50 Years Ago – Vietnam / Postal Worker
Vietnam – again?
If one war can be more depraved and dehumanising than another, then only in these terms is there a winner in Vietnam. For more than thirty years, virtually non-stop, Vietnam has been ravaged by the modern military hardware of rival armies. Back in 1941 the Japanese; then the British, then the French, the Vietnamese themselves, and finally the Americans. The wholesale slaughter and destruction, and the indifference to human suffering has been common to them all. The lying and hypocrisy of the politicians on all sides has been outstripped only by their gory deeds.
In the name of peace, the war steadily escalated for eight years. In the name of freedom, brutal dictators were installed and people whose “freedom” was denied burned themselves alive in protest. In the name of democracy, elections were suspended. In the name of liberation, many hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have been blown to pieces or burned alive with napalm. On the ideological pretence of stemming “communism” every conceivable horror and outrage has been practised. Regardless of how many Vietnamese were killed in the process, they had to be “saved”. The utter ruthlessness of governments purporting to be champions of the “free” world could hardly be surpassed by those of police-state dictatorships.
America has suffered the humiliation of having to bring members of her armed forces to trial, accused of atrocities against the people they were supposed to be defending, while those atrocities were condoned by the then deputy leader of the British Labour government. We have witnessed the spectacle of returning military personnel denouncing the war and their own brutal conduct. The American Army has had to face the desertion of tens of thousands of its men, while the scale of drug-taking was so vast among those who remained in the war, it had to be virtually ignored.
There have been massive demonstrations against the war, throughout America’s largest cities, with the added irony that the same coercive State apparatus which carried on the war was frequently used against the demonstrators. In Britain, as in other parts of the world, there were also demonstrations. The British “left” which organised the protests here were not opposed to the war as such, but were anti-America, and favoured a Northern victory. They dragged out all the anti-working-class arguments about national independence and home-rule to justify their support for the bloody butchers on the other side.
(Socialist Standard, December 1972)
A day in the life of a Royal Mail worker
4.00am. Had to get up an hour earlier this morning. Car failed its MOT and can’t afford repair costs. Will have to cycle to work instead.
4.30am. Just enough time for tea and toast.
5.00am. Set off for work. Strong wind and rain slowing me down.
6.15am. Arrived at work 15 minutes late. Drenched! Manager not happy. Told I have to work through my tea break to make up time. Arsehole!!
10.00am. Really busy morning. Clothes almost dry now. Gasping for a cuppa.
12.30pm. At last. Time for lunch. Can’t afford snack van today. Not due to get paid until end of month. Packet of crisps and nice hot cuppa. Still hungry.
2.30pm. Regular shift finished, but staying on for a couple of hours overtime. Bills, bills, bills.
4.30pm. Extra 2 hours at time and third. Help pay towards car repairs.
6.00pm. Home at last. Note from Shirley on table …“Dinner in fridge …. cheese sandwich and cup-a-soup … don’t overfill the kettle Joe”.
7.00pm. Fell asleep. Absolutely dead-beat.
8.00pm. Fancied a hot bath, but too expensive. Quick shower instead. Watched TV for an hour. Can’t remember what was on.
9.00pm. Early night. Up sharpish again tomorrow.
Next day, 5.00am … About to set off for work again. Bike has a flat tyre. Totally deflated. Getting too old for all this shit!