The draft

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Mon Jan 6 17:11:23 MST 2003


Some thoughts in response to David Schanoes:

>>Certainly privilege and protection will exist for the sons and daughters of
the  rich if and when universal conscription is in place.  However, it will
not be able to MASK that privilege and protection under the guise of "volunteerism."<<


But it can be masked in other ways. I had a student deferment until I was 21.
Then I got a medical deferment for a condition that might not have been taken
seriously if I had been a steelworkers' son from Pittsburgh (California - where
I once went to school). But I was a white student from Walnut Creek and I got
out of the draft. At the time I just felt relieved. Later I experienced the
guilt that many like me felt about the unknown working class guy who was sent
to Vietnam in my place.

>>Historically, universal military service injected  class conflict into the
military ranks as a struggle between the officers' corps and the enlisted personnel.<<


Sometimes. On the other hand, in Australia during World War I, opposition to
conscription was the main form of anti-war struggle, and it was MASS STRUGGLE.
Government attempts to introduce conscription by referendum were defeated twice
in bitter campaigns. The troops at the front voted NO to conscripting their
fellow workers. This was probably the most important single way class struggle
was introduced into the Australian armed forces. It was also loosely associated
with a massive general strike in New South Wales in 1917 and a second wave of
mass working class struggle in 1919. In the Vietnam era this tradition was very
much alive and had a big impact on the form the anti-war movement took, to the
point where shop stewards' meetings endorsed draft resistance, and a draft resister
became an endorsed Labor candidate in the 1972 election.

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