ROTC Get Out, Stay Out!Obama Wants You to Serve ImperialismDemocrats, Republicans United for Racist War and Union Busting
from Revolution no. 5
Barack Obama dropped a bomb on his young enthusiasts at Columbia University on September 11. The heavily Democratic crowd booed McCain when he called for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to be brought back to campus (it was driven out in 1969 by protests against the Vietnam war). Liberal students expected a different answer from Columbia alum Obama. “Almost everyone’s expecting him to say no [to the ROTC], because he’s on our side, right? So then you heard him say ‘yes’ and everyone’s mouths opened in stunned silence,” a student told the New York Sun (15 September). That should have been the tip-off for anyone who hadn’t figured it out by then: Obama is no “peace candidate” but like McCain he is a certified imperialist war candidate.
In fact the forum was a symphony of agreement between the two candidates. Seven years ago, Republicans and Democrats used “9/11” to fan a nationalist hysteria for a new imperialist war in Afghanistan, to alibi the mass imprisonment, deportation and torture of immigrants and foreign nationals, to authorize the effective suspension of basic democratic rights like the freedom from arbitrary search and seizure supposedly guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, and to prepare the way for another Desert Slaughter in Iraq. On this September 11, the candidates agreed – that this nationalist, militarist mobilization was not enough! Both Obama and McCain criticized Bush for not launching massive national “service” programs in the wake of September 11, both called for enlarging the military. (How? Does anyone feel a draft?)
Behind all this bipartisan talk of “service,” military or civilian, is a drive to militarize and regiment the next generation of workers. The mouthpieces of the wealthy shamelessly call on the poor to “serve” because they want to create a new standard of indentured “serve-itude” as a condition of education. Obama proposed tying college aid to “national service,” meaning that in addition to spending years to work off your college debt, you would have to spend even more time laboring for free. This is a giant swindle to brainwash youth and provide low-wage (or no-wage) labor to undercut the unions. Class-conscious working-class youth are guided instead by the spirit of internationalism to rebel against the war-making imperialist rulers, their patriotic loyalty oaths, and their capitalist system that oppresses poor and working people the world over.
Obama’s speech upset the liberal Ivy Leaguers who timidly oppose ROTC because the Army discriminates against gays (don’t worry, Obama says he wants to reform that). We oppose all forms of discrimination, including the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays in the military decreed by Democrat Bill Clinton. But our goal is not equal opportunity in mass murder for gays and lesbians. Revolutionary Marxists say “not a penny, not a person for the Pentagon war machine,” and call for the defeat of the U.S. imperialism and its predatory wars.Supporters of the CUNY Internationalist Clubs mobilized student protests that repeatedly drove military recruiters off the campus at Bronx Community College in 2005. We initiated a campaign that spiked homeland security programs at Borough of Manhattan Community College. We are doubly opposed to the ROTC, an incubator for the officer caste and its reactionary anti-democratic cult of blind discipline, arbitrary authority and super-patriotism. Student-worker struggle can and should be mobilized to defeat the Obama/McCain proposal to reintroduce ROTC at Columbia. We call for militant student-worker protests to drive all military and police, including the ROTC and CIA recruiters, off all the campuses.
And no vote for Obama, McCain or any capitalist candidate. They get elected and you get more war endless war. Guaranteed. ■
Revolution is the newspaper of the Internationalist Clubs at the City University of New York. The Internationalist Clubs seek to win students to the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, to forge a revolutionary workers party. Issue no. 5 has just been published, you can get copies by sending 25¢ per copy plus postage to: Mundial Publications, Box 3321, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008.