Both The Crisis and BLAST evince support for World War I as a general theme. However, both magazines also tie the war to their own existing causes. The Crisis ties fighting the Great War to fighting racism, and asserts that winning the war will mean a better place for African-Americans in society thereafter. BLAST II, meanwhile, claims that the war between England and Germany is a war between modernism and romanticism or passeism, and thus allies itself with the patriotic English cause.
Within The Crisis, World War I is treated as a comeuppance for Germany and the evils of imperialism, as well as an opportunity for African-Americans to show their patriotism and secure a more comfortable role in American society through their service. This is hinted at in the issue of October 1914, but develops to a greater extent in the June 1918 issue. The first issue of The Crisis features two pieces that deal expressly and extensively with the war.
The first, "Of the Children of Peace," is filled with antiwar sentiment. The author draws a comparison between the pretty rhetoric of wartime bravery with its images of "tall, handsome men, all gold and silver and broadcloth," and the realities of wartime brutality, in which men were "naked and dirty,with sodden, angry, distorted faces... they dragged, not pale and leaden guns, but pale and bounden women" (289). The piece claims that "The cause of War is Preparation for War," and that such preparation is caused by "the Hatred and Despising of Men" (290). Thus, though the piece is an anomaly among the others discussed here in that it finds no good in war at all, comdemning it as destructive and cruel, it ties war to considerations of racism, purporting that war is caused by hatred.
"WAR" also depicts war as brutal and heartbreaking, with its "smoking houses and ravished daughters" (297). However, unlike the previous piece, which seems to call for an immediate end to war, the author of "WAR" ultimately states that the present war must continue, for though the people mourn their suffering, they also rejoice at the destruction of their enemy. Therefore, the Lord will let the fighting continue, for "As they have sowed/ So shall they reap" (297). Thus, the war is depicted as a necessary evil, which must be endured for the punishment of the nation's enemies.
The June 1918 issue of The Crisis falls more strongly in favor of the war, with no pieces that are discernibly against the war. Moreover, the issue emphasizes the role of African-American soldiers in the war to a far greater extent.
Within the Editorial section, the magazine not only praises the valiant efforts of black soldiers but claims that as a result of such efforts, "never again will darker people of the world occupy just the place they have before. Out of this war will rise... an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult" (60). Thus, the writers of The Crisis tie the war against Germany to their own more personal war against racism, both by suggesting they come from common causes, as seen in 1914's "Of the Children of Peace," and by suggesting that winning the Great War will be a victory for racial equality, as seen here.
BLAST, similarly, ties its own efforts to create a Vorticist artistic movement to the war effort, arguing that modernism was allied with England and that the true enemy of both entities was German romanticism. Paul Peppin in his piece "'Surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts': Vorticism and the Great War" argues, "The war against Germany, now cast as the principal foreign enemy of the only true modernist empire, gives the Vorticists a new means of affirming their patriotism" (98). This bears out in an examination of BLAST II's contents.
The Editorial in BLAST II claims that Germany "has stood for the old Poetry...This paper wishes to stand rigidly opposed, from start to finish, to every form that the Poetry of a former condition of life, no longer existing, has foisted upon us... Under these circumstances, apart from national parizanship (sic), it appears to us humanly desirable that Germany should win no war against France or England" (5). The tone of the magazine, here allying modernism with England and France, differs greatly from its treatment of the same in BLAST I:
In BLAST I, two pages from which are displayed above, the authors both Blast and Bless England. They do not explicitly ally themselves with the nation. Rather, they see both modernist and antimodernist things about it. It is only with the coming of war that BLAST ties the cause of modernist art to England and to English victory in the war.
Thus, both The Crisis and BLAST take an overall pro-war stance. However, both do so not just by a show of patriotism, but by tying the pro-war cause to the causes that each magazine is already deeply concerned with: for The Crisis, anti-racist work; for BLAST, the spread of Vorticism.