Thursday, 20 August 2015

Marching Through Georgia: The Morals Of The Story

People can fight back from defeat. Unfortunately, they can go about it in completely the wrong way. The formerly dispossessed can become dispossessors. Aggression can be turned against populations not responsible for the original dispossession.

A very large oak tree can grow from a very small acorn. Also, the spectrum of possible social moralities is broad enough to encompass diametrical opposites. Consequently, we should always question our own received values - although how many do?

"War is Hell!" and should be described as such. Passages like:

"The loudest sound was the shrill screaming of the wounded - men lying thrashing with helmets, weapons, harness nailed to their bodies."
-SM Stirling, Marching Through Georgia (New York, 1991), p. 201 -

- are not (I trust) enjoyable to read but should be read. I have previously enjoyed accounts of battles, e.g., in Poul Anderson's The People Of The Wind and Ensign Flandry, where the emphasis was on the excitement of the conflict, not on the suffering of the wounded and dying. However, real war is about pain, disfigurement and death.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I didn't think Poul Anderson neglected the pain and agony of war in the space battle between the Terrans and Merseians in ENSIGN FLANDRY. But, of course he focused on what was happening, what the Terrans and Merseians were DOING that cause one side rather than the other to win. This bit from Chapter 17, just after the battle, seems appropriate: "Umbriel, Antarctica, and New Brazil: torn, battered, and lame, filled with the horribly wounded, haunted by their dead, but victorious, victorious--neared the planet." Anderson WAS aware of the costs and agonies of war. He simply believed that war was sometimes tragically necessary.