Saturday, 11 January 2014

MIchael Gove, Blackadder and our childrens futures.

Michael Gove "thinks it is important not to denigrate the patriotism, honour and courage demonstrated by ordinary British soldiers in the First World War."

He believes that "Blackadder" denigrates these.

When in fact "Blackadder", as satire, tries to show the futility of patriotism, honour and courage in a situation largely brought about by Political Power peopled by individuals who lack any or all of these qualities. (the 'patriotism' of General Staff had more to do with position, influence, career prospects, income and power than anything else: it was selfish rather than selfless)

In other words, the narcissistic self interest of the ruling classes of Europe, and their concerns about Empire dominated their deliberations and behaviour, and they used dedicated, professional and sophisticated propaganda to suggest otherwise to the people they Rule, and forced them to engage in a brutal war to meet those narcissistic perceived needs.

A bit like the way the BBC, Government (all sides) and the Mainstream Media are using dedicated, professional and sophisticated propaganda to suggest that the poor are work-shy, the disabled are blaggers, the elite rich are to be praised, the banks are to be supported and the country will be over run by Romanians .... and that the problems in Iraq today have nothing to do with the illegal and cruel invasion of Iraq in 2003 by US/UK Power, with allies....

To associate the qualities of 'honour and courage' with the realities of trench warfare in 1914-1918 is ideological posturing and wilful ignorance.

Rather Michael Gove, as Education Minister, who by his office,which he has chosen to inhabit, has a fiduciary, corporate and personal responsibility to all the children who go through the State Education system ought to consider the sheer horror so many, on all sides, were forced - conscription is coercion - to endure whilst those who sent them into harms way sought to gain from the situation a crucial lesson to be learned from, in order to prevent such outcomes in the future.

But of course, he and his colleagues are supportive of, for example, the contracted ATOS assessments of disabled folk's ability to work, as a mechanism to reduce public expenditure on services for vulnerable people. In other words, they hold their ideology above the welfare of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Gove and his colleagues across Parliament and elsewhere were also supportive of Tony Blair's war for 'Iraqi Freedom' which is today being played out in Fallujah with horrific results, years after the US and UK Government proclaimed end of that war.

What he will not do, of course, is confront the realities of that War. Of any war for that matter. He is not unique in this. Far from it, the standard Institutional denial of the full realities of war is a central theme in Governance, in State Education, in the mainstream media and elsewhere. We see this in the comments sections across various media all the time..... "They fought to preserve our freedom!"

A few points regarding World War I, and the British Government:

1.The Liberal Government of the time were blackmailed by their own desire to remain in Power above all else - key members of their own cabinet and party who refused the Party Whip, and threatened to resign if the Liberal Party stuck by it's own memberships wish* and policy to avoid being drawn into a war which did not directly involve Britain or protect Britain's strategic interests. Those resignations would have led immediately to a General Election which the Liberals would have lost. The Governments urge to go to war had less to do with European politics and honour than it had to do with their individual desire to remain in Power. Of course, they could not be honest about this in public, and thus the propaganda campaign was launched to sell the war to the British people. Nothing much has changed in the last 100 years in this regard.

On August 1st and 2nd, Liberal Associations across the UK met and voted that the government should pass a resolution of neutrality. "

source :

2. Conscription was introduced because Britain was not prepared or ready to mobilise for a war in Europe, and it worked primarily because so many young males were unemployed, and without benefits as we know them, and it was the combination of effective propaganda and poverty which acted as the key incentives.

3. The General Staff of the Army were gung-ho, ideologically driven, professionally clueless, unwilling to admit it, and their ineptitude and dysfunction led directly to the huge degree of attrition which was the result of trench war fare with industrial weaponry.
“In print, Haig attacked a skeptic who dared question the usefulness of a cavalry charge in the age of the machine gun and the repeating rifle. It was as strong a tactic as ever, Haig was certain, since the “moral factor of an apparently irresistible force, coming on at highest speed … affects the nerves and aim of the … rifleman.”

source : Hochschild, Adam (2011-05-03). To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (Kindle Locations 819-821). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

4. The troops in the trenches very quickly lost their patriotism, given the ineptitude and amorality of the General Staff and the suffering they endured following insane orders. Patriotism was replaced with a desire for revenge, which drove the fighting on all sides, which is understandable in the circumstances where thousands upon thousands of troops were mown down in pointless attacks directed by General Staff, and where the soldiers had no possibility of confronting the General Staff with their ineptitude, and had the 'enemy' troops, mostly poor conscripts like themselves, to project their fury and anger onto.

And yet, that fabled moment of  a football match on no-mans land during Christmas between both sides shows that many did indeed understand they were in the same situation, poor human beings being directed by rich human beings to exercise outrageous violence against each other, just on different sides. The human side of war, the vulnerability of people caught up in it, is rarely the concern of Politicians.

5. The standard school texts on World War I do not pose a critical analysis from which students could learn about the realities, the context and the lived experience and meaning of war, and appear to focus on glorifying and justifying the slaughter as a noble and necessary sacrifice for freedom against a determined and evil foe.

6. World War I was none of these.
If anything it was a a combination of Empire Logic and dreadful error, made by leaders whose own psychology was so dysfunctional that they were unwilling or incapable of acting rationally or humanely. It was a war of Empire, with various Empires seeking to thwart the aims of each other,and to come out on top. The way in which territory was 'carved up' after the Armistice proves this to be the case.

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's Your Gift to Universe

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