Soldiers Must Refuse to Fight to End theWar

Anti-war actions

Karyn Pomerantz, 6-26-2022

Imperialist countries cannot wage war for global power without the tens of thousands of workers they recruit and arm to fight for their empires. To the ruling class and military brass, these workers are cannon fodder for their interests. WWI wasted millions of young men sent to carry out insane combat orders. The US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq relied on voluntary soldiers, some motivated by patriotism and more by the economy and difficulty finding jobs. Army recruiters prowled the halls of high schools and promised training and benefits. During the 1960s when the Vietnam War began, the Army instituted the draft, giving deferments and better positions to college students. This deferment ended as the Army required more soldiers.

Class divisions mirrored those in civilian life causing resentments and conflict. During the Vietnam War, most combat soldiers had working class backgrounds and a high school degree or less while the officers had high school and college degrees. Officers working in safety far from the fighting made the combat decisions and ordered the troops to implement them. As we will see, the draft of men who did not want to fight created a tinderbox of rebellion.

As earlier articles on this blog have explained, we, the working class of all nations, should not take sides in the war in Ukraine. Russia, the United States, and the EU are fighting for control of natural resources, minerals, oil, gas, grains, and pipelines. Russia has aggressively and inhumanely devastated cities in order to grab territory to assert power. The US is intent on weakening the power of Russia and boosting the number of NATO military bases around Russia. The US has intervened in Ukrainian politics since 2014 when it installed their new president. Russia has retaliated against these threats with horrendous attacks on civilians.

Capitalism kills, and war is the most extreme example. Capitalists send working class men and women into horrific situations and count success as the number of enemy troops killed and territory seized. These capitalists are willing to sacrifice our lives whether in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, or Libya. As we see on the news, Biden is more than willing to shelter 100,000 Ukrainian refugees while deporting hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers who also face desperate situations in their home countries. He sends billions of dollars for military equipment to Ukraine, slashes funding for Covid relief, and maintains trade barriers on distributing vaccines to poorer countries with primarily black and brown people. This war is draining billions for arms (currently over $56 billion) from domestic social needs, such as healthcare, housing, and climate improvements.

On the “positive” side, soldiers have significant power by deserting, sabotaging equipment, and refusing orders. There are some reports of Russian soldiers deserting; over 30,000 have died! International Business News (June 22, 2022) reported that 200 Russian soldiers hid out in a village in Ukraine rather than fight. An officer shot himself in the leg to avoid combat, and another GI ran over an officer with his tank. The Russian Army released 100 national guardsmen who refused orders. Another soldier told a reporter that “none of us wanted this war.”

If soldiers on both sides refused to fight, they could end the war.  WWI and WWII led to revolutions in Russia and China. The role of the armed forces was instrumental for their victories; soldiers mutinied against their ruling classes and refused to attack the revolutionaries. However, this is not inevitable. Successful revolutions require people’s commitment to egalitarianism and anti-racism, and the organization of workers, students, and soldiers into a party.

This article recounts the GI rebellions against the War in Vietnam. Later articles will cover other wars during the 20th Century. Soldiers from Ukraine and Russia must follow these heroic examples to end the war.

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Book review – Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War, by David Williams

by Fran Gilmore

January 15, 2022

I never studied the Civil War, except briefly in an eighth grade US History class. Thus my knowledge was confined to the myths in American textbooks and what I imbibed from the culture in general, such as movies and other media.  My conception was that southerners before and during the Civil War were solidly united in favor or slavery and the war to preserve it, and were solidly racist. Williams’ book shows that the latter notion was true–even those opposed to slavery were for the most part racist. But there were a few cases of whites opposed to both slavery and the war uniting with slaves to fight the confederacy, examples of the multiracial unity that remains so critical for the success of workers’ struggles today.

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REfund the Police – The American Way to Deal with Poverty, Racism and Disruption

by Ellen Isaacs

November 16, 2021

What happened during 2020-21 in the USA? Lots of cataclysmic stuff:

  • Over 750,000 people died from Covid, blacks at twice the rate as whites
    • Schools were shut for a year
    • Unemployment, poverty, evictions increased
    • Access to social services, mental health care decreased
    • Community programs for recreation, tutoring, and social support closed

At the same time,

  • A police officer was finally convicted of murder in the death of a black  man
    • Protests against racist policing and calls for defunding or abolishing the police grew nationally
    • Detainees in immigration and criminal jails protested dangerous conditions
    • Calls for bail reform and decarceration grew

There is no question that gun violence also increased during this period. Shooting deaths in 2020 were up from previous years, and in the first five months of 2021 alone 8100 people were killed in the US, an average of 54 deaths a day. There was also a big increase in gun sales, 23 million in 2020, which is a 64% increase from 2019.1 Many articles and newscasts attribute the increase in shootings to this increase in gun sales, which is an easy explanation, but research shows this is not actually the case.

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The Democracy Trap

by Rick Rhoads

Democracy is a word loved by almost everyone. Democracy has come to be equated with capitalism in a marvelous distortion of reality. Most US workers think it means that they live in a system where they have real choices over how their lives are run and who holds power. To capitalists democracy is a word to hide their monopoly on power while workers are led to believe that choosing which capitalist will hold elective office is all the democracy they need.

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The Burqa is Back: Imperialists Fail in Afghanistan Once Again

by The Editors

August 17, 2021

There is no end to the catastrophes that capitalism inflicts on workers. Covid, climate change, Haiti, and devastating wars to control resources: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Vietnam, to name a few. After 20 years of US occupation in Afghanistan, the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban has taken power – again. Like the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the US is leaving Afghnistan without maintaining political or economic control. Altogether about 241,000 people, including 71,000 civilians and over 2400 American soldiers were killed from 2001-2021 and $2 trillion was spent by the US, to no avail.

Now the Taliban are back and, based on prior behavior, will install a sharia state of orthodox Islamic practices, from the relatively benign mandate of beards for men to the horrendous rules forbidding education and employment for women and girls. They punished enemies with beheadings, stonings, rapes, and imprisonment. However, to many Afghans they represent relief from the rampant corruption of the American supported government and military and from US drone attacks that killed and injured thousands indiscriminately. Primarily urban women and girls, who benefited from years of education, employment, and health care, will again be subject to the sharia practices of seclusion, burqas, and constant supervision by male relatives.  Many Afghanis anticipate arrest, torture, and death because they have opposed the Taliban ideologically or cooperated with the US or the deposed government.

Continue reading “The Burqa is Back: Imperialists Fail in Afghanistan Once Again”

Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.

By Karyn Pomerantz, 3-4-2021

In The Sum of Us (2021), Heather McGhee refutes the pervasive idea that racism, specifically white supremacy, benefits white workers. She contradicts the paradigm of a “zero-sum game” in which gains for black workers diminish the economic and social status of white workers. Instead, she advocates for “social solidarity” that would create a “solidarity dividend” that enriches the lives of all workers.

McGhee is another liberal capitalist author who has stong antiracist arguments but a weak analysis of the role of capitalism that requires racism to create profit and enforce divisions among workers. Liberal reformers, such as Sanders, the Ford Foundation, and unions, try to preserve capitalism by making it more equitable. McGhee was president of Demos, a liberal think tank for economic reforms. Her book reflects the insights she gained there.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.”

DANGERS ABOUND WITH BIDEN

by Ellen Isaacs

December 10, 2020

We can be sure that Biden will better attack Covid-19 than has Trump, for there must be a functioning economy and working class to maintain profits and power. But we quake in the surety that more lives will now be lost to imperialism and expansionism, not only from bullets on the battlefield but from poverty, exploitation, displacement and environmental devastation. We know from his own history that Biden is a capitalist and an aggressive imperialist, a loyal servant of US finance capital (see https://multiracialunity.org/2020/06/16/biden-lesser-evil-or-just-evil/).  At the same time, it is important to remember that all the recent Democratic presidential candidates, from the democratic socialists to the moderates, are pro-capitalism and only proposed moderation of the system, at best. No matter who is in office, there is an existential battle between the largest world capitalists for control, primarily China and the US today. Thus it is clear that if we truly want to alter the manner in which capitalist ruling classes attack the workers of the world or their own working class, then it is the system, not the capitalist party or individual in power, that needs to be changed.

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HOMELESSNESS: Deprivation and Demonization in the US

by Ellen Isaacs

November 7, 2020

Anti-racists welcome their new homeless neighbors

We should celebrate a victory in New York City (NYC), even though it is a temporary and limited one in a war that we should never need to fight.

Until Covid -19, single homeless adults in NYC were housed in up to 100 bed dormitories where crime and drug use were rampant. Many homeless people preferred to sleep on the street or the subways rather than in these facilities. However, the Covid-19 epidemic forced the City to use vacant hotels –even upscale ones – for shelter in the face of the highly contagious virus. One such move of over 700 single adults to four hotels in the prosperous and “liberal” Upper West Side of Manhattan resulted in a battle between wealthy racist property owners, who used racist slurs to castigate their new neighbors and demand their removal, and local anti-racists who fought back. The anti-racists not only organized petitions and demonstrations to pressure the feckless Mayor de Blasio into reversing his removal order, but they are providing aid and services to the homeless. The once-empty hotels are still home to the needy – for now.

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The Racist History of the U.S. Supreme Court – Part 2

by Richard Foard

November 7, 2020

Chinese Exclusion

The background for the Chinese exclusion cases starts with the immigration of tens of thousands of Chinese to the U.S during the late 1840s “Gold Rush.” These immigrants later made up the majority of the workforce that constructed the U.S. transcontinental railroad. When insufficient numbers of white workers applied to perform the arduous, dirty and dangerous labor that this project required, railroad bosses from the Central Pacific Railroad (including Leland Stanford, the founder of the University) began hiring immigrants from China. They were paid $26 per month, working 6 days per week, 30-50% less than white workers. “Hundreds [of these workers] died from explosions, landslides, accidents and disease.” (https://www.history.com/news/transcontinental-railroad-chinese-immigrants) After the completion of the railroad in 1869, these workers continued to toil for the big railroad bosses, who pocketed enormous amounts of money from their sweat and blood.

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Wally Linder: Review of A Life of Labor and Love, A Memoir of Communist Organizing and Family

by Carol Caref, 11-4-2020

In A Life of Labor and Love, Wally Linder reminds us of the power of a united working class to fight the capitalist bosses and of the special people that make up our class. He interweaves the political and the personal as he chronicles his 89 years of life. He shares the joys and the tragedies, and we get a glimpse of the heart and soul of this ordinary but extraordinary man.

Continue reading “Wally Linder: Review of A Life of Labor and Love, A Memoir of Communist Organizing and Family”