Dualisms, patriarchy, war and Anzac Day

John Quiggin, who has a reliably critical perspective on war, had a post on his blog today discussing Anzac Day and commenting that Turkey could have been on the side of the allied powers in World War One.

I had been thinking about Anzac Day, and the conflict I feel between the need to express anti-war views at a time like this, and a sense of hopelessness about doing so. His post prompted me to comment, and try to express some of my views. So I am reproducing that comment below, as a starting point, which I can further develop later or expand on in future posts.

[In reply to John Quiggin]:
Thank you for a thoughtful contribution to Anzac Day. Reading the linked article [here] it is depressing because it’s so obvious. The issue of the taken-for-granted, that which we can’t see because it’s normal. Patriarchal states in which a handful of men gain power, dress up in uniforms, fight over territory, form alliances in secret and so forth. Not all that much has changed.
Weber thought this was the essential nature of politics – that men would fight over land, cattle and women, etc. It isn’t and it doesn’t have to be, there have been and are societies in which people resolve differences non-violently, but we don’t seem to have serious public conversations about this.
After the two world wars, there were serious attempts to form cooperative organisations through the League of Nations and the UN, but it seems those attempts are downplayed when the horror of world war is forgotten, and societies revert to the model of patriarchal, hierarchical states fighting with each other. I will keep opposing it, but I struggle to understand why more people can’t see it.
Karen Warren and other feminist or Ecofeminist philosophers spoke of dualisms in thought. There was an emphasis on the mind/culture/male vs emotion/nature/female dualisms, but what I have observed in my research and general observation is a bit different. It’s more like an active/take action/use violence and weapons vs passive/be patient/use negotiation and discussion duality (at least in the context of a discussion about war), which I think is also implicitly coded as male/female and strong/weak. I’ve been puzzling over the connections between masculinity, violence and war (I don’t mean to suggest some essential, biological connection, but rather the empirical connections) and such dualisms and implicit coding seem to make sense of it. It is particularly epitomised in those guys who randomly shoot strangers or mow them down with vehicles – they have been completely captured by the implicit societal understanding that when life is frustrating and difficult, a real man takes action by grabbing a weapon and killing people. 
I’ve been trying to think how I can express my opposition to Anzac Day and what it stands for, while knowing that some of my friends (and apparently you also JQ, though you also question it) genuinely believe it’s about respecting those who died for our country. This comment has at least- even if not well yet – started to put together some of my thoughts ... 
to be continued


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