Tuesday, August 5, 2014

C is for Corporate Carnage

So, the mawkish sentimentality has started, we have four years of pointless hand-wringing, international glad-handing, historical naval-gazing, looking back, looking forward and rewriting to look forward to, along with endless anecdotes and the minutia of 'social history' to face.

I'll get mine out of the way now; my great-uncle Ernest was gassed in WWI, his breath rattled like a miner's but he lived to a ripe-old age. I never got to talk to him about his experiences, I don't know what his opinion of the Germans was (his sister was married to one), and I don't know where he was gassed, but I do know he saw things and experienced things that civilians - especially vacuous, money-grubbing fuckers like David Cameron - can never begin to understand, they just can't - if you live in a developed country and haven't served in the forces, you don't (and will never know) how frightened, cold and wet, hungry, tired or dirty you can be and still manage to function.

Actually I have two anecdotes...the other being a dreaded 'social history' one, and all the more fascinating for having nothing to do with the combat in Western Europe. Uncle Ernest's sister's future husband was being 'evicted' from Nottingham city centre by gangs of stone-throwing miners, who burned his German refugee parent's butchers shop down, more than once! Because, when food is short, burning butchers is the way to go, if the rioters were alive today they would all be voting UKIP!

Later 05/08/2014 - It's even more interesting...Uncle Ernest was one of the German's sons, he served with the Sherwood Foresters and was gassed by his parents old countrymen!...his brother marrying an English girl he met after the Nottingham 'eviction', the parents having set-up a soup kitchen to serve the locals (for free) before their shop was burnt down! AND taken British citizenship as soon as they arrived in the country, something that probably saved them from forced repatriation by a right-wing government! Even if they lost their shop...that's the patriotism scoundrels run to!

Crescent WWI Infantry - five of six poses

Poppy-red - this IS a vaguely political post. There is a third anecdote; I think my grandfather Hall was co-opted from the Merchant Navy into the Indian Navy during the First World War but I'll have to check that one. Later - He was co-opted from the MN to the RN on his 18th Birthday and served with HMS London at Gallipoli (JTSH). The point is, we all have links to the 'Great' war (nothing great about it, unless you were in arms sales!), although a lot of people don't necessarily consider it, realise it or dwell on it.

The problems between Russia and the neighbouring Ukraine and Georgia, in Transnistria, the - hardly mentioned in the media - 'bloody clashes' on the Armenian/Azerbaijan border, the Kurdish question, Cyprus, and all the problems in the Middle East (Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Libya and in the wings the undemocratic Saudi and Bahrain funding it all with the Americans) are the here-today legacy of the First World War....the "war to end all wars" is still being fought, having already led to to a far more horrific second world conflagration in the 1940's.

Crescent WWI Cavalry - complete set of three poses

Tonight we were invited to switch out our lights at 10 o'clock, why?

The nations street-lights remained lit, so there was no effect noticeable by the crew of the international space station, the last crew of which contained a Japanese crew commander, Russian craft commander and US astronaut. The dead have been worm-food for more than eighty years and couldn't give a stuff if the lights are on or off, indeed a lot of them left houses that didn't have electric light and wouldn't until the 1950's! And the declaration of war was at 11am not 10pm?

It was a combination of grandstanding by the leadership of Europe today, along with the usual mawkish-pap from the tabloids.

Today's leaders being no more than puppets of big-business, who having nearly allowed our civilisation to collapse a few years ago still have few ideas for long-term recovery other that a lurch to the right, an series of attacks on the vulnerable, the drip-drip imposition of draconian police-state practice (water cannon, really? In Britain?), drip-drip privatisation of the NHS, schools, prisons and government science while the welfare state - our (the 'peoples') reward for the sacrifices in both wars - is slowly dismantled. The dead must be turning in their graves.

Armies in Plastic (AIP) - recent production

I have been listening to the WWI day-by-day thing on BBC Radio 4, and it seems plain to me that all the nations who went to war this week one-hundred years ago, did so with the best of intentions, or because they felt obliged to, with one notable exception.

Serbia went to war because it had to defend itself, Russia went to war because it had signed a treaty to defend Serbia, France had a treaty with Russia, Belgium wanted to defend its sovereignty against German incursion and Britain had a treaty with Belgium to help defend it...looks like the Germans are the bad boys huh?

Well, no actually, the German Kaiser had tried as hard as everyone else to avoid war, but he had a treaty with Austro-Hungary, and they were the bad boys. They wanted war, they wanted Serbia and they ignored every opportunity to avoid war presented to them by Serbia, Russia and France. And - once they had destroyed three empires (Russian, Ottoman and their own) they gave the world the little Austrian corporal who would lead Europe into a second Armageddon in 1939. they then elected a Nazi (Jorg Haider) to party leader in the '89 coalition while the equally divisive Kurt Waldheim was president. All the while trying to lay the blame for both wars at the feet of the Germans, next-door.

So while our poxy tabloids and equally poxy football supporters continue the risible anti-German thing (which gets thinner with every drubbing they give us), it is actually Austria we need to watch - every time!

Marx - Various Cadets, Rough Riders and WWI - original and re-issues

Britain's going poppy-mad! Would say The Sun, if they hadn't already come up with something more childish, or better rhyming...

Four cultural phrases are being massacred like cotton-mill boys in a Flanders trench at the moment; 'Great War' and 'War to End All Wars' I've dealt with above, then we get Samuel Johnson's "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" which was supposed to refer to people like Hitler and his henchmen, Jorg Haider and his ilk who did so well in the recent Euro-elections, yeah, even unto Farage with his pint and fag, or the 'Russians' in Ukraine - yet the 'i' newspaper (and by association The Independent?) today seemed to be linking it to the feeling/s in Europe a hundred years ago.

I don't buy it, the patriotism that accompanied the mobilisations then was the genuine love of the people for the men they were sending to a war they all knew was going to be destructive (they had the Boer, Franco-Prussian and American Civil wars in the popular memory, they had some idea what technology was doing to the industrial-death business), even as they all tried to convince themselves it would 'all be over by Christmas'.

The other was today's 'Lights Out' quote from the then British Foreign Secretary - Sir Edward Gray; "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time", well they weren't, they didn't and indeed would get brighter through the rest of the century, although I think they've dimmed a bit under the post '79 capitalist form of plutocracy/Corporatocracy we now suffer under.

Where the division in wealth is greater than it has been for a hundred years, the politicians are as dumb as those who held a war none of them wanted [except Austro-Hungary] and where the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly are seeing real hardship in the 6th richest country on Earth while big business pays no or minimal tax, replaces jobs with technology or shifts jobs to the other side of the world faster than the politicians can hide the unemployed/under-employed figures in semantics, moved goal-posts or slave work-schemes and where the labour movement is fighting with itself to re-claim rights and conditions we've fought-for once already.

I'm not offering solutions, I'm not offering an alternative history, I'm just saying; as you listen to all the speeches to be made in the next 4 years (both the WWI 100-year stuff AND the WWII 70-year stuff), realise that it is all going to be a mixture of lost/false/falsified history, false memory, political expediency, mawkish sentimentality (usually mindless/thoughtless), the tabloid's need to sell you tomorrow's cat-litter and the inability of anyone in power to admit that any of it was wrong, or learn from it, while constantly looking for a PR photo-op!

Later - 5/8/14 - As exemplified by today's 'Wreathgate' in which - for future readers - yesterdays wreath-laying in some god-forsaken Belgian backwater has been marred by the accusation that the leader of the opposition somehow failed in his duty to show due respect for the fallen by not writing a personal message on his wreath while David 'Dave' 'Fuckwit' Cameron did write a heartfelt message on his...only for later investigation to reveal that the wreaths from the rest of the bigwigs - Scottish, Welsh and Irish National Assemblies + others - were written in the same handwriting as each other...probably by a junior gopher from the signage crew of the PR team for the organisers, who then handed the wreaths out just before the ceremony.

Proving several things;

*None of them usually buy a wreath, or write a personal message, the wreaths are lain-on at the tax payers expense.
*Cameron - in the best traditions of propagandists everywhere - quickly replaced the 'standard' card on his and made sure the Tory press made something of the juxtaposition
* The current leaders of Scotland, Wales, NI and other worthies are too stupid to A) have their own substitution cards ready, or B) Anticipate Cameron's action
* Cameron and his spin doctors (physicians - heal thyselves) are too stupid to realise the wreaths would hand around after the service for other press/activists/seekers of the truth to check back on
* The whole story is a construct or LIE which won't receive the coverage (of the undoing) in tomorrow's papers that it received (as a lie) in today's
* Ergo, the bulk of the readers of today's papers will remember Ed Milliband for being 'a bit wet' and never associate Cameron with being linked to lying, spinning propagandist fuckery!

Here's a parting thought...the Jews fought bravely in the trenches for their country; Germany, we know what happened to them, and now they deliver death and destruction on Gaza as if it was the Warsaw ghetto...they learned nothing, except how to be the paranoid bully.

Later - 5/8/14 - It was actually the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising last week, the reason it seems to have passed with minimum coverage is simply that none of the protagonists at the time want to talk about it right now. The Russians don't want to talk about their disgusting pause, while the Wehrmacht mopped-up (particularly with the ongoing matters referred-to above still in the news). The Germans like to not be reminded of the whole sorry mess for obvious reasons. The Jews certainly don't want the myriad parallels with Gaza (and The West Bank, Jerusalem illegal settlements and 1947) pointed out (occupied, ghettoised, embargoed, resisted - with tunnels, home-made weapons and armed 'terrorists' - and finally; crushed). While the Hosts - the Poles, don't want reminding of their role in staffing Einsatzgruppen, registering, listing and transporting of their Jews and so on (something the French don't like to talk about either!).

Don't commemorate, celebrate or remember...learn.


  1. Hi! Good post! I agree with most of it.

    100 years passed, and all the teachings have been forgotten. All the issues that caused ww1 are still there, and almost nobody seems to notice we're heading to another large war, or at least an era of huge unrest. We're facing the choice between a third world war, and a second cold war. Our european and national leaders don't seem to care at all. What's worse, people too don't seem to care - wars are bad things happened in the past, as long as they can buy iphones and make selfies, who cares if people die in eastern Europe or Palestine.

    My family took part in both world wars, and paid its price - one of my grand-grandpas lost parts of his legs in ww1, my grandpa fought in Greece and after that was sent to a german lager, a uncle died in Greece, other two managed to get back from Russia, many of their relatives died or suffered starvation, even the civilians at home had to endure the bombings and the famine.
    But young people don't know and don't care, they're blind and ready for another slaughter as our ancestors in 1914.

    Apart from all that, nice figures. I never had much interest in ww1 and related stuff before, but I'm changing my mind fast - I guess it's the smell of war in the air that fueled this interest. Hope it's gonna be all about scale figures and not real soldiers...


  2. Thanks for that post.

    For some people here in Belgium, the commemorations are just the fastest way to earn a Mercedes.
    Chocolate poppies, “poppy gin”, “The great beer: Passchendaele”, “Wipers time pear liqueur” you would not believe the crap they are coming up with.

    Thanks for Small Scale World.



  3. Thanks Guys - I'm about to lose Internet (17mb left!) so I'll come back to these later...H

  4. "fastest way to buy a Mercedes", not heard that one it!

    Giano - I too think a big one is coming, something weird is in the air...the ruling-class are losing their grip even as they desperately hold-on to ever waning power. But corporate power grows every day and it's clearly not a good thing. It's like you can hear something boiling-over in the next room but can't find a way too it....and I never felt like this before, not even in Berlin in the height of the Cold War?

    Glad you both liked it - I'm sure some people disagreed with most of the points but the blinkers seem super-glued on these days!


  5. Legitimate criticism of the actions of the Israeli government is one thing, but automatically making 'Jewish' synonymous with 'Israeli' is a product of deep-seated latent anti-Semitism. If, for instance, Spain were to occupy part of Portugal we wouldn't blame this on 'the Christians', would we?

    The Jews you mention as having fought for Germany in world war one were German and the Jews resisting against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto were Polish. We have no idea what the people who died in the holocaust would have thought about the current policies of the Israeli government, so it is unfair to their memory to attempt to second-guess them and use it as a stick to desecrate their memory with. We do know, however, that the opinions of Jewish people of many and varied nationalities worldwide is as diverse on the subject of Israel and events in Gaza as are the opinions of people of any other religion. Don't forget, contrary to the often anti-Jewish stereotypes there are Jewish communities in places as different as Iran, China, India, Russia, Mexico, Germany, the USA, Ireland and, of course, Britain. *Please also don't forget that if you consider yourself vaguely progressive it is important not to romanticize organisations like Hamas whom, amongst other things, have declared homosexuality punishable by imprisonment in the territories that they control. These are no world war two freedom fighters.

  6. Juxtaposition.comparison is reasonable, I haven't romaticised or defended Hamas and as you're clearly from the 'no one can criticise Israel, Jews, world jewery or Zionism' EVER camp, you'll understand if I ignore you.


  7. To be fair Hugh, even though some commenters regularly do, you haven't romanticised Hamas here but neither have I said 'no one can criticise Israel or Zionism'.

    What I object to the way in which there is a tendency for the far-right, neo-Nazis, Jewhaters, KKK and other bigots to hijack legitimate, genuine criticism of Israel in an attempt to lend a veneer of respectability to what would otherwise be dismissed by most reasonable people as a deranged and hateful cause.

    The motivation behind what you seem to be doing here has little (if anything) to do with any sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people. Instead, by conflating 'Jewish' with 'Israeli', 'World Jewry' with 'Zionism' this is both inaccurate and also a highly offensive continuation of centuries-old anti-Jewish prejudices which seem to assume that Jews can never be authentic Brits, French, Germans, Russians etc. Most Jewish people do not, and have never had, dual loyalties - the amount of Stars of David on headstones in military cemeteries of Jewish combatants who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend their nations should bear final testament to that. Jews not only fought for Germany in WWI (and incidentally a few even in WW2!), but as far back as the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco-Prussian War. Similarly, Jews have been in Britain since at least the mid-17th century and served in British forces since at least the Seven Years' War. Jewish people are not a homogenous group and come from a wide variety of political opinions, races, cultures and classes. Yes, like anyone else Jews haven't always fought for liberal causes either - there were an estimated 7,000 Jews who fought for the Confederacy which although many argue that they were fighting primarily for southern states' rights meant undeniably that they were defending a system of which slavery and racism was an integral part.

    Btw...I have enjoyed your blog for several years. It is the best that I have so far found on the Internet in relation to the main subject you cover. I hope you continue to produce such interesting and informative posts.


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