Thursday, April 24, 2014

Randall Stephens' obligatorily leftist ANZAC day thing that you won't like -25/04/2014


Wrote a rant last night collecting some ideas I've had recently about our telescopic view of history, and war specifically. It amounts to a polemic speech, which I read out at an anti-war gig this afternoon, but for presentation's sake here it's been formatted into a poem.  I don't think it functions that way for the most part, there's no subtext or any underlying dramatic questions I'm trying to present here. It is, just for once, what I actually think. 

Hopefully that has some value for you.


I respect the veterans
but what is bullshit now
was still bullshit back then

one of the particular intellectual sicknesses
national patriotism causes
that consumerism worsens
is a notion that society comes fully formed
that the fights fought for freedom within it
are the same as struggles soldiers overseas
fought for

this country's freedoms
were not fought for by soldiers
but by suffragists and trade unionists
by feminists marchers and socialist agitators
aboriginal activists, student radicals
and striking miners

the things we value in our society
were things people took from
that people fought for
in opposition to our own government
these we do not call wars

the idea that the world wars
Vietnam, Iraq or wherever else we sent
these poor young men and women
for military engagement
has anything to do with egalitarian democracy
is just not true

war is the biggest waste
and most damning failure
a civilization can ever stumbles into

war creates nothing
costs so many million innocents everything
scars generations and whole landscapes

and anything we manage to get out of it
from radar to Velcro
speaks more to the ingenuity of people
and their in-suppressible
to make the best out of something bad

honour your ancestors
try to understand your history
our history, but please
don't try and tell me
Gallipoli was about my freedom
or East Timor, Fiji, South Korea,
South Africa or Iraq

the conflicts that shaped our lives
were all wars fought within our own borders
for an eight hour day
for a minimum wage
for women's suffrage
for the recognition of original inhabitants

and these struggles continue today
for a free press, for clean water
free from coal seem gas fracking
for superannuation, health care
and for irregular maritime arrivals
to be recognised as human beings

these all are conflicts
fought against our own government

this is not to dismiss or denigrate
the hardship, sacrifice, pain,
duty and bravery displayed by those
in the military
but what has been spun out of it
leaves us all out of control

within these national borders
what is bullshit now
was still bullshit back then
veterans left everywhere,

Lest we forget.




No comments: