Today Armistice Day and the Red Poppy have little to do with honouring the dead, it's about manipulating the living.
Once again it's that time of year when one cannot walk down a high street or turn on the TV without having the Red Poppy waved in ones face.
When I was a child World War One veterans were still thick on the ground, my own grandfather one of them. It's not an exaggeration to say they were a forgotten people, and in many cases that was one of choice. Few if any wished to remember that bloody and unnecessary conflict which saw countless young men on both sides slaughtered helplessly. Indeed unlike those who fought in WW2, the attitude of these old Tommys seemed to be much like those who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Fuck king and country, we fought for each other and then if lucky we got to go home.
My own long dead Granddad regarded all politicians as shysters and from what I could gather his thoughts about WW1 were those of hatred, contempt and bitterness and not for the Germans and Turks he had fought, but for the senior officers and politicians who in some cases were interchangeable.*
One bitter cold winter afternoon, when he was ploughing a field, as I clung to the mud guard of the Massey Ferguson tractor with which he hauled the plough, he told me he had never attended a remembrance day and never would: as he had no wish to be in the company of the types who sent him and his mates to fight in a senseless war, to kill blokes much like himself.
One of the nice things about the Irish is their tradition of in death celebrating people's lives. Poppy day is a monstrosity because it does the exact opposite and celebrates death, albeit dressed up in the same type of jingoistic language which led to the slaughter of a whole generation during WW1.
It's ghoulish and undignified to allow at its centre the very same type of people, Royalty, Prime Ministers and Generals who were the donkeys which sent a whole generation of young men into the meat grinder that was WW1. And for What?
I have no wish to insult other people's beliefs and if they so choose they have every right to wear the Red Poppy, but I would suggest 'celebrating' the deaths of countless young men 100 years on in such a non inclusive way, is playing a very dangerous game. It cannot but encourage the 'war party' which governs the UK today to become embroiled in ever more military conflicts overseas.
Whether it be Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria or the Yemen, all the evidence cries out becoming involved militarily in other people's civil wars only makes a bad situation worse.
Those who propagate the Royal British Legion's poppy day use words like 'sacrifice,' 'our boys, 'the fallen.' They never ever mentioned the futility and obscenity of war. If they did I might have some sympathy with them, but they do not. What was the point of WW1, beyond the elite of the great powers squabbling and then fighting over the spoils of new markets, etc? The European great powers set the peoples of one nation against another using the most flimsy pretext and then used the most obscene propaganda to instill hatred between these nations.
This type of putrid apple never falls far from the tree.
This word sacrifice is used in this context as some sort of noble act. Perhaps someone could explain to me what was noble about going over the top at the Somme like lemmings to the slaughter. On the first day of the battle alone, 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives. This was not a noble sacrifice. It was a mass slaughter overseen by wicked politicians and organised by incompetent Generals who had placed machine guns in the rear to ensure, "every man did his duty."
Please do not misunderstand me, by saying this I mean no insult to the dead of WW1. When Alan Clark wrote they were lions led by donkeys he was spot on.
There is an element of blooding in the manner the MSM and the politicians use Poppy Day. If you refuse to 'celebrate' the blood sacrifice of countless young people in unnecessary wars, it's implied you're being disloyal, unpatriotic and the poppy fascists rage against you in the mainstream media and on social media.
Whenever these reactionaries begin to lose the argument, they wheel out WW2. True it was a necessary war, one of the few the UK State has ever engaged in. But even that necessary conflagration which left 50 million people dead came about due to the crass stupidity of those who led the victorious Allies after the end of WW1. When they refused to sign a just peace with Germany, preferring to grind the German people into the ground, they opened the door for the rise of Hitler..
Surely there must be a better, and more inclusive way of commemorating 'all of those' who have had their lives stolen in wars. As things stand today we have a hierarchy of victims, headed by and including only the dead of the UK armed forces.
* Churchill for example went from government minister to senior officer, to Government minister in the space of one year. After his disastrous fiasco of the Gallipoli landings in the Dardanelles, he morphed into a Lieutenant Colonel, returning to government as Munitions minister in 1917. Proving 'these people' have no shame.