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Hilaire Belloc: War, propaganda and lies

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Hilaire Belloc: After the tempest and destruction of universal war, permanence

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Hilaire Belloc

The war has produced propaganda. Truth took to its bed in the spring of 1915 and died unregretted, with few attendants, about a year later. Everything since then has been propaganda.

It is an imperative duty to serve one’s country, and one’s country in danger of death had to be served by silence and by lies. But now the root has struck, and all this lying and all this silence has become a habit. So to-day, when you read this or that in a paper, you know very well that you are not reading any cold truth, but an advertisement.

On Truth and the Admiralty

They had put it up for a trophy. Never was a war with trophies so promiscuous!…But I never see a Bavarian or a Prussian gun stuck up mournfully in a little English town without thinking of the English and French guns which are knocking about somewhere among the German states.

Ultimata Ratio

I asked him whether he had made Harmsworth’s phrase “Rolling the French in mud and blood.” He said yes, but he had originally written it with a blank – “Rolling the (blank) in mud and blood,” and had hawked it all round London for years according as our foreign policy changed. The mud and the blood made a very good rhyme, and any old nation would do to fit into the blank. He had used the words “Russians” and “Spaniards.” and even – I say it with horror – “Yankees,” for he was at work as long ago as the Alabama claim, which I wasn’t. He only wished he had lived long enough to put “Germans,” but it happened just to fit in with the French at the moment he wrote it. He sold it to Harmsworth (he told me), and it came out in his papers, “We will roll the French in mud and blood.” It did great service, for it frightened the French to death and kept them out of Morocco in 1899.

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