ANZAC DAY – Glorifying war and empire

The annual orgy of nationalism and militarism known as ANZAC day has come around again and as usual is being used to justify our current imperialist military ventures and to whip up the patriotism of the young. Defence Minister John Faulkner gave a Dawn service speech from Afghanistan. Meanwhile over 300,000 people have joined a ANZAC day facebook page demonstrating how out of control the ANZAC “legend” has become in this country.

Defence Minister Fawkner made clear the link between ANZAC day and its role in legitimising current imperialist military when at a dawn service speech in Afghanistan he said

The Age reported that “Mr Faulkner told them that it was important on Anzac Day to remember not only those who had served in the past but also to thank the soldiers of today ''who put their lives in the service of Australia's interests''.
''The sacrifices you, your families and loved ones, have made in the service of Australia are many,'' he told the troops.
''I am, and the government is, very much aware of the dangers you face, the hardships and the long separations. On behalf of the Australian government, I thank you, as I know the Australian people thank you, this generation's heirs of the Anzac tradition, for your service and your dedication.''

The cult of the ANZAC was also on display on Facebook with over 300,000 people joining the page 1,000,000 FACEBOOK USERS HONOUR THE ANZACS "LEST WE FORGET". Which asks people to join to “In Remembrance of those who died for our country”
More pop cultural evidence of the out of control nature of Australian nationalism is the fact that Ray Martin has managed to get himself sent death threats by merely hosting a debate about whether to remove the Union Jack from the Australian Flag. See link below

A great article recently explaining how the ANZAC myth has been lovingly nurtured by Australian Government both Labor and Liberal in the last 15 years to justify current wars was recently published in the Age. Under the title “Letting go of the ANZACS” they finish their article with the following quote
“With Australians positioned as either for or against the Anzacs, the digger has once again become a divisive figure as much as a unifying one. Like the many Australians who are concerned with the homage paid to the Anzac spirit and associated militarisation of our history, we are concerned about the ways in which history is used to define and distort our national heritage and national values.
We suggest that Australians might look to alternative national traditions that gave pride of place to equality of opportunity and the pursuit of social justice: the ideals of a living wage and decent working conditions, the long struggle for sexual and racial equality. In the myth of Anzac, military achievements are exalted above civilian ones; events overseas are given priority over Australian developments; slow and patient nation-building is eclipsed by the bloody drama of battle; action is exalted above contemplation. “

The joke is that on ANZAC day we are extorted to “never forget” when the real threat to peace is that Australians are encouraged to “forget” that we are currently at war in Afghanistan and until recently Iraq. Australians soldiers are still fighting killing and dieing in the name of Empire and power. ANZAC Day serves to further the myth of the male warrior and that Australian’s interests and identity revolves around fighting foreign imperialist wars.


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Re: ANZAC DAY – Glorifying War and Empire

Noel Turnbull, adjunct professor, School of Media and Communications, RMIT University, wrote an intersting article published by crikey on The PR campaigns driving Anzac Day. Worth a read.

A couple of years ago I prepared a special ANZAC Day Critical Mass tour of significant 'Remembering War and Protesting for Peace' sites in Melbourne. You can read my extensive speaking notes or download a pdf.

Australian Imperialism - statement of Melbourne Anarchist Commun

Have Guns - Will Travel ----

Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.

---- Gallipoli ----

World War I had bogged down, and Britain was looking for a way to change the balance of forces. A landing at the Dardanelles in April 1915, followed by the taking of Istanbul, was planned to open the supply route to Russia and possibly knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The campaign was a fiasco. Tens of thousands of young men from both sides were sacrificed in a minor episode of the clash of two rival imperialist alliances. Rather than being “the war to end all wars”, WWI was a war for imperial domination, to be reprised on a larger scale twenty-one years later.

A Franchise Arrangement

Ever since the 1870s, Australian troops have been sent to help fight the imperialist wars of a great and powerful friend. Whether in a World War, a British colonial war, or one of Uncle Sam's never-ending series of wars to defend his empire, the Australian military fights in far-flung places at the side of the larger power. Almost always, the objective is to cement the alliance, since the issues at stake are rarely of direct relevance. The pay-off is that Australian capitalism is granted the imperialist franchise for the South Pacific (and now East Timor as well), where it operates without the presence of its patron.


The current war in Afghanistan is a textbook case. The United States is in a bloody conflict with a band of religious fundamentalist cutthroats, in a country which has never been a nation and has never had more than a nominal central authority. It backs a corrupt government, mostly of competing fundamentalists. In this imperialist war of occupation, Australian troops commit blundering atrocities like the killing of five children in Uruzgan province last February. In a land where most people want the foreigners gone and a peasant by day can be a Taliban by night, crimes like this are inevitable. But support the United States and to fortify the Australian alliance with Uncle Sam, the Labor Government thinks it's all worth it.

The Way Out

Imperialism is part of modern capitalism. Its wars will last as long as capitalism does and the Australian military is purpose-built to fight them. Whether it is a pointless sacrifice on a Turkish beach, or bloody murder in an Afghan village, it will continue until capitalism itself is ended - and the only way to end capitalism is through workers' revolution. Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
Leaflet handed out in Melbourne
25 April 2010

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