Involuntary Servitude — The Draft

Posted: February 3, 2016 in Livin' in the USA, Politics
Tags: ,

The top brass in both the Army and Marine Corps, generals Mark Milley and  Robert Neller, have called for extension of draft registration to 18-year-old girls as well as 18-year-old boys. While this might strike some as fair, one must ask if forcing anyone to register for involuntary servitude to the government is fair? And what of such involuntary servitude itself?

These questions get at the very core of whether or not this is a “free country.”

First, let’s dispose of the assertion that conscription is not a form of “involuntary servitude.” The government threatens those who do not submit to imprisonment, and actually imprisons draft resisters in droves during times of conscription. So, the draft is based on coercion, and it forces its unwilling victims to “serve” in the armed forces. If this isn’t “involuntary servitude,” what is?

That the Supreme Court has ruled that the draft isn’t involuntary servitude is simply evidence that the Court, a branch of the government, puts the government’s interests above those of the individuals the government supposedly serves, and that it will rule that black is white when it ‘s politically expedient to do so. The Court’s upholding of the free speech-suppressing Espionage Act during World War I (and the resulting imprisonment of thousands for opposing the war) and its infamous 1857 ruling that black human beings are property are cases in point.

Another common assertion used to justify conscription is that there’s a “social contract” which obliges citizens to serve “society”–in actuality, the government. Let’s take a look at this “contract.” Did you ever sign it? I certainly didn’t. In fact, no one has. As for the assertion that we’re “signing” the “contract” by living here, it’s pertinent that not only has no one ever signed it, no one has ever even seen it.

Who wrote this invisible “contract”? The government? Is the “contract” whatever the government says it is? Whatever authoritarian social theorists say it is? In either case, that’s a recipe for tyranny.

This brings up an even more fundamental matter: Does the government exist for the benefit of individuals or do individuals exist for the benefit of the government? If it’s the former, the government has no business pressing citizens into a form of slavery. If it’s the latter, there’s no limit to what the government can do to citizens.

It’s time to get rid of the draft. It’s time to get rid of this authoritarian relic. If the United States ever wants to live up to its billing as “the land of the free,” casting aside this pernicious form of involuntary servitude would be a very good first step.



  1. Tom Kratman says:

    It’s not sufficient, you know, to look at a mere snapshot, 2 years of conscript service, say, and ignore the larger ramifications of that. As the Great Helmsman observed, “Political power grows from the barrel of a gun.” A gun, however, means little in the absence of training with it. Engels, too, understood conscription as not only compatible with democratic government, but that no other system could be: “The more workers who are trained in the use of weapons, the better. Universal conscription is the necessary and natural extension of universal suffrage [i.e. the universal right to vote]; it enables the electorate to carry out its resolutions arms in hand against any coup that might be attempted.”

    Ah, but I hear the objection, “That’s two years for the state to alter minds and values, and brainwash…” etc., etc. Forget it; it doesn’t happen. Yes, as a matter of fact, I spent about 3 decades in service and, no, we don’t change anybody in any important way.

    Conversely, if you really want a tool of authoritarianism, look to a professional army, with no conscripts at all, beholden only to the state, with a demilitarized populace incapable of defending itself from the army.

    Now whether conscription works or not, militarily, that depends on the people and the society. Sometimes it works quite well, as when the Revolutionary French overthrew the professional armies of Europe, 1792 onward, or the conscript Israelis trounced…and trounced…and trounced “professional” Arabs. Sometimes it fails miserably, if the society and people are reasonably suited for it, as when the conscript Israelis continued to trounce…and trounce….and trounce the Arabs. Bacon: “All this is but a sheep in a lion’s mouth except that the breed and disposition of the people be stout and warlike.”


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