OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, April 25, 1917, LAST EDITION, Image 12

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1917-04-25/ed-2/seq-12/

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VOLUNTEER SERVICE PLAN IS ANARCHY,
SAYS LABOR EXPERT
BY LOUIS F. POST,
Assistant U. S. Sec'y of Labor.
I believe the United States should
IMMEDIATELY adopt compulsory
military service and discard ALL idea
attempting to raise an army of volun
teers. My conviction in favor of compul
sory service is based on uncompro
mising opposition to militarism in all
its forms. Nothing that can be con
ceived will do so much to fasten mili
tarism on the American people as a
nation-wide campaign for volunteers.
Why will a campaign for volun
teers create a militaristic spirit? Let
me explain.
To raise an army of volunteers you,
much necessarily GLORIFY war. You
can't get men to volunteer if you tell
them the truth about war and its hor
rors. In a recruiting campaign you must
make war look like a picnic or a gay
adventure. You wave flags, beat
drums; the bands play merry, inspir
ing tunes; the pretty girls add a
touch of romance; and the young
men who volunteer go forth to war,
not in a sense of solemn duty to their
country, bat in the spirit of a lark or
a frolic.
Those who go to the front wake up
soon enough to the stern reality and
soniberness of the task upon which
they are engaged, but the nation
never does. The papers, the orators,
the poets and the preachers go on
telling the people about the glories
of war until the end of the war and
for long years after.
Volunteering takes no heed either
of the needs of the nation or the spe
cial responsibility of the various in
dividuals. Upon all it imposes its
dreadful coercion and drives them
into the recruiting office or leaves
them broken-spirited, convicted as
cowards and slackers.
To the nation's peril, it takes the
trained mechanic from the munitions
factory, the farmer from his plow,
and forces the married man to leave
his family regardless of whether the
best interests pf the nation require
him in the treuches or at home. With
universal compulsory service, the
needs of the nation and the responsi
bility of the individual can be rightly
weighed and adjusted.
Conscription of wealth for war
purposes is merely the logical se
quence of compulsory military serv
ice for men. And war is an unrelent
ing logician. We may not have con
scription of wealth as the immediate
sequence of compulsory service, but
it will come as soon as the people see
that it is a necessary step toward
winning the victory. And when they
are made to feel the individual's obli
gation to serve the state it will not
take long for them to understand and
insist upon the"" obligation of the dol
lar to service.
Compulsory service is nothing
more than a recognition of the mu
tual obligation that exists between
the citizen and the state. For years
we who pcetend to be forward look
ing have insisted that when the indi
vidual's life or security was threat
ened it was the duty of the state to
protect him by the creation of police,
factory inspectors and all the other
machinery of social security. Now
that the security of the nation is
threatened, the obligation of the citi
zen to serveisecomes imperative and
inescapable.
Compulsory military service on a
universal basis is democratic; volun
teering is plain, unadulterated anar
chy. As well talk about the wisdom
of a volunteer police force, a volun
teer tax collection system, or a vol
untary criminal code as to talk about
the wisdom of experimenting with
the discredited, archaic and futile
volunteer army system.

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