Saturday, December 23, 2006

Iwo Jima remembered

Jack Valenti laments "..that Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, his masterly recreation of courage and fidelity to duty and country exhibited by young Marines in the bloodiest battle of World War II, has gone largely unattended by the youngsters of this day." Clearly, this worker has learned nothing about the true nature of war since his days a a bomber pilot during World War II. Indeed, how, we might ask, does he rationalize the tragic end of one of the six workers who by raising the flag of American capitalism over the mass, meaningless slaughter that was just one battle during that war achieved a very dubious immortality?

The tragic end of Ira Hayes is noted in the March-April. 1955 edition of The Western Socialist:

"On Jan. 24 Ira Hayes was found dead on the desert of the Gila Indian Reservation of Arizona. According to the medical report he died of overexposure and alcoholism. Hayes, a Prima Indian, gained famed as one of the soldiers caught by a camera in a dramatic raising of the American flag on Mount Surabachi, Iwo Jima during World War II. Brought back home he was feted as a national hero appearing at bond rallies and patriotic affairs. He became immortalized in stamps and bronze. Glorified in war, Hayes found there was no place for him in peace. In his own words - "In Arizona the white race looks down on the Indian and I don't stand a chance anywhere off the reservation unless I come East." Hayes tried to find escape via the bottle in which he came into a series of clashes with the police until death ended his misery. A hero of the hell of war, he couldn't stand the hell of peace."

Surprisingly, Clint Eastwood, shows greater insight that the rheumy-eyed Valeri:

"..The war movies that I grew up watching portrayed a clear picture of who was good and who was evil. However, in life and in war, nothing is that clear. These 2 films are not about who won or who lost. It is about what war does to people, people who would’ve gone on to live their full lives otherwise. From whichever perspective, soldiers who sacrifice their lives in battle are worthy of respect. These 2 films are my way of paying tribute to those fallen soldiers. By telling the stories of these men from both perspectives, it is my hope that the films will illustrate the things in common that both sides shared, and allow us to look at that difficult time in our history with entirely new eyes.”

Another entirely different, revolutionary, perspective is needed however. One which, alas, will not be coming to a cinema near you in the near future (But, meanwhile however...)

"We who are Socialists are all in favour of peace, but at the same time we recognise that so long as men live in societies based on class opposition, in societies in which the modes of producing the material sustenance ..are monopolised by a class, so long will war be rife as a means of satisfying national disputes." (Socialist Standard, January 1905)


1 comment:

finding part-timers who pretend they're socialists, but would rather sit around talking and playing power games said...

wow, so the SS was saying that over 100 years ago and its still true today, and as you point out, will remain true as long as capitalism continues to exist.
in a sense the real heroes of war might well be those who desert, cos if everyone did the ruling classes would have to fight for themselves.

the only war i'm ever fighting is the international class war.