There are few better examples of the British State’s rank wickedness than the odiously offensive Orwellian orchestration of reality known as Remembrance Day. This ‘festival of remembrance’ is actually a festival of forgetting, long since hijacked by the military-capitalist establishment to disseminate values that are the precise opposite of the values Armistice Day was intended to represent when established in 1919. What began as a deeply-felt, grief-stricken collective wake for the freshly bereaved, made meaningful and compelling by the universally shared determination such carnage should never happen again, has been turned on its head to actually glorify, celebrate, sentimentalise and mythologise war, and thus resoundingly endorse the idea that organised state violence is a proper way to settle disputes.
Anti-war has been twisted into pro-war; remorse has been replaced by relish; pity has been sidelined by pride; and the lessons of history are tossed away. Then all is dressed up in the smug, self-satisfied, po-faced piety the Brits think they do so well, dripping with insincerity, tokenism and hypocrisy. By early October every single BBC and ITV presenter, no matter if she’s the weather girl or a reporter yelling in a howling Phillipines typhoon, is compelled to don a red poppy to comply with a monumentally dumb and insensitive diktat that is obviously in the terms of service of all employees who appear in front of a camera. This cynical farce, presumably intended to advertise respect and solemnity, is a gratuitous insult to anyone genuinely mourning a war victim; making the poppy mandatory instead of leaving it to individual conscience cheapens authentic loss and appropriates it for the clapped-out propagandising of “national” cohesion. In effect, corpses are body-snatched for tawdry political purposes: nothing could show more contempt for Britain’s multitudinous armies of war-dead.
At the cenotaph the charmless, inbred, robotic Royals take centre-stage, ludicrously staggering under the weight of unearned medals. Letting this lot lead the lamentations is like putting Jimmy Savile in charge of hospital wards for sick children. After all, if it hadn’t been for unspeakable violence and mountains of dead Britons Elizabeth Windsor wouldn’t now be luxuriating in her many palaces: she’d be a sour-faced Schleswig-Holstein hausfrau taking in washing. A parade of war-mongering, trigger-happy politicians then follows to rub in the message that this is all a vulgar box-ticking charade. The procession of imperalists, arms-dealers, might-is-right grovelers and war criminals lay their wreaths, stand to attention, gaze misty-eyed into the middle distance and rustle up a crocodile tear or two, before going back to business as usual: spending the world’s biggest pro-rata military budget, stoking the proliferation of nuclear weapons, spying on their own people, policing the planet to crush any alternatives to the Anglo-American economic model and systematically impoverishing the living descendants of their cannon-fodder “heroes”. You couldn’t make it up.
But that isn’t the worst of it, because the unmentionable sub-text bubbling under the whole bombastic, chest-beating pantomime is that the UK, of all the nations there have ever been, has more blood on its hands than any other. Oh, I’m so sorry, you didn’t know that? They didn’t teach you in school that the UK is directly responsible for more deaths than Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and every mass-murdering despot combined? Michael Gove’s supposed to be keen on historical facts; it really is about time he amended the curriculum.