Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

‘I’m nearly 100, I saw 1945 refugee crisis firsthand. I need people to listen to my warning. Vid’

I cannot sit back in good conscience while the world my generation built is left to turn feral in the hands of right-wing populists and indifferent capitalists …

As the northern hemisphere wends its way into summer, my sense of calm has been broken by the anguished cries of refugees the world over who have been denied their human right to a life free of war or poverty. Maybe it’s my advanced age and knowing that I will be dead soon that makes me angry and resolved not to remain quiet.

I cannot sit back in good conscience while the world my generation built is left to turn feral in the hands of right-wing populists and indifferent capitalists. Too many people died and too many lives were cut short or mangled by the Great Depression and the Second World War for me to accept that the architecture of fascism being built by Donald Trump along with demagogues in Europe and Asia should be allowed to go unchallenged.

I am a very old man whose only weapon is that I have endured the catastrophic history of the 20th century and I am not afraid to tell younger generations what I saw and experienced in my youth. I want my memories to be a testament of what must not happen again, especially when it comes to the treatment of those who flee their countries because of war or persecution.

So even though I am close to 100 years old, I travelled two days ago to Ottawa because I think Canada has shown leadership when it comes to the current refugee crisis. I came to meet with Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts because I wanted to explain why, at the age of 95, I am making the refugee crisis my last stand.

In this meeting I was asked how my journey towards refugee advocacy started. For me, it began near dusk on a day near the end of April 1945 when my RAF unit made camp close to the Dutch-German border.

In the distance, artillery rumbled, sounding to my ear like thunder did when it struck the moors, miles from my mother’s one-up-one-down house in an ugly part of Halifax. The fragrance of spring flowers coming into bloom jarred against the remnants of war that surrounded me, from burnt-out German vehicles to the bloated corpses of horses that lay at the side of the roadway.

All of Europe ached from the pain of battle, hunger, injury, loss, and death. We were a generation bleeding out from the madness of fascism that had butchered a continent. Humanity, however, hadn’t deserted my generation even if the war had stolen our innocence …

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. davies

    July 2, 2018 at 12:07 am

    “USSR, North Korea, Cambodia and Mao’s China are and/or were dictatorships – economically described as state-based capitalism. So that’s quite an “own goal ” you’ve scored there. Suck to be wrong.”

    Seriously? These countries are state-based capitalism. Well, unless we have any other intellectual bankruptcies here, I reckon you’re Larry Lonely with that opinion.

  2. Bert Wells

    July 1, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    USSR, North Korea, Cambodia and Mao’s China are and/or were dictatorships – economically described as state based capitalism. So that’s quite an “own goal ” you’ve scored there. Suck to be wrong.

    The fantastic fire-power for freedom US of Fricken A has caused approximately 30 million deaths in 37 countries since WW2. (I’ll go with your sloppy standard of sweeping unsubstantiated generalisations in making a case against a troll). I’ll hold in reserve the approximately 36 million people a year who die of starvation due to “market forces” (thanks cost/ benefit/ profit capitalist economics and corporate greed like Monsanto amongst many!) and the countless millions who died at US/ Nato nuclear testing. It’s all about economic and military control for capitalism, isn’t it?

    Never mind the wars in the middle east that are about US control over oil, and the wonderful allies the US has, such as the Saudis .. scoring great runs on the board for capitalist deaths in the world in their massacres of Yemeni people at the moment.

    Current Russian expansion in Europe and Russian-backed or US-backed forces wiping each other out in Syria – thanks capitalism!

    Can anyone count sectarian violence in the monotheistic Middle east? I’ll hold Indonesia, the rest of Africa and the Indian partition amongst a crap load of others in reserve .. n fact, this penalty shoot out was an easy win, so I’ll leave it there.

  3. davies

    July 1, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    #7 … I think your having a laugh with your “Monotheism and capitalism have caused more misery!”

    Well, I am up for a bit of show and tell. Let’s start with Mao and China. Estimates of 50 million dead, thanks to Communist Party policies backed up with overwhelming force.

    Cambodia .. was it one-third of the population killed by the Communist Government?

    I will leave in reserve the USSR, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.

    Your go.

    Sorry #6, but I do not discriminate based on age, gender, race or anything else. I judge by the strength of their argument.

  4. Bert Wells

    July 1, 2018 at 12:02 am

    [i]”Even the most cursory examination of history since WW2 would identify socialism/communism as the main cause of human misery and death in the world over the last 70 years.”[/i]

    Well, I’d beg to differ and say that Monotheism and Capitalism have caused more human misery and suffering since WW2 .. but hey, we live in something of a nation state that has some vague veneer of democratic process, and we can voice differences of opinion .. as long as you safeguard yourself as much as possible against the insidious machinations of the local corrupt powers that pull the strings in our antipodean democratic dystopia!

  5. Keith Antonysen

    June 22, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    The author was involved in a horrific period in history. At 95 he is still able to write something that is coherent. The critics might wonder whether they will be lucky enough to have reached such an age, and whether their cognitive functions are still working well enough to put forward coherent views.

    Whether people agree with him or not, he has an opinion developed from his life experiences, some of them quite terrible. I get quite sick of constantly seeing people attacked because their views are contrary to those who make personal attacks. I believe that some of the commentators need to reflect on what they have written in the past as they often make accusations without providing any evidence.

    Christopher’s comment at #4 is worth reflecting on: “If we look around the world, inter-ethnic failure and/or poor sub-optimal outcomes are the norm, not the exception, but the ideologically infantile plague that now afflicts regrettably still influential political segments in our society, are now immune to warnings.”

    Robert Burns sums it up nicely with … “Man’s inhumanity to man” written in 1784. The current world scene is still a testament to his words.

  6. davies

    June 21, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Agree with #2 this article is disgracefully biased and reminds me that just because your old doesn’t mean your wise.

    Even the most cursory examination of history since WW2 would identify socialism/communism as the main cause of human misery and death in the world over the last 70 years.

    ‘Grotesque inequality and ignorance’ – Really? Those still suffering from extreme poverty are now under 9% of the total population. This is the lowest percentage level ever! In fact, we now have, probably for the very first time, in history more obese people than those living in extreme poverty. And the number living in extreme poverty continues to drop.

    ‘Populism and fascism’ – they are not the same. Not even close. The article basically states that Trump and the new Italian Government are fascists. This illustrates an amazing lack of knowledge of what actual fascists look like and behave.

    Are there any fascist governments currently in existence? I can think of a few socialist/communist countries causing untold misery (North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela come to mind) but no fascist countries.

    ‘Donald Trump cages refugee children’ – photos prove it! Except some come from Obama’s time in charge (those pictures of cages and people wrapped in foil) and others have been staged. I understand the US intercept around 250 unaccompanied children a day! Plus there is the issue of adults accompanying kids who aren’t theirs.

    This is a complex issue. Could Trump do better. Quite probably. Could Obama, Clinton have done better. Again quite probably.

    The UN HRC is a joke. Just look at the countries on it and their respective human rights record. I think my favourite is Saudi Arabia heading up the committee on womens’ rights. Ya gotta laugh or you would cry.

    ‘Trump the wannabe genocidist’ – you cannot be serious.

    ‘the refugees facing certain death in their home countries’ – even the EU in all their inglorious capitulation of their borders state that 80% of their refugees are not fleeing persecution. Rather they are coming for economic reasons. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not blame these economic refugees in the slightest for making the attempt to move to a modern western country with all its benefits but let’s not confuse them with real refugees.

    And probably the worse bit from this unprincipled article, ‘those that disagree with the author in regards to the motivations of refugees are “selfish, racist, myopic and malevolent”. Well that is a guaranteed way to change peoples’ minds. I wonder why the Left haven’t tried that tactic before…

  7. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    June 21, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Sorry mate, but your age doesn’t seem to have improved your judgement.

    I was watching an SBS program last night about the European ethnic ‘Identitarian’ movement in Austria.

    They are using the same crappy (but very effective) identity politics that has become the leitmotif of libertarian humanist causes celebre from aboriginals to the gender lobbies.

    Blind Freddies could see this one assembling itself decades ago, if they were listening, and now it has arrived to bite us all in the ideological bum.

    I remember when doing a counselling course back in the ’80s, I was shown the infallibly interchangeable triangle: Rescuer….victim….oppressor. It was a cautionary warning to counsellors to keep their distance from their clients and not blithely walk into areas where mines are known to exist.

    Uncritical empathy at a policy level is a suicidal open invitation to walk into such territory.

    The inability to control borders and manage the rate of ethnic change within safe boundaries is an open invitation to unsustainable behaviour and a brutal legacy headache for the grandchildren to deal with.

    If laissez-faire prejudices are allowed to overrule reason, today’s ‘poor thing’ refugee may very well turn out to be our enemies who hates our values and the society they have been unsuccessfully integrated into.

    If we look around the world, inter-ethnic failure and/or poor sub-optimal outcomes are the norm, not the exception, but the ideologically infantile plague that now afflicts regrettably still influential political segments in our society, are now immune to warnings.

    I wouldn’t mind if they were the ones who copped the rebukes of history, but in this matter,the rest of us will have share in the consequences of their idiocies.

    When the time comes for a reckoning on this guys, do not expect either forgiveness or mercy.

  8. Jack

    June 21, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Yes, focus only on where refugees should go, rather than how they became refugees in the first place, because war and the neoliberal economics of exploitation and Machiavellian foreign policy has nought to do with it, hey?

    Helping nations to develop rather than selling them arms, stripping their assets and trading their natural resources on Wall Street would be one crazy alternative strategy that I guess has a fundamentally flawed assumption behind it – that people care more about people than share prices.

  9. Mike

    June 21, 2018 at 12:09 am

    It’s a bit sad when someone is not far off 100 and yet still not much smarter than when they were born.

    Does he not realise that Trump was inaugurated in 2017 and many of the refugees have been on the island longer than that?

    Where was he when Mr Peace Prize, Hope and Change himself, was bombing the homes of the current Refugees?

    I’ll give him a hint. The cause of the current refugee crisis is the same as in 1945. Wars contrived by Banksters!

    One thing that has change is that the Internet has exposed a lot more information than was once available to the public. So it is a good idea to use it and do some research rather than just supporting your own football team and blaming the other.

    As far as the UN goes, I call them “Undercover Nazis”. Just have to look at what they (and Canada) did to the people in Haiti to see how true that is …

  10. john hayward

    June 20, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Unfortunately, the fascists these days are more cunning, calling themselves populists, patriots, Liberals, Young Liberals, etc. Their lies are still distinctive, however.

    John Hayward

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