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Paul Schapiro

The Growing Militarization of America

(3 May 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 18, 3 May 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Militarization of America
A Report Issued by Albert Einstein, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Reuben Gustavson, William J. Miller, S.J., Arthur Morgan, Ray Lyman Wilbur and Fifteen Others
National Council Against Conscription, 1013 18th St., Washington 6, D.C. 1948, 32pp., 10¢

This report was presented recently by a group of distinguished educators, scientists, ministers and, assorted liberals, who were alarmed by the increasing control of the military over American life. Amply documented, it gives an excellent picture of how the Brass Hats are militarizing the government, science, education and industry.

In all sections of the government, the report shows, military men have stepped into important positions, and scores of junior brass hats have got lesser posts. Especially is the State Department dominated by the military. This was acknowledged by the Army and Navy Bulletin of January 18, 1947, which stated: “Today the Army has virtual control of foreign affairs, commencing on the home front with General Marshall as Secretary and his Assistant Secretary of State (for occupied areas) Maj. Gen. John H. Hilldring, who directs the military commanders controlling our foreign policy in occupied Europe and Asia.” Since then, General Hilldring has resigned – to be replaced by General Charles Saltzman, Vice-President and Secretary of the New York Stock Exchange.

Science too, as a result of the huge amount of money the Army and Navy are spending on financing research in universities, is to day almost completely under the thumb of the military. The bulk of the scientists are now under contract to work on projects under military sponsorship, and the general direction of most scientific research is toward military purposes.

Army and Navy money pays not only for professors and equipment but for the training of thousands of students, who are obligated to accept military commissions. The amount of money the Army and Navy pour into the universities of course insures that the universities will think twice about refusing any of their requests. The educational institutions work closely with the military in propagandizing students to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps units on the campuses and permit ROTC military pageantry to dominate the proceedings at graduation exercises. Present plans of the Army call for the expansion of the already swollen college ROTC enrollment to five times its present size. And “if compulsory military training were to be passed,” this section of the report concludes, “under the proposed plan almost every college would be forced to accept ROTC, thus making complete the Army’s penetration of the college campus.”

The militarization of science and education which the brass hats have effected and which they plan to extend is only the prelude to their plan to militarize the lives of the workers in the. factories with the aid and cooperation of the bosses.

“The New York Times of May 29, 1947, in reporting speeches by General Brehon Somervell and General Leslie Groves at a dinner of the National Industrial Conference Board, stated that Somervell with Groves’ full backing had said, ‘Industry must be kept from year to year in the same state of semi-mobilization as our armed forces.’ He urged business and industrial leaders to nominate their best men to advisory committees to work with the Army and Navy Munitions Board and other military councils?’ Army instructors are now touring the country, giving reserve officers and industrial leaders, courses in vital aspects of industrial mobilization.”

Workers Conscription

The first part of the plan is already being put into effect with the organization of company-sponsored military units among workers in railroads, trucking companies, hospitals, chemical concerns and aircraft and automotive industries, which, when activated, will receive standard military training under the command of a regular reserve officer, if possible from the business itself. “In case of war the Army could call on those organizations for men who could be put into the field as functioning units without long training.” The next part of the plan would not “begin with war but with the approach of an emergency.” It would, however, chain labor down even more than was done in the last war. Workers would be conscripted for military service or for factory labor, without being allowed to choose the industry or geographical area they would work in. All strikes would be prohibited. Wages would be controlled and a drastic rationing system, reducing the “requirements of the domestic civilian economy to a minimum,” would be instituted.

The report concludes by stating that the same pattern of militarism which characterized Nazi Germany and pre-war Japan now exists in large measure in the United States. Here lies the report’s basic weakness. During the wair we were told that we had to crush German and Japanese militarism. Once we had done this, we would have perpetual peace. As for our own generals, they were said to be servants of the people, who just wanted to get the war over with and were not concerned about their own power. Now, a few short years after the war, many of the same liberals who were its best propagandists are frightened by these same generals, who are muscling in everywhere. How did this come to be ? The report does not give a word of explanation.

There Is No Peace

The truth is that capitalism has entered a period of permanent militarization. “There is no peace,” proclaimed, the Militant on V-J Day in the midst of the hosannahs for peace. Events have demonstrated the correctness of this assertion. United States imperialism, the citadel of world capitalism surrounded by working-class and colonial unrest, must arm to the teeth to suppress revolution and to crack open the Soviet Union for the world market in order to maintain itself. Arming for war, it must enlarge the power of those who run the war machine.

It is the lack of understanding of this process by the authors of the report which causes them to omit an important item in their description of the militarization of America: the ties between the Brass Hats and Big Business. The members of the military caste have, of course, always been faithful servitors of capitalism, but the war caused them to work more closely with the representatives of big business than ever before. Today the generals are allied with the executives of heavy industry in carrying through their huge armaments program. The key man in this alliance is Secretary of Defense Forrestal, former president of the great Wall Street banking firm Dillon-Read. The alliance was formed during the war under the aegis of Forrestal and his opposite number in the War Department, Under-Secretary of War Patterson, another Wall Street man. In the very midst of the war, Charles E. Wilson, President of General Electric and Vice-Chairman of Roosevelt’s War Production Board, looking ahead, advocated a permanent war economy in the post-war period for the United States domination of the world, with the brass hats and the silk hats working together.

At a meeting of the Army Ordnance Association on January 19, 1944, he said:

“The experience of two years has shown conclusively that industry, cooperating with the Army and Navy, makes for a very effective combination, a combination that should be extended into the postwar period to the end that we might maintain at all times leadership in the technical and operations superiority of the implements of war ... The burden is on all of us to integrate our respective activities – political, military, and industrial, because we are in world politics to stay, whether we like it or not.”

World Domination

“We are in world politics to stay, whether we like it or not” – this is Wilson’s way of saving that American. finance capital must seek to dominate the world. To do so, it must, as he makes clear, “integrate” its “political, military and industrial” forces.

The struggle against the militarization of America, therefore, is a struggle against Wall Street, and it can be brought to a victorious conclusion only by a revolutionary working class.

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