A daft idea

A NYT columnist wants Obama to bring in the draft

Mr. Gates should urge President Obama to confer with Congress and introduce national service at age 18 for all Americans. Under such a system, young people from all classes and backgrounds would either serve in the military or do other essential work like intelligence assessment, conservation, antipoverty projects, educational tutoring, firefighting, policing, border security, disaster relief or care for the elderly. The best qualified would be assigned to the military.

The 1.6 million Americans who have served in the current wars represent less than one percent of all citizens. We need to spread the risk and burden of fighting our wars. If more of our national leaders had been in uniform, or knew they might have children at risk in war, their decisions during military confrontations might be better. And this is not just about the struggle against terrorism: would New Orleans reconstruction have lagged so long if we had had a national service program in natural-disaster recovery?

A “duty” to the country – there is no such thing. The only reason a State exists is to protect individual rights – not to impose involuntary servitude on them. But given the fact that the US has moved so far away from its founding ideology, such suggestions are no surprise. Live for the State. Worship the State. Die for the State.

Rand said it best

Of all the statist violations of individual rights in a mixed economy, the military draft is the worst. It is an abrogation of rights. It negates man’s fundamental right—the right to life—and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man’s life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle. Once that principle is accepted, the rest is only a matter of time.

If the state may force a man to risk death or hideous maiming and crippling, in a war declared at the state’s discretion, for a cause he may neither approve of nor even understand, if his consent is not required to send him into unspeakable martyrdom—then, in principle, all rights are negated in that state, and its government is not man’s protector any longer. What else is there left to protect?

The most immoral contradiction—in the chaos of today’s anti-ideological groups—is that of the so-called “conservatives,” who posture as defenders of individual rights, particularly property rights, but uphold and advocate the draft. By what infernal evasion can they hope to justify the proposition that creatures who have no right to life, have the right to a bank account? A slightly higher—though not much higher—rung of hell should be reserved for those “liberals” who claim that man has the “right” to economic security, public housing, medical care, education, recreation, but no right to life, or: that man has the right to livelihood, but not to life.

One of the notions used by all sides to justify the draft, is that “rights impose obligations.” Obligations, to whom?—and imposed, by whom? Ideologically, that notion is worse than the evil it attempts to justify: it implies that rights are a gift from the state, and that a man has to buy them by offering something (his life) in return. Logically, that notion is a contradiction: since the only proper function of a government is to protect man’s rights, it cannot claim title to his life in exchange for that protection.

The only “obligation” involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one’s own rights to be recognized and protected.

It’s interesting. You are not allowed to smoke marijuana, or cigarettes, or drink alcohol, or stuff yourself with transfat, or drive without pathetic helmets or seatbelts, or sign up for treatments and drugs not approved by the FDA, because they can harm your health. But you can be compelled to fight in a war where you can have your head or leg or arm blown off. Hegel’s wet dream.

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  • Abheek Barman  On April 23, 2009 at 12:27 am

    See, analyse and judge FAST against a liberal yardstick. Otherwise it’ll be too late. And follow the Folk Theorem bolg that’s coming soon if your instincts take you there.

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