JR'S Free Thought Pages
November 11, 2022 Remembrance Day Update
First two quotes on the dual absurdities of patriotism and nationalism from one of the great minds and scientists of the 20th century, Albert Einstein:
Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!
Four cheers for Big Al…
So, how to spend the day? If you’ve never seen the two greatest anti-war movies of all time then this November 11th would be appropriate since time is running out on all of us for a multiplicity of reasons: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Paths of Glory (1957). Both movies take place during World War I, the so-called “war to end all wars”. Both are regularly featured on TCM and other TV platforms and are so brilliantly filmed, prophetic and appropriate they can be enjoyed many times. With screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, one of the victims of the blacklist along with quality people such as Pete Seeger, by the hysterical anti-communism witch hunts of the late 1940s and 1950s. Every high school student ought to watch these great films in their history classes.
The Battle of the Somme on the Western Front took place between July 1st and November 18th 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the Somme River in France. The battle, according to the arrogant and cavalier supreme command on both sides was intended to hasten a victory for both the Allies and the Germans. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the deadliest battles in human history. Watch the 1957 movie Paths of Glory with brilliant performances by Kirk Douglas for an insight into the contemptuous class indifference by the supreme command and commanding officers for the lives of the rank and file infantrymen. It would seem very little has changed in that regard as the cancer of imperialist predatory capitalism and endless wars of greed and plunder continue unabated.
In jail for her anti-war stance in 1916, Rosa Luxemburg, the great Polish-German revolutionary, wrote what became known as The Junius Pamphlet:
“Violated, dishonoured, wading in blood, dripping filth—there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretence to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law—but the ravening beast, the witches’ Sabbath of chaos, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form...“We stand today ... before the awful proposition of either the triumph of imperialist war and the destruction of all culture, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery OR the victory of socialism.”
The hellish war she describes ended with a wave of revolutions that threatened to bring down capitalism. But in the early days of the war, the socialist parties of Europe mostly capitulated to the chauvinism of their rulers.
“In the midst of this witches’ Sabbath a catastrophe of world-historical proportions has happened: International Social Democracy has capitulated”, wrote Luxemburg.
The syndicalism of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Australia were one of the few organisations that immediately opposed the war. On 10 August 1914, the front page of their paper Direct Action was emblazoned with the statement:
“WAR! WHAT FOR? THE WORKERS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS: DEATH, STARVATION, POVERTY AND UNTOLD MISERY. FOR THE CAPITALIST CLASS: GOLD STAINED WITH THE BLOOD OF MILLIONS, RIOTOUS LUXURY, BANQUETS AND JUBILATION OVER THE GRAVES OF THEIR DUPES AND SLAVES. WAR IS HELL! SEND THE CAPITALISTS TO HELL AND WARS ARE IMPOSSIBLE.”
The Russian Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, was one of only a tiny number of mass socialist parties that stood firm against their government in the war. Despite a police crackdown, they issued 70 leaflets in St Petersburg in the first four months, agitating against support for the war. They refused to refer to St Petersburg as Petrograd, in defiance of the chauvinism that inspired the name change.
Lenin argued that the task for Marxists was first to stand against the tide of patriotic fervour in every country, even if it made them unpopular for a while. Within weeks he summed up his approach in an article titled “War and Revolution”, arguing that “the best war on war is revolution”.
Lenin’s strength was that he never gave in to despair. He had always argued that capitalism would inevitably suffer crises that would give rise to revolutionary opportunities. Now that prospect was real.
The mass socialist parties such as the moderate social democratic SPD in Germany that emphasised parliament as the way to change society turned against workers and defended the capitalist state.
Rosa Luxemburg of the revolutionary socialists was one of the determined insurgents who stood against war and repression without flinching. But she had no clear revolutionary group cohered around her. When the mass revolt engulfed Germany in November 1918, she paid with her life. She was murdered, along with her close comrade Karl Liebknecht, by soldiers at the instigation of their former SPD comrades.
The last words she wrote in January 1919, as she saw the revolution unravelling all around, expressed her unshakeable confidence that workers would one day end the barbarism of capitalism:
“The revolutionary struggle is the very antithesis of the parliamentary struggle. In Germany, for four decades we had nothing but parliamentary ‘victories’ ... And when faced with the great historical test of August 4, 1914, the result was the devastating political and moral defeat, an outrageous debacle and rot without parallel.”
There has been too much suffering and blood spilled in defeated workers’ struggles. We are entering a new period of militarism and the threat of war, to say nothing of the political dysfunction, systemic corruption and parasitism, economic, environmental, extinction mode events, global viral pandemics and other looming existential threats and catastrophes that will destroy the lives of billions. We must learn the lessons of the past, lest the sacrifices be endlessly repeated. Some, including many climate scientists say it is too late; that we need to prepare for the inevitable looming disasters.
Remembrance Day Bullshit 2020
A Personal Diatribe on the Lies and Evils of War
By JR, November 10, 2020 (Updated November 10, 2021)
They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet or fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason - Ernest Hemingway
War does not determine who is right, only who is left – Bertrand Russell
Every year on Canada’s “Remembrance Day” (Veteran’s Day in the US with the same horse crap spectacle) the conservative/liberal imperialist corporate capitalist oligarchs and their lap poodles in government exploit this solemn day, not as an anti-war occasion to rage against the military industrial surveillance state, but another opportunity to unleash a barrage of propaganda effluent peddling the glory and nobility of war. This drumbeat has already begun with both corporate and public TV outlets promoting the bovine excrement and egregious lies of war and the working class men who fought and killed other working class men in the slaughters of World War I and II, the latter which resulted in Russia, the country that in fact won the war against Hitler, suffering over 25 million casualties.
Instead, Remembrance Day ought to be a confession and revelation of guilt and responsibility by elites (who never put themselves in harm’s way) of a long standing fairy tale regarding the reasons for war. It ought to entail an apology by the elite conservative classes throughout history who schemed up wars of mass murder for power and profit. It should be a day of shame and mourning and a strong statement of condemnation against those who were responsible with pleas to young people to NOT join the military – or the police - both of which exists to serve and protect wealth and power.
The great 1960s band CCR informed us about “fortune sons”, the offspring of the powerful and wealthy:
Rather than getting caught up in the annual fairy tale about deluded brainwashed soldiers fighting for our “freedom”, take the time to watch two of the best anti-war movies ever made, films that ought to be requisites for all high school students: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 and remakes in 1979 and 2022) and Paths of Glory (1957) with brilliant acting by Kirk Douglas. Also recommended is the 1961 Sidney Lumet movie The Hill (1965) that exposes the psychopathic cruelty, brutality and irrationality of military life. For comic relief watch the Monty Python expose of the mind numbing idiocy of the military, “Marching Up and Down the Square”.
We, the indoctrinated masses, are expected to buy a poppy in honor of the young men who died for our “freedoms” and “democracy”, another pile of hot steaming bullshit. Poppies are controlled by the crypto-fascist Royal Canadian Legion drinking establishment as the poppies are made by those incarcerated in Canadian prisons and paid a pittance for their silly creations.  Even if you accept the highly dubious claims of our war loving ruling classes, surely one would ask: what “freedoms” and for whom? What “democracy”? These concepts are mere commodities, like everything else within capitalist social, economic and political arrangements. And did all these millions of young men die for the nauseating corrupt neo-liberal world order of financial parasitism we suffer under and endure today in which six billionaires have more wealth than half the global population? Most people don’t even understand the concept of freedom which entails responsibility first and foremost. Every neighborhood has one of these sociopathic assholes like the control freak moron who lives across the street from me. Democracy conceived as the “will of the people” is a cruel joke and it’s not only because of the cesspool of corruption in the capitalist system and their government sock puppets, but the growing population of copycat uncompromising selfish narcissists and ignoramuses in the general population that have multiplied exponentially in the past 40 years. With rare exception such as men like Tommy Douglas, the norm for our farcical elections are pre-selected preordained careerist political candidates who have long forgotten the notion of “public service” as their election is sold to the highest bidder as is the case in all capitalist societal arrangements.
To understand the scope and magnitude of the global capitalist kleptocratic dictatorship, I urge everyone to read Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World By Oliver Bullough.
Then watch the award winning 2010 documentary Inside Job about the 2008 global financial collapse if you still harbor illusions about the morality and sustainability of the neoliberal dystopia of rampant financial corruption, criminality and outright thievery. But were any of these bandits even prosecuted? Of course not; they were instead bailed out by the sock puppet governments throughout the world as we were once again bullshitted with “they were too big to fail”.
You should be able to watch this revealing and disturbing film here:
It’s been said that “the first casualty of war is the truth”.
Anyone who desires or is sufficiently curious to inquire into the real history of every war throughout history rather than the standard establishment whitewashed narrative, will come to understand that War is a Big Lie and a “Racket” according to America’s most decorated hero, Major General Smedley Butler who wrote the book “War is a Racket” in the 1930s. The powers that be, today our corrupt corporate and financial oligarchs, never miss an indoctrination opportunity to promote docility and authoritarianism (like their endless coverage of the parasitic British Royal Family and other billionaire bastards), the military and nobility of war at every opportunity. Smedley Butler informs the reader most of what you need to know about the “Big Lie” of War. There is a reason for the well-known repeated verity that “truth is the first casualty of war”.
Like much else that goes on in our capitalist countries with their cultures of greed and exploitation, when a political pimp who is purported to be representing your interests proposes policy “in the public interest” like bloated military budgets or another war, in concert with cuts to education, public health care and social security simply ask: CUI BONO? 
When it concerns war, it’s certainly not the working class young men (like my father, his brother (who never returned) who fought in WW II and my grandfather who fought and was gassed in WW I) who fight and die in the rich man’s war who benefit. Wars are about power and greed and someone profits. Guess who? Not my father, his brother or many others of my family, a few of whom fought in World War I and whose bodies have still not been recovered. Most of those who did make it home were physically or psychologically impaired for life.
Professional sporting events are one of many venues this disgraceful nauseating spectacle of war’s deification commonly occurs. To the best of my knowledge, the US military has a contract with the NFL to display the military at every game. This endless indoctrination rubbish is non-stop, regardless of which news channel you tune to, including CBC and other corporatized or privatized former government owned news media that at one time often offered dissenting views. And please spare me the patriotic hogwash and war mongering of national anthems at every professional sporting event.
During World War II my father and his older brother, convinced by the endless propaganda campaigns by both big business and the government (my mother told me how vile and pervasive this propaganda was during WW II), enlisted in the Canadian Air Force. Both brothers were trained as pilots but my father due to sinus issues was transferred to a Lancaster bombing crew. His brother Arthur became a Spitfire pilot and was killed in North Africa in 1942 at the Battle of El Alamein; my paternal grandmother never recovered from his loss.
Subsequent to Art’s death, my dad also enlisted and became a pilot but as mentioned, ended up on a Lancaster bombing crew and after dozens of missions, was fortunate to make it home. He was on many bombing raids including the infamous fire-bombing (early version of napalm used by the imperialist Americans in Vietnam who murdered as many as five million South East Asian people) of Dresden in February 1945, a non-military target ordered by the war loving monarchist and certified bastard Winston Churchill which vaporized hundreds of thousands of civilians. The war was over for the Nazis following the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 but this was inconsequential for the revengeful blood lust of Churchill. The Russians, as many readers may be aware won the Second World War (not the late arriving Americans as they like to claim) and paid a heavy price with between 25-30 million casualties.
Every member of my father’s Lancaster crew became life-long alcoholics, quite clearly traumatized by their war experience. The military of course is notorious for its boozing culture and mindless regimentation, turning young men into lobotomized killing machines. It was families like mine who paid the price. My father died in 1991 at 71 likely due to his heavy drinking and smoking. My dear loving and strong willed Swedish mother who died in 2019 at the age of 94, kept our family unit together which I’m sure was the vocation of many heroic mothers in the post World War II era of psychologically damaged war vet husbands.
My intelligent hard working dad (six days a week and 10-12 hour days) loved the outdoors and took me with him on many fishing and hunting excursions from our Northern BC home but he rarely talked about the war despite my incessant inquiries. The regimentation and authoritarianism of military life he quite obviously despised. He spoke about the squalid living conditions and terrible food they were served overseas and especially the arrogance and pomposity of the Americans he met in Britain. He had a great sense of humor despite his pent up anger and frequent fits of rage following drinking binges, informing me that American soldiers were awarded medals for simply showing up on time.
Despite my dad’s alcoholism, he deployed his innate intelligence and solid work ethic to survive and provide security for our family but never set foot in the red necked haven of the Royal Canadian Legion  for his drinking rituals. Anything to do with the military, including participating in the fraudulent sacraments of Remembrance Day, he avoided like a plague. And he would never degrade himself by brandishing a silly pompous ass “Veteran” license plate on his vehicle. Unlike my dad, most of these dumb jerks never experienced war like my dad. I worked several summers from about the age 15 on a car lot at the Ford dealership my dad managed and learned a great deal about the nastiness of business, politics and war. The lot man who I worked with was a delightful character named Freddy Hoschlacher who at age 15, was forced into the German Army but was eventually captured in 1945 by the Americans. He told me about the horrors of the German retreat and the internment camp, especially the cruelty of the US soldiers at the military prison; but he was eventually transferred to a Canadian camp and was able to immigrate to Canada. He had some amazing stories he loved to tell, some about the brutalities he endured. He and my father became good friends; I learned a great deal from Herr Freddy.
My best friend in high school and I, during one of our many irrational dumb ass teenage moments decided to take a shot at the Air Cadets, which some of our equally radical and counterculture school pals we hung out with rightly called the Air Head Cadets. I didn’t even like the regimentation of the boy scouts with the patriotic militaristic drivel and singing of “God Save the Queen” after each boring ritualistic session. But unfortunately my friend and I had to find out for ourselves .We were provided with horrible hand me down wool uniforms - probably World War I vintage - for which I was allergic. We lasted two days. After hours of marching and saluting, with some room temperature IQ asshole endlessly screaming at us, we could no longer tolerate the humiliation and demeaning experience. We resigned after I informed the endlessly screaming power tripping staff Sergeant to “fuck off”.
Happy Bloody Remembrance Day
Two Cheers for War, Death and Destruction
George Carlin on War and the Illusion of Choice
Rather than believing the sanctimonious patriotic drivel we are bombarded with on Remembrance Day about young working class men fighting other young working class men while dying and being maimed both physically and emotionally all in the name of…wait for it… our “freedoms” and “democracy”, we ought to listen to people who tell us what war is really all about.
Such as the late great George Carlin:.
Now listen to Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated war hero in the United States until Audie Murphy’s exploits in WW II (dramatized in the 1950s movie: To hell and Back).
War is a Racket:
 Red poppies were inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian army officer John McCrae. The pro-war poem calls on Canadians to “take up our quarrel with the foe” and was used to promote war bonds and recruit soldiers during World War I. Remembrance Day marks the end of WWI, which was a capitalist, colonialist, horror show. The ruling elites of France, Germany, England and Russia saw war as a way to weaken working class challenges in their countries. The other major force that spurred WWI was inter-imperial rivalry in Europe. It was a struggle for global supremacy between up-and-coming Germany and the imperial powers of the day, Britain and France. In fact, support for the British Empire was Ottawa’s primary motive in joining the war. As Canada’s monarchist Prime Minister Robert Borden during World War I saw it, the fight was “to put forth every effort and to make every sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honor of our empire.”
 Two of the primary agendas of the vicious reactionary neo-fascist counter-revolution against public gains made during a century of often violent social and labor unrest and the counter-culture of the 1960s was a combination of destruction of unions, workers rights and deregulation of the economy to make way for widespread privatization and economic plunder of the commons. The process of deregulation subjects most people to peonage combined with governments reduced to mere rubber stamps to increased levels of financial parasitism and corporate tyranny, a virtual dictatorship of capital. The proliferation of deregulation itself is a reflection of the reality that ordinary people have been shown to “have little or no independent influence” on government policies as elections are reduced to pre-selected candidates whereby people vote for two or more corporatist boot lickers, none of whom reflect their interests. Read this.
Deregulation is a word popularized in the 1980s when UK Prime Minister Thatcher declared “there is no alternative” to neo-conservative/neo-liberal corporatist capitalism while US President Ronald Reagan promised that he would free corporations from intrusive government interference in their the nefarious activities of corporations, banks and financial thieves. The deregulation led to the dot.com bubble of 1999-2000 and with the Wall Street-based financial services industry granted a blank check to behave like a casino led to massive excesses in the manipulation of a large array of bizarre financial instruments known as derivatives. In 2008 the exuberant excesses of betting on derivatives crashed the housing market, stock markets and local economies throughout the world.
The very financial institutions whose excessive speculation had caused the financial debacle in the first place were then empowered to raid national treasuries. In the name of deregulation, the big Wall Street banks and their international partners helped themselves to $29 trillion in bailout money funds with no strings attached. This Federal Reserve giveaway to large financial institutions was funded on the basis of secretly foisting massive debts on the shoulders of taxpayers.
With Wall Street’s Black Rock Inc. serving as a kind of proxy for the big banks that own controlling interest in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the deregulated money spigots were once again being opened up in 2020- 2021 during the covid-19 crisis. The creation of new money is finding its way into all manner of nefarious activities including the creation of political slush funds to reward cronies of governing crooks and kleptocrats. The clandestine expansion of the money supply stems largely from the attempt to smooth over the economic wreckage brought about through the proliferation of lockdowns, unemployment, and small business failures done in the name of government-mandated covid-19 restrictions. The current round of highly-inflationary money creation is replicating and extending many of the most kleptocratic patterns established in response to the bank-generated economic meltdown of 2008.
Once again a disproportionately large portion of the new money being generated is going to enrich the already wealthy by further indebting the most indebted class of citizens. This pattern is being replicated across many forms of deregulation. Typically, most of the rewards of deregulation go to the interests of wealth and privilege while the financial security, health, and overall wellbeing of those inhabiting the middle and lower portions of socio-economic hierarchies are severely undermined.
The waging of class assault directed downward on the masses from the very pinnacles of wealth and power is well illustrated by the financial dimensions of the covid-19 crisis. This crisis is providing cover for secret manipulations by financial insiders in the process of bringing about the greatest upward transfer of monetary wealth in history. Billionaires are making a killing while the middle class is being decimated to create a society polarized between rich and poor with very little in between.
This propensity is well demonstrated during lockdowns when big box store chains like Costco, Home Depot and Wal-Mart can remain open while local governments regularly shut down mom and pop businesses by the score. Wall Street gets the gravy while the small business entrepreneurs on Main Street are regularly shut down and forced out of business. Meanwhile the bloated stock markets are reaching record levels of over-valued securities; when the bubble will explode is anyone’s guess. But it will – followed by the obligatory nanny state bailouts.
 Every year the Royal Canadian Legion sells about 20 million red poppies in the lead-up to Remembrance Day. To help the historically racist and homophobic organization fundraise, the federal government granted it a monopoly over poppy distribution in 1927. While its core political mandate is improving veterans’ services, the Legion has long advocated militarism and a reactionary worldview. In the early 1930s it pushed for military build-up and its 1950 convention called for “total preparedness.” In 1983 its president, Dave Capperauld, supported US cruise missiles tests in Alberta and into the early 1990s the Legion took “an uncompromising stand on the importance of maintaining a strong Canadian military presence in Europe through NATO, and by supporting the United States build-up of advanced nuclear weapons.” The Legion has also espoused a racist, paranoid and pro-Empire worldview. In the years after World War II it called for the expulsion of Canadians of Japanese origin and ideological screening for German immigrants. A decade before WWII, reports Branching Out: the Story of the Royal Canadian Legion, “Manitoba Command unanimously endorsed a resolution to ban communist activities, and provincial president Ralph Webb…warned that children were being taught to spit on the Union Jack in Manitoba schools.”
Long after the end of the anti-communist hysteria of the Cold War the organization remains concerned about “subversives.” Today, Legion members have to sign a statement that begins: “I hereby solemnly declare that I am not a member of, nor affiliated with, any group, party or sect whose interests conflict with the avowed purposes of the Legion, and I do not, and will not, support any organization advocating the overthrow of our government by force or which advocates, encourages or participates in subversive action or propaganda.”
The veterans group has sought to suppress critical understanding of military history from the perspective of bottom-up history. In the first decade of the 2000s the Legion confronted Canadian War Museum historians over an exhibition about the World War II allied bomber offensive. After shaping its development, the Legion objected to a small part of a multifaceted exhibit, which questioned the efficacy and the morality of the massive bombing of Germany’s industrial and civilian targets. With the museum refusing to give the veterans an effective veto over its exhibit, Legion Magazine called for a boycott. The Legion’s campaign led to hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and a new display that glossed over a bombing campaign explicitly designed to destroy German cities. It also led to the director of the museum, Joe Guerts, resigning.
A decade earlier the Legion participated in a campaign to block the three-part series The Valour and the Horror from being rebroadcast or distributed to schools. The 1992 CBC series claimed Canadian soldiers committed un-prosecuted war crimes during World War II and that the British-led bomber command killed 600,000 German civilians. The veterans groups’ campaign led to a Senate inquiry, CRTC hearing and lawsuit, as well as a commitment from CBC to not rebroadcast The Valour and the Horror without amendments.
Canadians of conscience should not help fund the reactionary red neck war loving Royal Canadian Legion. Nor should they promote the martial patriotism red poppies and Remembrance Day represent.
Earlier Posts on November 11 - a duplicitous day of whitewash and bullshit: