ANZAC

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.

An irony of the sacking of SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre for a series of tweets he made on Anzac Day is that the hysterical reaction from politicians and the media, and the consequences he has faced, has only served to prove his initial point. Anzac Day is not about remembering history. To remember what actually happened at Gallipoli 100 years ago, and in Australia’s involvement in wars more generally, is not permissible. Whatever the Anzacs fought and died for, it was not free speech.
Lines of grey muttering faces, masked with fear, They leave their trenches, going over the top, While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists, And hope, with furtive eyes and grasping fists, Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop! — Siegfried Sassoon. Implausible as it might seem, it was the violent protest of a group of Bosnian high school students that sparked World War I.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson’s aphorism is well known. But what does patriotism actually mean? Is it simply a matter of liking the sunshine, the gum trees, the beaches and a certain lifestyle? Is it about being overcome with emotion when we see the Australian flag or the Anzac Day dawn service? REAL LOVE OF COUNTRY The movers and shakers and heavy hitters in our society — politicians, business moguls, journalists in the corporate media, and so on — are all patriotic. But we should be very cynical about this.
The truth about Anzac Day is that it is as much about denial as it is about remembrance. It is a denial that functions for both sides of the original conflict. The two countries that have invested much energy into sustaining the Gallipoli industry — Australia and Turkey — also have a genocidal past. Not coincidentally, both countries have used the device of “Gallipoli, Inc” to blot out shameful historical memories that they would rather not address. See also:

Some things should never be forgotten, and some things should never be forgiven. Both apply to the mass slaughter of ordinary people in World War I, including Gallipoli.

What’s Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History By Marilyn Lake & Henry Reynolds UNSW Press, 2010, 183 pages, $29.95 (pb) On April 25 in Australia, it is humanly impossible to escape the slouch hats, the Dawn Service, the Last Post, the khaki uniforms and the military ceremonies endlessly recycled in the establishment media. The cult of Anzac Day is pervasive, the culture of war unavoidable.
ANZACS in Arkhangel: The Untold Story of Australia and the Invasion of Russia 1918-19 By Michael Challinger Hardie Grant Books, 2010, 285 pages, $35 (pb) “The remedy for Bolshevism is bullets”, was the blunt message of the editorial in Britain’s establishment newspaper, The Times, in 1919 as military forces from 16 capitalist countries invaded Russia after the 1917 revolution. Among the invaders were about 150 Australian soldiers, as recounted in Michael Challinger’s history of the Australian role in the invasion.
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