“Why glorify war?”
– graffiti on the Cenotaph, May Day 2000
“If I should die think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever a truly repulsive poet.”
Below this intro is a list of just some of the, mostly recent, attempts to make a minimal criticism of war and the so-called memorials which obliterate historical memory, that we are all meant to respect.
The red poppy as a symbol of “remembrance” was popularised by General Douglas Haig, one of the rulers’ mass murderers, commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele, amongst other atrocities (including participation in the shooting of British soldiers who didn’t want to continue to be used as cannon fodder). The poppy, up until the 1990s, used to have ‘Haig Fund’ inscribed on the black button in the centre of each one. It’s a an image of respect for bourgeois mass murder and anyone with a bit of self-respect would refuse to wear it. At least, wearing a white poppy is intended to remember all victims of all wars, rather than just those who were sacrificed for the British ruling class in WW1. The Peace Pledge Union, which gives them out, claims it demonstrates a commitment to peace and to challenging any attempt to glamourise or celebrate war (not that it can seriously contribute to such a perspective within pacifist ideology). At one time Jeremy Corbyn, the UK’s would-be Prime Mini-star with some kind of socialist reputation, used to wear a white poppy. Given his desire to become commander-in-chief of Brutish Capital, he has, for the last couple of years, worn the traditional red one.
In this upside down world respect for the dead and the total absence of respect for the reasons for their inglorious deaths is the logic of respect for the death of all sense and of any pretense to rationality, the logic of capital. It is somehow seen as an atrocious lack of respect for a “tragedy” to express disgust for the whole bloody show. The miserable justifications for this “tragedy” are always endowed with some spurious higher purpose (duty, the glory of sacrifice, dying for ‘our freedoms’), when daily tragedies in the present are largely ignored or even justified because the real purpose is capital accumulation and social control. Those who have died – and continue to die – in the class war, the war that genuinely struggles for ‘our freedom’, are buried under amnesiac memorials, memorials that dress up the reduction of human beings (mostly men) to commodified pawns in the rulers’ game in the sombre colours of a sombre gory glory which deserve a sombre minute’s (or, indeed, several sombre years’) silence.
See, for example, this, which tries to genuinely remember
11/11/18: UK, Angus: another critique of the art of war…Yorkshire: if only real naval warfare (and all the other forms) could be wrecked so easily ...but a nice symbolic gesture on the 100th centenary of the First World Massacre.
28/10/18: UK, Antrim: militarism critiqued
3/6/18: UK, Fife: and another
And more (9/11/17)
…and yet more (24/4/17)
…and yet more again (21/12/15)
No war but the class war!