Context: "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow"

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
[ex=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lloyd_George] In December 1917, Lloyd George remarked to C.P. Scott that: "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/ex]

Knew what? This quote is sometimes put forward as an example of there being some vast conspiracy behind wars, but it seems like Lloyd George was talking more about the new horrors of war, and how the public would drop their support for the war if the found out just how horrible it really was. The conspiracy was to cover up the horrors of war, and to portray it in a more positive light. Here's the quote in the fullest form I've found, from The political diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928

I warn you that I am in a very pacifist temper. I listened last night, at a dinner given to Philip Gibbs on his return from the front, to the most impressive and moving description from him of what the war in the West really means, that I have heard. Even an audience of hardened politicians and journalists were strongly affected. If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know. The correspondents don't write and the censorship wouldn't pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and I feel I can't go on with this bloody business: I would rather resign
Content from External Source
Gibbs was a journalist stationed at the front. He was sent home after the War Office began to censor reports from the front.

Some context:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWjournalism.htm

There's been a slight evolution of the quote over time from the original:

If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow
Content from External Source
to the imposition of what the quoter felt was unsaid

[ex=http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2009/09/pilger-british-afghan-labour]If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow[/ex]

to the incorporation of this commentary as if it were the original:

[bunk]"If people really knew the truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/bunk]

when really a more accurate parenthetical would be
"If people really knew [how horrific conditions were on the front lines during WWI] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The (incorrect but in the correct sense) quote is mentioned at the start of this clip from John Pilger's The War You Don't See:

 

Ken Meyercord

New Member
[ex=[URL]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lloyd_George[/URL]] In December 1917, Lloyd George remarked to C.P. Scott that: "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/ex]

Knew what? This quote is sometimes put forward as an example of there being some vast conspiracy behind wars, but it seems like Lloyd George was talking more about the new horrors of war, and how the public would drop their support for the war if the found out just how horrible it really was. The conspiracy was to cover up the horrors of war, and to portray it in a more positive light. Here's the quote in the fullest form I've found, from The political diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928

I warn you that I am in a very pacifist temper. I listened last night, at a dinner given to Philip Gibbs on his return from the front, to the most impressive and moving description from him of what the war in the West really means, that I have heard. Even an audience of hardened politicians and journalists were strongly affected. If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know. The correspondents don't write and the censorship wouldn't pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and I feel I can't go on with this bloody business: I would rather resign
Content from External Source
Gibbs was a journalist stationed at the front. He was sent home after the War Office began to censor reports from the front.

Some context:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWjournalism.htm

There's been a slight evolution of the quote over time from the original:

If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow
Content from External Source
to the imposition of what the quoter felt was unsaid

[ex=[URL]http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2009/09/pilger-british-afghan-labour]If[/URL] people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow[/ex]

to the incorporation of this commentary as if it were the original:

[bunk]"If people really knew the truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/bunk]

when really a more accurate parenthetical would be
"If people really knew [how horrific conditions were on the front lines during WWI] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."
Thanks for the clarification. I've been misinterpreting it for decades. Still, an important quote.
 
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