I'm making a situation where in the near future(5 year), the world is thrust into world war 3. The vast majority of the world's military is decimated, and it is to the point where any high tech equipment like planes, missiles, tanks, etc are being used in moderation. During the war, India and Pakistan launched nuclear weapons, which is causing a semi-nuclear winter, leading to mass famine. As a result, country start to fracture into large unified states(map included). However, due to resource crisis(drinkable water, agricultural land, oil, etc), the states are all constantly gearing up to attack, but this time, without the larger amounts of modern military technology that we see today. The New USA(need...better...names) has retain the majority of modern USA military equipment, but each of the region has managed to retain a good amount too, but all state are mainly saving it for defensive purposes. enter image description here

But anyways, is that without as much modern technology, each conflict is fought relatively low tech, with limited air support, etc.

Since the conflict are literally vital to the new state's survival, the state will commit as much man power as needed to secure resources that they need to keep the country running.

Would it make sense to draft at a state-wide scale in this situation? Each state is extremely large, my quickly named "Western Socialist States" would have a population of about 54.423 million at the current time, a very large percentage would have to die to due to famine or something if it would make sense to draft like South Korea for example, where all men from 18-28 must do compulsory military service. But South Korea does have a population of 51.71 million, and if things were as bad as a go-to-war resource deficit, then maybe it would make sense. And I'm no tactical warfare expert, but I'm not convinced having armies with hundreds of thousands even be that useful, unless the military leaders were only doing frontal assualts.

  • $\begingroup$ (a) Whether or not drafts make sense in your world is one question, whether or not the political left would accept mixed gender drafts is very much a second question. You're permitted one question per post. To avoid closure for "Needs Focus," edit your Q to delete one of the questions. (b) If you elect to follow the first question, that question is poorly defined (almost an off-topic high concept question). What "new state" are we talking about? How have things changed? In your opinion, why wouldn't a draft make sense? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 8, 2021 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ One more thing: from the perspective of plausible reality, it's unlikely that any U.S. state would retain its politically-left structure considering how anti-gun and anti-war the ideology is - and yet this is post-world-war-III's worst days. War weariness (see the Vietnam War) may lead the country to lean left, but only if there are no victories and advancement of the "democratic cause." With those, the post-WWIII culture in the U.S. would be more likely. Could you provide a timeline of war events that directly affect the nation? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 8, 2021 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Thanks for the feedback, editing now. $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2021 at 6:54

3 Answers 3


Drafted for harvests.

With modern technology in short supply, and the global supply chain failures limiting spare parts and oil, farm efficiency plummets. A tiny part breaks on that heavy machinery and it's basically useless if you cant get a replacement.

If In 2020 a farmer harvested using petrol powered mechanised equipment and one man could do, say 10 acres an hour, in 2030 that farmer is using hand tools and horse-drawn tools and can do say an acre a day.

The farmers need more manpower as each unit of food requires say 100x the manpower to produce. There needs to be 100 people per farmer appear to help the farmer at harvest time.

So - draft people into food production to help harvest.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ooooooh, this is a really good point. The consequences of the loss of technology on our petroleum-and-electricity-addicted world would be considerable. That alone would have a lot of influence on the prosecution of a war. +1! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 8, 2021 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer a lot! It could create interesting prospects, maybe some fitness test to determines who gets to do manual farm work vs who becomes a soldier, and maybe if the war is super bloody, some people will do anything to not have to fight. But besides agriculture, what other area besides military would a draft be useful assuming a massive resource scarcity? $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2021 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ Historically, people were usually eager to get into the army to get away from farming. Granted some of that's propaganda in action, but (particularly pre-industrial) farming is labor-intensive and rather dangerous, and you don't even get medals, so no doubt it genuinely seemed like a good trade to a lot of folks. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jul 8, 2021 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence A seemingly futile world war that causes a large amount of casualties and directly results in multiple resource crises will swing the pendulum of public opinion in the other direction $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2021 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking through this point, "harvest draft" would not be sufficient. Population must be permanently moved from cities to the countryside. We may be looking forward to something like Year Zero in Cambodia. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 8, 2021 at 17:31

In your scenario massive nationwide conscription is great as it can serve 3 purposes:

  1. personnel training;
  2. ideological training;
  3. cheap labour.

Personnel training

WW3 will bring massive changes to the political and economical organisation of the world. Your country will need to re-train a lot of people to deal with those changes (yes, you will need lots of trained farmers). The army is a great place to do it: You can force people to learn what you need them to learn and threaten them with tribunal if they slack.

Ideological training

This is also known as brainwashing. The army is one of the best places to do it: Conscripts can be easily isolated from all unnecessary influences and you can make them so tired that they cannot think straight.

Cheap labour

Conscripts can be used for harvesting crops, as Ash suggested. But why stop there? Use them to build, manufacture goods, clean, and so on. If they complain remind them of the tribunal.

The best part is that you can have a big standing army and do whatever needs to be done at the same time. If you can transport your soldiers fast enough, conscripts do not even need to be close to the front lines.

Please note that the economic benefits of universal conscription will only last till the situation is fully stabilised. Once the society reaches a new equilibrium (jobs-specialists-technologies-resources), conscripts' labour may become highly inefficient.

One more thing: Conscription can be very helpful if your country faces famine. It is much cheaper to feed big groups of people compared to individuals and nuclear families. It is also easier to ration food in the army.

You can recruit the poorest and most desperate people who are unable to feed themselves and their families. This will be a win-win-win situation: Fewer people starve to death, fewer famine-triggered crimes, cheap labour for the government. You can conscript those people to special 'public service/building/famine' battalions if you do not want to give them weapons.


It depends on the meaning of "effective"

A military draft will create an army that doesn't want to fight, composed of people ill-suited for war, who would have very good reason to sympathize with the enemy, even if the enemy wasn't Indianapolis. In Vietnam the draft was not popular, and in recent history in the Middle East the large drafted armies of several nations rapidly broke apart when challenged. The moment the outcome is in doubt, and it is as unsafe to fight as to desert, people go home to defend their families in a meaningful way.

On the plus side, the military draft will be imposed only on the lower class, allowing the wealthy to stay home and cement their economic dominance without pesky taxes, and to enact war programs without worrying about popular opinion. It is like Communism for capitalists, work mandated for whatever wages they choose to pay, so it is bound to top many political agendas.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .