Monday, July 4, 2016

Poldark Was Right: All Wars A Waste Of Good Men


Reading some awesome real history of the war of independence this morning and admitting to myself that I have become somewhat obsessed with a Masterpiece Theater remake of Poldark. Its hero is presented as an egalitarian nonconformist whose idealism appeals to me even as I recognize that I'm having my consent manufactured and enjoying the process.

Maybe it's just that, at this moment in history, I relate to a middle class with a tenuous hold on property looking nervously over their shoulders at the starving peasants. The "rich peasant" class are problematic in any era. They're not the 1% but they are landlords and, generally, upholders of the status quo.

As my mother, a history major who made her way from dire poverty to the affluence built on ignoring the suffering of exploited labor and colonies, was fond of saying: "Comes the revolution, we'll be the first to go."

I'm also pondering the examination of the source of Poldark's relative prosperty, the original sin of mining, which rapes the Earth and destroys the health of workers in dismal conditions in order to produce metals and gems that become the wealth to fight over and the weapons with which to fight.

The series is based on a historical novel I have not read but probably will.

The first episode kicks off with British redcoats shaving and gambling in the primordial beauty of Virginia, forested as we imagine it before Europeans began cutting down the old growth trees. They are attacked, probably because their imperial splendor shows up like so many red flags to the colonist hiding behind trees. Poldark goes down and there is an eerily beautiful bird's eye view shot of him sprawled among the other wounded and dead. A painterly depiction of the human cost of empire.

Once he is patched up and returns to life in impoverished Cornwall, he faces the ignorant questions of those who stayed home partying while the British empire fought to keep its far flung colonies under control.

In one instance, he is asked how Britain could have lost the war and he replies, "By picking the wrong side, madam." In another a young lady aiming to snag him in matrimony asks how the war was in a tone you might use to ask your friend how the picnic was. Poldark: "Like all wars -- a waste of good men." Amen to that.

Remembering that Brexit was brought on by the massive refugee influx to Europe that was brought on by NATO's wars in Iraq and Syria, I reflect today on the chain of unintended consequences stemming from imperial hubris. 

Racism and hate language are on the rise across this continent and that, the government in Mexico is slaughtering and torturing people resisting the corporate takeover of their education system, and people think the solution is more weapons, more wars, and more walls.

Happy 4th of July, y'all.

1 comment:

Starr Gilmartin said...

We must stand together or we will surely die (separately).