Tag Archives: War

Say No to the Poppy

poppychild

The annual poppy stramash shows no signs of abating. My own position has been expressed perhaps less clearly (yes, really) than I’d have liked. Given that, for me, the poppy is about much more than some would have us believe, I’m taking the opportunity to address some of the many objections fired my way, recently. So, without further ado, buckle up…

“You insult our brave forces who have consistently fought for freedom”

I am genuinely incensed at the general view that soldiers – at least ‘our boys’ not those nasty foreign ones – somehow represent freedom, democracy and decency. They absolutely don’t.

WW1 was an imperial bloodbath. An orgy of death regarding markets and territory.  Whole generations of working-class conscripts fired out of trenches like so much human confetti. It was futile and every dead soldier was a wasted life. Their deaths meant nothing, achieved nothing and changed nothing. How heart-breakingly dreadful is that?

Sometimes, like WW2, they find themselves on the side of moral virtue. But that’s an accident of history. Soldiers are first, last and always there to protect, defend and consolidate the state and the establishment’s privilege and power.

Soldiers chasing down striking miners in Tonypandy, tanks rolling into George Square in Glasgow or bludgeoning trade unionists during the General Strike, to give just three examples, show exactly where our standing army ends up when freedom really does become an issue. They’ll turn on their own at the twitch of an officer’s eyebrow because that’s their job. And let’s not bother discussing the Six Counties, Aden, Cyprus or any of the former Colonies who actually did dare to fight for freedom. Their own. Free from British subjugation. We all know how they were treated…

As for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, only the cerebrally challenged would seriously posit that these grubby ‘interventions’ were even within touching distance of freedom or democracy.

Instead, every (comparative) freedom we enjoy today, women having the vote, political protest, joining a trade union and much, much more, were all won by working class men and women facing down the army. In reality, soldiers’ default setting is to be the enemy of freedom; at home and abroad.

“They’re just doing their job and you don’t get to pick and choose which orders you obey”

Conscription ended in the UK in 1960. Thereafter, anyone who died while killing Irish civilians in Derry, teenage Argentinean conscripts in the South Atlantic or Iraqi wedding guests in Basra did so as a result of a free and conscious choice. I will not be bullied or emotionally blackmailed into supporting such people or mourning their passing. And if you really want to talk about insulting the dead, you expect me to draw equivalence between the terrified, conscripted kids butchered in the Somme; the heroic men and women of WW2 who fought fascism and really did defend Britain and today’s squaddies ?Who choose, consciously and deliberately, to join up, invade other peoples’ countries and kill Arabs on behalf of the Brit state? Now that’s insulting.

“You lefty scum don’t know anything. The poppy is remembrance for the people not the politics.”

I wouldn’t piss on one if it was on fire. It isn’t about solely remembrance or respect anymore. Or have you folks, somehow, failed to notice the fetishisation of the military, over recent years? The attempts to cultivate and then co-opt the hideous mawkishness surrounding ‘our boys’? The poppy cult is a powerful plank in the establishment’s propaganda arsenal and like so much of their class offensive, is about the here and now and the future; not the past.

Linking the revolting slaughter of millions of wasted, pointless deaths during WW1 to the UK’s post-imperial adventures today –  in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria – is an attempt to confer legitimacy on the latter. It’s disgusting, frankly. Cynical and inhumane.

It’s about as subtle as a punch in the face. It’s screamingly apparent that it’s a thinly-veiled disguise to justify and glorify war. Fostered by the establishment who stand to profit from the lives squandered by those who have to fight them.

We continue to glorify and sentimentalise imperial slaughter so yet more young men and women will be willing to get their legs blown off. Along with lots of brown people, of course. Who I added as an afterthought to keep this piece in line with Brit liberal values.

I want to see an end to this sick and grotesque cult of soldier worship, of which the poppy is now a central plank. It’s macabre, dangerous and hideous.

They tell you the poppy isn’t celebrating war. That it’s just a symbol of family, friends and comrades remembering those who did not come home. Try being a TV presenter and not wearing one, then. The poor bastards get virtually lynched. Try being James McLean.

No, the poppy, these days, is a kind of patriot litmus-test. A barometer of how staunchly one stands behind the troops. I mean, don’t take my word for it; the British Legion are telling you! Christ, how much clearer does that image need to be? An official British Legion PR photo with a child holding a giant poppy while wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘future soldier.’

Grotesque.
Immoral.
Obscene.

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War, Again: Labour’s Syrian Shame

Portal_Syria_Benn__3515919b
So Corbyn bottled it. All the desperate spin and plaintive self-justification by his acolytes cannot obscure this simple truth.

Their arguments are spurious and mendacious. At best. Even if the alleged strategy – to avoid a split in the party – had been successful then the unity of the Labour Party has been prioritised over saving the lives of Syrian infants.

But, to pile tragedy upon contempt, the strategy has not and will not be successful. Corbyn has been hounded and monstered from day one. At least half the shadow Cabinet and a majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party have been in open revolt from the very moment he ascended to the leadership. Their contempt for him has been astonishing. Their disobedience, their disloyalty and the disdain in which they hold their leader has been there for all to see. There is no unity. None.

Instead, there is – cruel pun, perhaps – a civil war raging inside the PLP. It cannot be avoided. It’s happening now. To continue the martial metaphors, it is a universal truth of military warfare that if one must fight a war, then one should always seek to do so on terrain of ones own choosing. Corbyn should have taken the fight to his enemies. He should have whipped his MPs and sacked the pro-war dissenters. He has the overwhelming support of the membership and even official Conference policy on his side. Yes, the split would have widened but it’s here already and is set only to accelerate anyway with, possibly, Corbyn ousted from his post. And such an act would have been in the service of nothing less than humanity and he, at least, would have acted with courage and principle.

Let’s stick with war aphorisms and remind the Labour leader that weakness only invites aggression. His right-wing will not be deterred from their plotting; the media will not cease its assassinations. There is nothing Corbyn can do to appease these people. All his current trajectory will do is weaken his powerbase in the CLPs. As Tolkien wrote, “A man who flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

As it is, he has chosen the coward’s exit; the Pontius Pilate option of washing his hands and preserving his own sainted purity while allowing his MPs a free vote to massacre brown babies.

His supporters mutter darkly about deselecting the pro-war MPs in their constituencies; allowing the rank-and-fail to dole out the punishment they so richly deserve but that Corbyn lacks the guts to deliver himself. This, though, is a ridiculous double-standard. Corbyn apologists defend the free vote as ‘a matter of conscience.’ Yet now they wish to punish MPs for… voting with their consciences? (or at least that which passes for conscience among these people) So a free vote is fine for Corbyn but not those who disagree with him? In fact, the sixty-six MPs who voted for war can’t even be termed rebels. After all, what were they rebelling against? There was no party line. Such is the unavoidable outcome, the inevitable logic, of Corbyn’s tactical cowardice.

And what of those MPs? On the one hand there are those who genuinely believe that murdering Syrian civilians in an utterly futile and doomed attempt to bomb an ideology into submission is the right thing to do. It says so much of Labour, ‘a party fit for imperialism,’ that these worthies are the good guys. Relatively speaking. At least such people have the dubious honour of being up-front and honest in their idiocy and callousness.

Worse, though, than even these creatures are those Labour MPs cynically exploiting the impending massacre for personal career advantage; and to settle scores with the leader they despise. Terrified of the growing wrath of their local party members and the prospect of losing the perks and trappings of Westminster, they plot, they scheme and they betray in a concerted bid to bring down Corbyn to save their own careers. Imagine that; pursuing the killing of other human beings solely to shore-up your ambition.

In both cases, these specimens have lined up with the Tories and condemned Syrians to death. And so it is that another murderous folly is now unleashed. The UK’s fourth in fewer than twenty years. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; close the wall up with Muslim dead.

Tonight, there are Labour MPs that never deserved less than they do now the prefix ‘honourable.’ But, as always, they’ve certainly done their best to ensure Labour remains Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition…

An Idiot’s Guide to Bombing Syria

anti-isis-coalition

So the Free Syrian Army are fighting Assad but also Daesh.

Assad loyalists are also fighting both the FSA and Daesh.

Meanwhile, just about everyone is trying to kill the Kurds. Who, ironically, are probably the most effective force currently fighting Daesh.

Turkey, a NATO ally and, therefore, a de facto pal of Cameron’s are supporting Daesh while claiming they aren’t. When they aren’t busy shooting down Russian planes, of course. Russia actually are fighting Daesh but also the FSA, who oppose Russia’s mate Assad.

Saudi Arabia, big pals of Cameron and the UK government, are supporting Daesh while buying Brit arms. While beheading more people in a month than Daesh do in a year. Yet the UK supports Saudi Arabia but not Daesh and not Asad, either. Who it did support last year.

The French, of course, are on a revenge mission and don’t give a fuck who dies as long as they are Seen To Be Doing Something. And the USA, as always, is clusterfucking its way to yet another Vietnam.

Whatever and whoever is killing who, the overwhelming majority of the dead are Muslims. Killed by Daesh. While getting blamed for… Daesh.

This is the crude and simplified idiot’s guide.

Now if you can grasp that and still think that yet another party joining in the bombing of the remaining unbombed bits of Syria is going to improve the situation in any way at all, then you truly are an absolute moron.

Tunes of Glory

 

bodies

He didn’t see the poppies grow down in Flanders Field,
It was over in Afghanistan where they cheered a record yield.
A bumper crop of skag that would spread across the earth,
Compared to wealth and power, our lives have little worth.
Was he fighting for the Queen, America or Shell?
When the lines are blurred, all shades of grey, no way that he could tell.
The War on Terror, the War on Drugs, it’s all a filthy lie,
Because there is no honour in queuing up to die.
For nations, flags and worthless men,
One hundred years since world War One and here we are are again.
His search for pride and virtue, all ended with a blast,
He trod upon an IED and now his future is the past.
Although he’s three years older, he’s still just twenty-one,
His life already over before it had begun.
And now his mam weeps bitter tears as she empties out his pan,
Of the stinking shit that gurgles from her broken damaged man.
Still, he got a medal and a poppy that he could wear,
When they wheeled him to the cenotaph where all the children stare.
At the empty space where once he had two legs like you and me,
Exchanged in wilful  ignorance so profit might be free.
To carry on destroying lives for power and their greed,
A war upon their wars is the only war we need.
Kill the Other, kill him now and make your country proud,
Their token thanks is all you’ll get when they wrap you in your shroud.
Then you can join the ranks of the millions gone before,
Nameless, faceless forgotten dead; no one’s keeping score.
A dozen here a thousand there, they really just don’t care,
As long as you keep dying so they can get their share.
So stuff their poppies, stuff their wars and stuff their tunes of glory,
They’ll never care about you and me, it’s the same old dirty story.

Never Again

Poppies_by_Benoit_Aubry_of_Ottawa

You parade those poppies with unthinking zeal,
Knowing nothing of how we feel.
We, the unseen and now untouched,
Who bought their lies and paid so much.
We, the dead, are always here
And we awake this time every year.
To watch with sadness and dismay
The flowers placed where we lay.
And still their lies are bought and sold
And still you keep doing what you’re told.
“Support our boys,” They say you must,
But They are unworthy of your trust.
Their poppy fascism seeks to make
A noble case for all they take.
The Afghan bleeds when he’s shot
And never asked for what he got.
The Iraqi, too, bleeds when cut
And her child’s blood spills from his gut.
Commemorate us not by lies and hate,
Make a stand; it’s not too late.
Do not kill or die for the boss,
Their profits are not worth the loss,
Of a single life for a blood-stained Crown,
Instead, burn their palaces to the ground.
Repay us best, erase our stain,
Say and mean ‘Never Again.’