Friday, 14 April 2017

War

SM Stirling's Juniper Mackenzie reflects that any war is bad but she particularly dislikes Holy War. How many kinds of war are there? In the film Reds, the American revolutionary, John Reed, is surprised at the applause when he calls for class war. Then he learns that his interpreter has been saying "holy war..." The promise of instant Paradise to those who fall in war has to be the most cynical manipulation there has ever been. It has been offered to Vikings, Crusaders and jihadists.

Juniper remembers that the Hunter comes for everyone at their appointed time. Shades of Poul Anderson's Ythrians. She lets sights, sounds and stenches flow through her but not linger. She is practising zazen. Ravens, crows, eagles and falcons hover. Nine hundred archers shoot a hundred and thirty thousand arrows at a thousand men coming shoulder to shoulder. Souls are sent to the Lord of the Western Gate: powerful imagery, not literally true.

Homer, Virgil, Anderson, Stirling and other military sf authors describe war in fascinating detail. It is our job to ensure that future descriptions of war are confined to historical fiction.

9 comments:

David Birr said...

Paul:
A movie titled *The Wrath of God*, starring Robert Mitchum as a gunman who dresses as a Roman Catholic priest, has a scene in which one of the other main characters cynically notes that all "holy wars" are based on "My Father in Heaven can beat up your Father in Heaven." (Despite his cynicism, this fellow then goes along with the assault on the bad guys, quoting *Henry V*: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends...!")

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

At first, I was a bit surprised by the mention of the vikings, then I recalled the Scandinavian belief that warriors who died bravely will go to Valhalla to feast with Odin and the other Eddaic gods.

AS for Crusaders, it's not out of place to mention that was done as a reaction to Muslim aggression and preaching of jihads.

Unfortunately, I am extremely skeptical wars will ever be permanently stopped. I always have Our Lord's warning that war and rumors of war will last to the end of time. Even if mankind becomes peaceful (skeptical snort) we have no guarantee all other races on other planets will be like that.

Sean

David Birr said...

Sean:
In his last speech at West Point, General MacArthur said "the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." But he then quoted Plato to the effect that "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And I agree with General MacArthur! The TRUE soldier hopes wars can be avoided. And I agree with the quote from Plato.

I'm reminded of what Flavius Vegetius said in his DE RE MILITARI (quoting from memory): "If you want peace, prepare for war." That is, only strength and determination can SOMETIMES cow and deter enemies.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

Drat and bother! I slipped up and addressed a comment meant for you to the wrong person!!!!

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I forgot to say something about the first paragraph. For John Reed or a Marxist to advocate "class war" sure looks like a hard left version of a "holy war."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I disagree, of course. The idea is that there are irreconvilable conflicts of interest between economic classes and that society can be reorganized on a different basis but this involves struggle. But the purpose is not to kill people of different beliefs. Most of the time, class struggle involves, e.g., campaigning against austerity policies, not taking up arms. A politically motivated terrorist is indeed no different from a religiously or racially motivated terrorist. Reed was speaking at a time when class conflicts had escalated into civil wars.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Good, at least MOST law abiding did not advocate actual violence and terrorism. But, at the same time, the USE of such warlike language did make it more likely for a minority of leftists to commit actual violence. An only slightly better form of this would be when leftists in the US shouted down or even rioted at college campuses against persons INVITED to speak there, because of them advocating ideas and views they disliked. Recent actual examples being Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, etc.

Far better to renounce such violent imagery as "class warfare".

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Drat! I carelessly omitted a word like "leftists" in the first sentence of my comment immediately above, after "law abiding..."

Sean