It is that time of the year again. Volunteers at train stations and shopping centres, often wearing military uniforms, are selling little red paper and plastic poppies to remember the service of British veterans. These little paper poppies have long taken over the official remembrance day and converted it into a month long ritual from which one cannot opt out without having to take a position. Well, here is my position.
I reject the coerciveness of the poppy ritual, the way it tries to bring everyone together around a single shared narrative of remembrance, with its compulsory yet glib emotions of gratitude and sorrow. I reject the unquestioning acceptance of the value of that military service and the implied necessity and meaningfulness of war in general. And I reject the government's intimate involvement. What should be an occasion for remembering the political failures that lead to wars has been neatly converted into a propaganda exercise that forecloses reasoned public scrutiny of our government's past, present and future militarism.