Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 31, 2014

Wither The Media - Part XXXIV

A so called serious paper, The Guardian, has one of its assistant editor's exploring this rather difficult question: How has Bismarck escaped most of the blame for the first world war?

Before we leave the centenary year of the outbreak of war in 1914 there’s someone we should talk about. Everyone now knows about the famous Christmas truce and football matches. But this was a war that was meant to have been “over by Christmas” 1914, not dragging on for four blood-soaked years. Plenty share blame for that, but one major culprit who seems to have been conspicuous by his absence in 2014 deserves a name check: Otto von Bismarck.

Duh. Really - how could we not blame Bismark for World War I?

Maybe because he was fired as German Reichskanzler in March 1890, twenty-four years before World War I started? Maybe because he died in July 1898, sixteen years before World War I started? Maybe because politics and social development changed in a rapidly industrializing Germany during that time? Maybe because the actual rulers at that time, like a somewhat crazy German Kaiser - held back by Bismarck before he left -, were the main culprits for that war?

Is it any wonder that people like me stopped regularly reading the Guardian? A paper that is now oscillating between blatant "western" propaganda themes and the most silly yellow journalism?

Next in The Guardian: "How Michael Jackson's moonwalk cause the rise of the Nazis and World War II" plus a tearful lament on how "Reader Atrophy Drives Papers' Demise".

Posted by b on December 31, 2014 at 16:35 UTC | Permalink


I expected there to be more self-congratulation in the mainstream media this centenary year of World War One, but there haven't been as many stories devoted to it as I thought there would be. It probably has something with the current spike in displaced persons due to war. It is hard to celebrate the end of something -- war -- that the global powers don't want to see ended.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Dec 31 2014 16:49 utc | 1

As bad as blaming Putin and/or the NK's for everything.....
Best wishes for the New Year.

Posted by: georgeg | Dec 31 2014 16:52 utc | 2

The g fell pretty fast from the truth to mouth piece. Oh well

Posted by: jo6pac | Dec 31 2014 17:12 utc | 3

Yeah, yeah. Got it. And I say thank you, Herr Bismarck, for inventing the modern welfare state.

b, don't you think you owe the world an embarrassingly obsequious love letter to Vladimir Putin – just some sentimental pro-kleptocracy slobber to close out the old year?

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2014 17:15 utc | 4

Another reason for the lack of numerous "think" pieces on the WWI centenary in the mainstream media is a preference by the elite not to highlight the collapse of Sykes-Picot, in particular, the role of United States in bringing about that collapse.

On that score, the NYT's Anne Barnard had a story a few days back about how Nusra used TOW antitank missiles supplied to the Free Syrian Army by the U.S. to capture the SAA base in Wadi al-Deif.

This is something that b has drawn attention to from beginning -- how the U.S. plays mix and match with jihadi groups to destabilize the Middle East. It is one of many reasons to keep reading MoA in 2015.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Dec 31 2014 17:37 utc | 5

thank the gods for moa and the many fine commentators here.

Posted by: james | Dec 31 2014 17:40 utc | 6

I don't know why that 'smashing the computers' episode had such an effect on the Guardian, but it obviously did. Something akin to the anthrax scare for Congress, I guess.

I have an old tea towel with maori sayings inscribed upon it. One is:

"The God of evil and the God of fear are old friends."

[I wouldn't capitalize either one myself, but my tea towel does, so I honor its presentation.]

Posted by: juliania | Dec 31 2014 18:31 utc | 7

The Guardian is as much of a ridiculous stack of bum-wad as the NYT. In some ways, even worse.

Posted by: nomas | Dec 31 2014 18:40 utc | 8

All these M$M scandal sheets are sheer utter propaganda from Above the Fold Page 1 to the last tiny ad at the back. Useless for anything, as I wouldn't want to insult my parrot by using it at the bottom of his cage for him to sh*t on. Nasty stuff. Best avoided, other than to see what bs is being peddled by the PTB at any given moment. The main response should be to assume the opposite of what blarg is blathered. bah humbug

Posted by: RUKidding | Dec 31 2014 20:03 utc | 9

The Guardian is terrible. It's like the Washington Post as far as I can tell. All neoliberal propaganda all the time.

Posted by: ee | Dec 31 2014 21:32 utc | 10


Posted by: Crest | Dec 31 2014 22:34 utc | 11

b, don't you think you owe the world an embarrassingly obsequious love letter to Vladimir Putin – just some sentimental pro-kleptocracy slobber to close out the old year?
Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31, 2014 12:15:11 PM | 4

I'd prefer b to focus on important things, sloth. But I'd hate to see you start 2015 on a note of disappointment, so I'll step into the breach on his behalf...

Dear Vlad,

How come you don't tell outrageously juvenile lies (every time you open your mouth) like all those Western politicians slothrop worships?

Kind Regards,

from Hoarsewhisperer with Love & Respect.

P.S. Keep helping the Dumbass Yankees to make fools of themselves.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 1 2015 2:42 utc | 12

By happenstance, I went directly from the Bismark article (which didn't seem to be worth reading to the end) to your post. How nice to hear my thoughts echoed. The Guardian has a few good contributors but reads more and more like a tabloid.

Posted by: ks | Jan 1 2015 3:32 utc | 13

Bismarck certainly created an atmosphere that allowed WW I to happen. But it was only one step in a long sequence of steps. The sequence of steps started in the middle of the 18th century and resulted in WW I & WW II.

Take e.g. the war between Prussia & Austria (1866). The prussians could have crushed the austrians. Wilhelm I wanted to continue the war but Bismarck held the prussians back.

Posted by: Willy2 | Jan 1 2015 6:49 utc | 14

How could we not blame Bismarck for World War 1?
Easy. He was dead at the time.
And Bismarck was only following in the immediate footsteps of that renowned British “Liberal” Lord Palmerston, and others of the time.

This is exactly what we would expect to hear from a British “Liberal”-type newspaper.
The word “liberal” nowadays is basically a meaningless term.
Though in recent years the word liberal seems to have been redefined to mean the words “Global Huminatirian Interventionism” (a mile away from its original definition)
Its sort of like a catch-phrase standing in lieu of words like
“vote for me…..i’m cute and cuddly”, instead of “vote for me….I’m a Liberal”
Who wouldn’t vote for a party that describes itself thus.

If you want to go into the blame game, then it would make best sense to point fingers at people like
Napoleon, (or, perhaps even Oliver Cromwell, the prototypical regicide)
But I believe that it was Napoleon or rather the age of Napoleon that brought these megalomaniacal type of politicians to fruition.(and so would most real historians).
The words liberalism,socialism,left, right, nationalism, Zionism, etc etc all had their genesis from the late 18th century onwards.
(so probably even a character like Napoleon could be described as just a figure of the age).

It was what Germans called the Zeitgeist.
You might as well just blame just about any European politician active around that time.

PS I imagine that many an historian has written volumes regarding the causes of the “Great War”,
And most of these historians have come to earn well-deserved reputations, over time.
(This would tend to disqualify many Michael White)

Posted by: chris m | Jan 1 2015 17:46 utc | 15

While I agree that 'the guardian' is a piece of c**p, what caught my eye was this by b:

"Maybe because the actual rulers at that time, like a somewhat crazy German Kaiser - held back by Bismarck before he left -, were the main culprits for that war?"

Uh?? Does b mean that wwI was also the sole responsability of Germany??
Hopefully, he did not mean that, for that would be A LIE.
Armes Deutschland!

PS: I'd like to see German patriots emerge and get the country out of NATO. Kick zusas military out of Germany and follow an independent foreign policy. I'd like to see patriots emerge who could institute real freedom of expression, so that matters such a WWI, NS, WWII, the holohoax and more could be studied freely.
I won't happen. Germany ceased to be an independent country in 1945.

Posted by: Luca K | Jan 1 2015 18:58 utc | 16


It may be interesting to try and fix the blame for WW1 on someone but it's difficult because Europe was ruled by inbred moron Royalists and greedy mercantile Imperialists, there are too many choices.

What is important to me about WW1 is what came after and how those changes affect us today especially the ME.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 1 2015 20:32 utc | 17

This Guardian article is not all bad. Having both Prussian nationalist and cosmopolitan family backgrounds I am familiar with 2+ sides of the argument.

I. "Thank goodness the good Germans, the Germans of Beethoven and Schiller, have been back in charge since 1945, the kind of high-minded moderate people who were sidelined in the Bismarck era after the failed bourgeois revolution of 1848".

The article appears irrational at the surface but is quite helpful because it articulates the British trauma caused by the key choice made by Germany around 1871: building a competitive nation state on the basis of an established cultural dominance.

It was known at Bismarck's time that the British had 2 God given traits:
the ability to manage large portfolios and the inability to stand competition.

The resulting 1914-1945 war was brilliant imperial execution (Preparata:

While this is hardly new, it is more important that British and Germans have been played off against each other.

Responsibility for the 1871 experiment needs to be laid at his financiers Rothschild and Bleichroeder without whom Bismarck would have achieved nothing. He openly admitted that he made no move without Bleichroeder (Stern:

The sponsors of Karl Marx had once more practiced their favorite sport: laying the ground work for destructive conflict, resulting in the ongoing cultural dissolution, and leading to an anticipated global plantation of debt slaves.

Mr. White's article is helpful as an incentive to look at the powerful undercurrents of the soul. 80% of life is determined by psychology. This applies to national elites as well. Arrogance and contempt are mortal aggressions on the level of the soul which trigger equivalent responses on the physical plane. The result is purification of the initial transgressor. With their progress after 1871 Germans became contemptuous of the English. Through war Britain has assisted the purification of the German soul.

The article should not bed dismissed due to a superficial lack of factual logic (it would be easy to point out that Edward VII, the engineer of the anti-German Triple Entente, the key explosive device for WWI, died much later than Bismarck. However the Entente was the effect while 1871 was the cause).

II. The power of ideas was on the English side after 1915: this is a factually true and important statement.

"At a perilous moment in 1917 he told a fellow Liberal MP in the darkened Commons that “this little room is the shrine of the world’s liberties”, one that would decide the outcome of the war. “It is for the virtue of this that we shall muddle through to success and for lack of this Germany’s brilliant efficiency leads her to final destruction.” "

The initial German advance of 1914 was carried by the spirit of 1848 (German soldiers of all classes striking up the national anthem while overrunning Langemarck in Belgium).

With Paris in sight later on this spirit was buried under an uncritical adulation of sheer power (a key defect of the 1871 experiment). This was lamented by contemporary intellectuals like Rudolf Steiner and by some of the clergy (in my family).

Posted by: Christoph (German) | Jan 1 2015 23:48 utc | 18

Bismarck likened preventive war to committing suicide out of fear of dying. If Bismarck had had power in 1914, there would have been no world war.

Posted by: lysias | Jan 2 2015 0:36 utc | 19

@Christoph (German) #18:

Sorry, I can't force myself to read the Guardian op-ed piece. There is only so much English Russophobia and Germanophobia I can take.

Since you mentioned 1871, I googled "Prussia 1871", and what came up at the top was this: Franco-Prussian War. Wikipedia is actually pretty good here:

The German conquest of France and the unification of Germany upset the European balance of power that had existed since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and Otto von Bismarck maintained great authority in international affairs for two decades. French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British concern over the balance of power, became factors in the causes of World War I.
I have not studied World War I at all (that is why googled, ending up at Wikipedia), but I do have a sense about it: (1) serious historians agree that WW I was manufactured by Britain and France to put down the upstart Germany; (2) Germany was tricked into entering the war because after Bismarck, Germany had lost the ability to follow a clever foreign policy.

Posted by: Demian | Jan 2 2015 0:58 utc | 20

The Guardian quickly bends its misunderstanding of the First World War to an incomprehension of 21st century politics. Specifically, when NATO launches the Third World War (as they seem to expect will happen later this year) they want to be sure that Putin and other non-Anglo leaders have been well-blamed for it in advance.


Posted by: Gaianne | Jan 2 2015 2:15 utc | 21

Demian may not have studied WW1 but his intuition is sound. Like most tragedies in the 20th century, WW1 was the result of England wanting to destroy Germany who was becoming an industrialized power. The British made secret agreements with France and Russia, while lying through their teeth to Germany and their own people. Germany felt that the asassination was not a justification for World War, and that diplomacy could save the situation. In short, they were forced into mobilizing and declaring war. The other concurring perfidy was the creation of the US Federal Reserve Bank, and the belated entry of America into a war that had stalemated. Lord Palmerston said: " the English have no permanent allies, and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. Time and time again the Anglo-Saxons have proven to the world that under no circumstances can their word be trusted.

Posted by: Kraken | Jan 2 2015 2:23 utc | 22

In re WWI --

Before you revisionists wander too far off into fantasy (having studied history, I speak from more than intuition), I'm curious to see exactly how the British manipulated the Germans into pressuring the Austrians about finally doing something instead of just talking about their problems with and fears of the Serbs. How did Westminster get the Black Hand to do the deed in Sarajevo.

It's clear that the imperialist rivalries over markets during the Second Industrial Revolution (which accelerated the globalization of the capitalist economy) is the underlying cause.

Germany, as a new state and new colonialist is a destabilizing force. Especially after Bismarck's deft hand was brushed aside by the egotistical new Kaiser. I won't bore everyone with the tensions between Junkers and industrialists that underpinned that. Russian friendship was lost, its alliance with France ended her post-1871 isolation and enabled her to shift away from colonialism and towards recovering Alsace.

Britain for her part feared German industrialization. She had already lost dominance in steel production, Germany pioneered industries driving the "Second Industrial Revolution," autos, chemicals and electrics. The Wilhelmine determination to colonize meant a high-seas fleet (commercial and military) to service and defend it, and this deeply worried Whitehall.

Germany felt war inevitable; sooner meant that the Russians were not yet fully modernized. Europe had nearly gone to war in 1912 over the Balkans, but the Powers were not quite ready. Serbian Pan-Slavic agitation held the potential to continue to arouse the South Slavs within the Dual Monarchy, Berlin saw an opportunity one summer and took it.

There's plenty of blame to go around; combatant populations on both sides were largely in favor of war, and feared it would be over before they got their share of the glory.

The question of sole German guilt was of great import at Versailles. France counted on reparations to rebuild its devastated northeast, and their intransigence towards relaxing these payments destabilized interwar politics.

The Devil is in the details, barflies. Y'all may have noticed, for better or worse, I don't do imprecise. If that means being pedantic, I've been called worse.... "Philadelphia lawyering" is the colloquial term you're looking for, in place of the over-used "pedantic."

Sorry to have gone on a bit, back to nursing my Jameson's in the corner.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 2 2015 4:09 utc | 23

Hey Rufus,
The devil is in the details. For a very detailed history of WWI, try reading " Hidden History: The secret origins of the First World War" by G. Docherty, and J. Macgregor. I'm pretty sure you'll find it enlightening.

Posted by: Kraken | Jan 2 2015 20:33 utc | 24

Kraken at 24 --

Thanks for the referral, but I'd encountered it earlier this fall (I'd seen it cited somewhere, ran down a review on an Irish leftist website; the Irish angle is why I recall it) and didn't like what I saw. But pour us a shot, and we'll see how it tastes.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 3 2015 1:47 utc | 25

I've been spending a lot of spare time studying the ww1 phase of the rise of global hegemony partly because of the revisionism being conducted during the 100th 'anniversary' of that butchery and partly because two seeds sprouted in 1914, one was global hegemony and the other much more interesting though currently hibernating was the realisation by us the shitkickers, that by standing together we can defeat any mob of greedy assholes.

Without the mass conscription that fed the cannon fodder for that conflict, it is unikely that workers would have been nearly as united in their stance against the greedy from 1917 onward.

But anyway what I did want to say was that blaming france & england aka FUK for the start of that war makes as much sense as blaming Microsoft for competing with Apple - yes and vice versa, blaming Germany is equally foolish.

I watched a doco last night about the break out from the Messines Salient that began at Ypres in August 1917 and went on until the deluges finally stopped it in November of that year. That was after Paschendale's awful carnage.
250,00 military casualties, god knows how many Belgique died I doubt anyone was counting.
The doco was made in the 1960's and it interviewed many of the protagonists of both sides Generals and shitkickers, altho German generals were in understandably short supply.
Lloyd George's cabinet notes at the time detailed how the military played it to get permission to waste so many people on another useless foray into nowheresville. By 1917 there was considerable scepticism about the motives of the military much less their ability to actually succeed in their strategies.
According to Lloyd George who was englander PM by then the generals dragged out huge maps. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig who was the bossfella of the brit forces, drew coloured lines from asshole to breakfast on these maps like a wizard showing off his best ledgerdemain. George says he looked up and was dispirited to see the most of the pols transfixed by the bullshit, all set to crank up the slaughterhouse for another summer of fun.

He (L George) and a few others remained steadfast, pointing out that Haig was saying nothing he hadn't said before and those other times millions of men had been gassed blown up and hacked to death, after which both sides withdrew to positions pretty much identical to the ones they had started from. (For those ignorant of the mindless slaughter of 14-18 the western front ran from the north Atlantic to the Mediterranean. During the entire 14-18 conflict the western front barely shifted for 4 years both sides were well dug in and well protected by machine gun, gas and artillery.)

But the wizard Haig had one further trick up his sleeve. He wheeled in the Admiral in charge of the British Navy who swore black and blue that unless the FUK mob took over Zebrugge (a port in the north of Belgium where German submarines operated from), this year; by next year Germany would have blockade england so well that it would be impossible to keep the war running. All lines of communication would be broken and millions of brit troops would have been shot or starved to death.

Pols don't have much choice but to believe their military leaders in these circumstances. Government only works if the civil servants (and this includes generals and admirals) expertise is recognised. It's not as if PM George had some other naval expert with a counterview, he had to believe his man unless he had good evidence that the expert was wrong.

The break out from the Messines salient was approved the result was England 1 Germany 1 the Mud 250,000. It pissed down with rain from go to whoa - no one could move. If they did and fell off the narrow and slippery duckboards laid across the mud, they would fall into one of the hundreds of millions of shell holes. plus live but crazy rats (the shelling frequently went on for around 10 days with non-stop, and even the rats had gone crazy from the constant blasts).
Falling into the mud was an almost certain death sentence because even if the mud didn't drown you, the slightest scratch became massively infected and turned to gangrene.

The brits didn't get within 10 kilometers of their first objective let alone Zebrugge, yet the war continued the next year - the admirals words cost the lives of hundreds of thousands but they weren't accurate. Two of the blokes who died were my mother's eldest brothers, one fought in the kiwi army, the other in the Australian, both had made it through to 1917 - they had both been badly wounded but they lived so were patched up and sent out again - dying was the only ticket home back then.
I dunno if the Admiral or Haig got sacked they should have done which means they prolly didn't.
When you study how the military got their way and compare it with today you see little has changed.

The fault? IMO it's having a military big enough to do this sort of horror show. As soon as a force so big is constructed it is only a matter of time before it is used.

We're gonna see another one pretty soon. There are very few people left who truly understand what went on in Europe and they are only second hand tellers such as myself and we are dying out. As soon as the bulk of paticipants in 1914 to 1945 had died out the bullshit started in 1990 which was just too soon.

Highway of death vids didn't go down well among vets in 1990 Even my old man, an old tory prick, went ape when he saw footage of that. I guess it took him back to 39-45 when he was a pilot. Yer not meant to blow the shit outta a retreating column, well not in 1990 you weren't.

It is OK now because there are few opponents with any voice of authority. So the real full on stuff was held off until 2003 - by that time european war vets were in very short supply.

Basically anyone can do anything now the rule book is out the window and as far as Joe Lunchbox knows or cares the enemy have all been dehumanised anyway.

Drone warfare has been particularly ineffective because it doesn't occupy the space. It can maintain a state of anarchy but even that is problematic because if yer own side aren't dying in sufficient numbers it is tough to keep the home team population angry enough to want to be at war.
Hence the terrorist beat ups, but even they aren't getting much traction.

The last one in Australia was just getting momentum getting the world all het up about the deaths of 3 people drinking coffee (two of which were security service unfriendly fire) by a bloke with major psychological issues unconnected with any known 'terror group', when a crazy and impoverished indigenous woman in North Australia killed 8 children, 7 of whom were hers. Even the corrupt mainstream media struggled to maintain the 'terror scare' bulldust when that happened the week before Xmas.

I am sure there will be attempts to revive this in the New Year but its difficult to see that being successful.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 3 2015 2:01 utc | 26

' The fault? IMO it's having a military big enough to do this sort of horror show. As soon as a force so big is constructed it is only a matter of time before it is used. '

I agree. This whole sequence of aggressions began with, "What's the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?"

It's been downhill ever since, irreversible - apparently - until the last dollar and last bullet are consumed in flames.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 3 2015 2:57 utc | 27

to the late EV at 26 --

Very sobering, esp. your observations on the sort of mass annihilations that our beloved Imperium now feels entitled to commit. My parents were kids during the war, though my wife's uncle survived capture in the Bulge.

It's of a piece with our present, how shall we say, relaxed views on torture. Bad for Russkies back in the day. But somehow good for us now.

Say what you will about their demeanor and habits, the old aristocratic knights had an appreciation of the morality of their business. Though they took command of the new regiments of mercenaries and conscripts, they viewed firearms as dishonorable (as they had archery, the preferred weapon of urban militias) -- one had to face one's opponent and then take his life.

Now of course we have drones; at least the rifled infantryman, airman or artillerist faced the possibility of the sort of anonymous death they dealt out. We Yanks fancy ourselves a moral people (that's what all the Pharisees in both parties say, anyway), so how is it that we deal death so casually?

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 3 2015 4:05 utc | 28

ps to 28 --

And as the Wobblies used to say -- If the working class would all spit, the bosses would drown.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 3 2015 4:17 utc | 29

The global scale of US militarism

Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.”

Not a single major US newspaper reported the issuance of the letter, titled, “Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report,” although it was released by the White House Press Office December 11 and is available on the White House web site.

The White House letter to Congress declares that as part of operations against Al Qaeda and associated forces, “the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation.”

The Obama administration thus maintains in full the pretext for global deployment of US military power, the “war on terror” first declared by George W. Bush in 2001. There is, of course, no acknowledgement that in several countries, notably Libya and Syria, Al Qaeda is not the enemy but a key ally in US efforts to overthrow the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi (murdered in 2011) and Bashar al-Assad (who would face a similar fate in the event of victory of the US-backed “rebels”).

He mentions by name Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Cuba, Niger, Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, Tunisia, and the Central African Republic as locations where US combat troops are deployed. Chiefly the legions under the Central and African commands.

No mention made of, say, South Korea or Japan or the Philippines, or Pakistan, or Ukraine.

But note that "Not a single major US newspaper reported the issuance of the letter".

Posted by: jfl | Jan 4 2015 10:22 utc | 30

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