It’s Remembrance Day, which marks the biannual ritual of the media going through the usual hollow, jingoistic motions and patching together new editorials and opinion pieces from previous years, the same old talk about sacrifice and freedom and courage and blah blah blah. I don’t mean to belittle the experiences of soldiers serving in any war, but I’m getting pretty fucking tired of watching commentators attempt to wrangle WWI combatants into the paddock marked “died for our freedom.”

Australian troops weren’t dying for our freedom, they were dying for the British Empire, they would have gladly said as much, at the time they considered themselves British subjects, and the entire retarded myth was created retrospectively. I’ve ranted about this before, so I won’t bother doing it again, but I did want to comment on something I found particularly stupid. In a column by Rod Moran (who resembles a cartoonish circus ringmaster) in today’s West Australian 8-page liftout to COMMEMORATE THE TROOPS, LEST WE FORGET, HOO-RAH, he makes the completely empty assertion that “much was at stake for Australia” (literally nothing was at stake for Australia and I challenge anybody to prove otherwise), and he quotes the Australian journalist and historian C.E.W. Bean, who spent much of the war embedded with Australian troops:

“Nearly every symptom that marks the Nazi return towards international chaos and permanent war was observable in the methods of the German leaders in 1914-1918… There can be no question which side then, as today, offered most hope for humanity, of which the mass of humanity favoured.”

What a load of shit. Apparently it was as fashionable in the early 40’s as it is today to assume that Germany was the evil bad guy in World War I as well as in World War II. It was not. The German state at the time was a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government and an overseas empire; essentially a Continental counterpart to the British Empire, with both parties responsible for their fair share of reprehensible atrocities in the name of imperialism. Germany did not initiate World War I; Austria-Hungary did, and Germany was dragged along as its ally. The entire war was the result of a regional squabble that escalated due to a complex web of military alliances. This is common knowledge to anybody with a high-school level of education.

Germany fell into a whirpool of fascism and military expansionism as a direct result of its loss in World War I, with the Nazi Party exploiting the bitter sense of wounded national pride that would have instead existed in Great Britain had fortunes been reversed. Bean argued that the German people were naturally more inclined to violence, aggression and the support of a totalitarian state because he was as influenced as anybody else by the Allied propaganda and jingoism of the time. Rod Moran quotes him because it provides neat support to the DEFEND FREEEEEEEDOM theme of the West’s Remembrance Day liftout. I don’t chalk this up to mere journalistic laziness; Moran has also dabbled his toes in denying Aboriginal genocide in articles for Quadrant Magazine, the white blindfold publication edited by racist shitbag Keith Windschuttle, and I have no doubt that he truly believes this ludicrous caricature of the Hun.

Both men are peddling a view that is not only stupid but dangerous. To believe that one particular nation or race is more susceptible to becoming a fascist state, to surrendering its freedom and unleashing a hellish war, is naive in the extreme. To provide a much milder example, I have watched with dismay over the last ten years as my fellow Australians have, under the administration of John Howard, grown increasingly racist, nationalist and belligerent. It is the height of arrogance to assume that good ol’ Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking subjects of the Crown are exempt from the power of our leaders to shape our opinions and sway us towards their own goals and desires, to gently lead us down a road that culminates in war crimes or other horrific acts of barbarity. There was nothing remarkable about the German people or any other race of Europe that resulted in the foundation of Nazi Germany. Given enough time, and the right circumstances, any nation in the world can morph into a totalitarian state, and it is our duty – especially the media’s duty – to be forever vigilant against it.

Now that is something that we should never forget.

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