Friday, April 25, 2008


This morning, thousands of New Zealanders assembled at war shrines ostensibly to remember the dead. I didn't join them; instead I slept in. Like Deborah, I am an ANZAC Day atheist, unwilling to participate in the cult of the dead and its inevitable and inseparable glorification of war and spreading of the old lie of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Oh, we should remember the dead, and the maimed, and the broken and brutalised, the victims of stupid aristocrats and venal politicians - but as a warning of what happens when we surrender to militarism, jingoism, nationalism and greed. And the message we should be taking from the events at Gallipoli 93 years ago is not how noble and glorious their "sacrifice" was - there's nothing "noble" about dying to extend someone else's empire, nothing "glorious" about killing people, and nothing great about being offered up as a calculated sacrifice for butter exports. Instead, we should be remembering that it was bloody and stupid and pointless. But above all, we should be vowing "never again": never again will we fight other people's wars, and never again will we let our politicians lead us into them. Otherwise, we might be seeing a lot more names on those monuments.