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Useful Idiots And The Wearing of The Poppy

by Aaron Doncaster

The term "useful idiot" is a term that describes people who do not understand that they are being used by leaders of a cause for propagating the ideas of the cause.
When we think of the poppy and those who wear it in late October and early November, many of us can think of a time when we were told to, "wear a poppy to remember their sacrifice for our freedoms" or "they fought so you would not have to" or "Lest we forget". Not only do we hear these cliches from many ordinary citizens, but we see them plastered around and promoted by many organizations from private corporations to public organizations like city transportation services. The sad reality is that the narratives elicited by the aforementioned aphorisms and epigrams do not fit the truth of why soldiers fight and die in wars and what values they are protecting.
Seeing that Americanism has been the dominant narrative told since at least the end of world war I, it behooves us to deconstruct the American ethos in the run up to World war II. I picked world war II to start with specifically because it is this war, along with world war I, that is held up by the political and economic elite as the war that was fought to protect our freedoms.
We will look at world war I, but for now let us look at the end of that war and what it meant specifically to the America's desire to curb revolution and how that desire led to an American fascistic ethos that was largely responsible for World War II.
As a result of  the Russian revolution, with Russian soldiers refusal to fight, the Kiel mutiny in Germany that led to the German revolution and German soldiers refusal to fight and a general disdain amongst soldiers and citizens for war, we saw the signing of the armistice on November 11th, 1918 and eventually the Treaty of Versailles on October 21st 1919. American politicians and industrialists saw the demands for peace put forth by soldiers and citizens in Russia and Germany along with American soldiers coming back with communist ideas and the desire to resist the attempts to role back high war time wages as a threat to Capitalism and as such they sent a group of more than 20 men to Paris to form a group that became known as The American Legion.

The Americans who created The American Legion were mainly wealthy officers who had financial support from big industrialists and bankers. Big American industrialists like Du Pont, U.S Steel and General Motors to name a few made a killing in wartime profits during the war and with the communist and socialist inspired peace, not only were their war time profits gone as a result of their war machines and services no longer being in demand; their future profits were at risk as a result of communist soldiers coming back calling for workers' power. This is why the big American banks and industrialists decided to financially support the creation of the American legion.

The American citizenry were bamboozled and hoodwinked into believing that the American Legion Was a patriotic organization set up to promote peace, look after the war wounded and  to maintain military graveyards, The Legion may have engaged in these benevolent activities; however, the reson d'etre of the Legion was much more sinister.

The legion, much like other organizations of the time such as The American Liberty Legue, The Ku Klux Klan and the Black Legion had a modus operandi that promoted a cultural and economic fascism. The cultural Fascism that they promoted was pro white protestant patriarchy and against Jews, Catholics, homosexuals and atheists, amongst others and the economic fascism embodied in the legion was the same kind of economic fascism that was to be found in companies like ford with it's fascistic sociological program, later to become the service department. The legion went so far as to make Mussolini an honorary member in 1935. They even invited him to their next legion convention in Chicago.

Fascism was not just an aberration in America through the 20's and 30's, it was the dominant ideology. The American state department throughout the 30's promoted fascism in word and deed. In 1934 in response to Mussolini election win in Italy, the state department said that the 99% victory of the Fascist Party in Italian elections "demonstrate incontestably the popularity of the Fascist regime." As late as 1937 the state department showed their support for fascism by saying fascism, "brought order out of chaos, discipline out of license, and solvency out of bankruptcy." FDR's new deal was even modeled after Mussolini's public works programs. Projects like road and dam building in America brought together the State and corporate world in a way that was never done before. Many corporations received subsidies that they would not have received if it were not for the new deal. A melding of corporate and state power is one of the underlying principles of fascism. Sure many workers were put to work and thus able to support their families but it was a program that many lefty organizations begrudgingly supported
Their is a desire among many Fascists to have their ideology become universal so it is no surprise that the Fascist machine in North America gave substantial support to Hitlers Nazi regime, which was a type of fascism. Companies like Ford, Kodak, IBM, Huggo Boss, Coca-cola, Chase Bank were known to give Hitler the economic support he needed to build his third reich. Many politicians in America also supported the German Nazis. up until December 7th, 1941, America was content in doing business with Germany while cultivating a fascistic society at home. It is in this context that America joined the war so don't forget the next time you hear someone say "They sacrificed for your freedoms" remember that it was North American Capitalism that helped build the Nazi Regime
World war I is also one of the wars held up as justification for remembrance day and the wearing of the poppy. We are often told our soldiers were sent to fight for freedom. The truth of the matter is, World War I was not a fight for our freedoms, it was a struggle of European Capitalists and politicians to redistribute wealth and power amongst themselves. We Canadians did not enter the war as a sovereign nation with some kind of noble goal, we were brought into the war at the behest of king George. After that war, many Canadian women were still denied the vote, first nations and African Canadians were still discriminated against and denied the vote, the Chinese faced a racist head tax and Canadian workers were harassed and persecuted for demanding the ability to collectively bargain and to organize in unions without being subjected to violence from the state and corporations. Not only was their no freedom to fight for, except for the monied 1%, there was no freedom when our soldiers came back maimed and traumatized
So if you go to put on your poppy this year, ask yourself, "why am I wearing this? Am I being a useful idiot?" If you must wear a poppy please wear a white poppy, a poppy for peace!! No matter how sincere your personal reason for wearing a poppy, it's meaning has been usurped by the powers that be to promote war, militarism and fascism. It is time we stop wearing their symbols!! If we must where symbols, let us make sure they are ours.
                            Aaron Docaster
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Topics: Peace/War
Tags: Calgary
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