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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11., No. 9. 28th July 1948


I thought, when the last war was fought and lost (that is, if it was fought for democracy, as we were told it was) that people would be sickened by this modern cult of total war and that there would be a universal demand for international peace, reconstruction and rational thinking. I was wrong. The old men, the psychopaths, the property owners, the fanatic nationalists, and those who let the comic strips fight for them, are again demanding adequate defence, national pride and the triumph of democracy. People the world over are allowing their governments to succumb to the craze—feverish war research, propaganda of fear and hate, and most important of all, conscription of manpower for military purposes. And New Zealand is now blindly following the rest.

Subsequent to the visit of Field-Marshal Montgomery, who stated that the last war was fought for freedom and democracy, the NZ Government is preparing to follow his advice and introduce national military service for youth. Conscription seems to be following the worthy Marshal around the British Commonwealth.

"And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go,
Shouting out the battlecry of freedom."

Let us examine some of the aspects of conscription and its implications today.

(1) Conscription has never protected against the possibility of war nor guaranteed victory when war did come. On the contrary conscription is a factor in precipitating war. Who is the enemy against whom we are arming? It is blatantly obvious that Russia has now become the terrible bogy, but will conscription, armament and abuse avoid enmity with Russia? Build a better understanding with her, or even win the war if it does come?

A little detached thinking and reaching beyond the headlines shows that the present mess cannot be laid just at the Russian door, and that is what we are doing. The Einstein group has pointed out that the military group is rapidly becoming the "final and absolute directors of America's destiny." We know that the logic of her economic system is leading her and the West to economic slump. There are two remedies—One is a fundamental and positive change in her system, the other, war. We know that the power group in America wants war rather than slump or economic change. And American aggression and intolerance are backed up by an economic and political stranglehold on Europe.

It is more probable that the next war is to be fought for the security of dollar capitalism rather than for a not so real democracy against a not so real Russian totalitarianism.