George Monbiot on the dark side of today's centenary: In 1886, Jules Verne imagined aircraft acting as a global police force, bombing barbaric races into peace and civilization. In 1898, the novelist Samuel Odell saw the English-speaking peoples subjugating eastern Europe and Asia by means of aerial bombardment. In the same year, the writer Stanley Waterloo celebrated the future annihilation of inferior races from the air. None of this was lost on the Wright brothers. When Wilbur Wright was asked, in 1905, what the purpose of his machine might be, he answered simply: "War." As soon as they were confident that the technology worked, the brothers approached the war offices of several nations, hoping to sell their patent to the highest bidder. The US government bought it for $30,000, and started test bombing in 1910. The airplane. was conceived, designed, tested, developed and sold, in other words, not as a vehicle for tourism, but as an instrument of destruction.


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