Anti-Conscription Celebration – 25 April, 2011

Lineup in front of IWW banner next to 8-hours monument

As in previous years – see for example on this site last year – there was a counter to the ‘official’ ANZAC Day events in Melbourne, this time taking the form of a celebration of IWW success in defeating attempts to introduce conscription during WWI. The gathering was held at the 8-Hours monument across the road from Trades Hall – which is currently adorned by banners promoting the annual Comedy Festival and this anti-nuclear one:

No-nukes banner on wall of Trades Hall

In addition to some spirited singing of, amongst other things, (a modified) “I Walk the Line”, Jeremy of IWW Melbourne read a selection of poems by Lesbia Harford, and members of MACG circulated a statement entitled “End the Anzac Myth”, the text of which
should be available soon on anarkismo.net.*

Singing "I walk the line" - text suitably modified

See also this post on Indymedia Australia referring to this and other current protests in Australia.

The IWW banner next to the 8-hours monument

The well-worn IWW banner

Another view of the lineup

By way of postscript, it may not be amiss to recall here a well-known poem by Wilfred Owen, killed in France 4 November 1918, exactly one week before the Armistice:

[text from Project Gutenberg]

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

* The statement can be found here; It runs as follows:

A Myth is Born

On 25 April 1915, ANZAC troops storm a Turkish beach at Gallipoli and are mown down by the defenders. They hung on till January 1916 before evacuating. It is an ill-thought-out attempt by the British to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War. Between 1914 and 1918, 9.6 million soldiers and 6.8 million civilians died in this clash of two rival imperialist alliances, each out to conquer territories and markets from the other. The soldiers and civilians died, not for freedom or democracy, but for the power and profits of their ruling classes. In Australia, Anzac Day has become a foundational myth for nationalism and militarism. The undoubted sacrifices of the troops are used to sanctify both the Australian military and Australia’s imperialist wars.

Militarism is Brutality

This year, Anzac Day occurs in the midst of a series of scandals involving Australian military personnel. The Skype scandal involves a female soldier unwittingly being broadcast to a group of male soldiers while having sex. This has released a flood of other complaints, some current and some from decades ago, about beatings, sexual assaults and other examples of bastardisation. Even an independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, has been drawn in. Military forces around the world are hotbeds of bastardisation; they both attract many brutes and turn many soldiers into brutes. It cannot be otherwise, since the military require not human beings but obedient killers.

Imperialism on Franchise

The United States is overwhelmingly the most powerful country in the world, with the largest economy and a military which dwarfs all others. With that power, it dominates world affairs, maintaining a world order favourable to it (though not to the same extent as in previous decades). This domination is known as imperialism. Australia supports the US in maintaining this order and, in return, gets to dominate East Timor and the South Pacific. It is effectively a franchise arrangement and the franchise fee is Australian participation in Uncle Sam’s wars across the region, regardless of either the justification or the direct relevance to the national interests of Australian capitalism.

Workers of the World, Unite!

There is an alternative, a path to peace, to a world without the violence of war and the brutality that it breeds in order to produce soldiers. As workers, we need international solidarity for the daily fight against global capitalism. Without it, we are played off against each other country by country, in an endless race to the bottom. With it, we can sweep away nationalist myths and stand as comrades across national borders. And it is this internationalism that will enable us to build a global movement and have a workers’ revolution that spreads around the globe. We can establish a world society of libertarian communism and put an end to imperialism, militarism and war. Then, and only then, can we have peace.

MILITARISM IS BRUTALITY

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

25 April 2011

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