Anything Learned from ‘Christmas Truce’?

As the U.S. Congress votes for a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and even “liberal” commentators cheer the economic pain being inflicted by U.S. policies, it is worth recalling how big-power arrogance sparked the conflagration called World War I and how it could start World War III, writes Greg Maybury.

By Greg Maybury

At this point in our history – and especially at this time of the year – it is perhaps instructive for us all to reflect on the following: Amid the apocalyptic destruction of the First World War which began a few months earlier, exactly 100 years ago this Christmas the combatants – all God fearin’ folks one and all – downed the tools of war for a few short, precious hours to break bread and exchange gifts with each other amid the blood, guts, smoke, fire, rubble and carnage of Hell on Earth.

It was time for them to remember when there wasn’t a war and to celebrate Christmas.

British and German soldiers exchanging headgear during the Christmas Truce of 1914. (From The Illustrated London News of Jan. 9, 1915)

British and German soldiers exchanging headgear during the Christmas Truce of 1914. (From The Illustrated London News of Jan. 9, 1915)

Along with being one of human history’s most jaw-dropping moments of irreducible, pitch-black, granite-thick irony, it was a singular pointer to the inarguable absurdity, futility, and ignobility of that war. Indeed, any war. The great satirist and literary misanthrope Jonathan Swift himself – he of Gulliver’s Travels – could not have dreamed this shit up. But one imagines it would not have surprised him.

Given that the war’s precipitators, promoters and the pundits infamously anticipated – and told anyone who would listen – the war would be done and dusted by Xmas, this itself adds an additional measure of tragically indelible poignancy to the proceedings. (Are there any better examples of the all too human propensity for hubris than when it comes to waging war?) With the possible exception of Armistice Day itself on Nov. 11, 1918, this was arguably the only time when it truly was All Quiet on the Western Front.

Now of course the top military brass on both sides took a dim view of these proceedings as this was not in the brochure. One suspects the same of those who were the principal yet wholly unprincipled drivers of this gargantuanly cynical, misguided – and utterly avoidable – conflict, the repercussions of which are still reverberating within and across the geopolitical sphere today in more ways than space herein allows one to recount.

Yet we don’t need a Ph.D in international relations and military history to appreciate this here and now. Indeed, the same mercenary motivations and malevolent machinations that sparked The War to End All Wars until the Next Got Here are exactly – repeat “exactly” – the same ones driving current events whichever direction we look. Same shit, different shovel.

And the folks who were the drivers of that war then were afflicted with exactly the same psychopathology as the ones driving current events. Same horse, different cowboy! Of course the stakes are much, much bigger today, something they will gloss over because they don’t want to scare the horses too much!

What these lunatics will tell us though is that it’s all about freedom, democracy, human rights, liberty, security, stability, the rule of law, self-determination, peaceful co-existence, sovereign independence, God, king and country, yada, yada, yada, you name it. They will tell us that right must and will prevail over wrong, freedom over slaverygood over evil, truth over lies. Bottom line though it is always – repeat, always – about them. Their wrongs, their slaveries, their evils, and their lies!

The Conclusions of Lunatics

The ideological forebears of the present power elites of the geopolitical world order told our forebears the same shit back then. As then, they will now tell us whatever they think we will swallow or make us feel good other than the real facts because their agenda is a long way removed from the average person who along with their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, in-laws, outlaws, neighbors, friends, acquaintances and colleagues are the ones almost exclusively called upon to fight these wretched, misbegotten wars on their behalf.

They will do this because they know that even if we were paying some attention in history class in school, we’ve forgotten all this shit. Or that this time “it’s different!” It’s always different!

And if we demonstrate any reluctance to swallow their delusions, they have ways of enforcing us to do so or punish us if we don’t, and are constantly working on new ways and means to achieve these objectives. This is already happening here in Australia, in Canada, in the UK and Europe, and in the country that is the imperial epicenter of it all, Uncle Sam’s Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free, where as the saying goes, folks are free to do whatever their government tells them to do. According to the prevailing dictates of the Agenda Benders.

Of course the key items on that “hidden in plain sight” agenda are as follows: energy and resources (oil & gas esp.); empire (global power & military supremacy); and last but decidedly not least: the Filthy Lucre (aka Mammon). These folks have sold their own souls and ours, and those of our descendants as well for the stuff, presumably believing Old Nick will honor his promise to allow them to bring it all with them on their final descent into Dante’s Ninth Circle of Eternal Damnation.

And whatever we learnt in school about the causes of the First World War (or any other war for that matter) is not worth the paper it was written on. I should know; I used to teach this nonsense. That is until I wised up and stopped drinking the Kool-Aid (the shit was giving me reflux), and learnt that history is not just written by the victors so as to gloat over the vanquished, it is done so with a future purpose in mind, one which probably does not need to be spelt out here.

Yet such are the stakes this time round, there are unlikely to be any ‘winners’ (think “nukes” aka WMDs), so it’s unsure as to who might actually get to write the next installment of history, much less study it for posterity. Or for that matter, teach it! As Einstein once opined, World War Three might be fought with nukes, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones. And oldie, but a goodie to be sure. With all this in mind, this has been a momentous, (ahem) tortuous year for the history of our species on the planet. For those reading this who don’t appreciate this reality, it may be time to get out more.

Especially if we care about the future of humanity after we are no longer on the right side of the grass. And if we are parents, we should care. If we are grandparents, then this applies even more so.

This “reality” I refer to is one that I and many other hugely concerned folks have attempted to shed some light on, admittedly with varying degrees of insight and success. And it is one we will never – repeat, never – get a handle on whilst we continue to rely on the mainstream (or corporate) media.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the forces that prevailed to set the world on fire in 1914 will repeat history. I hope not. At all events what may be worth considering is the message below – from a man who was ahead of his time both artistically and politically.

It is methinks highly appropriate in these dangerous times in which we live …. Fab Johnny Says: Give Peace a Fighting Chance MOFOs. Happy Christmas, War is Over. Well, Not Quite, But Some of us be Working on it John. Backatcha when we’re done!

Johnny, we hardly knew ye old son! Thanks for everything. In your own way you chose the peace of the grave not the security of the slave. Oh, and you wrote a half way decent tune or two every now and then. Bonus. Rest in Peace m’man. If you still be around, you blood be worth bottling.

John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War is Over):

Greg Maybury is a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia.

3 comments for “Anything Learned from ‘Christmas Truce’?

  1. John
    December 24, 2014 at 09:09

    The reason that this time every time “it’s different!” is that the history lessons do not include the good feeling of being with the groupthink, and the penalties of opposition are already unsustainable for most, and ever increasing. They will lose critical social relationships, employment, and even their rights in society. They know that they must conform, and appear to conform, and must put the burden of opposition in the balance with the evidence. For the least moral and the least intelligent, it is in the balance before the facts and arguments. They can always pretend that personal benefit is conservatism. H.L.Mencken said that “The average man avoids the truth as diligently as he avoids arson, regicide, or piracy on the high seas, and for the same reason: because he believes that it is dangerous, that no good can come of it, and that it doesn’t pay.”

    Those who form “the prevailing dictates” aren’t worried about “their final descent into Dante’s Ninth Circle of Eternal Damnation” because they are on the Board.

  2. Zachary Smith
    December 23, 2014 at 20:19

    Anything Learned from ‘Christmas Truce’?

    The ‘Brass’ on both sides made sure it didn’t happen again – at least not on a large scale. Smaller scale types arranged by small groups probably continued. Even if it’s as simple as an unspoken “We won’t shoot if you don’t” sort. After atrocities have begun, these impromptu cease fires become more unlikely. I’ve never heard of any happening during the Vietnam conflict.

    WW2 had some instances. More of them would have been for medical reasons. I’ve read an account of a nasty fight between a British division and some SS troops which left the ground between the lines covered with casualties. Some British medics went out and started treating the wounded – Brits and Germans alike. Some German medics joined them. Afterwards the fighting didn’t resume, and the next morning the Germans had left their positions.

    And whatever we learnt in school about the causes of the First World War (or any other war for that matter) is not worth the paper it was written on. I should know; I used to teach this nonsense.

    I’d caution Mr. Maybury to be careful about what he embraces to replace the Traditional Versions. Some of the Revisionists are round-the-bend nuts.

    • Gregory Kruse
      December 26, 2014 at 14:15

      One fella is trying to convince us that the Roman Catholic church was right and Galileo was wrong.

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