Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Proletarian Unity League

The Draft: Part of the Problem–Not the Solution

First Published: As a flyer, n.d. [1981].
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Thousands of people massed before the Washington Monument... Anti-draft actions at scores of college campuses...Simulated draft-card burnings...a president warning against Soviet aggression...Flag-waving, jingoistic patriotism on the nightly news .. . Anti-U.S. demonstrators beaten up...

To many people, the first months of 1980 look like a replay of 1967. They see the beginnings of a revitalized anti-war movement, They hope that the same appeals will bring back a movement capable of stopping the U.S. war machine. Today’s rally even features some of the same speakers who used to address demonstrations of the late ’sixties. The fight against the draft at this time needs these people. But it won’t be helped by the same speeches targetting U.S. aggression that used to be given in the late ’sixties. 1980 is not 1967.

In 1967 Lyndon Johnson called on the country to crush the Indochinese peoples in the name of freedom–freedom for U.S. corporations to strangle the world. He called on the country to crush the Indochinese peoples in order to stop Soviet, Chinese, and Vietnamese communist subversion. But by that time, millions of people in this country had perceived the truth: that it was not Soviet, Chinese, or Vietnamese communist subversion that needed stopping in Indochina. It was U.S. subversion of national independence and self-determination throughout the world that had to be stopped.


Whether we like it or not, the situation is more complicated today. In the 1970’s the U.S. continued its subversion and domination of the world’s governments and peoples –from the Allende government in Chile to the people’s struggle in Iran. But a new imperialist power also began compiling an impressive list of subversion and armed aggression. Beginning with its 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union has steadily added to the list of countries under its control. To the Monroe Doctrine adopted by the U.S. transnational corporations, it has countered, with the Brezhnev Doctrine of fake socialism. Where a U.S. general proposed destroying a Vietnamese village in order to save it, today the Soviet army and its henchmen destroy Afghan and Eritrean villages to bring the benefits of K.G.B. socialism.

In the face of this new world, situation, those who want to stop U.S. aggression and put an end to war have two choices: We can ignore the reality of the Soviet Union, or we can recognize that the fight against U.S. imperialist oppression and exploitation now takes place under new conditions and in a new context. Today there will be speakers who make light of Soviet intentions. We’ve gotten so used to unraveling the lies of our government and the ruling class media that we automatically dismiss any new reports about Soviet intentions as a red herring. U.S. imperialism has cried wolf about the Soviet Union for so long, it’s hard to believe that this time, the wolf is really on the prowl.

In the 1980 elections, both Ted Kennedy and John Anderson take exception to Carter’s “over-reaction” to the Soviet Union in hopes of capturing a liberal vote. But “going down the line for Israel” with Kennedy or practicing “stay clear of Arab oil” conservationism with Anderson are hardly visionary programs for world peace.


An anti-war movement in this country that ignores the Soviet Union will face severe consequences. The reality of Soviet aggression is becoming more and more pressing all the time. Any movement which attempts to ignore it is not going to gain the confidence of the U.S. people. We who uphold national independence and self-determination and who have fought for such for many years against U.S. worldwide aggression cannot afford to leave the issue of Soviet aggression all to the U.S. ruling class. If we do so, we’ll grow steadily more isolated from the U.S. people.

The question before the peoples of the world, including the U.S., is not whether to oppose the Soviet Union but how. Carter’s response to the erosion of the U.S. position in the world today and to the Soviet threat has two sides. On the one hand, he has taken some moderate but supportable measures against the Soviets, and on the other, he reasserts the U.S. right to trample on the sovereignty of the world’s peoples.

We should support the boycott of the Moscow Olympics, just as we supported Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ demonstration at the ’68 Mexico City Olympics against white supremacy at home, just as we would have supported any and all demonstrations against the U.S. while this country was napalming the Vietnamese, Kampucheans, and Laotians. We should support the grain embargo and fight to end all technological exports that will aid Soviet war preparations. We should push for unconditional military aid to all those Afghan patriots, regardless of their particular ideology, who refuse to serve a government imposed on their people. We should support those U.S., government measures which allow for stronger self-defense by the countries and peoples of the world.

On the other hand, building up the rapid deployment force reasserts the U.S. “rights” to Persian Gulf oil. To protect “U.S. interests” Carter, has stepped up aid to an El Salvador military regime bent on massacring peasants and workers there. By continuing to shelter the Shah of Iran, our country shows its contempt for the Iranian people’s aspirations for justice. We have to oppose these actions and the foreign policy Carter is carving out for the U.S. now. There are conditions in which we would have to choose otherwise, but in the present context, we must oppose the draft.


We resist the draft today because we condemn U.S. policy today. We do not oppose the draft because we like the All Volunteer Army. An army of “economic conscription” would be a better name for what we have now. People with steady jobs or school or other options stay out. The volunteer-army draws from the working class, from those with dead-end jobs or none at all.

Across the U.S., about one Black youth in three cannot get a job at minimum wage. Blacks and Hispanics make up a disproportionate part of the armed forces. This is no coincidence. People with the least opportunities have always borne the greatest burden of the fighting and dying in U.S. wars. With an all volunteer army, it’s a sure thing this pattern will be repeated. If we’re for democracy and equal rights, some kind of universal conscription – something like a draft – is the only way to raise an army. And women belong in this job as much as any other.

Reinstating the U.S. military draft today will only aid continued intervention and aggression and bring world war closer. This is the opportunity and challenge before those rallying against the draft today. As we listen to the speeches, we need to judge whether or not they provide a real direction forward for an anti-war movement in this country, one which will not just fight U.S. aggression but will join with the people of the world against the Soviet threat.