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Yet more war on the armed forces this episode:
>There are plenty of resources online just to start. I was thinking more of
>the library though. Many of John Keegan's works such as "The Face of Battle"
>or "The history of Warfare" are pretty good reads and not too taxing on the
FYI, Keegan's book is actually entitled "A History of Warfare". It is a
subtle distinction, but nonetheless important, as it is something of a pun.
It will remain controversial because of its hypothesis that an overriding
reason we have wars is that it is in our nature to do so.
I can understand how you could get drafted into the military for four
years during the Vietnam war and find it hard to avoid situations where you
might be shot and killed.
-But- I do not understand how someone could spend four years at OHIO
STATE and have trouble staying out of situations involving shooting.
And a damn long one, supposedly RVI's last word on the subject:
YANKIN' THE CRANKY
>" Does anyone else hear black helicopters?"
> degenerate cranky
[RVI] I would have to say that, in my time as an agent provacateur here
and abroad, this is the funniest accusation I've had leveled at myself
and my ideas -- that I am an anti-government right-wing militiaman.
Cranky, darling, you may hear all the black helicopters, yellow diamonds,
pink clover, purple moons, and green horse-shoes you can hallucinate, but
it doesn't strengthen your position (which I will admit has its merits).
As for my ideological leanings, I have been known to be paranoid from
time to time; and I have also been known to be right in my hunches more
often than not. And right-wing? Me?! You haven't been reading here too
long, I take it, because if you had you'd know that I am further to the
Left than anything the Democratic Party offers. In fact, the only
reasons I am not an out and out Communist are: A. I'm not an atheist, B.
I'm not an optimist (I have no use for the Hegelian dialectic as applied
to history in any of its forms), C. I don't believe a general worker's
revolt will solve anything, only kill off the best minds amongst the
lower class, and D. I tend to discount violence as a means to any end
What follows are answers to most of Cranky's responses; I will
let this be my last word on the subject for now, so someone else can get
in on the fun.
[Cranky] I don't know if Washington would have agreed with you in the
> BEFORE the constituition was drafted when his army was the ONLY thing that
> kept the colonies from being subject to English rule.
[RVI] Uh, Mr. or Ms. Military Historian? Gen. Washington was not head of
the Army of the U.S.A., which nation, in fact, only came into being with
the Constitution. The Continental Army was, for all purposes, an illegal
guerilla force which, thankfully, was guided by principles and men which
and who later shaped the Constitution. Again, contrary to your
intuition, the principles or the law and the Constitution itself have
priority over the military. If not, what was the difference in
motivation between the 'Patriots' and the Redcoats in the years before
the writing down of the actual Constitution -- if it was not the ideas
which that Constitution would enshrine? Just because George Washington
et al. couldn't point to a literal document during the Revolution doesn't
mean they weren't being regulated and guided by definite principles which
transcend mere military calculation. And it was this that made those men
[Cranky] Again I agree that that would be a great thing but other than
> soldiers of Ancient Greece, there just isn't evidence of that EVER happening
> in history. Autonomous thinking is the opposite of everything that a soldier
> is trained.
[RVI] Yeah,yeah, ... just look at the above example of our Revolutionary
Patriots -- citizen soldiers, as in Ancient Greece (look at the 2nd
Amendment for a reminder that the original ideal here was also for a
citizen soldier in peace time). Secondly, you tell me autonomous
thinking (as if there is any other kind of thinking! For shame from an
academic! To have to be told this by a truck driver!!!) is anathema to a
soldier, and yet half this argument originated in a slogan advertized by
our Army proclaiming our soldiers the toughest AND SMARTEST in the world?
How in the Hell does one come off believing one is 'smart' without also
being a bit skeptical, a little incredulous, a smidge inquisitive? It
Furthermore, you have the blind eye of all historians --
believing that simply because such and such a state of affairs has nearly
always been the case then it need always remain so. The military could
be changed, revolutionized, and its personel can be trained and required
to think and to act as citizen-soldiers, no matter what the present
structure of the Army is. "Autonomous thinking" COULD become an example
of everything a soldier should be.
>[RVI] Yet the tendency of our army is to
> follow all orders, no matter how ridiculous; it enshrines orders and
> hierarchy and sloganeering
> [Cranky] This is the effective definition of an army.
[RVI] This is _one_ definition of an army. Others are possible and are
perhaps superior. Failure to recognize this has led such concepts as
'honor,' 'tradition,' and 'character' to take on a hollow, ghostly sense
when applied to the contemporary services -- because the army has allowed
itself to become caught in such unimaginative and inhuman definitions as
the one Cranky espouses.
THE HOOVERVILLE MASSACRE
>[CRANKY] I agree with you in the best of worlds that would be correct. But can't you
> see that that was not a viable alternative for these men. Believe me, you
> can find memoirs of soldiers who thought the exercise to be a terrible thing
> to do. You can't tell me that every one of those men was a cold hearted
> bastard indoctrinated to kill fellow americans. There were other forces at
> work that compelled those men to obey orders that they thought were wrong.
> Including ALL of their trainnig up to that point.
> [RVI] A person nearly always has a choice whether or not to participate
in something terrible, something wrong. If these men recognized that
what they were about to do was a grave injustice, nothing prevented them
from standing up and being counted. They had all received, before being
inducted, some training in 'right and wrong' from their parents and
communities -- these things, these teachings did NOT become nothing by
virtue of training in how to follow orders. Again, they hold more weight
for without the moral principles and questions our Army would simply
become a gang of thugs for hire (as they are occaisionally). No, the men
who followed orders against their consciences were not inhuman - they
were all too human. The heroic, the tough, is a call to sacrifice the
all too human in favor of transcendent principles - to die, perhaps, for
a cause beyond one's selfish interests, to die defending what's right
against what's wrong (eg, the unarmed vets who faced down Patton's
> [Cranky] Yes. I agree, but what you say goes without saying really. Economics has
> always been tied to war and vice versa.
[RVI] The two have always been related, yes, but not to the extent as
after the advent of capitalism. Religious wars predominated in earlier
ages, or wars in which motivations were mixed to the point of
undifferentiation. In our own era, to quote John Dewy, "The government
is but the shadow of business." Our wars are often directly on behalf of
multinational corporations, or as PR for the Pentagon (WWII as the
glaring exception). Or a little of both. What I am saying is of more
importance than you pretend; remember, the American public has been
electing right-wingers to office since the 70s on the idea of
freee-market capitalism when, in fact, by way of the Pentagon (eg,
defence spending) and military intervention (eg, cheap gas), the economy
is constantly being 'pumped up' by tax money. By extension, the military
becomes a shadow arm of corporate greed instead of all the things it is
alleged to be.
[CRANKY] Conditions for soldiers are generally not good thus
> the bitching. I don't see how that supports your argument.
[RVI] All your examples of bitching soldiery come from truly horrible
examples - not the Gulf War, which I was discussing at the time. My
point was that our folks were not going off to anything near as bad as WW
I or II - despite all the superlatives and hyperboles employed on the
t.v. news. 'Tough' troops might've bitched for fun or after they got
underway, but not the outright whining we were treated to in the weeks
leading up to the battle. Our soldiers were in uncomfortable, not
miseranble, conditions. Also, I found it interesting that the military
clamped down hard on press interviews in Saudi Arabia, etc. (a press
liason from the Pentagon had to be present during all interviews). What
were they afraid their own troops were going to say? That they'd leave a
bad image for the public? That is, that they were not really 'tough?'
[CRANKY] ...And for the most part there won't be an opportunity
> for the type of prolonged ground conflicts that will "prove" the mettle of
> these men.
> [RVI] Convenient, in a way, and fortunate. But it does tend to add
proof to my point that our soldiers aren't 'tough'nor are valued for such
a quality by policy makers - certainly, as a whole, they lack character,
and they will never have to prove themselves in genuine, sustained battle
(thank God or we'd all be ruled by Noriega or somebody by now). At
present, the Army is a deadly PR gimmick which keeps our politicians from
having to consider which part of Somolia gets the neutron missile or how
to keep Indonesian shoe factory slaves in line without the use of nerve
gas. They are, indeed, all that they can be.
"I only know one thing,
Let me tell it to you clear:
There cannot be any courage
Where there isn't any fear."
(UNKNOWN - sounds like Kipling to me)
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