Saturday, 18 October 2014

Debunking war mythology.

of WW1.

"To say that the allied powers committed atrocities before, during and after the war is not to downplay the Holocaust, or to claim that it was a mere detail (as the French fascist Le Pen put it). Of course there have been other genocides before and since, but there was something unique about deliberate mass industrialized extermination informed by a scientific ideology. Equally there is something obscene about creating a hierarchy of massacres, or arguing that one massacre justifies or nullifies another."

"The most persuasive argument against the whole celebration of Remembrance Day, the Cenotaph and poppies is the fact that significant numbers of ex-soldiers opposed the Cenotaph 'death cult' from the start. As one World War One veteran said: "We were promised a land fit for heroes. All we got was the bloody Cenotaph!"
When the Cenotaph was first built, the authorities were afraid that it might be 'desecrated'. Indeed, a few weeks before it's unveiling, in November 1920, unemployed ex-soldiers rioted in Whitehall. Some even used the slogan: "Bread not mortar!".
Hoping that the workers' councils in Russia and Germany would spread to Britain, Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers Dreadnought newspaper commented: "We are not sorry the unemployed hit back last Monday; we congratulate them and only wish they had hit out harder. ... Before the capitalist system goes crashing down, much more than ballustrading and windows will be smashed up with it."
The best quote from the 1919 Luton riots is from the eye-witness who said: "People were sitting on the pavement playing a bloody gramophone ... All the bloody streets was ours!"
As the town hall burned, people even played 'Keep the Home Fire's Burning' on a looted piano! "

"Putkowski states that there were over 300,000 courts martials between 1914 and 1920 and he estimates that about 250,000 British troops were involved in ‘strikes, demonstrations and other forms of direct action on an unprecedented scale’ towards the end of the war; A2 and the ‘Reds in Khaki’ (J. Putkowski Lobster 27 1994). Other secondary sources of interest are: The Soldiers Strikes of 1919 (A. Rothstein Journeyman 1980), Mutinies (D. Lamb Solidarity 1975), The Unknown Army (G. Dallas & D. Gill Verso 1985), Mutiny (L. James Buchan & Enright 1987), British Army Mutineers 1914-22 (J. Putkowski Francis Boutle 1998) and The Apathetic and the Defiant (Edt. C. Mantle Dundurn Group 2007). "

"The ‘war for democracy’, the ‘war to end war’ proved the greatest sham in history. As a matter of fact, it started a chain of new wars not yet ended. It has since been admitted, even by Wilson himself, that the war served no purpose except to reap vast profits for Big Business. The World War built huge fortunes for the lords of finance — and tombs for the workers.......In times of peace you slave in field and factory, in war you serve as cannon fodder — all for the greater glory of your masters"-Alexander Berkman.

"We have opposed the war because it is not a war for freedom, because it has always been a war of conquest, a war for imperialist gain’ (War Commentary, London, December 1943).
"The Capitalist system - production for Profit instead of for use - is the cause of War! In the struggle for markets, in which to realise their profits, the Capitalists of the world clash, and then expect their ‘hands’ to become ‘cannon fodder’" (Solidarity, Glasgow, May Day 1939).

The case against Churchill was clearly articulated by James Matthews, the former soldier jailed for painting on his statue on May Day: "Churchill was an exponent of capitalism and of imperialism and anti-semitism. A Tory reactionary vehemently opposed to the emancipation of women and to independence in India. The media machine made this paunchy little man much larger than life - a colossal, towering figure of great stature and bearing with trademark cigar, bowler hat and V-sign. The reality was an often irrational, sometimes vainglorious leader whose impetuosity, egotism and bigotry on occasion cost many lives unnecessarily and caused much suffering that was needless and unjustified".

Schnews too praised the 'pleasing improvement' to 'the statue of that racist old bigot Winston Churchill. He once described communists as "swarms of typhus-bearing vermin" and held similar views about everyone else who wasn’t rich, reactionary and British like himself. Justifying the slaughter of indigenous peoples, he wrote "I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia by the fact that a stronger race has come in and taken their place".

"The anarchists and communists who refused to fight in the war were in no sense soft on fascism. Many of them had direct experience of fighting fascists in all corners of Europe from the East End of London to Spain. Marie Louise Berneri, prosecuted for her role in editing the anarchist paper War Commentary, was herself a refugee from fascist Italy. Her mother had been arrested by the Gestapo when the Germans reached Paris."

"But with their experience of the First World War, the Depression and the Counter-Revolution in Spain, this generation of revolutionaries were only too aware that capitalism in all its guises - democratic, fascist, Stalinist - produced war, terror and poverty. Berneri’s father, Camillo had been murdered by Stalinists in Barcelona during the May Days of 1937, a graphic illustration of the fact that fascism could only be defeated by uprooting all forms of capitalism"

They were also aware that the German and Japanese war machines had been built with the help of imports from the US, Russia and the British Empire, and that the ruling class ‘did not object to Hitlerism when the German workers were beaten in the streets and sent into concentration camps. But when they see the rise of a militaristic power threatening their colonial interests, their loot, then the youth of the workers have to be trained and thrown into bloody struggle in order to protect those interests’ (John McGovern, speech at a No Conscription League meeting in Glasgow, October 1939

For instance, recently declassified documents show British and US intelligence knew in advance about the Nazis' 1943 plan to deport Italian Jews to Auschwitz but failed to act on it (Britain 'could have saved Italian Jews' , Guardian, Tuesday June 27, 2000 ).

"The Allied War Machine did not target fascists but whole populations. War Commentary denounced ‘the wholesale destruction of cities, and the mass murder of their populations through terrorist raids’ by the RAF (September 1943). In 1943 mass strikes by Italian workers had helped bring down Mussolini; Churchill’s response was to order the bombing of the workers’ strongholds of Milan and Turin."

‘Was the ruling class which shot down the workers at Tonypandy in Wales concerned about Freedom? Or those who intervened on the side of the coal-owners against the miners in 1926? They have burned down cottages in Ireland, in India, in Egypt and in South Africa. Boys and girls of nine years have worked in the mines in India, where for demanding the right to freedom 375 men, women and children were shot at Amritsar" (John McGovern, speech at a No Conscription League meeting in Glasgow, October 1939).
The British Empire itself was an exercise in racist dictatorship across large areas of the world before, during and after the Second World War. As the Glasgow-based Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation noted In their May Day 1939 manifesto ‘Resist War!’, ‘The British Ruling Class... dictate by fascist methods to the colonial workers and peasants’ (Solidarity, May 1939).
Between the wars the RAF had frequently been used to bomb rebels in India, Iraq and elsewhere. In Iraq, 9000 rebels were killed or wounded by British forces in an unsuccessful revolt against colonial rule in 1920. Whole villages were destroyed by British artillery, and suspected rebels shot without trial. The RAF were used to machine gun villagers and to launch gas attacks, notoriously supported by Churchill who stated in 1919 that he was "strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes".
Soldiers from the British colonies played a significant role in the Allied victory, as did native resistance forces in western colonies occupied by the Japanese. Their reward was further repression at the hands of both Churchill and the post-war Labour Government."

Resistance Special: Against War (pdf)

This Armistice Day, let us remember the words of Harry Patch, Britain's last surviving soldier from World War I:

Remember the Mutineers-

11-11-2013 Remember with a Black Poppy -

How Non-violence Protects the State – Peter Gelderloos
Pacifism and Violence, a Study in Bourgeois Ethics – Christopher Cauldwell


Selective Remembrance & The Problem With Poppymania

Enough Of This Scary Militarism

The Cenotaph 2013

 The Old Lie and the Cult of Remembrance

The Poppy by David Gee of ForcesWatch -

 Morality of Remembrance-

This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time-

Poppy appeal's original aims being subverted, veterans complain-


11-11-2013 Remember with a Black Poppy

Prettifying the horrific reality of the first world war is no way to remember its victims

 On How Many British Soldiers Tried Not To Kill Any Germans (and vise versa)

Emotional blackmail brought to your home courtesy of the Royal British Legion -

 Selective Remembrance and the problem with Poppymania-

The Poppy by David Gee of ForcesWatch -

 Morality of Remembrance-

Mutinies – Dave Lamb

How did the first world war actually end? - Paul Mason

Miscellaneous Cartoons: Ernest Riebe

Anarchists before the military tribunals, 1914-1918

Fighting war: anarchists, Wobblies and the New Zealand state 1905-1925 - Jared Davidson

The Anzac Myth- Joseph Toscano

Why Blackadder Goes Forth could have been a lot funnier

 Reds and Wobblies: working-class radicalism and the state in New Zealand 1915-1925

Churchill, the Cenotaph and May Day 2000 - Practical History

Socialist cross of honor: markings of a working class counter-culture

The London transport women workers' strike, 1918 - Ken Weller

'Don't be a soldier!' The radical anti-war movement in north London 1914-1918 - Ken Weller

World War I and the demise of British feminism - Susan Kingsley Kent


No comments:

Post a Comment