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Remembrance Day - the battle for the future

By John Passant - posted Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The war glorifiers have won the battle for the soul of Remembrance Day. Under the guise of opposing war, they ready the next generation of working class warriors to die in defence of capital.

What we have ended up with are myths about brave Aussie boys dying for democracy. This is untrue. Our soldiers were and are dying for imperialism - both of the dominant world power and our own.

Australian forces (from Sudan in 1885 to Iraq and Afghanistan today) have been the handmaiden of imperialism. Working class Australians have been shock troops for the British and American empires.


Australia’s ruling class supports the dominant world power by among other things supplying cannon fodder for whatever adventure this imperialist ruling class thinks necessary. Australia’s commitment of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan are re-runs of the First and Second World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.

Australia’s ruling class do this to both gain an insurance policy against attacks on our variant of the profit system and to allow us to operate as the chief imperialist power in our region. The Solomon Islands, East Timor and PNG are examples of Australia’s regional imperialism.

Another factor in this jingoistic myth making is the airbrushing of history. Australia Day, Anzac Day and Armistice Day - the holy troika of “our” nationhood - are all such incomplete truths that they become lies; lies designed to tie labour to capital and prepare the next generation of workers for slaughter if necessary.

World War I - the War to end all Wars - created revolutions across Europe. The most well known is the 1917 Russian Revolution when workers created their own democratic organs of rule - workers’ councils - and took power.

But how many readers know that it was the outbreak of revolution in Germany in November 1918 that forced the Kaiser to abdicate and the German equivalent of the ALP to declare a republic.

The revolution, together with a worsening military position and the failure of the Spring Offensive, saw the German forces sue for peace and the Armistice declared from 11am on November 11, 1918.


A little background. The Russian Revolution - with its slogans of “all power to the workers’ councils” and “land, bread and peace” - inspired workers around the world, including German workers. For example in early January 1918 nearly half a million workers went on strike in Berlin for peace.

The German working class was in ferment over the misery and destruction the war was producing. The worsening military situation heightened that ferment.

In early November 1918 the German military ordered the fleet at Kiel to fight the British Navy. The sailors knew they would be going to their death, for no reason. So they mutinied, and within two days workers and the rank and file military ran the city. Within a week councils of workers and soldiers ran Germany. When workers took control of Berlin the Kaiser fled and the German ALP declared (against their will but under pressure from workers) the German Republic. Two days later the armistice was in place.
It is a story we will hear nothing about on Remembrance Day, because it undercuts the real reason the ruling class celebrates this day - to glorify war in the name of Australian imperialism and to ready us for the next round of war in the inevitable military conflicts that will arise between competing blocks of capital.

Until we rid the world of capitalism there will be war.

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First published on the author’s blog En Passant on November 6, 2008.

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About the Author

John Passant is a Canberra writer ( and member of Socialist Alternative.

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