Now that the Michael Gove World War I stuff has died down, I feel safer posting my view on that particular conflict.
I have a weird problem with the whole WWI thing and all our other wars, largely because I always try to look at our international aggro from an impersonal, non-national perspective, by which I mean - if I forgot I was Scottish and just looked at the situation as if I was some clam-herder from a modern-day, non-aligned Polynesian island, what would I see?
Well, World War I sure looks like a whole lot of Nazis fighting it out to see who gets to be top Nazi, to me.
As far as I can see, it all basically starts with a bunch of Serbian Nazis shooting an Austro-Hungarian Nazi, which kicks off a big row between the Russian Nazis and the Austro-Hungarian Nazis. Before you know it, the Austro-Hungarian Nazi-allied German Nazis are squaring off with the French and the British Nazis, and the whole thing descends into a big Nazi-on-Nazi bloodbath before you can say "Seig Heil".
I mean, look at it. Every major combatant nation in Europe sure looks like a bunch of racial supremacists squabbling amongst themselves to see which bunch of white guys gets to rule over the untermenschen of the colonial world, doesn't it?
It surprises me that the utter Naziness of the First World War is controversial, in this post-Hitler world. If it did nothing else, surely the Third Reich should've made us reevaluate the merits of total war, ultranationalist violence in pursuit of global dominance? No?
We usually curse the generals and politicians, so I won't add to that beyond noting what a bunch of Nazis they were, too. And what of the men in the trenches? I can understand the French defending their homeland from invaders, but what impelled the Brits and Germans etc over the top to almost certain death? I fully understand the whole duty-to-your-serving-comrades thing, but not in such extreme circumstances.
Actions like that are totally unimaginable today, because we're more individualist and don't have the same webs of weird Sharia duty impelling us beyond our reason, but also because we're not now a huge clan of racial-supremacist Nazis determined to destroy our enemies for the fatherland, like almost everyone in Europe was between 1914 and 1918.
Hell, Patton was 100% right - war is about making the other bastard die for his country, so what explains adults charging machine guns, except for some deeply fucked up and insane ancient Roman-style sense of duty, of a kind that would strike modern Britons as utterly Nazified and mental beyond belief?
And back in the UK, it's not like our much-beloved war poets actually disagreed with the war, as far as I can see. It looks to me like they wanted better and more effective tactics for killing the enemy, but nothing so bold as not fighting a gigantic megadeath war to the bitter end to see which group of white people would wind up ruling the planet. Which seems kind of bizarre, for artists.
Sorry everyone - I feel the pathos of all those bakers and miners lining up at the ladder in the face of certain death just as much as everyone else does, but the whole thing might as well have taken place on Venus for as much as I can get my eighties-raised brain around it.
It seems to me that the past really was another country - a pretty nasty and mental one, at that.