Disillusion drives recruits into army
by Brown Douglas
My younger brother told me the other day that he is
considering going into the military. It really freaked me out. We're not exactly
living during "peacetime." What we're living in now is a time of
permanent war, the seemingly endless military conflicts that threatens all life
on this planet with nuclear destruction.
My brother's thoughts aren't very different from
hundreds of thousands of youths' thoughts in this country today. He said that he
felt directionless and stuck doing the same thing day in and day out working the
same stupid job. He didn't enjoy or do too well in high school, and college is
expensive anyway. He was looking for something to knock him in line and to make
him the "best of the best."
This disillusionment of young people translates
perfectly into mass numbers of new recruits for capital's standing army, which
is always ready to go off to some corner of the world and kill other youth in
some other country. The society that breeds this disillusionment is one that
also makes sure there are plenty of poor people to add to the ranks to bribe
with money for school and the vision of a better life.
What is making youth so directionless and disillusioned
anyway? We are supposed to be a source of never-ending creativity, curiosity,
and energy. We should be the last ones to be so disillusioned, given the
potential road ahead of us. But instead of schools educating and enriching us,
they deaden our intellect and curiosity and make us memorize their
And instead of leaving high school and developing our
burgeoning skills, we are forced to either race to get a degree from a costly
college or go directly into the workforce to start a life of wage slavery.
Capitalism creates a division early on in us that separates thinking from doing,
and so our options in life seem to take on that same division.
One thing that we can do to try smashing this
disillusionment is learn about and reclaim our history as thinking, creative
people. Almost all of the exciting and important social movements that have
existed here have had youth--many times youth of color, or young women, or queer
youth--as their founders or at least making up a large part of them.
When we look at the rich history of struggle that we
have, and see that we can have a huge role in the shaping of our world outside
of being in the military and defending a rich minority's interests, maybe it
would spur more of us to become activists and thinkers.
Youth are an historical Subject of revolt in this
country. But again and again we are sent off to fight wars that are not ours, to
gain power that we will never use ourselves, and that will probably be used
against us and other oppressed peoples.
If we can become aware of ourselves as subject--as force and Reason for transforming this society--and use our idealism to oppose the existing capitalist, racist, sexist, homophobic order, there may be an end to war some day and the beginning of the true development of humanity.
Published by News and Letters Committees