Stephens, David: Anzac and Anzackery: have Australians normalised war?

David Stephens

Anzac and Anzackery: have Australians normalised war?’ Daily Review, 30 April 2017

Might we wade through the emotional sludge of Anzackery – the over-the-top, jingoistic bastardisation of the Anzac legend – to address some important questions about ‘our place in the world?’ The article suggests that a useful Anzac is characterised by: quiet, private commemoration, rather than noisy public display; a stress on individual suffering rather than mass slaughter; an emphasis on supporting living survivors as well as grieving for the long-dead; honesty of language rather than euphemism; and a focus on context – before wars, after them, the home front, the impact on other countries – rather than sentimental national narcissism about death in battle.

The article concludes: ‘Wallowing in sentiment – pickling ourselves in Anzackery – makes it more likely that we will do it all again next time. Only fools glorify war; Australians tend to normalise it.’

This is an edited version of the author’s chapter 9 of The Honest History Book. The author is also co-editor of the book, secretary of the Honest History coalition, and editor of the Honest History website.

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