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Joe Mc looks ahead to 2014 and beyond / 2 August 2013

clay bust with poem

Would you ever see us through again (detail) (Joe McConnell, 2013, mixed media)

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2012 was one great hoolie here in London with the pyrotechnicics of the Olympics.

The glitter has hardly settled, and now 2014 looms on the horizon. No doubt we are in for four years of centennial commemorations of the 1914-18 war.

As a pacifist, I am prepared to participate in the lament for the falling of millions on the battlefields and in the trenches. And all the civillians who were massacred. And what follows here is tempered by that sense of respect.

As part of Caglar Kimyoncu's excellent COnscription and to mark the International Day of the Conscientious Objector, a conference was held where Joe Glenton - the young soldier who refused to continue engagement in Afghanistan - gave an eloquent acccount about how the British establishment uses notions of patriotism to coerce young men and women to join and stay in the Army. 10 years ago, more than a million British people marched on the streets of London im protest against the imminent invasion of Iraq by the US and Britain. While both governments were lying to us about Saddam Hussein's possession of waeapons of mass destruction, all levels of patriotic rhetoric were being used to inflate the war effort.

Most of the people alive in Britain today are informed about our 'world wars' through the media instiutions with the BBC proudly at the helm. How many have asked if it would have made any difference which side had actually won? Britain, France and Germany were all primarily motivated by the scrabble for empire, money and hegemony. As can be seen by the non-chalance with which these powers sent legions of young men to die in the name of national glory, there was little thought spared for justice and equality. The Treaty of Versailles carved up much of the world into spheres of control for the winning parties - with disastorous consequences for generations of people to come. One only has to study the history of the Middle East to find ample illustration of this.

I hope that the arts organisations that are planning to join in the commemoration of the so-called 'Great War' will go ahead with honouring the dead and not buy into the ongoing brain washing of successive US and UK governments with their vested interest in the industries of war and the continued destabilisation of materially developing countries. The link between some of our leading arts bodies and the oil industry does not give great cause for hope in this respect.


Keywords: 2012 olympics,imperialism