Another Thought on Conscription

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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written 17 August 1940

First Published: Fourth International, Vol.1 No.5, October 1940, p.127.
This letter is a part of a series of letters published in this issue of Fourth International under the heading of Trotsky’s Last Letters.
Collection(s): Fourth International
Keywords : Conscription, Letter, WW2

August 17, 1940

Dear Chris:

Thank you very much for the Tanaka material. It has arrived in plenty of time, because for the past two and a half months I have been busy almost exclusively with the investigation of the assault.

I very much enjoyed your appreciation of the anti-pacifist position accepted by the party. There are two great advantages to this position: first, it is revolutionary in its essence and based upon the whole character of our epoch, when all questions will be decided not only by arms of critics, but by critiques of arms; second, it is completely free of sectarianism. We do not oppose to events and to the feelings of the masses an abstract affirmation of our sanctity.

The poor Labor Action of August 12th writes: “In his fight against conscription we are with Lewis 100%.” We are not with Lewis for even a single percent, because Lewis tries to defend the Capitalist Fatherland with completely outdated means. The great majority of the workers understand or feel that these means (professional voluntary armament) are outdated from a military point of view and extremely dangerous from a class point of view. That is why the workers are for conscription. It is a very confused and contradictory form of adhering to the “arming of the proletariat.” We do not flatly reject this great historical change, as do the sectarians of all kinds. We say “Conscription? Yes. But made by ourselves.” It is an excellent point of departure.

With best greetings, I am,