Revolutionary Discipline Re: Liu...

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at
Mon Mar 24 12:20:21 MST 2003

> It is my belief, that only in some kind
> of Cartesian-type "reductionism" can "honor" be attached to certain
> behaviors or codes of behavior without any reference to the goals,
> objectives, interests, forces, ideologies one is serving. In other
words, if
> one is fighting for fascism or imperialism, no matter what "codes of
> one is adhering to, there is still no "honor" no matter how one
> oneself or what loyalties one maintains.
> Jim Craven

I absolutely agree with Jim here. At the heart of every "code of honor"
based on organizational loyalty lies the individual's commitment either
(in the classic hierarchical military model) to negation of his/her one
own will and becoming an unthinking instrument of superior authority, or
(in the revolutionary/ideological model) to the authority of a higher
goal that requires disciplined collective action, or (on a more
immediate level) simply to support those on whom one depends for
survival in a given situation.

In an imperialist military like that of the US, there are elements of
each of the commitments , but I sense from the accounts of those who
have been in combat in the US military that the last of these
commitments accounts both for most of the cohesiveness of loyal units
and for the actions of many who resist dangerous and foolhardy leaders.
The is the level of loyalty that is hard to argue with when workers find
themselves in the military against their will or because no alternatives
seem possible.

Perhaps the reductionism Jim refers to might better be labeled Hegelian,
in the sense of a Prussian-style, self-abnegating identification with
the state. In the US military's recruitment campaigns (including its
Hollywood ministry of propaganda), the lure of personal empowerment
through technologically impressive weaponry plays a big part in the
effort to lure young men to join up.

> It is for that reason that I will never join any veteran's
> even those for peace, because they still celebrate--in a
> status and I find no "honor" in having served U.S. imperialism no
matter how
> "honorably", on a formal level, I might have "served."

>From one perspective, I sympathize with this stand, since the rhetoric
of even anti-war veterans tends to emphasize the ascribed status of
former soldiers as proven patriots, implicitly denigrating the
patriotism and status of those who have not seen combat. But there is
also a great value to veterans' ability to speak as witnesses to war's
brutality and its human cost. Whether Jim is part of a veterans'
organization or not, like other veterans he has at no small cost gained
the ability to speak from personal experience about what the US military
and its wars are really about.


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