Monday, July 28, 2014

Centenary of World War I



Today (July 28) is the centenary of World War I (WWI).  The War started as a family affair and then spread to the whole world because of more family affairs.  Wars are, more often than not, family affairs even today.  We, the human beings, are still as clannish as we were when our forefathers descended from the tree and started feeling ashamed of the groins that gave birth to families.  Shame breeds wars.  Shame is the other side of honour.  

What triggered WWI was the murder of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand.  The year was 1914.  France was already a republic and England was a constitutional monarchy.  The rest of Europe remained conservative monarchies.  But the monarchies were already feeling the fire beneath their bottoms because of what had happened in France and England.  The common man was beginning to assert himself.

It was a common man who shot the archduke Francis Ferdinand.  A common man’s crime could not have triggered a world war. 

Francis Ferdinand was the nephew of the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph.  Francis Ferdinand was a close friend of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm.  Connections.  Relationships.  Politics is all about connections and relationships, whatever illustrious historians may tell us.

But the historians are not all wrong, of course.  How can they be?  They are the scholars who determine for us, the ordinary mortals, what is right and wrong.

Historians are the people who will make a mahatma the villain and a villain the mahatma.  Wait and see how it is going to happen in India in the coming few months.  NCERT is going to rewrite history textbooks.   Just as it did when BJP came to power the last time.

During the WWI, the Prussian field marshal Helmuth von Moltke wrote: “Perpetual peace is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream.  War is part of God’s order.  Without war, the world would stagnate and lose itself in materialism.  In it, Man’s most noble virtues are displayed – courage and self-denial, devotion to duty, willingness to sacrifice oneself, and to risk life itself.

In August 1914, young men in Europe rushed to enlist themselves in the army of their countries.  They wanted to relish the entertainment called war. 

Today, we are told that young men of India are going to the Arab countries to fight against the enemies of Islam.  War is a good entertainment, it seems, even today.

In the olden days, Kings led their soldiers to wars when they were bored of the women and wine in their respective palaces. 

Can we give more entertainment to people and avoid war?  I think it is possible.  But the entertainment has to be more stupid than what we are providing already on the numerous TV channels.  We should give a lot of God on the channels. 

Freedom is something that people can’t understand.  Enslave them with God and spirituality.  Temples and Mosques have failed.  Give them God on TV screens and computer screens.  Make God digital.  Make God a relevant drug. 

WWI marked the final end of absolute monarchies in Europe.  Yet there was another World War just a few decades later.  Why?  Because there were too many people in Germany, the country that was defeated in WWI, who were unemployed.  Too much poverty.  Too much exploitation.  And Germany sought its saviour in Hitler.

Hitlers create wars.  They don't know how to create relevant Gods.


These are some random thoughts of mine on the centenary of WWI.  I’m no historian, no scholar, no strategist.  I am not one of those Israelis who entertain themselves watching their missiles kill hundreds of people in the Gaza strip. I’m not one of those “experts” who are going to rewrite the history of India in the coming days. 

25 comments:

  1. Really a good article to refresh the old memories of world war.

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    1. Yeah, I was only trying to remind people that wars will never end as long as we keep on fighting clannishly in the name of families, business relationships, and even gods.

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  2. Nicely written..
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  4. Though a reality, it's disturbing. 'War as entertainment'; can we get more barbaric than this.

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    1. Sadly, we remain barbaric in spite of all the advancement we have made in science and technology. Perhaps, science and tech helped us to kill more people in more ingenious ways.

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  5. Wars are fought not for entertainment but for survival and till all concerned parties understand the futility of war and conflict,there can never be lasting peace! This is my view.

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    1. That's one way of looking at war, Nima. Countries need enemies even as people create gods and devils. Even if India tried to foster friendly relationships with Pakistan, they would still maintain the enmity because enemies are essential! India too needs enemies.

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  6. On of your best post I have read till now..poised yet poignant.. One proof that wars are a sort of entertainment: so many Hollywood movies on war apocalypse..!!

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    1. Remember how CNN brought live telecast of the Gulf War... Ever since war has been the biggest entertainment! In the olden days, the entertainment was confined to those who participated; today people watch the telecasts and entertain themselves!

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  7. When 20% of the countries are powered over 80% of the world, what can be expected Tomichand? There are no true democracies that exist. Nice article.

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    1. That proportion is widening, Shweta. It's now 10:90.

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  8. Both Good and Evil is necessary to square things in this mundane play.Yes,killing of the Archduke was not the reason for first WW.Colonial wealth simply.

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    1. It was also about nationalisms and democracy. People were sick of monarchies. People also wanted to establish 'unified' countries on linguistic lines. Wars are quite complicated affairs, really.

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  9. A nice article, thought provoking. Yes war is the greatest entertainment of all. hatred is the best time pass

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    1. "Hatred is the best time pass." Loved that statement. Very true.

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  10. Thought provoking piece, this. Second your views on wars and politics, but have a different take on Hitler. When one is dictated upon and ruthlessly pushed to a corner, one is bound to seek revenge, more so if one is someone as ambitious, self-respecting and proud as Hitler. So if we say - Hitlers create wars, it comes with T & Cs attached.

    But then as you pointed out early on in the write-up - 'Historians are the people who will make a mahatma the villain and a villain the mahatma', so going by that, Hitler is a villain indeed.

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  11. Forgot to add - Not implying that Hitler was a mahatma. :)

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    1. Germany was in a pathetic state when it idolised Hitler. So Hitler's rise to power can be understood rationally. I also accept your addendum that you don't imply that Hitler was a mahatma. The question that would still remain is whether Germany couldn't find an alternative way which was less gruesome, less brutal... 65 lakh lives is too high a price to pay for anything, to say the least. Such a price is sure to lead to disasters. Hence my assertion that Hitlers create wars.

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  12. I find it true.. War being the greatest entertainment of the mankind. We create war, we relish war, we think it to be inevitable, put valiance on show, make master plans, create lull, awe, some participate by hiding under the basements and finally the commoners bemoan and cry over the losses. We create war out of nothing. Politics is played upon nothing. How superficial is the ground of our system!

    I agree that perpetual peace is a dream. But if uplifting the making above materialism so specifically demands war, then let humans get doomed into materialism. War destroys, not just people, property but also nature. I don't know if wars are really important or not but I am certainly against them.

    This is an awesome post. And about the NCERT republishing its history book, that's a pity. At least educational system should be left alone by the politics.

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    1. I'm happy I could elicit so much from you, Namrata. Your first para reminds me of what philosopher Barrows Dunham said in his book, Man Against Myth, "Except in wartime, we do not produce the enormous quantity of goods which our technology makes possible, and we do not develop our technology as rapidly as we might. In other words, we produce abundantly only when the purpose is destructive. When the purpose is constructive, our economy creaks and clatters to a halt."

      People relish wars at different levels, even as you have noted. How can it be altered? An evolutionary mutation of the human genes - a utopian dream or a distant possibility?

      Regarding textbooks, Gujarat had already done it under Mr Modi.

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    2. An utopian dream, I would say. It's human nature to enjoy war ( level of severity may vary according to individuals or other factors).

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  13. When I was very small and didn't know I once prayed in the night saying. Let there be a world war three soon and India should become 1st in the world population wise. When I think of it today, it was innocence that made me ask for it. I was watching movies which run in series and so the demand for the next world war. I wanted to come first in class and wanted the same for my country too. Stupid though I feel now the passion and craze that people have for wars will see this prayer of mine come true.
    Its been a hundred years, already so many wars have taken place, I have my doubts if even digital God and can put an end to this thirst for blood.

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