Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Chickenshit in Wartime

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Chickenshit in Wartime

While, flipping through the book Wartime by Paul Fussel, I came across chapter 7 titled,"Chickenshit, An Anatomy," so of course I felt compelled to read it, even though it wasn't assigned. The chapter raised one of the best points that refers to life and not just wartime. The chapter starts with a young man, Timothy Corsellis, who felt compelled with pride to join RAF, the Royal Air Force. He was ready to die for a cause that was bigger than himself, but he had not anticipated the "petty injustice and the everlasting grudges." He was killed when he was 21 and it was written that dying was better than the chickenshit that goes on.

"Chickenshit referes rather to behavior that makes military life worse than it need be: petty harrasment of the weak by the strong; open scrimmage for power and authority and prestige; sadism thinly disguised as necessary discipline; a constant "paying off of old scores"; and insistence on the letter rather than the spirit of ordinances. Chickenshit is so called-instead of horse or bull- or elephant shit-because it is small-minded and ignoble and takes the TRIVIAL seriously. Chickenshit can be recognized instantly because it never has anything to do with winning the war."

Doesn't that refer to life also, and not just war? People have to go through that on a regular basis. We are always fighting to be better and have better things. We are always walking over people weaker than us, even though it's not admitted, and we always put the most emphasis on the trivial things. We make the trivial things the most important, and regret it after it's too late. Life is based on chickenshit and will always be about, "the petty injustice and the evelasting grudges." Is that too pessimistic a concept?


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good discussion of the chapter.

It is a great chapter. One of my favorites of the book. It does not directly address the use of propaganda so it wasn't assigned. But it is a great discussion of life in the military. You might like to take a look at Joseph Heller's novel Catch 22 which describes what it is like to be trapped in Chapter 7.

4/11/2007 9:42 PM  

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