Category Archives: World War One

Holy War Unmasked

 Brian Victoria …… Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

Introduction: Is religion a force for peace or war? Or to borrow a phrase from the title of Christopher Hitchen’s book, God Is Not Great, does religion really poison everything, including the possibility of living in a peaceful world?

The answer is much like posing the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. That is to say, for every example cited to prove that religion has supported warfare and violence, other examples can be presented to show ways in which religion has contributed to peace and the avoidance of war, reconciliation between bitter enemies and the general betterment of humanity and the world. When the question is posed in this way, the debate is as endless as it is futile unless the “winner” is the side that amasses the greatest number of examples.

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War: Its Stark Truths

Richard Koenigsberg

Wars are fought–soldiers die–to testify to the truth of a society’s sacred ideal. If so many people die for an ideology—it must be real.

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Lessons from Napoleon’s Army for Today’s Military

Fred Reed, courtesy of the unZ Review, 3 March 2016 … .. where the title is “Reviving Napoleon’s Army – “Cry havoc, and Let Slip the Frogs of Yore”

It is curious how little military men know about war. You would think they would think about it more. Yet, oddly, they regularly misjudge practically everything concerning the dismal trade. Their errors are not the sort that inevitably must occur in a contest, as when a quarterback doesn’t pick up a blitz. They are fundamental misappreciations of war itself. The foregoing sounds both arrogant and improbable, like saying that dentists do not understand teeth. Actually it is neither.

The reasons are several. First, the military attracts certain kinds of men—authoritarian, hierarchical, conformist—who are not imaginative and do not think independently. Second, the appeal of the military is visceral, emotional, hormonal. Neither of these things is true of dentists. ww one SEE,ssl&ei=uRnhVoLBDcjujwOc_K3wAg#tbs=simg%3Am00&tbnid=Bf7qrmahwyhL2M%3A&docid=zJIqjHIqZHvxTM&tbm=isch&imgrc=JIqheGROOQLZvM%3A

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The Paradoxes of Anzac Australianness in the World Dispensation

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Library of Social Science Guest Newsletter Series, where the title is “Australian Nationalism and the Ideology of Sacrificial Death”

Addressing the practices of remembrance in Australia as an outsider Richard Koenigsberg has recently noted the irony of a battlefield defeat, that at Gallipoli in World War One in 1915, serving a people as an emblem of nationhood: the “Australian nation, came into being [on the foundations provided by] the slaughter of its young men.”

There is yet more irony. The commemoration of Australian courage, sacrifice and manliness at Gallipoli (and subsequently on the Somme) was threaded by tropes of youthful innocence that drew on classical Hellenic motifs; while the monuments and epitaphs that were crafted in Australia to mark this event were manifestly Greek in form. The gendered masculine metaphor, in its turn, was often embodied in the seminal image of a full-bodied blonde young man. “Archie Hamilton” in Peter Weir’s classic film Gallipoli was/is one such trope (and he died of course).

Gallipoli-Mel-Gibson-Mark-Lee-6  Mel-Gibson-Mark-Lee-in film GALLIPOLI

Archie in “Archie Hamilton,” the ‘natural’ country boy who died at Gallipoli in the film’s typical Aussie story line Continue reading


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Sacrificial Death in the Confirmation of Australian Nationhood

Richard A. Koenigsberg, whose essay is entitled Warfare, Sacrificial Death and Memorialization” in its original version for an international audience at itself part of a Newsletter series,

Wars are undertaken based on a structure of thought—a template enacted upon the stage of reality. In the first place—in order for a war to occur—there must be an “enemy:” a particular group or class of people imagined to be seeking to harm or to destroy one’s nation and its sacred values. Identification of this dangerous or threatening enemy generates the belief that it may be necessary to wage war—to defeat this enemy that threatens the existence of one’s nation.

Waging war requires engaging in battle, where some citizens may become casualties. Citizens who die in battle (often soldiers) are said to have made the “supreme sacrifice.” Their sacrificial death is conceived as a gift: they have given their lives to their country—so that the nation might live.

anzac memorials ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney

Subsequent to a war (or during it—as was the case in the First World War), a nation may create monuments—whose purpose is to preserve the memory of soldiers who have “given their lives” in the process of fighting for or defending the nation. Gravestones memorialize or symbolize the dead soldiers who have sacrificed their lives. Continue reading

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An Aussie Bloke’s Reflections on the Warring Mentality of Humankind, 1914 -2015

Walter Steensby

Hello Michael, At last I’ve read the entire paper.[1] Good analysis. Some comments follow, in no particular order.

Regarding Monis, recent reports of his mental health paint the picture of a man who was a lunatic rather than a terrorist. Some might ask, is there a difference? What annoys and saddens me about the whole episode is that Monis’ actions got the maximum possible media exposure, while the tragedy in Cairns at almost the same time, where that woman killed seven of her own children plus one other, was largely ignored. One doesn’t like to rank tragedies, but I would have thought that eight child murders are just as newsworthy as two adult murders. I cynically suggest that the Monis affair was emphasised to continue keeping the people afraid of infidels.

Recently I went to a musical (re)presentation of the International Congress of Women held in 1915 in The Hague….international_congress_women_560

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Koenigsberg on the Western INVESTMENT in Bloody Warfare and Suicidal Missions

Letter from Richard Koenigsberg to Michael Roberts, 21 May 2015

Again, your description is great—like to see more of this kind of “literary” prose. I think you have an idea of what I’m doing, but let me put it forward again (this is where it all began): I’m trying to point out that the West is DEEPLY IMPLICATED in “suicide missions” (SM as you call it, or is it S&M?) In the scene you just saw—and in nearly every battle in the First World War (and also in the Civil War), generals sent soldiers into battle with a high probability that they would be slaughtered. THE SCALE OF THIS DWARFS WHAT ANY TERRORIST ORGANIZATION HAS DONE.

Yet, for some strange reason, people in the West have difficulty seeing this: it’s right in front of our faces, yet we can’t see it. We take it for granted. It’s part of our culture. We take war for granted.

richard koenigsberg 22 Continue reading

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