"I have no country to fight for; my country is the Earth, and I am a citizen of the World." - Eugene V. Debs
Those of us who decline to pin a poppy to our lapels are often told that it is not a political statement at all but an acknowledgement of sacrifice from the First World War and all the way through to the sacrifices of our young men and women in uniform today. We are not so naïve as to fall for that.
Poppy Day has become a nationalist feast-day for the militarists. Rarely, if ever, do people raise the question of why those soldiers died and who they died for. It certainly was not in defence of their homes and family that they were forced to sacrifice their lives.
It is all very well and good to remember the horrors of war and the people who die so needlessly in them but we have to question the reason why it was required to fight and die for “your” country. The working class were sacrificed for the interests and on behalf of the capitalist class. There can be little doubt that our master class seek to associate the blood and honour of the past with their present wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Siegfried Sassoon, the renown war poet who was decorated for bravery, made this statement before hurling his medals into the River Mersey:
“I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.
I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.“
The Socialist Party will not be joining in this ghoulish glorification of death and the sanctimonious hypocrisy from the warmongers surrounding Poppy-Day and the Cenotaph. Our ruling class may remember the killing and carnage but they regret nothing. They say each and every time, “Never Again” but always there is a next time.
“Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie”