Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Writings of a dog of war

Back at the beginning of 2007 I reviewed a biography of Tom Wintringham, the son of Grimsby who served on the Western front during World War One, was jailed for his revolutionary socialism in the 1920s, commanded the British section of the International Brigades during the bloody struggle to defend Madrid from Franco's fascists in 1937, and became the unofficial leader of the British Home Guard - 'Dad's Army', to generations of comedy fans - during World War Two.

Wintringham lived such an action-packed life that it seems remarkable he ever found the peace to write anything, but his oeuvre runs to hundreds of thousands of words, and includes everything from autobiographical reminisences to treatises on military tactics and strategy to political polemic to spectacularly bad poetry. Now the volunteers at the magnificent Marxist Internet Archive have placed a selection of Wintringham's scribblings online.

Wintringham was not the sort of man to compose sentences for some ideal future audience - the subject and style of his writings were always dictated by the needs of the present. It is remarkable, then, how topical some of the pieces he wrote seventy or eighty years ago seem today. Wintringham's dissection of the economic crisis that gripped Britain in the early 1920s echoes uncomfortably in 2008; his discussions of the difference between guerrilla and conventional warfare, and his insistence on the ultimately political nature of all war ring true in an era when Western armies are once again entangled in Afghanistan and Iraq; and his warning about a Labour government's attempts to settle disputes between workers and bosses in the interests of bosses would probably resonate with a few Kiwi trade unionists.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't 'dog of war' a bit derogatory?

11:42 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

NO - "It's just a bit "doggetry"

1:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit Richard I am anti-dog.
So what?
Get over it.
They are loud. BARK!! BARK!! BARK!! Even reading those three words is annoying!
They are dirty. They lay down their dog shit wherever they are - On your lawn, on my lawn, in their own beds, on your bed. And on the odd occasion I end up with dog shit on my shoes and don't find out until I've walked through my house... by GOLLY THAT MAKES ME FURIOUS!!
They smell. They need to be washed like a car otherwise they infect uphostry (couches, carpets, curtains) with their stench.
They get angry. And frankly I'm scared of most of them.
They dribble. And their slime gets onto your clothes. eeeuch!
They are ugly. Ok, ok, I'll make a few exceptions for some puppies, but in general I don't think they are an attractive animal.
They need so much attention. They go mental if they are left alone for long periods of time (much to the annoyance of the neighbours i.e. me!)
They wreck stuff. Chewing, knawing, eating, scratching
They render owners backyards unusable. Don't you dare walk back there with bare feet!

Sue Hogan

10:57 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

James Joyce was terrified of dogs and thunder - asked why -

He said: "Dogs have no souls."

Also, if he as out walking, and there was thunder, he would sometimes fall to the ground in terror...

I myself am not a big fan of dogs - I am quite frightened of dogs - in general I don't like them (Maps has a fairly nice and amusing dog though) - I love cats very much. When my cat died I played Mozart's Requiem for hours...that cat was the only person who ever loved me...

"Plant the corpse deep,
and beware the Dog that's friend to man
for with his claws he'll dig it up again"

T S Eliot - something like that...what it all means - I am not sure but it sounded good - Jack Ross can enlighten us at this juncture...

10:13 pm  
Blogger Tim Jones said...

As a son of Grimsby (more precisely, Cleethorpes) myself, I'm delighted to hear about another one: your next post in this category should probably be about Rod Temperton, also Cleethorpes-born, composer of "Boogie Nights" and "Thriller" among other disco materpieces.

12:49 pm  

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