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War, religion, and a half billion dollars

By Henry Johnston

When you do the maths, you realise almost a half billion of your dollars has been set aside by the Morrison Government to redevelop the Australian War Memorial. Add to this $100 million spent on the Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux. Now add almost $13 million to document the official histories of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. Then add the $40 million dollars lavished on the refurbishment of Sydney’s ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park.

So far I’ve tallied almost $653,000,000. I am innumerate, so this figure might be off the mark, but you get my drift. I do not know how much money has been set aside on war memorials or their equivalents in other states of the Commonwealth, but the tally might approach three quarters of a trillion dollars.

So, what is going on? The 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War 1 comes and goes on November 11 2018, but the question is, does this sad anniversary justify this massive expenditure?

Social media is taking the pulse of Scott Morrison’s largesse, and the indirect beneficiary of this near half billion dollar grant, the Australian War Memorial’s Director and failed Liberal leader, Dr Brendan Nelson. All I detect is a general consensus suggesting the dough be spent on the health and well-being of men and women injured in Australia’s most recent conflicts.

As a writer I’ve woven the effects of war into my novels and short stories. I am of a generation directly affected by World War 2. My father worked in war industry and before him long-dead nameless great uncles survived the horrors of World War 1.

My first reaction is ANZAC Day and war memorials large and small in Australian towns, villages and cities, serve as a substitute for a national religion. The Dawn Service held at Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25th each year, is a rite of passage for thousands of young Australians. These rituals are not uncommon. Young European men and women tread the path of Camino de Santiago in Spain, or complete the five routes to achieve Ireland’s Pilgrim’s Passport.

Religion and war freely borrow one another’s iconography to snare this youthful optimism and I reckon the half billion dollars earmarked for the decade-long redevelopment of the national war memorial, continues this tradition.

I doubt the Labor Opposition will criticise the expenditure because there is no political mileage in so doing. Indeed, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Dr Brendan Nelson Director of the Australian War Memorial, and the good doctor will now be comfortably remunerated until he retires.

So on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War 1, it is worth considering two examples of religious iconography deployed by propagandists, during that awful period of our history.

The first is the Angels of Mons. The second the Miracle of the Sun, known among pious Christians as the Miracle of Fatima, a village in Portugal. Both occurrences are inextricably linked with the actual apocalypse.

The Angels of Mons occurred shortly after Great Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. A mere 19 days later on August 23rd, the British Expeditionary Force clashed with the German Army. After the shock and awe of battle, the BEF somehow managed an orderly retreat, and staved off a major defeat.

An account of events in Mons, written by journalist Arthur Machen, described heavenly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt shielding the retreating British forces. Machen’s item became a cause celebre among home front spiritualists. His story eventually morphed into the myth of the Angels of Mons, and was deployed to boost morale. The Angels of Mons fantasy is documented by the Australian War Memorial, but not so the Miracle of the Sun, or Fatima. The latter is probably ignored because Portugal’s involvement in World War 1 focused principally on its imperial possessions in Africa. However, the date of the Miracle of Fatima 13 October 1917, is significant. The Russian Czar is in custody. The Bolsheviks in power, and with Russia out of the war, the redeployment of German divisions to the Western Front means defeat. Three of Fatima’s children describe visions of the Virgin Mary. The sun dances in the sky as an accompaniment to the miracle, which remained a powerful example of Marian piety until the reign of Pope John Paul the Second. In reality the Miracle of Fatima was used by the Vatican in its campaign against Communism.

And so to our own great myth; the debacle of the landing at the Dardanelles where 8,709 Australians died. By the end of the obscenity of World War 1, 61,522 Australians perished.

I do not belittle those who take spiritual nourishment from the story of Gallipoli or the Angels of Mons, or the Miracle of Fatima, but I hope a tiny portion of the half billion dollars will be set aside by the Australian Government to valorise the memory of young Aboriginal men and women, killed in battle to defend their Australian home lands. I doubt this will happen because as of now those frontier wars do not fit our view of who we are, and how we became Australians.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain an at Forty South Publishing.


52 comments

  1. Baby Jewels

    And the $50 million to be spent on a Captain Cook statue at Kurnell.

    Morrison loves monuments, medals, memorials and museums, but not people so much.

  2. Phil

    The gobsmacking expenditure on all this war propaganda is obscene. it is crass, populist politics at its very worst. Like most other nations Australia shows the same cold indifference to the lives of the surviving wounded and shocked soldiers from past wars. There is no glory in war survival – just a place amongst the under resourced, the forgotten, the homeless, the traumatised, in the society that caused it all through propagandising and glorification.

    For those who actually fight, war is horror, crime, rapaciousness, inhumanity.

    For those who wage war and who propagandise war, and who glorify it ie the political class – there is power and reward where there should be ignominy and expulsion.

  3. Karen Kyle

    The story of the Angels of Mons and Our Lady of Fatima etc are common kinds of religious stories told during war and they are told by every culture. The Angels of Mons story was investigated by journalists covering the War at the time. Although the rumours were rife the journalists were unable to discover one eye witness to this supposedly supernatural event.

    It may be that fear, exhaustion, lack of food and sleep and discomfort caused by never taking off uniform or boots etc and hardly ever washing adds to a state of delirium and possible hallucinations.

    It is also possible that these stories are used for propaganda purposes. There is an Arab story that says a truck full of 25 soldiers had to get through an enemy checkpoint. Allah turned the soldiers into sheep so the enemy let the truck through. Once clear of the checkpoint Allah turned the sheep back into soldiers. This story spread like wildfire through the Arab Army and was believed by everyone. Quite a moral booster.

    As for our War memorials etc, it is important that they are kept in good condition. Every country does this. The question is what is enough, and what is just plain over the top and ridiculous jingoism?

  4. DrakeNi

    To paraphrase ‘L.G.Nelson’: “When too much War Memorabilia is not enough.”

    Goddammit, if we don’t glorify our battles, how can we justify selling military hardware for others to engage in their own?

  5. DrakeN

    To paraphrase ‘L.G. Nelson’: “When too much War Memorabilia is not enough.”

    If we do not glorify our own battles, how are we to justify selling military materiel to others to conduct theirs?

  6. DrakeN

    Well, Kaye, he has so little capacity for originality that such regurgitation is to be expected.

  7. SteveFitz

    “Someone always makes a profit from war!”

  8. New England Cocky

    Meanwhile successive Australian governments and the DVA especially have done every thing possible to deny former service personnel medical treatment for many psychological disorders directly attributable to military and/or war service.

    Still, by Liarbral thinking, war memorials are good because Menzies resigned his Australian Army commission on the first day of WWI, Little Johnnie Flak-jacket Howard, never saw a shot fired in anger and neither did Toxic RAbbott. But mostly, the contracts for this unessential work can be given to loyal Liarbral Party supporters as largesse for their political contributions.

  9. Kerri

    Excellent article.
    Why are we spending an obscene amount of money on the dead whom we cannot help that would be far better spent on the living who need our help.
    Don’t commemorate war.
    Help those whose lives are ruined by it.

  10. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think a place of commemoration should turn into a display of weapons. We saw the effect that a hovering helicopter had on a tennis player at the Invictus games. It is a memorial, not a museum. If anything, the focus should be on the victims of war – those who fought and those who didn’t, yet all suffered. It should focus on the social cost of war. Perhaps it could raise questions about doing things differently rather than displaying their nifty collection of killing machines.

  11. SteveFitz

    Hang on… Why would you spend 650 million dollars ($650,000,000.00) on glorifying war when you could spend it on social services and infrastructure and win a few votes? You can understand dragging in religion to win the sheep vote and, you can understand sideling up to footy players to win the footy vote. But, glorifying war when people are starving and living on the street seems obscene and pointless?

    Seriously, if Morrison thinks starting a war will win the next election – I hope he’s wrong. The only other possibility is national support for the local neighbourhood casinos – You know, the one’s that sucks the life out of people and their families through poker machines. The little biddy down the street casinos, that drive people to suicide through gambling stress. The RSL

  12. Shaun Newman

    Prime Minister Morrison this morning stated and I quote “If I thought I had the money to give the Newstart recipients a raise in payments, I’d give the pensioners a raise first” is this bloke for real?

    This L’NP Morrison government has just recently ‘given’ $5Billion to farmers, and just announced a $500 Million spend on the Canberra War Memorial to name just two items, if a government does not have the money to care for its most vulnerable 800,000 unemployed citizens it does not spend money in this way, or should not spend money in this way.

    This continues the succession of L’NP Prime Ministers Abbott, Turnbull and now Morrison in the past 5 years who speak with forked tongue. Australians have woken up to this fact and are begining to ask “What about me, it isn’t fair, now I want my share.”

  13. ChristopherJ

    Thank you, Henry.

    Lest we forget – how many times must we say that without meaning it?

    We all should’ve have spoken louder when the ME debacles started in the 90s, but I think we would’ve been bullied into supporting the usual suspects anyways. And, the military’s always itching to get some combat experience…

    Futility and horror of war in my novels, too, H. We do what we can and our money, if indeed there is a choice, could be better spent on pensions and health care for returning vets, as you allude.

  14. Ken

    Kaye Lee has hit the nail on the head ! (See her first comment above)

  15. New England Cocky

    @SteveFitz: re “the RSL”. Whatever happened to the RSL Inquiry, led by a relation of Malcolm Turnbull, that discovered notorious financial rorting by executive NSW RSL members??

    A local lad (Vietnam Vet) was involved and was seen on television confessing to about $400,000 of assorted misuse of RSL funds. He has been appearing periodically in town without any ball & chain.

    Local rumour has it that the rot went so deep into the RSL that prosecuting any of the alleged perpetrators would bring down the government.

    Perhaps this is the reasons that Turdball had to be rolled as PM; to protect the guilty from being held accountable.

  16. SteveFitz

    There’s something fishy going on at the RSL – And it’s not the chook raffle. They hide behind this vale of existing for war veterans one day a year. The other 364 days they are busy extracting as much money as possible out of the local community – All these silly games they put on, to keep people playing poker machines for as long as possible. Where do the billions go?

    Pubs did O.K. before poker machines, now they suck the life out of workers and funnel more billions to the top end of town. $24 billion dollars a year on gambling in this country? (Thanks for the info Kaye Lee) Imagine that channelled back into society and the ensuing boost to the economy and people’s lives.

    For the hooked, I know it’s hard, it’s in-grained into us through evolution. The greater the potential lose the greater the risk we will take. Combined with hunting instinct, that will leave you penniless and unable to pay your bills after a round on the pokies.

    If I had my way all gambling advertising would be banned and, I’d round up all the poker machines and burry them in an open cut coal mine. Spoil yourself, throw money at yourself and your family, not the filthy rich. They have had enough of swilling in the pig trough and feeding off us.

  17. SteveFitz

    Thanks, Kronomex – Now you’ve really got me on a roll. Cultural institutions benefit society and enhance our lives immeasurably, so they struggle for financing. War benefits the war machine and their agenda, so the money is lathered on by right-wing governments. Glorify war! Let’s have more war! We love war! Lets brain wash another generation into believing war is O.K.

    Hitler persecuted the Jews to steal their wealth and, raped, pillaged and plundered his way across Europe steeling gold and priceless artefacts – To finance the war machine. He also invaded Leningrad to control the oil. Some things don’t change, look at the middle east. Syria, Iraq and Iran are divided up into sections by global oil conglomerates. Auctioned off to the highest bidder. And, crush anyone who gets in the way.

    If they are not forced underground by a galloping greenhouse effect, our not so distant descendants will see this period in time as “The Oil Wars”. Killing each other for the earths most precious resource so we can burn it and it’s lost forever. And, we burn it at our peril. Alternate clean, sustainable energy will stop the wars and save the planet. Those blinded by greed don’t get it. They see nothing but money and power and will destroy us all in their pursuit.

    Idiots like Morrison also don’t get it, as he mindlessly gold plates war memorials.

  18. Zathras

    War memorials in Europe are more about reminders of the horrors of conflict and serve as a warning never to repeat them.

    Our National Memorial is more like an adventure theme park that commemorate bravery and courage as worthy concepts but we are a nation that has never suffered such conflict on our own soil. We have no memorials that speak of the thousands of civilians who perished at a particular site or where a city once stood but we are expanding a Disneyfied collection of weaponry and uniforms to perpetuate the glory of dying (but not killing) in battle.

    If anything, the memorial is being expanded to provide more space to add those extra names to come.

    It should really be a warning to politicians who willingly sacrifice lives in far-away lands and ANZAC Day should be a day of rage.

    Also, Hitler did none of those things SteveFitz mentions. They were carried out by ordinary people who swallowed the hype Hitler & Co fed to them and that’s what all politicians rely on.

  19. helvityni

    …what about our Canberra National Gallery, is it getting any money, anything to fix the leaks, do we worry about rains ruining our art works. What about International art-shows, are other countries still brave enough to send their most valuable art to be viewed in Oz. Does Art still matter to our leaders…??

  20. SteveFitz

    Sales of arms and military services by the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies totalled $374.8 billion in 2016. Arms sales by Lockheed Martin—the world’s largest arms producer—rose by 10.7 per cent in 2016, which was decisive to the increase in the USA’s share of overall sales to 57.9 per cent. The U.S. war machine lubricated by oil.
    https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2017/global-arms-industry-first-rise-arms-sales-2010-says-sipri?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_pulse_read%3B0qNJryfLSkaR8Asyuy05GQ%3D%3D

    Australia unveils plan to become one of world’s top 10 arms exporters: PM spruiks jobs for local manufacturers but Tim Costello of World Vision says ‘whatever money we make from this dirty business will be blood money’
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/28/australia-unveils-plan-to-become-one-of-worlds-top-10-arms-exporters
    Glorifting war is what the coalition is all about.

    Helvityni – I’m sure the Canberra National Galley could get a grant from the LNP if they proposed to display weapons of mass destruction.

  21. SteveFitz

    Kronomex – We need to step back and have a look at this. The LNP are struggling with rampant stupidity so they need to pull in support. Morrison throws money at the church to pick up the religious vote. We now see the church for what it is – Abusive and corrupted. An institution set up by men to control men and acquire wealth. The church has always been a powerful political force but that power is waning.

    Solution – More recruits. Get them while their young and brainwash them. Primary school kids are innocent and pliable and can be easily manipulated to be meek and mild and compliant little sheep. To be used by the church and the extreme right wing at a latter date when called upon.

    So, the extreme right wing coalition to cling to power: LNP, corporates, top end of town, war machines, ballooning police force, domestic military intervention, the church and exploiting children. It’s what they do.

    I know it sounds cynical but, God is in our hearts. God is not out there using and abusing children – Leave our kids alone.

  22. king1394

    Meanwhile it seems to be quite unpopular to ask people to remember the pain, grief, loss and waste that characterise war, that many fine young men and women have their lives irreparably damaged and/or shortened, while it is quite impossible to actually point to any real problems that were solved by wars rather than diplomatic and political decisions. We are calmly told ‘you would be speaking Japanese or German now’ as though that would actually make a real difference to our lives, in the same way as it is insisted that people of different religious belief would somehow over-run the world if we didn’t literally bomb them back to the stone age.

    War memorials are supposed to help us remember that war is not a good thing, but once more are being used to glorify war.

  23. SteveFitz

    I just need to add a bit about believers being used as political pawns. Children brain washed into religion become those political pawns or soldiers at a latter date. Have a look around the world, have a look at history and have a look here in Australia with religious education.

    In desperation the LNP threw big money at religious schools and the call went out from the church: “A vote for Morrison is the pathway to heaven”. The LNP gets the religious vote and the church gets paid off in cold hard cash with the promise of more recruits. Lies, deceit and hypocrisy and, the most despicable act of human indecency. The whole things a scam.

  24. Karen Kyle

    King 1394. Highly subversive comments. During WW2 you would have faced a charge of treason. And I don’t think any of us wanted to grow up speaking Japanese or German thanks. As far as War never solving any problems, I rather think WW2 solved one hell of a problem. Are you suggesting Hitler should have been given his head? And yes it would have made a great deal of difference to our lives. And what religious group has been bombed back to the stone age? And was this bombing done in the name of religion?

  25. Karen Kyle

    Steve Fitz……..Religion plays a very minor role in Australian public life these days as it should. It is quite hard to brainwash children into becoming pawns. I presume you are talking about SRE which is taught for half an hour a week in states other than Victoria where it is no longer taught at all. I had Religious education every year of my school life. It made not a scrap of difference to me or my school mates. By the time we were teenagers we highly sceptical. Anything shoved down the throat of teenagers is likely to have that effect. As for Catholic Education, many kids forget it as soon as they leave school.

    As far as I can see the only time religion and war overlap is in the burial of the dead with various clergy performing the services and the soldier’s religion marked on his ID to ensure the right Clergy buries him should he fall in battle. And this is done as a form of courtesy and respect, not as a result of brainwashing. When the bodies of fallen men are discovered and recovered from remote places they are bought home and given a proper burial according to the soldier’s stated religion. Of course. It’s called respect.

  26. DrakeN

    Karen Kyle, you are an outstanding example or the old saw: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    “As far as I can see…” you wrote, displaying incredible myopia and tunnel vision.

    I’m old, and have been watching the world of religions ever since I withdrew from formal Clerical studies in my early 20s.

    From that greater than half a century of observation of the activities of religionists, I can reasonably conclude from your posts here that you have indeed been brainwashed – to an extent that you are unable to recognise it in yourself.

    “Give me the child for the first seven years of his life and I will give you the man.” – well illustrated!

  27. Karen Kyle

    Drake N

    That isn’t an argument. That is a personal attack, followed by a cliche. Tsk tsk tsk.

  28. Kronomex

    Is it my imagination or is that idiot Ciobo starting to look like the gormless twin brother of Michael Cohen?

    What’s with this bloody idiocy of saluting veterans as they…oh, wait, the words “News Corp campaign” sums it all up. The LNP’s dark lord and master has struck again. Scummo and Cohen, I mean Ciobo, are effing morons and sycophantic little worms when it comes to anything Murdoch has his disgusting hands in.

    For me it’s neatly summed up by retired army officer Ray Martin, “”Veterans don’t need lapels or gestures,” he said. “Our most vulnerable mates need practical support.””

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/qantas-under-pressure-to-salute-veterans-on-flights-20181104-p50dxh.html

  29. Karen Kyle

    I have to agree. Bad idea.

  30. Matters Not

    Frequent flyers are usually the last to board because they want to avoid the congestion caused by those who aren’t. They know that all seats are allocated and early boarders sentence themselves to extended pain a suffering.

    Why does Ciobio hate …

  31. SteveFitz

    As a doctrine, religious beliefs have their place in society as in, it’s better to be good than bad. It becomes a real problem when religion is used as a political tool and when politics are used by the church for gain. Precisely what we have seen unfold with the Morrison government. Political favouritism and cronyism are illegal in most other countries.

    Religion is big business and, like any big business they play the government to best advantage. The Catholic church is worth about $40 billion in Australia and plans a city of Sydney high-rise development to capitalise on investments. https://www.realcommercial.com.au/news/catholic-church-plans-234m-sydney-skyscraper

    Around the Vatican, the church monopolises transport, accommodation and restaurants with mafia like control and, runs its business tax free with tithing the main order of business. The Vatican is worth around $200 billion and paves its streets in gold. While Rome is crumbling. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/03/rome-crumbles-raggi-salvini

    Without recruiting children, the church would perish and, probably go the same way as General Electrics. Why provide a bothersome service when you can just play the financial markets? The call in Rome is to tax the Church, not throw money at them.

  32. Karen Kyle

    Steve Fitz……the two articles you have posted don’t seem to have much to do with the subject of your complaints. So the Church is thinking about building a high rise building. So? Why is that evidence of corruption etc.

    As for Rome……that article doesn’t even mention the Vatican, let alone running businesses around Rome with mafia like control etc.
    I can understand your dislike of Morrison and his religion and his OTT expenditure on the war memorial etc. Why do you see these two things as linked? Seems like an ordinary part of an ultra conservative mindset to me. You are drawing a long bow and your argument isn’t even thin.

  33. Karen Kyle

    Then again the entire article is based on a very thin premise. War and it’s memories as a substitute religion? What rubbish.

  34. Karen Kyle

    More likely War and it’s memories as a boost to Nationalism and jingoism.

  35. Karen Kyle

    Catholic Church’s wealth in Australia was estimated by The Age at $30 billion not 40. Nothing like exaggeration, bit of a twist here, a wrong figure there……all grist to your mill.

  36. Karen Kyle

    The best estimation of Bankers as to the Vatican’s wealth is 10 to 15 billion, and not 200 billion. Getting into dangerous lying territory now Steve. I presume your remark that they pave the streets with gold is a metaphor.

  37. SteveFitz

    Karen – The figures on wealth for the church vary depending where you look. Total wealth for the Catholic church is estimated at between $400 billion and $2 trillion. It’s not the point. The point is, it’s a business and run like a business, not a benevolent society focused on caring for those in need.

  38. Karen Kyle

    You were talking about the Vatican, not the church world wide. Given that the total estimated wealth for the whole world ranges from 280 trillion to 80 trillion I guess no-one knows and quoting figures is probably misleading.

    And churches (especially the Catholic Church) is not a business in the usual sense nor does it acquire wealth in the usual way. Once property passes into the hands of the Church it is not lost to family inheritance, broken up and sold as is most property and money. It is kept and it accumulates over centuries (so far 2000 years). No-body inherits. Such wealth is taken out of individual and private hands,including land which has passed into “the dead hand of the Church”. That is how the church accumulated wealth. Not by business. Although investments and banking are important modern managers of wealth for the Vatican, investments and business are not how the original wealth was accumulated.. Therefore it is not quite a business like any other business and it never has been. Ditto protestant churches…….and the only churches who seem to be money hungry in the extreme these days to the point of conning and exploitation are the American Fundamentalists and their cohorts around the world.

  39. SteveFitz

    Karen – Down through the ages, more people have died in religious wars than any other. When the Catholic church ruled the world, it was called the dark ages. Anybody speaking out against church doctrine were exiled or tortured to death including philosophers, scientists and astronomers. The Crusades were driven by the church and, that rape, pillage and plunder was not sanctioned by God.

    Today, people are being blown to pieces and murdered in the name of religion. It’s not God doing that, and it never has been – Its men killing and terrorising men for money, power and control. If God was looking on, he would be horrified at the hypocrisy. He would probably also conclude that if 10% good comes from the church, that’s 10% more than nothing.

  40. Karen Kyle

    Your complaint is common. So is your belief that religion has been behind most wars. It happens to be wrong. The situation has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly research. See Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood. Just one example of such work among many.

    And I would point out that the 20th century wars WW1 and WW2 and the Russian and Chinese Revolution which were the bloodiest wars in human history were not about main stream religion Neither was the Korean or Vietnamese war. Hitler killed large numbers of Clergy just as he had all the Union leaders shot He saw them as possible dissenters and therefore dangerous . Stalin destroyed the Russian orthodox Church.and sent clergy into exile in Siberia where they died. He reduced the Russian orthodox Church to a mere rump from 55,000 parishes throughout Russia to about 5,000. I am not sure of those figures. My memory is hazy.. When Stalin got the Eastern Bloc countries by a stranglehold he persecuted Catholic Clergy.

    Religion is sometimes used as a further and spurious justification for war (god on our side etc) At the moment Islamic extremism is certainly a heavy contributing factor to the situation in the ME. However the Islamic faith which under ordinary circumstances is rightly considered to be one of the great religions of the world is now filtered through minds that are sick and with terrible consequences. A new theology has been developed to justify extremism and terrorism. And many people in the ME believe it wholeheartedly. You see it isn’t the scripture that is at fault. It is the mind through which it is filtered. Especially the mind s who see scripture literally.

    The great religion of the 20th Century was Marxism. The State became God. The beloved leader was his earthly incarnation, members of the Communist Party were the disciples and they would have no other Gods before them. It was their naive desire to bring about a sort of Utopian heaven on earth. This supposed Utopia required large scale murder and oppression on an unprecedented scale. They, like Hitler had to get rid of all dissent in order to make the world perfect. Bullshit. And in that sense you could say that both Communist Revolutions were religious.

  41. Karen Kyle

    Steve Fitz……The causes of war……mostly caused by inequality, and poverty which makes our political situation today more dangerous than it used to be…..fights over scarce resources which means survival, seeing no future for ourselves i.e. feelings of hopelessness, external threats, real or imagined, tribalism and seeing the stranger as “the other” and therefore scapegoating e.g. Trump. Fear of annihilation e.g. White Supremacists fearing they will no longer be the dominant population in a world of multi cultural immigration, but mostly poverty and inequality, ignorance, etc.

    And I am afraid because men like to fight. Because we were hunter gatherers until comparatively recently killing is part of masculinity, or can become so once the inhibition re killing your own species is removed. Men go to war to relieve boredom. They find living on the edge and the mateship of war often fulfilling. Just as often traumatic and damaging. Some men cope with war well. Others don’t cope at all. During WW1 it was found that men joined up in numbers to get away from a problematic marriage and a dead end job. There you go. Many social reasons and the nature of masculinity. Religion has not much to do with it, although in the past religion was not always altogether blameless.

  42. Karen Kyle

    Forgot to add over the top Nationalism, coupled with belligerent aggression. Nuff for you?

  43. Zathras

    Major General Smedley Butler admitted that “War is a racket..where profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives”….and “I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism”.

    A million dollars was a lot of money during the WW1 days but that war alone created around 200 new millionaires in the USA.
    Now it’s about funnelling taxpayer money into private hands for the purpose of post-war reconstruction.

    Wars are typically about resources and markets and have always been a scam where Financiers follow the dollars and soldiers follow the flag. When domestic returns start to dry up, business looks elsewhere for new opportunities.

    However, whether it’s wars, terrorism or ethnic cleansing the only way you can get people to risk their lives is under the umbrella of “good and evil” and religion is the tool invariably used. What soldier would willingly go into battle only for the sake of the bottom line a corporate balance sheet?

    For example and despite assertions to the contrary, Hitler was always a devout Catholic and earnestly believed he was doing God’s work. It’s no coincidence that his soldiers had “Gott Mit Uns” (God With Us) on their belt buckles as per the days of the Prussian Empire.

    Rather than preach about the sins of violence, Priests were known to bless the weapons and bombs of their troops before battle as if they were involved in a Holy War.

    Many wars have been started over and in spite of religion but throughout history, religion has never stopped a single one.

  44. Josephus

    Religion is older than capitalism and communism; the clash of civilisations thesis can apply to religious clashes. Athens and Sparta had their own gods (?) monotheist vs pantheist Egyptians, Israelite tribes, (some related tribes at first pantheists ), the push of Arab Moslem tribes into Berber Jewish and Christian communities in North Africa, the Thirty Years War… So the culprit seems to be cultural and perhaps linguistic tribalisms as well as theories about why we are here on earth. Nationalism is their modern successor.
    Hence the counter-projects over the centuries of globalist movements, in practice often semi globalist, from William Penn and Leibnitz to the more modest League of Nations and its successor, and the wavering, once idealistic European Union.
    Interesting by the way that in the US (here too) there is a paranoid alt-Right group that believes in a secret One World Government run by bankers or/and Jews. Or, alt-right anti Moslem variant, that there exists a global Jihad to force all the world into the Umma. And, these alt right groups have in common their own one worldism enemy. For some it is rampant capitalism. For Al Qaida et al there is a worldwide plot to convert all to Christ. The Jews all over the world are extreme Zionists they assert, while in contrast extremist Jews think all Moslems want to cast them into the sea.

  45. Jon Chesterson

    The tone of this article is indeed sober and sound, as it should be, there is no glory in war and there is no place for sabre rattling, which the Morrison government continues from the Turnbull, Abbott and Howard administrations. Indeed John Howard is arguably a war criminal for the invasion of iraq fifteen years ago alongside President Bush and Prime Minster Blair.

    The current sabre rattling is against China and some highly opinionated US Generals are exercising their egos and brainless muscles suggesting a war with China is inevitable in another fifteen years time. Trump of course has opened round one with a trade war and his customary loud and ill-constructed mouth. Morrison is a cross bearer, a crusader and he, Pyne and Dutton have been rattling their loud mouths in many quarters too, defence, border control, terrorism, African gangs, gun control lobby.

    I see the current extraordinary investment as part of the devilish cycle of war and religion, glorify it, edify it, symbolise it, market it, get people to applaud it on our commercial passenger flights, engrave it further into the mythical annals of historical propaganda in preparation for the next recruitment, to justify the exorcism of power and control, particularly power over the people, overseas, but mainly at home. Fear-mongering has already been rampant keeping refugees out from unstable, war torn regions such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Syria, mostly regions in which Australia has in all dissonance actively engaged in warfare, not to mention military sales to Saudi and blockading Yemen leading to the current tragic starvation of a million or more people. Been done before, Churchill did this to India in the WWII, and they were allies; he would have done it to Australia if he had felt the desperate need after all were’t we just the maids to the empire?

    So now the Liberals are picking a fight with Muslims and China and so the whole cycle of war gets re-issued, psyching up the brotherhood, the myths and the legends. When what we should be doing is cautioning against war, not just extremism (which includes government propaganda and excess), and actually looking after our war weary veterans, not subjecting them to Centrelink and the Indue cashless welfare card, while deserting them yet again in their twilight years – The Dissonance and hypocrisy is compelling. Much easier to build a pyramid to con the next generation into fighting a pointless war for the Liberals and idiotic patriots! This suits the palate and propaganda of nationalism. And I wonder if Morrison will put his children in the front line when the time comes or hide behind his slogans and Parliamentary privilege? Remember this, he and Dutton are preparing the political landscape for the incarceration of dissent, like pacifists and migrant before, they will be demonised and interned in camps, Australia leads the world in such dehumanising cruelty, and did it in both World wars.

    We should be making friends with our neighbours and sticking to our multicultural futures, investing in tolerance and respect. Rather than building more concrete memorials and turning our backs on the poor and shell shocked, pretending othersie, revisiting the poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, remembering the words, ‘never again’. Morrison is big on slogans, but only those to suit his cause and crusades. Adding my words to the fray… ‘Lest we Think’ https://allpoetry.com/poem/12011717-Lest-We-Think-by-Barddylbach

  46. Karen Kyle

    Zathras……Hitler was not a good Catholic. The Nazis developed their own highly peculiar brand of Christianity which they called “Positive Christianity” as opposed to negative Christianity’as practised by the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany. This Nazified brand of Christianity was without a Creed and without other essential dogmas and was a cynical ploy to shut German Churches up and to put Hitler at the centre of the new Christianity as the object of worship. The new religion was cleansed of all Semitic influences and had a Nordic Jesus. In other words it was apostate or a heresy. Anyway it was junk.

    As a matter of fact Hitler leaned heavily towards the heroic Nordic and Germanic pagan gods as well as Knights on horseback in armour all marching in Nazi parades carrying flaming torches. The slogan “blood and soil” is pagan.

    Hitler was also interested in the Spear of Destiny said to be the spear used to piece the side of Christ and therefore gave magical powers to anyone who had possession of it. They would weld power which no-one could take away I think, (not sure). There are three such spears in various museums around the world and Hitler stole one of them. All of the above demonstrates a disordered mind using whatever religious theatre he could muster to glorify himself and feed his outrageous ego. He was mad. Not religious. “In God we Trust” on the belt buckle just a bit of left over piety from the Prussians designed to impress.

  47. Karen Kyle

    Zathras……we have had war for much longer than we have had developed markets. And we are not persuaded to go to war for good or evil. We go to DEFEND OUR WAY OF LIFE which means whatever the hearer wants it to mean. And the reasons for War are much more complicated than balance sheets and bottom lines although they are part of it..

    As for Major General Smedley Butler…..he was a Socialist. So he would have exactly the view that he expressed the same views that you also express. Of course. Whether those views are correct is a different matter.

    And priests blessing weapons? So what? Priests are part of the Community and part of the culture. Religion influences culture. Culture influences religion and so on. The priests were probably patriots. Would you have been happier if they had peed on the weapons? .

  48. Zathras

    Karen Kyle,

    Although Hitler liked the heroic Wagnerian Parsival symbolism in promoting his image and that of Aryanism, on a personal level –

    Hitler was baptised as Roman Catholic in Austria, attended a Monastery School as a boy, was a Communicant and Altar Boy and (like Stalin) at one time wanted to become a priest.
    He was never excommunicated or condemned by the Church and along with Franco and Mussolini was granted Veto power over whom the Pope could appoint as a Bishop in Germany, Spain and Italy. In turn they surtaxed the Catholics and gave the money to the Vatican.

    Although it was a difficult alliance and typically one-sided, he also worked closely with Pope Pius in converting Germanic society and supporting the Church – which absorbed some Nazi ideals and preached them as part of their sermons and in turn Hitler placed Catholic teachings into public education. He also began enacting doctrines of the Church as law – outlawing all abortion, waged a death campaign against homosexuals, and demanded corporal punishment in schools and home.

    The SS not only prosecuted those against the Nazi Party but also heretics who spoke out against the Church.

    From dozens of examples in his speeches –
    “The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavor to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines (Lehren), and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of today.”

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders”.

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

    As for the Pagan Cult mythology –
    “National Socialism is not a cult-movement– a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles. In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship… Our worship is exclusively the cultivation of the natural, and for that reason, because natural, therefore God-willed. Our humility is the unconditional submission before the divine laws of existence so far as they are known to us men.”

    And from “Inside the Third Reich” by Albert Speer – “Around 1937, when Hitler heard that at the instigation of the party and the SS vast numbers of his followers had left the Church because it was obstinately opposing his plans, he nevertheless ordered his chief associates, above all Goering and Goebbels, to remain members of the Church. He too would remain a member of the Catholic Church, he said, although he had no real attachment to it. And in fact he remained in the Church until his suicide.”

    It’s irrelevant whether he was religious by your standards or just his own. What matters is how unquestioned belief provides the motivation, interpretation, influence and end result.

    He was certainly barking mad but what of those who willingly carried out orders in the Death Camps? What drove them if not a belief they were doing what they felt was unshakeably correct and sanctioned from “on high”?

    They could not all have been unwilling participants acting at gunpoint and it’s the same cognitive dissonance that motivates people to commits the horrors of today.

    Today’s White Supremacists are just yesterday’s rebadged Aryans who also cherry-pick Biblical texts to justify themselves and recruit others and today’s extreme evangelical right is just a few steps behind. It’s always been a handy tool to get people to do the unthinkable.

    Also going to war to defend yourself is certainly not the same as going to war to get something you want from someone else and even if Butler was a Socialist (like Einstein) or just had an article published in one of their magazines doesn’t automatically make his claims false . He was above all a patriot and came to believe that war should only be waged in defence of their homeland or their Bill of Rights.

  49. Karen Kyle

    Zathras. …I don’t think you and I live on the same planet, and I think deliberate distortions of history are becoming all too common. It is possible to spread these distortion through the internet, but then again the internet gives us the ability to fact check almost anything. An invaluable tool for uncovering propagandist lies, distortions and very thin arguments.

    People don’t commit atrocities because they believe they have permission from “on high”. Sometimes they are monsters who love the power of doing these things, and sometimes they do it out of sheer terror. Fear of being the next on the train to the death camp, fear of losing everything especially your life. Terror works. It always has, but usually not indefinitely.

    The consensus reached by most historians is that Hitler was in no way a Christian even though he claimed to be for reasons of political expediency. And he persecuted the Catholic and Protestant Churches. He sent Catholic clergy to a special death camp,, he forbade clergy to do anything that did not fall within very narrow religious limits, like officiating in services. He destroyed Catholic social programs and education. When clergy spoke out against him he had them shipped off. Ultimately so it is said, he planned to destroy the churches. That information came out during the Nuremberg trials and is documented. There are also the diaries of some of his top officials many of whom recorded private conversations with him and his long term plans for the church. Historians made good use of this material. And this material stands like stone. No matter how much you may want to you can’t rewrite history. The historical facts like diaries and records viewed during the Nuremberg trials will stand forever.

    You can’t blame churches in Germany for Hitler, although I know you want to. You would really like to blame the churches for a great many things some of them unjustly. The churches, capitalism and the west. The unholy trinity. There is a big difference between critical examination of all three and the irrational hatred and desire to pull them all down. To be replaced with what?

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