Adolescent national mythology

The Editor, The Cook Strait News, Wellington

22 August, 2014

Dear Editor:

Rochelle Todd (New generation learn about war, 18 August) in speaking about her class project on WW1 says “They need to understand that we live in a free country because of that war.”  Really?    “But the Germans were not the only imperialists and not the only ones to succumb to paranoia.  The crisis that brought war in 1914 was the fruit of a shared political culture. . . “  This quote from UK historian Christopher Clark from his book “The Sleepwalkers”.  The shared political culture was empire and accompanying colonial expansion.  Regardless of the form of democratic representational (or not) government in the combatant countries their power structures all were of that one imperial mind.

“Lest we forget” should be about understanding the origins and outcomes of the war from a perspective of 100 years of reflection which would enhance our ability to make our way through the 21st century.   It should not be about trying to hold onto the adolescent national mythology evident in Ms Todd’s comment.


Richard Keller


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