[W]e must understand that outside the sphere of parliamentarism, as sterile as it is absorbing, there is another field incomparably vaster, in which our destiny is worked out; that beyond these political phantoms, whose forms capture our imagination, there are the phenomena of social economy, which, by their harmony or discord, produce all the good and ill of society. . . .

Know well that there is nothing more counter-revolutionary than the Government. Whatever liberalism it pretends, whatever name it assumes, the Revolution repudiates it: its fate is to be absorbed in the industrial organization. — Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century.

Rad Geek Reader Questions: Did World War I end in November 1918?

When did the first World War end? The standard, encyclopaedia answer is that the War began in August 1914, and it ended in November 1918 with the Armistice. Is that right?

Robert Gerwarth’s recent book argues that November 1918 only looks like the end of the first World War if you’re looking at a very narrow slice of the world map — mainly, the Western Front in Europe. If you’re looking at the Balkans, or Eastern Europe, or the Middle East, or if you’re looking inside of the new nation-states created at the supposed end of the war, the picture looks very different. Here’s an excerpt from Richard Fulton’s review

Of the six great European empires in 1914, four were continental, counting the Ottomans as a European empire. The two empires (three counting the United States) who managed the disastrous peace process from Versailles to Lausanne had very little imperial skin in the game where it counted: in central and eastern Europe, and around Turkey. Did that make a difference in how borders were redrawn and reparations were managed? Undoubtedly, as Gerwarth makes clear in The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, because the “end of the war” in November of 1918 was not really the end of the war. Gerwarth illustrates that “as civil wars overlapped with revolutions, counter-revolutions and border conflicts between emerging states without clearly defined frontiers or internationally recognized governments, ‘post-war’ Europe between the official end of the Great War in 1918 and the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923 was the most violent place on the planet” (p. 7).

Gerwarth opens his study of the stretch of time beginning with the 1917 Russian Revolution and ending with the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) with a summary description of Smyrna’s descent into hell and chaos in September of 1922. . . . The chaos in the vanquished lands was made more deadly by the presence of large numbers of armed, trained, technically defeated soldiers itching to find some measure of honor—or at the very least, revenge—after their demobilization. The most active of these were Germans from the western front . . . . Still armed and still in uniform and more often than not unemployed, they formed the Freikorps and set out to obliterate Bolshevism, not only in Germany but also in Poland, the Baltic states, and anywhere else their ruthless efficiency and penchant for violence was welcomed by someone. Victorious soldiers in Italy, facing unemployment and a peace that Mussolini told them didn’t honor their sacrifice, marched on Rome. Greek soldiers deposed their own government after the debacle at Smyrna. Turkish forces opposed to the Treaty of Sevrés overthrew their own government and forced a new treaty at Lausanne. For most of the 1920s, internationally recognized governments in central and eastern Europe and the former Ottoman Empire waged war against populist armed uprisings of their own people. . . .

Fulton notes that Gerwarth’s book would have benefited from greater attention to the former Ottoman states in the Middle East; I’ll only note that the record there is one of repeated ethnic conflict, civil wars and revolts against the new colonial authorities throughout the 1920s.

So — is it accurate to say that the first World War ended in 1918, or should we choose a different date? If so, where should we date it? 1923? 1927? 1945?[1] Has the World War ever ended? If we set a date other than November 1918, why that date; what are the standards you’d use to draw the line?

Shared Article from h-net.org

Review of Gerwarth, Robert, The Vanquished: Why the First World …

Scholarly review published by H-Net Reviews

Richard Fulton @ h-net.org


  1. [1]At the far extreme, according to Fulton, Gerwarth argues that the Great War didn’t really end until 1945, merging the two World Wars in much the same way that we standardly refer to the Peloponnesian War as a single, 27 year war rather, rather than two 10-year wars separated by a 7-year truce in between.

Triple Play

Here’s a happy sentence to read to-day:

“Robert Bentley is no longer governor of Alabama.”

The ex-Gov has resigned in disgrace in the face of an impeachment hearing. From the OA News:

. . . Bentley’s resignation would follow the ouster of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who left office in 2016 after being convicted on ethics charges, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from his post last year over an order opposing same-sex marriage.

Shared Article from OANow.com

BREAKING: Robert Bentley resigns as governor of Alabama

MONTGOMERY — Robert Bentley is no longer governor of Alabama.

Staff and Wire Reports @ oanow.com


Tyrannicide Day MMLX

Happy Tyrannicide Day (observed)! To-day, March 15th, commemorates the assassination of two notorious tyrants.

On the Ides of March in 2017 CE, we mark the 2,060th anniversary — give or take the relevant calendar adjustments — of the death of Gaius Julius Caesar, the ambitious raider, war-monger, ruthless mass murderer, slave-trader, usurper and military dictator, who rose to power in the midst of Rome’s most violent civil wars, who boasted of butchering and enslaving two million Gauls, who set fire to Alexandria, who battered and broke through every last restraint that lingered in Roman politics and civil society against unilateral military rule and executive power. Driving his enemies before him in triumphs, having himself proclaimed Father of His Country, dictator perpetuo, censor, supreme pontiff, imperator, the King of Rome in all but name, taking unilateral command of all political power in Rome and having his images placed among the statues of the kings of old and even the gods themselves, he met his fate at the hands of a group of republican conspirators. Led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, calling themselves the Liberators, on 15 March 44 BCE, they surrounded Caesar and put an end to his reign of terror by stabbing him to death on the floor of the Senate.

Here's a painting of

Die Ermordung Cäsars, Karl von Piloty (1865)

By a coincidence of fate, or a work of Nemesis, March 13th also marks the anniversary (the 136th& this year) of the assassination of Alexander II Nikolaevitch Romanov, the self-styled Imperator, Caesar and Autocrat of All the Russias. A group of Narodnik conspirators, acting against the ongoing repression and violence that they faced at the hands of the autocratic state, put an end to the Czar’s reign by throwing grenades underneath his carriage on March 13th, 1881 CE, in an act of propaganda by the deed.

Here's a color drawing of

Das Attentat auf Zar Alexander II. am 13. März 1881 in St. Petersburg. Anonymous.

In honor of the coinciding events, the Ministry of Culture in this secessionist republic of one, together with fellow republics and federations of the free world, proclaims the 15th of March Tyrannicide Day (observed), a commemoration of the death of two tyrants at the hands of their enraged victims, people choosing to defend themselves even against the violence and oppression exercised by men wrapped in the bloody cloak of the State, with the sword of the Law and in the name of their fraudulent claims to higher authority. It’s a two-for-one historical holiday, kind of like President’s Day, except cooler: instead of another dull theo-nationalist hymn on the miraculous birth of two of the canonized saints of the United States federal government, we have instead one day on which we can honor the memory, and note the cultural celebrations, of men and women who defied tyrants’ arbitrary claims to an unchecked power that they had neither the wisdom, the virtue, nor the right to wield against their fellow creatures.

Here's a photo of a silver coin with the caption EID MAR. Above the caption are two daggers, flanking a Liberty Cap to the left and the right.

My favorite collectible coin. This silver denarius was actually minted and circulated in Macedonia by M. Junius Brutus after he and his fellow conspirators stabbed Caesar to death. The obverse features Brutus’s head in profile. The thing in the middle, above EID MAR (Ides of March) and flanked by the two daggers, is a Liberty Cap, traditionally given to emancipated slaves on the day of their freedom.

There are actually many reasons to set aside tyrannicide as a political tactic. After all, these two famous cases each ended a tyrant but not the tyrannical regime; Alexander II was replaced by the even more brutal Alexander III, and Julius Caesar was replaced by his former running-dogs, one of whom would emerge from the carnage that followed as Imperator Gaius Julius Son-of-God Caesar Octavianus Augustus, beginning the long Imperial nightmare in earnest. But it’s also important to recognize that these failures were strategic failures, not moral ones; the regicides were doing what they had every right to do, even though their acts of resistance proved ultimately suicidal.

What we celebrate on the Ides of March is not the practice of tyrannicide as a strategy, but rather the reality of tyrannicide as a moral fact. Putting a diadem on your head and wrapping yourself in the blood-dyed robes of the State confers neither the virtue, the knowledge, nor the right to rule over anyone, anywhere, for even one second, any more than you had naked and alone. Tyranny is nothing more and nothing less than organized crime executed with a pompous sense of entitlement and a specious justification; the right to self-defense applies every bit as much against the person of some self-proclaimed sovereign as it does against any other two-bit punk who might attack you on the street.

Every victory for human liberation in history — whether against the crowned heads of Europe, the cannibal-empires of modern Fascism and Bolshevism, or the age-old self-perpetuating oligarchies of race and sex — has had these moral insights at its core: the moral right to deal with the princes and potentates of the world as nothing more and nothing less than fellow human beings, to address them as such, to challenge them as such, and — if necessary — to resist them as such.

Toasting the Ides at home. . .

Thus always to tyrants. And many happy returns!

Beware the State. Celebrate the Ides of March!