This country is suffering from a creeping militarism.
I freely admit to having a jaundiced view of the army. I grew up in the Aldershot area and there was a time in the early 1970s when we were thinking of calling in the IRA as a peace-keeping force. Of course, as a young boy, I was an avid militarist, partly because I thought we were still at war with Germany for most of the 1960s.
Today, we’re allowed to oppose the war in Afghanistan, and especially to have opposed the war in Iraq. But it seems to be compulsory to support the people who are actually prosecuting war. There are even some who think ‘Support the troops, not the war’ is some sort of coherent left position.
I know there are serving soldiers who say that they shouldn’t be in Afghanistan, to which my reply is: ‘No, you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t be in the army. And if you hadn’t joined, you wouldn’t be there. And Britain wouldn’t be there because, if people like you didn’t keep joining up, there’d be no one to send. Governments aren’t going to go themselves, so they’d have to send our Olympic relay team or the scouts.’
But with the classic tendency to infantilise the working class, some on the left say: ‘A lot of these lads join up because of a lack of opportunities, but they don’t necessarily expect to get sent to war.’ I’m sorry, but they joined the wrong thing, then, didn’t they? If you join the Royal Horticultural Society or the Tooting Bec Lido Swimming Club and get sent to war, you can justifiably say that it was the last thing you expected. But the army’s got a pretty poor track record on these things.
Feminist futures: Red Pepper’s feminist special issue: ● Our bodies, our choice ● Is the future xenofeminist? ● Women and the new unions ● Feminists on the anti-fascist frontline ● Plus: Left politics and the generational divide ● Decolonising museums ● Book reviews ● and much more
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Vijay Prashad talks to Daniel Whittall about socialism, anti-imperialism and the new global research network Tricontinental.
The ties which bind the 'special relationship' between the UK and the US are a toxic mix of militarism and free trade. By Andrew Smith
BAE Systems weapons have been involved in countless atrocities - and we saw board members doing rhetorical backflips to avoid accountability, writes Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
Corbyn just won a prize for peace activism - so why is the Labour Party still committed to renewing trident? Lily Sheehan investigates.
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.