Red and White PoppiesThe CBC is stirring the pot about red and white poppies.
From its inception, the red poppy has been unbreakably shackled to the 1915 poem by John McCrae. This poem is emotively powerful but contains within it the seed of a dangerous contradiction, both of which propagandists find pleasing, both of which cause any thinking person to pause and doubt.
The first two verses speak of the deepest regret, tenuous freedom ("The larks, still bravely singing, fly"), warmth and love.
The third and final verse is threatening and political. It is not the dead that must be honoured, rather it is their quarrel. The quarrel is absolutist, our side throws the righteous "torch". When it comes to our side of the quarrel, there is no room for regretful reflection.
I both love and despise this poem, as I do the red poppy. I need more years to think upon the white poppy.
Being a Canadian, Australian, Kiwi, I find myself reflecting more often than most (ANZAC Day is not coincident with Remembrance Day). The New Zealand Parliament "Mondayised" ANZAC Day in 2013, so some years I am condemned think even more about what on earth this all means.
In my view, these days are too much about glorifying the cause, glorifying warriors, glorifying war, and manipulation of the next generation to make them more maleable fodder for whatever brutal nonsense our plutocracy chooses to thrust upon us next.
It is an indictment of our civilization that we do not pause to think upon the ultimate cause of aggressive war. Instead we are fed propaganda by politicians and their pet symbionts, the commercial media and historians.
I have found two sensible analyses of the causes of aggressive war:
Arguing about red and white poppies seems rather silly to me. I think it would be better for people to spend Remembrance Day reading those books and doing something sensible to solve the problem.
- Ember and Ember 2004 http://www.sociostudies.org/journal/articles/140502/ found that warfare is strongly predicted by unpredictable but expected resource scarcity.
- Long before, Paul Colinvaux arrived at a more complete understanding for the causes of aggressive war which he briefly discussed in his 1979 book "Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare" and more fully explained in his 1980 book "The Fates of Nations: A Biological Theory of History". To crudely paraphrase Colinvaux, aggressive war is expected when the continued population growth of a technologically advancing society (therefore an aspirational society) causes the perception of a threat of scarcity.