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How the U.S. Military Reinforces Our Brutal Class System—And Vice Versa

Why does our economy ensure a constant stream of recruits? And why are the armed services so attractive to the marginalized? Vets answer these questions and more.

Maximillian Alvarez

U.S. Army soldiers salute during a 2005 memorial service in Dujail, Iraq. John Moore / Getty Images

In this special episode, we talk with three veterans about how the military and the class system (in the U.S. and around the world) go hand in hand. How does the military market itself to the poor and marginalized (and why is that marketing so effective)? How does our broken economy ensure a constant stream of recruits who will be sent to fight endless imperialist wars just so they can pay for college or finally be accepted as a worthy citizen? What happens to these recruits when they’re serving and when they leave (if they leave)? Why is it that so many features of military life and America’s self-perpetuating war machine translate to an accepted status quo in which women, LGBTQ folks, and non-white recruits are subjected to vicious harassment, violent assault, or worse? 

In this important conversation, we’re joined by Triste Ordex, Marine Corps vet and national organizer for Vets for the People; Amber Mathwig, a former 10-year Navy Master-at-Arms and organizer with About Face: Veterans Against the War; and Clarke, a Navy veteran, organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America, and commercial diver.

Maximillian Alvarez is a writer and editor based in Baltimore and the host of Working People, a podcast by, for, and about the working class today.” His work has been featured in venues like In These Times, The Nation, The Baffler, Current Affairs, and The New Republic.

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