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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

War... what is it good for?

I'm writing this post on ANZAC day, the most mawkish of days in NZ.

I did'nt attend any dawn service this morning, as I have done more than my fair share of those over the years, and I pay my respects to those who fought whenever I visit my grandparents at the cemetery*.

And on this most revered of days in the mythos of New Zealand its seems more than appropriate to discuss the fire from which one of the pillars of Kiwi culture was forged; that of war.

And for starters consider that just over 100 years ago most of this country responded with enthusiasm for the prospect of going off to fight in World War One and that it was there in places like Gallipoli and Passchendaele where some believe that that the identity of this nation was born.

But while we are feeling all warm and snugly with that thought make space for the grim fact that of the 100,000 young men that went to fight over 18,000 died and many more were wounded meaning that from a population of just over one million at the time one in four of those men that fought was either killed or wounded.

Put in context today that would mean if some war in a foreign clime was declared New Zealand would not only have to respond with the same level of fervor we now display only for an All Blacks game or the latest episode of the The Block followed by 400,000 men of age being shipped off to fight and that of that 400,000 roughly 80,000 would have to die or be wounded.

So if you ever wanted to know why NZ is littered with memorials to World War One from the small cenotaphs and memorials that every rural town and hamlet has to the Pukeahu National War Memorial in Wellington (looking like something out of Flash Gordon) you now have a big part of your answer.

Contrast that with today where the NZDF is mired in scandals over Iraq and Afghanistan and Defence is a political backwater for muppet MPs (like Gerry Brownlee), those with some background in it (Like ex soldier Ron Mark) or those wishing to make a buck (like National MP Mark Mitchell) and you get an idea of the scale and scope of change in not just how Kiwis view war but also about how we conceive our identity in relation to war.

But unlike 100 years ago when it was fervent enthusiasm for going off to fight in what many perceived as a great adventure today what allows the NZDF to waste time and money chasing "terrorists" in the Middle East and lying about what its actually doing and who its actually killing is a deeply rooted apathy that the public has to both conflict and war in general due to the horrors of the First and Second World Wars but also the immense defensive barrier that our physical isolation in the South Pacific gives and allows us to retain such views.

For most of the planet war is a much more direct and tangible reality with no immense barrier to attacking forces that our surrounding seas give us. For many nations their neighbor is immediately physical on their border and unlike our views of our biggest neighbor, Australia, can have a hostile history and military posture to boot and that is something Kiwis often fail to grasp.

We piss and moan about Syria and why killing children with chemical weapons is terrible rather than why killing children (or for that matter anyone) in Syria is terrible. We think North Korea is a threat but spent decades trying to appease the beast until Donald Trump spoke to the North in a language that they can truly understand (that of one crazy strongman to another) and suddenly they are talking about officially ending the war (rather than the hyper tense armistice that has existed since 1953) and even possible de-nuclearisation**.

Kiwis view war always through the lens of distance and its an almost unique perspective in the world today. We are in words of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now dilettantes in war with our views of war shaped more by movies like Saving Private Ryan, video games and what I consider to be an unhealthy strain of pacifism running through this country. We can afford to be against war because we have the luxury of choosing if an when we fight where most nations do not.

The last generation to experience war in any tangible manner (that of WW2 generation) is almost all gone and our views today more reflect that of the Baby-Boomers and those who came after. For those who fought in the Pacific and Europe the threat was real and tangible and the result of failure the destruction or enslavement of not just their nations but also of their political and social systems (liberal democracy and free markets). In short it was a war worth fighting.

So, with this blog post am I explicitly arguing for more military spending and NZ declaring war on some nation just so we can "know what war is really like"?

The answer is no I am not BUT what I am arguing for, and so have others, is that we have enjoyed the fruits of a political and economic system without having to pay the true cost for a long time and it shows in our apathy and how we approach this day. It shows in how we have allowed our physical isolation to also create a mental isolation from the rest of the world and the problems it faces.

But most dangerously of all its allowed us to avoid choosing sides and making a commitment towards preserving what we cherish and that sentiment has spread well beyond our views of war and conflict to our failure to defend our near pristine environment, to be lax in guarding our once excellent health, education and social welfare systems, to watching like sheep while we sell our country out from under us and set aside our values so we can trade with nations which stand in opposition to those values in the belief that we can pick them up again later and they will be untarnished.

Its not that I think that the system we live in is all perfect and we are as bad as other parts of the world (places referred to by Trump as "s**t-holes"); I criticize not to tear down our democratic system or maintain our plutocratic elite but to promote the change we need to keep our system strong and able to avoid being like those places which are infected with war and which we so happily ignore by changing the channel or bury under a false consciousness attained by once a year getting up early and going to a dawn service.

ANZAC day to us is an exciting exhibition at Te Papa and maybe some thoughts about our grandparents (or great grandparents) generation without realizing that war is not ancient history but alive and thriving today; just not here.

ANZAC day should not be something we attend to once a year like visiting an elderly relative or some obligatory social occasion but a 365 days of the year attitude to defending what we think is worth fighting and dying for, and that attitude includes in its lexicon a view of conflict (in whatever form) as an evil thing but sometimes a necessary evil in order to preserve something greater than our mortgage.

Back when I was doing my Masters degree I read Chris Hedges excellent book War is a force that gives us meaning and came away agreeing with much of what he said but also with a sharp splinter of doubt lodged deep in my mind at the concept contained within the book.

Of course the general view of war; articulated through popular culture in songs such as in the title of this post by Edwin Starr, Black Sabbath's War Pigs and World Order's highly entertaining Lets Start World War III is easy and has an essential truth to it but as much as I love these songs and the sentiment found so prevalent today I just could not accept it.

For a long time I wondered why I often found myself of the view that war is bad but  still found myself accepting of the mechanics and circumstances of war; was it all those John Wayne movies I grew up watching, was it my own families military background (four generations and counting) or my own experiences as a soldier (in peacetime) that left me unable to accept absolutely the seemingly unavoidable concept that war is a scourge.

And it was not until several years later, when I was reading about the battles in Burma during WW2, that I discovered what it was that prevented me from condemning wholesale the act of war.

It was at the battles of Kohima and Imphal on the Burma/India border in fighting that was dubbed "The Stalingrad of the East" that the Japanese advance through Burma was finally stopped and driven back (much like Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands) and written on the memorial itself, located today in Kohima in India, is the following inscription:


Here in this one sentence is the articulation of what stops me from condemning war as a scourge and leaving it at that because packed inside that single sentence are three very important ideas: consideration of the future, cognizance of a greater good and the idea of self sacrifice.

Many people today can understand the first two but its the third in conjunction with the other two that makes this phrase so resonant and allows it to echo down through history.

Today many of us do we do what we do because we expect to get something out of it and cant rationalize the idea of sacrifice to a greater good, yet it exists.

To the men locked in struggle during those (and all) battles such a sentiment was as probably as far from their minds as could possibly be, their real conflict at the time in trying to stay alive by killing the person who was seeking to do the same to them yet the outcomes of many of those battles turned out to be decisive moments in the history of their country, nation or civilization and had those battles gone the other way history would have written a different chapter.

The greater good in that sense was, for want of a better term, the fate of nations but not in any jingoistic or nationalistic sense but rather in the sense that war, as we know it, lurks in the hearts of all people and this is why despite periods of peace the world so often finds itself at war yet to simply always avoid fighting or profess a desire for peace is not enough to deter all aggressors.

For example, the people fighting for their freedom today in Syria don't always have the option to just walk away or discount fighting because such acts were what brought them to the point where they had to fight in the face of aggression by the Assad regime. Sometimes you have to fight, not for what you believe in but for your life or the lives of future generations rather than just try and survive another day.

Psychologically its the flight or fight response that all life seems to have writ large, its the parent making the ultimate sacrifice to save their child on a national scale or the more intellectual expression of love for something greater than the self.

Also its worth understanding that in past times war was not the portent to the Apocalypse that it often is today and all those young Kiwi men who enthusiastically went off to fight for Dominion and Empire in WW1 had that love of something greater.

Some readers might argue that its nothing more than patriotic delusion but I would ask them how they behaved the last time they were driving and had to swerve to avoid a crash or stepped in to stop a fight or did something above and beyond the impulse of their own insular self.

In New Zealand today, like much of the West we have retreated into the comforting delusion that we will never have to make that choice or take a stand on something bigger than which Marvel movie is better yet the tides of history have turned and those delusions may not last much longer.

ANZAC day as we articulate it today has lost that sentiment because we have the luxury of believing that we are safe in our little corner of the world and outside of war the only thing which has yet to pose a similar level of existential threat is climate change and we still cant agree, or take real action on that.

War is the only thing which does what its does and that is because it presents the clear choice of survival in a situation with few other options. Had World War One and Two not ended with such horrific slaughter would our attitude to war be the same today?

But lest people think I am advocating still for war as we know it I stress that its not war as in tanks, bombs, guns and the like but the need to struggle in situations where its clear that something needs to be done and moral ambiguity no longer exists.

So what are you giving up today for someone else's tomorrow?


*-or pop into the local RSA for a beer
**-and as much as many people love to hate on Trump for the things he does wrong they are strangely silent in regards to this outcome because even if it comes to naught he has had more of an effect on the Korean situation than any other president since Eisenhower

20 comments:

  1. "t we have enjoyed the fruits of a political and economic system without having to pay the true cost"

    So just to be clear, you're saying that warfare is the true cost of our political and economic system?

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  2. No, but that the system we live in does not spring forth naturally and sometimes we must rise to its defense, sometimes that does manifest as war.

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  3. So what was the "true cost" you were referring to?

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  4. If your wanting an absolute I cant give it but a society built on certain ideals and ideas cant ignore those ideals and ideas or fail to protect them without paying a price. Sometimes that means fighting to protect them in what ever form that takes and that means understanding what the cost of maintaining those ideals is.

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  5. Well, I understand the difficulty of providing absolutes, but you're the one who talked about a "true cost", not I. If you're not comfortable with making absolute statements, maybe don't use absolutist language?

    Reading your original post you seem to very strongly imply that war is this true cost, but when asked to elaborate you are backing away from that claim. It's hard to resist the impression that you want to have it both ways - you want to be able to make arguments with the strength of absolutism, without actually having to commit to an absolutist analysis. This is particularly ironic given your criticism in your post about Trump of those who engage in absolutist claims about Trump.

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    1. Clausewitz (well known military theorist and cure for insomnia) put it this way:

      "Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult".

      His idea was that war appears easy to do and to fight but that once started are difficult to stop so that ones calculus of going to war was the only time one could have any genuine control on the matter before setting in motion something that was much less (if impossible) to control.

      The relevance to "true costs" is that sometimes the decision to go to war must be made, nations, like people, sometimes have to fight but that choice should not be made carelessly which is why I am saying I cant give you an absolute as outside of the games I play on my PC I dont get to decide to go to war but I know from history that at some point nations do make the choice to bear the "true cost" of going to war.

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  6. Yeah, I can take that criticism, ANZAC day does not bring out the best in me.

    However, that said I was very clear that i am not making the claim that war is always the true or final cost, I noted that twice in my post and made clear that it also applied to how we looked after things like our environment and our people.

    In those cases the true cost is relative so no I cant give a definitive answer because each situation is different, I do not see people going to war over the "environment" as much as I might over oil or territory.

    So I'm not saying I cant make an absolutist statement on a particular situation or issue but with so many options its not always going to come down to the same ending. South China seas is probably a war. Environmental degradation due to dairy farms and water issues, probably not going to end with a war or armed bands in the hills.

    The "true cost" is these cases will never be the same exact response/behavior but it will always come down to people taking a stand on an issue which is, as the saying goes, the straw that broke the camels back. At that point people will have had enough and say so, sometimes that does end in violence but not always.

    While I have studied war and like to read about it does not mean I wish it to happen.

    The point of my post was that on ANZAC day we pay lip service to what those people fought for because we have the luxury of doing so without realizing that in NZ case people fought and died for that so that we could pay said lip service.

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    1. " it will always come down to people taking a stand on an issue which is, as the saying goes, the straw that broke the camels back"

      But basically every political debate, no matter how small, comes down to people taking a stand on an issue. Your explanation is so broad as to cover everything. Having a dispute with one's neighbour about a 10cm property boundary is "taking a stand on an issue".

      The analysis you've identified as one we don't talk about is actually one I hear very often. I think it's a commonplace assertion that we owe our current freedoms to the soldiers in WW1 and WW2.

      I'm not sure this is an assertion that actually holds up, though. Did the people in World War 1 actually fight for our rights? They believed they were fighting for them, but in retrospect, it's hard to claim our rights were actually at stake. I'm pretty sure neither of the Kaisers, the Czar, nor the Sublime Porte had any intent of making any alterations to New Zealand's political system.

      To me, the deaths of the ANZAC soldiers were not so much a sacrifice to achieve a collective good, as just a colossal waste to achieve nothing of any importance to a modern society, -especially- a society that holds progressive values.

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    2. So no response to this, then, E.A?

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    3. Sorry Anon, still busy with other things and getting the latest post done so I forgot about this.

      In reply I am not so blind to see that most people who rushed off to WW1 were doing it for "empire" and not "freedom" and even to some extent in WW2 that was the same but WW2 had much clearer choices in the end and the product was a victory for democracy over totalitarianism (except for those behind the iron curtain).

      Probably the difference in our views would be that of war can achieve some positive outcomes, as you note in a progressive society (specially NZ) war is seen as either a negative or in a remote sense (be it physical or historical) and has no value.

      I am of the view that while an individual tragedy always war can and has a utility and history would be very very different if the outcomes of wars fought changed for better or worse.

      I would love to think that all nations can just get along but in the absence of something greater to enforce the situation war retains currency.

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    4. I'm not talking about war in the abstract though, I'm talking about a very specific war - WW1. THis is the war where the sacrifices that we are expectd to honour supposedly took place.

      By the way I would dispute the idea that a progressive society must see war as remote. there are many progressive societies where war has been very up close and personal. NZ isn't an example of such a one, but it isn't typical in that respect.

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    5. I'm not arguing all progressive societies see war as remote just NZ, like I say in the post other nations do have to deal with war up close and do have different views.

      To go back to your point about owing our freedoms to WW1 and WW2, I would agree that WW1 was not really about freedom but I would argue that WW2 was.

      However a lot of scholars now look at those two wars in tandem as oppose to being just single wars as the represent a continuum.

      That said I did not in the post about WW1 having to do with one of the pillars of NZ "myth" and thats why I referred to ANZAC day as being "the most mawkish of holidays".

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    6. I think the "one long war" theory elides a lot of very important differences between WW1 and WW2.

      Honestly even in WW2, New Zealand was never really under threat; the Japanese were never seriously interested in invading, let alone permanently occupying New Zealand, and the Germans couldn't have even had they wanted to.

      Sure, other people's freedom was under threat, but the narrative you've been pushing - alongside the general ANZAC day narrative - is that they sacrificed for "our" freedoms. I presume "our" means New Zealanders.

      Ultimately E.A. you try to distance yourself from the general ANZAC ideology but it seems you buy into all of its key assumptions. You just don't like the particular form the ritual takes. But really, the praxis of you commemorating privately over your family grave and a bunch of people commemorating communally at a dawn ceremony or other official function is identical; you both see the war as part of a worthy struggle to achieve cherished goals, one that may have had moments of ugliness and pain, but where the ugliness and pain is redeemed by the achievement of something worthwhile and valuable. It's very similar to your post about Trump - you want to position yourself outside the consensus, and you use a lot of language and imagery that is associated with counterculturalism, but you end up taking a view that is absolutely mainstream and centrist.

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    7. Ok, lets do this by the numbers.

      1. Had the US not won the battle of the Coral Sea japan was poised to invade port Morseby and then Australia (or at best blockade Australia by cutting it off from the US via moving down the Solomon's towards Fiji).

      Of course it is entirely a counter factual what would have happened after but if they had won it is entirely possible to assume that OZ and NZ would be very different places today.

      2. No Kiwis fought at Imphal and Kohima so those who died there were not fighting for NZ there but as I said in my post few soldiers in any war will ever be thinking about "freedom" in the middle of a combat zone.

      However if your implying that I believe that there is such a thing as a Just War then you would be right, they are few and far between and often not to both sides but neither German plans for the world or the Japanese example of how they ran their colonies in Korea, China or how the treated Allied POWs givens any indication that had they been successful the open democratic societies that existed then would have been allowed to remain or exist.

      So the "our" I am referring to in regards to ANZACs is Kiwis but it could just as well as be any person who fought on the Allied side in WW2 (yes even the Russians).

      So not all war is a worthy struggle and yes there are idological seperations between WW1 and WW2 but historically they were part of one overall struggle/conflict which is now a generally accepted idea as both wars (excepting the Pacific) were fought between the same combatants over the same ground in less than a generation (30 years).

      The differences you are thinking of are the garnishes of history (time, date, local, tactical and even operational situations but as many at the time knew and commented on was that the Armistice of WW1 was not the end of conflict just a pause. As Marshal Foche commented at the time - "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years"

      3. I beg to differ on your characterization of my visiting my family graves and the general public interpretation of ANZAC day.

      I pay my respects to family simply because they are family and because of what they did. My grandfather did not die in WW2 he lived until the late 70s when the sand in his lungs from the North African desert killed him. There is a direct connection to any time I visit that site and I do it regularly and not just once a year. The emphasis here being that I have a reason to do what I do beyond some vaguely articulated social obligation that makes people get out of bed early but then wont accept the possible price that the society they live in may require of them. That was the point of the whole post.

      So I definitely don't like the often empty ritual of ANZAC day when few of the people there can articulate what it is they are there for or would accept that there is something greater than themselves and that is worth fighting and even dying for.

      4. As for "mainstream and centrist" yes I am at times, very much so, and sometimes not. That is why I am listed as a "fascist anarchist", "relaxed conservative" and "focused liberal" in my bio.

      But if you have read this blog and read my posts about Jeremy Corbin or other topics and think that is my only setting is mainstream and centrist I may have to write less subtlety in the future.

      Also I refer you to my editorial policy on this blog.

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    8. "Had the US not won the battle of the Coral Sea japan was poised to invade port Morseby and then Australia"

      Right there, you're wrong. The Japanese never had anything than extremely sketchy plans to invade Australia, and their own plans stated that they did not have the naval capacity to sustain an invasion at the time. The idea that Japan could successfully occupy Australia, let alone New Zealand, belongs to the realm of historic fantasy. The idea that Japan (let alone Germany) was a threat to either country, long term, is something that still gets perpetrated today, but it is impossible to justify.

      "few of the people there can articulate what it is they are there for or would accept that there is something greater than themselves and that is worth fighting and even dying for."

      Really? I think most people could say exactly what they are there for - to "honour" the "sacrifice" of the people who died. This is in government communications, in the mass media, in social media, frequently comes up in man on the street interviews. You only have to have half an ear open to absorb this narrative.

      Like I say - your feelings about ANZAC day perfectly mirror the mainstream narrative, even though your method of commemorating it is different. But you seem very wedded to the idea that you are more informed and introspective than most people, to the extent that you just ignore what they are saying and assume their ideas are incoherent even though they entirely agree with you. Once again, you want to be regarded as having unconventional views and being outside the mainstream narrative, but your actual substantive views are utterly conventional and mainstream, even if you deny it by comparing them to a "mainstream" narrative that, as far as I can tell, doesn't exist outside your imagination.

      Check this out: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/what-does-anzac-day-mean-to-you

      "Anzac Day is a fitting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice"

      "We gather together in the pre-dawn to remember our fallen"

      "many feel the need to take that time out to reflect on and honour those who have served in times of conflict."

      "we still remember and honour those brave men and women."

      "The dawn service is dignified, sombre and reflective and makes us all proud of those who have served - and are serving - in uniform in the interests of peace and security. The sacrifices some made are beyond comprehension today."

      "It honours the memory of the people, that gave their lives for you to have the freedom,"

      "They looked at us, we looked at them and I imagined a mirror between us. In us, they saw their past, and in them, we saw our heritage. They gave us the traditions and the values that we in the military hold so dear. We gave them the knowledge that the ideals and values they fought and died for lived on in us."

      Seems like stuff you'd agree with, right?

      And by the way, it's spelt "Corbyn", not "Corbin".

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    9. And by the numbers again.

      1. I also added, "blockade". I never said it was some sort of master plan but war is full of opportunities and Australia cut off from the US could have been subject to invasion and occupation if the government had felt it was on a bad wicket. It was MacArthur who gave the Ozzies their mettle when they were running scared.

      Simply reading the wiki on this is not enough, most nations do not have a grand plan on hand 24/7 in war and exploitation is part and parcel of conflict.

      Japans naval plans to win against the US were structured around a decisive naval battle and its pacific perimeter if that failed while the Army, the one doing the invading, had different plans which did include exploiting the situation on the ground, hence moves like in Burma and both services were often at odds with the other.

      Its true that Japans gains in the South were giving it lots of territory to govern but those shortages you mentioned were because of the Armys decision to hold on in China rather than commit to the South Pacific and because the army was in competition with the Navy and the Navy had more say in the South due to the oceans.

      If OZ had been cut off and there had been a move against either them or us we would have folded just as easily as any of the other colonial powers in the region did. Just because we were beyond the historical high-water mark does not intrinsically make us not subject to the same pressures that the rest of SE Asia had experienced under the Japanese and it was the decisive battles of The Coral Sea and Gudalcanal which created that high water point but both battles very much could have gone the other way when you look at the actual accounts of the battle and if so then the US would have been checked in the South Pacific. And as you know, Europe was being given priority so had they been checked OZ and NZ would not have been first on the list of those to save.

      It is speculation/counter factual but its not as you say "fantasy".

      2. Yes thats what they say and then they forget about it for another 356 days. Thats not a narrative thats a slogan and a shallow one.

      3. In one way you have hit the nail on the head. Commemoration is important, how its articulated is less so, actions speak louder than words.

      So yes it comes out the same but has more substance to it.

      Also your enjoying trying to label me mainstream and by default a false radical or whatever you call it thing arn't you. :)

      Problem is I do have some mainstream views and I say again, check my profile for where I stand on any political spectrum.

      Also the theme of the post was not just ANZAC day but how our isolation has shaped our views and allowed us to be non committal to things like war and those who fight them.

      Many of those quotes you listed have the words "honor" and "remember" but honoring a memory in such a casual fashion and from behind the bulwark of a wide ocean rings hollow.

      4. I blame the spell checker.

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    10. Who said anything about reading the wiki?

      So you're imagining a scenario where New Zealand and Australia are not occcupied but simply blockaded, and agree to be annexed by Japan? I think that is impossible, and the Japan certainly never expected it to happen - it seems silly that Japan would underestimate its own power. This is not just speculation, it's unfounded speculation.

      " Yes thats what they say and then they forget about it for another 356 days. Thats not a narrative thats a slogan and a shallow one."

      So already your critique has moved from "they don't think about it at all" to "they don't think about it enough".

      Do you seriously think nobody thinks about New Zealand's war history outside ANZAC week? I mean it's a popular subject for books, movies, popular discourse etc etc. The Wairou museum gets thousands of visitors every week, as do the war exhibits in Te Papa and regional museums. It's true that people's thoughts peak around ANZAC week but you are holding them to a very high standard - I don't think about my parents as intensely every day as I do on their birthday weeks, but that doesn't mean I don't care about my parents. Can you honestly say that you think about the sacrifices of NZ's soldiers etc etc every week?

      E.A. if there is one thing every reader of this blog can tell it's that your self-image is very important to you. It's very rare that you can talk about a political subject without bringing in your own experiences and day-to-day life no matter how little relevance they have to what is ostensibly the subject at hand. I think you'd be happier just writing a blog about your own life and abandoning any pretence of analysis, but hey, it's a free world (and nobody except me really pays any attention to your posts, so really, I should just take my own advice and walk away)

      I don't tend to trust people's self description of their political views for this reason - for most people it is more about branding, e.g. all of the self-proclaimed libertarians or centrists who are actually bulk-standard conservatives. Ironically your "I'm mainstream in some things, but radical in others" stance is an attempt to distance yourself from every group - you're not mainstream, but you're also not like all those other radicals ever. Your radicalism, as I've said, remains to be proven - you like to use a lot of Hunter S Thompson style imagery but it's clear from the way you talk about society, politics, economics etc that the society you'd like to live in is a deeply traditionalist one.

      "Corbin" isn't a word that actually exists in the English language so maybe you need to bug check your spell checker.

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    11. 1. the point I am trying to make regarding Oz and NZ in WW2 is that had battles like Guadalcanal and others not gone our way NZ and OZ would not have been spared had things not stopped there.

      Yes its mindblowing but what stopped Japan was not time, wheather or their own behavior it was another force ranged against them. The US.Such is war.

      Don't you think its a bit naive to imagine that had those battles not been won things would not have been different, very different had the US not been able to come to our aid. I think you are the one having a bit of a fantasy moment here.

      And yeah its speculation but thats what a counterfactual is, duh.

      Also I am going to urge you to go and do some more research on WW2 in the pacific because you are not coming from a position of being informed if you dont think that had Japan had the opportunity to take territory they would not have.

      That was the very logic behind their situation in the south pacific, they had not expected to have such successes in the early days and so decided to roll with it after a series of early, and surprising victories and which lead them to grabbing more than they had originally planned for.

      2. On NZs approach to ANZAC day we will have to agree to disagree. I dont think Kiwis do pay it much true respect, lots of lip service though.

      3. Hell yeah self image is important, if you had a blog you would have one to.

      However, the reason I keep on referring you to my editorial policy is who and what I project on this blog is not who I really am. As I state in the policy (all the way back when I started it), its an amalgamation of personalities and approaches, part Hunter S Thompson, part Jon Stewart, part me and part others who I wish to emulate in my writing style.

      The self image you see in this blog is not me, its me as a blogger and you may or may not like me in person if you met me but the person you met there would be pretty different form who is writing here and short of catching up for a coffee and a face to face chat that cant be proven so you will just have to take that on faith.

      And yes I do have some deeply traditionalist views but then again so did Thompson if you read past his works like Fear and Loathing. He was radical in his language and politics but his values about society was not one of burn it all down, rather the opposite, he was a Southern Gentleman and one of literary and cultural bent, albeit with a streak of weird right through the middle.

      Again, I say you may have missed the point of listing myself as a fascist/anarchist and all those other labels in my profile. What do you think those labels are attempting to indicate? Am I a radical, am a conservative, am I both, can I be both, am I all of those and others?

      I inject, like many writers do, aspects of my own life into my writing, otherwise it would be straight rants or dull analysis and I know some people like how I write because I have had comments to that effect. You dont, thats ok, its not for everyone but I am not shackled as say a journalist would be or as story writer is so (like HST or the recently departed Tom Wolfe) I do like to inject some of my own self into the work.

      I blog as release so if no one read or commented I would still be blogging, I like that i do get some readers and some commentators, yourself included but thats not why I blog, my ego is not that fragile and if it was I think the limited readership and commentary would be pretty soul crushing.

      But if you wish to analyse my politics thats fine but if your seeking me to try and affirm my radicalism via some sort of rebuttal you will be disappointed as I have such a wide range of views because I dont want to be just one or the other, I have views across the spectrum, probably due to my schizophrenia but hey, thats what it is, I am an eclectic magpie when it come to how I think.

      However i have been working on some fiction in my spare time, perhaps I should post some of that and see if you like it.

      4. Bugger! caught out, ok so I misspelled it, guilty as charged.

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  7. Good post >> Is it better to die slowly of gangrene after a bullet wound, or just float away from in a chemical wind wafting. I suppose that ghastly stupid person of the year Prime Minister thing managed to make another virtue signal somewhere. Over here in Brisbane they flew NZ flags, and young people were wearing their great grandfathers medals.

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    1. Death is death Paul, humanely killing someone is still killing so I prefer to stay alive but if forced to choose I would prefer to die on my feet rather than on my knees.

      As for the PM I have not been keeping up with her doings so you will have to fill me in.

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