FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Laying Down Arms

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the Great Powers of the World signed the armistice laying down arms after four years of the bloodiest war in history. That was 1918.

Now, we call it Veteran’s Day.

What caused the armistice was the refusal of soldiers to fight. They refused ‘to go over the top’ anymore. In Russia, France, England, Italy they refused to participate in the slaughter which had begun in 1914.

What we learn from Armistice Day is that the soldier is the front line of the peace movement.

Sailors and soldiers mutinied against the war, turning their arms not on so-called “enemies,” namely brother soldiers from across the world: instead, they turned their arms upon the officers who otherwise sent them to the butchery of the trenches or ordered them to a freezing death in battles at sea.

In late October 1918 at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, the home ports of the German fleet, the sailors refused the orders of their officers. Soldiers were brought in to force the sailors to obey. Instead the soldiers embraced their cause, “Frieden und Brot” or Peace and Bread.

One such sailor was a former stoker named Karl Artelt who had shoveled coal into the fires which kept the steam engines of the battleships burning. On a voyage to the Far East he witnessed the Chinese revolution of Sun Yat-sen. Later, perhaps as the engines of the German naval squadron were transformed from coal to oil, he became a skilled metal worker in the engine room. In other words his experiences below decks put him at the central themes of his historical epoch – imperialism and the oil machine – and he used these experiences to overthrow the war mongers. Such men put an end to World War One.

Together soldiers and sailors formed direct democratic councils. On 9th November 1918 a socialist republic was declared in Berlin. Hindenburg and Ludendorf, the German generals, had to agree to an armistice.

So: Honor the soldier who takes direct action for peace. Honor the soldier who thinks. Honor the soldier who brings Empire to its end.

Remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month!
Bring the troops home!

PETER LINEBAUGH teaches history at the University of Toledo. The London Hanged and (with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra: the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. His essay on the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. His latest book is the Magna Carta Manifesto. He can be reached at: plineba@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

Peter Linebaugh teaches history at the University of Toledo. His books included: The London Hanged,(with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra: the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic and Magna Carta Manifesto. His essay on the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. His latest book is Stop Thief! The Commons, Enclosures and Resistance.  He can be reached at:plineba@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail