This Sunday, August 3, will mark the 100th anniversary to the day that the order given by the German Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke (aka Moltke the Younger) for a massive phalanx of German soldiers to invade Belgium, thereby launching the “Great War,” now known as World War I.
The German Kaiser Wilhelm was having second thoughts, given correspondences with his cousins, the czar of Russia and the king of England (yes, they were all cousins).
But von Moltke insisted on the attack. Backed by industrialists and armaments manufacturers, he contended the Schlieffen invasion plan, devised in 1905, had already been too long in the waiting.
Unleashed was a horror beyond the imagination: 16 million dead in four years, an abject dismantling of an imperfect yet most progressive continental culture ever known to mankind, and another 60 million killed by the inevitability of phase two of that war (World War II). Collaterally, the Middle East was carved up with artificial borders, creating many of the problems there today.
I propose that everyone so inclined set aside a moment this Sunday for reflective silence to ponder the depth of that horror, and to resolve that somehow humanity be spared repeat.
How in the world are we going to extricate ourselves now from inevitabilities that seem to be leading us to another horrible global war?
Right wing neoconservative war mongers in the U.S. are egging on a right wing Israeli regime to precipitate a wider conflict through an ongoing campaign to kill and terrorize captive innocent civilians in Gaza. But it could end very badly for Israel and all of us.
The new radical Islamic state, ISIS, just miles to the East in Iraq and Syria, has the resources and the resolve to present Israel with a decidedly unhappy outcome. U.S. neocons don’t care. They’d get the war they want.
Russian President Putin is stepping into this mess, picking a very poor time to put his own vainglorious lust for empire ahead of the kind of mature, measured and intelligent leadership needed to cool world tensions down.
However, American culture has been so corrupted in the last century by the poison of war with its mentally debilitating side effects – reducing the minds of millions to see the real world as some football game or violent video game parody – that this nation may be incapable of being the wise and sobering force of reason and concord it used to be.
But here’s what I can say: To the extent there are people on this planet who do not subscribe to the non-solutions of war, they really need to step up big time. Lives and efforts must be fully devoted to this. Dear reader, is this you?
As war clouds gathered for the resumption of Great War hostilities in 1939, the great British author E.M. Forster wrote a 22-page pamphlet entitled, “What I Believe.” In it he wrote: “I believe in aristocracy – if that is the right word and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based on rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not in swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke…With this type of person knocking about, and constantly crossing one’s path if one has eyes to see or hands to feel, the experiment of earthly life cannot be dismissed as a failure.”
Our only hope lies with this “aristocracy of the sensitive.” To the extent that this artistocracy is lulled by modern versions of “bread and circuses” diversions, such must snap out of moral lethargy and take the reins of history as never before.
Dear reader, is this you?