Week 7 The Pervasive effect of war (3 of 8)

The readings for this week had a common thread of the overarching effect of the war on the media and the lives of its citizens. The readings for this week pointed out the corollary that exists between the media and the community. Writers like Dora Marsden, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, and Ezra Pound to name a few; all call out the doublespeak of the coverage of the war that has led to an age of confusion and misinformation. The job of writers during this time is comparable to the soldiers on the front lines, without truth, there is no just cause, but rather a cause that has no rationale, and therefore it has no backing, no common cause to mobilize behind. The English specifically, is the focus of this firestorm of confusion and misinformation. In the Views and Comments section in the September 15, 1914 issue of The Egoist, Dora Marsden draws explicit attention to the false narrative that is being spewed to the English population by Lord Roseberry.

              “Why we English fight: Lord Roseberry: “To maintain the sanctity of international law in             Europe.” The international law presumably “should be” immutable and eternal: that, at least, is what the noble Lord means to fob off on the encouragingly wooly minds of his hearers” (344).

Marsden’s words speak to the rhetoric of the war that is withholding the truth from its citizens. The reality of the horror of the war is hidden from citizens under the guise of “a great and holy cause” (The Egoist September 15, 1914 pg. 343). Upon reading this issue, I was reminded of last Thursday’s class discussion of the illusion of hypnotism of the masses that is a symptom of the Modernist world. The misinformation of the cause of the great war that is being spread such as the example of Lord Roseberry that I quote above is an example of that illusion of hypnotism. The citizens of England specifically are being brainwashed by the false news they receive. They have been tricked into believing that the war they are fighting is for a moral cause and they should have no qualms about sending their children off to combat. Again, pointing to Dora Marsden’s piece, Views and Comments in the September 15, 1914 issue of The Egoist, “Law remains such an excellent conjuring property with the crowd: “Mumbo jumbo, Law and Mesopotamia” can always be relied upon to work all the tricks, and cloak all the spoof” (344). Within the literal combat of the war, there is another war that is being waged of misinformation and false narratives. Perhaps women and children suffer the most from this misinformation. In the piece, A Sound of Bleating by Josephine Wright this victimization is emphasized. This article struck me because it is one of the only articles in this issue that talks explicitly about the negative effect of war on women and children. There are many articles written by women that speak about the negative effects of the war, but never specifically pertaining to women and children. An excerpt that stood out to me:

              “The Suffragists of the United States call upon the women of the world to rise in protest against                 this unspeakable wrong and to show war-crazed men that between the contending armies                       there stand thousands of women and children who are the innocent victims of men’s unbridled                 ambitions; that under the lives, the hopes, the happiness of countless women whose rights                       have been ignored, whose homes have been blighted, and whose honor will be                       sacrificed... 

                 This is not a national issue; it involves all humanity” (The Egoist pg. 358).

This article coincided with the cover and content of the October 1914 Children’s issue of The Crisis. The pages of that issue are filled with children, children who are alone, who have lost their parents to the horrors of war. These 2 magazines, The Egoist (September 15, 1914) and the Children’s issue of The Crisis (October 1914) prove that the involuntary loss of innocence along with the pervasive spreading of misinformation and false narratives are both symptoms of war that affect more than the soldiers on the front lines.