War Budget

What’s the true cost of War? It’s not only found in the countless lives of young men and women loss, turned to lost names and piles of carrion. It can be found in the loss of friends and family in war, a universal concept in warfare.

Even Sun Tzu believed that the cost of a hundred thousand men is the loss of seven hundred thousand families’ lives and livelihoods. Imagine the number of destroyed livelihoods in a time like World War Two, where multimillion armies were raised by many nations. In that aspect it’s not the violence or aggression of war destroying lives, it happens before a drop of blood has been spilt.

So if the price of raising the institutions of war is so steep, what is the price of perpetuating it? The worst of course are the families divide such as the two brothers in Liam O’Flaherty’s “The Sniper.” Imagine the shock of turning over what you thought to be your enemy, just to see your own family slain by your own actions, leading to inapprehensible self-trauma. War has an unparalleled ability of destroying families, friendships and lives in general.

Yet why does this happe332307_tteric06_am_01n, why aren’t the cries of the parents heard until after their children have been consumed by the business of perpetual war. Why, because it has been internalized and is understood that with the duty of military service comes the potential of death, which creates a well-deserved sense of pride in the armed forces.

Society perpetuates this ‘acceptable loss’ with the use of propaganda. Media will emphasize all the good done to justify the loss of not only a life but the creation of severe grief and pain for the fallen soldier’s family. It seems that is the true cost, Is war worth it to you?

In War, How Free is Free Speech?

Wartime is a vulnerable time for any government, where public opinion is vital to the success or failure. This where a need for controlled media must come into effect, the people must believe what they are being told is the truth and justifies such warfare. In the words of Walter Lippmann “We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always downloadpropaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is the truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and crusade for peace.”  How can this be, as there are multiple sides to every warfare conflict, so wouldn’t that make sense that both sides are presenting propaganda, while both sides sell there propaganda as the absolute truth, but with free speech of the media, how can this happen? Well keep in mind that journalism is a business, so military officials can hold back information causing a level of desperation for good stories, they will slowly feed stories that are beneficial to the public opinion of the war. This leads to dwelling on successes no matter how insignificant in the long run as well as limiting the air time of the setbacks that do get out to the public. With all the limitation of information how can speech really be free? In reality it isn’t, what is thought to be original stories from a well balanced view are actually lopsided stories from fragmented origins preprocessed by the ‘shaping hand’ of the institutions of which we trust, thereby limiting journalist’s agency by limiting their voice. U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson sums it up best, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

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The Mother of all Epic… Theater

Epic Theater was established to inspire people. It is considered by some to be theater’s final evolution into a place where a balance of entertainment and education can be found. However this cannot be done through the traditional means of drama which can be broken up into tragedies and comedies, as they cause the audience to become attached inhibiting their ability to criticize the works. It however cannot be done through more modern techniques such as realism, the attempt to replicate real life as close as possible while still being considered a play, and expressionism, the antithesis of realism where characters are used to show the truth within man by showing their distorted appearance. No, Epic Theater is made pedagogical by alienating the audience, with a constant reminder that they are watching a production. This leads to a form of collective agency in the audience to criticize the characters and the play itself. This Bertolt Brecht wished would lead to a consciousness of their standing in society and an eventual uprising leading to a more Marxist society. Who is Brecht? Well, he is a well-known twentieth century play write, poet and essay composer, but probably best known as the father of Epic Theater.Epic theater uses certain tricks to assure this alienation effect on the audience, such as:

Narration,

White Lighting – on stage,

Addressing the Audience Directly,

Fragmented props and costumes – pieced together,

Costume Changes – done so in full view of the audience,

Production and Lighting Equipment – left in plain view on stage,

Historification- using a setting from a different era to distance emotional impact,

Songs and Ballads – used to communicate themes in times normally deemed unfitting.

These are all ways to make the audience aware. They become aware of the play. They become agents in their awareness. They become agents in society.

Mother Courage is a Brecht original, if there is one, which shows the effects of war on a family business, emphasis on business. It is written for epic theater and is perhaps the best example of epic theater I know. A specific scene where this is the case is that of the return a Kattrin, her mute daughter, after have being raped. This scene uses Historification in the text, which leads to the setting of Mother Courage in the Thirty Years War a time in which it would have been impossible for any of his audience to be alive in, unless they’re immortal. In her entrance, it is made to appear s though she has been assaulted, but is never spoken outright. Since many modern viewers have not been raped it is impossible for them to truly empathize, only pity and curse the circumstances that lead to this offense, war. The only exception is in the nineteen-forty-nine version where the young German women in the audience had known someone or was themselves rapped when the city of Berlin was finally taken by the red army in World War Two. They had a flashback to that time, caused by an unaccounted for empathetic connection to Kattrin. I guess in either case, a disdain for the loss of innocence, in war, can be found. So perhaps this was Brecht’s message, that war destroys not only those who fight and profit over the struggle but the innocent caught in a war they didn’t want.

Why is the Thirty Years War Relevant Today?

The Thirty Years War most often thought to be just a war between the Protestants and Catholics, was in actuality a devastation for a large part of Central Europe. It was composed of a series of smaller wars between the Holy Roman Empire and neighboring Sweden, France and Spain. It lead to an unimaginable devastation to German people( The Holy Roman Empire). I’ll put the devastation in comprehensible terms, According to Historytoday.com the average rural area lost 40% of its inhabitants, while the average city lost a third of its population. Their of course are some outlying cases such as Magdeburg, where a reported population of 35,000 in the 1618 census was reduced to a population of 2,464 in the 1644 census. For Germany this is one of the most devastating wars in their history, but why is that relevant to us the average american whom doesn’t really put much value of which wars another country finds the most devastating, ours will most likely always be the American Civil War, but that’s besides the point.  One of the real way in which it continues to affect our everyday life, was created in the Treaty of Westphalia, the peace making process in the Thirty Years War. 
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    The peace conference from which the treaty was made was composed of delegates representing no less than 194 states. It was the birth place of Westphalian Diplomacy which was heavily used post WW1 and WW2. It continued the soldiers transition from the once mythic pursuit of kleos to the lust for victory culminating in the modern hope for a favorable peace. The Thirty Years War therefore changed the face of warfare, therefore changing our lives for the foreseeable warring future. 

Broke ass college students

Modern culture loves to publicize just how broke it means to be a college student. However society seems to contradict it’s self, claiming that most students skate through college by the goodwill of their parents back pockets, so their paradox begs the question why do students receive such a reputation?

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According to The Huffington Post only twenty-two percent of the tuition paid is done so by the parents, they claim “the only expense that parents are more likely to cover is student’s monthly cellphone bills.” Now that doesn’t mean that the other seventy eight percent is covered by the students, as the majority of the remaining tuition is covered through some form of gift aid be it through a need based financial aid or through scholarships. According to City Data eighty percent of students received some form of aid, but that statistic includes those whom only qualify for work study or just menial figures when compared to the seeming incomprehensible cost of college student.  Where does that leave the rest of the financial burden, it is dropped on the students. I know at least for my case that I expect to pay for the entirety of my schooling tuition and expenses included, however I do so with the help of financial aid. I am glad to do so, as it is shown in the New York Times study that those students whom contribute to their college expenses have more motivation for schooling and often have a higher GPA as a result of this investment. However, in the efforts to pay their way through college not only will these students be highly motivated as it is their money at risk they’ll also be, let’s just says ‘short on cash’. You might be asking yourself how this relates to war and fighting. War can be seen as the life or death choices that must be made in the light of one’s own mortality, so how doesn’t poverty relate. It all comes down to choices: do I eat or pay the rent? Ultimately  it all comes down to the reality that your choice is completely up to you. I wish you to never have to take part in the battle of poverty.

But if you do…

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Humanities…? is it really how I think it is?

    It has only been about two weeks and I find myself in an unfamiliar situation, and no I don’t mean the huge campus of UCI. I don’t mean the fact that I like all the other freshman occasionally still walk around with my phone out letting zotfinder lead me to the safety of my next class. It is unnerving, not knowing exactly where to go, but that’s not what I mean by different. On a much smaller scale I was just as lost navigating my high school the first few days, but there I had concrete assumptions on what life was. I was not always right but I knew facts and details that supported my view of how the world worked. Here was different, it was here that I was introduced to the humanities.                                                                                                                       I had always thought down on those who go to college for a liberal arts degree. I enjoyed making such comments as that “the best possible job one can get from a liberal arts degree is a barista at your local Starbucks.” I would then sarcastically add that “I hope they had fun in college because the rest of their life is going to be shit.” Maybe it was because they were artistically talented, and I was always told my writing was sub-par and all my attempts at the visual arts lead to awkward images and intense frustration.                                                                                                                 I didn’t realize how efficient they’re way of viewing the world was, instead of taking facts and creating new evidence to support those facts like the approach so many take to life, myself included. However those who study and research the humaniimages (1)ties aren’t bound to prove ‘universal truths,’ they are free to raise questions that cause society to question their assumptions leading to an expansion on what it means to be a human in this day and age. So why can they learn and such an abstract way, where the rest of the world works like a far more linear function. This is the point where I know for certain I cannot answer the question, maybe it’s because human life is complex and undefinable, which means no one approach can work and no one solution is applicable. Their is always the possibility that the questions that arise in the study of the humanities are not meant to be answered. This leads to my new found respect for the study of humanities, and my excitement on getting to get more than just a taste of what it means to be human.