Reject The Imperialist Poppy

There was an article in 2009 from an individual who claimed to be an Irish Republican but who also stated that they would now be wearing a British Legion poppy. It is not for anyone to dictate what anyone can or can not wear, but we can define what an Irish Republican is and it has since turned out that the individual was in fact a constitutional nationalist. Traditional Republicans and indeed Irish Republican Socialists will not be availing of the British Legion’s emblems for all too obvious reasons

In the Ireland, the poppy and the British Legion are inseparable from reactionary Unionism and British militarism. In practice, British Legion Clubs in the north of Ireland are often little more than Loyalist drinking shebeens. Remembrance Day parades are in effect just another date in the Loyal Orders marching calendar, with the standard Loyalist band, leading their November pageant in homage to British imperialism.  Socialists of all hues would have real ideological problems remembering the wholesale slaughter and waste of lives in two World Wars, by commemorating the dead in the same spirit of jingoist militarism, that caused the tragedies of both World Wars in the first place!

Over in Britain, veterans of a Socialist or pacifist world-view now tend to wear a white poppy, or none at all. Some of these veterans do attend the British Legion events in Britain, though do not march in military formation or hold their own commemorations. Many who fought in World War 2 certainly felt they were fighting Fascism, but that was arguably not the real rationale behind the conflict or indeed the causus beli . World War1 was an obscenity to humanity which saw the triumph of militarism over the hopes for a better world not dominated by the Great Powers but by class unity. No-one should be denied the right to remember their war dead, in whatever way they feel, as long as it does not cause widespread offence to the majority of people. The tragedy and misplaced bravery of the World War1 combatants is aptly summed up in the description of the working-class conscript soldiers, as being lions led by donkeys. In effect, they were mere cannon-fodder for imperialist brigands whose hands were thrust so deeply into each others’ proverbial pockets via systems of alliances, that war was an inevitable consequence, if not their prime objective.

Unfortunately, similar imperialist adventures, that the British Legion are commemorating each year in November, are still sadly being continued overseas, from Ireland to Afghanistan and from Iraq to Syria and elsewhere either directly or by proxy in countless other lands in contemporary times. Furthermore, Britain has yet to become the land fit for heroes, as the Beveridge generation hoped. Many of the war veterans today are still living in abject poverty, dreading fuel bills, depending on meagre benefits while the rich just keep on getting richer..

If the truth be told, the vast majority of areas in Ireland are not culturally or politically ready for commemorations which showcase the British Army and all it’s imperialist trappings. It may never be acceptable in that format in the majority of areas of Ireland, as the British army conducting their imperialist displays of militarism is as insensitive as permitting the same imperialist power to hold pageants praising their military jingoism in the Indian city of Amritsar where they were responsible for the massacre at the Golden temple, the holiest of holies of the Sikh religion.

These militaristic pageants effectively honour the same British army that massacred 14 Irish civilians in Derry in 1972, as they were peacefully marching for civil rights. Remembrance day ceremonies honouring the British army leave a bad taste in the mouth when Irish citizens remember that it was the same regiments who dragged thousands of Irish men and women from their homes to intern, torture and imprison them in concentration camps and who still illegally occupy 6 counties in the north of the country. The list of reasons for not wearing pro-British imperialist symbols, such as the British Legion’s poppy is over 800 years old and there is no discernable appetite from Irish citizens to look favourably upon them

The aftermath of Bloody Sunday in Derry when 14 peaceful civil rights marchers were murdered by the British Army in 1972


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