"Death is not the end and soldiers need to be spiritually prepared for war, according to the head of the British army" (Times, 18 October).
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, was reported as saying:
"In my business, asking people to risk their lives is part of the job, but doing so without giving them the chance to understand that there is a second life after death is something of a betrayal".
Actually, it's the other way round. It's a con to tell soldiers sent into battle possibly to die that, if they do, there's a better life in the skies (or, perhaps, a worse one down below). It's what Al Qaeda tell their suicide bombers too. They think they go to Muslim heaven for their second life. Is this the same heaven that Sir Richard tells his soldiers they will go to? And what about any of his soldiers who might be Hindus or Buddhists, their second -- or third, or fourth, or whatever -- life, is it to be recycled as another human or maybe as an animal or an insect? And where do his Jewish soldiers end up?
The sad truth is that all of the evidence suggests that we only have one life -- the one we now have -- and that when we die that's it. It's all over. So it doesn't make sense to throw it away dying to secure oil resources or trade routes or investment outlets for a ruling capitalist class. But it does make sense for the ruling class to tell those who fight for it that "death is not the end".
We are not saying that General Dannatt is a cynic. He's not. He actually believes what he said. But that's just as worrying: a person with such an irrational view as head of a killing machine.
And some people wonder why we in the Socialist Party take a hard line on religion.