Hal Draper

What Life in U.S. Will Be Like
When It Enters War – a Preview

More Light on the Life in Store for the American Worker
When M-Day, Now a Plan Carefully Designed by the Generals,
Becomes a Horrid Reality for All the Youth of the Nation

(11 September 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 68, 11 September 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

If America goes to war ... what will America be like?

More light on the war dictatorship which is planned for this country on M-Day has been shed by two authoritative sources in recent weeks – the American Legion and General Hugh Johnson.

“There is a group of men in Washington today that spends all its time thinking in terms of M-Day,” says an article in the American Legion Monthly for August 1939. “If the United States were to go to war tomorrow they would be ready. Tucked away in the files of the War Department they have an already written law with which they could conscript ten million men. They have files of posters to help sell the war they constantly think of, and thoroughly detailed information on the radio-listening habits of people in all sections of the country. Their files contain sample news and feature stories to be pumped into newspapers ...

“They have sample registration cards for the draft in every state capital – ready to go to the printer on a moment’s notice and be ground out in million lots. They have maps of locations of the 6,400 boards required to draft men into the service, and lists of personnel to man them ... Plans are complete even to the number of square feet of floor space required by various agencies.”

While Roosevelt says he “believes” this country can keep oat of war, the draft cards are already on file in his executive offices!

War Preparations Behind Our Backs

“Perhaps it would be annoying to Henry Putty (the cynical Legionnaire authors’ name for the average man – Ed.) if he knew how completely his life has been planned for him. But of course he doesn’t know.”

No, Roosevelt’s war preparations are taking place behind the backs of the people. Only the “proper” people are permitted to know what the American workers are in for. Hugh Johnson, for instance.

“I have seen the latest mobilization plan,” writes General Johnson in his syndicated column in the New York World-Telegram for August 31. “Its details are naturally confidential, but it betrays no confidence to say that in both form and detail it is one of the best and most compact and complete documents of its kind that I have ever read ...

“If a new world war should come to us our industrial mobilization could become the most important influence on our daily living. It could be just about as important as the Constitution and laws of the United States. We can’t avoid an economic dictatorship if we get mixed up in modern war.

So Johnson has seen the latest version of the blue-print for dictatorship. Why doesn’t the government publish it for the benefit of the people with whose lives it deals? Isn’t it clear that Roosevelt is afraid that if the workers knew what they were in for when America goes to war, they wouldn’t fall so readily for the propaganda which is and will be shoveled into them?

War Propaganda Machine Is Ready

The fact that a propaganda machinery rivalling that of Goebbels’ in Germany is part of the war-mobilization set-up is verified by the August 1939 American Legion Monthly.

“The 300-odd men in the permanent and ever-enlarging selective service organization are not blind to the fact that there is a more widespread and articulate anti-war philosophy abroad in the land today than there was in 1917. They are aware that many people have read and heard a great deal of pacifist propaganda; that war has been depicted as a nefarious enterprise; that there is such a thing as the Oxford Oath and other solemn commitments against bearing arms. Moreover, there are thousands and thousands of others who ... don’t want to live in tents, wear uncomfortable uniforms or be shot at by total strangers.”

“It is needless,” they continue, “to catalog the multiple devices by which a reluctant citizen can be ‘educated’ to the point of making him acquiescent to the demands of military service ... Take away Goebbels and you wouldn’t have Hitler. Proscribe the radio and Father Coughlin would be just another parish priest ... A man will have to be a stern and rugged individualist, indeed, to resist the high-pressured appeals of M-Day.

“The posters already drawn indicate that the publicity division recognizes a higher level of national intelligence than that which existed in 1917. Today most people would refuse to believe in babies skewered on bayonets, in breasts amputated in the spirit of vengeance, or in women crucified on hastily devised crosses. The posters drawn for the next war suggest an appeal to reason of the type used in the best institutional advertising. Newspaper feature stories, however, have a familiar emotional ring. One will serve to illustrate. It begins: ‘I didn’t go last time and I’ve hung my head ever since ...”

Youth Will Provide Most Cannon Fodder

Of the utmost importance especially for American youth are the “yield” figures which are published in the Legion article – that is, the crop of cannon fodder that can be expected. In the following table the age span for the draft is divided into three categories: 18 to 21, 21 to 30, and 30 to 45. The second column gives the present population falling between these age limits, and the third column gives the number that could be called for immediate service.





To Be Called










Two out of every three boys between 18 and 21 to be called to the front! Reason? “They are healthy, have fewer responsibilities, and are less valuable to industry than older, better-trained men.”

“In the aggregate,” conclude the Legionnaires, “the machinery already set up is geared to produce 330,000 men every 30 days; or 4,000,000 every 12 months.”

Both Johnson and the American Legion Monthly carefully refrain from mentioning that the most important section of the war mobilization plan deals with the suppression of labor, control of trade unions and breaking of strikes. The totalitarian dictatorship that is planned is a dictatorship over the working class, directed by the representatives of America’s Sixty Families like those who have already been appointed to the War Resources Board.

It is being planned behind our backs. And with good reason. For if the American people knew what was in store for them, the Sixty Families and their tool, the government, would never succeed in carrying out those plans.

Last updated on 11 March 2016