View Full Version : a small essay thinking about armistice day and the impending end of the decade

11-11-2009, 08:54 AM
Today is Armistice Day, November 11th. Armistice Day, also known as Veteran’s Day, is a day to remember veterans. It started as the anniversary of when world war one ended on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918. When it ended world war one was the most terrible conflict in history, it was widely believed that there would never be another war like it. It was the “war to end all wars”. In fact a common idea was that since ”the great war” was over then there would never be another war, it was the brink of a new golden age. That could not have been farther from the truth.

The Versailles treaty did not achieve its goals, it kept Germany down but not down enough to stop the eventual rise of the national socialist party. Really it was an example of humanitarianism and mediation failing colossally. Though there was a brief economic boom for the allies it quickly gave way to the depression of the 1930s. It seems from todays perspective that at this point in history, the winners of the first wolrd war were just as bad off as the losers and sometimes worse. This was not the first time this has happened, indeed the whole 20th century, and the first decade of the
21st, has been chock-full of failed attempts at peaceful solutions to violent problems. Right after the second world war ended (with the atomic bombing of Japanese cities) the cold war started up and a half century of smaller conflicts between the USA and the now defunct USSR seemed always ready to start the next world war. It seems that people are able to recognize evil but as a collective, they don’t. I recall George Orwell writing about seeing a hanging in India and being horrified yet being unable to do
anything about it. He and the officers with him had a good laugh at the hanged man's expense, they knew what they were doing but in being part of a larger social engine, they could not allow humanitarianism to interfere with a bloodthirsty variation on bureaucracy.

I would argue that for roughly the entire “modern” era the developed world has constantly been rushing from one conflict or disaster straight into the arms of another. There have been brief periods, even decades, where it seemed we were finally about to enter the golden age that so many late 19 century writers and philosophers predicted. Both the 1990s and the 1920s come to mind. I have heard it argued that “90% of flying a plane is course correction” but I disagree, if an economic system is working
LESS than 50% of the time then that means the negative aspects of it are outweighing the positive, then that system has failed. Communism as we knew it failed with the fall of the Berlin wall and capitalism as
we try to live it is struggling right now and has been for some time. I think that currently the world’s great societies are in the same place they were just prior to the first world war. The British Empire was
fighting insurgents on several fronts and new powers like the United States were rising to take its place once it went down for the count. There were new things on the way, great and terrible things which the
average person could not possibly imagine.
I was thinking about these things yesterday as I rode my bicycle past a school at 11 in the morning. A small boy was standing on the jungle gym staring intently at me, the sun was behind him at such an angle that it looked like a burning halo. We never know what the future or the next generation will have in store, and it’s a strange thing to feel old at the age of 20.I’m thinking about armistice day, and I’m thinking how perhaps armistice day celebrates each moment when we are somehow not killing eachother, which given typical history is quite an accomplishment. I just hope the world that in the world we give to that small boy on the jungle gym, hangings will be recognized by all people for what they are.

11-12-2009, 12:50 AM
Since Bird and Bear and Hare and Fish is for poetry only, I am moving this to TBack.

11-12-2009, 10:42 AM
While you appear to make a solid argument, you are simply stating facts (via historical events) and a very rudimentary analysis on the nature of politics. I would say that the entire centralized nature of war, that is I mean that it truly envelops all countries into a new system of its own kind, is nothing more than a series of repetitions that lead a la Choose Yr Own Adventure to one of three endings: peace, begrudging takeover, and decimation. If we extrapolate the Kierkegaardian idea of repetition from being the only true love and a way to explore the ideals and ideas of the mind, body, soul, and connection to God (while I am a staunch atheist, I must use this term as it is hugely influential to combat) to a way to explore the concept of war, strategy, and a connection to the public, we see stunning parallels. Discuss.