Remembrance Day: are poppies offensive?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Nous sommes donc en guerre les uns contre les autres

We’re all at war with one another

Michel Foucault

poppy offensive (3)

The poppy: a symbol of patriotism, exclusion, bygone values, xenophobia, bigotry, volksgemeinschaft (“national community”), war, monarchy, etc. Now more than ever, the youth should promote a global social narrative that recognizes humanity’s common heritage, and abandon the offensively nationalistic customs and celebrations adored by past generations.

Wearing a poppy is far from a celebration of tolerance or civil rights won by Britain and other countries observing Remembrance Day. It does not commemorate the defeat of Nazism, but was created by the British monarchy after World War I to commemorate the pointless waste of lives defending the one man’s personal esteem: the King.

Contrary to its glamorization and acceptance in the British mainstream media, wearing a poppy is more likely to offend many people rather than assure them. Poppies are offensive in modern Britain, because they glorify pointless bloodshed, xenophobia, and the absurdity of “patriotism”. As people become more educated, poppies should be treated as a symbol of stupidity, created by a monarchy that held its soldiers’ lives to be worth about as much as the bits of card used to make these very badges of continued ignorance and cruelty.

Wearing a poppy in public, a person is likely to be seen as a supporter of illegal wars of aggression that the British government engaged in, such as the Iraq War and the recently lost War in Afghanistan. It also shows contempt for the majority of victims of these wars, who were not British soldiers but civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these true victims even have family and religious compatriots in our tolerant society, who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of our country’s war crimes abroad. Are we to consider these members of our society not fully “British”, for sympathizing with the victims instead of invaders and occupiers by not wearing the poppy? If so, the poppy is contrary to social cohesion and cannot coexist with late modernity.

Any member of society who wears a poppy is ignorant or cruel, for failing to acknowledge that occupiers do not deserve compensation but rather the innocent victims of violence are the ones who deserve compensation. Indeed, our country’s arms are open to these victims. Why offend the refugees from our misguided wars even as we pay reparations to them, with the outrageous celebration of our country’s war criminals as “heroes”?

Remembrance Day and other events revolving around national pride and the armed forces in particular are sponsored by arms contractors, who revel in the blood and gore that they have created. For them, as for the useless Queen, the wreaths of red stand for the blood and guts of the millions of enlisted men and women they misled into an early and entirely unnecessary grave in the First World War.

Some will counter my claims with the old, ill-conceived, argument that wearing the poppy and observing a minute of silence remembers the soldiers who died for my rights to say the things I say. Such an argument is faulty.

First, I didn’t ask anyone to die for me, and if anyone thinks the soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan died for me, they are insane. Even the terrorists who attacked British victims in the famous July 7 attack were themselves born and bred British citizens, so wearing a poppy does little to confront them, as they are part of the very same national community the poppy attempts confusedly to stand for. The reason we are led to this absurdity is that the “nation” lacks cohesion and uniformity – it is at war with itself, and the poppy only confounds this antagonism.

Second, the cruel practice of isolating and excluding non-patriotic elements of society looks more like Nazism to me than anything else I can find in the country. Wearing a poppy certainly does not support human rights and liberal values derived from the defeat of Nazism. Rather, it supports a key tenet of Nazism: the national community, which must exorcise non-patriotic elements from its midst and profess loyalty to banners and slogans that otherwise lack relevance and meaning. Many people in British society do not identify with the United Kingdom, its institutions and its armed forces. The Muslim community largely does not identify with the UK, and the Scottish independence movement’s famed 45% of the people do not. Republicans in Northern Ireland identify even less with the UK.

The poppy, like the flag, is consistent with the Nazi ideal of volksgemeinschaft, “national community” – an integral part of Nazi ideology that led to Nazism’s worst crimes. Using symbolism to mark out enemies of the “nation” and ostracize them, as the poppy seeks to do by polarizing the society between the supporters of the troops and opponents of the troops, is a manifestation of Nazism. At the core, it is proscriptive power like this that allowed the Nazis to argue their ideas about national supremacy that caused the Second World War and justify their mass murders of minorities and “undesirables”. The same hatred is seen today, being cultivated against Muslim minorities by hate groups and hawkish establishment figures in Britain. Even a reaction of intolerance and hate towards a post like mine would be a Nazi-like manifestation, as the Nazis cracked down harshly and intolerantly on anyone who didn’t promote the myths of the nation.

A self-respecting human being should have no part in sanctifying stupidity, observing an offensive custom, or remembering lives sacrificed for lies of a regime and its sense of prestige. Illegitimate wars led by regimes of exclusion and hate should be exposed as obscene, so modern and awakened people can pour their contempt on them, and symbols approving or legitimizing them should be removed from public view.

By Harry J. Bentham


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“A Common Heritage”: from The Venus Project to the Battle for the Net

posted by Harry J. Bentham

C’est la guerre qui est le moteur des institutions et de l’ordre

War is the motor behind institutions and order.

Michel Foucault

The Hardest Part

Recently, I had an article published in issue 13 of The Venus Project (TVP) Magazine, the official magazine of The Venus Project, whose futurist movement was conceived by a man far, far ahead of his time: Jacque Fresco.

For years now, Jacque Fresco has called on us to imagine a world beyond politics, poverty and war: a superior epoch in which nations are obsolete. With nations gone, the burdens of bigotry and warmongering that were preserved and legitimized by their atrocious and morally bankrupt institutions will have been cleansed from civilization.

We already live in a world that is increasingly interconnected, where loyalties are not as rigidly and conservatively defined as they were in the past, and ideologies are as fleeting and transitory as Twitter trends. In this world, borders are fast becoming an obsolete encumbrance, and people have much greater freedom to choose their own values and sources of information without relying on authority figures and established media sources to do so.

I believe that European countries have opened the door to tolerance, and that there is no reversing this choice. Clinging to nationalistic vestiges and notions of national community, warlike allegiances, and so on, is no longer compatible with modern life and is a source of growing offense to many. People must eventually choose to abandon their “support our troops” reflexes and beliefs about national superiority, because such ideas undermine social cohesion and endanger the borderless, stateless, post-war future that has been predicted and pursued by fighters for social change now for centuries.

The Venus Project represents humanity’s noblest political aspirations, the desire for a voluntary global community who accept the world’s resources as a common heritage, accessible to all. To this end, the thesis of the Venus Project has been the elimination of money itself, and its replacement with a global Resource-Based Economy (RBE). This radical reform to the way we manage the Earth’s people and resources, Jacque Fresco teaches, is the prerequisite to world peace.

The declaration of the world’s resources as a common heritage is a battle by humanity against impersonal and hostile banks, corporations, intellectual property, and the state.

The Internet is the one existing resource that humanity already recognizes as a common heritage, and we must turn the whole world the way of the Internet. However, even the Internet – a precious and vital prototype in many ways for humanity’s future – is threatened by capricious states and fiercely monopolistic corporations clinging to the past.

Right now, the US government is preparing a new rule that would let Internet providers discriminate and charge fees. Now more than ever, folks in the US must stand up and fight for Net Neutrality. Keep your favorite sites from being slowed to a crawl by the greedy companies who lobby for privileged “fast lanes” and better services than others rather than equal access for all.

Preserve the Internet as our common heritage: call the White House now and tell Obama to save the Internet — and his legacy — by reining in the rogue Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

By Harry J. Bentham


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SEARCH BEYOND Series: don’t miss this Halloween’s science fiction horror

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Ma pensée, c’est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m’arrêter.

My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop.

Jean-Paul Sartre

I will soon have a new monthly opinion article at Press TV, so watch that space for something new in the next few days. Meanwhile, I have posted a new sci fi horror fiction story this Halloween at Ad Astra, where reactions to my fiction have been consistently positive.

My new short story at Ad Astra is part of the Search Beyond Series and features a Star Trek-like plot with added horror, owing to my series’ origins essentially as a kind of “fan fiction” that spun off and developed into something wholly original. Whole eBooks can be downloaded filled with stories belonging to this series, and I intend to continue developing and expanding the series to cover a broader range of interesting original plots and hypothetical sci-fi scenarios that enter my mind as a futurist.

The highest-rated downloadable collection in the series so far is Wrong Century, which features one of the longest stories I invested effort into and possibly the best cover artwork yet offered.

To look at the whole series, simply type “Search Beyond Series” at Amazon and hit the search button to see for yourself.

By Harry J. Bentham


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The Mont Order: how the emerging Mont identity and mystique beats the nation

posted by Harry J. Bentham

La beauté sera CONVULSIVE ou ne sera pas.

Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or not at all.

André Breton

The Mont Order is a club of fellow writers and proponents of social change in development, and searching for  a powerful mission. Named after the mysterious Mont Order sect, whose origins are quite cloudy and distorted by conspiracy theories, this is the newest iteration of the club.

Mont flag painted face FOR USE as gif light

I see the Mont Order as an idea, just as nations are conceived as ideas designed to seduce crowds, but I see more potential in the Mont Order than in any nation. No nation is exceptional, but the Order is exceptional. If enough charismatic people could only learn to believe in a concept of nation-like community or demos that transcends all nations, as I have sought to persuade them in all my writing, then a world beyond the injustice and unilateralism imposed by archaic nation-states might be possible.

Because of its mystique, I believe Mont may have the ability to develop a body of support more persuasive than other collectives and anti-statist groups. Those other groups have tended to introduce themselves as clean slates – – purely ideological movements lacking the kind of superficial mythologies and icons displayed by established authorities and states. I believe these mythologies and icons are not trivial, but essential things people identify with and rally around when it comes to nation-statism. To effectively challenge nation-statism, those mythologies and icons presented by nation-states must not just be challenged but replaced.

The Mont Order is not a clean slate lacking in mythology and icons, like so many other political movements which bow down to nations and still treat them as legitimate. Rather, Mont already possesses a larger mythology surrounding it and images associated with it. Even if some elements of this mythology are negative, they make Mont potentially iconic in a way that might be able to capture the public imagination, if only the club will continue to gain more gravity and influence.

I myself have few plans for the Mont Order at the moment, although other associates may choose to be more ambitious if they wish. The Order will be committed to the ideas put forward by its associates. Already, the creation and growth of this association (purely via the Internet, I might add)  during the course of 2014 has been effective and I encourage it to continue to grow in terms of membership and impact.

The newest associate of the Mont Order is Harry Danilevics, whose statement accepting membership in the prestigious club follows a Skype conversation we had regarding the possibilities offered by the club. During the conversation, I explained to Harry that the Mont Order can be envisaged as a club of antistatist writers and thinkers who rely on the developing Mont identity and mystique to attract interest and publicity, as well as foster cooperation between associates as they pressure society to change to a stateless and caring alternative.

By Harry J. Bentham


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Remembrance Day: are poppies offensive?
Nous sommes donc en guerre les uns contre les autres We're all at war with one another Michel Foucault The poppy: a symbol of patriotism, exclusion, bygone values, xenophobia, bigotry, volksgemeinschaft ("national community"), war, monarchy, etc. Now more than ever, the youth should

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