“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” – Hermann Göring (Nazi and Hitler Successor, death by suicide in 1946)
Stoking the flames of war by E. Hughes
In 1940, Time Life Magazine quoted Librarian of Congress and poet Archibald McLeish who blamed writers and intellectuals for the mood of pacifism that took form after World War I, “Such fine and honest writers as Hemingway and Dos Passos, said he, had done their job too well, had left the younger generation immunized not only against phony patriotism but against all moral judgments….”
In times of war, the most famous and credible of writers mostly adopted a stance of neutrality; often reproving the ‘filth’ and vileness of war, articulating what many citizens felt but were unable to express in words. As writers, the ability to intellectualize peace lent credence to peaceful resistance.
Times have changed for the writer. To actively address the war as proponents of peace, we essentially make ourselves into combatants, stoking the flames of war. The medium that we hold so dear was first conquered when “enemies” of America struck [in 2001] drawing us into the Global War.
The GW [Global War] was not only taken to the battlefield, but through propaganda; served like a cup of piping hot tea in books, newspapers, magazines, the internet, and blogosphere… stolen away was every platform known to writers and we had lost our voice in a sea of combating voices. For every tit, a tat, for every call to peace, a call to war. Constant noise, and the dismantling of every passage, line, and quote until every word had been completely neutralized and every character assassinated.
Peace had been silenced and the world gave birth to patriotism… our patriotism. The empire struck back. Frodo lost the ring. Evil won. Standing atop the corpse of wisdom was a soldier with a ballpoint in his hand and “The pen is mightier than the sword” embellished across his dog chain.
“You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” – Albert Einstein
It was like every corporate war mongering private security Pentagon suit wearing CEO had been melded into one. The pen was a whore. Turned completely out. In a sense, I felt helpless to do anything. To say anything. One word, and I was anti-American. Another word, and I was a liberal (a newly minted dirty word). Anything to discredit the movement for peace. Anything to help those in their quest for power, stake their claim. Words had become the enemy, a weapon of mass destruction. Once credible news journalists and news outlets had become machines of propaganda. Articles abound won favor with the president, hid truths, told lies of omissions and outright lies of commission. Others had been relegated to the slums of gossip blogs when the threat of truth lurked. The pen was power, and with power corruption follows.
“We all remember how many religious wars were fought for a religion of love and gentleness; how many bodies were burned alive with the genuinely kind intention of saving souls from the eternal fire of hell” – Karl Popper quotes
I say not that a true soldier sent to the battlefields stands atop the corpse of wisdom, but the kind of soldier who wears a suit and works for corporate America. This soldier sends his troops to Washington. He uses words to $way $cientists into substantiating his ill environmental policies. He profits from war and death then sells his dream to the world, daring any of us to speak ill of his product. He’s a governor’s bestselling book championing the cause, proliferating filth to the starving war hungry masses. That they can even formulate words from their frothing mouths to cash strapped ghost writers; their enablers, is beyond my comprehension, that this is what writing as come to.
“Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.” – Francis Meehan quotes
The pen is an instrument of peace; and also ‘mightier than the sword’. But as evidenced in recent years, in the wrong hands, it is also a dangerous instrument; it is a gun.
As for war, let us not be fools as writers and use our words and our aspirations for a peaceful world wisely. Let us not take sides, as anti-war pacifists, but as proponents of peace. It’s not wrong to criticize war, but an act of cowardice to sit idly by when the war machine is criticizing us.
“War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself.” – unknown