Well, they’re at it again. The authoritarian nationalists out there are bringing up “national service,” and a federal panel is wondering whether young people should be forced to “serve” (the gubmint).
I have already addressed this issue several times, so I would like to repost my post from September of 2013 on this subject:
September 18, 2013
Jacob Hornberger and Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation had this discussion on the “Libertarian Angle,” regarding calls for “national service.” In this edition, they also discussed Syria and monetary policy.
As part of their discussion on “national service,” Sheldon Richman pointed out that many of those calls for “national service” are not particularly for people to serve other people or their neighbors or the community, but to serve the nation. The implication is that the inhabitants of the territory here owe something to the nation.
The truth is, many amongst the “national service” crowd really believe in the idea of sacrifice. They say you must sacrifice some of your time and labor to “serve” others. But, as Ayn Rand noted, they really mean sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice.
But really, to the nationalists we owe a sacrifice to the State. We have something, such as freedom and opportunity, for which we must show gratitude by being compelled to “serve,” something that the State has given to us or provides for us, and that we owe something in return. That is the underlying premise of the “national service” crowd.
Why there would be a resurgence in calls for “national service” at this time, after 12 long years of Afghanistan and Iraq, and now the tyrannical ObamaCare, is beyond me. You want us to serve THAT? That monstrous Leviathan?
I was very disappointed to read just recently from war and Big Government critic Andrew Bacevich that he supports some sort of “national service” program, or a “citizen soldiers” program. He was interviewed on NPR and stated:
My proposal, to be clear, is not to restore the draft, but to enact a program of national service. National service means all able-bodied young people owe a couple of years of service to the country. Some of them may choose to serve in the military. All the rest will serve in other capacities, you know, whether it’s a renewed equivalent of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or whatever.
And I was also reminded of the extreme disappointment I felt in the early ’90s when William F. Buckley, Jr. came out with his book, Gratitude.
Oh, we should be grateful that the government or the State provides for us our freedom and opportunities, even though it is those damn bureaucrats who are employed by the State who have done everything they can to demolish our opportunities and trample on our freedom!
“Grateful”? Sorry, I would be grateful if Americans decided to shut down the criminal institution that is the U.S. government and unshackle the chains and release its hold on our enslaved lives.
In 1990 the New York Times provided this quote from Buckley’s book:
The objective should be to enroll, by the turn of the century, more than 80 percent of Americans born in 1973 or later. . . . Yes, there needs to be a National Service Franchise Administration. Its primary function should be to gather information for use by the states and indeed by individuals seeking (for instance) a locality that sustains an NSFA program most congenial to their inclination. . . . But the NSFA, observing its mandate, should also recommend appropriate legislation to Congress, legislation having primarily to do with federal sanctions.
These are “freedom-loving conservatives”? (Humph. With “conservatives” like this, who needs communists?)
So the “national service” crowd seem to believe that we should be grateful for our enslavement. That is why so many of the nationalists, collectivists and statists are so resentful toward libertarians. We libertarians actually appreciate the idea of freedom of choice, freedom of movement, self-ownership, voluntary association and voluntary contract. You see, when you let people have their freedom, then the State has less control over your life, and the nationalists, collectivists and statists whose self-identity is closely linked to their love for the State also feel a loss of control.
But in regards to this call that others serve the nation, to most people the “nation” or the State is really an abstract concept which is based on myths and a religious worship of this god the State.
Sheldon Richman and Jacob Hornberger in their discussion mentioned James Bovard who has written extensively on the sham that is AmeriCorps (a.k.a. ObamaCorps). Here is Bovard’s most recent piece on that.
The truth is, human beings own their own lives, they are not owned by the State, the “nation,” their neighbors, the community. It is not the State or the nation that provides your freedom. Your freedom is a natural thing that you have inherently.
But the only people to whom you “owe” anything are those with whom you have established actual contracts that would involve agreed-to transactions or trades.
In my 2009 response to Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy’s calls to revive Bill Clinton’s “AmeriCorps,” I wrote,
Here are some examples of how people serve others: steel workers and carpenters in the manufacturing sector serve the companies they work for, but are really serving the actual consumers who need the items they produce, such as computers, trucks and office buildings. There are people in the service sector who serve people who need groceries, get coffee at the local diner and clothes at the department store. And of course there are charities who serve the needs of those who can’t afford the daily necessities. And there are professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants who serve many people’s needs.The people in the “social services” sector such as nurses and nurses’ aides serve the needs of medical patients and teachers serve the needs of children and young adults who need to be educated.
Now, the people in all these groups are not forced nor coerced to serve others; they do it voluntarily, and yes, most of them are paid for their work. They receive a financial compensation which is in their self-interest and they do a service to others, and their work is not planned or mandated by state authority with the armed force of legal compulsion. At the same time, there are many, many people throughout the population who do volunteer work, also in absence of government mandates or coercion–they do it out of their own genuine concern for others. People who lack that concern will probably not do volunteer work even if it’s mandated by government. You would have to have state-imposed conscription to force them to do such “involuntary servitude.” However, their sacrifice is not needed.
In fact, the “national service” people really don’t like that kind of voluntary trade and association. They seem to need some kind of sense of control over others in which “service” is valid when it is compelled and controlled by bureaucrats, based on some belief that we as individuals are owned by the State (or by the collective of the community). This has been the philosophy behind AmeriCorps, and other kinds of “national service,” as well as being the same kind of philosophy behind many government regulations and bureaucratic intrusions in our personal and economic lives.