Thread: Desertion in a communist army

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  1. #1
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    Default Desertion in a communist army

    Obviously if some guy deserts the modern U.S. army everybody on this site would support him (i hope), but what about Desertion in a communist army during or after a revolution, do you think it should be punished by execution or imprisonment, or do you think its a natural human reaction to be afraid during war?
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    Of course it is a natural reaction, but psychologically it has been noted that it is more difficult to desert than to fight. On top of that soldiers usually don't fight for ideas. They fight for the people next to them. If all of your comrades are going forward, and you run away, how would you feel? And how would your comrades feel about having you with them after that? I don't think it would be a big problem.

    In some historical cases desertion was unpunished. In the American Revolution, Washington didn't punish deserters because they would often desert to assist their families during harvesting season. If he had punished them he wouldn't have had an army.
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    Execution of an unarmed person seems like a waste of human life, especially when it is simply used as punishment for weakness of constitution in the face of mortal danger.

    I feel it depends on the situation (severity of conditions, nature of the military and conflict, etc.), but such harsh punishments seem unnecessary in my opinion.
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    Whip them all into shape through brutal discipline and drumhead trials, take the families of the officers hostage and threaten gloves off if they ever dare to get out of line.

    At least, that's what worked for Trotsky.
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    I think it would depend on the context. In a desperate military situation obviously discipline needs to be maintained, but outside of that situation I don't see why it would require that harsh of a punishment.
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    Communism wouldn't have standing armies. The Red Army Khad so charmingly refers to was not a socialist conception, Trotsky prefered workers militia's. However, the Red Army was a necessity under civil war conditions and a boken proletariat (the early Red Army consisted mainly of peasants).

    Communists stand for the universal education in the use of arms and workers militia's. Such a system is already feasible under capitalism (see the Swiss example) and is therefore a concrete democratic demand that empowers the working class and weakens the capitalist state.

    To come back to the OP's question: Desertion is caused by alienation, why would you die for your country if your country cares so little for you? That is exactly the type of propaganda we need to be making regarding the army: Don't die for your capitalist overlords, your main enemy is at home! Under a workers' militia, the militia duty is spread out to everyone and located in your neighbourhoods, where you live, work and have friends. You wouldn't desert from protecting that, would you?
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  9. #7
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    Shoot them dead in front of everybody to prove a point!

    Seriously though I would think light punishment would be alright or even just forgetting about it and letting the guy or woman go without punishment. There is no need to make a big deal out of one person leaving for personal reasons.
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    Communism wouldn't have standing armies. The Red Army Khad so charmingly refers to was not a socialist conception, Trotsky prefered workers militia's. However, the Red Army was a necessity under civil war conditions and a boken proletariat (the early Red Army consisted mainly of peasants).

    Communists stand for the universal education in the use of arms and workers militia's. Such a system is already feasible under capitalism (see the Swiss example) and is therefore a concrete democratic demand that empowers the working class and weakens the capitalist state.

    To come back to the OP's question: Desertion is caused by alienation, why would you die for your country if your country cares so little for you? That is exactly the type of propaganda we need to be making regarding the army: Don't die for your capitalist overlords, your main enemy is at home! Under a workers' militia, the militia duty is spread out to everyone and located in your neighbourhoods, where you live, work and have friends. You wouldn't desert from protecting that, would you?
    ^ Mostly this. Any communist army would be made up of literally hundreds/thousands/millions (depending on the size of a nation's population) of worker-dominated militias. These militias would serve to protect the benefits of the revolution, without retaining the bourgeois military model. When you're fighting to defend the revolutionary gains of your comrades, you'll probably do so to the best of your abilities (knowing what the alternatives are). That isn't to say desertion will become nonexistent; rather it will most likely decrease in the number of those choosing to. There's a big difference between defending you and your fellow workers' interests and those of big business, parties, and governments hostile to the cause of the proletariat (which is basically all of them).
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    Let's look at it this way: being part of a communist army is voluntary. Why shouldn't it be voluntary at all times? If this causes any administrative difficulty restrictions could be placed on the deserters' rejoining of the army.
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    Let's look at it this way: being part of a communist army is voluntary. Why shouldn't it be voluntary at all times? If this causes any administrative difficulty restrictions could be placed on the deserters' rejoining of the army.
    No, it shouldn't be voluntary. We should insist on its universal appliance so everyone knows how to deal with weapons. What good is it if no one knows how to defend yourself and your fellow workers against the state? Likewise, we should insist on union organisation inside the army, like is the case in the Netherlands, and integrate these elements fully into the workers movement. Everything that tears these forces away from the state and makes the working class stronger as a class.
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    No, it shouldn't be voluntary. We should insist on its universal appliance so everyone knows how to deal with weapons. What good is it if no one knows how to defend yourself and your fellow workers against the state? Likewise, we should insist on union organisation inside the army, like is the case in the Netherlands, and integrate these elements fully into the workers movement. Everything that tears these forces away from the state and makes the working class stronger as a class.
    I hope you don't insist on me taking a year-long break from my life to go on military drills.
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    Let's look at it this way: being part of a communist army is voluntary. Why shouldn't it be voluntary at all times? If this causes any administrative difficulty restrictions could be placed on the deserters' rejoining of the army.
    Well, what if there was a position that was ordered to be taken in the middle of a decisive battle, and there were 10 people in the unit assigned. And 7 of them said, "okay, no problem," and the other 3 said, "hold on, that position isn't worth it." And assuming you have some form of leadership, an officer or such says "too bad, it's an order." So the minority say, "we're voluntarily leaving the army then."

    Being part of the army is voluntary, but for it to be cohesive you need some kind of discipline and leadership in the ranks. I'd be more in favor of elected officers and NCO's, and a soldier's/sailor's union.
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    Well, what if there was a position that was ordered to be taken in the middle of a decisive battle, and there were 10 people in the unit assigned. And 7 of them said, "okay, no problem," and the other 3 said, "hold on, that position isn't worth it." And assuming you have some form of leadership, an officer or such says "too bad, it's an order." So the minority say, "we're voluntarily leaving the army then."

    Being part of the army is voluntary, but for it to be cohesive you need some kind of discipline and leadership in the ranks. I'd be more in favor of elected officers and NCO's, and a soldier's/sailor's union.
    To be more precise, wartime should be an exception. At any rate, I guess you've got a point there... Still, I'm not sure how much of an issue this would be. If someone applies for the army to start with, I doubt a significant number of people would reconsider.
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    The only leftist force that had a real problem with desertion was the Armed Forces of the Peoples Republic Of Kampuchea in the 1980s ..it was so poor as to have the Vietnamese Army stay longer to combat the Khmer Rouge. as far as I know ..generally it wasn't an enormous problem for other left wing movements.
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    Depends on situation. During peacetime, going AWOL from your cadre should be punished without doubt. You just can't leave your comrades hanging. During wartime, there shouldn't be any half-measures or second-guessing. Military of working class should have better standards than military of bourgeoise.
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    Why do officers carry pistols ?

    To shoot deserters. Of course, this tends not to occur much anymore and for good reason, but that was the historical reason.
    We've generally figured out better ways of dealing with it nowadays.


    During and immediately after a revolution, there would of course be a standing army.
    Building the perfect society is worthless if you can't defend it against reaction, and reaction will come, swift and terrible.

    Militia's are fine for keeping the peace to the extent its needed, hopefully they'd end up doing more useful stuff post revolution though, but militia's never won a war without an army to lean on or supply them.
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    If someone doesn't want to be in a militia, who am I to force them? If they don't want to be there, let them go. I'm not about to advocate for forced enslavement in some sort of militia, or punishments when someone wants to do other things with their life.
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    If someone doesn't want to be in a militia, who am I to force them? If they don't want to be there, let them go. I'm not about to advocate for forced enslavement in some sort of militia, or punishments when someone wants to do other things with their life.
    It was attitude like this what made Red Guard lost many vital battles during Class War of Finland in 1918. Comrade Eino Rahja was one of the red officers who fought against liberalism in ranks of the Red Guard and often took decisive action in combat.
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    Militia's are fine for keeping the peace to the extent its needed, hopefully they'd end up doing more useful stuff post revolution though, but militia's never won a war without an army to lean on or supply them.
    Could you give examples?

    Anyways, I think you're missing the point. Wars under capitalism are not so much of army against army, like was the case under feudalism for example. No, under capitalism it's a total war in which all layers of society play a role. The reason for this is that the industrial support base of the enemy army is as much as target as the army itself. Hence bombing cities, although these days the bombing did become "smarter" as dead babies don't make good propaganda on tv, even if they are of the enemy.

    Workers militia's are taking that same logic, but in reverse so to speak. While standing armies are excellent tools for capitalists, given that they're a minority within society; militia's are excellent tools for the working class, given that it arms (or teaches to use arms to) the whole proletariat.

    The mightiest army on the planet can't even subdue Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries around. What are the realistic prospects of an invading army trying to subdue an entire proletariat that is well armed and is also trained to use advanced weaponry, like airforce and navy (Yes, I don't see why such advanced stuff couldn't be integrated within a militia structure)?
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  29. #20
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    No, it shouldn't be voluntary. We should insist on its universal appliance so everyone knows how to deal with weapons. What good is it if no one knows how to defend yourself and your fellow workers against the state? Likewise, we should insist on union organisation inside the army, like is the case in the Netherlands, and integrate these elements fully into the workers movement. Everything that tears these forces away from the state and makes the working class stronger as a class.
    If you're going to force me to fight for your ideals through conscription I'm going to punch you in the face, whether you're a capitalist, nationalist, communist or anarchist. I'll decide on my own accord whether I join you or not.
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