A good article, but interesting to note that even those, like Marina and Jon Snow, who speak out against "poppy fascism" are very quick to assure everyone of their fundamental belief in this institution of remembrance, just as those who in earlier times criticized the excesses of Christian zealots left no doubt as to their own fundamental belief in Christianity.
Few had the courage, or could afford, to publicly (or even privately) question the underlying belief itself, which I believe it is very important to understand. Marina goes to the heart of the matter, but then gets things round the wrong way:
"poppy fascism" . . [is] . . a reminder of our hard-wired one‑upmanship and infinite capacity to find ways to divide ourselves.Fascism, of whatever kind, is an overzealous, forceful, imposition of group conformity and unity. Its purpose is thus to minimize division, not increase it. It's just that some rebel against excessive coercion, thus creating division. This is an expression of the tribalism that is hardwired into us as firmly as "socialism" is (by which I mean the mutualistic social behaviour patterns which evolved within the context of an extended family or tribe). There is an inherent and deeply felt need for "tribal unity", because of its profound importance for the survival of one's tribe, when human behaviour patterns were evolving.
Our original tribe, however, has effectively (but perversely and wholly inadequately) been replaced by the state, which we are coerced, by a regime of (promised) rewards and (threatened) punishments, into identifying with as its legitimate heir, thus leading to the expectation that other tribe/state members (fellow citizens) do likewise, and in like manner.
"Poppy fascism", like the institutional belief it springs from, and which not even Marina or Jon Snow question the validity of, primarily concerns state/tribal (national) unity. Thus, the dead are not remembered for their own sakes (not in this context), but for the sake of national/state unity - ironically, because that is what got them killed in the first place . . .
In truth, the only thing that really unifies us, as British citizens, is our dependency on the British state, which some are able to exploit to a much greater personal advantage than others. And this, of course, notwithstanding the massive taboos against recognising it, is the very purpose for which the state exists.
Saturday 7 November
colacho, I made reference to our "original tribe", which, of course, cannot be reconstructed in the modern world, but to which human nature and behaviour patterns are very much adapted, and which the state has always ruthlessly suppressed, manipulated and exploited to its own ends, which are to facilitate society's self-exploitation to the advantage of its dominant individuals and elites.
I am sure that your would readily recognize the aristocracy and clergy (who originally cooperated in creating and shaping the state) as belonging to these elites, along with numerous others (merchants, bankers, capitalists, industrialists, etc.) who have joined them over the centuries, but what I guess you don't recognise is that many liberal-lefties and "progressives" (in politics, academia and media especially), in their own, perhaps well-meaning, but self-deceptive way, now also belong to them.
There is nothing "dodgy", as you suggest there is, about my evolutionary psychology. It is time we started applying it (i.e. a human-evolutionary perspective), not just to the details of individual human behaviour, but to our civilization as a whole and the power structures of state and economy in particular.
MickSmetaphor, If you read Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism, you'll learn that liberal democracies like Britain and America have strong fascist elements within them. Fascism is a form of statism and both manipulate and exploit man's inherent tribal nature for their own purposes.
"Progressives" like to deny, or demonize, man's tribal nature, or insist that our tribe is now the whole human species, which is complete ideological nonsense, of course, but serves to give them a spurious moral high ground, from which, like the Catholic Church before them, they derive all kinds of personal advantage in the environment which now comprises human civilization itself.