From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 27, 6 July 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The House of Representatives has voted the largest military appropriation in our country’s history. The sum is forty-three billion dollars! This one bill represents a billion dollars more than was spent in the entire period of the last war. It means that a total of 220 billion dollars has been spent since June 1940. Roosevelt is playing for the highest stakes of any power engaged in the World War and he who plays that way must have the most to back him up!
Militarily, American imperialism makes no bones about what it is aiming at: It wants the world’s largest and best equipped army; it wants a two-ocean navy that will completely outweigh and absorb the remnants of the British navy (after wiping out its only other rival, the Japanese fleet); it wants the greatest air force in the world, a fleet of bombers and flying fortresses capable of destroying any opponent.
American imperialism banks primarily on its great industrial machine, its power to produce all the weapons and materials we have described. With its terrific weight and its ability to deal out more death and destruction than any of its opponents, American imperialism hopes to overwhelm and subject Europe, Asia and South America to its rule.
In line with this policy, Congress has just adopted a bill containing a four-point draft policy, as well as provisions for dependents of men. The inadequacy of the provisions has been dealt with in Labor Action. Here we are interested in the policy by which the order of drafting is determined.
In the militarized nations of Europe, the dictators have a simple method of drafting their cannon fodder. Upon reaching a certain age, men are automatically forced to undergo military training. After completing their service, they are placed in reserve and are called up according to their year group. (The class of 1912, for example, is made up of all trained youth born in that year, etc.) On the whole, all youth in Europe above the age of 18 are now in the armies of their respective imperialist masters.
Roosevelt – although urged to do so by innumerable military men – did not utilize exactly, this method when he set out to militarize America’s youth. In classic Rooseveltian fashion, however, he is getting the same results – inch by inch and step by step! That is, we are adopting in piecemeal fashion the system of militarization we formerly condemned by calling it “Prusssianism.”
The greatest step yet taken in this direction is undoubtedly the registration and classification of the 18 and 19 year old youth, this week. In addition to completing the registration of all American man power from 18 to 60, this particular registration is beyond doubt preparation for the wholesale drafting of these 2,500,000 18-19 year old boys. Says the United States News: “It seems very probable that draft age will be lowered to-18 before 1943 ... Elections will be over. War will have changed Congress’ attitude. There’ll be less resistance to tapping ranks of 2,500,000 18 and 19-year-olds.” Undoubtedly, this modification of the draft act will be followed by some bill fixing automatic induction and training requirements for those who reach the age of 18 in the future. And there we have our “Prussianism,” by date of birth!
In fact, the newly registered group will be listed in the order of their birth rather than by draft lottery, as in ALL previous registrations!
Furthermore, the new automatic and rigid categories setting the order of drafting are filled with the same “Prussianism” as are the edicts of Hitler and Mussolini. The all-powerful military state becomes supreme, commandeering men automatically to satisfy the needs of the bottomless war machine.
First come those who are single, without dependents.
Second come those who have dependents that are neither wives nor children.
Third come men married prior to Pearl Harbor.
Fourth come men with wives and children dependent upon them.
This order applies to those already registered; behind them stand the great untapped sources of the 18 and 19 year olds – that is, those who will openly be organized into class and age groups, in the European fashion.
As the imperialist horizon of America broadens, so does the mechanical nature of the war machine harden. A system is worked out; everyone’s place is fixed in advance – practically before he is born! Accompanying this steeling of the war machine we find an increase in the estimates of army size: approximately 4,000,000 today; 6,000,000 in 1943; 10,000,000 in two years; 12,000,000 in three years. Such is the price of imperialism!
Last updated: 21.12.2013