re.: Condor and Carlos

Chris Brady chris_brady at
Fri Jun 16 01:39:20 MDT 2000

Having lived in southern South America for a little while, I can
sympathize with any hesitation to candidly accepting my positions (re.
armed forces there) without reservations --especially as I have an
unfortunate tendency to be sarcastic (and also a sense of the comic).
However, I have been trying to be absolutely candid in this issue,
partly because my comprehension of castellano is not complete and I
myself miss jokes, fail at innuendo, fall flat on allusions, etc., while
trying to communicate in castellano, and cannot afford to be
misunderstood because of some self-indulgent witticism that might be
misconstrued by even a humourless neighbor let alone a sincere person
whose facial expressions I cannot see, half-a-world away and in a
different culture, etc.  I also think we should assume that people on
this list share a common interest in marxism and what that entails.
I must remark that their attitude of comradely concern that I
understand as a priority rather than vitriolic denunciation because
I might not see things their way is dialectically productive...
P.S.: Portuguese? SOrry, I get bossa nova pretty good, tho...
That said, what I have read from our comrades in the Mercosur states is
more than beginning to make sense.

One of the most salient reasons is a concern regarding the debate
between the red (socialist) and the black (anarchist) lefts over the
inherent nature of the class of those who are members of the various
armed forces of the capitalist state: are they simply the solid tools
(immutable) of capital  and thus essentially evil, or are they “workers
in uniform” and therefore potentially activated against the capitalist
class?  You know I agree with the latter.  And by that stand, I
wholeheartedly (and in my head) accept the premise that marxists should
strive to consolidate the connections between the regular armed services
and the common people they are supposed to serve.

While in Chile and Argentina I was constantly astounded by the schism
there perpetrated by those who would put the interests of the “Nation”
above the interests of the people, or in other words: an abstract above
the reality.  Of course, one of the great benefits of travel and
experiencing other cultures by living in them is that one returns to
one’s own culture with an entirely new perspective.  To what or who are
the US armed forces being patriotic to or for?   One of the difficulties
that make inroads to the military such an uphill struggle is that
critical thinking is drummed out of recruits immediately when they join
(willingly or conscripted).  Another is that officers, the bosses in the
military, tend to have an allegiance to superior officers (“mi general”
“mi coronel” “The Commander-in-Chief”) over and above loyalty to the
people.  On the other hand, we know of the critical role the military
played in the Russian Revolution, and the people’s army in the Chinese
Revolution, and the refusal of many army men to fight their countrymen
in Cuba in 1958-59.

I do maintain, however and nevertheless, that we should highlight the
differences between the interests of the ranks and their commanders at
the top, the careerists in gold braid and business suits.  A class
divide exists in the armed forces.  The armed forces grunts are
disrespected by some leftists for their execution of orders from
manicured politicians and bureaucrats who never got real blood on their
hands, but whose responsibilities for the intellectual authorship of
many mass atrocities metaphorically drowns them in gore (if Dante were
alive today!). In the case of South America it is the Dirty War, but
here in North America it is the way common soldiers, veterans of
Vietnam, were ridiculed and ignored after decades of torture from Agent
Orange, or for the Desert Storm troopers’ years of neglect and scorn for
being victims of Gulf War syndrome, the lousy housing of enlisted men,
etc.  It may even be that the true tragedy of armies is that they are by
definition betrayed by their own commanders: they send them to death,
and turn their backs on them later.  Meanwhile, as in the case of Krupp,
AGFarben, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce, and the Generals Electric and Motors:
while some officers hang, ordinary survivors lead battered lives, and
potentially restive vets are co-opted by economical benefits --the
ever-prosperous capitalists reap the storm.

Chris Brady

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