World War III

In one of her books, the title of which I have forgotten, Agatha Christie* describes a murder which took place in ancient Mesopotamia. One character studies the record-keeper for the Pharaoh's grain stores, and has a prescient image of a distant future, in which the keepers of records will be more important and powerful than the people growing and harvesting the grain, or those who transport and store it.

[* I am convinced it was an Agatha Christie book, but I have gone carefully through her bibliography without finding the book to which I refer.]

I suppose, to an observant and thinking person, such a development might have been discernible at the time when Christie was writing, but how much more obvious it is today, and I wonder whether this development in human culture is inevitable or whether, under other circumstances, it could have been avoided. It is too late to talk now of reversing this development, of turning back time and trying for a fresh start. For it is my contention that the consequences of this development as it has played out are now inevitable, and to the blood of the millions who have already died at the whim of the record-keepers, millions, if not billions, more will soon be added. I see no other future for mankind than a third world war and I suspect that it is nearer than most people can imagine in their worst fears, for war always takes the man in the street off guard.

The big question in my mind is what form the next war will take. Will it be, as so many of our leaders obviously want, between the West and the East, or will it be between the man in the street and his so-called leaders, that is an uprising of the citizenry against the people leading them to the slaughter? In these days, when police forces are being armed with military weapons, spy agencies are reading the mail and studying the communications of every man and woman on the planet, and lawmakers are turning every negative thought into a terrorist act, I fear for anyone trying to turn on their leaders. And the total control of propaganda which we now have will surely be able to whip up enthusiasm for the elimination of a common enemy, who threatens our way of life.

I suppose that greed and the so-called right of might have always plagued mankind as they have animals. In many species the males will compete – though seldom fatally – for the right to pass on their genes by a near monopoly of the females. Similarly, the alpha-specimens may see to it that they get first bite or the choicest bits of the food, although not even that generalisation is always true. Very often the mature specimens will make sure that the young have enough.

No, I am not going to suppose that prehistoric man lived in the kind of primitive paradise which Jean M Auel portrayed in her books, but even under the hardships of life on the existence minimum there must have been an ethical system which took care of the young and the aged. And the barons of the middle ages were brutal masters, but even they must have realised that their existence depended upon a certain well-being for their subjects, at least en masse, if not at the individual level. One must go to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to find the total rejection of ethics in the leaders of the day. There is no question but that industrial leaders during the industrial revolution stopped at nothing to minimise or eliminate competition, nor that the political leaders of the time were as indifferent to the well-being of ordinary men and women at home and overseas as many of our present leaders.

Perhaps one factor which helped cause this change was the change of scale of production. Prior to the industrial revolution production and distribution were for the most part local, and production units reflected this. Factories were virtually non-existent. The cottage was the unit of production. Young children, the sick and the old had their families around them to provide welfare.

But railways made it possible to move goods larger distances, and supply markets not previously feasible, and the units of production increased in size. Factories, those 'dark satanic mills', absorbed some of the inhabitants of the cottages, leaving behind the children, the sick and the old to shift for themselves as best they could. The factories needed more raw products than could be supplied locally, so armies were sent out to rape foreign countries and effectively steal their produce for home use, and the new steam ships could effectively and cheaply transport it home. And thus the concept that might is right was also given a 'productive' boost, and nations began their series of wars for control of foreign resources, justified by the idea that the control of these resources was a matter of national security.

These wars also changed in their nature, from the local, where two or three nations engaged in a less-than-neighbourly contest, to the international, as the more or less colonial powers sought to maintain their colonies and even increase them. Sometimes the target of the war would be invaded, other times a threat, so-called gunboat diplomacy, was enough to ensure that the local authorities acknowledged their absentee landlords. And with time the goal became hegemony, to be the one ruling power, enforcing like thinking, however inimical on the target nation, and punishing dissent.

And the leaders forgot where home was, and their own subjects became the targets for control and for punishment. For wars cost money, and the farther from home, the more money. And the only people who benefitted from the wars were the munitions makers.

Money was borrowed and interest had to be paid on the borrowings, which reduced the amount of taxation which could be spent on common welfare. More money had to be borrowed to pay the interest, and there was still less money for common welfare, and the people, who had seen that their taxes were not reduced were getting restless that the money they paid no longer covered the costs of their welfare, for the money was going to the munitions manufacturers and the banks. And the people were suddenly faced by militarily armed police, and their grumbling became terrorist thinking.

But no, I do not think that the third world war will be between the people and their leaders. A few skirmishes of that nature have already taken place, and more will undoubtedly follow, but they are put down so brutally that I do not think they will ever succeed. And so the third world war will be between nations, and will almost certainly be nuclear.

And already we hear the strident call of the trumpets. There is as much propaganda at least on the 'side' to which I have access as there was in the build-up to the second world war. The other 'side' seems more temperate in its marshalling, but those of my readers who only have access to the main-stream media will not allow that that may be anything other than the effect of a well-thought out plan, a strategy of propaganda. That it may just possibly can be that the other 'side' is, actually, less brutal, more human is not in their realm of the possible.

If I believed in a god I would say god grant that the winners may be those who do not believe in warfare as the only way to pursue diplomacy. But I do not, so all I can suggest is that every one of us make as loud a noise as we can to the effect that this we will not allow.

© James Wilde 2015