On October 31, the Halifax Chronicle Herald published my article contrasting two very different Great War tragedies: the deaths, within three weeks of each other in the autumn of 1915, of Kier Hardie (b. 1856), founder and leader of the British Labour Party, his apparently indomitable spirit broken by the spectacle of millions of workers volunteering to slaughter each other for profit and empire, and Charles Sorley (b. 1895), a precocious upper-class poet with a deep love of the German language and people. With Armistice Day approaching, certain to be dominated in both Canada and the UK by clichés of ‘noble sacrifice’ for ‘freedom’s cause’ – the saying, as Sorley predicted, of “soft things” about unspeakable suffering – I hoped this exercise in unconventional remembrance might light fresh connections between anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-war struggles, a hundred years ago and now.
The article can be viewed at The Chronicle Herald here.