October 29 Address
The October 29 Address (Mirselec "Zar-Mur-Gye ta Nartinge", literally "Address of Ten-Two-Nine") is a famous address from Arnen IV of Risevne to the Risevani Assembly, given just two days after the signing of the official peace ending the Fourth Global War. In it he argues that the peace can lead to two courses, and that the best course to a lasting peace was that of collective action, then implied to be Risevan membership in the International League (though this term is never mentioned within the speech.
While the war was only officially ended on October 27, most major fighting had already ceased by late September. On September 20 the Third Asela League produced the Proposal for a League Across Nations, which on the Risevan side was endorsed by the foreign minister Tarsen Krafec; within Risevne, however, opinion was severely divided over whether to endorse the league within the Assembly as well as the general public.
The King, however, was an ardent supporter of the League; when asked about it in early October he is reputed to have told a secretary that "If a man my age and experience, having lived through three wars now, should think it unnecessary or undesirable, then I am not worthy of everything I have lived through". He therefore took the opportunity of the postwar address to state his views, and arguably his efforts paid off - in the 1947 Risevan Referendum on the International League, a surprising 68% of voters came out in favour of Risevan involvement, compared to 45% just two months before.
Speaker, Honoured Members,
By now the signing of the Fusalne Treaty is common knowledge around the world; with their signatures a total of 143 states have put an end to the most devastating war in human history, and peace is once again upon our shattered world.
Mourning and sorrow accompany the loss of so many lives for their countries, but more uncertain and more pressing are the fortunes of those fortunate enough to survive. We may proclaim aversion to rhetoric, but there is no other way to put this; we stand now on a threshold of history never before arrived at by man. The road to this opportunity has been paved with blood and tears, death and suffering, and now we the living hold in our hands the shape of the world for ages to come.
One only has to walk a short distance from the palace or the Assembly hall to see for himself the celebrations all over Isana with the declaration of peace. It is only natural that we should feel exhilaration and jubilation at our victory; anticipation of victory has been part of why we have kept on going, in the darkest and most hopeless days of the conflict. Nonetheless these must be tempered by reason, and by a sober knowledge of what we have truly won. If we are to keep this peace, we must know what it is and what it is not.
The peace is, for one, not an invitation for us to return to the past. Often we have convinced ourselves, during the dark days of bombing and austerity, that with victory would come the good old days again; even I sometimes embraced this view, though then as now I oppose it. To view an event of this magnitude as something that will leave us on the same historical course is inconceivable; the old times will never return, and if the old times include the old international system with its rivalries we should be glad to be rid of them. We cannot look back now; for better or worse we are of the generation that must look to the time when we are already gone but our children yet survive, the time that is yet to be.
A simple tallying of numbers drives the point home to us. For this is not the first, nor even the second global war; but its cost in lives outweighs the last two wars combined. The same technologies of mechanization and industry, which allow us to enjoy life as never before in peace, also give us the power to take lives as never before in war; now nobody is safe, even if he is distanced by sea, far from the front. When in 1932 the military historian Stevgan Nis said that “the next war shall be one without fronts, for the whole nation will become a front” we took his words for granted – in retrospect we cannot but admit we only saw that obvious part of his prophecy. The true meaning of his words is that under no circumstances can we afford a war like this again.
If we can acknowledge that much it becomes clear what must be done, what the past mistakes are that we cannot repeat and what was not conceived then that must be conceived now. For seventy years we have talked about the horrors of war, even when the said horrors were never more than three days’ march from clearly drawn lines on maps. For the same seventy years we have shuffled between war and peace with terrifying frequency. Now this option of swinging back to war is not only morally repugnant; it will be fatal, for nations, for peoples, and for the world at large. And this defines what the treaty on the Fusalne is not; it is no longer a national peace; it is no longer, and cannot be, a way for any one nation or league to assert dominance over another and dictate the treaty that the vanquished quietly signs. Three times, after great wars, we followed that same course of national vengeance and the quest for dominance; three times the supposedly crushed rose from the ashes and fought again. Risevne, which has been both master and victim in the past, surely knows this well.
This backhanded compliment to human resilience leaves us two courses. As a nation in competition with other nations a lasting victory would entail crushing opponents over and over, employing ever more advanced technologies until they or us are knocked out of the race for existence. But there is another way, and another lasting victory, for no single nation but rather for all peoples; that is the course of committing ourselves to reconciliation, of dedicating ourselves to the community of nations, and of putting our efforts to the collective enforcement of a peace that will hopefully extend across the world.
If there is one good thing that the war has brought us it is solidarity, unity of purpose and a commitment to one’s allies. Without aid from our allies we could not have lasted in this war; thousands of men from other nations died that we could remain clothed, fed, and our fighting will sustained. Equally thousands of Risevani gave their lives in the defence of our allies, for during the war our fate was coterminous with theirs. Now the key is for us to preserve this loyalty to our allies while reconciling ourselves with those who were, until recently, our enemies; for still our fate is coterminous with everybody’s. No longer are we fighting a war against another nation, or another group of nations; we are fighting a war against war, and we fight on behalf of those who will enjoy this world in generations to come. This fight cannot be shirked if we are to deem ourselves humans of reason and duty.
The tragedy of a generation that has come through such a calamity as war is that their generation has already been spoken for in history; we as individuals will have little chance to alter the depictions, or to add asides to the overwhelming volumes of images that war conjures. A century, two centuries from now, people will not look upon us as a generation of anything else; we are and forever will be the people of the Fourth Global War; that choice was made before and cannot be changed.
The hope for our generation, then, lies in our will to shape the future. We may choose the course that will lead us to be forever recalled as yet another generation that left a fuse for another war, that will claim twice the present toll and cripple half of the countries involved; that is the course of the arena of nations. Or we may choose the course that, in a century, two centuries, will allow people to look back and say of some day in our near future, “from here – from this blessed day on – the world was at peace”. The peace we can make may well be imperfect; but it cannot be ours to not expect a peace, not to do the utmost we could, if there is a chance for it.