One of the ugly concepts that rears its ugly head from time to time is the idea of mandatory “national service.” One of my friends, who is ironically as Democratic as they come, posted this opinion piece by Michael Gerson:

The impetus for this discussion has come from the military. During an event at the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival last year, Gen. Stanley McChrystal offhandedly endorsed universal national service for young people graduating from high school or college, fulfilled in either a military or civilian setting. His particular concern was the growing disconnect between the less than 1 percent of Americans who serve in the armed forces and the rest of the country. The result is not only an unequal distribution of burdens but also the unequal development of citizens. “Once you have contributed to something,” McChrystal said, “you have a slightly different view of it.”

The first sentence really shows what mandatory “national service” is about, finding more meat for the grinder. America has embroiled itself in several overseas wars and it wants to embroil itself in more. Empire building on this scale requires a lot of soldiers and enlistment rates aren’t what they used to be. Conscription, which the fascists are trying to relabel national service, is an easy way to fill the military ranks.

Relabeling conscription allows the state to use another ploy, civilians service options. Before Obama’s election most of my friends that self-identify as Democrats were anti-war and most of them remain anti-conscription today. Needless to say, since my friend who posted this self-identifies as Democrat, I had to point out the obvious fact that “national service” is merely a fancy word for conscription. In reply he said that there would be civilian options for “national service” such as AmericCorps and the Peace Corp. The civilian option is the carrot on the stick that lures people who otherwise oppose conscription to support the practice.

While most of my friends who self-identify as Democrat oppose mandatory military service many of them support mandatory civilian service. Collectivism, after all, always entails some kind of mandatory service and people who self-identify as Democrat, at least in my experience, are generally collectivists in disguise. What my friend, and many supporters of mandatory civilian service, fail to consider is that the civilian options can be taken away. Passing a law that requires individuals to perform work of the state’s choosing is easier to accomplish if a majority of supporters of both major parties can be suckered into supporting it. Passing said law is difficult, changing the rules of conscription once the laws is passed is relatively easy. In the end, if said law was passed, the civilian option would be stricken from the record in a short amount of time. Before you know it “national service” will be synonymous with military service.

Those who accept conscription must also accept the idea that the state owns individuals. If the state owns individuals it can make them do whatever it wants. Since the state’s existence is entirely dependent on expropriation, and the primary purpose of the military is to expropriate wealth from foreign countries, it will use individuals to expropriate wealth, which means anybody conscripted will almost certainly be placed in the armed forces. I hear several self-identified Democrats saying, “But they promised a civilian option!” Once you accept the idea that the state owns individuals you also necessary accept the idea that the state can change the rules whenever it wants because the people are its property to do with as it pleases.

Mandatory conscription would be a disaster in this country. The only reason higher ups in the military advocate the practice is because they want more people to send overseas to die. No matter what they promise to get popular support for conscription they will ensure that, in the end, every conscript is forced into the military.