Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MoD denies recruiting school kids for the state’s killing machine

From the Class Warfare blog

Jimmy, over at Patience and Perseverance, alerts us to a piece that appeared in Monday's Independent and relating to criticism levelled against the Ministry of Defence over the way it 'glamorizes war'.

The Independent tells how a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust reveals that "young people are being recruited into the Army with misleading marketing, and the disillusionment which follows has led to a huge number of them leaving the service."

The report claims that MoD advertising campaigns "glamorise warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a forces career." It goes on to say that promises made to those enlisting in the forces are often not kept and the recruits are also not told of their legal rights. Moreover, the report claims that army recruitment teams are targeting kids as young as seven, observing that the UK is the only EU state to recruit those aged 16.

The MoD, however, denies recruiting in schools. Lying bastards! Even I know they do! The report claims: "The Ministry of Defence's youth policy contradicts this, describing military curricular activities in educational establishments as a 'powerful tool for facilitating recruitment especially if the skills developed through curricular activities have a direct bearing on military requirements'."

I've been to a few parents/careers evenings at the local comprehensive school over the years – three of my kids have been pupils there and one still is. The first people you meet when you enter the doors of the building where they host such events are bloody soldiers, or rather teenagers in army uniforms, handing out brochures promoting the benefits of enlisting in the state's killing machine; kids in uniform who, by the looks of them, couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag. Brushing aside their outstretched leaflets I'll turn to my child and, quite audibly, inform them that I'll kick their arse if they ever contemplate joining this bunch of hired killers.

So, there they stand, apple pie faces, clearly not even old enough to vote by the looks of them, in their gang colours, trying to lure kids, stressed out with exams and the pressures to hurry up and get exploited by some capitalist, into their ranks. Which figure of authority sends them to the school is beyond me, for they are always totally bamboozled by the questions I ask them; there again, I'd imagine their higher ups would be bamboozled by the same questions. But they'll always hook some kid, aware of their own lack of prospects and who can be conned into believing that an honest living can be had by killing for your country.

Now and again they'll have some display on view, exalting the merits of "joining up" - how you can learn a trade, get a decent salary that you can bank-up for when you come out (coz the army provides you with clothes and shelter and food), and there'll be photos of soldiers playing rugby and paddling about in canoes and abseiling down mountains and having a right old merry time of it. And missing from this display are the photos of death and destruction that armies bring in their wake, the blood and guts and tears and mourning, the homelessness and waste and carnage. Missing too are the true facts about life in the army, the ones about the suicides (since the Falklands War and since the invasion of Iraq, more soldiers have committed suicide coming home from those battles than have been killed by the "enemy") and the mass desertions (i.e. in Vietnam and Iraq) and which the army would rather were kept hush-hush.

And they're standing there happily recruiting, not really knowing why, because a small group of people - known only as the capitalist class - rely on violence to enforce their rule over patches of the Earth's surface and the people living on it. They need muscle to keep their power, and to wrest power from others.

Think about it: whatever gang war in history wasn't started over some competition for turf or property? The Gulf War was fought over oil, the Falklands War over naval access to the south pacific, the Second World War over access to the raw materials required by competing industrials nations. Like any mobster, the capitalists will tell you the war was fought for honour, justice, for family, but ultimately, it's always just business.

So, there's no point blaming the hired killers, they're just latching onto a very profitable business, a business the competition of the world capitalist system promotes. If you don't like the idea of your kids being murderers, or if you don't want to see them end up as collateral damage or the victims of "friendly fire", then the answer is for them not to join in these wars, or start a new one against these gangs, but to struggle to abolish the basis for their wars.

The common and democratic ownership of the wealth of the world by the entire population of the world would eradicate the incentive to fight. Why struggle to control resources which you can co-operatively use to your own and everyone's mutual benefit? It would give kids the hope and prospects for themselves that they would no longer see the murder of their fellows as a valid career move. The hired killers don't have to be about forever.

But don't wait for the people at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to use this critique against recruitment, or to offer some class-conscious analysis of war. As the Independent tells us, they have no qualms with the killing machine as such for they recommend "sweeping changes to the MoD's current policy, including a new charter setting out the responsibility of the state; a radical review of recruitment literature; phasing out the recruitment of minors and new rights for recruits to leave the services."

The report entitled Informed Choice can be downloaded here in pdf format.

John Bissett

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (28)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 28th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1142 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Science versus spoon-benders

  • Questions Answered - and Asked

  • The waste of maintaining capitalism

  • This week's top quote:

    "The idea that the "Soviet system" is equal to a definitive break with all the former, bourgeois, forms of revolution, therefore, serves as a screen behind which - imposed by exterior factors and the inner conformation of the proletariat - there are again set in motion methods that have featured the bourgeois revolutions. And those revolutions have always been accomplished by transferring the power of a "conscious minority, supporting itself on an unconscious majority," to another minority finding itself in an identical situation." Julius Martov, Decomposition or Conquest of the State, 1921.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    The Iowa caucuses: Wrong end of the crystal ball?

    From the WSPUS MySpace page

    We read in the Boston Globe (Friday, January 4th) that the results of the Iowa caucuses among Democrats and Republicans are important for the unprecedentedly intense grassroots interest they reveal in the upcoming presidential election. But more to the point, to the extent voters in Iowa are still trying to make those two creaky old suits of armor work, they remain profoundly clueless.

    On the surface, they appear to be lining up once more to perform the symbolic ritual of Throwing the Rascals Out. This time, it is true, the Rascals are a smelly bunch of radical pro-corporates quaintly christened "neoconservatives" - but who are in fact capitalist revolutionaries in the service of the military-industrial complex, out to stack the transnational energy deck in its favor. They have teamed up with an early protg, Osama bin Laden, to give political insurgency a slick new retro cachet, privatizing terrorism, which before the era of liberation struggles had always been the prerogative of the state. Now the whole corporate sham is tottering at the hustings.

    The Iowa Democrats who made Barack Obama's day have never learned that the capitalist system is not designed to deliver the goods to the Little People who make up the working class. Nor have they learned that the same system has no compelling need to balance the interests of conflicting economic sectors. Gazing into the Globe's statistical crystal ball, we notice that "affluent, highly-educated voters" and blue-collar workers have seemingly patched up their quibbles of the 1960s. While this sounds superficially encouraging, that they have joined forces against a common enemy matters far less than that they still see the future as a little box in which capital rules their lives.

    Iowa Republicans who on the other hand swooned over Mike Huckabee, the Baptist minister from Arkansas, portend a dark thundercloud of antagonism, a constituency that feels the Corporates in the Republican Party have swindled them. Huckabee's success brings the threat of a split to the policy level. The Cheney/Bush faction's last best hope, Mitt Romney, threw an awful lot of money down a hole in a frantic effort to sew the corporate-evangelical alliance back together again. Without the religious right there to deliver the votes, rolling back the New Deal will die on the vine, and Republicans will have to resume jumping through their Moderate hoops.

    The only big question for the moment, therefore, is not whether workers will finally wake up and realize that capitalism is a bad system that is going to kick their butts no matter whom they elect, but only whether they will manage to reinstate economic issues as a political vehicle and end the Great Hijack of the ballot box launched by the New Right in 1960. With global warming heating up political dialogues around the world, moral character is going to seem like an awfully stale talking point anyway to a majority that approaches, with a sick feeling in the pit of its stomach, the question of whether human society still has a future. But in the meantime it has a certain sci-fi feel to see the media drawing such absurdly tiny conclusions from such enormous questions.

    Ron Elbert

    Further Reading:

  • WSPUS website