You would think by my time of life it would take a lot to surprise me and it does but I am genuinely shocked how blind to truth many of you are out there.
The government is spending at least £50 Million on WW1 remembrance events not to mention local costs and of course various royals trundled around to make fine speeches prepared for them to deliver in praise of millions of soldiers sailors and airmen who died in those terrible four years. Not one of those men is still alive so why is this enormous energy being spent on publicity, media connivance and money that would be better spent on feeding our hungry who are forced into Food Banks?
So what is going on? Well let’s start with what it’s not, just briefly. If it was about remembering the dead, then we should be reminded of the terrified men ordered over the top knowing the insanity of the orders and that they would be facing machine gun crossfire resulting in either death or if ‘lucky’ serious injury resulting in being sent back to England. Knowing too that too question the madness or to refuse the order even if suffering from what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would mean being shot on the spot by their own officers. We should be reminded also of the incredible bravery of conscientious objectors who through religious or moral reasons refused to fight and were also shot by firing squad or served long terms in prison with the worst of conditions. We should also be reminded that some CO’s died working in coal mines and also in particular, those who joined the Friends Ambulance Brigade (mostly Quakers) who served on the front lines collecting the injured under intense fire very many of whom were themselves killed. It’s not either, about learning the lessons of history because clearly we haven’t, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, in WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya …….
So what is it about? It’s about conditioning your minds, mild brain washing if you like, into nationalism, patriotism and an acceptance of waging war yet again if required. It’s about the royals and senior figures strutting the stage of history, making themselves look good bedecked in medals and rank that they have not earned but been given by their peers. It’s about politicians who have never been in the thick end of war spouting about the bravery of others long since dead about who’s lives they know nothing and care less. It’s about linking the past to the present and glorifying our vast war machine and gaining your acceptance for the massive expenditure that you have to pay for. When they spend £200 Billion on nuclear weapons that they can never use you will hardly murmur, or tens of Billions on aircraft carriers which by their very nature mean they are preparing for wars far away already, you won’t bat an eyelid. When hundreds of our soldiers die in Iraq or elsewhere and thousands lose limbs for the City of London you raise money for artificial limbs but you don’t ask why, you don’t say stop. Two million people marched before the Iraq war to say NO and they fear that next time there may be 10 million, 20 million, marching and demanding an end to war and the capitalist war mongers and arms salesmen will not add to their fortunes if we say no more. Capitalism not just thrives on war it depends on war. Fear of war allows acceptance of expenditure on the military and remembrance keeps that bit of fear in the mind, linking the past to the now.
Finally, they will not be remembering or reminding us of the mutinies and the strikes in the military towards the end of the 1914-18 war nor will they point out how many were shot and crushed as the uprising took hold and were put down by the government. So when you see ceremonies, hear some politician praise those poor sods in the mud with the stench of death all about, or see heroic films just ask yourself what is behind it? What thoughts are they trying to put into your mind?