The Working Class War

During the Cold War era, there was massive fear among the American people of the spread of communism. The American government feared that the “Domino Effect” would happen. The “Domino effect” was fear that if one nation were to fall to communism’s influence then every other country would soon fall. One of the nations that the United States feared would fall to communism was Vietnam. Vietnam was going through an internal conflict where two different types of government were trying to unite the country under its ideology. North Vietnam was influenced by the Soviet Union with its communist society and the south was influenced by the United States with its democratic view of government. The United States started to send troops into Vietnam in 1965, where there was a peak of 549,500 troops in 1968. People in the United States started to argue that the Vietnam war was a “working class war”. “Roughly 80 percent came from working-class and poor backgrounds”(McMahon, 9). Young men who came from wealthy families were able to avoid the draft with very little actual volunteering. This is a very big issue for the American public. “Thus, America’s most unpopular war was fought primarily by the nineteen-year-old children of waiters, factory workers, salespeople, clerks, mechanics, miners, and farmworkers: people whose work lives are not only physically demanding but in many cases physically dangerous”(McMahon, 10). Many small working-class towns were losing many of their men at a higher rate compared to larger cities. 

In the article, Gerad DeGroot talks about how demoralized the troops are that are fighting in Vietnam. When fighting in war morale is one of the most important things that you need to have to win. Several reasons were causing such low morale among the soldiers. Seeing corpses laying all over the place, participating in the mass murder of civilians, fighting in hot thick jungles not knowing there could be traps all over are just some of the reasons why the morale was so low. Soldiers were finding no purpose for fighting, which was one of the biggest causes of the low morale. The soldiers lose their sense of needing to fight because that had no idea what they were fighting for. Soldiers were also becoming addicted to drugs while they were fighting in Vietnam which caused huge conflict with the social relations of these soldiers. 

I do believe that the United States military is still divided by class. I don’t believe that it’s as bad as it once was but there is still the presence of class division. The reason I still believe that there is class division is the need for school payments. I have friends who joined the military to get help paying for college. The military will pay for pretty much all of your school if you do your time. That is a huge motivation for people who can’t afford college to join the military.

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