Two Novels, No John Wayne

images.jpgIf you’re from my generation, you grew up with the American heroics epitomized by John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima. As a very young man my two favorite books were Battle Cry by Leon Uris and Valhalla by Jere Peacock. This idealist propaganda approach was effectively destroyed by exposure to the journalistic approach to the obscenity of the Vietnam War. Blame television. Add to this the Stanley Kubrick film—Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb—and generally I avoided war stories in text or film for the next fifty years.

Oh, there were certainly exceptions: I did read War and Peace … twice. War and Peace, however, was not a jingoistic American fairy tale.

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Virginia Woolf: How to Fight Fascism

can-you-learn-about-happiness-from-virginia-woolf-featuredOn Tuesday, Feb. 26, 1935, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary that after “a very fine skyblue day,” she was “plagued by the sudden wish to write an Anti fascist Pamphlet.” She talked it over with her husband Leonard, who “was extremely reasonable & adorable, & told me I should have to take into account of the economic question.” …

For Woolf, the origins of fascism are inextricably tied to the patriarchy. A quotation she read in the newspaper from a man who claimed that women who work emasculate men by relieving them of their duty as provider seemed to crystallize the issue for her. “There we have in embryo the creature, Dictator as we call him when he is Italian or German, who believes he has the right, whether given by God, Nature, sex or race is immaterial, to dictate to other human beings how they shall live; what they shall do.”

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It’s Always the Old To Lead Us To the War

Phil OchsAfter all these years I still maintain my appreciation of the late, great Phil Ochs. My copy of the album, I Ain’t Marching Anymore, is lost in the years of moving, changing media, and the demise of the good old record player, but I still remember the picture of Phil sitting with his back against the wall covered with posters and peace signs. Ah, the sixties.

But the whole concept of war still exists—it’s brutality, unfairness, deviousness and corruption—and what Phil Ochs wrote fifty years ago it still true:

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all.

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