Why I do not indulge in the hypocrisy of ‘Remembrance Day’…


Allied War Cemetery Germany

Allied War Cemetery Germany

poppies

Such a symbol, so taken for granted…

You will not see a poppy in my profile nor on my person.  The whole circus has lost all meaning when you consider we are STILL at war. It might not be Europe imploding on itself again, and call me paranoid if it doesn’t seem to you like a reunified Germany is going for the [economic] hat-trick but it has become a debacle has become consisting of nothing more than a nation-wide display of ostentatious sentimentality: a popular affectation of imagined grief over soldiers and civilians killed in a pointless war while more people on both sides die in pointless wars that we started. I refuse to involve myself in hypocrisy.

This article by Robert Fisk probably says it perfectly.  Remembrance Day is not mourning the passing of servicemen and civilians.  It mourns the passing of the Imperialist British Empire, for which we are reaping the consequences even now. A war which ended which the forced peace of the Treaty of Versailles on the 11th November 1918 to end an unwinnable war: a treaty so punitive against one part of the Central powers that it resulted in another world conflict 28 years later.

We may wring our hands at the horror of it all but how many of us, without a special interest, truly comprehend the context of what went on?  The class-politics and strict social hierarchies, or Germany’s struggle as a new nation in 1871, for ‘elbow room’ and fear of being surrounded? The British Empire was still fairly strong but the the Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires were struggling to hold on to power at all costs. Serbia wanted independence and the Austro-Hungarian empire had from around 1912 been determined to end the matter. With assistance from Germany and a promise that Germany would prevent Russia from involving themselves (thus keeping Russia’s allies France and (indirectly) Britain out as well), all they needed was an excuse. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand (July 1914) by one member of a single terrorist (NOT STATE ENDORSED), provided that excuse. however, Germany betrayed the Austro-Hungarian Empire by declaring war on both France and Russia at the last moment, subjugating the Serbia to a secondary concern.

France also wanted Alsace Lorraine-back from Germany, so previous grievance existed between them. A European arms race and the complex arrangement of treaties and alliances (The Triple Alliance and Entente Cordiale) made the First world war, not inevitable but not avoidable either, at least not in Britain’s case: we should not assume a universal experience.  With each party pledging to attack another nation in ‘defence’ of the others, as well as the general attitude toward warfare and glory, WW1 was  highly likely given the mood, but they did not have the hindsight of two global wars not to mention other bloody and drawn out conflicts. School history lessons barely scratch the surface, and the nationalist twaddle of the tabloid press at this time of year really does bring to mind the last verse of a poem by John McCrae, ‘In Flander’s Fields’, which is thought to have been inspired by the death of a Canadian 2nd Lieutenant in 1915 (Ypres) when prior much of the war was yet to occur.

“…

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

Even now, while at war in the Middle East can we not now see that the ‘War to End All Wars’ has not lived up to expectation. The best way to remember the fallen servicemen of a pointless war is not to gather round a stone monument and cover it with paper flowers, muttering prayers and singing hymns (when many don’t even believe in God let alone go to church) and pretend that it makes the slightest difference to what is actually happening.  The best way to honour those men (1914-1918) is to not send yet MORE men and women to die in wars, adding to the body-count.

WE HAVE NOT LEARNED A THING…

DULCE ET DECORUM EST(1)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)  
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.(15) –  Wilfred Owen, 8 October 1917 – March, 1918

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 01:49:23

    *My not wearing a poppy does not make me a Nazi sympathiser, it makes me a realist.* what that’s got to do with this blog? Big leap there Anna, again by politicalising a charity undoes the good work they do in my opinion, that’s my last comment on this post and on this subject.

    Reply

  2. kaz
    Nov 11, 2013 @ 15:21:52

    Wearing of the Poppy is a small gesture, though the sales of *Poppies* does benefit those who fought and came back disabled and “History be damned frankly” especially your interpretation of it….I do not require a history 101 lesson. thank you. On Neandergal* comment of the Jews,and your response yes indeed any schoolchild or adult (with a smattering of education) knows that Gays/political prisoners/ Roma’s and basically anyone who spoke out against Hitler and Nazism were also victims, but by saying the rest of the world treated Jews badly is a false equivalency*.

    Reply

    • Random Tangents
      Nov 11, 2013 @ 22:30:24

      Merely supporting my argument. My interpretation is based on facts and evidence. The facts and evidence are what they are and I did not say I ‘liked’ my interpretation. That it does not mirror a populist view is neither here nor there and how we feel about it is frankly irrelevant.

      If we are to remember suffering and acknowledge sacrifice, then it should be everyday and all sacrifice. It should not be exclusive to the majority, but inclusive of all. My not wearing a poppy does not make me a Nazi sympathiser, it makes me a realist.

      Reply

  3. neandergal
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 02:23:53

    What a load of old cobblers this is! Remembrance Day is very deep and person and is about the fallen. It is not a rant on the political misgivings (of which there were many) of the governments involved who sent those people to war. How crass to demean the loved ones who simply want to remember their fallen loved ones.

    No matter what you think of war, to disparage those who want to remember is nothing short of vulgar. Yes, much of war can be avoided. That does not stop us from honoring those who fought for you right to be able to spout this diatribe.

    Reply

    • Anya
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 03:44:00

      Fighting for Rights is not what wars have ever been about.
      “War is a racket” – Smedley Butler
      Our loved ones fought and killed other peoples loved ones for bankers…Nothing more. Time to realize this sad fact.

      Reply

      • neandergal
        Nov 10, 2013 @ 23:23:38

        “Fighting for Rights is not what wars have ever been about.” Shall we ask the thousands of Jews who ended up refuges in their own countries?

        Reply

        • Random Tangents
          Nov 11, 2013 @ 06:32:40

          http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/causes_world_war_two.htm

          Sorry but the evidence does not support that assertion. Britain went to war in 1939, because Germany broke the 1938 Munich Agreement and invaded one of our allies which were, while slightly more liberal toward their Jewish population, it was not significantly so. If we had gone to war in order to defend ‘rights’, what had we been doing prior to 1939? Rights have only recently been a European preoccupation (the European Convention on human rights was not written until 1950, and the Human Rights Act in 1993).

          Though very much in the majority, Jews were not the only demographic sent to the camps (Mazower, ‘Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century’) nor was religiously motivated prejudice and persecution in Germany, limited to the Jews. The Bismarkian Kulterkampf (anti Catholic legislation) had recently ended at the time that Hitler took power. Anti-jewish attitudes and legislation was by no means limited to Germany either, even among the Allies. (Chidester, ‘Christianity: A Global History’, section God in the Dock). Neither WW1 or WW2 were about defending rights. In the case of Britain, it was in defence of sovereignty and empire.

          The US did not enter the war until their own shores were threatened, which also contradicts the idea that they went to defend rights. Defence of national interests is more likely: they saw that if Germany conquered Europe and Africa, then the US would be next and they would be unstoppable if Europe’s collective resources of man power and weaponry were at their disposal.

          Reply

  4. kaz
    Nov 08, 2013 @ 23:12:30

    Reply

Please also rate this post. Thanks

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s