"If you’re between 14 and 15 years 9 months old,
there’s a special place for you with the RAF. By joining our altitude club, you
can find out about an organisation where you can follow your dreams."
So reads the nice glossy leaflet with a picture of a shiny
plane and the famous Royal Air Force badge on it that can be picked up at many
Scottish state schools. As it happens, the RAF has been in schools speaking to
first year students to try and get them to sign up for this "altitude
club", in other words "recruitment club".
Also, on the leaflet, there are several quotes from members
of the RAF encouraging people to join, one of them by a member of the RAF who
as a result has joined the bobsleigh team, for after all most members of the
RAF spend their time enjoying extreme winter sports and trying to compete for
medals in the winter Olympics.
This seems to be a new swipe of desperation, in light of
launching into an Imperialist war in Iraq, the ruling class is clearly finding
it’s forces in a dire situation. The army relies on young working class people
signing up; unsurprisingly they have not been coming forth in large numbers
after seeing so many others killed.
For this is the
dynamic of imperialism, it is not enough for the capitalists in Britain to wage
a war against another country, plunder its wealth and oppress its people. It is
not down to them to actually do the dirty work of killing and suppressing the
Iraqis, not to mention possibly dying in the process. No, this comes down to
the working class of this nation. It is down to us to kill Iraqi working class
people so that the rich in Britain and America can gain access to Iraqi markets
and resources, namely oil.
In light of this desperation, efforts at military
recruitment have hit new heights. On top of this leaflet pupils have also been
exposed to other forms of military propaganda. When going to see a film with
their school, pupils can expect that the only advert before the feature will be
a five minute-long, short film with the aim of recruiting for the Royal Navy;
typical of military recruitment, with the usual images of well-trained people
bravely taking on the enemy, full of Ramboesque macho bravado, bravely laying
down their lives for their country!
Why, if Sylvestre Stallone wasn’t in the movies, he would
surely be a member of the armed force, the logic goes. And if it’s good enough
for him, well, it would only be mad to let that kind of opportunity go begging.
Also, schools have been found to be putting up military posters apparently
trying to link the work done by the military with that done in schools, for
example how physics is used in the military. This is a dangerous two-pronged
attack when combined with the offer of free education, as this leaflet boasts:
"Thanks to an RAF bursary I went to the university of my choice!"
This is a disgusting abuse of the circumstances of working
class people. Because of the counter-reforms of Thatcherism and Blarism,
students no longer receive grants to go to university. Working class people
often struggle to finance their way through it. As a result of this the
military has cynically moved in on this territory and used it to attract
working class people who aim to go onto higher education.
If we do not fight back against military propaganda then we
face a future of military recruitment in schools similar to what we see in
America today; schools in poor working class areas have have military
recruiters on campus all day everyday. We must take the fight to them and
organise counter recruitment, as well as raising the arguments of who fights
this war. Why the war is fought and how we do not benefit from it.
As well as seeing
scores of Iraqi and British and American working class people dying, we also
see money wasted on war that could be spent on things that we need: a decent
health and education system, reasonable housing and other things refused to the
working class by the UK’s ruling class.
At one American school where military recruiters were
stationed on campus, students organised. Eventually this resulted in the
military being chased off campus. This is a precedent for all schools!