Saturday, November 08, 2008

Weekending: poppies, new links and the sublime

It's that time of year again when those of us who are opposed to a world dominated by war have to think about what symbol, if any, we're going to attach to ourselves.

Certainly Jon Snow seems to have taken against it and will wear no poppy, whilst others prefer to sport a white poppy in memory of the fallen, but as a clearer statement for peace. Others still wear both red and white - although personally I've never quite understood what that's about.

Anyway, it's one of those questions I feel quite agnostic on. I can't personally feel that if every member of the war parties are wearing red poppies with pride in the House that it's something wholesome and progressive, but I've always been concerned that the white version might be a little, umm, purist for me. I'm not a pacifist - I just happen to think all the wars currently being waged are bollocks.

So I'm holding a poll "Do you partake of the poppy?" (right hand column) to help get a clearer idea of where people stand. You don't seem to see many white poppies around these days so maybe they're going out of fashion...

A few links;

  • First we have new Green blog Green St Albans.
  • I was asked to highlight Cause Cast which looks a bit like YouTube but for right on stuff.
  • And then there's the new Obama run website Change.
If you have any links for me that you think I should feature - please do let me know.

And finally, a really, really beautiful song.


Tim said...

The poppy poll is closed, with no votes. That can't be right, can it?

James said...

I'm not a pacifist either, though I'm wary of asserting that with too much pride as Lenists sometimes do. Ostensibly this is because they believe the ocassional bitof force is justified in ending the much bigger violence of the system (which I agree with), but there's often an undertone of celebrating revolutionary violence.

Anyway, the main problem with the white poppy is that the decline of the traditional peace movement has made it very difficult to get hold of anymore. But here are my thoughts on the matter:

Jim Jay said...

Tim: thanks for pointing that out - no it's not right! I'll see if I can can fix it.

James: I agree that some on the left seem to relish the prospect of getting their revolutionary revenge and hanging people from lamp posts... these people must never get power!

weggis said...

I think that the reason we do not live in a World dominated by War is down to the efforts of our Parents and Grandparents, some of whom gave their lives for our freedom.


This is also an OPPORTUNITY not to forget those blighted by War NOW.

Whether those Wars are bollocks or not, is not the point. They may be localised and the immediate effects not felt by us, but they are REAL.

I wear a Red Poppy for all victims of War.

Death is a fact of life, but Tax and War need not be so!

Jim Jay said...

Weggis, you're right that those wars are real and that the consequences of decisions taken in cabinet rooms here and abroad destroy lives.

It's my feeling that those lives are important - whether it's the child shot by a young British soldier or a resistance fighter killing a teenage trooper those deaths are tragedies.

When I see the red poppy I'm always put in mind of Blair's pompous figure as he stood at the senotaph and the great lines "The great ones of the earth Approve, with smiles and bland salutes, the rage And monstrous tyranny they have brought to birth"

I'm not for disrespecting those lives but the government sponsored poppy says something more than simple respect for those who fought and/or died I think. I think there is an undertow that it approves those wars by thanking the slain for taking part - where as I believe we should be apologising to them.

I have no argument with someone who chooses to wear the poppy, I'm sure it's done for the best reasons, that doesn't exclude my choice not to wear one or to tease out what the real significance of the poppy is.

weggis said...

Tease away. But do please look beyond those who lay wreaths at the Cenotaph.

Rayyan said...

"I'm not a pacifist - I just happen to think all the wars currently being waged are bollocks" - ah, spoken just like the great man himself...

I don't wear a poppy, not because I disagree with the reasons people wear them, but because I suppose I choose to remember those who have died at war in my own way. I wouldn't wear a white poppy - I think the sentiment is admirable but I wouldn't want to offend people for no real reason, as I'm sure veterans or bereaved families might not understand why I wore white and not red.

Jim Jay said...

Weggis - I'm absolutely fine with those who wear a red poppy. I'm not one of those who'd treat a symbol like that on a lapel as a sign of some kind of reactionary pro-war postion and I hope it does not come across as teasing the victims of war.

I do have quite robust feelings on what these wars are worth though, and it isn't much. One of the great tragedies of many (not all) conflicts is that states use people's best intentions to make them accomplices in great wrongs.

Rayyan - I think this is really why I've never felt comfortable wearing a white poppy, but I remain open to the idea.

weggis said...

I’m fine with you trying to “tease out what the real significance of the poppy is.”

Blair and his ilk are, as in most things, a meaningless distraction.

Charlie Marks said...

A truly beautiful song. (Obama reference?) Thanks for reminding me to listen to more Billie. I love the songs she wrote herself - but apparently she lacked confidence in her own work.

As for the poppies. None for me. White ones too hard to get, red ones... launched from Basra this year... A bit obvious, no?

Tim said...

I've been wearing the white poppy, since I found one --- yes, not easy: Arjuna used to sell them, but not this year, it seems; but Friends House on the Euston Road came up trumps. But I've been wearing mine with misgivings rather than pride. It says PEACE in the middle of the poppy, not I'M A PACIFIST, which is good, because I don't think I am a pacifist really, though it might depend on what exactly you mean by 'pacifist'.

So why white? I suppose I feel keen to wear something to show that I'm not just indifferent. Both poppies are vehicles of ideological propaganda (and were so long before Mr Tony), and I'm a lot happier to promote white-poppy ideology than red-poppy ideology.

I do hope I haven't hurt anyone's feelings. I've actually been vaguely hoping someone would have a go at me for it, so that I can publicly explain myself; but so far no joy. So thanks, Jim, for giving me the space to write this....

Jim Jay said...

Charlie: Yeah, it seemed to fit somehow :) I almost went for a Nina Simone classic, got distracted by Screaming Jay Hawkins and then ended up with Billie. A wonderful voice.

Tim: yes "peace" is a worth while sentiment. After all saying that war is a terrible thing is a postion that hardly requires a hard line philosophic stance against violence in any and every situation. Thanks for writing your thoughts :)

Ed said...

The red poppy and remembrance day symbols and rituals have, shamefully, been reduced to ideological devices for shoring up support for ongoing wars. There was always an element of this - but it's just overpowering this year. Perhaps I'm totally wrong about this but I used to be under the impression that Remembrance Day was more about remembering the awful horror of wars and the dead of all nationalities and saying, to put it simply, 'isn't war a fucking waste of lives'.

But the major focus this year has been on showing support 'for our British heroes'. I think that's a dreadful misuse and deliberate peversion of what the poppy symbol should be about.

I was watching 'Songs of Praise' the other day - I have to say I'm not an avid viewer of that show, but I just happened to catch a bit of it. It was pure propaganda for Britain's current war effort. I was actually pretty shocked. Of course we need to remember the people who are suffering and dying in wars right now including British and American soldiers - but there are an awful lot of other people dying right now often at the hands of British and American soldiers and they just don't get a mention in this years Remembrance Day climate. They are non people.