First world war, new book

This video from Britain says about itself:

On 22 May 2013, the No Glory in War campaign was launched at the London house of World War One poet Siegfried Sassoon, with contributions from musician Brian Eno, actor Janie Dee and writer Michael Morpurgo, the author of War Horse. No Glory in War is a response to the announcement by UK prime minister David Cameron that the government will promote a commemoration of the first world war on its 100th anniversary in 2014, which he wants to be “like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations”.

The No Glory in War open letter has been signed by many prominent artists, actors, writers, musicians and academics, including Jude Law, the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Callow, Ken Loach, Vivienne Westwood, Alan Rickman, and AL Kennedy. It calls for the commemoration of the 1914-18 war to be used “to promote peace and international co-operation.” The text of the open letter is as follows:


2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Far from being a “war to end all wars” or a “victory for democracy”, this was a military disaster and a human catastrophe.

We are disturbed, therefore, to hear that David Cameron plans to spend £55,000,000 on “truly national commemorations” to mark this anniversary. Mr. Cameron has quite inappropriately compared these to the “Diamond Jubilee celebrations” and stated that their aim will be to stress our “national spirit”.

That they will be run at least in part by former generals and ex-defence secretaries reveals just how misconceived these plans are.

Instead we believe it is important to remember that this was a war that was driven by big powers’ competition for influence around the globe, and caused a degree of suffering all too clear in the statistical record of 16 million people dead and 20 million wounded.

In 2014, we and others across the world will be organising cultural, political and educational activities to mark the courage of many involved in the war but also to remember the almost unimaginable devastation caused.

In a time of international tension we call on writers, actors, musicians, teachers and campaigners to join with us to ensure that this anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Radical alternative to jingoism

Monday 13th April 2015

The World Is My Country by Emily Johns and Gabriel Carlyle (Peace News Press, £5)

WITH the official British centenary commemorations in full swing, The World Is My Country is a brilliant alternative history of the first world war that celebrates the people and movements opposed to that conflict.

Inspired by To End All Wars, Adam Hochschild’s 2011 tour de force about the British anti-war movement, the booklet’s 100 pages are made up of Gabriel Carlyle’s exceptionally well researched accounts of those who resisted the war and 10 original posters painted by Emily Johns.

With the important contribution of conscientious objectors already well known, the authors focus on campaigners who were not conscripted to fight: “What we were immediately struck by was these people’s creativity and mischievousness, their strategic planning and effective mass organising.” Male anti-war activists were often in prison so women played a leading role in the movement, from clandestinely publishing Tribunal, the newspaper for the no-conscription fellowship, to setting up the Women’s Peace Crusade, a countrywide socialist movement that pushed for peace negotiations.

The booklet has a strong thread of internationalism. “The very term ‘the first world war’ is highly ideological,” the authors note. “Viewed from the Global South there was already a ‘world war’ in progress on 27 July 1914: namely, a war by the European (and American) empires against much of the rest of the world.” The genocide of “plucky little Belgium” in the Congo led to the deaths of some 10 million people and such an inconvenient truth about European colonialism is, of course, usually ignored by the deeply brainwashed intellectuals who set the boundaries of acceptable debate on the topic.

Britain recruited over one million African “carriers,” with around 95,000 dying from malnutrition, disease and overwork — nearly twice the number of Australian or Canadian troops who died during the war.

More positively, many in the Global South resisted empire’s call to participate in the bloodbath. The non-violent Maori campaign against recruitment in New Zealand was one of the most successful resistance campaigns against the war.

“These are my people. My voice is their voice. I will not agree to my children going to shed blood,” proclaimed Maori Princess Te Puea when the Crown came knocking for cannon fodder.

A hugely important contribution to the ongoing national debate on WWI, The World Is My Country is absolutely essential reading for peace activists or anyone else interested in looking beyond the official narrative of the conflict.

The Good Soldier Švejk: A classic satire about World War I: here.

7 thoughts on “First world war, new book

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