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197 responses to “Anzac Day roundtable – what have we forgotten?”

  1. MH

    I think it is fair to say that the Korean War has a strange place in our national memory, overshadowed by the Vietnam War. Given it’s extraordinary significance in shaping the post WW2 world order, and the terrible cost of the war itself, I am glad that the PM has chosen to acknowledge it and the contribution of Australian soldiers to fighting it under the flag of the United Nations.

  2. Katz

    That governments lie about their motives for going to war.

    Therefore, soldiers don’t know the real reasons why they kill and die.

  3. Tim Dymond

    A little known fact of WWII is that in June and July 1941 Australian troops fought the French in Lebanon and Syria. The Vichy French that is. 416 Australians were killed and 1,136 were wounded.

    http://www.awm.gov.au/units/event_295.asp

    Indian and Free French were also involved in the fighting. Plenty of towns whose names are in the news at the moment also show up in the campaign.

  4. For the Fallen

    Pity Daley and the Vet have forgotten both their Pompey Elliott and their Binyan.

    Horse’s mouth, the two of them.

    One addressing the men before attack at Gallipoli – and wounded that day. The other a WWI stretcher bearer.

    Good enough for them.

  5. sg

    In amongst all the forgetting its also worth noting how close we have become to our former enemies. The day before Anzac Day Gillard was talking about closer military ties with Japan, and on Anzac Day of course many Australians will be welcomed back to Gallipoli.

  6. Link

    What have we forgotten? That war is hell. That ‘diggers’ return from the battle fields permanently scarred and live with an internalised nightmare of what they have seen and done?

    Popular culture makes shooting people look easy and fun and satisfying, but to have actually killed even one person for reasons that are completely impersonal can’t not leave a you in a state of internal chaos, confusion, lament, guilt, etc, etc…. Not sure what St Peter has to say about murderous diggers, but do know that imagining there’s seven virgins being handed on offer and a life of eternal paradise is extremely unlikely.

    Katz you’ve nailed it.

    But hey, today in commemoration of the ‘fallen’ (that is something of a put-down), we can start drinking piss at eight am, playing two-up to feed our greedy demons, get into some nasty arguments, drink some more piss, crack a few lewd jokes and then go home to the missus. Or something.

  7. Fine

    My parents were both in the defence forces in World War II. They both dislike Anzac Day intensely and see it as a day full of misplaced sentimentality and empty rhetoric. My dad’s squad used to have their reunion on an entirely different day – Caulfield Cup Eve, which was always a huge night. I don’t know why they picked that day, but both parents still treat today with disdain.

  8. Polyquats

    Perhaps we should remember that as well as the many who died for freedom and justice, many more died for the vanity of empire and the expedience of foreign policy.
    We should also remember that when we talk of ‘their sacrifice’ it is often the sacrifice ofmenby governments that has occurred.
    We should remember that there are many times in history when we have been the agressor/perpetrator in war and violence, and have no superior claim to noble motives and honourable behaviour.

    We should remember the totality of our involvement in all wars – bravery and cowardice, wisdom and stupidity, honour and betrayal, resistance and agression, hope and despair, celebration and lament.

    I agree totally with Jim Robertson about the use of the word ‘fallen’, along with all the other euphemisms we use to sugar coat the horror of war.

  9. Pavlov's Cat

    As ‘For the Fallen’ at #4 has already pointed out, ‘fallen’ is a reference to, and comes from, Lawrence Binyon’s For the Fallen, which is the source of the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ (‘They shall grow not old …’)

  10. sg

    That’s interesting, Fine. My Grandfather was in the Spanish civil war then the French foreign legion, he endured 9 years of war against fascism, but he refused to ever speak about it, he never showed his medals (kept them in a box somewhere) and never went to a memorial of any sort. I don’t think he thought very highly of the great power shenanigans of that time, or his place in them.

  11. Oz

    We should remember to ignore Jim Wallace

  12. Lefty E

    That unease with ANZAC day among many Australians is equally informed by war veterans.

    My brief thoughts on this here. http://bitemylatte.blogspot.com/2011/04/remembering.html

  13. John D

    To me Anzac Day is about my father and uncles who went to fight some serious evil during WW2. Their stories were mostly funny ones but there is enough there to realize that there must of been times when they were not completely comfortable. Defusing mines in the dark ahead of the attack on Trobuk isn’t my idea of fun.
    I never saw any signs that my father or uncles were suffering from “internal chaos, confusion, lament, guilt, etc, etc…”. I am not sure who actually killed but they were certainly in situations where people around them were being killed. My father was badly enough wounded to be in hospital for a year but the story about the incident was a funny one about his mates carefully covering the entry would while forgetting to check for the exit wound. My take here is that some stress builds strength but too much destroys.
    My childhood memory of Anzac day was that it was a celebration of empire royalism. Over the years it has changed to something more reflective – not necessarily a bad thing.

  14. Fine

    sg, I think they have a general disdain for authority and official occasions. They chose to remember in their own ways in their own time.

    But, I always wore their service medals to primary school on ANZAC Day, as did many other kids. We were each given a white, balsa wood cross with an imitation poppy and we’d write in pencil the name of a family member who’d died during a war. We’d listen to the special schoolkids service over the PA, which always seemed to be about Simpson and his donkey, and then walk down to the beach where we’d plant the crosses in the sand, and they’d eventually be swept out to sea.

  15. Nick

    #4: “The other a WWI stretcher bearer.”

    Binyan wrote For The Fallen well before he’d inspired himself to volunteer as a stretcher bearer…

  16. Nick

    {Binyon}

  17. pablo

    I’d be interested in any current opinions on the differences in ANZAC observance between Australia and NZ. I’m not suggesting there necessarily are any but IMO the RSL movement here is much more gung-ho in monopolising the procedures. Partly I think this stems from their power as a licensed community centre with gambling, something quite different from the RSA (‘A” for association) in Kiwi. Also in recent years you have had the slagging off of people like Neil James of the Australian Defence Association over issues like commitment, defence budget cuts, blue water navies, demise of the RNZAF etc,. all of which has its own critics across the ditch. My childhood memory is that ANZAC day was much more down key, but then apparently so it was in Oz a few decades ago.

  18. akn

    We tend to forget that a bayonet is a weapon with a member of the working class on either end.

  19. Pavlov's Cat

    For what it’s worth, whatever the allusion, in my view it serves to sugarcoat and romanticize grisly, painful, and often pointless deaths.

    I wasn’t necessarily defending it, just pointing out where it comes from. I’ve got what you might call evenly balanced views on this one, although I think the annual burst of indignation about the glorification of war is an oversimplification, usually by people who have never fired a shot, much less had a shot fired at them, of what’s going on when people write about it, especially people who were, like Binyon, there. (Alan Seymour finessed this question in The One Day of the Year.) I’d also ask for whose benefit said ‘sugarcoating and romanticising’ is being done. I think it’s more about remembrance than anything else, and if the deaths were grisly, painful and often pointless, isn’t that all the more reason not to forget about them?

  20. Paul Burns

    Jim wallace:
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/make-big-match-a-grand-final-replay/story-fn7x8me2-1226044458549

    Yes. He did actually say it. I might sadc the Australia my father fought for has changed too – its got the internet, they don’t try to put you in gaol for being a c commm, women have so many extra rights and obligsations its probably impossible to enumerate them, Aboriginal Australians are auromatically Australian ctizens, the descendents of some of the people he saw in Palestine and Syria have come here and some are citizens, its not unusual not to believe in God any more .. etc, etc, now a lot of these things my old man mightn’t have agreed with – but you never know he was a contrary old bugger – but when he was alive I got the impression he didn’t think the country he fought for all those years ago was going too far off the rails.
    So – fuck Jim Walla ce and his bigoted Xtan fundy bullshit.

  21. Casey

    You know, I found out that today – 25 April is celebrated as Liberation Day in Italy.

    From Wiki:

    Around 25 April 1945, Mussolini’s republic came to an end. This day is known as Liberation Day. On this day a general partisan uprising and the (Western) Allied spring offensive managed to oust the Germans from Italy almost entirely. At the point of its demise, the Italian Social Republic had existed for slightly more than nineteen months.

  22. Geoff Honnor

    “I’d be interested in any current opinions on the differences in ANZAC observance between Australia and NZ.”

    Very few IMO, pablo. Check out the NZ Herald website and Stuff NZ and you’ll see the same sort of blanket coverage of dawn sevices and parades as we have here. Julia Gillard is at ANZAC services in Korea; John Key is at ANZAC Services on the WWI battlefields in Northern France. RSA clubs have gambling just like the RSL and in both countries, the fourth verse of Binyon’s poem is recited in RSA/RSL Clubs every night and no-one who listens is under any illusion about what “fallen” means in this specific context.

    I’m sure there’s even a Kiwi equivalent of LP publishing an annual thread where people express concern about how ANZAC Day glorifies war, etc, etc, etc, etc. I don’t agree but the annual re-hashing of the ‘glorification of war’ meme has become as familiar a part of the day as the Dawn Service and Two-Up.

  23. hannah's dad

    One of the things we tend to forget is the number of Turkish people, mainly men of course, we are responsible for killing and wounding.
    Roughly twice as many Turks [Ottoman Empire]compared to those for the British Empire [and friends] were casualties.

    Wiki gives these respective casualty numbers:
    British Empire plus …… 141,029
    Ottoman Empire …… 251, 309

    Thats a helluva lot of people.

  24. Nick

    For Women

    PC #20, this is the kind of thing Binyon was writing at the same time as For The Fallen.

    How do these popular Times-published poems compare to what he wrote after going to war and experiencing it for himself? 

  25. Lefty E

    25 April is also the anniversary of the Carnation revolution which overthrew the Salazarist regime in Portugal. Leading in turn to rapid decolonisation, the end of the anti-colonial wars in Portuguese Africa, and ultimately followed by the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

  26. Lefty E

    Anyway, to put it more succinctly: not celebrating ANZAC day is also a great Australian ex-service tradition.

  27. sublime cowgirl

    For the record, I’m as shocked at Jim Wallace’s tweet as i was about ‘that’ horse one last week.

    Way more-so actually.

    I note Wallace is claiming the ‘context’ defense too.

    Sorry people. Twitter doesn’t do context.

    Christian leader sorry for Anzac tweets http://t.co/BbuxmYl via @theage

  28. John D

    Vietnam poisoned ANZAC day for a long time. All those kids who had cheered the marching soldiers returned from the war were being conscripted for a war that was rapidly becoming a conflict to decide which set of baddies were going to win. It was a war for which the official RSL was frothing because the youth of the day was unwilling to rush in on behalf of Queen and empire!!! (Didn’t matter that the empire was gone and the Queen hadn’t declared war on the Vietcong.)
    Compared with the Vietnam vets my fathers generation had it easy. They knew that they had helped defend the world from something most of us believed were truly evil, in most of the countries they fought the population was on their side and they were greeted as heroes when they returned.
    The treatment of the Vietnam vets was a disgrace. WW2 veteran Whitlam should have been sympathetic and the conservatives should have been more willing to welcome and help those who returned from a war Menzies had got us into.
    Went to Greece a fw years ago. Only had to mention that my father had fought and been wounded there and there was this outpouring of thanks. Interesting thing about Greece is that their equivalent of ANZAC day is “No!” day. It remembers the day when the Greek government said “No” to Mussolini. The Greeks suffered as a consequence but they still remember it with pride. We are not the only country that celebrates something other than a victory.

  29. Russell

    “So, on this Anzac Day, what else should we remember?”

    As suggested, all those affected. The badly wounded who came home to short, wrecked lives. The fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and girlfriends who suffered the loss for the rest of their lives.

    My father never went to any RSL function, or spoke about the war. My grandfather, the one who wasn’t gassed, did go in the ANZAC parade. He went to see his old mates, and perhaps, considering what happened to so many of them after they got back home, it was still to show that they had gone and ‘done their bit’ where others hadn’t. It was one thing you couldn’t take away from them.

    The real anti-ANZAC Day feeling was when the Vietnam War was raging. I took part in anti-war demonstrations, but I also loved to see Pop marching in the ANZAC Day parade – he was a gentle, lovely man using the day to meet old mates, and commemorate those not there.

    Remembrance Day was always sadder for me – I still take out the photos, medals and records of those in my family who didn’t come back, and think about them all, and what they must have meant to my grandparents and parents.

  30. jumpnmcar

    All i have to say is “lest we forget”.

  31. Katz

    Re the ANZAC myth and the Vietnam generation.

    Dominant during the 1960s was the masculinist myth of war as a necessary rite of passage for manhood. According to this myth, war was divorced from politics. Waging war became an admirable end in itself, regardless of the enemy.

    During the 1960s, the ANZAC myth was retooled to promote this view.

    Of course, that attitude to war displays a deep insanity that can be explained by the cultural pathology unleashed into the western world by two episodes of total war.

    The Vietnam generation — baby boomers — were the first to recognise that technology rendered nugatory the practicality of conventional war.

    And isn’t it interesting that despite constant repetition of the historical truth that conventional warfare is either impossible or hopelessly futile as a national ambition, so grows more insistent the mawkish cliches of the new, Howardite ANZAC myth?

    The Vietnam generation were correct and they continue to be correct about the toxic effects of military myths. Everyone who subscribes to Howardite myths should take a good look at themselves, remove the Australian flag cape from their shoulders, roll it up, steal quietly home and resolve never to do it again.

  32. jumpnmcar

    Katz@33
    All shit.
    I’ll leave it to others to explain, i can’t be bothered.( !@#$%)

  33. Katz

    I’ll leave it to others to explain, i can’t be bothered.( !@#$%)

    jumpnmcar fails.

    jumpnmcar bails.

  34. sg

    wow, that tweet is singularly repulsive. It shows clearly how politicized ANZAC Day is though, doesn’t it?

  35. Russell

    Katz isn’t “Waging war became an admirable end in itself, regardless of the enemy” going too far – you’ve seen from comments here that a lot of veterans never bought that idea, and neither did their families.

    But the rite of passage thing is interesting. Do young men look for some ‘proving’ experience? I know a couple of young(er) blokes at work, in their thirties, who can never hear enough about the experiences of Vietnam vets. I reckon they feel they’ve really missed out on something.

  36. Geoff Honnor

    “wow, that tweet is singularly repulsive. It shows clearly how politicized ANZAC Day is though, doesn’t it?”

    No. Pretty much it just shows how crass and bigoted Jiim Wallace is and that’s about it.

  37. Katz

    Russell, I never asserted that everyone subscribed to that idea, merely that it was a dominant idea.

    “I’ll make a man of you.” was a constant refrain during the 1960s.

  38. Geoff Honnor

    “so grows more insistent the mawkish cliches of the new, Howardite ANZAC myth”

    You’ve been down the RSL drinking rum and playing two-up Katz, haven’t you?

  39. Russell

    ““I’ll make a man of you.” was a constant refrain during the 1960s”

    I think it was a constant refrain of every decade, until the anti-war and feminist movements of the 70s made it a bit embarrassing.

    So what about all these groups of young men who now feel compelled to walk the Kokoda Track … what’s going on there?

  40. Katz

    GH, do you often mistake a dumb question for an argument?

  41. Katz

    Russell, I’m glad the 70s feminists joined in but the 60s antiwar movement beat them to it.

  42. Geoff Honnor

    “GH, do you often mistake a dumb question for an argument?”

    Ah! The one day of the year, eh katz.

  43. Lefty E

    In many ways, I suspect the larger tradition among ex-servicemen and women was personal remembrance – and suspicion of public military displays.

    Which, after all, was one of the things we were fighting against, especially in WW2.

  44. Sam Bauers

    I’d like us to remember the repercussions of the psychological damage caused by participation in war and the victims of that damage, including the returned veterans themselves and their families.

    Due to the war many of that generation of men ended up with poor mental health of varying degrees. This is still influencing subsequent generations through a hereditary deficit of mentally healthy male role models.

    This is a generalisation of course. Personal circumstances of those with veteran ancestors may vary and no offence is intended in this statement.

  45. Sam Bauers

    “So what about all these groups of young men who now feel compelled to walk the Kokoda Track … what’s going on there?”

    Searching for cultural identity and connectedness to ones lineage in a country with a dearth of cultural identity and a tradition of emotional suppression I suspect.

  46. Russell

    Sam – I agree, but I think there might be an element of wanting to prove oneself equal , in courage, strength etc, to those ‘heroes’ of the wars. Not to be a shirker.

  47. Sam Bauers

    Russell, I agree. But that’s born from the fact that our (White Australian males) only frame of reference for “manhood” is trials of war. Which is not a great position to be in culturally and as a society.

  48. Sam Bauers

    I say “only” there, but I mean “only generally acceptable”.

  49. Casey

    “I reckon they feel they’ve really missed out on something.”

    I reckon that’s why there’s been this massive increase in the walking of the Kokoda as a rite of passage for young men in this country. Although women do it too, it’s mostly young men and it seems to be a way of connecting with the spirit of Anzac or something.

  50. Casey

    Whoops, sorry Sam, didn’t read your comment. I agree with you. I knew a young guy who did it and he couldn’t quite articulate why he wanted to do it, and why he did it, but it was like he was talking about a religion of some sort.

  51. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Hannah’s Dad: yes, let us not forget the Turks.

    As at Anzac, the Ottoman defenders were too few to force the British off the beach; however, they furiously defended every inch of their soil. On the morning of 25 April 1915, out of ammunition and left with nothing but bayonets to meet the attackers on the slopes leading up from the beach to the heights of Chunuk Bair, the commander of the 19th Division, Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal, issued his most famous order to the 57th Infantry Regiment:

    I do not expect you to attack, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can come forward and take our places.

    Every man of the Ottoman 57th Infantry Regiment was killed in action and, as a sign of respect, there is no 57th Regiment in the modern Turkish army.

    Atatürk’s words give me the chills.

  52. sg

    I doubt there are many people who walk the Kokoda trail and come away thinking that war is a cool rite of passage, or that they missed out on anything. I suspect they come away thinking that shit like that is best avoided through political means …

    These kinds of things are probably important in a society becoming increasingly disconnected (through the passage of time, and the distance of modern warfare) from what war really means for a society.

  53. Sam Bauers

    Casey, can I suggest that the “spirit of Anzac” is a fabrication. An attempt to homogenise the ideals of a diverse group of people for the benefit of a nationalist agenda. For me it’s in the same bucket as “mate-ship”.

  54. Paul Burns

    Er, joining the army was also a way of making a quid, especially in 1939. There was this thing called the Great Depression.

  55. Betty Martin

    On Binyon, I’d just like to add that he wasn’t just a poet: scholar, author, museum conservator, dramatist.

    He was 45 years old and a married father of three in 1915. And he was a Quaker. If you don’t get the implications of those points in a 1914 world, look ‘em up.

    Not only was he *there*, seeing the blood and gore in the hospitals, the dressing stations, and the ambulances, he went to do his non-combatant bit twice. His “For Dauntless France” on his Red Cross service makes grim reading.

    As for the OPs other point, as far as I recall, Pompey Elliot (Major General Harold Edward “Pompey” Elliott CB CMG DSO DCM VD) did address his men on the eve of Gallipoli. He did refer to “the fallen”. He was wounded in the course of the landing the next day. He rejoined his men in June, and was active in the Battle of Lone Pine.

    War is a wasteful horror. It comes about through bad faith, ill will, ncompetence and deliberate bastardry. Sometimes the only way out is to fight. It’s a pity politicians aren’t liable to conscription. Its a bloody shame we ever let ourselves conscript youths not old enough to vote.

    But at least we’re free to remember and reflect, and without paltry swipes at those who did their best, in their own day.

  56. Liam

    The Vietnam generation — baby boomers — were the first to recognise that technology rendered nugatory the practicality of conventional war

    Katz, this was an utterly standard response to the nuclear age at all levels of debate from 1945 on. The baby boomers’ parents were having the argument at the same time as they were doing the baby booming.
    Brett Holman (if he’s about) would probably argue that the same kind of idea was prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s when it came to thinking about aerial bombardment of cities, chemical/biological warfare, and so on. And indeed, the horrors of the future war is HG Wells all over.

  57. Liam

    Also Casey & others regarding the ANZAC Cove visiting and Kokoda Track walking, I’d look for explanations far less at military history itself than at a certain group of young men’s urge to pilgrimage—it’s a very modern pilgrimage and an experience of the secular sacred in a way meaningful to Australian young men (and women) where a trip to, say, the Vatican or Canterbury Cathedral or the Ganges or Mecca is not anymore.

  58. Casey

    “Casey, can I suggest that the “spirit of Anzac” is a fabrication. An attempt to homogenise the ideals of a diverse group of people for the benefit of a nationalist agenda. For me it’s in the same bucket as “mate-ship”.”

    Well sure, Sam, I think it’s a fabrication in as much as Australian identity is an exclusive anti female, white, masculine, identity based on homoeroticism, but thats another story. I think Anzac – it’s a complex thing. It’s tied up with the making of a national identity at at time the fledgling nation needed one. And we need to look to CEW Bean and his contribution in its mythologising and how the spirit of Anzac was constructed and raised up. It’s got quite a history, but as an aside, as to the religiosity of Anzac, it really came home to me when I went to the war memorial in Sydney and looked at the original drawings for the unknown soldier sculpture. There was one where two figures (women – I don;t remember what they represented) where holding him up on either side like a christ figure.

  59. Casey

    I mean, here is the sculpture they actually went with:

    You get the idea of the christ figure?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/_autumn_leaf/225122586/

  60. Lefty E

    Here’s something to be damn proud of: the AIF wouldn’t let the British Command execute our deserters.

    It was a flat ‘no’ from, well, Melbourne actually( before the capital was Canberra).

    Fu*king brilliant. Oi! that thrice. Straya!

  61. Casey

    Yes, precisely Liam. That would be right.

  62. Russell

    Liam – yes, pilgrimage is another aspect, yet the trip to ANZAC Cove doesn’t have the element of being physically and mentally tested that the Kokoda walk does.

  63. Russell

    I haven’t been to ANZAC Cove, but the recent popularity of that seems to have another feature in all this – consumption. A marketed experience: you should have this experience – you’ll be richer for it.

  64. Mr Denmore

    Sam @55 has it right. Anzac is a classic ‘invented tradition’ – a tool used by politicians to disguise the ugly reality of war with a nationalist sheen, for conservative forces to provide a cover for an exclusionist cultural agenda and for a cynical corporate media to exploit the resulting jingoistic circus for advertising dollars. It has NOTHING to do with the suffering and loss suffered by the victims of war and everything to do with constructing self-serving myths to manipulate the gullible masses. A pox on the entire fake charade.

  65. Casey

    Can anyone else think of anywhere else in the world where young men go and do this stuff. Try to replicate and feel the conditions of the soldiers who did it for real? Put themselves through tremendously difficult conditions as a kind of pilgrimage?

    I can’t think of anywhere. Can anyone?

  66. Katz

    Casey,

    The closest equivalent I can think of is young Filipinos having themselves nailed to a cross at Easter.

  67. Liam

    But Russell the visit to ANZAC cove does seem to centre around a set of very powerful rituals—a vigil before dawn, a liminal space powerful to Australians (the beach/coastline), an ecumenical service, and the familiar military invocations of memory and death (the Last Post, the Ode, rosemary, and so on). It’s a powerful coincidence that the event is a commemoration of an amphibious attack at the same time of day.
    I can’t see the sacred-communal-ordeal of the Kokoda Track without thinking of the millions of people who walk the Hajj, or the ANZAC Dawn Service without thinking of Easter Sunday services in Christian churches. That ANZAC is referred to as a “spirit” is very very revealing, to my mind.

  68. jumpnmcar

    katz@33

    “”"Dominant during the 1960s was the masculinist myth of war as a necessary rite of passage for manhood. According to this myth, war was divorced from politics. Waging war became an admirable end in itself, regardless of the enemy.”"”

    Allways so, why single out 1960s

    “”"During the 1960s, the ANZAC myth was retooled to promote this view.”"”
    By whom? Howard?

    “”"The Vietnam generation — baby boomers — were the first to recognise that technology rendered nugatory the practicality of conventional war.”"”

    Read a history book, technology has always rendered nugatory wartime convention.As for “practicality of conventional war.What practicality ?

    “”Howardite ANZAC myth?”

    A spotlight on spin moment.

    “”"The Vietnam generation were correct and they continue to be correct about the toxic effects of military myths.”"”

    Every generation is made up of individuals , with many and varied opinions. Don’t reflect yours upon all of them.

    “”"Everyone who subscribes to Howardite myths should take a good look at themselves, remove the Australian flag cape from their shoulders, roll it up, steal quietly home and resolve never to do it again.”"”

    As i said ” All shit”

  69. Katz

    Katz, this was an utterly standard response to the nuclear age at all levels of debate from 1945 on.

    So why did Harold Holt win a Khaki landslide in 1966? This was a referendum on both Vietnam and on Conscription.

    Baby Boomers couldn’t vote yet.

    Things were different by 1969 and 1972 when many baby-boomers could vote and many of the older generations were starting to come to their senses.

  70. sg

    Maybe it’s simpler than that – some Australians like trekking, it’s physically challenging and more interesting than just looking at the scenery for a week…? (And probably a lot cheaper than many other treks)

  71. Katz

    Can anyone understand the points that jump is trying to make?

  72. jumpnmcar

    Well said Liam@68

  73. Pavlov's Cat

    So – fuck Jim Wallace and his bigoted Xtan fundy bullshit.

    Amen.

  74. Betty Martin

    Yep. Terse and on the money. He’s not going to roll over for your revisionist claptrap.

  75. Joseph.Carey

    Since when did massed public displays of ritual trump what people think and feel? ANZAC ceremonies are by definition ritualised. They need participants and observers. But that doesn’t replace the thoughts of everyone else.

    If, as Russell claims, some young men are feeling they’ve missed out because they haven’t experienced war, then aside from finding that hard to believe, I’d say they need to read a few things, such as the book that has perhaps more than others influenced young men for many generations to understand and feel enough to abhor war: Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22″.

  76. Betty Martin

    70: “why did Harold Holt win a Khaki landslide in 1966″

    Neat attempt to re-write history there. The election was a landslide but there was more to it than “khaki landslide”. Holt slick & fresh, v hoary stumbling old guard Caldwell, strong economy, plus Vietnam briefly popular. Coalition won. Big surprise.

  77. Patrickb

    @33
    Well summed up. We had family members on my mothers side who died in Flanders apparently but I don’t know who they are and as far as I know no one in the family takes out photos etc as anyone who would have known them personally is dead and I don’t find the current vogue of marching vicariously attractive or even healthy so I don’t have an incentive to metaphorically dig them up.

  78. Sam Bauers

    “an experience of the secular sacred in a way meaningful to Australian young men (and women)”

    It’s not meaningful to all Australian young men (or women) though. I find it hard to see the secular sacred past all the flag waving (and wearing). All the religious allusions around Anzac day seem to be attempting to reinforce a fragile national self-image and unity by overlaying theocratic dogma.

    This is why the thought of young people on “pilgrimages” to Anzac Cove disturbs me. It’s a glossy layer on top of a glossy layer on a giant dog turd of privilege at work in the early 19th century. I think there are better ways for young people to find personal meaning than buying into the jingoism of a previous generation’s elite.

  79. Sam Bauers

    Whoops, I mean early 20th century.

  80. Joseph.Carey

    Paul Burns, men and women didn’t join up in 1939 and after only to make a quid though yes that was a major factor as you say. There was the moral pressure, too, reaching for the ideal of masculinity, bestowed and internalised. Poor bastards.

  81. Helen

    The youths who make the “pilgimage” would claim a kind of Secular Sacred, I’m sure, but the knee-deep litter of food wrappers and Bundy cans (or whatever is the local equivalent)left behind afterward, for others to clean up, kind of gives the lie to that.

  82. paul of albury

    Russell, Casey, without wanting to take away from these pilgrims, the only way they’ll feel what the soldiers did for real is in their imagination. Their pilgrimages, be they to Anzac Cove or Kokoda lack an enemy trying to kill them. It’s insulting to think this allows them to ‘prove themselves equal’. They have everything but the experience of war. Nobody should claim visiting these places in peacetime is comparable to the wartime experience

  83. Zorronsky

    Maybe a trip to the Cove or NG is a way of being a pseudo anzac. A bit like the comments supporting Wallace “we fought and died….” Duh! I was stupid enough to believe the chant and lucky enough not to die for it.

  84. Casey

    Yeah Paul of Albury, I agree with you though. I can’t see how trekking with a guide and having a helicopter come in and get you if anything goes wrong in any way approximates any experience the diggers had. And why are they doing it? It makes the suffering of war mystical and that’s worrying. Like I asked earlier and Katz answered, where else does this stuff go on? When people nail themselves to crosses just to feel the suffering of the Christ? It’s just too weird imo.

    Something else I heard the writer, Brian Castro say. Because we cannot mourn the true wars and losses and murders at the founding of the white nation, we displace that melancholic stasis which still prevails in this nation, onto more acceptable sites of sorrow and mourning, like Anzac.

  85. Russell

    “so I don’t have an incentive to metaphorically dig them up”

    An incentive? – such a child of the times. You don’t need an incentive, just a heart.

  86. Katz

    Neat attempt to re-write history there. The election was a landslide but there was more to it than “khaki landslide”. Holt slick & fresh, v hoary stumbling old guard Caldwell, strong economy, plus Vietnam briefly popular. Coalition won. Big surprise.

    The Gallup Polls of the time indicated huge support for both the Vietnam engagement and for conscription.

    That victory doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    I notice you don’t mention conscription, which is the epitome of coercing youth into military experience “for their own good”.

    Moreover, Australians had rejected conscription in war in 1916 and 1917, yet accepted it in 1966. This electoral behaviour in 1966 is not the hallmark of a nation that had rejected militarism, masculinism, or the policy of waging conventional war.

  87. Sam

    Re Jim Wallace: Twitter really is a weapon of mass reputation destruction. He has now outed himself as just another bigoted fuckwit. And one not even with the courage to stick to his guns when the heat is on, as his half-hearted retractiobn this afternoon showed.

    No one, apart from the boganvillea who comment on the News Ltd blogs, can take him seriously now.

    Take a bow, Jim. You have fucked over your organisation, old school. Australian Christian Lobby, indeed. Uber-ROFL.

    Re fighting the French in WW2. We also fought the Vichy, although I don’t know that too many shots were fired, by sending the navy into New Caledonia, lest the French fascists thought of using that place as a place to attack Oz. Sections of the the frog establishment to this day have not forgiven Australia for this.

    And although not many Australians took part in the D Day landings, those that did would have found themselves fighting French SS units.

    The French in WW2 were like cholesterol. They had both good and bad parts.

  88. Mercurius

    @67, @85

    Casey, Civil War re-enactments are big in parts of the USA.

    I don’t get it either. Wasn’t once bad enough?

  89. Betty Martin

    Didn’t mention conscription? Yes, I did. Elsewhere.

    In 1966 the electorate tacitly let a conservative government conscript those not old enough to vote. Shameful, but they did.

    Whether that was evidence of your revisionist posturing is another matter.

    By 1969 people were already inclined to think rather differently.

    My parents both served in WW2. Neither ever marched. I found my father’s medals among his effects after they died. In their box as delivered, never worn.

    I respect their service and the loss of their friends in conflict at home and abroad. I don’t glorify war but by Christ I remember their service and what it did to them.

    I’ve never marched or worn the medals. Nor shall I. I go occasionaly, on certain anniversaries, quietly, myself, to the – - – - War Memorial to reflect and wish them and their missing friends well.

    I don’t give a fig for your revisionist claptrap or for Merkels sneering at past idioms and past service either.

  90. Razor

    I forgot the hip flask of Rum this morning.

    On a less flippant note, I strongly disagree with the notion that Korea is the forgotten war. The reason the veterans call it the forgotten war because after the all consuming conflagration of WWII, the action in Korea was seen by many WWII vets as nothing to get arced up about. This meant the Korean War veterans felt not dissimilar feelings to those of the Vietnam Vets due to their rather shabby traetment by the RSL of the time. Now they are venerated.

    Within the Australian Army, the 3rd Battalion (Parachute), The Royal Australian Regiment, is highy regarded due to it’s Parachute volunteer status. Many SASR and Commando soldiers start out there. The Battle of Kapyong is studied in military history lessons at both RMC Duntroon and the Intermediate Staff Course at the Land Warfare Centre, Canugra. And if you are fortuante enough to be at Canungra for ANZAC Day the Vets come and give a presentation on the Battle and you do ANZAC Day with them. There is also a Company at Duntroon named Kapyong Company.

  91. Sam

    I learnt all about the Korean War by watching reruns of M.A.S.H. It didn’t feature in the teaching of Australian history when I was at school.

  92. David Irving (no relation)

    Razor, while people with military service are aware of the Korean war, I think the general community has forgotten it (or never knew about it to start with). I’d never heard of Kapyong before I joined the army.

  93. Katz

    I don’t give a fig for your revisionist claptrap or for Merkels sneering at past idioms and past service either.

    Shorter Betty, “I don’t know what “revisionist” means.”

  94. Razor

    I think it is marvellous that so many want ot go to ANZAC and Kokoda.

    As much as you can read about what the terrain is like, until you actually go and physically see just how physically grueling the effort is to just get up and down the terrain with modern boots and equipment, you cannot understand what was achieved. Even without a hidden enemy hell bent on killing or maiming you, most people need to push themselves to physical and mental places they have never been. And from this experience you gain a greater understanding of what living is really about.

    While Gallipoli doesn’t have quite the same level of physical and mental effort as the Kokoda Track, it still has an almost unique harshness to the terrain. Looking up from the beach at the steep gullies and reentrants that would have had wire and machine gun fire and shrapnel shells exploding down them. Visiting those locations such as the Nek – where the trenches were less than 30m apart – brings to life for many the stark realities of war and the tremendous feats of arms that the soldiers there achieved.

    To those who mock it, criticise it, and fail to understand it I feel a deep sadness for you.

    This morning I took to 19 Year old German girls to the Dawn Service and parade. They said they wish they had something like it.

  95. Razor

    @93 – we are not alone as a Nation.

    The two German girls I took to the Dawn Service this morning has never heard of Erwin Rommel, Tobruk – in fact almost zero knowledge of Germany’s military history.

  96. fmark

    Casey @85:

    Something else I heard the writer, Brian Castro say. Because we cannot mourn the true wars and losses and murders at the founding of the white nation, we displace that melancholic stasis which still prevails in this nation, onto more acceptable sites of sorrow and mourning, like Anzac.

    Could you extrapolate on this, or provide a link to Castro on this topic?

  97. Sam

    They said they wish they had something like it.

    This kind of thing tends to be discouraged in Germany, for obvious reasons. What are they going to commemorate? Stalingrad?

  98. Russell

    “To those who mock it, criticise it, and fail to understand it …

    Razor, I don’t think anyone is mocking those trips, but I think there are a lot of aspects to it, a lot to understand.

    I’d never heard the word Kapyong before today. I think in Perth we have a separate Vietnam War Memorial, but I don’t know of a separate Korean War Memorial – is there one Razor?

  99. Sam

    The problem with these Kokoda walks is that the organisers let the unfit and unhealthy do them, which is a really bad idea. People have died.

  100. Adam

    I think Liam has pointed to the aspects of this that make any gesture to historical facts an inadequate answer to the phenomenon of Anzac commemoration. We can be asked again and again to remember uncomfortable truths about the past, but memory is not always amenable to such requests.

  101. Razor

    @98 – yes, the spectre of nazism is a real problem. However, they are now part of NATO, flew missions in Kosovo and are in Afghanistan. Apart from WWII, they deserve a commemoration.

    @99 – I am not aware of a specific Korea Memorial in Perth, although all the major ones include Korea as one of the wars remembered.

    The Vietnam Memorial is in synergy park at Kings Park and is a is really worth a visit. The playground there has to be one of the best in Perth.

  102. Sam

    Apart from WWII, they deserve a commemoration.

    Really? WWI? Prussian militarism was a blight on the world.

  103. Liam

    I can’t see how trekking with a guide and having a helicopter come in and get you if anything goes wrong in any way approximates any experience the diggers had. And why are they doing it? It makes the suffering of war mystical and that’s worrying

    Casey, I disagree with Razor in this, in that I don’t think most participants *are* trying to approximate the experiences of the AIF in the Gallipoli or in the New Guinea campaigns, any more than Catholics (for instance) are trying to approximate the experiences of the Apostles in first-century Judea by sharing the Eucharist of a Sunday morning. They’re a set of communal rituals, and whether it’s worrying that war-suffering is thereby made mystical and secular-sacred, it does put it (relatively) beyond partisan politics—as Jim Wallace has just discovered.

    This morning I took to 19 Year old German girls to the Dawn Service and parade. They said they wish they had something like it

    I happen to be glad they don’t. And I can think of one country in the Middle East whose citizens would be much more offended than I would be by a set of German rituals comparable to ANZAC.

  104. Razor

    @100 – participants are well warned of the rigors and provided with recommended training programs. Where does personal responsibility end? Do you expect tour operators to run some sort of fitness test at the start?

    Apart from being killed by a jealous husband at the age of 95, or dropping dead on the bike after a victorous sprint age 95, I can’t think of a much better way to go out.

  105. Charlie

    Razor@95: “Visiting those locations …. brings to life for many the stark realities of war… To those who mock it, criticise it, and fail to understand it I feel a deep sadness for you.”

    I think the sadness is with those who have to travel to such places to celebrate the blood in the ground.

    As an aside, has anyone ever looked though the list of occupations for the 500+ blokes killed in Vietnam? Interesting reading.

  106. Razor

    @85 – I believe you either do not understand the rigors of the walking the Track, even in this day, or are wilfully misrepresenting what walking the Track entils. Every civilian I know who has done it says it is the hardest physical and mental thing they have ever done and has lead to an immense revision of how they think about both what was achieved by veterans but what is asked of service personell in the ADF.

    I am continually pleasantly suprised by the numbers of young females walking the Track.

    I have no desire to do it because I have done enough km’s carrying packs up and down hills to have a partial understanding of what Kokoda is about. I hate carring a pack and walking. I don’t camp for relaxation either.

  107. Razor

    @106 – “celebrate the blood in the ground”

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    That is called “verballing’ wher eI come from.

    Care to give some evidence of the celebrating you refer to?

  108. Liam

    We can be asked again and again to remember uncomfortable truths about the past, but memory is not always amenable to such requests

    Yes, Adam! Obviously what I’m arguing is informed by Ken Inglis’ book which I haven’t read for too long.
    What I think is absolutely critical to remember about the current practice of ANZAC is that, except in the cases of veterans, widow/ers and ex-servicemen/women, it’s not an exercise in individual memory of war or loss—it’s a communal remembering and commemoration which isn’t dependent on an informed knowledge of the Australian military past. Many people do read up, and good for them, but it’s not necessary to the day, which is increasingly universal and encompassing of participation in a secular-sacred event (in a way, incidentally, that a decent military could and should never be, that is, involving young children).
    Moreover I’ve spoken to friends of mine who’ve served in the military, and it’s obvious that ANZAC to them means something institutional and significant in a far more embodied way than it does to someone like me, who’s never been a soldier (and unless things go very wrong in the next 20 years never will be). That’s right, and the way it should be.

  109. Charlie

    Razor, I wasn’t talking about anyone having a party.

  110. Razor

    A very incisive summary, Liam. As an Atheist, it is my one religious day of the year.

  111. Charlie

    Aside, but relevant. Did I read in weekend papers that Australia presently has around 1500+ ADF personnel in Afghanistan. That seems about the same as the stated figure for the commitment we had in Iraq. What is that French saying for the more things change, the more they stay the same…

  112. Pavlov's Cat

    I can’t see the sacred-communal-ordeal of the Kokoda Track without thinking of the millions of people who walk the Hajj

    Yep — I was thinking of the Camino de Santiago, which people often do as some sort of personal test, as they do with Kokoda. I’m with Razor on this one, I can understand the impulse perfectly well. I also don’t think people should underestimate the power of the spirit of place. Sometimes you really do need to be there.

  113. Liam

    The Camino de Santiago, which my parents have partially walked, also involves lots of red wine, grilled seafood and vegetables, and tourism through a beautiful landscape. That doesn’t take away from its genuine religious appeal. Is it a Protestant thing, that pilgrimage has to be unpleasant?

    I also don’t think people should underestimate the power of the spirit of place. Sometimes you really do need to be there

    A sensitivity to place and respect for one’s ancestors is something ANZAC shares with Aboriginal communal spirituality and memory. As many, many, others have noted.

  114. Tyro Rex

    The other day in the course of my research I happened to read Horace Odes 3.2, the one that has the famous line 13: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (it is sweet and fitting to die for the fatherland), which Wilfred Owen names as “the old lie” in his equally famous 1918 poem. And what a work the original ode is, too. Youth needs the rigour of military service and that sort of thing.

    However I just want to back up what Liam is saying – it is our new secular semi-religious (spiritual) day. As long as it remains solemn, I don’t have a problem with that. I think we need more solemn, non-religious rituals in our society, just as long as singular, totalising narratives such as the sort of thing that Howard appeared to want to impose don’t become the dominant theme. We ought to recognise that these are mythologies we are making; and I use plural deliberately. It doesn’t have to mean the one thing to all people and maybe that’s what we need to recognise.

    But personally, as an ex-serviceman, the day means little to me. My father, who served in New Guinea, never went to a march.

    BTW, Sir Roden Cutler VC KCMG etc earned his decoration for valour, and lost his leg, fighting the Vichy in the Lebanon.

  115. Paul Burns

    Liam @ 114,
    Yeah. Only Catholics know how to have fumn on a pilgrimage. We’ve been doing it for so much longer. :)

  116. sg

    I know it won’t happen, but I can imagine a way in which a German commemoration at Stalingrad would be good for both nations. Like the way that the remains of the Japanese midget submariners were returned recently to Japan. It would be infinitely preferable to Hitler-worshippers having to be banned from Eagle’s nest (or whatever that place was called).

    Maybe, in fact, our willingness to commemorate these events – especially the flawed events, like Gallipoli – is part of the reason that we’re able to have close relationships with countries like Turkey and Japan. My experience of attitudes towards Japan – which are generally pretty shit – is that Australians are much closer to the Japanese than Americans or Brits, despite Japan being the closest and most powerful image we have of WW2. Perhaps our approach to Anzac Day is part of that?

    I had a colleague travel the Kokoda trail, and he lost a lot of weight on it. He said it’s the hardest thing he’s ever done. I don’t think opening the Kokoda trail to these tours has somehow been a PR triumph for war.

  117. Nick

    Betty Martin @ 57:

    “Not only was he *there*, seeing the blood and gore in the hospitals, the dressing stations, and the ambulances, he went to do his non-combatant bit twice. His “For Dauntless France” on his Red Cross service makes grim reading.”

    He was *not* there when he wrote that poem.

    And yes it is. Some passages:

    Sometimes a mere trickle ; but at other times, after the
    bombardments and assaults, it swells suddenly like a river
    in spate. But no, let us eschew metaphors like these.
    They are callous, they blunt our senses, they blur the reality ;
    they are too like that talk of * human material ‘ that the
    German High Command affects, with its proud military
    science and its bestial contempt of human kind. Enough
    of metaphors, though we fly to them for help because our
    minds are overwhelmed by the weights of uncalculated
    numbers. Let us fix our minds on the truth that of all
    these thousands and hundreds of thousands — material
    shovelled into the trenches as good ‘ stopping-stuff,’ let
    Germans call them if they will — each one is a single soul, a
    single body, sensitive to pain as you or I. Each one that
    returns from those trenches is a man returning from hell.

    It was absolute desolation. The bones of the horses of a gun-
    team lying beside the wreckage of a gun ; skulls of German
    soldiers, fallen in battles of the spring, picked clean by the
    birds ; boots, still casing flesh, sticking up from the earth
    that had buried a man ; all kinds of pitiable, moulder-
    ing wreckage made a region of pestilential ruin. In such
    charnel scenes were stationed the Postes de Secours, where
    the English ambulance drivers waited for their cars to fill
    with wounded, in dug-outs where the rats disputed posses-
    sion with them, sometimes * as large as puppies.’

  118. Nick

    (does)

  119. Betty Martin

    Bah. Did I say he was? No.

    Binyon matched his action to his words. Repeatedly.

    Try to smear over that.

  120. Casey

    “A sensitivity to place and respect for one’s ancestors is something ANZAC shares with Aboriginal communal spirituality and memory. As many, many, others have noted.”

    Cool, my friend, let’s talk. It doesn’t. Aboriginal ontology is something totally different.

    First to Gary Foley’s latest status update of Facebook: “Mindless memorialising of meaningless military madness is not my cup of tea”

    Right.

    Now let’s move onto Alex Miller, Journey to the Stone Country. The two central characters – one white, one Black – are having an argument about white historical artefacts (an old white homestead property about to be drowned to make a dam) and whether it should be remembered and conserved versus Aboriginal artefacts (the stone country of the book). Listen to Bo, the Aboriginal character on the white memorialisation of land:

    “It’s just the past…this stuff’s done with.”

    When she (Annabelle) suggests the homestead rates alongside Aboriginal land and memory, “What about the stone labyrinths at the head of Verbena Creek that you told me about? The playgrounds of the old people? You want to preserve them, don’t you? The memory of them. They’re the past aren’t they?

    This is what Bo says:

    “That stone ground isn’t the past. Them stones are there for the future…them stones don’t mean no less to the Jangga people today than they meant the day they were put there…we don’t need a date for when they were put there…dates don’t prove nothing…This place (the homestead) is all dead and dried up…You can see that just looking at it…but Im telling you them playgrounds is different to this stuff and I’m telling you they are different…” JTSC 176-77

    That is, the past lives, is alive, has been, will always be. Totally different to white remembrance. There is no need to have religious ceremonies on its passing cause it’s still here.

    On that note, I have to go now, do some work and stuff.

  121. Casey

    Fmark, no I can’t as it was at a talk he was giving. They were not his exact words, but that was the sentiment. But from the link below:

    “Judith Butler suggests that the nation state ‘cultivates melancholia’ amongst its subjects. She follows on from Freud in suggesting that ‘a verdict of reality’ must occur for melancholia to be transformed into mourning . This includes a process of rage against the lost love object, in this case the founding myth of ‘White Australia’ and the acknowledgement of what is unspoken – the displacement of indigenous people. Jacques Derrida, cited in Butler, suggests that ‘mourning is the affirmative incorporation of the Other’; Butler goes on to suggest that only by ‘absorbing the other as oneself does one become something at all’ (196). These theoretical positionings offer a way out of racial melancholia. In the work of Brian Castro one sees the little stories behind the master-narratives that challenge and undermine the discourse of the white nation. Castro’s Chinese-Australian historical fiction addresses transgenerational trauma and stages challenges and resolutions to it.”

    And there is a whole paper on Castro’s melancholia in his work here too, which is very interesting:

    http://www.australianliterarycompendium.com/journal/journal2.html#hp

  122. John D

    Katz: I have a rusted on tribal ALP friend who voted for the Libs at one point in thew sixties. She thought at the time that you couldn’t trust a nutter like Calwell to lead the country in the unsettled world of the time.
    The Vietnam war was a response to the WW2 “lesson of Czechoslovakia” – that concessions simply led to more threats. When Kennedy got the US more involved in Vietnam the communists had been advancing steadily all over the world and the perception was that once they took over they were there for good. We tend to forget that part of the attraction of Kennedy was his willingness to take the fight up to the communists.
    It was conscription both here and in the US that really got the baby boomers agitated against Vietnam. That and the way that the war was descending into a WW1 type mess where the generals kept on throwing more young men into the slaughter without any signs of a strategy that might lead to success.
    Vietnam has always made me cynical of the “LESSONS OF HISTORY” and the claim that we must study history if we are to avoid the mistakes of the past. It is just too easy to misunderstand the lessons or apply them to quite different situations. I doubt that there are many modern historians who still believe that a miracle would have occurred if the UK had declared war over Czechoslovakia.

  123. Liam

    Fair enough, Casey, I’m convinced.
    (Although Gary Foley’s position is the very traditional old-Left response to war and militarism, which in the context of ANZAC day is as old as ANZAC day.)

  124. Casey

    Fmark, not I can’t as it was at a talk he was giving. They were not his exact words, but that was the sentiment. But from the link below:

    “Judith Butler suggests that the nation state ‘cultivates melancholia’ amongst its subjects. She follows on from Freud in suggesting that ‘a verdict of reality’ must occur for melancholia to be transformed into mourning (191-92). This includes a process of rage against the lost love object, in this case the founding myth of ‘White Australia’ and the acknowledgement of what is unspoken – the displacement of indigenous people. Jacques Derrida, cited in Butler, suggests that ‘mourning is the affirmative incorporation of the Other’; Butler goes on to suggest that only by ‘absorbing the other as oneself does one become something at all’ (196). These theoretical positionings offer a way out of racial melancholia. In the work of Brian Castro one sees the little stories behind the master-narratives that challenge and undermine the discourse of the white nation. Castro’s Chinese-Australian historical fiction addresses transgenerational trauma and stages challenges and resolutions to it.”

    And there is a whole paper on Castro’s melancholia in his work here too, which is very interesting:

    http://www.australianliterarycompendium.com/journal/journal2.html#hp

  125. Jess

    Pablo@18 and Geoff@23: I’m not sure whether ANZAC day in NZ contains all the jingoistic bullshit that we get on this side of the Tasman, although now that Fairfax owns all our papers I can see it spreading.

    Growing up there I don’t remember much of the sort of media coverage that we get now. And although we got fed the line about NZ being created on the shores of Anzac Cove, the idea of pilgrimage to Gallipoli or Kokoda wrapped in an Australian flag is definitely something that is foreign to NZ youth – this seems to be a completely Australian ritual. Friends from NZ are baffled as to why it gets so much airtime over here.

    My next-door neighbour, who was like another grandfather growing up, never used to talk about WWII at all, although he would discuss plane design with me at length (he served in the RAF). He never took part in the parades, although he was a member of the RSA.

    That said, NZ still has debates every year about whether our national day should be shifted to ANZAC Day cause those bloody murries have taken over Waitangi Day. So we’re clearly not immune to such sentiment.

  126. Katz

    The Vietnam war was a response to the WW2 “lesson of Czechoslovakia” – that concessions simply led to more threats. When Kennedy got the US more involved in Vietnam the communists had been advancing steadily all over the world and the perception was that once they took over they were there for good. We tend to forget that part of the attraction of Kennedy was his willingness to take the fight up to the communists.

    It was Johnson who introduced ground troops into Vietnam, not Kennedy.

    Indeed, in the last weeks of his life, Kennedy actively sought means for removing even the US “advisers” from Vietnam, a plan that suffered a U-turn on the Stemmons Freeway. Kennedy’s withdrawal plans met with strident opposition from the Intel and military communities in the US.

    The Australian government played its part in helping Johnson make up his mind to garrison ground troops in Vietnam. Johnson probably would have done it anyway but the Australian government enthusiastically courted US government support for ground troops in Vietnam. Alan Renouf, who was stationed in the Australian Embassy in Washington at the time, tells this story well in “The Frightened Country”.

  127. Ute Man

    Forgotten battles? Hard to go past the battle of Ambon. Australia reinforced the Dutch forces on Ambon when they perceived the Japanese might use the island as a staging point for further Pacific (heh) expansion.

    Lots of losses there – a lot in prison camps that weren’t Changi and in a lot of ways much worse than that.

    I think, politically, Korea is now pretty safe for us to start eulogising, but because of the odd relationship the Indonesians had with the Japanese (welcomed by some as liberators from Dutch colonialism) we won’t be touching it any time soon I think.

    Wiki entry for Ambon

    (and yes, we have a relative whose body is still there – the perils of signing up early in that first flush of patriotism meant some very inexperienced soldiers that made up Gull Force came up against the much more experienced japanese army with predictable results)

  128. FMark

    Cheers Casey!

  129. Paul Burns

    Ute Man,
    I think there is a book on Ambon etc. I haven’t read it but I do recall its existence. I think its called The Forgotten War; or The Final Campaigns; or something like that. It came out about twenty years ago.From memory it got quite good reviews.

  130. Paul Burns

    Re booka.
    While there are inummerable books on Gallipoli and Kokoda, and the North African/Greek campaigns have been well treated in the official histories and some general histories like Horner’s High Command. when you look about there doesn’t seem to be a lot on North Africa, Syria and Greece. About three books on Greece and Crete, one just out on the Battle of Bardia,nothing I can think of on Syria. This impression may be wrong sasd it derived from browsing bookshops, not consulting a bibliography or my own reading.

  131. Nick

    “Try to smear over that.”

    Who’s trying to smear over anything or anyone?  As you say, the idioms and euphemisms of 1914 were the idioms and euphemisms of 1914.  

    But when you hear a politician or news presenter…or maybe the voiceover guy for the promotion of the Channel 9′s upcoming 2011 drama series, slow and hush to almost whisper ‘the fallen’ (while the song “You Were Amazing, We Did Amazing Things” repeats and intones in the background)…

    Geez, that pisses me off. I’m hardly surprised to find out it pisses off a lot of ex-service people.

  132. harleymc

    My Grandparents’ generation fought on both the British Imperial side and the German Imperial sides during WWI.
    I’ve yet to see a documentary about Australians seeking out the war hero ancestors from any of our national conflicts where the combatants fought for the ‘enemy’. This part of our national identity is routinely expunged.

  133. sg

    your grandfather was a truck?

  134. Fran Barlow

    Razor said more than he probably intended here:

    This morning I took to 19 Year old German girls

    Perhaps he meant two 19 year old German girls …

  135. Casey

    Wait. Let me get this right. Robert Merkel is part truck and Razor takes to 19 year old German girls.

    Man, this is getting as bad as http://damnyouautocorrect.com/

  136. Mr Denmore

    Regarding the ‘pilgrammages’ to Kokoda and Gallipoli, I’m not sure anyone has mentioned the commercial aspect.

    These tours exist partly because business operators are seeking to exploit vague longings among young consumers for an ‘authentic’ overseas experience that completes their adolescent search for identity without stretching themselves too far.

    It’s Disneyland for oi-oi twentysomethings – a must-do experience to cross off their assumed rites of passage before they resume their largely unrerflective petit bourgeois lives in the suburbs. In five years, they’ll be regaling their young Jaidons and Taylors about how they discovered their true blueness at Anzac cove – and so the myth becomes ever more kitsch with each passing generation.

    At bottom, it’s your market economy at work again – creating pre-paid and sanitised theme park experiences for people who don’t read.

  137. David Irving (no relation)

    Indeed, Mr Denmore. “Lest we forget” the mounds of empty Foster’s cans at Anzac Cove.

  138. Joe

    I think that because of the number of Australians who had a relative who fought on the Kokoda track and because it was such a terrible experience that they want to go there and experience it, so as to help them understand what it was like. It’s similar to the desire that one has to see the house of one’s childhood, etc. For many Australians the Kokoda track has something to do with their family/ personal identity.

    As for the remembrance of the soldiers which fought in Australia’s wars, I don’t think there is anything wrong with paying respect to these people’s sacrifice. These were large events of national significance, if only from the point of view of the number of Australian deaths which these wars resulted in.

    Of course we can be critical about some of the aspects of Anzac day, but in general it serves an important national function. I don’t think there’s much point in railing against nationalism in itself: Nations exist and they have important functions.

    And the personal aspect is also not to be forgotten. Remembering people who fought and died fighting in the name of our country is actually a very important thing for people to do. We don’t have to idolise the military in order to dwell on the history and the sacrifices of our country.

    And finally, these kinds of days don’t necessarily have to exclude other issues and events of national significance.

  139. Joe

    In fact the piles of empty beer cans etc. have more to do with the consumer culture than Anzac day. It’s a syndrome of broader cultural significance than Anzac day. In fact, I think that national days that can cause people to reflect on the principles of their nation and their role in the national society are an opportunity to remind people that they are not just here for their own self-interest.

  140. FMark

    Joe, that might be the case, but consumer culture does not explain why ANZAC day is especially associated with drinking. Drinking starts early on ANZAC day and is part of the event itself (see for example Ralph magazine).

  141. Russell

    “ANZAC day is especially associated with drinking”

    What isn’t associated with drinking in Australia? Football? Buck’s nights? , New Year’s eve etc etc. My grandfather went to the ANZAC Parade, but he didn’t drink.

  142. Adam

    Noting that these experiences have been commodified does nothing to challenge their significance. Nor is it evidence for them being equivalent to ‘Disneyland’.

  143. Lefty E

    Must say, if there was a major series of memorials to the indigenous warriors who fell in defence of their land, Id be less turned off by the whole ANZAC day deal. But they’d probably just be defaced. We’re not too interested in remembering those brave Australians.

  144. Phillip

    Re comment no. 53 by Down and Out in Saigon:

    Ataturk also said,

    “Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

    I would feel a little sorry for anyone who was not moved by that quote, and the sentiment expressed by it, and it says a lot about the people of Turkey in general, that those words are carved in stone, to honour those who once invaded their country.

    Yes, the war was a terrible waste, yes, lives were ruined, yes, we still pay a price, but is one day a year too much to at least honour the memory of people who believed they were doing the right thing, in the context of their own times?

  145. Lefty E

    Which just makes it all seem like memorial apartheid to me.

  146. Katz

    Yes LE,that silence is interesting.

    American popular culture acknowledges the Indian Wars. Indian warriors’ names are still famous worldwide.

    In Australia, Windschuttle and his ilk deny Aborigines the dignity of violent resistance to invasion.

    However, when our Victorian forebears viewed images like this, they knew what they were looking at — organised, systematic, violent clearance of Aborigines organised by the State. And most thought it was A Good Thing.

    It takes a special kind of self-delusion to deny the fact of frontier war.

  147. Lefty E

    Yes, the US made then invariably breached treaties – rather than absurdly declare terra nullius as here – the impact was much the same. But as you say, at least they didn’t pretend there was no resistance.

    Nor did our forebears, as your picture highlights. Its a curiously Antipodean trick.

    Again, whats the difference? All brave Australians defending their land – if anything, the black ones more obviously so, compared to WW1 anyway. And yet celebrating one is semi-mandatory nationalism, the other completely unthinkable in 21st century Australia.

    I have to be clear here: I dont oppose ANZAC day per se. But why cant black Australians have the same public respect paid to their dead warriors? Serious question.

  148. Labor Outsider

    “It’s Disneyland for oi-oi twentysomethings – a must-do experience to cross off their assumed rites of passage before they resume their largely unrerflective petit bourgeois lives in the suburbs. In five years, they’ll be regaling their young Jaidons and Taylors about how they discovered their true blueness at Anzac cove – and so the myth becomes ever more kitsch with each passing generation.

    At bottom, it’s your market economy at work again – creating pre-paid and sanitised theme park experiences for people who don’t read.”

    You do know that it is this sort of crap that gives the left a bad name don’t you? The disdain is completely unnecessary and reveals more about how little you understand the lives and motives of a large number of your fellow Australians than it does about those you are sneering at. It is possible to critique the ANZAC tradition, or aspects of it, without the condascension towards those for whom it does mean something. Many young people that I know that have travelled to ANZAC cove or to the battlefields in Europe are not jingoistic about it. They love their country and simply want to pay their respects and connect in a deeper way with a generation of men and women that were called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

  149. zoot

    My great uncle had half his head blown off (according to a witness) at Passchendaele. He didn’t “make the ultimate sacrifice”; he was slaughtered, his life cut short.
    His brother (my grandfather) died 50 years later from shrapnel acquired when he was blown up at Pozieres.
    My father served in WWII. When he died at the age of 87 his coffin was covered with the flag, as was his due, but he resolutely rejected the recitation of the Ode for him.
    I honour the memory of these men and their service by not draping the flag around my shoulders.

  150. sg

    I agree with LO here, sneering at people who go to a memorial because they don’t observe the same formalities as you is pretty cheap.

    Also, I’m willing to bet that the route of the Hajj is pretty messy with discarded consumer goods. Anyone been to the Great Wall and looked over the “mongolian” side? Or been downstream on Hiroshima Day? The lanterns are beautiful, but someone has to fish them out of the river, and they aren’t so pretty after a few hours of getting waterlogged.

    These are cheap shots, being used to push an agenda. They aren’t actual comments on the issue at hand.

  151. Joe

    It’s important and good to be critical and skeptical, but you also need to have principles, which are actually prerequisite to the goodness of being critical and skeptical.

    Principles, however, require effort and nurturing and positive communication. They are cultural artefacts, for want of a better description, and not given. Many of Australian’s principles, I would argue, are and have been transmitted through out sporting culture: concepts like, the fair go, having a go, team play and even excellence are reinforced every weekend in the context of playing and watching sport. This is probably due to a quirk of fate related to our nation’s history– our intimate historical relationship with the British Empire and our lack of other cultural forms from which to draw from. In any case this isn’t a defence of the culture of sport but a discussion about society’s need for rituals and indeed monuments which reinforce it’s principles and beliefs.

    Australia is mature enough to be able to do this explicitly, as saying sorry to the stolen generations or the Redfern Speech make clear. Perhaps we need a new form for the current generation, if sport and the Anzac parade are no longer appropriate? Not that one needs to succeed the other, these things just accumulate over time. It is perhaps, from this perspective, especially unfortunate that we decided to retain the monarchy a few years ago…

  152. Incurious and Unread

    At the ANZAC ceremony in my country town, a boy from the local high school made a speech. It was questioning the reasons for war, whether it was really about protecting Australia or just about the ruling classes protecting their lands, oil or religion. It was respectful too, of course. Respectful but questioning.

    He even got in the line “War! What is it good for?”

    Amazing. Our ceremony is usually very conservative. (Last year, the RSL guy got in a dig about refugee boats.) But the kid got a good round of applause and no snidy comebacks from the organisers. Things are changing, if slowly.

  153. Fine

    We also tend to forget the indigenous servicemen and women who fought for a country which they weren’t even a citizen of.

    I recommend Richard Frankland’s film ‘Harry’s War’ which is about this.

    I’ve always thought the Turkish people extraordinarily generous in allowing us to commemorate ANZAC Day in their country. We were the invaders, after all and this seems to be forgotten.

    Even though the day doesn’t mean much to me and, as I wrote above, my parents dislike it for the sorts of reasons outlined by Lefty E, I also think it’s wrong to caricature those people who go to Anzac Cove as unthinking bogans. All tourism is part of ‘consumer culture’ whether it be trekking the Camino Way, or eco-tourism somewhere. Criticising it on that basis is just wrong-headed. I agree it reflects badly on the Left when we use these sorts of cliches to describe people in such a contemptuous way.

  154. ChrisB

    Things we forget;
    - in WW1,there were two things that everybody (Hemingway, Graves, even Bean) commented on about the Diggers; one, they were very good soldiers;two, they shot their prisoners. I’d like to see the War Memorial devote a paragraph to that.
    - Australia has never prosecuted one of its soldiers for war crimes. Ever.

    I’m not saying, obviously, that the Diggers were nothing but war criminals; I am saying we’ve bleeped out an awful lot about them.

  155. Russell

    “But why cant black Australians have the same public respect paid to their dead warriors? Serious question.”

    Because they are such a small proportion of the population? Because they weren’t recorded in casualty lists?
    Because the events weren’t of ‘epic’ numbers?

    I wonder if more people bothered to do their family trees, and discovered an Aborigine in there, there would be more interest and empathy …..

  156. Sam

    regaling their young Jaidons and Taylors

    I think you will find, Mr Denmore, that the female issue of these people are named Tayla not Taylor.

    Apart from that, you’ve nailed it.

  157. Paul Norton

    Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame once explained that he was moved to write “Brothers In Arms” after reflecting on his Scottish maternal grandfather and Hungarian-Jewish paternal grandfather, who fought in WW1 in the British and Austro-Hungarian armies respectively, and in particular reflecting on the fact that if they had ever fought on the same front a well-aimed bullet from either of them could have meant that there would be no future grandson Mark. I have a friend of mixed French and Croatian background who could probably reflect similarly on what might have transpired had two or more of her ancestors fought on the same front in the Great War.

  158. adrian

    “You do know that it is this sort of crap that gives the left a bad name don’t you?”

    Yes indeed – telling the truth will always give the left a bad name.

    “…a generation of men and women that were called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.”

    Please save us the tired cliches/euphemisms. It’s enough to give the English language a bad name.

  159. Russell

    Sam – you’re right, but only because time is on your side … Tayla has moved up the last of popular girls names in W.A. to come in at number 40 (tied with Ebony – does this say something for reconciliation?), whereas Taylor is slipping down the tables, and this year is languishing at number 47.

  160. Russell

    Also note that there are no Julias, Kevins, Malcolms or Tonys on the lists. Kate at number 45 might be about to improve …..

  161. Razor

    @ 137 – and the whole family were there to watch!

  162. Razor

    @ 140 – idf you want examples of piles of beer cans on sacred ground, no need to go to ANZAC Cove – just visit the Northern Territory.

  163. Sam

    a generation of men and women that were called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

    Mr Boring and Earnest Outsider strikes again.

  164. David Irving (no relation)

    Razor @ 165, probably better without the snark, but that’s precisely the point – people should have the decency to clean up after themselves.

  165. Brett

    Brett Holman (if he’s about) would probably argue that the same kind of idea was prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s when it came to thinking about aerial bombardment of cities, chemical/biological warfare, and so on. And indeed, the horrors of the future war is HG Wells all over.

    I probably would have, Liam, but as I wasn’t here we’ll never know!

    As to the question of what we’ve forgotten this Anzac Day: the 10,000 Australians who served in Bomber Command in the Second World War, the 3500 of them who died, the thousands of German civilians they killed, and the contribution to Allied victory they made.

    http://airminded.org/2010/04/25/australia-forgets/

    (I probably mentioned this on LP last year but it’s more interesting than my Anzac Day post this year.)

  166. Russell

    Brett – my father was one of those 10,000. He did come home at the end of the war – to that ‘deep sleep’ treatment, for anxiety, and a lifetime of ‘therapy’. He wouldn’t ever talk about his experience, so I know nothing about it. I know a lot more about my two grandfathers experience in WW1.

  167. Fine

    Why is it necessary to put people down on the basis of what they name their children? I thought that was the kind of thing upper class twits do.

    How strange that progressive people want to sneer at others, (probably some poor, marginalised people there, single mothers etc) on that basis.

  168. Nick

    Phillip @ 147, nah, that wasn’t Atatürk who said those words…it was a Papuan mother to an Australian mother…

    http://www.kokodacourage.com.au

  169. Sam

    the 10,000 Australians who served in Bomber Command in the Second World War

    Apparently if you were a tailgunner your chances of surviving one mission were extremely small, let alone surviving several. This had a profound effect on those who did survive.

  170. Geoff Honnor

    Maybe the “Papuan Mother” was a fan of Kemal Ataturk?

  171. Brett

    Russell, Sam:

    Absolutely, the statistics on for aircrew survival in Bomber Command were very grim: the death rate was 44% overall, which is just staggering.

    But I’d just like to note that my point is not just that we’ve forgotten the Australians who served, but also the Germans they killed. Australia was one effectively one of the countries which bombed Dresden, for example, but that’s something we’ve never even acknowledged as a nation. Our participation in Bomber Command is forgotten and hence unproblematic.

  172. akn

    Fine (@ above): here’s a little history of the Redfern Aboriginal ANZAC Day Commemoration which notes, amongst other forms of discrimination against Aboriginal diggers, the following:

    Aboriginal servicemen and servicewomen returned to a country dominated by racism and the White Australia Policy and where their heroism, service and sacrifice for their country was ignored. Many were denied the honour, recognition and respect accorded to other servicemen and servicewomen:

    In some towns Aboriginal Diggers were not permitted to march with their non-Indigenous comrades on ANZAC Day or join them in after march events.

    Many did not gain access to Veteran’s health care, housing and other benefits.

    The names of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Diggers were omitted from war memorials in cities and towns across the length and breadth of Australia.

    The first Coloured Digger March was held in 2007.

    One of the main grievances is that the Aboriginal diggers often trturned to find that theior children had been removed

  173. akn

    However, nothwithstanding above entry, I must say that I enjoyed the frenzy of unconscionable jingoism over the wet weekend so much that I am drooling at the prospect of making every day ANZAC day. Damn the BER and the ALP. That money should have been directed at Memorials. So, I say, let a thousand more memorials rise up to the war dead; let no public space be free of a reminder of something or other so long as it is not Pemulwuy and the frontier wars.

    And there is another problem – not enough war dead to keep the business humming along. We want another Sportsmen’s Thousand so instead of goofing off playing footie all those fit and healthy young men and women could go and do their duty in Afghanistan. Shirkers.

  174. Mr Denmore

    Labor Outsider @151, I’m genuinely sorry. Not being a member of the Labor Party, like your good self, I forgot that the reflexive position in Australian political discourse these days is to genuflect at the altar of the outer suburban, four-wheel driving, investment property-owning, aspirationals – the font of all the goodness and wisdom in our brave nation.

    Of course, you are right that to analyse the Anzac myth and question the assumptions behind such terms as ‘remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice’ is like swearing in church; typical of a decadent inner suburban Left, estranged from the mainstream of Australian society and dismissive of the purest wisdom of the volk.

    It is after all grossly elitist to point to any link between the increasingly mawkish and kitsch adoration of the Anzac myth and this country’s slow descent into a quasi-fascist backwater – in which politicians of all stripes pander to the most ignorant constituency by denying the truth of things.

    I’ll get back in my box and wave the flag at appropriate moments instead. In the meantime, I’m sure you’ve got some focus group pollling to do. You’re no Karl Bitar are you?

  175. Fine

    akn, if you go to the Holocaust Museum in Melbourne you’ll see a plaque dedicated to William Barak, a leader of the Kulin Nation. He took a petition to Parliament protesting the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany in 1938. This astounds me; that a person from such an oppressed background had the integrity and resilience to do this. Apparently, he was the only private individual in the world to organise such a petition.

    There’s now Chair in an Israeli university named after him, in honour of this.

  176. akn

    Thanks for that Fine. I knew about this man but couldn’t remember his name; now it is logged.

    I really think it is despicable that there are numerous little Aussie kiddies out there who don’t have a dead relative in whose place to March On Anzac Day. By 2018 we need to ensure that no Australian kiddie is living in such a culturally deprived condition. The dead in Afghanistan are too few to achieve this; we need a decent scale war, a proper one, with lots of quivering w*gs who’ve learnt their place and lots of Aussie war dead. Only this will make others respect us and tremble at the mere mention of the word Australian.

  177. Brett

    That’s just brilliant, Fine, I’d not heard of that before. But a bit of googling suggests that it was William Cooper of the Yorta Yorta who did this.

  178. Fine

    Sorry Brett. I was struggling for the exact name, so thanks. It’s evidence that we’re taught such a tiny amount of indigenous history that we don’t automatically know these names and their stories.

  179. Razor

    I’ve always thought that one of the solutions to the disnefranchisement of the Aboriginals is to connect with the Warrior ethos. Unfortunately, the modern soldier has to be able to read, write, do maths and be relatively healthy. A very high hurdle for many – not just Aboriginals.

  180. Sam

    @177

    My grandfathers didn’t fight for this country just so some aspirational tradie bogans could fill their houses with plasmas.

  181. Joe

    akn, I think this is a critical area, which says a great deal about the society we live in:
    Principles and ideals need a culture of principles of ideals. Even the status quo, or the dominant culture, or however you want to describe it. Let’s just say, the people who think that Anzac day and Australia day are important define this group. The principles of tolerance and openness need to be reinforced for these people otherwise there’s a danger that this group of people’s culture can move in another direction — toward One Nation, for example.
    It’s no good doing the Sam Pekovic, “You know it makes sense!” when people say they don’t want refugees in Australia. It’s much better for these people to feel as though part of their identity is helping the less fortunate, standing up for human rights, etc. etc.
    It’s been a terrible strategy by some to admonish this group of people and to try and shame them into changing their identity. Effectively trying to tell someone that, as a European settler you’re a racist, misogynist who’s only here to rape and plunder a virgin land, when you really want them to be more tolerant towards minority groups, be more reflective of their historical traditions etc. is a really terrible strategy. What’s much more effective is creating positive images of what the dominant culture is, which reinforce the good aspects of the culture. History turns incredibly slowly.

    To be able to stand up against the consumer culture, to reinvigorate politics we need a stronger feeling of the collective.

    It’s interesting that you mention the w0gs. Try hanging out in Italy for a while and you’ll soon see that Italian fascism isn’t very far beneath the surface. The Australian culture has often had quite a positive effect on our immigrants world view. Immigration is a traumatic experience.

    My great grandfather was involved in the beginnings of the ALP and who used to write articles and novels — the novels were all so bad none of them were ever published — and who felt strongly about the merits of socialism (along the lines of H. Lawson.) Well, my dad was looking through some of his stuff a few months ago and he came across an article about how it is inevitable that the Aboriginals will become extinct because they just don’t have the genetic wherewithal to survive in “modern” society. Makes you feel ashamed today, to read something like that. This was a man who was doing his best and, I believe, in general concerned with the welfare of his fellow men and women, but obviously he was really limited by the dominant culture of the time.

    I believe that one of the problems that the left has, is that following the scorched earth policy of the right reaction to the politics of the 60s and 70s, the left feels so threatened that it’s hard for many of us to maintain a sense of proportion. The Refugee issue is a very good case in point.

    Tony Abbott and some of his side-kicks are rabid. Completely beyond the pale, but we don’t have to follow them.

  182. Labor Outsider

    Who said anything about genuflecting Mr Denmore? You just come across as an ill-informed, self-satisfied snob.

  183. mr denmore

    Labor Outsider said:

    “They love their country and simply want to pay their respects and connect in a deeper way with a generation of men and women that were called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.”

    That sounds like genuflection to me, or at least the greeting card version of homage. I’m sure your sentiments are fine, but I’m finding it hard to dig the meaning out of the reflexive fluff you garnish it in – which, forgive me if I’m wrong, I thought was the point of this whole thread.

    I’m not in any way downplaying the traditional role of Anzac Day as a sombre remembrance of the horror of war. But I am questioning the commercial, self-congratulating and pumped up kitsch that surrounds the day – drowning any significance it once had in pious jingoistic fervour.

    It’s very difficult not to sound like a snob in turning up one’s nose at this flimflam. For that, I apologise. I was on a long road trip back from the north coast when I wrote that and had been stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, so I might have been a bit cranky.

    But I guarantee I’ll be harumphing again next year when the tabloids roll out their ‘Remember Our Boys’ wraparounds.

  184. Sam

    One man’s snobbery is another man’s good taste.

    And it’s very hard not be a snob when confronted with so much raw material that just sits up and begs for it.

  185. Fine

    “My grandfathers didn’t fight for this country just so some aspirational tradie bogans could fill their houses with plasmas.”

    More cliched, snobbish sneering. Since when did it become okay for progressives to sneer at people wose tastes they don’t share? It’s just as bad as Bolt sneering at “inner-city latte sippers”.

    And what’s with the plasma hate? Again pure stupidity. Sam, my parents both fought in World War II and they have three plasmas in their house. Plus my Dad was a plumber – so I guess he fits into your ignorant stereotype. God, I hate snobbishness.

  186. Paul Norton

    I have an admission to make. I spent the morning of Anzac Day watching a Swedish movie in which good triumphed over evil, and then I spent the afternoon of Anzac Day watching the Essendon-Collingwood AFL match in which Melbourne life failed to imitate Stockholm art.

  187. Sam

    Fine, why didn’t you say so earlier? Your parents should not only have three plasmas in their house, they should have an LCD in their outside dunny.

  188. akn

    Joe: I don’t disagree with you at all. However, at stake here is the left’s capacity to contest the meaning of either Anzac day or Australia day because of the sheer volume of crude, nationalistic expressions that spew forth on those dates. I don’t, cannot and will not identify with Ozzie yoof who wear their patriotism on their bums while chugging beers at a ceremony in Turkey. The problem is that these oiks are held up by the media as models of national identity. The same pretty much applies to Oz day which I usually spend at a Survival day (Aboriginal) event.

    Such is the degree of political closure that I cannot even imagine what the response might be these days to something like the 1979 (?) WAR (Women Afgainst Rape) Anzac day actions in which women held protests and commemorated violence against women during war on Anzac day.

  189. Lefty E

    One of the key things you need to know about the resurgence of ANZAC etc over the last 15 years is that it has coincided with a fully-fledged and permanent recruitmetn crisis for the ADF.

    ie – there’s a very strong bullshit factor about all this: big on spectating, very low on participation.

    Just sayin’.

  190. akn

    That’s interesting L-E. Maybe the message has got through that war is very bad for all aspects of your health. I don’t mind doing respect for serving members as it is required in order to sustain a full time, professional, standing military in a democracy.

  191. adrian

    Surely the point is that any opportunity for dissent in this country is increasingly marginalised, so that even on a leftist blog someone who makes a perfectly valid point about the jingoistic nature of Anzac Day is vilified for giving the left a ‘bad name’.

    So powerful is the predominant conservative ideology, and so compliant and apathetic the majority of the population that as akn notes, it is difficult to imagine examples of dissent that occured in the past, happening without orchestrated howls of outrage from the usual suspects.

  192. Joe

    akn, I’m really sympathetic to where you’re coming from. I think we probably have the same kind of view about how it should be. And this might be a bit boring and laboring the point but when you say that:

    I don’t, cannot and will not identify with Ozzie yoof who wear their patriotism on their bums while chugging beers at a ceremony in Turkey. The problem is that these oiks are held up by the media as models of national identity.

    I agree with you. But I think it should be said more explicitly why this is a problem and what it means. The whole concept of the Australian identity is critical because it’s at the heart of national politics and the way that culture reproduces itself.

    The Australian identity has been under attack since when I was a kid. I can remember the “Do the right thing adds,” with the fat sport watcher and his shiela in the tight pants. I can also remember the Bathurst 1000 or whatever it was called. And maybe 10+ years ago catching the train up to the north coast with one of the NEFTA protesters, who was heading back out to the bush and him telling me about his childhood running around on the farm with an automatic weapon.

    If we mark some period say 30 years ago and begin to consider how Australian society has changed in that time, it’s just been incredible. The whole image of what an Australian is has been dismantled. My argument isn’t deterministic, but I propose that we haven’t only been left with the protesters from the Shire, we’ve created them, as well. The dismantling, which was concerned with the urgent need to recognise marginalised minorities, and whose responsibility did and does not include having to be concerned with the dominant culture, was destructive and it’s time to try and redefine what it means to be Australian.

    I want to be more specific about this, because I think it really does have far reaching consequences. I can remember being in primary school (!) and being involved in critical discussions about how Australians aren’t blond haired blue eyed lifesavers. That was a very artificial and active intervention in the culture which hasn’t been reflected on enough. I think I can safely say that I’d never thought of Australians as being that way until then.

  193. Joe

    adrian said:

    Surely the point is that any opportunity for dissent in this country is increasingly marginalised, so that even on a leftist blog someone who makes a perfectly valid point about the jingoistic nature of Anzac Day is vilified for giving the left a ‘bad name’.

    You can’t be serious? An individual responds to a point of discussion and they’ve been vilified?

    So powerful is the predominant conservative ideology, and so compliant and apathetic the majority of the population that as akn notes, it is difficult to imagine examples of dissent that occured in the past, happening without orchestrated howls of outrage from the usual suspects.

    So? These usual suspects are your political enemies and they might well howl a bit, and all to the better. Do you really expect Tony Abbot to say in response to me telling him that the unemployment benefit is a punishment to say, ‘oh yeah, good point! ‘ll-take that on board, fulla.’

  194. Paul Burns

    Sorry. These kids are the national identity. Remember the Cronulla Riots?