On this day in 1900, there was Bloody Sunday. I know what you’re thinking, “Aren’t there about five hundred ‘Bloody Sundays’?” Yeah, pretty much. This one had to do with the Second Boer War. It was the first day of the Battle of Paardeberg. And the British were destroyed. The South African Republic completely dominated that day. But the battle lasted over a week, and the British ended up winning decisively — capturing over 4,000 soldiers on the other side.
I love the Boer Wars! They are such great examples of the futility of war. In one of my all time favorite films, Dean Spanley, the elder Fisk asks, “Did we win the Boer War?” And Fisk the younger replies, “I believe we lost more slowly than the other side.” In that particular case, the slowly losing included the Fisks’ son and brother.
The British did win the war. Not that it really matters. In the end, it really all comes down to who is going to collect the taxes. There isn’t much more than that. Of course, to the British people, imperialism was a great burden that they did for the good of the world. It’s very much like I discussed in the Morning Music post about “Political Science.” The people of countries always think their governments go about the world doing great deeds, but it’s all propaganda to get the people to continue to support the war machine so the power elite can continue to expand their power and wealth.
Bloody Sunday: We Never Learn
But what Bloody Sunday really reminds me of is this:
Don’t declare victory too soon. One day. A couple of weeks. Even a couple of years. These don’t mean all that much. Bloody Sunday didn’t. Things change. And they especially change when you have done precious little planning. The British lost the First Boer War, although admittedly, it wasn’t much of a war. When people talk of the Boer War, they mean the second one. Less than a hundred men died in the first one. Roughly 30,000 died in the second one. But young Fisk was wrong. The British had a huge advantage in terms of troops and lost twice as many. But the war was devastating on the civilian population — both white and black.
War is hell. That really is true. But a lot of people have a hard time believing it.