The Great debate; Remembering World War One

Yoda - wars not make one great

On the eve of its hundredth anniversary, people gathered St James church in London last night, for the great debate on how we should remember World War One. The discussion was led by Lindsey German convener for Stop the War, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Julian Brazier MP and John Blake, a history teacher and Editor of Labour teachers. The key points debated by the panel hinged on whether or not World War One was a ‘just and necessary one’ or only served the interests of empire.

WW1 Debate

The full speeches and Q&A sessions can be found here:

Speeches

Q&A

There were some quizzical views and opinions expressed by both John Blake and Julian Brazier, the debate ebbed and flowed on the historical context which resulted in the war and subsequently world war two. The legacy of these wars should have been peace but instead we have seen countless wars every decade since. The UK, not content with ending the troops on the ground campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, have instead chosen to support the US in the use of unmanned flying machines to be judge jury and executioner (whether you are innocent or not) and Tony Blair would have us blood stained in the midst of a civil war in Syria, going to show that you cannot keep a good war criminal down. Only Lindsey German really touched on this or the role that the military industrial complex plays in the permanent war economy we live in. As for John Blake, to suggest that the military industrial complex was a shadowy conspiracy theory raises eyebrows to say the least.

Julian Brazier also championed the “volunteer nature” of our armies over the conscription of our enemies over the decades but we have conscription, only under a different name – economic necessity. That is why recruitment posters for the armed forces feature heavily in community centres and areas where social deprivation is at its highest and why the ‘Ruperts’ generally come from a higher class base than your children, who get given faulty equipment and bulletproof vests, in the hope they don’t catch an IED and lose a limb.

War is a racket and it is paid for in the blood of innocent people and young men and women from working class backgrounds. We have more in common with the ‘enemy’ our governments and media prescribe to us than the corrupt billionaires sounding the drums of war. If we are to honour the memories of the dead then we must start by putting our arms down and start exposing the links between these generals, military industries, our politicians and the international banks.

Tony Blair blood hands

New year, same story: No justice, no peace

I recently undertook a self-imposed sabbatical during the month of December, not because it was needed but just to take a step back and look at things from the outside in. With the new year approaching I decided to give it a week to see what we would see. Did I learn anything? Yes and no. What is sure however is that you quite literally could not make this shit up.

Firstly Nelson Mandela died, the world mourned and so did those who would have previously hung him for being a terrorist. Being on my sabbatical it was easy to focus on Mandela for his life, what he stood for – what he still stands for in death, and his achievements in the face of great adversity. Not getting sucked into comments highlighting how these people, who climbed out from under their rocks to shower praise on him, had previously turned their backs on him or how they took pointless ‘selfies’ with pretty blondes at his funeral and claiming that he helped shaped not only their politics but the politics for the generations. Even wet Ed Miliband saw fit to use the same words he used to eulogise Margaret Thatcher to capture his feelings on Mandela.

The man who shaped politics for generations they said and to “never forget.”

Never forget; the words used when discussing the Holocaust but of course we did forget, which is why apartheid happened in the first place. Never forget; used after Mandela was released from prison after almost 30 years and yet still we forgot which is why we have the Israel/Palestine apartheid happening, why Sudan and Syria is happening. Here in the UK we have let poverty and austerity take hold, strangling the working poor and watching, as our liberties get siphoned away – because we have forgotten the lessons of the past. “There is never a final victory” said Mandela, the fight is eternal.

Then came the new year, 2014 and I witnessed posts claiming it would be the ‘year of love’ but we have seen the sale of chemicals from the UK that form the basis for the very agents we almost went to war over in Syria, Fallujah has fallen into full-blown civil war and there was the announcement that 2013 was the bloodiest in Iraq for almost 10 years with nearly 30 people a day dying. Not a single name reported however, just a body count. Just yesterday, we saw the confirmation that being shot dead whilst unarmed, in the case of Mark Duggan, will be ruled lawful, setting dangerous precedents for the rest of us. The police have now stated in light of this incident that they intend to consider the use of cameras for armed police units to film events. We will of course of clamour for the additional security this will provide us as citizens, there is no risk whatsoever that anything will go wrong with the footage is there? There is also the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill being rushed through effectively making it illegal to protest or to be a nuisance. This will result in spot fines and bans from “localities” what ever a locality means, the definition has not been set yet.

So we are a week into 2014 and the story seems much the same, focus on benefits streets and scroungers whilst we are quietly dismantled from the inside but there is a change in the atmosphere. More people are awakening, sharing information and importantly talking to each other about these injustices. The next step is to get active and move beyond the confines of the social media and on to the streets, peacefully connecting these dots – making art, questioning everything, before the law makes it illegal and try to take our ability away from us to stand up for our rights and freedom. In doing so we will gain something much more worthy, unity and the realisation that there is no justice, there is just us.

We are the change

Ten minutes catching up on the news headlines is enough to make your blood boil!

Obama says he needs to regain some credibility following the Obama care fiasco a few weeks ago… Really? Nothing about needing to regain some credibility because at the Democrat Convention in 2007 he said he would close Guantanamo Bay, restore habeas corpus and end the war. Instead Guantanamo continues with innocent people being force fed due to hunger strikes, NDAA bill was signed as well as CISPA, the NSA scandal erupted and of course we should not forget the drone war which was started by George W. Bush, but utilised and endorsed by Obama. People are summarily tried and excuted without trial and if you are unlucky enough to be a first responder in Pakistan or Yemen, the chances are they will send in the drones again and bomb you. Oh and don’t go to school because there are dozens of Malala’s out there being blown up by Obama’s drone army.

We should give him a peace prize…

Black people in the UK are 3 times more likely to be stopped and detained by the police than white people. This echos another statistic of black people being more than twice likely to be stopped and charged for drug related offences, even though there is an equal amount of use, abuse and sale of it by white and black people. If you are black and detained you are also more likely to die in detention, earlier I had posted being 100% more likely but upon reflection this detracts from others who have suffered at heavy handed police actions.

Nick Clegg says immigrants need to respect our way of life when coming here…you mean the way we do when we engage in illegal wars setting up check points, dropping depleted uranium and white phosphorus on them in their countries whilst listening to heavy metal? Or spreading new democracy by pitching up a McDonald’s restaurant and a Coca-Cola billboard selling trans-fats to children? As if this comment wasn’t bad enough, Clegg said it as a response to David Blunkett who claims there will be riots in his constituency because Romanians are “standing in the streets”. Imagine we lived in a world whereby we had the right to peaceful assembly!?

The fear mongering and scapegoating of Romanians has been relentless from all sides of the mainstream media. I am just waiting for the announcement from the Beeb that the Romanians have cursed our families and we’ll have to go witch hunting.

Where’s the good news? The good news is that people are slowly starting to see the need to join the dots and connect the issues we have been fighting in isolation up until now. Scapegoating and deflection are all means to divide and rule but feel that slowly people are becoming tuned in to this. We have more in common with each other than we do with the corporations and the bosses supposedly running this country and we stand to gain more by standing together than by going it alone. We need to move from being the change we wish to see in the world, to realising we are the change we have been waiting for. Attend rallies, march, talk to others about their problems, find common themes and joint solutions. Our moment is now.