Sunday, June 26, 2011
This is a fragment from Robert Graves' GOODBYE TO ALL THAT. His matter-of-fact descriptions of life in the trenches during WWI are harrowing. People have forgotten what a hideous and wasteful undertaking World War One was.
Graves had what was, to me, a very strange outlook on war and his part in it. On the one hand he realized (having lived it) the hideous brutality of war, but never thought once about abandoning his part in it. After the war, when he was asked by Lord Bertrand Russell if he'd have fired on striking munitions factory workers in the UK (who were threatening to suspend production of armaments during the fighting), he assured a very shocked Russell that he would have done exactly that. His reasoning was that every good soldier on the front would dearly have loved to kill the workers who made the whole sorry mess so possible. As a member of the privileged class, I reckon it never dawned on him that it wasn't common workers who'd put him in such a position, but that of the upper classes who'd instigated the struggle and profited from it.
Once again I find myself quite admiring the work of a man, while being utterly horrified by the political and philosophical views of that same individual.