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Our Armed Forces!

'We should reintroduce National Service in order that people should learn to respect guns and absorb discipline'  ...said an acquaintance to me the other day thereby putting forward the widely accepted argument that soldiers are disciplined persons who act through moral reasoning and who are essentially 'good'. It seems that discipline then means doing what your betters tell you, without question...


Let me suggest the following:  A soldier, with a few exceptions, is a person whose moral perception is so low as to be almost nonexistent.  For a sum of money s/he is quite willing to murder people because other people tell them to.  A total lack of morality seems to be a prime qualification when the Queen's Shilling is accepted.  How many of these young men and women who gave up their lives for the sake of the tainted wage they received even knew where the Malvinas/Falklands Islands were when they were ordered halfway round the world to murder other human-beings ?  How many of them knew enough of the details of the Iraq war to allow that they make a judgment ? How many of them knew anything of the history and politics involved ?  Perhaps an officer told them that 'the Argies have stolen our land and threatened our people' or 'Yer Arab is threatening our oil supplies so up-and-at-em lads and remember England !'  or even mention 'Weapons of Mass Destruction!' but then that is as little as most of these truly amoral persons would probably have wanted to know in any case...  


Except for those few courageous people who fight for what they really believe in, such as the Spanish Civil War Brigades, soldiers who fight for their 'Country-right-or-wrong' are Murderers at the worst and amoral Mercenaries at the best... their discipline is the discipline of passing-the-buck, of accepting no responsibility for their actions, of please-don't-ask-me- to-actually-think-whatever-you-do... They are positively encouraged never to think for themselves...  I recall from memory a few lines of poetry written by Hugh MacDiarmid  he wrote something like this about Mercenaries;


                "It is a God-damned lie to say that they saved,

                 Or knew anything, worth any man's worth,

                 They took their impious blood money and they died.

                 Despite their kind some decency exists,

                                            here and there on Earth..."


'Despite their kind...'  Precisely.


So what then is discipline ?  We talk frequently of children needing discipline and soldiers possessing discipline but if discipline means throwing away your right to use your own moral conscience, if it means obeying blindly the orders of someone deemed 'superior' in rank or knowledge, if it means, in short, murdering human-beings and thinking that it's all right to do so because we are told to... then perhaps it would be better if we never disciplined children...  at the very least we need to redefine exactly what the word means when we consider the so-called discipline which allows that murder is O.K. as long as your 'betters' say so...  


'Throw away your conscience lads and murder an Arab or an Argie 'cos it's for God, Queen Liz and your Country?'...


   Morally correct?          Acceptable?          Desirable?         I don't think so.....





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