How can Michael Gove say that the great pointless slaughter of the First World War, whose centenary we should now be mourning, not celebrating, was fought “in a just cause”? Where does he get his history from?
It must be from Max Hastings, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, and Daily Mail columnist, and arch-traditional historian. Hastings’ view of the war, if his recent TV documentary is anything to go by, seems not have changed since his time at Charterhouse in the 1950s – nor has his haircut, by the look of it. I am so sorry to get personal, but it is a real puzzle to me – do these people actually want to look like schoolboys, or do they not notice?
Neither man refers to D.H. Lawrence’s painfully drawn wake-up call to the English, disguised in the banned so-called sex-novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In Wounded Leaders (advance copies now available) I follow Lawrence’s ideas at length.
Nor does either mention the view that actually the war was a entitlement necessity: the rise of international Socialism was beginning to really threaten the ‘Age of Privilege’ at the close of the 19th century. In order to divide and ruling the potentially disobedient working classes the rulers of the day sold them a vainglorious psychotic nationalism to die for, to take the place of their vision of international brotherhood.
Actually, this year we also commemorate the centenary of the shooting of Jean Jaures, the Toulouse man who nearly united German and French Socialist worker parties, which might have prevented the war. But I don’t think Gove will have that on the national curriculum even in the free schools, or that Hastings would imagine how the loss of this man contributed to the eventual carnage.
Happily there is another view just about to be published. The acclaimed radical cartoonist Brick – you must read his Depresso – in cahoots with other comic artists has just completed ‘To End All Wars’ – a powerful comic anthology to combat Michael Gove’s obscene interpretaion of WWI.