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Jack Wilson

From Our West Coast Correspondent

Draftees Oppose FDR War Program

(June 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 23, 9 June 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Ninety-nine per cent of the draftees are against the United States going to war against the Axis powers immediately.

Seventy-six per cent of the draftees are against fighting overseas at any time!

These statistics, along with many others, were released from Camp-Callan, near San Diego, by the Army, which stated that they were gathered by a former associate of Dr. George Gallup of Gallup poll notoriety, and were said to represent what the entire army would think like, on the basis of sampling.

Remembering that only certain kinds of questions were asked, and that the soldiers are somewhat cautious of expressing their views, even in private, the survey is a remarkable admission of the failure of the Roosevelt regime to fool the people about its “fighting a war for democracy,” etc., bunk.

Note the trick nature of the questions asked, too:

“As a whole, do you feel that, your life in the army is better, worse or about the same as you had pictured it before you were drafted?”

In reply, the men said:







About the same



It you reread the question it is not what you think at first. It does not ask honestly: do you think your army life is better or worse than what you had? The question adds a phrase about “as you pictured it.’’

Now most draftees had a very bad picture before they entered the army. They expected the worst, by and large. Only 28 per cent of them found it was not as bad as they imagined it, 23 per cent found it was worse than they thought and 49 per cent found just what they expected.

Hardly a satisfied army!

On the matter of food, the draftees rated it, according to this survey:










About their clothes they said:




Don’t fit






How about army discipline?

Too lenient



Too strict






About as it should be



What sacrifices did the soldiers consider the greatest when they entered army life?

Separation from friends and family


Parting with freedom of civilian life


Loss of income, business or job


To view these statistics objectively one can come to only one important conclusion: there is little real enthusiasm for the military life imposed on a big section of the population.

Complaints Are Deep and Widespread

Naturally, in any army, no matter how democratically called into being, say a people’s army, there would be some beefing. But the dissatisfaction existing in the present conscript army is far deeper and more decisive than just the ordinary complaints. First the total complaints and the proportion are very high.

But the clue to the lethargy and disgust in the army comes from analyzing the results of the questions of a political nature: Why and what? What political aims should it have and uphold? Seventy-five per cent of the draftees are opposed to convoys! Representative of their views is the following statement:

“Naval aid to Britain is going one step too far. Too much meddling in Europe’s affairs got us into the last war and where did it get us?”

Then there were four questions asked on foreign policy:

Which of the following four statements do you most agree with:

1. The United States should go to war with the Axis immediately.




2. The United States should continue its policy of all out economic aid to Britain and expand America’s military and naval forces to fight the Axis powers overseas if the Axis powers are not defeated by Britain.”




3. The United States should guard the entire western hemisphere but should send no military aid outside this area.




4. The United States should be strictly neutral and prepare to defend only our own territory and possessions.




Against Roosevelt’s Policy

Now an ultra-leftist would interpret these answers to indicate that the conscripts agree “in principle” to the Roosevelt “defense” program.

But we do not see the question abstractly, or formally. What we see is living and moving forces, going in opposite directions. And this is decisive to us.

For, obviously, the Roosevelt regime, as indicated in FDR’s latest speech, is heading for formal declaration of war, overseas campaigns, world domination, etc.

The conscripts, in a vast majority, are out of sympathy with this foreign policy. They instinctively are heading in the opposite direction. They want to slay home, where they feel “defense of democracy” begins.

In a word, it seems obvious to us that Roosevelt is going to drag unwilling armed forces (who, by the way, reflect the majority of the people’s views in this) into a conflict with whose aims they have no sympathy.

This factor, we believe, is the major cause of the present dissatisfaction in the United States Army.

If you combine this with the bitterness of the labor movement over the way it is being kicked around while employers get bloated on war profits, you see the signs of another France looming ahead.

For, despite all the ballyhoo about “national unity,” the facts speak otherwise. Class interests and antagonisms are getting sharper, not lesser, if you look under the superficial picture presented by the newspapers, magazines and radio.

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