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Klavan On The Culture

Glory

May 25th, 2014 - 8:24 am

Wilfred Owen is considered one of the greatest poets of the First World War. He was killed in action one week before the Armistice, and his poems were mostly published posthumously. His graphic depictions of war’s horrors mark a change in attitude toward World War I and perhaps toward war in general — a turning away from the idea of warrior glory.

In his most famous poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen tells of watching a man die of poisoned gas in the back of a wagon. The scene recurs vividly in his dreams and he concludes:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin…

…my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.

The Latin is from the Roman poet Horace and means, “Sweet and fitting is it to die for your country.”

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It is not required to believe in God in order to put one's life on the line for another. It is done for love, sure, but for complete strangers or one's country, a belief in something higher than self IS required, I think. And whatever that something is, does not naturally dwell in the heart of a liberal, or progressive.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Phil Kray writes about this in this weekend’s Review section of the Wall Street Journal. He says when he talks about his Marine service in Iraq, people often respond with pity. "

Epictetus, I think, said 2000 years ago that the brave man is called a fool... by the coward.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Progressives rely on infantilizing everybody, save their villains du jour. When they find it expedient to praise service members they must qualify that praise by portraying them as hapless dupes of a voracious military industrial complex, seduced by lying recruiters to spill their blood for corporations.

That is when they are not denouncing them as racist baby killers who enlisted solely for the change to murder helpless brown people.

Progressives must divide the world into two categories - victims and villains. There is a third category - noble heroes - but it is exclusively reserved for themselves.
14 weeks ago
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All Comments   (52)
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"But in those moments when war must be fought, when there is no other choice, when freedom or virtue hangs in the balance, the soldier who faces the horrors of war should indeed be glorified for his courage in doing so. The courage to charge into what may become an inglorious slaughterhouse is precisely what makes him a glorious hero to the nation he defends."

Agreed... and thank you, Mr. Klavan, for saying so.

Let me add one thought. The soldier frequently doesn't know whether "freedom or virtue hang in the balance". That's one of the many ugly little secrets about warfare -- that the soldier knows, all too well, that he may be risking his life for a crucial battle upon which the war depends, or he may be fighting (and dying) for nothing. The soldier doesn't get to pick his battles; he is told where to fight, and fight he does, hoping against hope that it is for a noble purpose, that his efforts will not be wasted, that what he pays for in blood will not be thrown away by a distant politician.

I would think that the soldier's efforts are all the more glorious for that. The soldier knows all this, and he fights anyway... for his brothers in uniform, for his leaders, and because he said he would.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am not sure that one can conclude that the generic "left" opposes all war and all warriors. After all, you can't get any more leftist than a communist insurgent or patriotic member of the Red Army in any of the communist nations of history. Many tens of millions of leftists served in the Soviet Army, the Peoples Army of China, the North Vietnamese Army, the Viet Cong, and the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. The American left fought in the leftist Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists.

The American left is like any other leftists - they like military action when it is their side that's doing the fighting ... not when the other side is fighting, or fighitng back.

The American left became most active in anti-war demonstrations during Viet Nam, of course ... but most of that was instigated by communist front groups like SDS, who were literally working hard on behalf of the Soviets to delegitimize the war effort. The left also got somewhat less involved in protesting the Iraq War, but frankly, anti-war demonstrations were far less effective in reducing support for the war than general public frustration with the inability to find the Iraqi WMD, and the daily carnage by the IEDs and sniper attacks of jihadis who flocked to Iraq to kill and maim American soldiers. The relatively few anti-war demonstrations in the last decade are nothing compared to what transpired in the late 60s and early 70s, culminating with the demonstrations at the 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago, and the Kent State shootings in Ohio.

The American (and European) left opposes American military operations because they oppose the American government for which it fights, as well as the capitalist free economy, and what most of us would call the "American way of life". A strong, forceful, successful US military is of course what stood between communist domination and invasion of the United States throughout the Cold War and the several little hot wars that flared up from time to time. That was what the left could not countenance.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read that poem in High School. It did not deter me from joining the military, although I do reflect on it to this day 34 years later.

However, I do prefer this quote from John Stuart Mill:
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Liberals tend to be the people who have nothing for which they are willing to fight, nothing which is more important than their own personal safety.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hello to all. RVN vet, twice wounded Tet 68. 11D (APC gunner/driver) 25th Inf, 2/34th Armor Teh Ninh, Cu Chi and the Black Virgin Mountain. Left Nam on a stretcher.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
When it comes to the left, the reason they denigrate the sacrifice of others is their realization - deep down inside - that would never even come close to that level of courage. Cowards can't stand the idea of brave men and women.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The land of the free and home of the brave… one nation under God is what decent men and women once valued.
In gratitude for their sacrifice and service… a humble American
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>The horrors of war don’t negate a warrior’s glory, they are the source of it. The courage to face those horrors is precisely what makes warrior service glorious. If war were lovely, soldiers would need no more courage than some piddly campus activist pretending to face dangers that aren’t really there while protesting some micro-oppression that doesn’t actually exist.
This is the writing that makes you worth reading.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"So, rather than treat warriors as heroes and risk glorifying combat, the left generally treats them as either murderers or victims"

I think the reason many Leftists divide warfighters into murderers or victims is because the have been indoctrinated to think in a Hegelian/Marxist dialectic where everyone is either an oppressor or oppressed. The reality that there are a lots of different reasons why individuals serve in the military does not fit with their reductionist vision of humanity.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Currently, our government has embarked on a campaign to get people to enlist in the National Guard in order to save flood victims and fight forest fires, in case you haven't seen the commercials.

This is treason on a whole different scale to me.

As a vet, it annoys me as it does my friends who are also vets.

The clever little ploy to get young people now to believe that they'll only go "into harm's way" in order to rescue fluffy the cat or to douse a campground engulfed in flames is absurdly puerile.

And what of the young man or lady who finds out they have to point their rifle at someone and kill them? Or is that all part of the anticipated swell of protest?

Yeah, when I enlisted, it turned out that active duty was NOTHING like the brochure but there was no mystery as to why I was there. To kill people and break things; The role of the military for thousands of years.

Yet the communist left thinks they can even re-label that.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The leftist react negatively to war since they are cowards that cling to a "Utopian" dream where everyone joins the commune and works for the collective. War means that some are not willing to join their commune and resist or that those that resist must be FORCED to comply.

Rousseau wrote "if one does not bend to the General Will, he must be Forced to be Free." This meant that if one does not comply with their Utopian Dream, the society (leadership) will not protect their lives or property. When men choose war against these totalitarians, it illustrates that real men prefer to fight than be enslaved to other men's wills.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Utopianism has been a problem for society for thousands of years.

What bugs utopians the most is that they believe that in order for utopia to happen, people must be controlled and "taught" to think and act a certain way.

This violates the laws of human nature in the first order. People do require certain things that are of a common thread but people are also given free will and it is that free will that bugs a leftist/utopian but only if that free will "violates" the tenets of the goal of utopianism.

In other words, free will to smoke dope is A-OK while free will to own and drive a 500HP supercar is not. (It kills gaia, you see)

Thus, we who think, naturally arrive at the logical assumption that leftists/utopians are hypocrites and brain-damaged somehow; That their ideology has replaced otherwise normally functioning brain cells and perhaps they have never been held responsible for anything or never had a goal-oriented lifestyle. (ie: Would like to have an independent life and live on my own dime)

So, with the help of other committed leftists/utopians in education, they let the "kids who feel more than think" explore their abilities and never punish or hold them accountable in any way. So they grow up FEELING instead of THINKING and they emote all over the place and end up believing the world is a cruel place ---- and it is.

But then, they gather together and demand that the world be less cruel by making those who have been successful the responsible parties for the world's cruelty instead of identifying it correctly as where greed and corruption really reside, in the desire to control others and make them THINK a certain way.

The conservative understands that people think differently and work with that. The leftist/utopian vaguely realizes that people think differently and then set out to change that.

Ironically, under the guise of a "live-and-let-live" posture, which is anything but.

Thus, they will kill us in order to achieve nirvana. A curious paradox.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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