[Marxism] Stan Goff comments on Fahrenheit 9/11 critiques

Paul H. Dillon illonph at pacbell.net
Thu Jul 8 22:30:36 MDT 2004


  that's all very nice but you still didn't give me any concrete research
references, sources for your assertion.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: "Craven, Jim" <JCraven at clark.edu>
  To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
  Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 5:48 PM
  Subject: RE: [Marxism] Stan Goff comments on Fahrenheit 9/11 critiques

    Something you wrote caught my attention  . . You wrote,

    "Many who signed up, and even initially wanted to go to the Gulf (hard
  to get a CIB or "war credentials/medals"
    necessary for real advancement these days) . . ."

    What evidence do you have that "war credentials/medals" are necessary
  for "real advancement".  I confess that I also don't know exactly what
  you mean by "real advancement". On the one hand everyone acknowledges
  that the majority of front line soldiers are from working  class  or
  lumpen background (i.e, the permanently unemployable that capitalism
  needs) and are disproportionately representative of minorities.  Do
  these "credentials" really provide them the possibility of real
  advancement in the society as a whole?  Is there some evidence that this
  is the case in a significant way? I also wonder if  young people from
  the other end of the social/economic pyramid need such credentials to
  achieve "real advancement".

    Paul H. Dillon

  Let me try to answer this--or give my opinion and the reasons for it--by
  also dovetailing it with something David Quarter wrote:

  I agree that most join the army for these reasons .  Yet what about
  those who join because it is their only ticket out of poverty, e.g., to
  receiving a college education? These are the people I have sympathy for.
  Obviously, folks such as Tillman are low lives through and through.

  First of all, I have read some of the literature--from the services
  themselves--on the backgrounds of recruits (active duty, versus
  Reserves/Guard) and some of their own stated reasons for going in. On
  active duty, the poorest of the poor, the ones who may "THINK" there is
  no way out of poverty except through the military, are found generally
  in the MOS categories having to do with combat arms--particularly at the
  "grunt" level. They can also be found as cooks, logistics, truck
  drivers, etc. Actually, these days, with the squeeze on the middle class
  and many young people unable to qualify for certain financial assistance
  because their parents make too much (even though they may not be living
  with their parents) many of the new recruits are not from strictly
  working class--or at least ultra-poor working class--or
  lumpenproletariat as was once the case; many are from families hardly on
  the verge of starvation and outright poverty. Although money for college
  and specialized training are the top reasons given among recruits in
  interviews (not "killing commies/muslims for Jesus, patriotism, making a
  difference, defending the country, etc) there are additional reasons as
  well: the Audie Murphy Syndrome (nothing like a war to turn a nobody
  into a somebody), low self-esteem (become a Ranger or Airborne or
  Special Forces and come back home and show that bitch who dumped you in
  high school for the quarterback on the football team that you are now a
  somebody and now how does she feel about dumping you?), travel (get out
  and see the world beyond that in-bred podunk town you were raised in),
  adventure (watching too much JAG, war movies etc), a career (retire at
  40 years old with a pension, medical benefits--less and less--), and of
  course the standard--can't make it on the outside at anything
  interesting and that pays more than minimum wage.

  Once in, then you get the full dose of ideology designed to help you
  rationalize why you went in in the first place. Although you went in for
  strictly mercenary reasons like help with college tuition, and didn't
  give a fuck or thought about what and whom you might be really serving
  or whom you might really be hurting--and in whose interest--now comes
  the icing on the cake to ease your cognitive dissonance problems--if you
  are not some kind of sociopath and actually have such problems. No you
  are among the elite. You are fighting for freedom. You are the cutting
  edge of the most powerful military machine ever known and you are
  sacrificing--perhaps life and limbs--so that those at home can live in
  "freedom." And you also get a full dose of what it takes to get anywhere
  significant promotion-wise. In Army terms, you need a patch on your
  right shoulder (unit in a combat area), you need horizontal bars on the
  right sleeve (each is six months in combat zone), you need a CIB (combat
  infantryman's badge) or combat medic badge, a purple heart is excellent
  (particularly if you can get one without too-damaging wounds), a Bronze
  Star with V-cluster or Silver Star will take you far coupled with
  theater and combat campaign ribbons. And then there is further
  specialized training, networking, good performance reviews and most of
  all, demonstrating unquestioning loyalty to and being on the same page
  with the ideology, mission, goals, objectives and dominant values of
  your superiors. All of this is understood and the best evidence is to
  look at the ribbons of those at the top and/or look at what the likes of
  Haig et al did to get combat decorations they clearly did not
  deserve--why did they go after them and engage in all sorts of phony and
  desecrating stuff (to those who might have deserved some special award)
  to get them?

  I know not only from the research, but I was one of them once. And no
  amount of liberal hand-wringing and solicitous
  "these-poor-souls-with-nowhere-else-to-go-to-escape-poverty" will ever
  rationalize or let me off the hook for my having once been a willing
  tool, dupe and instrument of U.S. imperialism like so many other willing
  accomplices. I am responsible for what I did, whom and what I served and
  what victims were created by my own complicity with U.S. imperialism.

  Jim Craven

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