences and encourage economic and social cooperation.

    It is quite incredible indeed that just over 100 years on we are faced with another modern day version of colonialism led once again by Germany and is allies under the guise of the EU, a split with Britain and a drive towards the creation of a new EU cantered focus on security, including control of energy lines, communications, cyber attacks as well as measures that will lead to the creation of a single army, considered necessary because of the strength of the USA.

    Add to this the extension of land borders to bring two fronts this time with Russia and its allies in the middle east.

    If the EU is allowed to continue, WW3 will make WW1 pale in comparison.

    Though it may be a lot less bloody what with all those nuclear deterrents they will be wanting next.

  7. Antaine de Brún July 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    In his novel, ‘The Great Push’, Patrick MacGill challenges the lie.

    “The justice of the cause which endeavours to achieve its object by murdering and

    maiming of mankind is apt to be doubted by a man who has come through a bayonet

    charge.”

    “The dead lying in the fields seem to ask/Why has this been done to us?/Why have

    you done it brothers?/What purpose has it served?

  8. Perkin Warbeck July 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    The bugle note your blog sounds today, Esteeemed Blogmeister, is one that has been somewhat more noticeable by its absence than its presence down here in the Free Southern Stateen.

    That would be the questioning note.

    The contrast could hardly be more stark. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this starkness is to refer to a comic strip which was once the most popular in the Beano till it was eventually overtaken by Denis the Menance and the barking of his dog, Gnasher.

    That would have been Lord Snooty and his Pals. One of his schoolboy pals was a singular fellow called Thomas. His disposition was immediately flagged by his distinctive hair style: it was shaped like a question mark.

    So popular indeed was Thomas with the discerning readership of the Beano that he graduated to having his own comic strip all to himself, appropriately called ‘Doubting Thomas’.

    Put bluntly, whereas your blog, EB, resembles the Doubting Thomas it is his uncle, Tom, who has been making all the noises down here south of the Black Sow’s Dyke.

    And that noisssse has been spelt with the four s’s: subdued, solemn, stern and sombre.

    Indeed, if one were foolhardy enough to raise the q-word along the quays of Liffeyside , he would indubitably get as short shrift as the other q-word (no names, no pack drills).

    The same Uncle Toms are the avuncular types who were bellyaching about ‘1916 Commemoration Fatigue’ as recently as Eastertime and even before hand; no such disgruntled carping is liable to be heard with regard to ‘1914-1918 Commemoration ’. Despite the incontrovertible fact that the officially approved signature tune south of the Black Sow’s Dyke has been:

    -Play it again, Somme.

    Pithily put: Trench foot, good: Trench coat, bad.

    To say that the DOBland media has gone as much, erm, OTT as the khaki-clad clods in muddied putees at the Somme is both to make the acquaintance of and shake hands with a plain fact.

    With belt-fed bromides being fired with the rapidity of a Maxim gun for the past two years from the same media it is little wonder that such a gob-smacker of a school scheme as ‘M.A.S.’ has been publicized with great gusto.

    M.A.S. stands for My Adopted Soldier. It is a wheeze which has been launched, erm, nationwide, i.e. the l. and b. of the 26 C schools in which impressionable children are encouraged to research the specific time-span in their locality. All done in the hope and expectation of finding first and then adopting a local attendee / non returnee at/ from the Great Donkey Derby.

    -Biodh Meas agat ar an M.A.S. / Be proud of M.A.S.

    Padraig Pearse, the Poster Boy of the Trench-coat tendency, was afflicted with a squint; hence the reason his profile always appeared in profile. It is probably the most infamous squint in the history of the printed word in West Britannia.

    Not only did the P. Pearse have a squint himself but he was the cause of others to look squint-eyed at him. Thus, such comments of the type derogatory have become commonplace in the nudge and wink of civil discourse in the FSS:

    -If he wasn’t exactly a cross-dresser then he was certainly cross -eyed.

    Put it another way, the name of Poster Boy Padraig Pearse is spoken on Official LIffeyside with all the warmth normally lavished on such other P-words as, say, polyp or paedophile.

    Conversely, the Poster Boy of the Trench-foot tendency has neither merited nor demertied a single, solitary syllable on today of all days. Not on RTE, for sure. Even from the professional proletarian fish and chips lips of Joe’Talk to Me’ Duffy who has been motor mouthing like good-o to the nation on the station of the n. today re the Somme.

    Contrary to a duplicitous Dame Rumour, Compassionate Joe who penned a touching book on the 40 Irish chisellers killed. before. their. time during Easer 1916, is obviously not doing a similar tome on the 400,000 non-Irish garcons iced during the Great Donkey Derby.

    More is less, more or less.

    It is not exactly as if the Free Southern Stateen is exactly lacking in a Poster Boy for the Trench-foot tendency.. For that Poser Boy is probably the icon of all Poster Boy kitsch.
    Lord Kitchener (for it is he !) is the polar opposite of P. Pearse in the iconography of kitsch: instead of being an evasive go-be-the-wall –eyed pin-upper the Kerryman was a straight-in-your-eye kinda guy. Who liked to points his walking out finger at you, yes, YOU.

    He was also an authenticated paedophile of industrial proportions who probably, erm, Rogered as many teenaged boys as ended up as bullet dodgers on the Somme, not.

    When ever Field Marshal Horatio Herbert K. was on furlough (a daaaarlin’ word, Joxer), according to A.N. Wilson ‘ he would move from Great Aristocratic House to Great Aristocratic House wherein the well informed young boys would request their servants to sleep across their bedroom threshold, to impede the entrance of the rampant Kerryman’.

    Indeed, it is not exactly as if the FSS is lacking in a reminder of the Poster Boy. For quite eerily on cue a hundred years, almost to the day, later, an event occurred which had the Walking Out Finger of history pointing firmly and unflinchingly in the direction of another kitchener, one Captain Cook.

    That would be, of course, Eamon Cook, the notorious paedophile who died last month at the age of 79. He gave himself the title of Captain as boss of the most popular pirate station, Radio Dublin, ,during the 80S. It now transpires that he is the chief, albeit posthumous, suspect re the mysterious disappearance of Dublin schoolboy, Philip Cairns.

    On October 23, 1986, at the age of 13 he vanished into less than plump air while returning to his school on foot after lunch. Two elements of this strange story have resonances of P. Pearse : the school in question was Colaiste Eanna, in Rathfarnham while the HQ of Radio Dublin was located at the time opposite Kilmainham Jail.

    But, of course, as it was the two elements of Lord Kitchener (paedophilia and grooming for slaughter) rather than those of P. Pearse, which were apropos neither warranted a mench in the media , even by way of an eerie coincidence.

    Pourquoi ?

    As they say on Sommeside.

    Could it be, perchance, because, in the immortal paroles of Charlie ‘Je suis Charles’ Flanagan,’ relations have never been better between our two islands? Any provocative action – such as a Border Poll – would be irresponsible’.

    Certainly, the ubiquitous presence today at the Somme of responsible representatives from the Irish Foreign Office and various generations of the Saxe-Coburg-Goths (what a family ! what a squabble !) would seem to confirm that rather assertive assertion.

    (Perhaps, a production of ‘Observe the Huns of Ulster Marching to the Somme’ is on the cards ?).

    To conclude with a delicious, finger-licking , finger-pointing sporting clash which is in prospect: this very evening, on the somber Centenary of the Somme, Wales will face Belgium in the Euros 2016.

    Lining out for little, defenceless Belgium will be, of course, Prince Harry, aka ‘Kevin de Bruyne’. One wonders will his da (alleged) the Prince of Wales be there to cheer on d’opposition?

    That indeed is the question du jour.

    Only time and its chronicler of record, The Unionist Times, will tell.

  9. Paul Woods July 1, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more Jude how terribly sad that there will be more wars again and again and again and again

  10. Belfastdan July 1, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    The 36th Ulster Division were formed from the UVF who in turn were formed to ensure that Ulster would not be ruled by a Home Rule parliament in Dublin. In short if it had not been for WW they were prepared to kill their fellow country men who did not share their political nor their religious allegiances.

    The 16th Irish Division were formed to defend Home Rule and to ensure that it would be granted. They had no animosity towards Ulster Protestants and in they end they were persuaded by Redmond and Devlin to fight for King and country to show that they were worthy of Britain’s largesse in granting Home Rule.

    What we know and what they did not know was that Britain had already decided to partition Ireland and allow a “Protestant state for a Protestant people” to be formed no matter what the wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland wanted. So young Nationalists went to their deaths on the basis of a lie. How many would have went if they had known the truth?

    One also has to feel for the men from the 3 excluded Ulster counties who were also sold a lie and died thinking that their parts of Ulster would be saved from Home Rule?

    If we take one lesson from this anniversary nothing a British government says can ever be taken at face value. The dead of WW1 lie some still in the fields where they fell, perfidious Albion lives on.

  11. Sherdy July 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    But Jude, we see every year how Britain appreciates the unstinting sacrifices of all those who were slaughtered in both world wars.
    Britain is really generous with the victims and their families – like hell they do!
    Every year since those dastardly wars old comrades and relatives of victims have to stand out in the public streets begging, and trying to make it look respectable by offering a little paper poppy in recognition of whatever money is offered by the gullible public.
    But it still boils down to the fact that they have to beg for the upkeep of the victims, while the government get off financially virtually scot free – although when it comes to their remembrance day government members and royalty, who have not stood out in the cold helping with the begging, will take centre stage, knowing its the place where the ‘right’ people are to be seen
    Also Jude, you seem to have fallen for the warmonger propaganda by using the words ‘Great War’ – what the hell is ‘great’ about 20 million-plus being slaughtered?

    • billy July 1, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

      sounds like history repeats itself the way you explain it.victims forgot,draft dodgers in cushy jobs,soldiers after the war on the street because the social houses in their towns are given to strangers,politicians in photo shoots.if you closed your eyes and thought about it you could be here.

  12. PF July 1, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    “At how many cenotaphs and war memorials will that verse be sung?”

    I think you make a grave mistake, Jude, if you assume that the remembrance each November is a glorification of war.

  13. Ryan July 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    World War 1 and World War 2 are both full of historical lies and revisionism.

    Many people, Unionists in particular, claim both Wars were for “Freedom”. That’s a blunt lie and its a very hypocritical lie too since Britain was at the forefront at that time in denying freedom to numerous countries and people around the globe. The British even promised the likes of Ireland and India home rule if their peoples bleed to death on the fields of Europe but when this was done Britain went back on their word and betrayed all those who died. Noble? Honourable?……

    Its also important to remember that it was Britain, not Germany, that declared war in both WW1 and WW2. Yes of course you can point out Germany invaded Poland but so did the Soviet Union, indeed the Soviet Union also annexed Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and the northern regions of Romania, why no declaration of war against the Soviets?….

    Then after the slaughter of WW1 was over, both Britain and France was determined to humiliate the German people and nation with the Treaty of Versailles. One of the many articles in this treaty intentionally created to enforce shame and humiliation on Germany was the “Guilt Article”, blaming Germany for the War (even though it was Britain that declared War on Germany). Then Germany (already bankrupt) was forced to pay for the entire damage of the War, its Army shrunk down to 100,000 men, its Navy just 6 small battleships and no air force. This humiliation was what lead to Germans turning to extremists like the Nazis and Communists (Munich was took over by Communists for a time).

    Unionists often refer to De Valera issuing condolences to Germany on the death of Adolf Hitler. Well, what they fail to mention was De Valera explained he issued those condolences because he wasn’t going to add to the humiliation and suffering of the German people at a time when over 2 million German women were raped by Soviet soldiers, millions of German civilians were marched East to do slave labour and their country was in ruins. Maybe if Britain did similar at the end of WW1 then WW2 would never have happened.

    The Battle of the Somme has been hijacked by Unionists here, even a British soldier said that recently in a newspaper article. My great grandfather on my fathers mother’s side died in WW1, it could’ve been at the Somme but I honestly don’t know. Unionism claims the men at the Somme died for freedom but many of those same men who died at the Somme were arming themselves, threatening treason and opposing democracy/freedom for the Irish people just a few short years before in 1912. So again, the facts expose the propaganda.

    I’m proud of my great grandfather who died in WW1 but the reality is he didn’t die for freedom, he was fighting for selfish, Imperialistic English men in London who couldn’t care less about Irish men, Unionist or Nationalist, going to their deaths. My other great grandfather on my father’s fathers side DID fight and nearly die for freedom when he went with other Irish men and women and seized the GPO in Dublin and other locations in the Easter of 1916…..

  14. Wolfe tone July 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    Well thank the gods that NATO has put the brakes on more futile loss of life. Thank the gods that NATO has managed to put the brakes on Europeans killing one and other. We just kill non Europeans these days…..thanks to NATO. Bless their cotton socks.

  15. Am Ghobsmacht July 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

    I thought that Blackadder Goes Forth summarised it all perfectly.

  16. Harry McAvinchey July 4, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    As far as why World War One was ever fought at all , you could do no better than re-watch “37 Days” . It was first broadcast in 2014 and is by far the best I’ve seen on the subject…it’ll lay out every detail in the most prosaic way and possibly leave you reeling.I believe it’s on DvD but it might be available on the net somewhere too.

    Sometimes I wonder about people.For example when a comparison is made how a manipulated population will act at any given time , surely anyone with a little wit and wisdom can see exactly how and why that works . It’s not as if we are not now educated people. We know how Pavlov could train a dog to bark at the ringing of a particular bell at any given time. We know how any animal , human or otherwise, can be trained to do anything . We know that animals of any sort can be trained because we have seen the evidence in our everyday lives. It’s not even hypnotism . It’s done when people are turned into soldiers and learn to kill proficiently. They have to be prepared to revive those ancient predatory instincts and kill their fellow man.It is the same thing when people are convinced and trained to accept fear as their driver .How else do you get a people who might otherwise be loving family -men or women to accept going into a war with Iraq as Tony Blair did? It’s much the same when you build people’s fears about something like immigration .You are training them to bark when a bell rings. The Brexit vote to all intents was an exercise in inciting that fear of “the other”. It’s a very primitive response but it can easily be unleased.I heard some very confused man on the radio literally fumbling to explain his reasons for voting leaving the EU. In effect he actually didn’t know what “stay” or “leave ” literally meant, so he may well have put his X in either one of the two boxes.It hardly mattered what the man understood or didn’t. In his demented mind there was evidence in the Bible to the effect that the EU was behind all his ills.Naturally enough he lived in some dark corner of Norneverland. You sometimes really have to wonder.

  17. paddykool July 4, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    As far as the whys and wherefores of the First World War is concerned , “37 Days” which was aired in three parts in 2014 is about the best I’ve seen. It might leave you stunned at how ridiculous was the lead- up to the slaughter of millions of people.It’s available on DVD but it may also be available somewhere on the net.

    Sometimes I wonder about people.For example when a comparison is made how a manipulated population will act at any given time , surely anyone with a little wit and wisdom can see exactly how and why that works . It’s not as if we are not now educated people. We know how Pavlov could train a dog to bark at the ringing of a particular bell at any given time. We know how any animal , human or otherwise, can be trained to do anything . We know that animals of any sort can be trained because we have seen the evidence in our everyday lives. It’s not even hypnotism . It’s done when people are turned into soldiers and learn to kill proficiently. They have to be prepared to revive those ancient predatory instincts and kill their fellow man.It is the same thing when people are convinced and trained to accept fear as their driver .How else do you get a people who might otherwise be loving family -men or women to accept going into a war with Iraq as Tony Blair did? It’s much the same when you build people’s fears about something like immigration .You are training them to bark when a bell rings. The Brexit vote to all intents was an exercise in inciting that fear of “the other”. It’s a very primitive response but it can easily be unleased.I heard some very confused man on the radio literally fumbling to explain his reasons for voting leaving the EU. In effect he actually didn’t know what “stay” or “leave ” literally meant, so he may well have put his X in either one of the two boxes.It hardly mattered what the man understood or didn’t. In his demented mind there was evidence in the Bible to the effect that the EU was behind all his ills.Naturally enough he lived in some dark corner of Norneverland. You sometimes really have to wonder.