I’ve put this post up for the last two years – but once again having seen not one poppy wearer at the Anarchist Bookfair I think it’s worth repeating. Are we out of sympathywith the common culture of our country comrades? Anyone drink down the  Legion? We are not ‘ALL PALESTINIANS’ for fuck sake! The new Black Flag contains an article by Manchester No Borders crtical of my enthusiasm for Frank Newbould’s wartime propaganda poster ‘ Our England – Let’s fight for it’ – presumably it should have read ‘Our England – lets  throw the towel in to the Nazis – thank god we got rid of borders by concreting in the Channel’

Another of Newbould’s brilliant  wartime posters – it don’t exactly look like the Toff’s Britain he’s assking us to fight for?

Here’s a post on POPPY WEARING I put up last year – but it bears repeating I think:

Wearing poppies this year then?

Despite its annual proximity to Remembrance Sunday I can never recall seeing anyone at the Anarchist Bookfair wearing a poppy. Maybe this year – as the outporing – indeed out of the closet – support for our WW2 fighters on the previous post demonstrates – some poppy wearers might be a first step before we contemplate a wreath laying at local war memorials or the Cenotaph. Certainly anything at the Cenotaph ought to be heartfelt and low key……..but we really ought to be reclaiming the day from Royals and Party leaders.It was our fucking class that won the war – maybe at long last we can show some pride in it. I did wear a poppy last year on the Notting HilL BTR march and there was a furious response on the Libcom Forum from one indivdual like it was the sell out of a lifetime!!

It may be that after all it wasn’t  my generation of  1968 that were the true radicals but our boring old mums and dads in their stuffy clothes and values that were the truly radical generation – fighting the war, bringing in the Labour landslide of 45, voting in Communists, ILP ers and the almost anarcho-utopian Commonweal party in the war. As always Orwell summed up the Left’s problem with patriotism  and derided how out of touch with our people they were.  Orwell said it was the upper class and the working class who valued physical courage and bravery – the middle class sneered and mocked it…….check out how that pans out in our movement  now comrades.For Orwell in 1940 that meant dismissing the leftie pacifists and turning the forerunner of the Home Guard into a revolutionary fighting force. He even imported Spanish anarchists to teach petrolbomb throwing in sedate OSterley Park! We need a similar sea change in our attitde to our Englishness and our recent history.

Seeing Michael Vaughan’s tearful exit from being England’s cricket captain – stress mate stress – recall’s Australian cricketer Keith Miller’s response when asked if he got stressed in a test match. Miller had been a fighter pilot in the war……….’LISTEN MATE – A MESSERSCHMITT UP YOUR ARSE IS STRESS – THIS IS JUST A FUCKING GAME’+

View ImageHOWZAT! Miller takes  out Nazi’s middle stump!


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  1. Dirty Squatter

    What about those white poppies? Or are they just for middle class leftie pacifists?!

    Perhaps we should have some black poppies…

  2. TomC

    Black and red ones

  3. Class War - Barnsdale Brigade

    I designed some black and red ones last year for the Barnsdale Brigade site, they’re really easy to make…

  4. Picket

    “We are not ‘ALL PALESTINIANS’ for fuck sake!” We’ve all been driven off our land (except for LORD HOME at time of writing).

    The technologies of control that are tested in the West Bank and Gaza (drones firing graphite micro grenades to burn your leg off, chemicals to spray over demonstrators, etc) are then marketed internationally. The Working Class went Global.

    Soldiers of the World unite, you have nothing to lose but your Generals!
    An Injury to One is an Injury to all!
    Class War not Race War!
    Free Palestine!

    “What happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
    “He’s over there.

    “If we destroy the British ruling class it would mean an end to the theft of resources from less wealthy nations, and in turn the flow of people following the flow of wealth.
    The role of Anarchists on the issue of migration must be to support people who are being abused by the government and attack the rich.”
    No Borders South Wales

  5. Me

    Well said. I doubt many ancestral estates or manor houses were bombed during the blitz.

    Used to enjoy getting pissed down the legion; dirt cheap and used to treat myself to a cigar (in the days before the the smoking ban).

    Maybe more effort should be made to regularly commemorate the Spanish Civil War also.

  6. uarya

    ‘we won the war’ did we? Who is we? The working class of Britain that beat the working class of Germany? War is the ultimate form of racism. As you said, it’s not a game, you don’t win a war. Remember, yes, but never, never again.

  7. Me

    Hang on, didn’t the working class enthusiastically take up arms to defend themselves against the military in Spain 1936? If we won that war instead of being betrayed by communists and governments who were courting Hitler, Mussolini & Franco it may have never got as far as a world war.

    Mind you when I look around me I wonder if the Nazis didn’t win.

  8. Adamski

    Aberystwyth in Wales is the first local council to officially comemorate non combatants as part of remembrance, indeed it is the only local authority in Britain to have an officially sanctioned event where a wreath of white poppies is lain at the Cenotaph (as well as the traditional wreath of red poppies) to remember all victims of war after a vote on the council in 2004.

    While for many people Remembrance Day is a way to quietly remember and respect the memory of working class people who died in war, the day has been consistently used by the establishment to shore up support for empire and war (one of the reasons it was first started), increasingly with the war in Afghanistan unpopular we have seen more military parades, Armed Forces Day etc.

    The way World War One is always described in the media on Remembrance Day as about ‘those who died for our freedom’ etc. is an obscene & is not the way many of those who fought saw it.

    Siegfried Sassoon, the great poet, was swept up by patriotism and in 1914-15 joined up. He gained a reputation for exceptional bravery, including the single-handed capture of a German trench. He would go out on night raids and bombing patrols and known for his manic courage. He was decorated for bravery.

    Two years later he realised “the whole damn thing was a lie” and decided to make a stand against the war. He hurled his medals into the River Mersey, before making the following declaration that was printed in the Times and read and discussed in Parliament.

    “I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

    I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

    I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

    On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.”

  9. I never wear a poppy until November 1st.

    Check back then Ian, and I am sure you will see at least some Anarchists doing so.

    • I generally start wearing a poppy around the beginning of November, maybe I should start getting one earlier just to wind the pacifists up at the Bookfair.

  10. missus lydon

    horny one this. If we ask ‘what are we fighting for?’, we invariably start by trying to figure out what we are fighting against. This usually ends up with a load of mythological bullshit, a load of weird polemics, mobilisation and the inevitable dead and wounded.

    The struggle against the Nazis in WW2 looks just like the captitalist model of profit and lost, except in a more robust form – yet it had to be done, we were compelled by our repulsion and fear to do nothing else. What else was there to do?

    OK boss, we should remember – but we cannot forget either. Seems to me that it would be a bad thing to let others who can to forget; for,if we do, we might have to join up and do our bit…

    • Me

      Whatever we think the need to reclaim this from the BNP is urgent.

      Are they that bitter about being shown what the working class thought of fascism when they got the shit kicked out of them for turning up at the Cenotaph on Rememberance Day?

      Don’t forget they’re a respectable political party now (just like New Labour), the BBC made sure of that. They’re getting way too much airtime and press coverage for my liking, might look quite credible to the more ignorant.

      Brown & Griffin side by side laying wreaths to honour the war dead? Over our dead bodies I’d like to think.

  11. Adamski

    Ernest Mandel, heavy trotskyist intellectual, once said that World War Two was actually a constellation of around 5 different wars of which 4 could be supported.

  12. Ed

    if wearing a poppy was simply about remembering the sacrifice made by many thousands between 1939 and 1945, and supporting those who survived the second world war then perhaps there would be more anarchists wearing them.

    the reason i don’t wear one has to do with the conflicts the army’s been involved since then, particularly in ireland. there is no way that i am putting any money towards supporting people who’ve served in the six counties.

  13. I’ll be wearing a poppy this year, as I do every year.

    I’m not an anarchist though!

  14. Simon

    Remember also the old comrades – shattered mentally and physically – who turned up at the Cenotaph (1921?) to show their disgust for the war and the land that wasn’t ‘fit for heroes’ by slinging their medals on the ground at its foot.

  15. JimN

    “It was our fucking class that won the war ”
    Ian, isn’t it always our class that wins any war. Bloody shame of it is that we win it, or die trying, to further the interests of a property owning master class.

  16. Channel Icon
    03 April 2008
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    Kiss me goodnight and say my prayers Leave the light on at the top of the stairs Tell me the names of the stars up in the sky A tree taps on the window pane That feeling smothers me again Daddy is …
    Kiss me goodnight and say my prayers
    Leave the light on at the top of the stairs
    Tell me the names of the stars up in the sky
    A tree taps on the window pane
    That feeling smothers me again
    Daddy is it true that we all have to die

    At the top of the stairs
    Is darkness

    I closed my eyes and when I looked
    Your name was in the memorial book
    and what had become of all the things we planned
    I accepted the commiserations
    Of all your friends and your relations
    But there’s some things I still don’t understand

    You were so tall
    How could you fall?

    Some photographs of a summer’s day
    A little boy’s lifetime away
    Is all I’ve left of everything we’ve done
    Like a pale moon in a sunny sky
    Death gazes down as I pass by
    To remind me that I’m but my father’s son

    I offer up to you
    This tribute
    I offer up to you
    This tank park salute

  17. Damien Engine

    All my life i’ve been brought up with “remember the glorious sacrifice of world war II”. I’m fucking sick of it and the last place I expected to find it was on an anarchist’s website. The Second World War was an imperialist war, firmly in the logic of capitalism (which means war) – it was the historical problem left over after the defeat of Germany in the First. Fascism and Nazism was the inevitable outcome of imperialism and the relative weakness of the German and Italian ruling class. The British and American ruling class understood that logic and prepared themselves accordingly. For all this, millions of working class people were brutally slaughtered while Europe and much of the world was destroyed. All to prepare for the next imperialist slaughters. Wear a poppy? It’s all part of the war machine: “remember our fallen heroes… and do it all again when you’re country calls.” The only way to honour the blood of the workers is to work for the revolution to overthrow this sick and rotting world system.

  18. Like the Barnsdale effort, but if you are going to the trouble of dismantling a poppy you could remake it as a black flower with a red leaf . . . at least the anti-war (pacifists?) are honest with their colour-coded subversion. Jezuuus, i remember them getting crucified by Anne Diamond on GMTV for their temerity in opposing war with white poppies during the Falklands fiasco (God bless them all – give me a diehard pacifist with an attitude problem any day….).

    The whole British Legion Plc thing is a fucker though. Bunch of arse lickers, be honest. never saw a Legion event for the poor sods who got shot for “cowardice” or “refusing to obey orders”. They weren’t first off the mark in support of the relatives seeking amnesty for WWI executions, were they?

    I appreciate where you’re coming from, Ian, but your respect for the working men and women who defeated ‘Itler is a little romance-wide of the target….

    Unless we could come up with a (PR stuntish – detournement) that covers Dead WorkingClass Brits getting fucked in Kipling’s NWFrontier poems and Wazirstan folk getting fucked and never even heard of Kipling……

    1) How about a poppy with a syringe on top?

    2) How about a black poppy with a red (or black) leaf a la Barnsdale?

    3) How about a little picture of a fluffy puppy?

    4) How about a number 2 hit by “The Soldiers” with an emotional single called “Coming Home” for fat flag wavers with a soft spot for ethnic-cleansers who get paid more than ethnic-cleansers should be …. sorry, but for fucksake will someone remix those wankers over images of Afghan kids getting bombed just for being extras in a Kipling NWFrontier fantasy???

    See, the more I think about the red poppy thing the more I retch. Certainly no chance of a Cairo Mutiny (see lovely dead Albert Meltzer’s version of WW2). No way is it even the welsh squaddies in NorIreland “accidentally losing” their guns when they broke for chips & fags in the Bogside. It’s not even steam punk, Ian, it’s a symbol of how much the wearer loves those kiddiekillers in uniform.

    Poppy? Red? It should the colour of shit and shame and ignorance.

  19. Sam

    im fucking wearing one you bunch of suckers.

    “imperialist” this “capitalist” that do you think we should have left facism to itself?

  20. Wit?

    “It was our fucking class that won the war ”


  21. missus lydon

    join the territorials and go on strike for peace!!!!

  22. guy fawkes

    eh, what about me?

  23. Damien Engine

    Last word on this for me. Ask yourself two questions: 1) what were the causes of the Second World War? 2) What was the nature of the world created as a result of WWII?
    Understand the nature of the war given by its causes and understand the nature of the world created out of that war, then ask yourself if it was worth the 60 million dead? Try reading “Human Smoke, the Beginnings of World War II, the end of Civilization” by Nicholson Baker – it might help you make up your mind. Wear poppies if you want to, perhaps it has some personal significance. Who could argue with that?

  24. Me

    Would you believe it? After all this Gordon Brown called the British Legion the ‘British National Legion’ by mistake in PMs’ questions today.

    He’s not paying enough attention to this website.

    I have got better things to do than watch The Daily Politics Show but I’m a shift worker and there wasn’t much else on worth watching that time of the day.

  25. Anonymous

    Over here in if u wear a poppy, its like wearing a rangers t-shirt, a red flag to a bull(celtic t-shirt wearers). If you enjoy pointless confrontation, strife, aggro, stress and fisty cuffs everyday, with your fellow working class celtic t-shirt wearers, it could be the symbol for you.

    Nazis and the rich have embraced poppy wearing, to symbolise, respect for heirarchy, the establishment, the boss, your class/race superiors etc and all that is backward, cruel and authortarian about the capitalist military system. If you could incorporate a crossed out swastika into the poppy symbol it catch on.

  26. D Marl

    So what if rich bastards and nazis wear poppies? Rich bastards and nazis wear clothes as well, but no-one is walking around naked and banging on about how the bourgeousie have embraced clothing.

    To the vast majority of working class people wearing a poppy doesn’t symbolise capitalism or fascism. Its to commemorate people who died in some of the most destructive and brutal conflicts mankind has ever known. I wear one for my grandad, not for fascism or capitalism, but for a man who volunteered to protect his family, friends and neighbours from the nazis, and also for my great grandad, one of the many young lads slaughtered at the somme by the arrogance and incompetence of the upper classes.

  27. I’m with ya Ian, I’m sick of all this middle class PC hippy shite and the dodgy fuckers the stoppers keep associating themselves with. They’ve screwed the anti-war movement but good with their terrorist hugging, conspiraloon bollox and thus have lost the right to tell other people what to do.

  28. Pingback: Who’s Died? Ours Died! Who’s Are Dying? Our’s Are Dying! « The Sugarbeet Bhoy

  29. Al

    This old chestnut!

    I pretty sick of that poppy, its an empty worthless gesture that has lost any meaning of genuinely remembering those that died – for absolutely nothing. I remember being in a cafe in New Cross 15 years old over hearing this 80+ OAP talking to his mate saying that if he knew then that what he was fighting was this load of shite which is the UK he wouldn’t have gone.

    And now to have the poppy being no more than this disgusting gesture of supporting “our brave boys” in Afghanistan – see recent British Legion Posters (now defaced in Bristol and Kent – good work comrades!).

    We can’t avoid but to act and exist in a context, and this was the sentiments as has been mentioned of the revolts against the lecacy of WW1 & WW2 by returning soldiers – fuck their establishment, fuck their medals, fuck their poppies.

    The quicker people realise it the better, supporting ignorance isn’t gonna move things forward no matter how against the grain it seems to be.

  30. JimN

    But then, what kind of organisation is the British Legion? The one you are helping to fund by buying a poppy:

    “In May 1921 the British Legion was formed.

    The Legion declared – as it had to – that it was non-political, politics being associated with nasty squabbling over sectional interests at the cost of humane rescue work. It is not surprising, though, that they saw no inconsistency in adopting distinctly political attitudes – their patriotism, their servile royalism (they have always been unable to refer to any aristocrat without stringing out the full title and when mentioning royalty they never miss a Royal Highness or a Maj esty), their assumption that capitalism is basically a decent society with just one or two problems which any well-intentioned person can sort out.

    In the General Strike the Legion advised its members ” … to come forward once more and offer their services in any way that may be needed by the authorities.” This caused something of a row, since many of the strikers were ex-servicemen who had been driven into it by desperation at the conditions they had faced when they came back from the war. “Nonpolitical” attitudes were also evident when the Legion sent a delegation to Germany in 1935. They saw the concentration camp at Dachau, where the Nazis were holding their political prisoners, and then they had a “quiet family supper” with Gestapo chief Himmler who was, they thought, “…an unassuming man anxious to do his best for his country.” ”

    Extract from Socialist Standard November 1973. Shown in full here:

  31. ana carlo

    I’ll be dustin’ off me white feather as i do every year, however just a point. A few of me mates joined up on leaving school, 16-17 and not a lot of jobs round during thatchers pogrom. Now they didn’t think too much about it but certainly wern’t looking forward to shipping out to the Falls’ to ‘fuck up some provo’ after thier basic. But yeah some of me mates were sold the ‘learn a trade shite’ as kids still are- seen the recruiting balls all over the press… the closest they present combat as is some kid flying a drone with an xbox pad. I’ve never blamed me mates for taking the kings shilling, had a few rows mind you. But apart from the Sandringham ring lickers yer average squadie is yer average kid from yer average shit bit of town with yer average shit opportunities after a spell in yer average comp’ being continually lied to by yer average media….Sent off to fight yer average imperialist wank fest. ok-killing on average more civillians than ‘the other side’???? fuck i ain’t even going to get into that one. Look we’ve moved on from ‘Our Glorious Dead’ to yer average disabled veteran and yer average Widowed families left to kick around in shit on yer average service men’s and women’s allowances from yer average government whilst being villified by yer average left winger. At least yer average quid for a poppy might go somewhere towards healing. I was reading about ‘subverting’ remembrance sunday posters as an anti war gesture, …hmmm. i seem to recall smouldering recruiting offices as a regular sight in town of a saturday night, ah those halcyon days,

    ‘As i was walking down the street feeling fine and dandy oh, the recruiting sergant says to me “Now you’ed look fine in khaki-o”

  32. Pingback: Rememberance « The Rebel Bull

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