Since at least World War 1 the idea of war as being all about glory and heroism has seen massive disillusionment. Most people, I think, would agree that war is not a good thing, even if some think it a necessary thing. But technological arms races, both during war and in peacetime, generate a plethora of technological advances. That raises the question: should futurists and transhumanists welcome war in order to usher in greater and faster technological advances?
The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth, Copyright 2016, Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 464 Pages.
The great conflagration of World War I lasted from July 28, 1914 until the armistice of November 11, 1918, when hostilities ended to both grieving and fanfare. Last year, as the centennial of the end to the War to End All Wars, many in France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Canada, Australia New Zealand, and all over Europe reflected on this great and solemn occasion. It was a chance to both remember the human tragedy of The Great War and to celebrate our forebears who fought bravely in places like Flanders, Gallipoli, Verdun, and the Somme.
For many in the west, the story of the twentieth centuries baptism of fire ends on November 11, 1918. Or, at least, that is the conventional wisdom. Following the armistice, it was merely a matter of hammering out the details before the Treaty of Versailles was signed less than a year later on June 28, 1919. Those a little more savvy might recall that not every belligerent had the same government or borders following the war as they had going in, and that Treaty of Versailles left unhappy some figures who would become important later on. What many in the west are unaware of, though, is that the years from 1918 until 1923 were just as brutal and deadly as the years between 1914 and 1918.
I recently finished listening to Dan Carlin’s sixth and final episode of his amazing Hardcore History series “Blueprint for Armageddon” about World War I. It’s not hyperbolic to say that this six part series, totaling almost 24 hours worth of listening at almost two years in the making, is a masterpiece, and I can’t recommend it enough – and right now it’s still available to listen to for free. Not only is it a masterpiece because it was so well done, but also because World War I is still affecting our lives today more than most people realize.