Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Saturday 1 February 2014

606: A Bit "Previous" - The First World War

In a post here two years ago concerning the marking of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I wrote the following:

And reflecting on the saturation coverage makes me tremble when I ponder what extraordinary levels of excess the world's media will reach when we arrive at the 100th anniversary of the start of the "War to end all wars."

Well, well.  My understanding is that the BBC is planning four years of coverage - coverage which, rather like this post has begun early.

Given my well-known reactionary views, I am concerned that there will be a great deal of revisionist rubbish written - this perfectly natural suspicion having been reinforced by the BBC's publishing of a piece written by one Dr Gary Sheffield.  Dr Sheffield's piece ends with the following paragraph:

Far from being fought over trivial issues, World War One must be seen in the context of an attempt by an aggressive, militarist state to establish hegemony over Europe, extinguishing democracy as a by-product. To argue that the world of 1919 was worse than that of 1914 is to miss the point. A world in which Imperial Germany had won World War One would have been even worse.

Whilst I accept that the point might be arguable, I consider this statement to be bollocks.    Several historians have opined (sorry I do not have the sources) that had the "Miracle of the Marne"  not occurred and in consequence, the Imperial German Army had taken Paris in 1914, then there would have been an armistice, some minor adjustments of borders perhaps and everyone would have gone home - at least in the West.  Then what? No bloody Lenin and his genocidal successor, no bloody Hitler, maybe no ghastly slump etc., etc.

Further the article repeatedly drones on about "democracy" which is a word, as holy today (almost anyway) as "Issslaaam"  (a funny point in itself, on reflection).  The implication that somehow the Allies were "fighting for democracy" is at the very least mischievous, if not downright erroneous.

The Allies, and indeed the Central Powers, were fighting because the whole of pre-war Europe was, as a result of complex alliances, a powder-keg waiting for a spark to set it off.  I will concede that the self-aggrandising character of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his unwillingness to restrain Austria were major contributing factors.

I consider the First World War ultimately to have been a tragic failure of diplomacy, not of democracy!

Finally, try to find the time to read this piece.  It was written in 1928 by Arthur (later Lord) Ponsonby, a Labour politician and incidentally father of tragic "bright young thing" Elizabeth Ponsonby.  Ponsonby's piece puts the lie to many myths about the war.  Myths have a knack of being very persistent - think of King Richard III...

Until the next time.

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