Remembrance? they couldn’t give a damn!

5 November 2014

The official "show business" around Remembrance Day this year is unprecedented. Of course, the pretext is the 100th anniversary of the "War to end all wars" which began on 4th August 1914.

And every year, the 11th November - when the armistice was signed in 1918 - is meant to be a day to remember the 17 million slaughtered in this war. But as we all know, it did not "end" war. It led to the even greater butchery of WW2, in which over 85 million were killed.

This year, however, there are a number of things which have been particularly shocking about the "Remembrance" events.

One should say first, that of course, the dead should be rememebred. All the more so, because it brings home to us how urgent it is to end a world order that today still launches utterly mad military ventures and which still sheds the blood of the many for the interests of the few. None of us has any stake in this, and certainly not those who are killed or injured in the process. And of course, doing as much as possible for the wounded is vital. But does the state take responsibility for this?

This year, the gigantic poppy show is the biggest ever. We're told by hypocritical ministers that this is to celebrate the memory of the dead, and we should wear our poppies with pride, as they do. But actually this is all about relying on charity to pay for the needs of war veterans, past, present and future. And why should it? Why should the state not pay for the full needs of those hurt in its wars and for adequate aid to the bereft families? It could quite easily take what is needed out of the profits of the companies which make billions from war - today, out of vast interests in the Middle East, for the sake of which a third Iraq war is being waged!

Forgotten working class heroes

The centenary "celebration" in London is crowned by the spectacle, "Blood swept lands and seas of red" at Tower Hill - consisting of 888,246 ceramic poppies. Each poppy represents each one of the "British" dead in the "Great" War slaughter. These are being sold (and have already been oversubscribed) at £25 each, raising £11.2 million for charities which help British veterans.

But this raises another question: what about the ones who died in WW1 who were not "British" dead (16 million "others"!) and especially those killed by British weapons? Because yes, the seas would be dark red with all of the blood that has been shed by "British" bullets and bombs - not just in the two world wars, but in all the wars for Empire before and since, for the sake of the supremacy of British banking and commerce over Europe and the rest of the world.

Besides, there is something which is particularly disgusting about the way WW1 is portrayed today - as if there was a consensus amongst the British population at the time and that it was seen as a "just" war. When in fact, a large section of the British working class - its best activists in the trade unions and in the Labour Party (!) resisted this war as the imperialist war it was, aimed at preventing Germany gaining markets at the expense of its competitors. They saw clearly that it was a war for the bankers and the bosses, against the interests of the populations and in particular, against the interests of the working class.

However, the Labour Party and TUC leaderships then perpetrated their first great betrayal - by joining the War Cabinet and supporting this bosses' war. In 1916, the government brought in conscription - so there was no choice - men were forced onto the killing fields - or they faced jail. And indeed many were incarcerated, not just for refusing to go to war, but also for their political activity aimed at fighting against the war mobilisation and its consequences. That is what is worth "remembering" and "honouring"!

Bombers out of the Middle East!

It is precisely these facts of history which the hypocrites who are initiating yet more killing in the Middle East today, want people to forget. They want our children to see this killing not as the barbarism it is, but as "heroic"!

No wonder. When the British state has just exited one war in Afghanistan to go into another in Iraq - for the sake, yet again, of the profits of oil companies and the banks which are behind them.

Of course, they will tell us that it is all about killing "terrorists". But what do we know about the people who are blown up and crushed under the rubble produced by their bombs?

The truth is that the British state and the British bourgeoisie has centuries worth of blood on its hands. And no amount of red poppies can make up for that. Nor can these pretty flowers make us believe that they have even the slightest concern for the casualties of their wars, whoever and wherever they may be. They do not give a damn.