Saturday 15 August 2020

75th Anniversary of end of WW2 in the Pacific

Today, August 15, 2020 marks 75 years since World War II ended in the Pacific with Japan's surrender to a group of countries that included Australia and New Zealand.

75th anniversary of end of WW2 in Pacific

In Great Britain and Europe the end of WW2 is called VE day and is May 8. 

The Japanese fought on in the Pacific region after Nazi Germany surrendered until the Atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9th respectively convinced Emperor Hirohito that continuing the war would be met with catastrophic consequences. 

Outside of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Timor, Philipines, Indonesia and Papua Guinea, the other WW2 allies Europe, Great Britain and the Americans hardly acknowledge or have much awareness of the Pacific history and the role Australian and New Zealand armed forces had in fighting back the Japanese Imperial Army. As an ally of Nazi Germany the Japanese sought to aid Hitler win the war by dividing the hostilities into separate theatres. Advancing into the Pacific and capturing territory in the name of Emperor Hirohito fulfilled another political agenda that resources could be mined and exploited to modernise Japanese industry. This mid 20thC bid at colonisation of sovereign Pacific nations is never acknowledged by those who prefer the view that only "white" nations are aggressors.

The northern territory town of Darwin was attacked on May 2, 1943 by 242 Japanese bombers. Casualties were around 250 and were mainly seamen and a small number of Darwin civilians.



Still living memories in my town

I'd like to acknowledge today the war service of Ethel Haydon, a Murrurundi resident who lives across my back fence. Ethel turned 100 years old on June 16th. Sadly, due to the pandemic her birthday celebration had to be small and limited to only a small number of people in the room at a time. Ethel was a nurse aide working in Papua New Guinea 1942 - 44.

A second local resident to acknowledge today is Judy Dysart. Judys war service was at the Cowra Internment camp as a guard. She was working the night of the riot and breakout of the Japanese prisoners of war. The breakout occurred on 5 August 1944, when 1,104 Japanese prisoners attempted to escape from a camp near Cowra, a small regional town in New South Wales. Few Americans or Europeans know this but it was the largest prison escape of WW2, as well as one of the bloodiest. During the escape and ensuing manhunt, 4 Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed. The remaining escapees were re-captured and imprisoned.

Judy left Murrurundi to live with relatives a few years ago but during the time I knew her she shared with me some of her ongoing psychological trauma from the violence of that night. 

The last Australian hero I want to salute is the extraordinary nurse Vivian Bullwinkel. Vivian survived the torpedoing of her hospital ship along with a number of other nurses, soldiers, wounded and civilians. The initial war crime of bombing a hospital ship was compounded when the survivors were recaptured onshore. The soldiers, many of them who had been wounded patients being evacuated on the ship, were executed. The nurses were raped then marched into the sea and shot in the back.

Vivian Bullwinkel

Bangka Island Massacre

Sweatpants Forever

Bring on the sweatpants. 

No dismay from me that the global north "fashion" industry is teetering and going broke. I'm wallowing in the delightful schadenfraude. Makes me want to light up a big cuban cigar and drag on it in deep satisfaction (I stopped smoking 20 years ago).

New York Times - Sweatpants Forever

What I hope happens now that the COVID19 pandemic has exposed the chronic unsustainability of the whole BS fast fashion model is that consumers will have to fall back on the previous way the world functioned. Clothes made locally by local people.

More textile fibre will have to be grown and produced close to where its processed. Due to reduced international shipping a much bigger portion of garments will have to be made inside countries instead of imported. Local production will benefit the local economy by keeping cash circulating in small circles instead of being hooked out by overseas based businesses to enrich a privileged group of shareholders.

First world consumers will go through a fright period of readjustment to reality when they have to pay the real costs of local production. 

The current industrial model of producing clothing in low wage countries with poor record of worker rights, fair pay and industrial regulation was always unsustainable. A temporary cloud cuckoo land for global north consumers to frolic around in until the band stopped playing.

Hopefully, the ignorant and addictive consumerism which has led to the natural biological systems sustaining our environment being abused to breaking point will have to at least slow down, if not stop. Human activities that have debased and overtaken vast tracts of land, altering the balance of ecological systems and destroying the habitat and ranges of wild animals, is part of the reason why the COVID19 infection jumped its host species to a human.

The world simply cannot go on shitting in it's own nest without consequences.Too many consumers are just too stupid/selfish/entitled/deluded to change their destructive consumerist behaviours. As a consequence of not being able to do it consciously and voluntarily nature is exposing just how naked our Empress is. 

I was first radicalised in 1973 reading this book at age 14.   

Small is Beautiful  by German economist E F Schumacher

Before that there was this seminal warning written a decade earlier in 1962, from scientist Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

The End of Nature     Bill McKibben, the news was just getting worse in 1989

From the 1960s to now I'm living it and seeing it. Things are truly much, much worse now than they were in 1973. The Baby Boomer generation were the first to recognise the implications of the scientific data that human behaviours were locking us into a fatal pattern of ecological change. Change that will render the natural environment that our species has adapted to live in over millennia into something we can't adapt fast enough to survive in. Despite this awareness, research and monitoring over 50 years the warnings have never significantly altered that course.

Some people think/hope theres still time to pull back fast enough to avert the catastrophe. I don't share that optimism. I believe the Earth has entered into the Anthropocene era, meaning that the pollution generated by humans is the most influential factor on altering the balance of the climate.


We pollute the planet because of burning fossil fuels to make the energy needed to keep producing consumer goods. Extracting resources and making stuff to sell is the foundation of Capitalism; the system of organising wealth, labour and resources that is predominant. It is a hierarchical system that has an elite group at the top who commandeer the labour of others to do the work of extracting and producing.

Sometimes feel a sense of despair that every next generation since the Boomers thinks they're the first discoverers of capitalist exploitation and the damage it does to living beings and the environment....

I am also personally embarrassed and ashamed that the Baby Boomer generation have been so useless in bringing about the real political change needed to stop our descent into irreversible and catastrophic climate change.