A reader asked what my thoughts are on conscription — i.e., the draft. I view the draft the same way I view any violation of individual rights: As slavery. In the case of the draft, since your life is at stake, the slavery is as literal as it comes.
The common argument in favor of the draft is: A nation must protect itself. Well, of course a nation should protect itself — a free nation, that is. But free people
will always be ready to defend what they have. They have too much to lose, and most of them know it. If they’re too corrupt to defend their liberty voluntarily, coercion will not save them.
Only a totalitarian or authoritarian government must have a draft in order to survive. By definition, such a government cares nothing about the individual rights of its individual citizens. To a totalitarian or authoritarian government, the people exist for the sake of the government, not the other way around. A military draft is a logical extension of that view, and a necessary policy since people would probably never serve such a dictatorship voluntarily.
The other argument in favor of a draft is fairness. A professional army, it’s argued, attracts people who cannot afford college, thereby forcing them into service they would not otherwise pursue. This claim isn’t necessarily supported by the facts, because it’s not only poor or working class people who join the military. Young people join the military for all kinds of reasons. The most common reason is that they like something about the military itself. The benefits (college tuition, training, etc.) act as added incentives, further taking the teeth out of a fairness argument.
Even if it could be proven that a voluntary military is “unfair,” it still would not justify enslaving the population with a military draft. The much better solution would be to deregulate the economy, drastically lower taxes, massively slash government spending, and allow capitalism and business to flourish and prevail. That way, unemployment would be virtually nonexistent and anyone who didn’t want to join the military could pursue any number of careers in the private sector. Of course, it’s not advocates of capitalism, free enterprise and low taxes who make the fairness argument in favor of the draft; it’s liberals and socialists who really use this argument as an excuse for expanding government power.
You hear less about the draft nowadays because the liberal left — the politicians who are responsible for most expansions of government power — don’t like the use of military force, at least when it’s the American military doing the intervention. Liberals cannot in good conscience support a draft when they have so little use for the military. This is why so many liberals (and conservatives too) favor something called “national service.” National service is a way to turn young people into servants of the state without even using the military.
I’d like to think it says something for the United States that it no longer has a military draft, and there’s no indication that one is forthcoming. I’d like to think that it represents progress towards the expansion of individual rights. But then I look at all that Obama has done to expand government power, and all that George W. Bush did to expand government power before him, and I recognize there’s no trend towards individual rights in the United States. What happened was that the military became more technological and high-tech, making untrained manpower less relevant than trained forces who are comfortable with the use of our advanced weaponry. It’s politicians who want to impose “national service” — draft or not — on the population, because the vast majority of liberal and conservative politicians care first and foremost about the government … not the people, and least of all the individual.
It’s not possible to conceive of a free society in which there’s a draft — not now, not ever. Freedom is the most precious thing a human being can have, and because most individuals understand this, most will fight for it if the invaders are at their front door. It’s governments who oppose freedom and it’s governments who want to expand their own power. The draft is a perfect way to do that. But in a technologically advanced society as the United States, government has found other ways to expand its coercive influence over the lives of people. If we continue our move towards soft fascism and socialism, who knows — the draft may make a comeback.