An Aussie Bloke’s Reflections on the Warring Mentality of Humankind, 1914 -2015

Walter Steensby

Hello Michael, At last I’ve read the entire paper.[1] Good analysis. Some comments follow, in no particular order.

Regarding Monis, recent reports of his mental health paint the picture of a man who was a lunatic rather than a terrorist. Some might ask, is there a difference? What annoys and saddens me about the whole episode is that Monis’ actions got the maximum possible media exposure, while the tragedy in Cairns at almost the same time, where that woman killed seven of her own children plus one other, was largely ignored. One doesn’t like to rank tragedies, but I would have thought that eight child murders are just as newsworthy as two adult murders. I cynically suggest that the Monis affair was emphasised to continue keeping the people afraid of infidels.

Recently I went to a musical (re)presentation of the International Congress of Women held in 1915 in The Hague….international_congress_women_560

…..Women from many nations attended, including the US and Germany, but Churchill prevented British women from attending. The musical quoted excerpts from the Sydney Morning Herald editorial of Christmas 1914, and what a blood-chilling range of sentiments are expressed there, such as, “By offering the devotion of their lives they have passed the supreme test of manhood”, and of men “finding a new meaning in life”, all in support of a ghastly fratricidal slaughter. I would need to research learn more about “the spirit which has vexed Europe for the last 40 years,” but I reckon another spirit has sorely vexed the Middle East for the last 67 years since 1948. To be honest, I am weary of the whole Anzac thing in its modern manifestation. It’s becoming a religious ceremony, maybe not surprising in a nation whose religious life has atrophied enormously. People may be looking for something to fill the void. While we lament the shock of Gallipoli and gather in annually-increasing numbers to remember it, as a nation we don’t seem to be remembering that war is the worst of all possible remedies for problems. In Christianity there is a sort of equivalent of the Islamic Salafism: namely, the Christian Roots Movement, or more usually the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). This seeks for a variety of reasons to return to the beliefs and practices of the early New Testament Church, before the division between Jew and Christian grew wide. However, this movement receives much criticism from mainstream Christianity.

I don’t know the place of Salafism within Islam. Unlike Salafism, I don’t think the HRM in general advocates taking offensive action against enemies, although, like Salafism, the modern Western mainstream conflation of the political and religious right, especially in the US, seems quite happy to take arms against “infidels.”

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 is instructive. The Nazis and Fascists supported the Nationalists. The Communists supported the Republicans and formed brigades, the International Brigades, to support them. The driving force behind British volunteers was support for Communism. Other volunteers arrived from Italy and Germany to help the Nationalists….. ( Australia in that era tolerated its citizens fighting in another country’s war, outside of official structures of course, but not now.

SCW-renegades1 Scenes from the Spanish Civil War —sources unknown SCW-22 Spanish Civil War (8) Spanish Civil War -fascists Q

I fail to see much difference between Australian citizens killing and destroying on their own initiative or as part of an Australian army. And yes, I am well aware of the Oxford debate prior to WW2 which took the pacifist line and arguably encouraged Hitler.

This Middle Eastern quarrel is not of our making, and our involvement in it is foolish. Our token presence there is about as useful as a flea on a camel. I doubt that we will change anything and will only fill up a storehouse of animosity and hatred against us.

Best regards, Walter

****    ****


  • Towards Permanent Peace, A Record of the Women’s International Congress held at The Hague, April 28 – May 1st, 1915.


[1] The essay entitled “The Will to War: Anzac, Mujahid, Kamikaze, Tiger” was directed particularly at Australians today, though reaching for a wider audience as well through its focus on several arenas of war. It drew an unsolicited comment from Walter Steensby, an Aussie from a professional background with whom I had indulged in informative chats when touring the outback around Alice Springs. I immediately encouraged him to re-work and expand his thoughts for the benefit of a wider audience — in part because of his reference to a revealing event, the International Congress of Women held in 1915 (one that may be an eye-opener for feminists today ).


Never before in our history as a nation has a situation before occurred where, via religious and ideological indoctrination combined, produced any individual whose loyalty to a faith or belief system transcends their loyalty to one’s nation as a first priority. Whether the person involved has taken up citizenship here as a migrant or from being the first or second generation child of migrants, thus gaining Australian citizenship via the concept of country of birth, and then that person commits actively to the support of a foreign violent  ideology which is pitted against us and our allies and whose basic ideological aims seek to destroy our free liberal secular and democratic way of life, then that person is a traitor to our nation an must forfeit  their right to Australian citizenship.
To be effective this forfeiture of nationality must apply to those of dual or single nationality. If it does not get applied to those of single nationality and those involved are allowed to return from the “war” zone and, via the legal system, are sentenced to a long jail term instead, the resultant consequences from their influence on fellow prison inmates while in jail can be potentially catastrophic when they and fellow inmates of the same mind-set, logic and attitudes are released after serving their sentences. That risk is one we must avoid at all costs. Those who would betray us can adopt the nationality of the State they have chosen to support as that was their choice at the time and they must be prepared to live with that choice. It must be remembered that in aiding our enemy they have, by default, contributed to many deaths and injustices, even if they themselves did no actual killing or atrocity, but enabled others to do it due to their assistance. To regard that situation in any milder way is naive and ignorant and potentially destructive for all Australians.
Political leaders of all persuasions must realize that the mind-set, logic and attitudes gained from certain aspects of the discriminatory, violent and lethal indoctrination of such directives from their belief system, produce a person who loves death before life, and from which the terror they promote and perpetrate, originates. On that fundamental basis, anyone who breaks our laws to join any foreign, lethally violent cause or State must be prepared for the consequences and  excluded from returning to our nation.
Ken Moncrieff
** A heavily edited version of this viewpoint appeared in The Australian, 2 June 2015. The fuller version was sent directly to me as editor of Thuppahi.

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, Australian culture, australian media, authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, Fascism, female empowerment, Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, landscape wondrous, Left politics, life stories, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, violence of language, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes, World War One

Leave a Reply