The Military Draft is ‘Slavery Pure and Simple’

Thomas Ricks argues in the New York Times that we should reinstate military conscription (via Chris Preble). He quotes Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who thinks risk of death ought to be thrust on all Americans if the criminals in government decide they want to make war. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk,” McChrystal said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”

And libertarians who object to a draft could opt out. Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.

I’m charmed that Ricks is thinking of libertarians. But if opting out of the draft means opting out of state services, I hope I can also opt out of paying for them and of being a subject of His Majesty Uncle Sam. (By the way, is there anything more revolting than a cartoon caricature of the state like Uncle Sam? It smacks of attracting children to smoke by advertising with Joe Camel.)

Emma Goldman used to say that the draft was a direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. Murray Rothbard, of course, said conscription “is slavery pure and simple, and because slavery is a moral evil; to use slavery in order defend the ‘free world’ is a grisly joke.”

8 thoughts on “The Military Draft is ‘Slavery Pure and Simple’”

  1. > no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees

    Sure goes only one way, eh? How about no SWAT teams, no permanent surveillance, no War on Stuff, no inflation, not being forced to use the dollar funny money, no crony capitalist megacorps, no Fed, no bubbles, no patents.

    > Those who want minimal government can have it.

    Spoken like the true warrior-monk that he styles himself as.

  2. People who've begun competing currencies have been persecuted as 'terrorists'… , injured soldiers have 'personality disorders,' and surely we've noticed what happens to whistleblowers… We can see well enough how they treat 'dropping out,' why would we trust an offer to 'allow' it? We'd just watch the diggits concentrate where the successful scams are, then eventually deal with them bombing wherever we concentrate.

  3. Is it even possible to cram more idiocy into one single article as is crammed into that New York times article? It is just beyond belief. And war-mongering as well. Ignore the fig leaf of national service for non-military purposes. This is also an extremely bad idea, but more to the point he doesn't even really value it, notice how people serving in non-military positions have to serve longer. What is really valued in that article is war period.

    "But most of all, having a draft might, as General McChrystal said, make Americans think more carefully before going to war. Imagine the savings — in blood, tears and national treasure — if we had thought twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq. "

    1) the children of the privileged will NEVER serve. Ever. The rules don't apply to the privileged, we know that.
    2) Worldwide protests on a MASSIVE scale including protests in the U.S. did not stop the Iraq war. Since then protest has become almost illegal, you will risk getting beaten up for it. You can write your congressperson, but their campaign is being funded by the MIC and money floods the political system. If we are to be send to die, what makes him think we have the power in this totalitarian so called "democracy" to stop it? No, we won't have the power to stop it we will MERELY be sent to die. The true content of what he is saying is not "oppose the wars or die in them", as the people may not have that power, the true message is "just die in these wars".

  4. The draft is a very dangerous idea, and inexplicably popular (people believe in some kind of "draft to end all wars" myth), but I'm not sure there is any real desire for it from the military industrial complex. Wars these days aren't even fought by the military, or only partially are. They are fought by mercenaries. The mercenary system works for the evil purposes it is used for, so I'm not sure there is a lot of pressure to change it. So I'm not sure the draft represents a real danger, but it is a very dangerous IDEA.

  5. We could possibley seperate into three more like minded countries , The Soviet Union abolished itself , and Russia is a lot richer and stronger now . without killing anyone as I recall . We would still be the three largest economies in the world . I think we would all be much happier . The central states could have marriage between a man and a women . The west coast States could have what they wanted too . We could go to war or not go to war shucks we could even fight our selves if thats what we wanted . The bennifits of a seperastion are looking more attractive evreyday .

    1. I would like to break up the U.S. empire but don't stereotype the middle part of the country as midnless Jethro biggots, just how radical Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin might be without the empire around its neck might surprise you!

  6. Okay, fine- bring back the draft. Get millions of Americans in uniform drawing a government-supplied paycheck. Have millions of dollars worth of equipment handed to you for just a signature.

    Once we have these millions of uniformed citizens…. do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Don't fight. Don't march. Don't maintain your equipment. Don't even try to qualify with your rifle. Don't attempt to pass your physical fitness tests. Don't shave if you don't want to. What to do if a unit is notified it is moving out to the Persian Gulf and no one shows up, or shows up totally unprepared? What to do if a pallet of equipment just doesn't happen to make it onto that transport? What to do if all those vehicles loaded aboard ships won't start or run at all when they reach their destination? What happens if an entire unit of these unwilling soldiers is out on the battlefield and surrenders en masse?

    Oh sure, get a lot of unhappy- and unwilling- people in uniform via a draft and there's PLENTY of activities that can bring the machine to a screeching halt in short order. It's just a matter of those people having the cajones to actually do it. And they'd better, or they will most likely pay for their lack of conviction with their lives.

    1. Please tell me you haven't spent the past nine weeks formulating that brilliant reply, Alex. I spent 12 years in the military between the Marines and the Army and I had to deal first-hand with the fallout when unmotivated and/or disruptive soldiers decided to make a move- it can get messy very quickly. You can insult me all you like, but all you've managed to do is display your ignorance to everyone here. Might want to brush up on those critical thinking skills and talk about the issue next time instead of resorting to personal insults.

  7. When Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met in 1941 on the battleship HMS Prince of Wales to agree the Atlantic Charter, a church service was held for which Prime Minister Churchill chose the hymns. He chose "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and afterwards made a radio broadcast explaining this choice:

    We sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers" indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals … it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.
    —Winston Churchill

    I guess they wont need conscription with all the religious christian soldiers to draw upon for their next crusade.

  8. No way a draft is coming any time soon with it being an election year and with the economy in the crapper.

    And since we're in a permanent depression the War Party can get plenty of canon fodder without a draft for a long time to come.

  9. How does one think draftees are going to turn the tide against war, when we don't have a mass anti-war movement, such as the 1960s? Anti-intellectualism, conformity, and oppression haven't been challenged to a point of changing these attitudes. Wars overseas and oppression at home have not been hindered by America's measly protest movements, and I cannot foresee that happening any time in the near future. The military brainwashes people into thinking they have no choice but to blindly follow orders. If the draft ever gets reinstated we will be subject to hearing more inculpation from Little Eichmanns "following orders."

  10. The current preperations by the military for operations within the US against citizens would not even be thinkable with a drafted citizen military. It is only possible with a volunteer mailitary.

    1. I think you underestimate what cowards people are when they know they will be court martialed and shot for disobeying the empire's orders. All a draft does is increase the size of the tyrannies army to oppress people.

  11. fine. just be sure to put the congressmen and women who vote for war and their children in the mix as well. Oh wait! Congress is no longer responsible for sending our troops overseas! I guess as long as Leon Panetta and the suits in the CIA and NATO are in front leading the charge that would be just fine with me.

  12. Ms Goldman and Mr Rothbard were correct. Miltary conscription is involuntary servitude. Many of the horrors of the 20th century would have been avoided if the feds didn't have the power to throw millions of American boys into their meatgrinder wars. The Supreme Court declared military conscription constitutional nothwithstanding the 13th amendment by simply declaring it was permissiblle because that is what all powerful central governments so. Basically the court said conscription was "constitutional" because the German, French, British, Turkish, and Russian governments were doing it. So much for American Exceptionalism.

  13. I totally agree with Rothbard, as is usual. Though I don't see the point in making moral arguments against the State's behavior, since they really don't care if their plans violate your Constitutional rights or natural rights. We're talking about Boobus Americanus here, if they can't see the moral iniquity involved in killing innocents with robots like a video game, then what makes anyone think involuntary servitude is over the line?

    On the other hand, nothing would slap down the Empire than a draft, which is exactly why the State wouldn't ever do it again. It would give the aforementioned a reason to pay attention to the warmongering because it's a pragmatic issue than a moral one – they certainly don't want to actually fight the wars themselves, or pay for it directly (too stupid to notice they pay for it indirectly, as we all know). The war as it is now is great to the Boobus since he needn't do anything other than make a few gestures of gratitude on a couple War Appreciation Days and slap a flag bumper sticker on his SUV. In addition to that, draftees are unreliable at best – they have no issue with the so-called enemy, and won't fight with the tenacity expected or would do the types of things that occurred in Vietnam.

  14. In a way a draft might be good. I noticed that when the middle class sweet hearts started to get drafted the war with Vietnam ended sooner than it might have.

  15. When will the journalist lot tire of citing the severely co-opted Mr. Ricks & the estimable Gen. McChrystal? The latter's philosophy seems to be we can't get rid of criminals in gov., so everyone should suffer for them. We already can't pay for the wounded survivors of our recent tantrums in Central Asia, but McChrystal Eyes insists on more.

  16. Lemme tell you… nothing, _nothing_ would end all this silliness faster than a draft. Law of Unintended Consequences. Plenny of peeps drafted understand perfectly well what a waste of resources the military really is. Characters like McMoron would have his hands full running disciplinary boards against mouthy privates. Let's do it.

  17. All finished! Thankfully for the comment – very considered, and pushing me too to think about all of this more. Because me, I come from it from having known violent young men, and what that means. Business like Lorna Rhodes on Excellent Max highlights how different elements – violence, mental illness, suffering, institutional life, interpersonal forms – come together. Nonetheless in the media, I do think there is the tendency to try to find the simple storyline, and that unluckily serves to explain away too much, both with physical violence and mental health.

  18. Sure goes only one way, eh? How about no SWAT teams, no permanent surveillance, no War on Stuff, no inflation, not being forced to use the dollar funny money, no crony capitalist megacorps, no Fed, no bubbles, no patents.

  19. I was a conscript in the military of a particular country and still am (in reservice duty). My country enforces conscription for all males and we have to serve for several years in the military at the age of 18. After that, we have to go back to the army every year for a few weeks for reservice duty.

    This is my thoughts as someone who is conscripted and hated every moment of it.

    1) Your personal freedoms are taken away from you when you enter the military. You can be jailed for many different offences that seem trivial or ridiculous in civilian life. e.g. insubordination, absenteeism, malingering, etc. Once had a friend jailed for arriving late.

    2) You are trained to kill and might be forced kill against your will. Penalty is court martial and a very long term military jail sentence. Conscripts who are unwilling to serve for various purposes such as religious or moral reasons are all jailed. There is no other way to enforce proper conscription apart from heavy penalties. Most people don't want to die or kill.

    3) You transform into a lesser human being the moment you are conscripted. People don't care if soldiers die even if they are forced against their will. It is always 'it is their duty' or 'we had it coming'. When civilians are killed, all moral outrage ensues. But what about a conscript who doesn't want to be there? Why is it okay to kill me? Why is it less immoral to kill a person who is forced into servitude? In wartime, I don't want to kill the enemy. All I want to do is stay alive.

    4) High risk of injury and death. The military is a high-risk job even during peacetime. People die for so many reasons that the rate of death would seem alarming if compared to civilian occupations. We all hear about occupation hazards of jobs such as miners, but what about the military? Well here it goes. These are some of the incidents I have heard of. (i) Lightning strikes signaller during bad weather when outfield (ii) Tank flips over in uneven terrain crushing tank commander (iii) Collapse in jungle due to heat exhaustion (iv) Face chopped off by helicopter blade when the blade goes too low (v) Various vehicular accidents such as tanks crushing soldiers (vi) Firearm malfunction, blowing up soldier's face (vii) etc.

    5) No recourse to proper justice. Due to military secrecy, you are tried by military court which isn't impartial the least bit. What does a group of military men know about law and justice?

    6) Gender inequality. Only males are conscripted. Discriminates both women and men.

    It might seem like I'm whinging but I do think I have the right to do so since I did not and will never sign up for becoming a soldier. If I volunteered, then so be it, it's my choice. But I didn't and I think that makes a whole world of a difference.

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    Emma Goldman used to say that the draft was a direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. Murray Rothbard, of course, said conscription “is slavery pure and simple, and because slavery is a moral evil; to use slavery in order defend the ‘free world’ is a grisly joke.”

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  22. I hope I can also opt out of paying for them and of being a subject of His Majesty Uncle Sam. (By the way, is there anything more revolting than a cartoon caricature of the state like Uncle Sam

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