Sunday, November 11, 2018

A hundred years

Today marks the centenary of the end of the first world war. While it wasn't quite the world's stupidest war - that title probably goes to the Football War or the War of Jenkins' Ear - it ranks among them. Greedy, self-important aristocrats piled up the tinder for decades, with their bullshit concerns about empire and prestige and spheres of influence, so that in the end all it took was one spark. One dead Archduke killed 17 million of us.

Not that they did well out of it. Their empires fell, and in the "winners", their class was almost annihilated (I guess noblesse oblige was good for something). But we got the worse end of the deal. Their selfish war fucked up the entire twentieth century: the Russian Revolution, the inevitable rematch with Germany, and the subsequent Cold War can all be traced to the First World War. And we're still living with the aftermath, in the shape of the contradictory promises made by Britain to conquer the Middle East, and the artificial countries it left there.

The First World War is a warning of the danger of giving our political elites the power to wage war. While their stupidity couldn't kill all of us then, it can now. Stupidity, greed and selfishness being inevitable amongst elites, the only way we can defend ourselves from them is to disarm them. Peace is our only protection. And next time they tell us to fight, we should tell them to go fuck themselves.