Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WWII: Modernity Bites. (Until Nature bites back...)

Most people who died because of WWII , died of hunger or the diseases caused by it.

That is more than (a) the number of  soldiers and civilians killed in combat or (b) civilians and soldiers killed by execution.

None, or almost none, of these tens of millions who died from hunger would have died if their friends or enemies had had huge surpluses of food bursting their warehouses.

It was FOOD - bog ordinary, plain old food , that dominated WWII - from before the war, to after the war and all points in between.

Food - not Life, not Land, not Oil, not Power - dominated the war
and its decision making.

Food - in its very materialness - dominated a war and a world that had predetermined that in a Modern Age, the Mental Will dominated over a Material World.

The mind was over and above and beyond the material world.

If WWII established one thing , it was that this simply wasn't so.

Mother Nature - in the form of the annual weather  - casually tossed the wartime ambitions of Humanity about like they were kids' toys.

Good weather/ good harvests and millions of those intended for deliberate death might get an additional lease on miserable life.

Bad weather/ bad harvests and governments found ever more diabolical ways to export hunger onto those less powerful .

And make no mistakes, ALL governments exported hunger onto the weak : Axis, Allied and Neutrals alike.

There were foodie heroes everywhere throughout the war; heroic individuals who never fired a gun to defend their land but who nevertheless ignored government callousness and worked to feed all ,  weak and strong.

We should honor them but we don't - not until more women write the big books about World War Two.

By big books, I mean those books that try to see the big picture of the war ; those works of synthesis  that get at those overarching
issues that rise above all the individual incidents that made up the war.

Food - the largest motivating force animating WWII - simply doesn't interest many men  : its just there; laid on by the womenfolk, like washing-up.

Most male historians prefer to write about guns rather than butter but if female historians won't write about butter, then who will ?

Adam Tooze and Lizzie Collingham for a start: two historians (one male, one female) who have ordered their global histories of
WWII around weather and harvest yields.

THE WAGES OF DESTRUCTION and THE TASTE OF WAR are two books I recommend all read: Collingham's book is a much easier read but Tooze's book gives the dollar and cents figures to back up Collingham's more impressionistic claims.

Read them both and you will never again look at WWII through the eyes of the mainstream mythology.

They will make you very angry I hope - this is good - anger can lead to activism.

Time is short, we have a burning planet to save , to save from ourselves.

Because we must first change how we think and how we feel, before we can hope change how we can co-exist within the world....

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