Who Knew: We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here

My title comes from a song sung by soldiers as they marched to hell in the trenches of World War I and the same song my sisters and I sang in the car as our parents drove us to our summer vacation in paradise at Edgewater Farm.

I think of this as we march to WW III.

The soldiers, who would be slaughtered by the millions as pawns in the great game, sardonically sung it to the tune of Old Lang Syne to express their bewilderment at why they were fighting in the so-called “War to End All Wars” or “the Great War.”

We children sang it because we had heard the words but had no idea where they came from, yet they seemed playful and weird and easy to remember and we were celebrating our good fortune in leaving the city and arriving at the farm for a week’s country idyll.

War and peace absurdly juxtaposed.  Because?  Because everyone needs to be somewhere even if they don’t know why.

Yet today so many people feel lost in a world gone mad, a nowhere land, far further from somewhere than when John Lennon penned the words to “Nowhere Man” in 1965.  It is no wonder he was assassinated in 1980, for he was a man growing into a profound anti-war consciousness.

Now we’re again celebrating Armistice/Remembrance/Veteran’s Day on November 11 in a world forever at war and with nuclear annihilation staring us in the face.  Always the bitter Old Lie told by the depraved political and economic elites to suck the masses into death.  Wilfred Owen, killed in action on November 4, 1918 one week before the Armistice, murmurs to us from his French grave:

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

But what do dead poets know?  Only everything important.

What child would want such gory glory as dulce et decorum est pro patria mori unless it was pounded into its head by men in love with death?

Do they think the dead can hear the cheers?

Can we hear the songs of the poets who link us back to contemplate the atrocities of the battles of The Somme, Passchendaele, Marne, Gallipoli, Verdun, etc. with all the official lies told by the political jackals responsible for these slaughters?

At the farm, my many sisters and I, despite not knowing what we had sung, did know why we were where we were; our “because” had a clear answer.  We were there to choose life, not death, to enjoy living, which we knew was a precious gift from parents who could barely afford the expense.  We walked barefoot down the sandy dirt road between the green pasture where the cows lolled dreamily and the still waters of the limpid creek to the swimming hole where we would float for hours with the fish as turtles eyed us from their log perches in the sun.

What child would want to wallow in blood and gore for a posthumous medal?

What parent would want their child to march to war to die, rather than swim in the waters of life and love?

We’re here because we’re here because nihilism is celebrated as patriotism and the love of death masquerades as love of life.  The nations that celebrate these war days do not do so to foster peace but to remind people that it is indeed sweet to die for one’s country.  And God too, of course.  Because?  The poet Dylan sings the truth.  Just listen: “With God on Our Side”  or hear Phil Ochs’ “Is There Anybody Here.”

But all of this was once upon a time in the 1960s when many people were realizing that war was a racket, as Marine General Smedley Butler told us long ago.  Today sleep has descended on most people while the disease of war is injected into the public’s bloodstream in a manner learned well from the massive propaganda campaign of WW I.  In the USA then, it was the Committee on Public Information, led by George Creel, Edward Bernays, Walter Lippmann, et al. who “manufactured the consent” of the public to hate the “Huns,” keep their mouths shut, and spy on their neighbors, all in the service of a jolly-good war “over there.”  Today the spying and propaganda apparatus dwarfs those efforts exponentially with its electronic, digital technology.

But poets don’t text the truth.  They sing it and think it and tell it, even when nobody’s listening.

We’re all lucky to still be here.  If we continue to celebrate past wars and the soldiers who fought them in a sly homage to the greatness of war, we are doomed.  We won’t be here because….

Here’s Liam Clancy singing Eric Bogle’s 1971 song about one man’s story of war’s greatness

17 thoughts on “Who Knew: We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here”

  1. Waltzing Matilda: an even more relevant version throughout and especially at the end of the film, On The Beach, the song that was the accompaniment to waiting for death by nuclear radiation.

  2. Thank you Edward, I can’t explain why, but your words invoke in me suppressed feelings that used to guide me, alas, I too am almost daily overwhelmed by everything, just juggling the bills and life, I check frequently for your words, they help me rebalance

    1. Thank you Beth…, too bad more women, the Female do not respond here. I wonder why ? ‘When god was a Women’ , the book.

  3. Oh the horror of the white man, the Anglo Saxons, those Empires of Spain, Portugal, France, Britain. Armistice Day?

    Get real. Try the Indigeous Holocaust, the greatest in world history. No time for Wooden Indians, Yankee Doodle Dandy Stars and Bars Bombs Bursting in Air.

    We’re looking at 175 million!

    So, by any reckoning, the Indigenous Holocaust in the Western Hemisphere was, as David Stannard has pointed out, “the worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed.” There are no words or numbers can adequately convey the scale of the horror and tragedy involved in the greatest sustained loss of human life in history.

    Try these, References:
    Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present, (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997

    Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History since 1492, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987).

    David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 146 and pp. ix- x.


    When I was in Chiapas, in San Cristobal de la Casas, I studied the town’s namesake. Spanish conquistador- turned-priest Bartolome de Las Casas estimated that between three and four million Native people originally lived on the island that came to be known as Hispaniola. Within a few decades of the European invasion, most of them had died as the result of wars, genocide, enslavement, disease, and related factors. Wars and genocide, combined with “firestorms of disease” and related factors, led to perhaps 40 million deaths in presentday Mexico, Central America, Peru, and Chile by the late 1560s. Higher estimates, for sure, by scholars like Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz!

    A review of one of Ward’s work:

    Ward Churchill recounts the role of the United States in undermining the United Nations Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
    Genocide in the aftermath of World War II. When Lemkin coined the term, genocide included “cultural genocide,” defined as any form of “planned disintegration of the political, social, or economic structure of a group or
    nation,” and “systematic moral debasement of a group, people, or nation.” The United States with Canada and some other nations caused all forms of genocide except “physical genocide,” the systematic killing of a targeted group, to be removed from the Convention before its adoption. This collection of essays by Ward concludes with a survey of the literary career of genocide as a concept and a proposed convention that restores Lemkin’s concept. Readers who want to believe will welcome this pioneering work.

    In two weeks, more of the same coming to Hallmark United $tate$ of Amnesia — National Day of Mourning. I’ll have something out on Dissident Voice in that regard Nov. 23. Oh yes, this is Native American History-Heritage Month. Right, November, how’s that going as a trillion bucks get funnelled into Ukraine?

    I’ve talked with smart people in the north — Mich, Wisc., Penn, et al — and those on the East Coast. You know, lawyers, doctors, money makers, vaunted for their Ivy League worthless sheepskins. Is it amazing how illiterate the powerful and valued (sic) people in the country are, as they have no knowledge of this continent’s genocides.

    What follows is not poetry of the great war, or even Vietnam . . . not Wilfred Owen, not “The Lost Pilot” by James Tate, or “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell nor Siegfried Sassoon’s work . . . not Yusef Komunyakaa. But thanks, Ed, for the 11/11/11 tribute.

    NATO and USA and Poland are coming into the Ukraine, that is a fact, so, we will have plenty of a war stories (censored, approved only by CNN, NYT, Facebook) and some poetry (only approved by David Letterman when he riffs with the ZioAzovNaziLensky in December) as tens of thousands more are put into the meatgrinder of those laureled Ivy Leaguers and State University young and old working for those mercenary offensive weapons industries.

    Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
    —Wisława Szymborska

    Finally, lest we forget sanctions, seizure of gold, assets, IMF, austerity, etc.

    Here, Neruda, for some other fun of the Collective West, those cold City of London soulless one, the money changers, the marketers . . . for the believers in contracts and theft and structural and economic violence.

    The United Fruit Company

    When the trumpet sounded, it was
    all prepared on the earth,
    the Jehovah parcelled out the earth
    to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
    Ford Motors, and other entities:
    The Fruit Company, Inc.
    reserved for itself the most succulent,
    the central coast of my own land,
    the delicate waist of America.
    It rechristened its territories
    as the ’Banana Republics’
    and over the sleeping dead,
    over the restless heroes
    who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
    it established the comic opera:
    abolished the independencies,
    presented crowns of Caesar,
    unsheathed envy, attracted
    the dictatorship of the flies,
    Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
    Carias flies, Martinez flies,
    Ubico flies, damp flies
    of modest blood and marmalade,
    drunken flies who zoom
    over the ordinary graves,
    circus flies, wise flies
    well trained in tyranny.

    1. Not to quibble too much, my friend, and thanks for the previously unknown (to me) poem by Neruda. However:

      The disease of war and genocide of the “other” is not a racial issue … not a “white” thing or an Anglo-Saxon thing. To think that it is is another (and a very devilishly attractive version of) the exceptionalism that we absolutely must get beyond. I refer you to figures as diverse (and yet as similar) as Ginghis Khan and various and sundry other Chinese, Persian, Babylonian, and Roman emperors and war lords, and even biblical prophets who exterminated others and salted the earth!

      This is a human problem, and perhaps, though I hope not so, intractable.

      1. Ahh, I am looking at this continent, since 1492. Alas, I would not be that shallow as a college (radical) college instructor, journalist, activist, and social worker to profess that. Sure, Susant Sontag has something to say about the White Race being a cancer on the world. We’re talking about NOW. And, as we know what the Anglo Saxons are, in the past 100 years? You want to go back more, 1700s? City of London? Brussels? Wall Street? I am of course, not denying the patriarchy of disgusting religions, the apartheid of South Africa and Israel. Biblical TImes, the Crusades, well, of course. But Sontag was pointing out the world as she saw it then, in the 1960s, and she looked back a few hundred years.

        Food Removal program by the Brits in Ireland? Read up on that, which is a Holocaust, not some potato famine.

        Check this one: https://youtu.be/0cIj62NQg80

        Might be interesting for you to dive into Daniel Quinn, Ismael, and look at that book, in terms of our hunter and gatherer lives, and pastoralists, and how we have forgotten the hard wired thinking and doing of those evolutionary histories.

        Leavers and Takers. Fun stuff for some of my first year writing students when I was allowed to be a college instructor, before McCarthyism had completely obliterated agency and academic freedom.


        Ishmael is read by Kirby Heyborne.

        Morgan Freeman reads the Foreword and Afterword that

        Daniel wrote for the 25th Anniversary Edition of Ishmael!

        The Story of B is read by MacLeod Andrews and includes all of B’s lectures. I know! Amazing!

        My Ishmael is read by Emma Galvin, a dead-ringer for the teenage Julie!

  4. For Consideration: Without changing the description and definition of what is called nuclear warfare, tactical “nuclear” warheads are a contradiction in terms. Furthermore, the notion of nuclear warfare as promoted and threatened (total destruction of life on planet Earth through its immediate use and aftermath) is purely theoretical, and there are significant questions regarding the feasibility (laws of physics and mechanics) of such a destructive device.

    The real threat is not a nuclear bomb as heretofore described and promoted/threatened, but the hidden (not always) agenda and attempts by those who have been ruling (as some call it the Network or Globalists) to set in motion all major events, including war in the world we live; economic depressions, debt at all levels and ultimate destruction through illusionists’ deceits.

    Most people would read the link (below) and shudder with the sense of depravity and threat of global annihilation on the march. But I read this and ask, do they really expect us to believe this nuclear hegemony, living off the story told about 2 bombs in 1945? Tokyo was firebombed and experience more destruction and death than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.


    Of course, the old saw, but do we really want to take a chance? Instead let the rulers rule. We’ll just demand an end to the most lucrative enterprise known to mankind – War preparations, threats, proxy wars, human fodder, economic and material destruction.

      1. True, but we need to discern what is and what isn’t in this crazy world:

        “In the ghastly world in which we live—a world that may be flat or not with a moon that we may have visited or not that is filled with males and females or not, etc. etc. etc.—there exists a whole bunch of fear about things we probably don’t need to be afraid of but are. And a whole bunch of things we need to be afraid of but aren’t.

        That is sadly the funny part. The trick to life is knowing the difference.” Sylvia Shawcross

        1. I agree Art…, when I look up to the sky one day, what will I see? This thought (fear) has occurred to me occasionally since I was very young. I’m now 75 years old and feel this question is more relevant !

  5. Krishnamurti, on the ‘disease’ of patriotism:
    ‘Patriotism, whether it is of the Western kind, or of the Eastern kind, is the same, a poison in human beings that is really distorting thought. So patriotism is a disease, and when you begin to realize, become aware that it is a disease, then you will see how your mind is reacting to that disease. When, in time of war, the whole world talks of patriotism, you will know the falseness of it, and therefore you will act as a true human being’

    Thanks Ed.

  6. Allegiance to What – to who – and why ? The below are not my words. No ‘teacher’ of mine spoke these words! I was in the military also! Too many words, little being said! Perhaps that could be called; ‘dances with words’…starring anyone.
    “CLASS conflict inside the American Revolution came dramatically alive with mutinies in George Washington’s army. In 1781, after enduring five years of war—casualties in the Revolution exceeded, in proportion to population, American casualties in World War II—more than a thousand soldiers in the Pennsylvania line at Morristown, New Jersey, mutinied. They had seen their officers paid handsomely, fed and clothed well, while the privates and sergeants were fed slop, marched in rags without shoes, paid in virtually worthless Continental currency, or not paid at all for months. They were abused, beaten, and whipped by their officers for the smallest breach of discipline. For many, their deepest grievance was that they wanted out of the war, claiming their terms of enlistment had expired and that they were being kept in the army by force. They knew that in the spring of 1780, eleven deserters of the Connecticut line in Morristown were sentenced to death but at the last minute all but one had received a reprieve. (The one who did not was hanged for forging discharge papers for a hundred men.) General Washington, facing nearly two thousand mutineers, a substantial part of his army, assembled at Princeton, New Jersey, decided to make concessions. Many of the rebels were allowed to leave the army, and Washington asked state governors for money to deal with the grievances of the soldiers. The Pennsylvania line quieted down. But when another mutiny broke out in the New Jersey line, involving only a few hundred, Washington ordered harsh measures. He saw the possibility of “this dangerous spirit” spreading. Two of “the most atrocious offenders” were court-martialed on the spot, sentenced to be shot, and their fellow mutineers, some of them weeping as they did so, carried out the executions. In his novel The Proud and the Free, Howard Fast tells the story of the mutinies, drawing from the classic historical account by Carl Van Doren, Mutiny in January. Fast dramatizes the class conflict inside the Revolutionary Army, as one of his characters, the mutinous soldier Jack Maloney, recalls the words of Thomas Paine and the promise of freedom and says that he is willing to die for that freedom, but “not for that craven Congress in Philadelphia, not for the fine Pennsylvania ladies in their silks and satins, not for the property of every dirty lord and fat patroon in New Jersey.” Here is the narrative of this bloody event by Samuel Dewees1 , a soldier on the Pennsylvania line.”

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