No to the draft in France and Europe!


No to the draft in France and Europe!

23 November 2018

Amid mass protests against its austerity policies, the bitterly unpopular government of French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday a plan to introduce military conscription. The first draftees are to serve starting in seven months, in a program that, no later than 2026, will draft all 800,000 French citizens then aged 16 into the military.

The press all but admitted that this initiative aims to suppress working class opposition via an appeal to nationalism and a military build-up. “At a time when France is torn apart by divisions that threaten its unity,” Le Parisien wrote, “the idea of bringing back national service seems a timely initiative.” Two days later, on Wednesday night, Macron announced that military forces would deploy to France’s Réunion island to suppress protests.

Across the European Union (EU), ruling elites are preparing to bring back conscription. After the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, France ended conscription in 1997, followed by Spain (2001), Italy (2005), Poland (2008) and Germany (2010). This proved only a brief interlude, however. After Sweden last year and France this year announced a return to military service, other major EU powers including Germany are all debating whether to do likewise.

After two horrendous world wars, deep, historically-rooted opposition exists in the European working class to a return to conscription. A 2015 Gallup poll found that only 29 percent of French people would agree to fight for their country; in the 2017 “Generation What” survey of EU youth, 60 percent refused to do so.

With an approval rating of only 20 percent, the Macron government is careful not to admit that it is resurrecting the draft….

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