Today — ANZAC Day — is the climax of the orgy of nationalism and militarism we've been subjected to in recent times, ostensibly to remember the ordinary people who responded to the lies of the government by fighting and dying in an unjust war.
Of course progressive people have sympathy for the soldiers who died as well as the soldiers who didn't die but nevertheless witnessed or experienced terrible things.
But it is also fair to point out the hypocrisy of the official propaganda machine including:
- That ANZAC commemorations (despite the denials) are actually about glorification of war and winning public acceptance for current and future imperialist crimes;
- That there are still no public memorials for the Aboriginal people who died defending this country against foreign (British) invasion and that even getting recognition for Aboriginal soldiers who fought as Australian soldiers is hard enough; and
- That for all of the official commemorations of WW1, the government and media are remarkably silent on the huge mass movement of ordinary people against conscription (and even against the war) and events such as the 1914 Christmas truce where soldiers from both sides stopped fighting to the chagrin of the generals to spend Christmas together.
And the thing that annoys me most is the lie that ANZAC soldiers died "for our freedom"! They didn't. They died for government lies and the defence of imperialist plunder.
The people that really should be credited with fighting for our freedoms today are the generations of communists, trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, activists and trouble makers without whom such "freedoms" as we currently enjoy would be much more curtailed!
[Alex Bainbridge is a national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance.]