Anti-War Rhetoric and Progressivism

Analysis of political issues across the world

Anti-War Rhetoric and Progressivism

Postby Michael » 04 Mar 2012, 18:22

I thought the forum would find this piece from this month's New Criterion thought provoking.

The New Old Lie by Thomas Bruscino

I hope the link is still active. I have never been certain about how the New Criterion manages what is and what is not behind a pay wall. If it is not you may be able to find it through your public library's digital subscriptions.

Bruscino discusses the link between progressivism and anti-war rhetoric, and the inadequacies of both. I had contemplated composing a big write up about the article, but I could not think of anything to write that could generate more discussion than these quotes:

Without getting into the merits of either Pragmatism or progressive liberalism, it is key to note that the meaninglessness of war is essential to their worldview. If there is something more to war than just butchery, if soldiers fight and die for a preexisting ideal, then their sacrifice becomes a powerful testament to that idea

A little alter on, Bruscino addresses how much war literature, which is primarily anti-war literature, comes to be. The experience of the sharp edge of combat is borne almost entirely by young men, who have been plunged into an environment that leaves little time for them to use their as yet undeveloped capacities for reflection. Thus their reports of war, which constitutes their generations war writings, fiction and non-fiction, tend to focus not on the broader goals of the war, its use in policy, but its brutalities. If there is meaning to their sacrifices, as conceived by themselves, it is purely in the support of comrades. Bruscino suggests that while these experiences should be reported, critics tend to focus too much upon it and to treat it as the whole picture, which serves their ideological absolutism:

Regardless of whether or not a soldier in the midst of combat fully grasps the purpose of the war, however, war as a whole is about much more than the perspectives of the men under fire. War is a tool of policy, so the perspective of policymakers must also count. When they say, as Lincoln did, that the war serves a cause, their perspective is every bit as true as the soldiers’ on the front. Yet the cynics dismiss the words of policymakers as a cover for their true intentions, which are inevitably base and therefore devoid of real meaning.
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