The Guardian May 1, 2002


Warmongers exploit Anzac Day

"Now as you go forth to do your master's bloody business, in front of 
you the enemy guns, at your back the officer's pistol, remember, their 
defeat is not yours, and neither is their victory."
Bertolt Brecht: A mother to her soldier son

Re-writing history is no part-time hobby for the ruling class in Australia. 
It is an ongoing and continuous task of constantly trying to bring back 
into vogue their version of events. Since the declaration of endless war by 
George W Bush, the Murdoch press in particular has gone to the limits and 
beyond in their warmongering. Thus, Anzac Day is seen as a great 
opportunity to propagate and glorify war.

In the lead up to this Anzac Day, Gerard Henderson, of the Sydney 
Institute, pushed a specific class history of the Anzacs and WW1 in his 
feature column in the Fairfax press. I take Henderson as a starting point 
because he is not so crude and blunt as Murdoch's propagandists, but more 
sly and underhand in his approach, dressing his invidious intent in the 
cloak of the reasoned observer.

The Sydney Institute is a right wing-think tank and Henderson, as its main 
mouthpiece, has reinvented himself to a certain degree since the election 
of the Howard Government in 1996.

He has become the "moderate" voice of the extreme right: a mealy-mouthed 
apologist for the Government's reactionary policies, whilst gently 
reproofing unfortunate excesses and indiscretions (unfortunate because they 
came to light in public).

As a right-wing revivalist Henderson is a promoter, romanticiser and 
populariser of war.

In his column on April 23 he set out to show how some writers, historians 
and entertainers who had been critical of Australia's involvement in WW1 
had finally come to their senses, pulling back a little from their militant 
agitprop

Nonetheless, he means all wars that Australia has been involved in  
"...it was not always clear that most Australians would honour the fallen 
and the survivors of all Australia's military engagements in the 20th 
century."

There are two approaches to war, based on class. For the working class, 
World War 1 meant disaster and death and ruin. It was an imperialist war 
between Germany on the one hand, and Britain, France and Czarist Russia on 
the other, for the redivision of the world.

It was aimed at the seizure of the others' colonies, the plunder of 
competing countries and the weakening of the growing global workers' 
movement.

Behind the drive to war were the monopoly corporations in the developed 
capitalist countries who were scrambling to extend their control over the 
resources of the whole word. Millions of workers were conscripted as cannon 
fodder for this purpose.

As for WW2, the defeat of fascism led to new socialist revolutions in a 
number of countries and the ultimate demise of colonialism, something which 
the new world order now being pursued by the US and its supporters is 
intended to revive.

(Henderson is not so enamoured of the great victory over fascism, the 
extreme right having problems with certain aspects of the outcome of WW2, 
mainly who won).

Unlike WW2, a just war against German and Italian fascism and Japanese 
militarism, there followed dirty wars against Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, 
all with the aims of imposing various forms of colonial domination and 
defeating independence struggles and revolutionary forces.

Here again cannon fodder was required, with entire civilian populations the 
targets of the invading forces.

No one refutes the horror and waste of war, as Henderson suggests of anyone 
who has stood for peace and exposed the aims behind nationalistic rhetoric.

The fact is, Henderson's message is not the true one of remembrance on 
Anzac Day, which may be summed up with the words "Never Again". The 
warmonger's clarion calls coming from the likes of the Sydney Institute are 
more along the lines of "Embrace Death" and "War Is Good Business".

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