The draft

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Mon Jan 6 19:25:37 MST 2003


David:

>>Was this movement [against conscription in Australia] consciously organized
as a tactic against WWI?

To a considerable degree yes. There were other interests involved, including
employers worried about losing their labour force. But the key factors included
a) Irish-Australian hostility to British imperialism; b) war weariness  c)left
wing agitation, including the IWW which was strong here, but also the left of
the Labor Party.

>>I don't think getting a student deferment masks the nature of privilege.<<


It does to the extent that people think of tertiary education as a meritocracy.
But anyway my medical deferment certainly did. To the point where I myself didn't
immediately recognise  that I had avoided the draft because I was white and
middle class. And I was a lefty by then.

>>which also leads one to propose univeral conscription with no deferments.<<


I couldn't disagree more strongly. I am against empowering the capitalist state
to force workers to fight imperialist wars. In Australia during World War II
or Vietnam such a stance would have been quite reactionary, and draft resistance
was clearly progressive. Your approach would have put you on the side of the
police and the warmongers.

Even the "no deferments" bit would have been wrong. Because (turning now to
the American case, which is more relevant here) in practice most of the broad
base of the anti-war movement were students, and relatives of students, who
desperately wanted those deferments. To call for "no deferments" would have
immediately isolated us from them. Much better to demand deferments for everyone
or some such, which again brings us back to the need to oppose conscription
rather than endorse it.


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