May 10



"Spurn the dust to win the prize"

I am thinking of announcing a new international competition, with the prize an opportunity to appear on any TV reality show of your choice (is there a higher aspiration than this in today's world?). 

The prize will be awarded to the World's Most Nauseating National Anthem, and I am declaring "The Internationale" non-eligible, on the grounds that it isn't a national anthem, but one which self-consciously transcends and overthrows all nationalism, for which the real prize, when it is finally awarded, will be world peace, that most unlikely reality show. 

I have also disqualified the anthem of the Olympic Games, on the grounds that it too is inter-national, but hyphenated, and that hyphen is a bullet, a cruise missile, a drone, a nuclear warhead, the cone of a submarine, a spear, an arrow and a knife, all pointed from my tribal unit to all of your tribal units, and declaring myself superior on the grounds that I have already won more prizes, gold, silver and bronze, than you. The apogee of the nauseating, and ending, of course, with a single national anthem: mine; always mine.

And speaking of mine - my native anthem - which nation? Is it the British National Anthem? And if so, why do Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland employ different ones on those important state occasions such as rugby matches? And if it is the English one, why is there not a British one, incorporating in one harmonious entity the combined United Kingdom of Greater England and its Home Colonies?

My other national anthem, the Israeli, speaks of nothing but hope; but the Israeli now has to be boycotted, or so I am told by all the members of the other inter-national tribes, so hope must go the way of peace...

The Japanese are still singing praises to their Emperor, even though they no longer have one - they get the runner's up award, of appearance in any Unreality Show of their choice; and given the nature of Japanese TV shows...

The Russian describes borders of which Vladimir Romanov, sitting in today's Kremlin, no doubt still dreams...

The Syrian national anthem is complex, but very descriptive of true reality: it used to be the Egyptian national anthem, but then Syria wrote its own; only the Kurds won't sing it, and have their own, and of course Islamic State has yet a different one...

Togo, like several other countries, sings theirs in French, as Angola theirs in Portuguese, so it could be said that they don't have a National Anthem at all, but only a Colonial Anthem; the same is true of most of South America, but in their cases they have to be called Imperial Anthems...

Or there are countries like Botswana, who use their traditional language, but address their words to the white European colonial God who destroyed their civilisation, so I guess we can't call that an anthem at all: a National Hymn might be more accurate...

And then there is the German, of which I cannot bring myself to speak, let alone to stand respectfully, except to say that Germans tell me that "we no longer sing the words (except under our breath and in our hearts)". But you still play the damned tune, don’t you!

No one ever stops to berate or admonish the French national anthem - Claude de Lisle wrote it, today in 1792, in the midst of the French Revolution, while the guillotine was cutting heads off the newly proclaimed Edicts of Tolerance. Perhaps because it's in French, which no one understands but always presumes to be the language of love; perhaps because we like the jolly melody and don't wish to look deeper. So I have looked deeper. And it stinks - of barbarism, glorification in blood, and real cruelty:

“To arms, o citizens! Form up in serried ranks! March on, march on, and drench our fields with our enemies’ tainted blood.”

How charming! Cue Napoleon Buonaparte.

And of course the opening of "The Internationale" takes its cue from the opening of the Marseillaise (and sadly its end from the other's end as well).

Doesn't that second verse just say it all! No wonder no one ever sings it. No one wonder most people don't even know of its existence. And it's a shame, really, because that first verse on its own...

But wait a minute... the words of that second verse don't fit the melody. Is it possible that someone, wanting to damage the reputation of the song, has added this; aren't they, in fact, the opening of the Marseillaise, deliberately mis-placed here to ... and here, click here, are not just all the words of all six verses, but Eugène Pottier's 1871 original text, in French, and several alternative English translations, and one in Russian... and yes, in the sphere of propaganda there is also anti-propaganda propaganda, and dirty tricks...

I have not included hyperlinks to any of these national Anthems. There are websites a-plenty where you can find them for yourself, if you really must. A system for voting for the competition winner will be announced when I manage to find a suitable bucket (to put the voting papers in; what did you think I meant?)

Amber pages:

Today, in 1933, the Great Nazi Book Burning was carried out, Heinrich Heine's "Gedichte" given the honour of burning first. I could do it in a cartoon, with these words burning in a fire, but it really isn't necessary, is it? (see also August 27 and December 6 in this blog, and "The Departing" in my Private Collection)

And on the 7th anniversary of that mini-conflagration, the rather bigger one (but still small, compared with what was yet to come), the invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while Rudolf Hess was parachuting into Britain to offer peace in exchange for help in attacking Russia. Lucky Edward VIII had abdicated by that time, or the whole of Europe might be singing a very different national anthem to this day.

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