October 31, 2010
It should come as no surprise that the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is proposing to introduce a radical national history curriculum that encourages students to criticize, ridicule, and debunk (‘deconstruct’) the Anzac tradition, the significance of Gallipoli, and even the existence of war memorials commemorating the enormous sacrifices that Australians have made in the dreadful wars of the past century.
Such determination in a peak educational authority reflects the dominance in Australian academia of the nihilist view of the Great War which depicts it as a murderous and futile act of a racist, patriarchal, and imperialist civilization. According to the people who hold this view, all traces of national pride in the heroic efforts of our military forces must be expunged from the national memory so that our nation can be transformed into the politically correct green and socialist utopia of their dreams.
Amazingly (but predictably), this nihilist view of our history is itself unhistorical, as Australia had no choice but to enter the war once Great Britain was committed, and once the war began to unfold the vital necessity for us to see the task through to the end became only more obvious.
After all, Germany’s approach to warfare and the nature of the ‘peace’ it intended to impose upon victory were made clear when it invaded neutral Belgium and immediately began massacring civilians and destroying property (including the priceless university library at Louvain), all as part of a deliberate strategy of terror designed to cow and subjugate the population and therefore minimize the occupational forces required in Belgium as its army swept on into France. Later, Russia’s capitulation led to the punitive Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, under which Russia lost a third of its population, half of its industry, and 90% of its coal mines to German control. This was consistent with German war aims and illustrates what would have happened more generally had Germany prevailed in the war.
As the exhaustive archival research and intense scholarly analysis initiated by the German historian Fritz Fischer in the 1960s has revealed, Germany’s ruling elite envisaged global domination by the new German Empire. Consequently, after a German victory, an enfeebled Britain would have been confronted by Mitteleuropa, a massive Teutonic empire of some 1.8 million square kilometers, five times the size of present-day Germany and encompassing all of Central and Eastern Europe. Belgium and the Netherlands - immediately across the English Channel - would have been reduced to powerless satellite states hosting German military and naval bases; while France would have been crippled by demilitarization, deindustrialization, colossal indemnity payments, and the loss of vital regions including the major steel-producing area of Briey, and a coastal strip between Dunkirk and Boulogne-sur-Mer, which would have provided further harbor facilities for the German Imperial Navy.
Once defeated, Britain would have forfeited her own navy and also been crippled by colossal indemnities. Moreover, along with the other defeated European nations, she would have lost her empire, specifically India and her African colonies, with the latter absorbed into Mittelafrika, another massive new empire dominating sub-Saharan Africa, and ultimately including South Africa.
Torn from a newly vanquished British Empire, Australia – our fledgling new nation - may even have been lost to Germany as part of its post-war global Imperium. At the very least, the country would have been left gutted by wartime losses, expenditures, and reparations; commercially crippled by the loss of access to our most important markets and sources of capital investment; and economically ruined by the appropriation of both our agricultural and manufacturing industries. At the very least, Australia would have been forced to enter negotiations with Germany as a defeated, demoralized, devastated, and subjugated foe that could have expected no mercy from a newly victorious and hyper-aggressive super-power that now controlled most of the markets and sea-lanes upon which our existence as a trading nation depended.
In our immediate region, Germany would have extended its control over German New Guinea and numerous other possessions, encompassing the rest of New Guinea, and the Dutch and British colonial possessions in present-day Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. In these and her other new colonies Germany would have been able to give full expression to its policies of colonial domination that it had brutally applied since 1870, involving “terrific violence and destruction … a dynamic of extremism [and the] extermination of civilian populations” (Isabel Hull, in Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (2005, p.1).
Such would have been the immediate outcomes of a German victory in the Great War, but what of the future under a German Imperium? What of the longer term as the peoples of the world were made subject to a global Imperium led by an unstable, megalomaniacal Kaiser under the domination of Hindenburg and Ludendorff, surrounded and supported by their fawning acolytes, a triumphant officer caste and aristocracy, the all-encompassing imperial bureaucracy, the Prussian Junkers, the ultra-nationalists and pan-German imperialists, the anti-Semites, the Slavophobes and other racist groups of Central Europe, and millions of de-mobbed, brutalized, war-hardened veterans determined to enjoy the spoils of victory, to say nothing of the similar desires of the ruling elites and military forces of Germany’s allies, particularly the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Turkey? What would have happened then? What would have happened to the world if this mass force of evil had been unleashed upon it?
Given that this catastrophe was narrowly averted by the sacrifice of millions of Allied soldiers - to which Australia made a disproportionately large contribution - it might seem incredible that ACARA is insisting on denying the history reality of the epochal challenge faced by the Allies in the Great War, in order to destroy the Anzac tradition, subvert the historical record, and expunge the commemorative efforts of the Australian people.
However, this appalling situation only seems incredible to those who are unaware of the extent to which the academic study of history, the education of history teachers, and the teaching of history in Australia is dominated by neo-Marxism, postmodernism, radical feminism, post-colonial studies, radical environmentalism, gay studies, and other contemporary radical ideologies, all of which regard the Anzac tradition, all it represents, and the commemoration of past military sacrifices with repugnance.
It is time to fight back, at the state and federal level. For example, the people of NSW will shortly be able to eject the current disreputable ALP government and this will provide an opportunity to establish a powerful beachhead in this ideological war for the heritage of our country. Whatever else the new NSW government must do, it must lead the fightback against those radical ideologues who want to destroy our history, indoctrinate our children with nihilistic values, and expunge the memory of those tens of thousands of Anzacs who gave their lives for Australia. We must seize back our history!
Listen to Mervyn Bendle talking with 2GB's Chris Smith on “Protecting Australia’s history” here…
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray