Universalized Conscriptionment

 It’s necessary ASAP. How else to get the country to move beyond caring and moping about to mobilizing against war? Plus, if we believe ourselves to be a powerful force for good we should have plenty more combat troops to enforce our goodness.

I’m not kidding.

(Title Bushinated so’s our children and leaders can understand. – Earl)


  1. acilius

     /  September 15, 2007

    I agree. As I see it, the one thing without which a republic cannot exist is a sense of shared responsibility for what is done in the name of the community. If all American citizens are responsible for what is done in the name of the USA, if any one of us might be buttonholed by a group of irate foreigners and faced with a demand that we justify our country’s policies, then we can insist that those policies be justifiable. The less we have to do with implementing American policy, the less it has to do with us, the less likely we are to feel that our honor is implicated in what our countrymen do around the world. When war is a matter between the commander-in-chief and his professional army, it becomes difficult to see why we civilians should expect to have a say in any aspect of military affairs. Moreover, professional soldiers, even when they are native-born, don’t reflect society in the same way that a conscript army does. Not only are their social backgrounds unrepresentative, but their choice of a military career marks them as a relatively uncommon type.

    I would go much further than you do. The biggest problem our society faces is bureaucracy- not the inefficiencies of bureaucracy, but its efficiency. A well-organized bureaucracy can deliver any comfort a person may wish. In the richer countries, it is hardly unreasonable to think that we might live in absolute luxury, if only we conform to the bureaucratic structures that surround us. So the easy thing is to confine our activity to the little sphere that is carved out for us and be passive in our relation to the state. We relate to the state as clients waiting to be served. It is for the experts to decide how they will minister to our needs.

    To restore a republic, we must find a way to restore community. So not only the ranks of the military, but as many public functions as possible, at as many levels of authority as possible, should be filled by drawing lots. Any job that the average person could do if called upon, should rotate among average persons. So, who collects the trash? This week it’s the lottery numbers 40-80. Who draws up legislative districts? This decade it’s the lottery numbers 1000 through 1100. Et cetera.

  2. lefalcon

     /  September 19, 2007

    Naturally it’s impossible for me to not agree with the basic “thrust” of what you guys are saying. In the case of the Iraq war, the only reason so many people were down with it in the first place, was because they essentially thought of it as a video game. Nobody can claim that 9/11 was entirely without good consequences, if one of these consequences is that people start realizing that what goes on inside their little protective bubble is often directly dependent on events elsewhere on the globe. Unfortunately this is precisely what most people have learned…while drawing precisely the wrong conclusions: We have to play many, many video games (= wage all kinds of wars all over the planet) to ensure that ***WE*** never have to suffer anything like the terrible havoc we are inflicting on other populations.

  3. acilius

     /  September 20, 2007

    The 9/11 attacks have had such an enormously long list of consequences that the law of large numbers would seem to require that there be at least a few items on that list that we could call good. Kind of like tobacco. Tobacco seems to have thousands of health effects, you’d think that at least some of those effects would have to be scattered on the positive side.

    As for global awareness, there was a moment in the first few days after the attacks when a lot of Americans seemed willing to consider some challenging ideas. So sales of Noam Chomsky’s books spiked, etc. But rather than seize that teachable moment and lead the nation towards a more mature understanding of our country’s role in the world, the leadership in Washington made a concerted effort to drum up panic. Clearly Bush/ Cheney and company had particular plans that the public would only support if it were in a state of panic, but I suspect something more general was at work there. Not only can the elite operate without popular interference when much of the public is in a state of panic, but they can more easily justify their existence to themselves and others when they can point to a general public in such a state. By the time of the anthrax scare in October 2002, Bush/ Cheney and company had talked much of America into just such a state. Before that, I’d say, real panic was more common among the elites than among the people at large.

    Again, it isn’t just foreign wars that panicky publics are willing to accept. They also accept impunity for the domestic operations of the security forces. We see this every day in the USA. So Congress’ response to the exposure of Bush/ Cheney’s illegal massive wiretapping was to legalize massive wiretapping. Their response to the exposure of illegal programs of torture has been to legalize programs of torture. And of course all of us have been on the receiving end of the unlimited power of the Transportation Security agents in airports.

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