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Against the Draft

Preserviing our most basic freedom.

by James Leroy Wilson
July 22, 2004

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Claire Wolfe has written, "America's at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

But when will it be time to shoot the bastards? Two events in the near future come in mind. First, the possibility of cancellation or delay of the November election because of the threat of terrorist attacks. I don't think this crossed anyone's mind two years ago for that year's election, even though September 11 was very recent history. If the 2004 elections are postponed, then it is proof positive that Bush's Wars on Terror and on Iraq utterly failed in making America safer. That some in the administration are even considering this very ominous precedent is scary to say the least, and an admission of their own failed policies. Canceling or postponing an election is simply unacceptable, and I suspect even non-voting libertarians understand that not only have they've been proven right about the electoral process, but also that the government that would do this is the one we must resist most.

Second, the possibility of another draft. This time it would likely, for the sake of gender equality, include women. That means taking what is intolerable - the violation of the 13th Amendment's prohibition of "involuntary servitude" - to another level. Conscription, as fundamentally unjust as it is, has at least traditionally acknowledged that the biological differences between men and women made men fit for war, if war was necessary. Women, on the other hand, carry the future in their wombs; little good that does if she's killed as a nineteen year-old conscript in some Middle Eastern desert.

Some would reply that the rise of "Islamo-fascism" makes this a necessary measure, overlooking the fact that it was our military presence in Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf War that provoked these terrorists in the first place. Saddam Hussein invaded a tiny country far away from us and was never a threat to us or even to Saudi Arabia. Our presence in the Middle East is as much an insult to Arabs and Muslims everywhere, as it would be if a Muslim world power lorded over us without our consent.

The solution to America's terror problems are to revert back to George Washington's vision of peace and open trade with all and entangling alliances with none. And to privatize and de-regulate airline security and restore Second Amendment rights at home. The more areas that are considered private property and depend on private security, the safer we will be.

All of which means instituting a draft for the sake of the War on Terror even more horrible. Not only Would a draft be unconstitutional, not only would the draft of women make them suffer at the altar of the very Political Correctness that was supposed to benefit them, but a draft would mean that we are pursuing the worst possible means to stop terrorism.

But why is a draft, as I call it, "unjust" and "horrible" in the first place? Because it is the basic negation of the simplest truths of human nature. They can be summarized this way:

1. Humans have values: they desire to live according to their highest ideals.
2. All humans, while perhaps adopting the values taught by others, adopt those values to their own personalities and circumstances, which is why there are disagreements between brothers, between neighbors, and between citizens. All values are individual values.
3. Humans act on their own individual values. They may change their values, based on dissatisfaction with their lives or new learning from others. But neither their values nor their actions can be controlled. Strongly influenced, perhaps, but never controlled.

The personnel in the all-volunteer military, reserves, and National Guard have all apparently made a deal. They are willing to fight and die for whatever the President commands. It matters not if the individual enlistee thinks the President is good or evil, or if the war to be fought is just or unjust. In their value system, allegiance to the State is very high, or their risk-benefit judgment between enlisting and not enlisting favors getting paid at the risk of getting killed. In any case, this is what "volunteer" means. The laborers agreed to a contract and, if they know what's in their best interests, they'll fulfill that contract.

In an all-volunteer military, those are value judgments made by each enlistee. I would personally forewarn young people considering enlistment as to whether or not they would want to fight wars which they were told were for essential national security interests, only later to find out they were for political expediency. But any recruit has either already considered the possibility and takes the risk, or they possess automatic deference to the government. Those are their values.

With conscripts, it is different. With the draft, the national State is saying "live according to our values, and you join the military and be either paid or killed. But if you do not live according to our values, you will be a fugitive or imprisoned."

Four possibilities. If one's values disagree with anything about it - the particular war, the particular President, or even the Constitution itself - then all the possible consequences are bad: a compromised conscience, or becoming a corpse, an outlaw, or a convict.

The draft is the arrogance of the State in all its glory. It is the ultimate expression of those who control it: "our values must be everyone's values, whether they like it or not." Such a philosophical impossibility does not constrain the State: all who do not conform, the State informs the Media, are wackos or criminals.

And here's the problem with the State in a nutshell. Anyone who disagrees with the values held by those who control the State, ultimately have no good options left. Maybe not as stark as the draft, but still, many people have to deal with taxes, laws, and regulations that they believe are unjust, that violate their own values. And what do you do then? Comply? Evade?

The myth of "American" values is the attempt of the majority who largely agree on most values, to criminalize the values of those minorities who don't go along with the majority.

Can we in good conscience punish or take away the rights of those whose only "crime" is living with different values, even though they would accord you the same right to live by your own? People who want to use different kinds of drugs, follow different kinds of religions, keep different kinds of guns, marry different kinds of people, believe in open trade, below in low taxes, believe in peace, or who want to buy commercials during election season that criticize the two-party incumbents?

The Culture of Intolerance in the American springs from the acceptance of a draft, beginning with the Civil War. If the national State has this power to take and sacrifice the lives of the unwilling, what power does it not have?

Good question. To make the free individual a means toward the State's ends has long been valued in both totalitarian and democratic societies. But since the Nixon Administration, when American were once subject to the draft then relieved of it, the federal government has been acquiring the technology and giving itself legal authority to clamp down on our freedoms. If, and in whatever Presidential Administration, we see the movement for a draft, we will know one thing. The Presidency is asking for a totalitarian State. It is then, at least figuratively, time to "shoot the bastards." It is time for active revolution.

Comments (7)

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Mike Thomson from Merritt Island, Florida writes:
July 22, 2004
While I agree with all of your arguments against a draft, I also remember that if there hadn't been a draft, the massive protests that eventually led to end of the Vietnam war would probably have never happened! In those protests the first things that got burned were draft cards.

The Iraq War will more than likely continue past our election. Egos keep wars going. Neither John Kerry nor George Bush want to go down in history as the president who brought the troops home without a clear victory.

Despite the arguments against it, I see the draft as a real possibility after Election Day. Expect to see troop levels in Iraq reach 250,000+. Unfortunately, many of them will probably be conscripts- poor whites and poor blacks sacrificing their lives for the intelligensia and the privileged. So it goes...

Jonathan Wilson from Chicago writes:
August 5, 2004
Dear Sir, As an active pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, I would risk my pulpit and my ordination in public protest against any declaration that elections in the United States have been postponed or delayed for any reason. Whether alone or in a crowd I will storm the Capitol. I would gladly be named a traitor by any such Fascist regime because nothing would shake my conviction that, by such protest, I prove myself both God's servant and America's truest patriot.

Sincerely, Jonathan Wilson, Cuyler Covenant Church, Chicago

P.S. As God is my witness, I hope that the FBI search engines find this and that they open a file on me, if that is really where things have arrived. So I will provide them another trigger: God is Great!

Michael H. Thomson from Merritt Island, Florida writes:
August 6, 2004

I wonder if they will execute us by hanging or with M-16's?

Fellow patriot

Michael H. Thomson

MSG(ret) US Army

Terry from Rocklin, CA writes:
October 5, 2004
I can't believe all of you liberals screaming about how the Bush Administration is trying to bring back the draft, when in fact it is the Democrats (Rangel & Hollings) who introduced such bills. No one wants a draft filling our armed forces with people who don't want to be there. Open your eyes & brains.

Mike Thomson from transitioning to Virginia writes:
October 6, 2004
Anybody see any liberals around here except me? If the guy from California knows any, please let me know - I sure need company...

James Leroy Wilson from The Swamp writes:
October 12, 2004
Last week, the House defeated the draft law 400-2. Encouraging? You bet. So encouraging that, with this momentum, Congress might as well and get rid of the Selective Service registry altogether.

Oh, that's not going to happen either? Then, no matter how many readers think I'm a liberal my article has relevance.

There are countless writers who insist that there won't be a draft because the American people won't stand for it. But if that is true, why haven't we gotten rid of Selective Service already?

Mike Thomson from transitioning to Virginia writes:
October 20, 2004
If we ain't going to get rid of phony wars - we ain't going to get rid of that thar draft law![emotional reversion to mountain heritage]

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