VE Day hype and lies
TWO WEEKS after VE Day some bunting still flutters forlornly to remind us of the parties from which all passion has now gone. The celebrations could not recreate the upwelling of popular feeling of 1945. They were not meant to.
VE Day propaganda was not about remembering the past, but an attempt to reinforce a myth about the present. Namely, that we British are all on the same side and all that is wrong with the world is really the fault of vicious foreigners. It explains away present day reality as only choppy waters on the deep sea of historical progress and national unity. Keep our constitution, keep our monarchy, keep faith in the church, keep our ruling class and all will come well in the end.
World War II was not fought to save Poland, the Jews or democracy, but to prevent Germany developing an empire which could challenge British world eminence. The Americans used to have a popular song which went, “Bang! Bang! The British are coming”. Britain is the only ‘peace loving democracy’ to have conquered a quarter of the globe by force of arms and denied democracy to its subject peoples. British rule was justified by bogus theories of racial superiority. Hitler’s ‘evil genius’ differed in degree, not essence, from normal British practice.
The true moronic face of patriotism was exposed when thugs in Kent made the life of a Mrs Knight a misery on the grounds that she had been born in Germany. She felt the attacks were racially motivated. But it is not racism that the celebrations encouraged. They glorified ‘our’ country as against all outsiders: ie, national chauvinism. It is being drummed up by a ruling class with nothing else to offer.
Churchill and others within the ruling class at first supported the rise of fascism in Italy and Spain, because it suppressed the working class. Then, as now, mass unemployment was making the working class a burden on the rich. National chauvinism turns workers’ anger away from the ruling class and directs it against fellow workers.
The war smashed apart the stagnant, British-dominated world economy of the pre-war years for the American-led post-war boom. In 1945 the working class was armed and demanding full employment, housing, universal education, and proper healthcare. The boom enabled them to buy us off. Now they are recreating all the old shit again.
So World War II did not save the world for peace, democracy and human dignity. It is still all there waiting to be done.