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Susan Green


For a New World War
For Anti-Labor Use

(2 July 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 27, 2 July 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A special committee of the House of Representatives has just closed hearings on the subject of peacetime conscription. Before the committee came representatives of organized labor and farmers, of veterans, of educators, of socialists and liberals, and of big business, of the Army and Navy. Although the findings of the committee have not yet been officially stated, its chairman is confident that the committee will recommend to the House passage of a peacetime conscription bill.

Certainly this recommendation will not be based on the majority opinion as expressed by witnesses before the committee. It is true that the greatest publicity was given to what was said by admirals and generals and big business. But if you consider that the CIO, the AFL and the National Farmers Union oppose compulsory military training; that the “public opinion” voiced by people like Norman Thomas and other liberals also oppose it; that educators either oppose it outright or are for postponing the matter until after the war; then you see that the recommendation of the committee will NOT represent the opinion of the American people.

In other words, the hearings just closed are another instance of congressional hocus-pocus. The support by the committee of a peacetime conscription law could have been predicted by anyone with an ear to the ground.

Preparing for War

For whatever the democratic trimmings may be, the fundamental interests of American imperialism will be served. And today we are at the threshold of an era of world militarism with all; the imperialist powers armed to the teeth. Bluntly David Lawrence, ace capitalist columnist, stated the point: “This is apparently to be a world where force alone talks.” And again: “Physical force is to be the basis of the coming era of balanced power.”

It is no accident that in Moscow at the celebration of the defeat of Germany, Marshal Zhukov did not glory in the blow struck at German militarism as much as he did in the growth of Russian militarism. He boasted that Russia has emerged from the war with the largest army on earth.

The world-situation being what it is, it was a foregone conclusion that the committee would support a post-war conscription bill – no matter what the hearings revealed about real public opinion on the subject. Drew Pearson reports that a survey shows that fifty-six per cent of the people prefer spending the estimated $4, 000, 000, 000 annual cost for military training, for education instead. But American imperialism is out to be firstest with the mostest in military power.

This is the raw fact that the working people of this country must face. Millions of immigrants came to this country to escape the militarism of Europe. But so does the development of capitalism worsen the lot of the masses, that, if they allow it, they will be the pawns of the No. 1 militarist nation of the world. It is quite in order for General Patton to look at a group of Sunday schoolchildren and see only soldiers and nurses of the wounded in the next war.

Who will pay the bill for keeping American imperialism armed in the style demanded by modern warfare? An inkling is already given in the fact that steps are being taken to lower the taxes on big business while keeping the heavy pay-as-you-go taxes on the working people. The bill will be staggering.

There is the estimated $4, 000, 000, 000 per year for military training alone. But that is the least of it. The armed might of the United States extends into occupied Europe and will include Asia after the war. There will be extensive and expensive bases in the Atlantic and Pacific spheres where war strategy dictates. There will be a Navy second to none and an air force to master the skies, with the necessary ground forces. Rough estimates are that the Navy will require 1, 000, 000 men; the Army 3, 000, 000 to 3, 000, 000; and reserves another 3, 000, 000.

Strange Way to Peace

Spokesmen for capitalism do not usually admit that peacetime conscription is needed for the next imperialist war. But many witnesses at the hearing openly spoke of war with Russia. However, this unguarded frankness was corrected and in the main the line followed by the advocates of militarism is, in the words of General Marshall, Chief of Staff: “It is evidence that we are going to back up the peace.” Other spokesmen for peacetime conscription say it will assure the world “that at last America is taking seriously its international responsibilities.”

But all this is so much sand in the eyes of the people. Imperialist powers with antagonistic interests, armed to the teeth, do not keep peace but make Poland, Syria, Trieste illuminate the deep-seated conflicts.

The gag about stopping aggressors is also pretty transparent. For who would dare “aggress” against the United States, or against a little nation in the sphere of influence of the United States, except another big power fully armed. So it all boils down to the big powers arming against each other.

A Change Is Needed

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce brushes aside the play-acting at San Francisco and gets down to the business of preparing for the next blood-letting, Nathan E. Cowan, speaking for the CIO before the House committee, still naively championed “collective security”and a capitalist-imperialist “world free from war.” The move for peacetime conscription disturbs this pipe dream of CIO officialdom. On the other hand, it was a bit; hard to see on what ground Lewis G. Hines, the AFL spokesman, could logically oppose, compulsory training since he believes “our country must maintain an Army, an Air Force and Navy adequate to make our views on national and international policies respected.” This is another way of agreeing that force shall rule the world.

Labor’s correct course is clear. The militarization of this country must be fought tooth and nail. Peacetime conscription must be opposed as a step to military dictatorship. Complete disarmament of all the world is what labor wants.

But it must make these demands with open eyes, knowing full well that they cannot be realized without abolishing imperialism. Preventing the world from being turned into hostile armed camps can be accomplished only by dislodging the capitalist classes of this country, of Great Britain, of all countries, and the bureaucratic rulers of Russia. Complete disarmament can exist only between peoples bound by mutual interests, not ruled by rival imperialists.

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Last updated: 16 December 2017