Here Thar Be Monsters!
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To Serve Blindly
One good friend in particular is very pro-military and thinks everyone should support the troops. We get into long passionate debates because I hold that every US soldier since WW2 has violated their oath and does not deserve my support, no matter what they have given "for their country." For the non-Americans out there, US public servants (military included) takes an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." That Constitution specifically states that Congress cannot fund a standing army more than two years (Art.I, Sec.8, Sub.12), and that the President becomes the Commander in Chief only when Congress passes a Declaration of War and authorizes the funding to raise an army (Art.I, Sec.8, Sub.11 and Art.II, Sec.2).
Apparently, none of the individuals who swore to protect and defend the Constitution ever read it.
At any rate, my friend posted a graphic on Farcebook the other day stating that the US should require/conscript young people into the armed services or some public service for a period of time, as many countries do. Well this set off a debate (again), since I pointed out that the power to conscript people into some public service implies that the State owns the citizen and can force one to sacrifice for the betterment of the State.
My friend's reasoning was emotional. He decried the lack of investment young people had in the country and thought that forcing them into the military or public service would give them a feeling of ownership in the country, as well as instill a little discipline.
I understand his reasoning and his frustration. Many people lament the lack of patriotism and volunteerism in many of the country's youth now. There is a diminishing feeling of solidarity and the Kennedy-inspired concept of asking "what you can do for your country" has all but evaporated. I argued that this was the wrong way to go about recapturing that spirit.
In the first place, it is rather difficult for a country to call itself free if the State can conscript men and resources at will. This is a form of servitude that bears a significant resemblance to slavery. I do not think any State has any interest in or right to any life or property that is not freely given. Forced volunteerism is a complete oxymoron. It is like a "voluntary" tax system that is enforced with grievous bodily harm.
I have no problem with community service, so long as it is truly voluntary and does not benefit the State, but rather the communities and culture directly, though I have no implicit problem with the State administering the systems and processes needed to guide and focus the efforts.
Among other things, a standing army and forced conscription are hallmarks of fascism. Raising and maintaining an army gives the State the power to make war at will, either on foreign powers or its own people. That the money to pay for the army comes from money commandeered from the citizenry makes for a deadly loop where the army is an implied threat to backup the confiscation of wealth.
Had the US government not had a standing army, it would have been significantly more difficult to prosecute wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are few people who could, in good conscience, argue that any of those wars were for pure and righteous reasons. That all were fought against "enemies" who had never attacked the US, nor did they have the means to, further condemns them as little more than mercantile protectionism. Obviously, when the powers and resources of the State are put into service of the corporate and financial interests, you have - by definition - fascism.
That corporations have invaded nearly every aspect of daily life, from birth to death, it is reasonable to assume that a forced public service would quickly be turned to slave labor on behalf of those interests, increasing their profits at the expense of the public freedom and welfare.
Even the most idealistic programs, when supported by a fascist State, are often turned to the benefit of the corporate interests. Prime examples are the increasingly powerful corporations that have virtually taken over the education system, from kindergarten to university. That the State sanctions, protects and requires things like standardized testing and "Common Core," this is exactly fascism in practice.
It has been said many times that American fascism would come with red, white and blue boots stamping on the People's faces, and indeed it has. For someone as smart and thoughtful as my friend, the fact that he can seriously support such a fascist effort means that the indoctrination is complete. People are not even aware of the profound contradictions in what they say and believe. They can, with a straight face, claim to be free people, and yet propose and promote corporate slavery through the auspices of the State.
I pick on the one friend, but I have others that are pure socialists, but will vehemently deny it even in the face of hard evidence. On the one hand, these friends will crow long and loud about how free and wonderful America is, and then turn right around and advocate fascist/socialist programs and laws. It is truly amazing to see, and the fire - even anger - with which they will deny the facts and adhere to their errors shows the pervasive and profound depths of the indoctrination. These educated and intelligent people cannot comprehend the contradictions.
It should be noted that the difference between fascism and socialism are so subtle as to be almost meaningless. It is an argument of hues in the same palette. Whether the State acts as the protectionist arm of corporate interests, or is the sole beneficiary of the nation's output hardly makes much difference at the level of the individual. In either case, the labor and wealth of the individual are stolen and distributed to others. The only difference is who constitutes "the others."
I agree that citizens are responsible for the defense of their property. If every citizen were armed and trained on a regular basis as part of a social requirement enforced by the community and one's family, there would be no need for a standing army, police or any of the other trappings of force owned by the State.
If Dad told Junior that college assistance depended on Junior training once a month with the local mitia or guard, no harm no foul. Having armed agents forcefully take your money and your children through conscription, though, is nothing more than slavery to the State, dressed up in patriotism and flags.
It seems that thinking people should take inventory and begin questioning their assumptions and beliefs, especially in these rather turbulent times. Blind patriotism, no matter how well intended, is a potent weapon in the hands of a corrupt State. It is also necessary for thinking people to begin analyzing the reasons they believe certain things, and to reason out the inevitable results. It is not enough to spout feel-good rhetoric any more. The world is changing and we need to be precise about the kind of world we wish to build going forward.
Will we be free? Or will we continue to serve the State and vested interests?
One can't change the world if one is not sure what is being changed, and to what it will be changed.