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Apr. 25th, 2002

today, we see the return of anzac day.

*sigh*

it's my hope, that before i die, this anzac day shit will stop. and soon. i am sure this is not a popular opinion within the world, as i can see, in the fabric of the city, a very real sense of emotion from people and the ol'anzac pride, because, as you may or may not know, the anzacs died for their country. big fucking deal. so they did it in mud, as bullets sung, and the generals got everything wrong. how unusual. how new. history just isn't dotted with those kinds of stories--so why this sense of pride then, why the marches, why are people my age, some even younger, heading out to distant places to look at graves, or ringing up radio stations and talking about grandparents they didn't really know? or even that they did know. why this pride in a war. in this killing and death for a country that has changed since that day happened?

i really don't understand it.

it ties neatly, though, into a whole mess of concepts i don't understand and which i was thinking about the other day. which is that, on the scale of people living in sydney,i am pretty much located in the corner somewhere. things like anzac day show that i am, really, not in touch with a whole heap of concepts that other people find important. concepts that i would like to have in my book.

but really. anzac day. it's just another facet of this patriotic bullshit. a time to pull the old surviving soldiers out, to push them int heir wheelchairs down the street and to say what wonderful kind of australians they are. well, really, come on. what makes them better than any of the other people that were around during the war, or indeed, are around now?

perhaps it's how i grew up. my pop, who isn't exactly the most rational of men, has never marched in anything since he left the navy. he disarmed bombs there. his opinion, paraphrasing here, is generally that marching and pulling out the medals now is to give everything the nice shiny plastic cover, and to ignore the fact that it was horrible. that what happened, what went on, wasn't about medals and marches and patriotism.

of course, this is also ignoring the fact that my pop is an englishman living in australia. maybe he doesn't have anything to do with it over here.

for me, i think, really, that things like anzac day only continue to keep alive a type of patriotism that no longer has a place in the world today. it's useless. this idea that there are borders that we must defend, that there is an ideal of australianness that we must uphold, it's a load of shit. really. the notion of australianness changes every five years, and this concept that there is one way to live, one way to be a good australian, to be a good anyone, leads to all that fucked up violence and anger that we see daily within our streets. to walk down parramatta and fear a group of lebanese guys, or to watch A Current Affair (the woman's weekly of tv) and find that they are playing the race card again because they are not in that small little ideal of a perfect australian, is just to continue this cycle is intolerance that is built in the fundamentals of politics.

what's the quote?

'patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.'

or something very close. i wish i could remember who said it. but it's true, nonetheless: all the intolerance of the world, the last remains of racism and where true inequality lies, is in the heart of patriotism.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2002 08:26 pm (UTC)
Borders
The idea of patriotism may sicken me but without this concept of borders/separation we (mankind, the world, and them) would perish. Identifying these diversities is essential for our current society and economy to maintain its existence. But of course if don't give a shit a prefer anarchy then tear down these boundaries and live in a happy little place where everyone is nice and sweet with each other because I grow my potatoes for the good of all.
For me I'd rather tolerate a patriotic march once a year if it means that I am abusing the internet at work rather than crawling around in the dirt harvesting my potatoes.
Strong words I know but I’m no second or third generation hippie.
benpeek
Apr. 26th, 2002 05:06 am (UTC)
Re: Borders
it's always crawling in the dirt, in the end, isn't it.

i don't know if those borders are really that important to the construction to who we are. they are, obviously, important at the moment, but are they *really* important? what would really happen if there were no borders, and we were all given over to anarchy for at least a while?

hard to say. i figure people would tribalise and we'd still have those borders anyhow.

this is mainly why i urge against patriotism, and all that stuff i mentioned: because it won't go away, and because, ultimately, i don't believe there is anything important about being australian, or any other deriviate. it's nothing worth fighting for, nothing worth feeling superior for.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 28th, 2002 07:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Borders
Oh Come on. Saying "lets give anarchy a go!" is about as valid as saying "I'd really like to raise, slaughter & butcher my own cattle so I can continue eating meat." It is the type of thing that only someone living well entrenched in the comforts of Western Civilisation would even have the time to say. I mean you couldn't even handle being at home with the electricity out for 3 days!

And a whinge about patriotism sounds less valid from someone who can't even relate to his own city. You feel distinct from people that live a 30 minute drive away and yet you claim that you put no faith in national borders? Maybe it's because you have never crossed them. Put yourself in a totally alien culture and then tell me that it doesn't feel good to be able to identify yourself as something. We define ourselves in relation and contradisinction to what is around us, it is a rare and possibly non-existant individual who defines him or herself without reference to some sort of context. This definition must be made up of both what we relate to and what we do not relate to. As such a psychological border is important even if we concede that the geographical one isn't.

Also I'd suggest that pride in something doesn't necessitate a belief in it's superiority over something else. Pride can be held even with acknowledgement of inferiority and that's the case with ANZAC day after all.

Jase
benpeek
Apr. 28th, 2002 08:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Borders
anarchy doesn't necessarily subscribe to a world without power, or one built upon 'anarchy'. anarchy is what you get before something new happens, and this case, something entirely new. undescribale newness. not this weak democracy, or this capitalist society. yes, yes, it's not going to happen, ect. ect. but the arguement for anarchy in a theoretical sense is an arguement for change, for something entirely new. and may i point out, that some people do raise, slaughter and eat their own meat :)

while you may have a point in the case of anzac day, i rather think that it doesn't entirely sit there. patriotism isn't just about having a cultural identity in another country, it's also about making sure other cultural identities don't have the equal footing in the country of it's origin. being australian, after all, gets more nods in this country than being chinese, and that doesn't even enter into the debate of australian-chinese or any other dashing subplot of an cultural identity. sure, when you holiday, it may indeed be nice to know that when you get home there will be others like you around--as you said, i wouldn't know. but is this a sense of social xenophobia, built in us by the idea of patriotism and 'home'? and how about the people from other countries who live here? those who aren't going to be going home, where should their patriotism lie...

but *shrug* i just don't like patriotism, so i will argue and argue and argue. but i do agree on the psychological border business, which, btw, is what we see at play within the city of sydney.

the feeling of distinction from people thirty minutes away is psychological, and is something that you yourself know exists :P sydney is a fragment city, and go thirty minutes (i'd say an hour) in any direction, and you run into another part of sydney, with different 'psychological cultural' points, i guess. this is especially found in essays, literature, and other little books on sydney...
(Anonymous)
Apr. 28th, 2002 08:54 pm (UTC)
Any excuse for a parade darling.
Ok so it's not a very exciting parade. I mean there's no glitter involved and no outrageous frocks, indeed everyone involved is fully clothed. Actually I count that as a blessing. It happens during the daytime for goodness sake and, as I believe, there is some sort of happening at Dawn. I mean if I'm still out at dawn it's because I've eschewed male company in favour of an amphetamine binge or I'm having a very unlucky night indeed. And if I'm wearing a badge that says "lest we forget" I'm probably referring to my name at that point.

But I can relate to your disbelief in some way. I have noticed a disturbing trend in a local night spot that I am known to frequent on occassion. The dj there has been playing, on a weekly basis, songs such as a Grease medley, nutbush city limits. HIDEOUS. And as if it wasn't bad enough to be caught on the podium as these songs begun one is almost prevented from gracefully and immediately dissappearing from view by throngs of people flocking into organised lines dancing the Madison all over the dance floor. Now looking at the crowd I noticed that at least three quarters of these people weren't even born when these songs were released. Why on earth are they getting so excited about these forgotten pop hits? It's the degeneration of society I tell you. Andy, wherever you are, you were wrong. Some people have gotten WAY more than their 15 minutes of fame. Surely even Travolta hurls projectile chunks at the memory of those, now tragic, years.

Now during my tumultuous years at St Hilliers Ore Refining College for Ladies I too was forced into military formations of Madison dancing. Of course then we were in training for the possible invasion of the communists and those formations had a military purpose as well. But I hated the damn thing even then. And if I wanted to get all nostalgic about my school years I wouldn't be embarassing myself in front of the clubbing masses, I'd be requesting that my boyfriend wear his old school uniform to bed. Of course his uniform isn't so far out of use anyway, beautiful young thing that he is.

Toodles
Madam G
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
Anzac Day
When I googled for exact matches of "anzac day shit" just now, I got exactly one hit (your page), and I just want to say that your blog entry expresses my own feelings exactly! I just wish that more people would see things in this way, and I commend your stance with regard to racism springing from patriotism.

The quote is usually attributed to Samuel Johnson, by the way.

(Just for the record, I am not Australian myself, just a cosmopolitan currently living in Sydney)
benpeek
Apr. 25th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC)
Re: Anzac Day
wow. this is one old entry. anyhow, glad you liked it.

:)
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