President Reagan came into office with an understanding apparently lacking in the two previous administrations which had been still reeling from the egregious defeat of the U.S. imperial forces in Vietnam: If U.S. capital was to continue to function successfully as a permanent war economy (as it has since 1942), a corresponding war psychosis was going to have to be created to justify programs of economic austerity for the working class and poor while making enormous expenditures of state funds for armaments.
Reagan and the right wing attempt this politically by heightening the rhetoric of inter-imperial conflict (“the evil empire,” “the fight against terrorism,” etc.) which became illegitimate during the Ford-Carter interregnum; culturally by creation of the previously discredited war genre movies such as “Rambo,” but including recent bloodthirsty like “Iron Eagle” and “Top Gun.” These elements are combined with media manipulation of a never-ending series of self-induced “crises” which glorify battle, stress military solutions, and extend the lie that the U.S. empire is “defending” itself against a host of endless enemies. All of this seemingly creates the need for ever more war preparations (the basis of the Reagan economic “recovery”) and to create an atmosphere in which actual war can be waged against small states like Grenada, Libya and ultimately, Nicaragua.
We can think of a number of ways this war psychosis can be fought including continually exposing Reagan’s lies about the trumped up crises such as the Libyan and Nicaraguan situations; combating the war-like cultural images being peddled; supporting draft registration resistance; and helping to foster indiscipline and mutiny against imperial military adventures within the armed forces.
The following two articles take up the last consideration. The first comes from a leaflet by the Angry Workers Group, 2000 Center St., No. 1200, Berkeley CA 94704, which was passed out during Fleet Week in San Francisco last October. We think it is vitally important that the long history of military rebellions not be lost. However, we think it is a mistake to dismiss other efforts for peace.
Middle-class anti-war forces during the Vietnam conflict formed the basis of the domestic opposition to the war and often created the context in which GI opposition expressed itself. Also, material aid for GI coffee houses, anti-war newsletters, as well as support for deserters and AWOL soldiers came from those who were neither soldiers nor workers. Instead, they opposed the U.S.’s genocidal war on ethical and political grounds, and one can only assume that the same was true in other wars where revolutionary mutinies occurred. Let’s not toss anyone aside because they do not fit properly into some abstract schema.
The second article is a reprint from the Nov. 11, 1971 Fifth Estate and details the depth of anti-war sentiment aboard one U.S. Navy vessel. We recently spoke to a Navy veteran who served just 5 years later and who told us that he had no idea such resistance had occurred. This is indeed a hidden history and as the war crisis mounts, we hope to run more reprints from the Vietnam era to illustrate the full picture of both civilian and military opposition to the war.
During that period, the Fifth Estate had a policy of sending free subscriptions to GIs to combat the poisonous propaganda they received from the military. We are re-instituting that policy again as of this issue. We hope other papers will do similarly.
DON’T REGISTER! DON’T FIGHT!
Fifth Estate Vietnam Resource Page
Learn more about the failed US war and resistance to it…
In this issue
Mutinies can Stop U.S. Wars
by Angry Workers Group
“Stop the Coral Sea!”
(This article originally appeared as “Berkeley Strikes the Coral Sea” in Fifth Estate #146, November 25 – December 8, 1971 (Vol. 6 No. 18) page 2)