By Ian Sinclair in Britain:
Timely antidote to pro-war propaganda
Monday 27th April 2015
Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a Culture of Militarism by David Gee (Forces Watch, £7)
ARMED Forces Day. Help for Heroes. The government’s Troops to Teachers programme. The media frenzy around the military funeral repatriations in Wootton Bassett. Girl band The Saturdays opening the Poppy Appeal.
It’s clear that we are in the midst of a resurgence of militarism in Britain.
The government presents these pro-military schemes as an attempt to encourage understanding and appreciation for the armed forces. But, with a 2008 Mori poll finding 81 per cent of the British public already view the military favourably, David Gee, co-founder of the activist organisation Forces Watch, is unconvinced.
In 2009 the Chief of Defence Staff Jock Stirrup claimed that the Taliban’s roadside bombs were less of a threat to troops’ morale than the “declining will” among the public to support the war.
Tellingly, Stirrup added: “Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.”
But while he notes that research shows war films as a key influence on British infantry recruits’ decision to enlist, he also explains how films like Avatar and The Hunger Games provide dissenting narratives.
Formed in 2011, Veterans for Peace UK is also working to counter pro-war propaganda, sending former soldiers into schools to teach children about the reality of war. “Simply put, we ought to know what war is, at the very least, before deciding whether or not to lend its support,” argues Gee.
While the parliamentary defeat for the government on their proposed attack on Syria was a huge victory for the anti-war movement, Gee is fully aware of the power disparity between the resistance and the Establishment.
“It might have failed to win our support for its recent wars but the government’s power to elicit public compliance and shape social culture through the education system, the media, and legislation is prodigious,” he notes.
Spectacle, Reality, Resistance is a short book but it’s important in inspiring anyone interested in exploring the increasing militarisation of society and learning about those opposing it.