Sunday, June 16, 2024

Letter: The Military (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

For the last few years I have been a moderate-type Socialist, though I have never joined a party or been active in any way other than union membership.

I have just read the “Introduction to the Socialist Party of Great Britain” and I would like to know more about your policies, particularly how you hope the Socialist society will be established.

I am at present considering joining the forces. I do not like the idea of killing people or of being used as a tool for the oppression of the working class, but I know that all factors in our society are interdependent and that taxpayers pay a soldier’s wages. However, I would like to know your Party’s attitude to this, whether you would approve of Socialization and a democratic movement working inside the existing armed forces, or if you would rather wait for Socialism to be established and then abolish the military?

Does the SPGB want the present form of society to continue until the majority is convinced, or enabled to put your policies into practice? I would appreciate your help on this. I am not politically active but would like to be.
George Cummings 

The armed forces are part of the machinery of government, which exists to conserve the class ownership of the means of living. The aim of the Socialist movement is for the working-class majority, when it understands the need to do so, to elect Socialists to Parliament as its delegates to take the powers of government; with control of the machinery in their hands, nothing can then prevent the de-legalizing of class ownership and the establishment of ownership by all. In the Socialist world "the military” — like money and a lot of other things—simply has no function.

The taxpayers who provide soldiers’ wages and weapons are the capitalist class, for the reason given above; and for the same reason there can be no such thing as "Socialization and a democratic movement” changing the armed forces’ nature. You say you “do not like the idea” of killing other working people, being used to break strikes, and carrying out brutal and anti-social acts as ordered. We are not here to advise you about your personal life, and certainly soldiers are members of the working class and can become Socialists as anyone else can; but if they do, they find their employment intolerable.

You say you are "a moderate-type Socialist” and want to be politically active. This means, we think, that you have half-formed ideas about society. Why not spend a time learning about Socialism and getting matters clear? There is plenty of literature available, and Socialists in your area who would be pleased to discuss with you. Yes, a convinced majority is necessary to change society, but we don’t want a long wait; Socialism is urgently necessary, and you can help to bring it about. Sort yourself out.
Editorial Committee.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

"Sort yourself out."

Christ, that's a bit spicy.

Forty years before Jordan Peterson grifted his way to notoriety with his 'clean your room' schtick, 'Socialist Dad' was telling young folk in the letters column of the Socialist Standard to sort their shit out. Funny old world.