Refusal to wage wars takes courage

This music video from the USA is called Edwin Starr – War (What is it good for) + Lycris HQ.

The lyrics are:

What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Uh ha haa ha
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…say it again y’all
War..huh…look out…
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…listen to me ohhhhh

WAR! I despise,
‘cos it means destruction of innocent lives,
War means tears to thousands of mother’s eyes,
When their sons gone to fight and lose their lives.

I said WAR!…huh…good God y’all,
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…say it again
War! Huh…What is it good for (Edwin sings ‘Wohh oh Lord’ over the top)
Absolutely nothing…listen to me

WAR! It ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker,
War. Friend only to the undertaker.
Ohhh! War is an enemy to all mankind,
The thought of war blows my mind.
War has caused unrest within the younger generation
Induction then destruction…who wants to die? Ohhh

WAR! good God y’all huh
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…say it say it SAY IT!
WAR!…uh huh yeah hu!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…listen to me

WAR! It ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker,
War! It’s got one friend that’s the undertaker.
Ohhhh! War has shattered many a young man’s dream,
Made him disabled, bitter and mean,
Life is much too short and precious to spend fighting wars these days.
War can’t give life, it can only take it away!

Ohhh WAR! huh…good God y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…say it again
War!…huh…woh oh oh Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…listen to me

War! It ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker,
War. Friend only to the undertaker…woo
Peace lovin’ understand then tell me,
Is there no place for them today?
They say we must fight to keep our freedom,
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way.

Ohhhhhhh WAR! huh…good God y’all…
What is it good for?…you tell me!
Say it say it say it saaaay it!
War! good God now…huh
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it…NOTHING

By Symon Hill in Britain:

Refusing to fight is an act of resistance

Saturday 14th may 2016

On International Conscientious Objectors’ Day we should remember those who bravely refused to wage wars and destruction, writes SYMON HILL

EIGHTEEN-year-old Israeli woman Omri Baranes was last week sentenced to 30 days in a military prison. Her “crime” is a refusal to fight for the euphemistically named Israeli Defence Force.

“The military creates a cycle of violence while claiming to the defend the country,” says Omri. “Public leaders are responsible for the creation of this criminal institution and our country is militaristic as a result.”

On the same day, the Israeli courts sentenced 19-year-old Tair Kaminer to her fifth prison sentence, as she repeatedly refuses to fight and insists that violence cannot solve the problems of Israel and Palestine.

Omri and Tair are among the hundreds of people around the world who are in prison for refusing to join armed forces. Over a hundred are locked up in South Korea alone.

This weekend, International Conscientious Objectors’ Day (CO Day) will be marked around the world. It is observed every year on May 15.

Conscientious objection is sometimes misrepresented as an individualistic attitude. In reality, COs do not generally demand exemption from the armed forces simply as a matter of personal choice. Refusal to fight is an act of resistance.

In Britain, mass conscription was first introduced 100 years ago, in 1916. Under pressure, the government offered exemption to those with a conscientious objection to killing. This clause of the Bill was openly jeered by Tory MPs when it was presented in the House of Commons. Nonetheless, it was passed. In the vast majority of cases, however, it was not honoured.

The reality of conscientious objection in WWI is revealed in stark form on the walls of Richmond Castle. The stones still display the graffiti of the COs who were imprisoned there in 1916. On one wall you can read the words: “The only war which is worth fighting is the class war. The working class of this country have no quarrel with the working class of Germany or any other country.”

The unnamed conscientious objector added: “Socialism stands for internationalism. If the workers of all countries united and refused to fight, there would be no war.”

This message remains just as relevant today.

In Britain, we no longer face physical conscription. Militarisation is now more subtle — but no less deadly.

We are taught from an early age that violence is the solution to conflict and that our first loyalty should be to the nation state in which we happen to have been born. The unquestioning obedience that is required of soldiers is held up as something to be admired rather than an assault on human dignity. The promotion of these attitudes from childhood is a form of mental conscription. Our bodies are not conscripted, but our minds are.

Our taxes are used to fund the fifth-highest military budget in the world (though you wouldn’t know it from the way the right-wing media talks about “defence cuts”). Even our language is conscripted, with preparations for war described inaccurately as “defence” and “security.”

Ever since the invasion of Iraq, politicians and generals have been unable to rely on the support of the British public when going to war. They have responded to anti-war feeling by whipping up support for the armed forces. Initiatives such as Armed Forces Day portray all forces personnel as heroes and present any questioning of their role as unpatriotic. Meanwhile, research reveals that armed forces visits to schools are more common in poorer areas, as the army attempts to recruit vulnerable young people with few options in life.

In one of the most absurd examples of everyday militarism, the RAF are planning a “flypast” over London LGBT Pride. Thus a human rights march is co-opted to promote militarism — the very opposite of human rights.

As everyday militarism becomes more and more visible, we need to resist it with everyday objection.

Ahead of CO Day, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has called for critics of warfare to become “conscientious objectors” in everyday life.

This sort of resistance can take many forms: there are engineers who refuse to work in the arms industry, self-employed people who withhold tax in protest against military spending, teachers who object to the army cadets, LGBT people who speak out against the militarisation of Pride.

Everyday objection can be as simple as refusing to use the language of “defence” and “heroes.”

Resistance is varied. We are compiling examples of ways in which people are resisting everyday militarism — whether big or small, common or unusual. We would love to hear your own examples (contact

Conscientious objection is both a personal commitment and part of a wider struggle against war and exploitation. The socialist journalist Will Chamberlain, imprisoned for much of WWI, wrote that conscientious objection “is an active protest against what we consider the greatest evil in the world, and our method of protesting is to refuse to acquiesce by a single act or deed in a system which is indescribably evil, both in origin and purpose.”

Symon Hill is co-ordinator of the Peace Pledge Union.

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