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Proletarian issue 77 (April 2017)
Letter: So you want to be a hero?
A reader puts some pertinent questions to any young person thinking of joining the armed forces.
So, you want to be a hero. You have seen the adverts, heard the praises of and for our armed forces, and the promises of an opportunity to learn a skill. Then there is the thrill of visiting foreign countries all over the world. Interested? Read on.

You will be taught to hate the enemy, because the forces say so. You will be taught to kill the enemy, without a thought of right or wrong. Any dissent will be punished. You will see the results of bombing and shell fire and the obscenity of war that destroys lives and infrastructure and creates ‘collateral damage’ – or civilian deaths and horrific injuries, as we would call it. This experience can result in attacks of conscience, stress and depression – illnesses that can destroy people and leave them unable to function as a normal human being. Plus there is the chance of loss of limbs, sight, hearing, or even of death.

If and when you return home, you will be called a brave soldier, and receive medical treatment, if and when available, and already the armed forces will have given you an honourable discharge. Should you fall on hard times, there are charities to help you, and politicians to sing fake praises. You will, if unlucky, be unable to work, and our unsympathetic media will label you a sponger, or some other disrespectful name. You could well be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a term created by those who wish to conceal the horrible reality that faces our ex-service men and women.

All this, and for what? To steal the wealth of other countries for the benefit of our armed ruling class, which is prepared to accept death and destruction of others to secure its wealth.

Socialism can build a fairer life, free from war, poverty and inequality. Humanity deserves this. Capitalism can never give us peace, employment or security. It is time to ditch capitalism and work for a socialist future.

Do you still want to be a hero?

DC, Swansea
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