Column, April 12, 1934, Page 3
Students and War
Seventeen years ago our country entered into a war which resulted in 10,000,000 corpses. Colleges and universities all over the country were turned into recruiting camps. The Great Hall at City College became a barracks for the "soldier boys." Harvard was known as the best place to obtain military training. A handful of bankers and manufacturers made huge fortunes, a handful of pacifist professors lost their jobs, and 10,000,000 corpses were substituted for 10,000,000 men.
The imperialist nations of the world are feverishly arming for another world war. Disarmament conferences are being used merely to scrap outmoded armaments and substitute the latest forms of army and navy equipment. Chemical warfare has taken tremendous strides since the last war and poison gas formulae are bring guarded more carefully than military secrets. Appropriations for education, for unemployment relief, are being drastically reduced but uglier and better battleships continue to be built with Federal funds.
Students all over the world are beginning to realize that the next war will not be their war. They are beginning to see that they have nothing to sell and nothing to gain in the world markets over which the great imperialist powers will come to blows. They are refusing to fight. The Oxford oath, a refusal to bear arms for "King or Country" has found tremendous support both here and abroad. A nationwide anti-war strike will take place in colleges throughout the country tomorrow, from 11 to 12. Students arc refusing to fight and they are beginning to believe that they can prevent war.
War and the Working Class
The only group that can actually stop a war is the organized working class. The working class controls the factories in which machine guns and munitions are manufactured; the working class runs the railroads and steamers by which war supplies are transported to the scene of battle; and the working class comprises the greatest portion of the cannon fodder on either side of a trench. This was true in the last war. The last war was not fought in the interests of the working class. The unemployed veterans who are denied cash payment of their bonus and who are being cut off the CWA lists are eloquent proof of the fact that the worker has nothing to gain from war. The organized working class, therefore, can stop a war and has every reason to do so.
Students who are sincerely opposed to war may ally themselves with those who can successfully wage a war against it. If the majority of the army consists of working men rather than students and professionals, the latter play no small part in active warfare. Petty officers, the ones who see most of the front line action, are mostly college men. Army chemists, engineers, and laboratory technicians were recruited from the colleges in 1917 and 1919. And thousands of undergraduates went into the trenches never to return. Since this is the role of students in wartime it would be suicidal not to take definite steps to prevent the repetition of such a situation.
The anti-war strike tomorrow is just one of such steps. It is a vehement reiteration of all anti-war sentiment in the College. It is a dramatic gesture against all the jingoistic poppycock that has sent students into wars in the past. It is a refusal to kill and be killed. It is a refusal to add co the 10,000.000 corpses of 1918-1919. It is a strike against war.