Militarism: The New Slavery - John T. Flynn

The United States

What we have seen in Germany and Italy was duplicated in Austria, France, Russia and other European countries and in Japan. It of course produced a spurious prosperity by creating millions of jobs in the armed services and the war industries. But this evil institution had a more iniquitous effect. After all, it was a form of servitude—slavery—enforced labor. The government asserted the right to take the mind and body of every young man, put him in military encampments and subject him to a process of indoctrination designed to create an electorate subdued to these principles. To escape this form of servitude millions of men left Germany, France, Italy, Austria and other European countries to breathe in America the air of freedom. And what is more, it was the inevitable road to war. The system so crushed the nation under the burden of taxes and debt that in the end befuddled ministers of state sought escape from its consequences in war.

Now this evil thing rears its head in our America. It was promoted by General Eisenhower—a confirmed militarist—before he became President, and a powerful group in both parties insist that is necessary on the theory that we must defend ourselves against Communist Russia.

You can't have militarism without a reasonably prospective enemy—and Russia provides our militarist politicians with that essential, although no man in his senses believes that Russia, which has been handed and is in possession of three—fourths of Europe and Asia, has the slightest intention of risking the losses of these vast areas to engage in a military war against the United States But the President declares we must undertake the defense of something he calls the "Free World." He told Congress in 1948:

"Universal Military Training is a necessity. . . it should be enacted as soon as possible, in the interest of national security and to let the world know that America's championing of free peoples was here to stay."

But he believes militarism is a good thing in itself. In 1949 he declared that everybody ought to he trained and that, as reported by the New York Times, "in future war the women will have to be drafted as well as the men." As a job—making boondoggle, we must set up as the policeman of the world. The general idea of UMT is for a year of training followed by six or more years in the reserve subject to annual training periods. The President has gone so far as to say that six months of this should be served in Europe. This, of course, would be outside and in addition to the regular armed forces.

It is obvious this adventure would get nowhere but for certain results it produces that have no connection with the business of soldiering. We will not understand this until we recapture a clear picture of events in America since 1929 when the Great Depression reared its head. I make no apology for that disaster. It took its roots in the folly and avarice of over-adventurous businessmen encouraged by certain economists. The faith of a large part of the business world in those pre-depression fairyland economics was in full bloom until a few days before the crash of 1929. It brought President Franklin D. Roosevelt into the White House in 1933 at which time the whole flimsy structure crashed around our heads.

It was at this point, though few realized it, that the climate was created for Universal Military Training in this country. President Roosevelt launched a rapid and sensational succession of plans to create employment and coax prosperity back to the nation. He also inaugurated some social and economic reforms, some of which were useful, but almost all of which were mere to spend money created by government borrowing at the banks. However well—intentioned these efforts were, they did not bring prosperity back to the American people.

When Mr. Roosevelt took office there was an immense number of workers out of employment. But six years later, in 1939, when the war broke in Europe, there were still 11,369,000 people unemployed. When he was inaugurated there were 5,176,000 households on relief. Seven years later there were still 4,912,000 households on relief comprising 19,000,000 people. Mr. Roosevelt as a candidate denounced President Hoover for borrowing money for relief. When in office, he borrowed on an enormous scale. The depression persisted. And then in 1939 came the war in Europe.

I have noted these facts because I hope to make the reader—particularly young readers—realize how frustrated politicians in America of both parties finally turned to militarism as an escape from their dilemma. It is a fact that none of the numerous relief agencies ended the depression. It was the war which ended it. When the war broke in Europe we had 335,000 men in our armed forces. In 1941, as our entry into the war approached, we had 1,801,000. In 1945 we had 12,123,000 in the armed forces. The number of persons employed in the civilian service of the government on war duties and the number of men and women employed in the war industries, producing guns and planes and tanks and munitions of all sorts, including uniforms, foods, medicines and other necessities for the fighting men, was far in excess of another 12 million.

The immense sums paid to these people flooded into the markets and farms of the nation, creating other millions of employment. All this was paid for out of taxes and government loans in fantastic sums. In 1939, the year the war started in Europe, our government costs—including welfare, boondoggling, farm subsidies, make-work adventures of all sorts—were $8,700,000,000. Now compare these expenditures with the following:

1940 $8,998,000,000
1942 $32,396,000,000
1943 $78,178,000,000
1944 $93,743,000,000
1945 $100,404,000,000

These vast floods of billions flowed over the United States—to pay the armed forces, the great army of civilians in government war bureaus; to pay the cost of manufacturing guns, endless floods of planes, munitions, uniforms, food, medicines, naval vessels and all the necessary material of war. Factories worked night and day. And the workers flooded into all the shops of the land with their rising wages.

Now, on a somewhat smaller scale, these fantastic expenditures continue to the present time. There is no war. Even the Korean "police action" has been over for two years. But the war boom continues. Russia as an enemy has become almost a necessity to our government. It is the bugaboo used to frighten our people into fantastic spending of taxes and borrowed money. Ten years after the end of World War II our government in a single year, 1955, spent SIXTY—THREE BILLON DOLLARS. Of this over FIFTY—TWO BILLION was spent on militarism and related subjects:

Armed forces and munitions $40,644,000,000
International Affairs. $1,200,000,000
Veterans Services. $4,408,000,000
Interest on the war debt $6,475,000,000
Total $52,727,000,000

This means the expenditure of over 52 billion dollars on war and military adventures—ten years after the war ended in Europe and Asia. These vast billions, taken from us in taxes and in borrowings, make their way into the hands of government workers, workers in the war industries, to banks and private persons as interest on the war bonds, in payments for food, clothing, medicines and weapons for our "noble allies", and the support of 3,400,000 still in the armed services. Of course these funds flow on to all the departments of private industry where they are finally spent by those who receive them from the government.

But it must be obvious this cannot be kept up forever. At some point the war racket will just wear out. Business prospers while this experiment lasts. Great numbers accept it as something desirable without understanding the dangerous means by which this prosperity is generated. And while many others do not like it, they live in fear of the time when it will come to an end. But this must be obvious to any mind acquainted with the structure and dynamics of our system of private enterprise—namely that it will come to an end, as it has in every country that has used this evil thing called militarism to generate prosperity. The creation of millions of jobs in the armed forces and the munitions plants can be defended only when the nation is confronted with the danger of war. Now, every man who studies this subject knows that there is no way we can get into war now without actually launching one ourselves. But this could never be defended before the American people. Hence some other excuse must be found to continue the policy.

The champions of this system have now proposed that the United States set herself up as the policeman of the world. This gaudy boondoggle is composed of two parts. One is the principle of One World—a world in which all the nations will sink their sovereignty into one great overall sovereignty that will undertake to govern the world. We will keep in existence an army of a million or two men (and maybe women too), ready to send troops to join the troops of our noble allies to suppress any attempt to break the peace. In addition to that we will have Universal Military Training, which will keep, in addition to the draft army, a million or more young men in barracks where they will study the arts of war, carry out the discipline, indoctrination and life of the soldier and then pass into a reserve which can be called each year for maneuvers and be ready to go to any part of the world where hostilities are threatened.

Of course our militarists insist that the life of the barracks and the submission to the slavery of conscription in time of peace is "good for our young men." But it is not good for free young Americans. It is good for the politicians who wish to continue to promise abundance for all and "security from the cradle to the grave." It is good for the internationalists who wish to indoctrinate our young men and women into the principles of "One Worldism." It is good for the "statesmen" who imagine they can keep alive this fraudulent prosperity by crushing taxes and endless borrowing.

The day of borrowing is approaching its end. Senator Harry F. Byrd has recently called attention to the fact that the national debt is now equal to the total value of all the land, all the farms, all the buildings all the mines, all the machinery, all the livestock— everything of tangible value—in the United States. In short, the nation is now mortgaged to the top of its befuddled skull.

When Germany and France and Italy launched their UMTs they were free of debt. It did not take many years to pile the debts so high that the economic system began to crack and the distraught "statesmen" sought an escape in war, which, of course, merely doubled the burden and darkened the inevitable tragedy. This is the fate certain powerful groups in the United States now seek to impose on free America—the slavery of militarism.