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Saturday, May 26, 2007


Daily Donovan Double - Universal Soldier/The War Drags On

Buffy Sainte-Marie's 1964 song, Universal Soldier, is one of the most famous antiwar songs, and it fits in with the classic bumper sticker, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" Sounds great. But the sentiment in the song is wrong. "He's the universal soldier, and he really is to blame," sings Donovan in this 1968 version from his Like It Is (Was, and Evermore Shall Be) album.

But is he [sic]? Think about the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, which proved that ordinary people can be turned into sadistic monsters almost overnight with very little effort. Now think about the effects on the minds of people who have been subjected to a lifelong barrage of pro-war, imperialist, "we're number 1," "we're fighting for democracy" propaganda, and then combine that with the effects of economic forces which provide a powerful impulse for people to join the armed forces, and then tell me "he really is to blame." Sorry, not buying it. It is imperialism, and its ruling class, which is to blame, and only by getting rid of them, and not by laying a guilt trip on the "universal soldier," are we ever going to put an end to war.

Since Universal Soldier is so well-known, I've combined it here with another song from the same album, the plaintive The War Drags On. A sentiment which couldn't be more relevant as the war and occupation of Iraq moves into its fifth year, and the war and occupation of Afghanistan nears the end of its sixth year.

For an alternative listening method, click here.


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