The term defeatism commonly is used in politics as a descriptor for an ideological stance that considers co-operation with the opposition party. In the military context, in wartime, and especially at the front, defeatism is synonymous with treason.
Under military law, a soldier can be accused of being defeatist if he refuses to fight by voicing doubt of the ideological validity of national policy; thus, existential questions such as “Is the war already lost?” and “Is the fight worth the effort?” are defeatism that connote advocacy of an alternative end-to-the war other than military victory.
During World War II, Adolf Hitler unexpectedly dismissed many generals for defeatism. During the last year of war, the German people's court executed many people accused of defeatist talks or acts and their names were announced weekly in a pink colored poster pasted on billboards around the country.
Revolutionary defeatism is a related idea, made most prominent by Vladimir Lenin, that establishes that the proletariat cannot win or gain in a capitalist war. Instead, according to Lenin, the true enemy of the proletariat is the imperialist leaders who send their lower classes into battle. Workers would gain more from their own nations’ defeats, he argued, if the war could be turned into civil war and then international revolution.