Saturday, April 26, 2008

Possibly they mean 'Lest we Remember'

I don't understand ANZAC Day. Or rather, I don't understand how the media and government get away with doing what they're doing to the events at Galipolli.* Every year there's endless talk of 'heroes', 'sacrifices', and 'our freedoms' and it's complete nonsense (If Chris Trotter sees through your rhetoric, it must be pretty thin). There's no way what happened on April 25th 1915 can sustain any of the meaning that they repeatedly try and give it.

There have been some voices challenging these ideas. Lest We Forget is a new website that has profiles of peacemakers, put up specifically for ANZAC day.

From Alastair Reith in the The Spark

Corporal Jack Cottam was 29 years old when the bullet hit him. He was one of the first to die at Gallipoli, killed on the first day of action. The day he died is now celebrated in Australia and New Zealand as Anzac Day, and perhaps no other day on our calendar is surrounded by as much emotion… or as much bullshit.

Every year we are told that the young men whose lives were snuffed out at Gallipoli died gloriously for our freedom. We are told that the “liberties” we supposedly enjoy in New Zealand today exist only because of the sacrifice of these soldiers. The message is that the soldiers’ deaths were worth it, and that the cause they died for was just.

There is no nice way to say this: it’s all lies.

War about territory, not freedom
From indymedia:
With the continuing support of the New Zealand Defence Force for the neo-colonial occupations in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste and the corporate media’s continuing regurgitation and uncritical acceptance that New Zealand is playing a progressive role, the role of alternative media remains to keep people informed of the hidden realities of the “war on terror”. As ANZAC Day 2008 approaches and the media echoes the insidious calls by the New Zealand Defence Force for, “New Zealanders to show their support for our current troops” it’s worth remembering that the corporate media is a critical tool in ensuring that the US-led and New Zealand supported global system of colonialism and imperialism encounters no criticism or dissent at home.
Deborah is an atheist on ANZAC day:
And what’s all this ceremonial about? Commemorating in particular the members of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps who died at Gallipoli, and in general, all the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who have ever died in service. Gallipoli was the most wretched affair, young men sent to assault a beach defended by steep hills, and tens of thousands of young men dying, Turkish, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, British, in both defence and assault, all to no good purpose at all, in that most futile of wars, the misnamed Great War.
As is Idiot/Savant
Oh, we should remember the dead, and the maimed, and the broken and brutalised, the victims of stupid aristocrats and venal politicians - but as a warning of what happens when we surrender to militarism, jingoism, nationalism and greed. And the message we should be taking from the events at Gallipoli 93 years ago is not how noble and glorious their "sacrifice" was - there's nothing "noble" about dying to extend someone else's empire, nothing "glorious" about killing people, and nothing great about being offered up as a calculated sacrifice for butter exports. Instead, we should be remembering that it was bloody and stupid and pointless. But above all, we should be vowing "never again": never again will we fight other people's wars, and never again will we let our politicians lead us into them. Otherwise, we might be seeing a lot more names on those monuments
I was talking about ANZAC day with two young boys. They'd spent the day playing war. The older, who is eight asked me if I knew about the Christmas truce. I said that I did. He said "At Christmas, the soldiers sang Christmas carols and stopped fighting and gave each other presents and played soccer with each other."

* The Green party appears to have joined in. This is what they have to say:
Anzac Day is the one day of the year set aside to remember those who have served in the armed forces around the world. I’d like to add kudos for those in the emergency services, the VSA and those who volunteer at home in places like the City Missions, feeding hungry kiwis. However, today is the day for our men and women in uniform, their friends and family.
With an oh so touching photo of Russel Norman laying a wreath at some service. I don't know which is worse, that people who used to know better have come to believe that stuff. Or that they know how fucked up ANZAC day commemorations are and go along with it for some vote pandering.


  1. I was under the impression that Galipolli was he focus exactly for that reason.

    We could be celebrating a more 'glorious' battle - but in fact we are 'celebrating' one of the most useless foolish defeats by any measure.

    If we are respecting the soldiers is is in a sort of "moral of heart but stupid in consequences" sort of way.

    Of course we could go another step and argue soldiers are evil - I'm not sure if you want to do that or not.

  2. Anonymous8:11 pm

    Thanks for the roundup Maia - it was heartening to read. - John A.

  3. Couldn't agree with you more, Maia. That's exactly how I feel about Anzac Day. On Friday, there was an Anzac Day party for expatriate Kiwis in the American city where I live. I didn't really want to go, but I went because, you know, I was homesick and so on. Luckily, no one went on about the glory of getting killed for the British Empire -- we mostly just sat around and ate Anzac biscuits and relished being able to talk in New Zealand accents without someone telling us we were incomprehensible or asking if we were Australian or something.

  4. Anonymous5:49 pm


    Are you the last rebel without a cause? You seem to be angry with everyone and everybody. Once upon a time you were against JK and the Nats, now of late this has moved to becoming a hater of labour as well. Are you moving, or has everyone else moved?



  5. Anonymous2:22 am

    Idiot/Savant seems to be the only commentator who actually laid the blame for wartime carnage squarely at the feet of politicians. The landings were insisted on by politicians against the advice of their own military commanders. Unfortunately the military has a thing about obeying orders even when they are obviously stupid and come from obviously stupid people. Notice how after the politicians to blame for the Galipolli carnage had distanced themselves from the fiasco the military were finally able to withdraw and did so in a single night with no loss of life during the withdrawal operation. Blaming soldiers (even senior ones) for the evils of war makes as much sense as blaming all plane crashes on pilots.

  6. Anonymous2:04 pm

    You are a nut job lovely

  7. When was the last time anyone went on about the glory of World War 1? What DOES matter is to remember those who fought in World War 2 -your current relative freedom's dependence on the defeat of Nazism and Japanese imperialism. That is worth being grateful for, it is sad and rather inane that plenty forget that.