Flagwagging and Enthusiasm for War in 1914
On Monday 12 June 2017 at Housmans Books, Julian Putkowski advanced a challenging and alternative historical perspective of the ‘Rush to the Colours’.
The ‘Rush to the Colours’ during 1914, involved hundreds of thousands of men volunteering to fight for King and Empire. The statistics and images of recruits are represented as a staggeringly positive response to Lord Kitchener’s famous summons and an expression of contemporary public support for the government’s declaration of war against Germany. Viewed uncritically, the ‘Rush to the Colours’ is also represented as an historical precedent to legitimate the more general utility of overseas military adventurism.
Analysing the nature and pattern of recruitment, Julian maintained that the propaganda myth obscures and continues to divert attention from forces that lay behind the illusion of voluntarism. He argued that public commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War has taken insufficient account of the economic and political coercion that contributed to unnecessary suffering and deaths of millions of people.