Or, yet another great example of why you really shouldn’t discount the human factor.

If they bother to teach it at all these days, World War I is still presented as a big mystery.  You get some stuff about the Triple Entente, some other stuff about the assassination of the Archduke, maybe something about the Zimmerman Telegram.  Why any of that should’ve led to the most horrific war in human history up to that point is left unexplained.  Also left unexplored is how nobody seemed to see it coming.  World War I just kinda…. happened, kids are taught.

You can blame the usual suspects for a lot of this — the Kaiser et al are far too White and male to be worth spending time on, especially when you’ve got to devote so many weeks to Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks.  But the other reason — the far more important one for our purposes — is this: It’s a mystery to the teachers, too.

As academics who have never set foot in the real world, they take other academics’ words at face value.  And the academics of 1913 couldn’t figure it out either.  They pointed out that a general European war would cause the world’s financial system to collapse; ergo there would be no war.  Besides, they argued, even if Germany did go to war, she lacked the natural resources to sustain the fight.  And finally, they claimed, the firepower of modern infantry is just too overwhelming — given their rates of fire, two regiments equipped with machine guns would wipe each other out in less than two minutes.

Credit where it’s due: The eggheads were right about all of that.  The global financial system did collapse; Germany as constituted at the outbreak of war didn’t have the resources to keep fighting; and the initial skirmishes showed the overwhelming impact of massed firepower.  But the eggheads never learned that people are people, and since people love fighting more than anything else in the world, solutions were quickly found.

The United States, with its shiny new Federal Reserve system (created late 1913), was more than happy to step into the financial breach, just as American companies were more than happy to help Germany (and everyone else) with their armaments shortage.  And Walther Rathenau happened, as my students would write, keeping the raw materials flowing to German industry.  And faced with the overwhelming firepower of machine guns, soldiers ducked.  Then they dug, and there’s your four years of bloody trench warfare.

Even the outbreak of the war, far from being a mystery, is painfully obvious if you know the first thing about the major players.  In what historians call the Long 19th Century (1789-1914), it was taken for granted that a nation needed colonies to be a serious power.  The reasoning behind this was never too sound, and by the turn of the 20th century various smart guys had figured out that on balance colonies were more trouble than they were worth, but pretty much by definition smart guys don’t hold on to the reins of power.  Bismarck didn’t — the Berlin Conference was supposed to keep jingo knuckleheads like the Wilhelm II from starting a war over a few acres of scrub jungle, but since Wilhelm II shared his class’s raging hardon for colonial expansion, all it ended up doing was sweeping Bismarck out of office.  And as for Tsar Nicholas and his colonial adventures in the Balkans (and the Far East), one could write an entire book about that stupidity and still not cover all of it.  Throw in England’s stuffed shirt of a king, and France’s legendary inability to maintain a stable government, and tragedy was inevitable.

In short, World War 1 was a massive, indescribably bloody dick-measuring contest between a few inbred yokels.  To anyone who has met the Sons of Privilege,* or who is passingly familiar with the Peter Principle, this comes as no surprise.  Hell, Lenin saw it, and a guy with his egg head further up his own ass you’ll never find.**  All you have to do is look at the people, not the paper.

That’s where the modern political landscape gets so terrifying.  Looking at the paper from the establishment Democrats’ point of view, their course of action seems obvious.  And credit where it’s due, even Slow Joe Biden and Fauxcahontas are smart enough (or, more likely, have hired people who are smart enough) to see the obvious once it gets rubbed in their faces a few dozen times — Slow Joe is playing the above-it-all unifier, while Dances with Socialism has gone on a Hillary-esque “listening tour” for The Media’s benefit (Ace of Spades link).  Should they choose, The Media can now memory hole all the “fake Indian” stuff, and yell “racist!” at anyone who tries to dredge it back up….

…but I don’t think they’ll choose to.  The human factor always wins, and the humans (using the term in its strictest biological sense) in The Media are fed up close to bursting.  The mask is completely off “The Squad,” and The Media couldn’t be happier.  I’m sure that, in their heart of hearts, Nancy Pelosi et al don’t have a problem with BDS, or the Green New Deal, or any of the rest of it.  But flying to Israel on the taxpayer’s dime to support Palestinian terrorism just doesn’t play in Peoria, and the Establishment Dems know it.  The Media, however, do not — just look at the coverage.

I’m also quite confident that Nancy et al are even, in their heart of hearts, ok with “Antifa” shooting at cops and firebombing ICE offices.  Nancy, after all, came up in the heyday of Jim Jones’s San Francisco, so she’s no stranger to political violence.  But The Media absolutely cream themselves over “revolutionaries.”  They’ve kept this stuff under wraps so far — Nancy et al have convinced them it’ll hurt Donald Trump more than it will hurt them if they keep it bottled up — but every single person in The Media had xhzhyr first wet dream about Che Guevara.  I doubt they can keep it in their pants too much longer, especially if — as seems all but certain — “Antifa” commits some gaudy, gross atrocity in the 2020 campaign season.

Nor can we discount the human factor regarding Normals.  Every day brings a new insult — Twitter colluding with China to suppress democratic protests in Hong Kong while all-but-openly banning anyone to the right of Mao; gender-and-race-swapping comic book characters; anything and everything to throw sand in Normals’ faces.  If Trump’s victory in 2016 was The Great Fuck You, I can’t even imagine what it’ll look like in 2020, after four more years of this stuff ramped up way past 11.

It’s not looking good, but since the idiots in charge have never even thought about looking up from the paper, the whole thing is going to catch them completely unprepared.  Forget “that’s how you got Trump;” this is how you get the Somme.




*they’re like the Sons of Anarchy, but effete and usually gay.
** though he basically just stole the idea from Hobson, who, though a goofy love-the-worlder, was actually a pretty smart guy.
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15 thoughts on “1913

  1. WOPR

    While working I often have on some YouTuber talking about TV or movies. None of these people are what you would consider conservative. They are independent and not part of any of the owned YouTube channels. They’re typical normal left-of-center people who’ve bought into the kumbaya. Their frustration is constantly dialing up. Hollywood, like the media, has gone all in and the backlash is growing. Orange Man may be bad, but he didn’t race, gender, and orientation swap my favorite characters into cardboard virtue signalling characters.

    I figure some minor event, that in normal times wouldn’t even cause much of a stir, will cause the dam to break.

    European policy had been to avoid fighting each other out in the colonial territories because that would give the natives ideas. I wonder what would have happened had they reversed the policy? No fighting in Europe, but go at it out in the colonies.

  2. Pickle Rick

    Ah yes, the Great War, which also, don’t forget, tossed the Ottomans onto the trash heap of history and gave us the never ending happy fun times of the Middle East, along with the Balfour Declaration.

    And as a former artilleryman, machine guns didn’t cause the majority of casualties in WWI. Big high explosive and shrapnel shells from artillery are estimated to have caused 70% of battlefield deaths on the Western Front. You can’t spell party without arty!

    1. Severian Post author

      Back when I thought students were capable of getting the point, I used to quote the guy about the machine guns (it’s in one of the one-volume histories; Keegan I think). This, I’d tell them, is why you really need to make sure an expert is expert in the subject he’s bloviating about. They guy was an economist or something, and his numbers were really impressive, but he didn’t take into account the fact that soldiers don’t actually like getting shot, and will do pretty much anything within their orders to avoid it. Hence, the ducking and the digging and the whole “trench” thing. It takes a very, very, very smart person not to think of that, but such were “experts,” then as now.

      1. Pickle Rick

        I’m recalling an anecdote about Vietnam from Michael Herr’s book “Dispatches” when the author, a war correspondent, is speaking to a Marine in Hue about Walter Cronkite’s opinion that the war is unwinnable. The Marine responds-
        “What the fuck does that asshole know about war?”
        The same charges could be leveled quite credibly on the power brokers of 1913, or our current armchair warriors…

  3. Frip

    Severian: “You can blame the usual suspects for a lot of this — the Kaiser et al are far too White and male to be worth spending time on, especially when you’ve got to devote so many weeks to Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks.” Dead. out

    Post Mortem: You should put anything funny toward the end of your posts. I can’t speak for others, but if it’s near the beginning I always have to stop reading and close out. I’m not in comedy but in comedy it’s for a reason they say a joke “killed the audience”. Like that Tubman/Parks thing. That’s a killshot. You’re killing your readers just seconds after they log in. That can’t be good for business.

    1. Maus

      Yeah. +1 Frip. Sev the Sniper, bringing the 7.62 x 54 mm bullet of truth to an apricot near you. Ordinarily, I don’t much care to read about post-industrial age history. But Severian always delivers the black pills with a level of humor that makes the crushing arrogance and stupidity of modern man easier to swallow. Dum spiro spero.

  4. contrariandutchman

    2 lessons I think that can be drawn from WWI:

    1. people are really good at ignoring what they dont want to know (trenches were a thing in the US civil war, a much bigger thing in the russo-japanese war and the Brits learned the hard way in the 2nd Boer war, the reason, ever more lethal weapons, was obvious too)

    The other side of that coin is that the careful observer can actually get a mich better idea of what the near future holds then the establishment (if you want to know what US civil war mk 2 will look like, check out Syria)

    2. the human factor, in that people often end up with results nobody wanted but incompetence and constrained decisionmaking push them to an undesirable outcome anyway (in the last week of july 1914 Nicolas II and Wilhelm II were both frantically trying to stop or at least limit the war, but they couldnt figure out how to do it without unacceptable risk given plans etc that had been years in the making) today, I dont think the establishment realy wants civil war, but they may not be able to stop it given their ideological priors

    1. Severian Post author

      That was JFC Fuller’s observation, too. He almost got laughed out of the army when he started teaching classes on Stonewall Jackson and the Siege of Petersburg, but he was dead on — those were the future of war. And as for the Russo-Japanese War, it’s one of the reasons I say that point-missing is probably #2 on humanity’s list of fundamental skills (right behind “hearing what we want to hear”). Anyone who read up on the Siege of Port Arthur could see what a modern war would look like… but it was just some more-than-half-Tartar Russians versus some little monkeys, so what lessons could it possibly teach? Better 10 million dead in the trenches than we actually learn from observation, I guess.

  5. MBlanc46

    This is a bit off topic, but I think that it ties in. “People like fighting more than they like any thing else”. (One might quibble about that, but fighting is certainly on the shortlist.) Here in the Chicago and many other places, much cognitive energy is devoted to why young black men shoot at each other—sometimes to effect—as much as they do. Many complex social explanations are given—poverty, inequality, failure of institutions, absent fathers, etc., most of which are ultimately traced back to the machinations of evil whites. No one—at least no one that I’ve seen—has ever suggested that young black men shoot at each other because they like to shoot at each other.

    1. Severian Post author

      There it is. I’ve never been in a bar fight, but one of the main reasons for that is: I’m pretty good at recognizing — and avoiding — the kind of guy who just likes to fight. There are LOTS of them, and they’re by no means confined to the lower classes. Read Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel, if you haven’t — it’s obvious from page 1 that he loves war, because he’s the kind of guy who enjoys fighting.

      This is, in fact, the one area where I’m sympathetic with the “the civil war will be over before it starts, because we’re the Wolverines who have all the guns”-type keyboard warriors in Our Thing. The Left is full of sadists, joyful killers who, so long as they don’t have to pull the trigger themselves, will sign off on the worst brutalities because it amuses them. The Right, on the other hand, is greatly overrepresented in the ranks of guys who just enjoy fighting. If it comes to street battles with fists and baseball bats, we’ll wipe the floor with them…. but alas, it’s much more likely to come to midnight knocks on the door, and rubber hoses in basements.

      1. contrariandutchman

        Its entirely possible it will be both, midnight knocks and rubber hoses in basements in the big coastal cities and a professional remake of the Syrian war in the remainder.

    2. contrariandutchman

      It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.
      Robert E. Lee, Statement at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13th December 1862)
      US-Confederate general (1807 – 1870)

      And the fond memories millions of veterans had of their days in the trenches were a major driver of interwar politics. Nazism, Fascism and some other isms cant be understood without it.

  6. TBoone

    Doing no research before typing out how little I know, “Merchants of Death” comes to mind. War can be real good business, especially if it’s fought in someone else’s backyard. Much to digest from previous commenters.
    As to the coming “spicyness”… once the doxxing & HR catlady power trips… I wonder if the actual legal system has the capacity for all the bad thinkers & gun owners the mediocre lunatics would lurve to stamp out…. The size and lack of hard infrastructure makes the ‘system’ very vulnerable. It will result in much chaos and death. No smooth orderly crackdown here. The Govt doesn’t have the resources to project strength like they do overseas. There are a lot of doors to knock on…..

  7. MBlanc46

    Western civilization is based on almost everyone obeying the rules almost all the time. You could rule big cities with a few bobbies patrolling the streets armed only with nightsticks. We’re still closer to that model than to, say, East Germany, where half the population were informers. So they would have a hard time rounding all of us up. But the fear generated by rounding five percent of us would likely be very effective.

  8. Publius

    I’ve always thought that the Great War would have turned out much differently had the Germans not gone with the Schlieffen Plan.

    Because Germany won everywhere but on the Western Front. If they’d concentrated on Russia, and dared the French to charge across their border, the trench warfare could have been contained, and neither Britain or the US need have gotten involved.

    Then things play out basically the same way. Russia gets mauled by the A squad instead of the B squad, taps out faster, France calls it a draw, and by 1945 we have Kaiser Willhelm III ruling contentedly over a Germanic Mitteleuropa.

    Which strikes me as a lot better than the 1945 we did get.

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