I am sitting here by the woodburner with a head full of cold feeling a bit nihilistic. There must be a reason for this, so I shall turn my firepower, such as it is, on my hobby and see if anything remains after my feeble efforts.
Firstly, of course, we cannot wargame because that is not what nice, modern liberals do. We like to think that all our problems can be sorted out by sitting around a table, perhaps with a few bottles of nice pino grigio (for some values of the term ‘nice’, of course) and we can all be friends and find a way forward. I am sure the Napoleon and Wellington would have done better to have sat down with a few beers at La Haye Saint (or whichever one the pub was) and sorted things out. The worst of the arguments might have been over who was going to pay the bar tab, although, of course, then as now, the Germans would probably have landed up with it.
So nice woolly liberals do not like talking about violence and warfare, and, hence, as members of nice woolly liberal societies, nor should we. It does go rather further than that, of course. As nice non-violent types, we are, in fact fascinated by what some sociologist types call the ‘pornography of violence’. A society which has become much less violent is, in fact, deeply fascinated by that violence. Our news channels are full of it. Much of our entertainment consists of it and we have a deeply ambivalent attitude to this, let alone the violence we see, even vicariously and fictionally.
Of course, wargaming, by abstracting away all the nasty bits, attempts to make itself socially acceptable, but it can never really do that until any talk of death or destruction is removed from its discourse. Then, of course, it would be totally acceptable, but would no longer be wargaming.
Secondly, there is the issue of power. I have commented before that (from a certain perspective, of course) colonial wargaming could be construed as a re-enactment of the domination of the western powers over their less technologically advanced brothers in Africa and Asia. The exploitation is pure imperialism, the exertion of domination over others in the name of peace but by using violence and subjugation. Hence, colonial wargaming is simply an extension of that imperialist mind set, and so we cannot wargame.
Of course, bleeding heart liberals might argue that, say, the Roman invasion of Britain was much the same. To which the response might well be, fair enough. Any sort of invasion of one country by another is unspeakably awful, and therefore should not be wargamed. So kindly stop all ancient warfare, all medieval warfare and certainly any conflict after the end of the middle ages, where nice Enlightenment values should have permeated the body politic and rational thought have caused the avoidance of war.
A further argument against the wargame is that, usually, one side wins and the other does not. We are not, I think, permitted to talk about ‘losers’ in modern society. The top 0.1% of filthy rich are not to be envied or despised simply because they have won and we have not. They are to be welcomed as brothers (although they can buy the drinks). We have not lost, they have not won. Winning and losing is not politically correct. Children should be taught to collaborate not to be in conflict. Therefore, on the basis of not doing the ‘w’ thing, we may not wargame, as we may perpetrate inappropriate activity and cause psychological damage by branding someone a loser.
Next up, wargaming cannot happen in a conceptual sense. We cannot, on a table, represent the experience of warfare (nor should we try, see above). The wargame, therefore, does not represent anything in real life or in history. Thus it cannot inform us about anything, and therefore it is not educational and should be discontinued immediately. After all, our children now have to be educated 24 hours a day, except probably when they are asleep. Any activity should, therefore, be an educational one, and hence wargaming, as not being educational, cannot be undertaken.
Furthermore, as not being able to represent battles (however regrettable the battle might be) a wargame is thus not real life and should be relegated to some sort of minority fantasy interest. We need, in this day and age, gritty reality in our austerity obsessed age. The Greeks would never have voted for a left wing party that promised jobs and an end to a dismal litany of cuts if they had watched our soap operas for long enough. Gritty reality, like those Scandinavian murder mystery films that are so rife these days, should make us happy to live in such an age. Wargaming is for fantasists who prefer the world as it used to be.
Finally, of course, wargaming is incoherent. If it were not, then they would not be these assorted rules for each period which give different results. The arguments about what happened in a particular battle would not occur as everyone would agree. The different sizes of the toy soldiers would not exist. Wargamers would agree and everyone would be happy. The apparent lack of coherence and agreement amongst wargamers must indicate a significant problem with the hobby. After all, most of society is happy to exist with a single set of rules (we call then ‘laws’) and professional people to discuss and describe the finer points thereof. The incoherence of wargaming must point to a significant immaturity, at least, of the wargaming fraternity.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to have a lie down.