Saturday, 1 August 2015

Links Update - war profiteering, a potential peace initiative, Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust

A few months ago I received an email from Stuart Moriarty - Patten, with a link to his article about War profiteering in the Gisborne Herald. I should have put up a link then, but never actually did. I noticed that the same article got reprinted in the 'No Glory' website here: 

It's a good summary of how big business in New Zealand managed to raise their profits during the war years, while the majority of working people saw their costs of living rise drastically. For anyone interested in the economics of WW1 as it played out in New Zealand, I would also recommend Stevan Eldred Grigg's book 'The Great Wrong War'. Some day when I get time I am going to read that book again and write a proper review.

I also received an email from Gray Southon from Tauranga, who is interested in developing alternative forms of remembrance. This is his sketch:

Potential Peace Initiative - NZ as Peacemaker:

Celebrating peace, as well as commemorating war.

The current WWI commemoration represents an important part of our history; honouring the losses and sufferings of the time. It also embodies important principles of commitment to values beyond oneself, and reminds us of the values of national cohesion and of NZ’s ability to demonstrate distinctive capabilities. However, it also contributes to our national identity a sense of violence and dark foreboding due to uncontrollable forces beyond our understanding, and of security through military dominance.

Is this the memory we want to characterise our national identity?
Are these the sentiments we would choose to inspire our youth?
There are much better stories about New Zealand to tell: stories of constructive achievements, of contributing to a better world of peace and cooperation. Stories which look to the future with great possibilities; stories of New Zealand, as a nation and as individuals, promoting stable and peaceful relationships, internationally and domestically. 

There are many dimensions to present: contributions to international institutions (League of Nations and United Nations), diplomacy, peacekeeping, human rights and the rule of law, antinuclear campaigns, independent policy and trade, as well as many domestic initiatives. There are stories that talk about past, present and future, to promote a forward looking national identity based on an international rules-based system, strong relationships and peaceful policies, as well as our “clean, green” image.

Can we tell these stories as convincingly and pervasively as our WWI stories?

I'd say that we can tell these sorts of stories, but that unfortunately we are up against a state funded WW1 narrative which has tens of millions of dollars being pumped into it each year. That said, I like Gray's positive attitude here, and he assures me that there are many others out there who want to listen to and tell different stories about our past. If anyone out there wants to get in touch with Gray, flick me an email and I will put you in touch.

Finally, I have accepted an offer to become the website manager of the Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust. I've just posted up the six winning  peace essays written by high school students in the Otago region. I will be updating the site as required, and will also put up facebook posts on behalf of the Trust.


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