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Anzackery 2015: the commodification of militarism

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by Max O

The Gallipoli centenary commemoration has witnessed enormous amount of money ($325m spent by the Federal government alone) and time expended to immortalise the so-called 'Anzac Legend'. With the encouraged involvement of the business sector the commemoration has turned into an orgy of celebration and bravado about our 'national identity'.

There is much to contest of what the Anzackers posit about Gallipoli, World War One and the Anzac mythology. This noisy Anzackery is in fact a way of pressing the past into service of current and future military adventures.

School students have studied personal soldier's stories; numerous military displays such as mock-up trenches have been constructed for the public to roam; Camp Gallipolis have been created around Australia so purchasers can have an Anzac experience; and the corporate world have been ever ready to cash in on the memory of the Anzac soldiers.

Selling war for business
Woolworths came undone when their marketing gurus got carried away with a social media promotion that encouraged customers to honour dead soldiers by sending in their photos to Woolies. These were then placed on the Woolworths website, embellished with the company's logo and wording “Lest We Forget Anzac 1915–2015. Fresh in Our Memories.”

The company's marketing motto , “The Fresh Food People” was quickly spotted and caused public outrage over their obscene attempt to profit from the memory of Anzac. Even though the Federal government has endorsed around 300 corporate sponsorships of the Anzac centenary, Woolworths' 'Fresh' debacle caused too much embarrassment and the Minister for Veteran Affairs ordered the company to stop their marketing promotion.

In all the centenary events nothing has been said about why Australia entered World War One and sent troops to Gallipoli. The real reason for this and other wars - clash of imperialist empires fighting over territory and valuable resources - will never be acknowledged by official sources.

The world wars of the twentieth century were the result of capitalism's unfolding contradictions of economic expansion - i.e. conquest of markets, resources and labour - and territorial division of the world. These same contradictions of monopolising capitalism, intensified by the phenomena of 'financialisation' (money capital overtaking production capital), were the trigger for the 2008 'Global Financial Crisis' and the current aggression by the chief powers, in particular US Imperialism for another re-division of the world.

Patriotism of capitalism
Australian governments, lead by either conservative or Labor parties, line up behind an imperial master (Britain in the past and now the US) and send off  their military to wars not of defence but aggression. This veneration of our military endeavours through events such as Anzac Day is presented as Australian patriotism.

However this patriotism is of the imperial kind, beholden to a dominant power that demands Australia fight in wars outside the country for their strategic benefit. Being a client state, Australia's political, economic and military affairs are presently dominated by the United States, hence our servile compliance in following the US into the 'War against terrorism'.

This explains Australia's participation in the US 'Asia Pivot' military strategy and the US dominated Trans Pacific Partnership economic bloc. Our current nationalism is expressed in subsuming the nation to the dictates of US imperialism.

The history surrounding the slaughter house of Australian soldiers fighting in the Dardanelles in 1915 for British imperialism has now in 2015 been profaned by corporate profiteering, and employed to underpin support for current US lead aggression in the Middle East, with small involvement from the Australian military.

Australians have been lured into supporting and volunteering to fight wars with epithets of "For King, Empire and Country", "Our values and democracy" and to "Oppose the death cults" etc. The tragedy has been the destruction of soldiers and their families lives for the dubious purpose of the 'national interest' and supporting our 'close allies'.

The travesty of using respect for our war dead to promote extreme forms of militaristic commemoration that verges on celebration has seen a growing repulsion. The hyperbole surrounding the Gallipoli anniversary has been used to intimidate those who wish to contest the issues and reasons why we fight wars.

The other side of Anzac
In all the embroidery behind the noise about Anzac is the official silence about the history of opposition to Australia's participation in WWI. It was contested by huge anti-war rallies around the country at the time, involving famous groups such the Women's Peace Army and Labour Volunteer Army to oppose the war and the two conscription referendums.

In reality our liberties were won not at Gallipoli or the Western Front, but by the majorities of the population who voted "No" twice in plebiscites against conscripting Australians to fight overseas. Leaders like the comprador Billy Hughes used measures such as the "War Precautions Act" and the "Unlawful Associations Act" to squash opposition to the war. Nevertheless he was stopped in his tracks from establishing an overt dictatorship that would have resulted from winning the conscription vote.

This side of the Anzac story has not been given a voice let alone official acknowledgement. The Anzackers fear this side of history for it would diminish their attempts to trumpet Anzac fever for the coming wars!


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