In 1918 Freud reconsidered his theories. Unlike Kipling, he did not lose sons in the war, and after the war his tribe moved to England, where they married into the great and good. However, he considered that myth did not merely have an erotic wish, but thanatos, a wish for death, perhaps spiritualized as Nirvana.
He was too theorectical, and had not grieved enough. Kipling was closer to how it was.
I have visited the royal graves in Berlin. Most of the German elite died in the Great War: the old families were no longer there during the depression, and the toxic ideologies of progessivism and social Darwinism caused damage. Kipling despised the Germans, but most English, during that period, did.
When the first World War broke out in August 1914, Rudyard Kipling felt horribly vindicated. The poet of Empire believed Britain’s army was pitifully small for the continental war he had warned was coming.
Though he was Britain’s most famous writer, few paid much attention. Kipling was regarded by the Liberal Party in power and the liberal establishment as a reactionary. With characteristic verve, he threw himself into the recruitment effort. He had an abiding loathing of the Germans, which survived the war. “There are only two divisions in the world,” he once wrote, “human beings and Germans”.
The Irish Guards was part of the Guards Division held in reserve during the Battle of Loos which began on September 25th, 1915. This was to be the “biggest battle in the history of the world”, according to the Guards Division General Richard Haking. Like so many British battles of 1915, it was a disaster.
Second Lieut John Kipling was in charge of a platoon with the Irish Guards. He died during an assault on Chalk-Pit Wood at the apex of the German front line.
At first he was reported missing. This gave his parents false hope. Most families lacked the means or contacts to go searching for their missing relatives on the battlefields. Most families weren’t the Kiplings.
Rudyard and his American wife Carrie toured the Western Front and searched hospitals. They dropped fliers over German lines. They beseeched the royal families of neutral Holland and Sweden to intervene with the Germans and find out if John was being held as a prisoner-of-war.
One by one the Kiplings interviewed their son’s comrades-in-arms. Hope was extinguished when a Sergeant Kinneally reported that John Kipling had been shot through the head. His body was placed in a shell hole where it was pulverised by shellfire
Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times
Three years later, at the end of the war, Kipling wrote this.
“This is the State above the Law.
The State exists for the State alone.”
[This is a gland at the back of the jaw,
And an answering lump by the collar-bone.]
Some die shouting in gas or fire;
Some die silent, by shell and shot.
Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
Some die suddenly. This will not.
“Regis suprema voluntas Lex”
[It will follow the regular course of—throats.]
Some die pinned by the broken decks,
Some die sobbing between the boats.
Some die eloquent, pressed to death
By the sliding trench as their friends can hear.
Some die wholly in half a breath.
Some—give trouble for half a year.
“There is neither Evil nor Good in life.
Except as the needs of the State ordain.”
[Since it is rather too late for the knife,
All we can do is mask the pain.]
Some die saintly in faith and hope—
Some die thus in a prison-yard—
Some die broken by rape or the rope;
Some die easily. This dies hard.
“I will dash to pieces who bar my way.
Woe to the traitor! Woe to the weak!”
[Let him write what he wishes to say.
It tires him out if he tries to speak.]
Some die quietly. Some abound
In loud self-pity. Others spread
Bad morale through the cots around . . .
This is a type that is better dead.
“The war was forced on me by my foes.
All that I sought was the right to live.”
[Don’t be afraid of a triple dose;
The pain will neutralize half we give.
Here are the needles. See that he dies
While the effects of the drug endure . . .
What is the question he asks with his eyes?—
Yes, All-Highest, to God, be sure.]
The state should not decide who lives, who dies, nor should the needle contain poison. Let our fate instead be with God.
Note that the member of the fashionable elite, Freud, requested Euthanasia. Kipling, shunned, considered toxic, unfashionable, did not.