Sunday, April 18, 2021

Letters: Myth (1993)

Letters to the Editors from the April 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard


Dear Editors,

Watching a demonstration of predominantly young people parading a banner which reads ‘'Alexander the Great was Greek, not Slav!” I ask myself why it is that my own generation, the youth of today, are just as foolishly willing to throw away their lives for their various national masters as were those before them. It seems that whenever death is on the agenda there are always those to be found eager and willing. Hardly surprising, perhaps, when one considers what daily life under capitalism entails.

Of course, nationalism derives its energy not just from poverty, but from the ignorance that is engendered by the profit system, where most of us have no real stake in life and hence no incentive to dip into history and find out things which might strip our capitalist nation-state society of its pretended legitimacy.

In fact, Alexander “the Great” (the inverted commas to underline the fact that military heroes are not my heroes!) was neither Greek nor Slav, but if anything, he was definitely the enemy of the Greeks more than of anyone else.

Alexander was the son of Philip of Macedon, a kingdom to the north of the Greek city-states, and whose warriors had swept over Greece after the fratricidal war between Athens and Sparta. The oppression suffered by the Greek city-states at the hands of Philip and Alexander (Thebes was razed to the ground for daring to challenge Alexander’s tyranny) was such that the Greeks were eventually obliged to call on the Roman Republic for assistance in ousting the Macedonians.

What any schoolboy with the slightest classical education ought to know is apparently unknown to the nationalists who are only eager to die for what they call “Macedonia”, on one side or another, since the name hit the papers. But then, as nationalism is irrational in any case, historical awareness and understanding can only take cover when it is time for fools to start shooting:
   A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees on vacant lots in London— “Rubbish may be shot here." (definition of “flag” in The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce).
A .K .Walker 

City violence

Dear Editors,

I thought double standards and muddled thinking were the prerogative of the press and media but Dave Clark of Class War appears even more muddle-headed with his references to “anti-fascist violence”. Presumably, by his reckoning. the bombing of Dresden and other German cities were acts of anti-fascist violence.

Some may recall the annual “Stop the City” campaign of a few years ago which of course did nothing of the sort as the City is still there if not flourishing. At the time of these demonstrations I was working in a stockbroker’s office when a bunch of mindless idiots lobbed a heavy lump of wood through a window, though luckily no-one was injured. I would ask Dave Clark what this or any other act of violence achieved. Violence of whatever kind has never solved anything witness two world wars and the mindless cold-blooded murder taking place almost daily in Northern Ireland.
Denham Ford 
Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex

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