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LABOR S ANSWER Marxists Internet Archive
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Labor s Answer to Conscription, By FELIX MORROW, The trade uriion leaders have said NO to the Burkeor. Wadsworth conscription bill For the CIO ohn L, Lewis informed the House and Senate military affairs. committees that I have carefully canvassed our organiza. tions and find that the concensus of opinion is in fundamental. opposition to this measure William Green had to report. likewise on behalf of the AFL the big five Railroad Broth r. hoods took the same stand Seldom have all three sections. the trade union movement been unanimous as they are QJ l. I this question That fact undoubtedly reflects the firm senti. ment of t he overwhelming majority of their members ip. No was not however the only answer that the official. leadership of the trade unions gave to the conscription bill. A mere No could not be the sole element in any answer to. conscription One mus also answer the question If not the. conscription bill then what, The pacifists have no answer to this question They ry. to deny that the problem of military training e ists an d. i they do this ip a world whos chief characteristics have be. come militarism and war I nstead they read us sermQos a I Ql ll. the evils of force and violence and publish a dreary literature. to prove that war is not really necessary that the United. States can turn its back on the rest of the world etc In the. end of course as happened during the World War in all. countries the pacifist myth is blown apart by the realities of. this capitalist world that we live in and the pacifists tum. into rabid recruiting sergeants who say You know me I. was always against war Therefore if I tell you now that y. should support the government in this war you should be f. Like the pacifists the Communist Party also has no. answer to the question HI f not the Burke Wadsworth biU. then what Its propaganda is indeed impossible to distin. guish from the clap trap of the paCif18ts I t consists of b e. littling the real possibilities of German imperialist penetra. tion of the Western Hemisphere and of similar arguments. borrowed from the isolationists Far from helping to win. workers to a firm stand against the conscription bill the pro. p gaflda of the Communist Party makes many workers be. J ve that th Stalinist propaganda is merely designed to. erve Stalin s friend Hitler These workers despite the Stalin. ist attacks UpOrl them as red baiters are in reality far in. aq Vance of the Communist Party to this extent they under. tand that the working class must give an answer to the ques. liolJ HIf not the conscript jon bill then what, In contrast to the pacifists and Stalinists the official. le ders of the trade unions have given an answer to this ques. tion The main purpose of this pam phlet is to de llonstrate. that their answer is the wrong one that their Halternative. is no better than the conscription measure and indeed paves. the way for the enactment of the Burke Wadsworth bill in. the end After this is demonstrated we propose what we be. lieve is the right answer to this fundamental question. The Lewis Green Answer, John L Lewis and William Green both make a number.
of economic demands upon Congress in their statements op. posing conscription These demands include higher pay for. soldiers guarantees that men would get their jobs back after. serving in the armed forces etc These demands though too. modest deserve support The Burke Wadsworth bill is. l damned by the yardstick of these demands we need mentiQn. only the coolie wages provided conscripts by the bill and its. phoney Hpromise of getting men their jobs back, Th very first day of formal debate on the bill in the. Se a t Sen ltor Norris drew an admis ion from Senator Bark. ley administration leader that the provision directing em. ployers to rehire men after their service probably has no. legal force, But it is not enough for the workers to make these types. of economic demands There still remains the question of. fighting against the provisions for conscription by the capi. talist state into the state s armed forces and of offering an. alternative method of military trainirig Tor the manpower. of this country, I t is on this key question that Lewis and Green are fun. damentally wrong All they say at bottom against the con. scription bill is that conscription is not necessary now Lewis. argument is against compulsory conscription in time of. peace and even in time of peace he makes plain he is ready. tq support conscription by the capitalist state if it is first. established that mass enlistments will not provide sufficient. men Therefore he proposes, The Congress of I ndustrial Organizations suggests that. if there is a need for larger personnel in our armed forces. the method of voluntary enlistments be continued and relied. upon to meet the needs of the present emergency WE BE. LIEVE THAT A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF VOLUN, TARY ENLISTMENTS COULD BE SECURED if tlie pay.
for enlisted men were increased and the minimum period of. enlistment reducedJ Such an enlisted army highly trained in. the use of mechanized arms would we submit meet our. military defense problems CIO NEWS August 5, Similarly Villiam Green s August 5 press statement. The AFL will give support to compulsory military, training service legislation when such action becomes neces. sary in order to defend protect and preserve America. However in providing an adequate army for defensive. purposes the American way should he followed first A volun. tary enlistment program should be launched by the Govern. ment desig ned to create an army of one million and a half I. men This would be putting voluntary action before compul. sion American labor would respond to sllch a program whole. heartedly and enthusiastically, The stand against conscription taken by the official trad. union leaders amounts therefore to, I The same kind of conscription that they now oppose. they are ready to support either a in war time or b if. mass enlistments do not provide enough men, 2 They enthusiastically support mass enlistments into.
the regular army and navy as better than c onscription today. in that it is a voluntary and b more democratic, This position is identical with that taken by the anti. Conscription senators Wheeler Vandenberg and their asso. ciates who support a compromise offered by Senator. Maloney of Connecticut The Maloney amendment provides. for mass enlistments until January if by that time enlist. ments prove inadequate the conscription provisions of th. Burke Wadsworth bill go into effect automatically, It should be obvious that John L Lewis is misusing. wor s when he announces himself in fundamental opposi. tion to this Burke Wadsworth measure There s nothing. fundamental about his opposition for as we have seen he is. fot the key provisions of that measure either in war time o. if enlistments won t provide enough men, But that s only half the picture The truth is that Lewis. alternative to conscription voluntary enlistments turns. out upon careful examination to be neither voluntary nor. more democratic than conscription After we examine the real. nature of this enlistment proposal every worker who is firm. in his loyalty to the working class must say Enlistment is. just as reactionary as the conscription proposal We must find. another way a way which will provide the workers with mili. tary training but which will not put them at the mercy of. the capitalist state and its reactionary army officer caste. Would Enlistnlents Be Voluntary, The statement on conscription issued by the five Rail. road Brotherhood presidents lets the cat out of the bag After. proposing one year enlistments and more attractive pay it. says that under these conditions Thousands of UN EM. PLOYED wou ld e nlist voluntarily if given an opportunity. N Y Times August 7, Just let that idea sink ina moment These gentlemen.
dOh t want their membership subject to the draft But it s all. right with them if UNEMPLOYED workers including the. hundreds of thousands of railroad workers driven out of the. industry are inducted into the army They take it for granted. that a shortet enlistment term and a few dollars higher pay. would d rive the unernployed into the army, So far as their cold blooded calculation goes these very. comfortable gentlemen are being accurate Today and. throughout the last ten years the statistics of en listmet lt. show the majority of volunteers have come from the un. employed they join up to eat and to leam a new trade which. the recruiting posters promise them Maybe they hope. there ll be a job for them in their new trade when they get out. A shorter term of enlistment and higher pay would be. certain therefore to attract rnore of the unemployed Those. who today are hungry and in enforced idleness would be more. tempted by the pay if they didn t have to sign away three. years of their lives Vain illusion Anybody joining the army. now would be certain to find himself unable to get out just. like the men who joined the National Guard for a Httle tram. ing and exercise contracting for nothing more than this ex. cept in case of war and who now find themselves in vlora. tion of that contract ordered by Congress into active service. This is what John L Lewis William Green and the rest. of the AFL cIa and Railroad Brotherhoods leadershi p are. aiding and abettin g Volu ntary To be driven by hU nger. which one cannot othetwise feed is not voluntary Demo. cratic There s nothing democratic about an army service. system which will inevitably draw most of its men from. among the ten million unemployed, John L Lewis doesn t put it as crudely as do the Railroad. Brotherhoods but that he knows what he is prol osing wiit. mainly hit the unem ployed is shovlI l by this revealing sentehce. Compulsory ccmsctiptl0n would necessarily result in tremen. dous dislocations among the lives of millions of individlJals. in industry and in communities throughout our country. Why won t mass enlistments do the same thing those mass. nlistments which Lewis advocates Because this is plainlY. the thought in Lewis mind the recruits will then come main. 1y from the unemployed wh0se induction into the army won t. dislocate industry, S s Unem ployed Against Employed Workers. Bittet rage must fill the hearts of the unemployed work. ers if they contemplate this spectacle of labor leaders liv. ing on a scale beyond the dreams of the highest paid em. loyed workers proposing to penalize the unemployed by. making them the chief victims of mass recruitment It wasn t. bac i enough that the unemployed have peen penalized by the. resent economic system they must now pay for their job. l ssness by becoming soldiers, Thus instead of being the champions of the unemployed. M essrs Lewis Green and their associates treat the unem. ployed as second class citizens as people not deserving the. same consideration and protection as dues paying members of. the unions, Members of the trade unions Awake in time to realize.
what a dangerous game your official leaders are playing If. they treat the unemployed as second class citizens in this way. eventually the unemployed will answer in kind A deep gap. will be created between the unions and the unemployed The. unemployed will become enemies of the trade unions. That s what happened in Germany The pot bellied, bureaucrats who rail the unions were only interested in rak. ing in the dues They treated the unemployed like second. tlass citizens A deep gap developed between the unions and. the unemployed Hitler used that to the full He posed as the. champion of the unemployed He lPUt tens of thousands of. them in barracks where he fed them and indoctrinated them. with Nazism and clothed them with Nazi uniforms, In the name of fighting against fascism the cia and. AFL leadership are making a patriotic proposal which can. only serve the interests of fascism in this country. Already some of the most reactionary groups in this. country are cleverly using this situation to pose as champions. of the unemployed The multi millionaire Owen D Young s. IO called American Youth Commission is insisting on pas. sage of the Burke Wadsworth conscription bill because other. wise it says hypocritically the unemployed will be made to. bear an entirely disproportionate share of the burden of mili. tary s e r v i c e, What do you think would be the effect on the average. unemployed man of seeing the trade unions propose a system. of military service which hits the unemployed most and then. seeing reactionary demagogues defending the interests of the. unemployed against the proposal of the trade unions. Woe to the trade unions if this situation is permitted to. continue But it must not continue The labor movement. must fight agains creation of a regular army of millions of. hunger driven volunteers just as much as it should fight. against creation of a regular army by the Burke Wadsworth. conscription b ll Becau e th 1 labor movement foJ its own. salvation must defend the interests of all skilled and un. killed employed and unemployed, Why The G vernment Wants Conscription. The light minded way in which the AFL and CIO offi. cialdom have agreed to support the conscription measure as. soon as enlistments don t work shows that the trade union. tion to this Burke Wadsworth measure There s nothing fundamental about his opposition for as we have seen he is fot the key provisions of that measure either in war time o if enlistments won t provide enough men But that s only half the picture The truth is that Lewis

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