I’m currently in a unit with soldiers who openly express resentment towards unfair demotions, long work days, and an upcoming deployment to Iraq. For many soldiers this will be a second trip to the Middle East. This means that for a second time we will see how unproductive and vicious the occupation is. These conditions offer fertile ground for communist politics to spread, so my political conversations have recently reached a new level of importance. Although my conversations range from complaining about our working conditions to imperialism, I haven’t yet shown Challenge to anyone in my current unit. But this is about to change because of one specific incident I want to share with Challenge readers.
Recently my unit has been merged with other units to “strengthen” deployable status, a very common occurrence with military units. This means that new relationships are created among soldiers. Leaders, therefore, are quick at attempting to build a “teamwork” atmosphere. So our platoon sergeant had everyone gather in a room to introduce themselves to each other. When it was my turn, I decided to announce something, which I knew many would agree with. After giving a brief introduction, I told everyone that I “wholeheartedly disagreed with this war.” I said that “even though we wear this uniform, it doesn’t mean we can’t openly disagree with the government.”
But the courage to say this out loud didn’t occur spontaneously. It came about through the collective base building of our Party. I knew that at least three soldiers would agree with me because of political conversations with them. It turned out that more agreed as well. Plus, a leaflet was distributed outside my base calling soldiers to be more critical and to create an alliance between workers, soldiers, and students. When I spoke about the leaflet to one specific soldier, who is also in my platoon he let me know that he agreed with what was essentially part of our Party’s line.
What is to be done? While the ruling class uses soldiers and the military as their tool to gain imperial hegemony, it’s time for us to use Challenge as our tool to win more soldiers to PLP. Clearly the next step is to show our newspaper to more friends. From this, more intense conversations will emerge. The ruling class will wage its wars in the Middle East; therefore. workers, along with soldiers and students should wage our ideological struggle with the working class. I find myself in a stronger political position in our unit. Reading in Challenge about other soldiers’ struggles in the military inspires me to move forward. In any case, political base-building is the foundation that will pave the way to our success in reaching our ultimate goal, and our newspaper will aid me in building for a communist revolution.