I am always brought to tears on Anzac day when I watch some of the marches and see some of the old men, walking or being driven with their mates, their numbers rapidly dwindling. The tears are for my father, my uncles, cousins and their friends who suffered through the Second World War and its preamble, the Great Depression.
My father was in signals in Darwin, some of my uncles and cousins were in signals in Port Moresby, in Bomber Command in England, at Milne Bay, in Military Intelligence and the Japan occupation forces, RAAF flying boats (missing presumed killed), while friends of theirs were at Tobruk, Kokoda and on HMAS Perth (killed in action).
Despite having not known them all, I admired all these men whose lives had been upended and in some cases ended by the second great upheaval in the 20th century. Given what had been allowed to happen by appeasement in Europe, the Second World War was probably inevitable. These men did what was asked of them, and fought for their country. In that war, over 60 million people died. Of these, it is estimated that over 26 million were from the USSR, 20 million from China, 5.6 million from Poland, 5.3 million from Germany (including conscripts from Austria and eastern Europe), and 3.1 million from Japan. Australia lost just over 40,0001.
The totalitarian regimes they fought against commonly scapegoated people, imprisoning and often killing them either in gas chambers, by starvation or simple neglect. Millions died this way. These regimes imprisoned and often murdered their opposition. Many thousands died this way. These totalitarian regimes did not allow the free flow of information, which kept their population in the dark regarding their murderous depredations. They did not allow a free press and either destroyed them physically or brought them to heel. They simply told lies and told them often. They curried favour with wealthy industrialists and bankers because they needed the money and the wealthy curried favour with the regimes because the prosperity of their companies depended upon it. That was what brave, gentle, loving men fought against, and most, if not all of them knew that. I wish they were still here. It saddens me that they are not.
Now we have politicians in the Liberal National Coalition (LNC) who systematically lie to the population2, either with bald-faced lies3, or lying by omission4,5. Our politicians constantly keep us in the dark about ‘on-water matters’6. Our politicians imprison the people they scapegoat7 on Manus Island and Nauru. Our politicians constantly hammer the independent media over bias8,9. They have for 20 years attempted to bring the ABC to heel by underfunding it8, and now by installing a former Murdoch employee as its CEO and killing off its fact checking unit10.
While it is generally assumed that the first time someone on Twitter of Facebook makes a comparison with the Nazis, they have lost the argument, some parallels need to be drawn. While I doubt that Australians would ever vote in anyone who would suggest moving all Muslims or Jews to concentration camps, it is worth noting that we already have camps for asylum seekers. While it is unlikely that the Federal Government would ever attempt to attack and pillage the offices of the ABC, they have been attempting to mute its reporting, both by cutting its budget and installing a more compliant CEO. While I doubt that the LNC would ever simply imprison its opposition, it did conduct a ‘show trial’ of sorts with the Trade Union Royal Commission11. The LNC do curry favour with industrialists, miners and bankers, making sure that they pay as little tax as possible, while subsidising their businesses massively with taxpayers funds. Those businesses in turn donate money in the millions to the LNC, and to a considerable extent dictate policy.
This is the problem with democracy; it can be circumvented by those who want power and money, and look upon democracy as an impediment to obtaining it. For democracy to survive it needs constant vigilance and action. Democracy is not a spectator sport.