tip off

Crikey says: the Anzac mythology up close

Who’s cashing in on aged care? A special report from Paddy Manning. Joe Hockey softening us up with budget hypocrisy. Liberals and lobbyists: finding the line. The legacy of Brian Harradine (not great if you’re a woman). Guy Rundle on the Anzac mythology. How those photogenic royals are turning us off a republic. And Helen Razer’s Game Of Thrones spoiler.

On the eve of Anzac Day, an alternative eulogy to diggers long gone from Guy Rundle:

Gallipoli and Anzac was that most amazing event — a lethal and pointless campaign that would serve as a pretext for the ceremony that would commemorate it. That the campaign was pointless in the larger scheme of things goes without saying. The idea that World War I was some sort of crusade against German militarism has gained great currency lately. The more reasonable argument would be that Germany was trying to dominate Europe, while the British empire was trying to encircle them and choke them off, in alliance with France and Russia. But even if you gave some credence to the anti-German argument, the decision to attack the Ottoman Empire has not a jot of moral character.

The ‘Young Turks’ running the Ottoman Empire had been persuaded that joining the war would be in their interest in creating a modern state — at least half those doing the persuading (such as the mercurial Marxist millionaire Parvus) were doing it on the basis that the war would break the empire up altogether. So were the British — Churchill having switched the British navy to petrol from coal (and been rewarded with shares in the forerunner of BP), the emerging Caucasian and emerging Middle Eastern oilfields were vital to its interests, not to mention the Suez canal and the route to India. The United States joined the war in 1917, in response to German attacks in civilian shipping; it saw no need to declare war against the Turks, and never did.

The entire attack had not even the vestige of a moral angle. And the argument that it was somehow a defence of Australia’s interests assumes that those interests were not only imperial in nature, but fully justified — something that many of the soldiers at Anzac Cove, trade unionists and socialists, would have had no agreement with.”

Bless them and their selfless service. If only it had been for half of what we now tell ourselves it was all about.

*We will, of course, be quietly commemorating offline — normal transmission will resume on Monday

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  • 1
    David Hand
    Posted Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    That’s right Crikey,
    Piss all over the Australia of 100 years ago with a puerile revisionist smart-arsed “alternative” history of Gallipoli.

    But still take the day off.

  • 2
    graybul
    Posted Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Never thought would be agreeing with David … but on this occasion yes! A shallow, “filler” that adds zero to a reader’s insight, understanding!

  • 3
    Jill Baird
    Posted Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Come on you Anzac cheerleaders - it’s up to you to justify the attempted invasion of a foreign country with zero connection to Australia.

  • 4
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The antiquity of an error is no justification for its continuation.

  • 5
    jmendelssohn
    Posted Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I will be commemorating Anzac day in the only way that squares with my conscience – dining out at a Turkish Restaurant.
    Let it not be forgotten that while our young men were blood sacrifices for British Jingoism, their deaths were a trigger for secular Turkish nationalism under the leadership of Kemal Atatürk (who oversaw the Turkish victory).

  • 6
    max steinman
    Posted Friday, 25 April 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    David Hand could you actually explain what in this article is revisionist and so offensive to your sensibilities?

  • 7
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 25 April 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Revisionist.
    Where do I start.
    Ok, popular history says that the allies invaded Turkey in order to establish secure supply lines to the Russian front. According to Crikey, the allies invaded Turkey because Churchill had been bribed with equity positions in oil companies that would then be able to make a killing through allied control of the Dardanelles.

    Next. “the decision to attack the Ottoman Empire has not a jot of moral character” So this whole ill-conceived disaster known as Gallipoli can be judged from the safety of the Crikey bunker a hundred years later as “immoral”

    It’s not so offensive though. After all this is the inner urban left of Fitzroy we are talking about. It’s absolute middle of the road stuff that passes for opinion on Crikey these days.

    What I found ironic was the end note where the Crikey warriors had just written off the whole event as immoral, had no difficulty taking the commemorative public holiday off.

  • 8
    max steinman
    Posted Monday, 28 April 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    He’s making the point that any argument in favour of the war has no moral character, and he’s right and the soldiers and Gallipoli would have agreed with him. The justifications are immaterial, the war was immoral and it served certain interests, there was nothing in any part of the war on either side that could be judged as moral, it was a slaughter under imperial banners that served pre-existing interests and murdered an entire generation of men all over the world. How can you say any of it is not immoral?

  • 9
    AR
    Posted Monday, 28 April 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    MaxS - double plus good. Your exposition applies to they who were citizens of the soi-disant Great Powers - they were chewed uop and spat out for an ideology already old and rotten.
    For this recently Federated country to have been involved was insane but that our troops were all volunteers shows the power of delusion when wrapped in tradition.

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