Politics and the Poppy….
Today’s Observer has a short, pithy and trite editorial arguing that;
There is, in that confluence of past and present, a danger that grief is itself politicised. The act of remembrance is easily subverted to patriotic pageantry or attacks on government policy.
It must be neither.
So, quite clearly a side-swipe at the Independent on Sunday which has chosen to mark the occasion by calling for a phased withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan. The Observer is totally wrong; war is a political act, initiated by politicians towards political ends. Thus, the notion that somehow political debate becomes ‘off-limits’ on an occasion like Remembrance Sunday is repugnant and antithetical to the very notion of democracy. Rather than blurring minds it should focus them on the very human cost of political decisions and provides politicians with immunity from the consequences of their decisions.
Nobody wishes to disparage the sacrifices made but it is denying debate which is the height of disparagement; it is denial of that democratic right under the veil of ‘respect’ that is most disrespectful to those remembered. We should remember and honour all those who gave their lives in World War I for example, and also remember that they did so to defend vested imperial interests and the freedom of one empire to squash another. We should remember that and say never again should lives be given away so cheaply and for so little.
So, turning to the situation in Afghanistan we have to ask this; who seriously in their right mind cannot see that once again lives are being chucked needlessly away ostensibly for ‘freedom’ or ‘security’ but in reality in the service of another, quasi-imperial ideal, that we possess the divine right to order this world as we see fit. The arrogant belief that we can and should do this; and that somehow it will solve problems like Al-Quaeda when all the evidence points in the reverse direction. The public sees this quite clearly but in our democracy the Defence Secretary; the peoples representative tells them this doesn’t matter.
Representatives of the Liberal Democrats say that if the public was better informed they would fall in-line. However, the BBC poll on the subject says 52% say they are well-informed which doesn’t bode well for that line of argument. Tellingly, 52% say that the war is not worth fighting; they are right and they, not the Observer are the ones who have remembered and learnt….