history

FIFA, the world’s ruling body of football (soccer), has banned wearing poppies to mark the death of British soldiers in war, which has provoked a confected outrage by British media and politicians.

The football associations of England and Scotland intend to defy the ban in the two national teams’ match on Armistice Day on November 11. In the editorial below, British left-wing daily The Morning Star responds to the hypocrisy of those opposing FIFA’s ruling.

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Australian soldiers during the Boer war.

Unnecessary Wars
Henry Reynolds
Newsouth, 2016
266 pages

Australia’s first war — the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902 — notes historian Henry Reynolds in Unnecessary Wars, was closely bound up with the uniting of the six Australian colonies into a single nation within the British empire.

This conjunction of militarism, nationalism and imperialism was ominous. Australia has never broken the habit of being at the military beck and call of its imperial managers.

In July 1915, three brothers presented themselves at Glencorse Barracks on the outskirts of Edinburgh to enlist in the Royal Scots. The First World War was almost a year old, but despite the mounting casualty lists and a growing realisation that it would not be over anytime soon, my grandfather and his two brothers joined up.

On October 28, the 100th anniversary of the first conscription referendum, historian Michael Hamel-Green gave a talk at the Brunswick Library entitled "When Australians said no to war".

Hamel-Green said that in official commemorations of World War I there is "amnesia" about the divisions among the Australian people over the war.

When the initial high level of voluntary recruitment to the army declined, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided to introduce conscription for overseas service — conscription for service within Australia was already legal.

Although fit and healthy until near the end of his life, Stan Hilton, the 98-year old veteran of the Spanish Civil War as one of the almost 60,000 International Brigade members who travelled from around the world to join the fight against fascism who passed away on October 21, could no longer recall his four-month adventure in Spain in 1937 and 1938. Thankfully, his son, Gordon, and grandson, Adam, still keep alive the stories and recollections he told them over many years.

Ink In Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer
Sylvia Martin
University of Western Australia Publishing, 2016
328 pages

In 1939, a young Australian woman grabbed the international headlines when she threw red paint onto the doorsteps of 10 Downing Street, whilst distributing leaflets hidden in copies of the Ladies Home Journal.

The action by Aileen Palmer was to protest the blood that then-British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had on his hands for selling out Spain and Czechoslovakia to European fascism.

In a historic step toward lifting the blockade on Cuba, the United States abstained Wednesday in the United Nations General Assembly vote, unanimously calling for the end of the Cold War measure for the 25th consecutive year.

"The United States has always voted against this resolution," said US representative to the UN Samantha Power. "Today, the United States will abstain."

The systematic police repression of African Americans that Black Lives Matter (BLM) has exposed has prompted Black athletes to express their solidarity. The latest has been the silent protests at sporting events initiated by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.

His protest is simple. He kneels when the national anthem is played before games. In spite of attacks against him, other professional athletes have emulated his protest. Perhaps most significant has been the many high school players across the country who have joined in.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia By Larry Writer Scribe Melbourne, 2016 336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick. However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

Thailand’s King Pumipon Adulyadej died on October 13 aged 88, after more than 70 years on the throne. Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn has been in exile since he was charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarch) over a 2006 book criticising the king’s support for a military coup. Below he assesses the monarch’s role as a block to democracy and social justice.

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King Pumipon was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling toadies who claimed that he was a “god”.

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