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Thursday, December 21, 20061166748000

The Fascist Right

At a time when a Center Right-Center Left coalition government may be in the works, where President Bush and Speaker Pelosi concentrate on victory in Iraq, immigration reform, minimum wage reform, tax relief, and other important issues, elements of the blogosphereic right continue to come unhinged.

The latest rabid right suggestion? A draft. Yup, it's not just for the party of slavery anymore.

Fascism and Liberty in the American Right

Mark Krikorian, writing at The Corner:

But I still think there would be enormous social benefits to universal (male) military service. I've long thought the way to reconcile this would be to have one-year mandatory service in the National Guard (or the reserves or the militia, which some states still have) — this would be separate from the active-duty military and could in fact serve as a recruiting vehicle for regular service. Essentially, this would amount to one year (say, July to July after graduation from high school) of basic training and emergency assistance (floods and the like), after which you either try to get in to the regular military or go on with your life.

Mario Loyla posted a technical rejection of the idea, against which Mark held on to his call for state-imposition of a militarized populace, As far as I can tell, no one on the blog has criticized him for his view's authoritarianism.

Update: More on the rabid right from Mark of ZenPundit.

Update 2: The Corner's Andrew Stuttaford steps up:

Well, Mark, it may be 'libertarian cowflap' to you, but the argument that the state has no right to kidnap its young people has considerable moral force. In fact, it's unanswerable. As for a draft being a device to inculcate patriotism, that rather depends on the type of patriotism you are trying to teach. If it's an American patriotism, it won't wash. The fundamental Anglo-American notion of liberty as it has evolved since at least the late 17th Century includes the idea that the state should not have the right to compel its citizens' labor in this way. Thus the British naval press gangs of the 18th Century are still remembered with disgust and thus the fact that male conscription was only introduced in the UK two years into the First World War. It's no coincidence that the one time in recent British history where we saw a peacetime draft ('national service' was the preferred euphemism) was between 1945 and 1960, an era when collectivist ideas prevailed, ideas, incidentally, that were reinforced and spread by the conscription process. Yes, a draft might produce a docile citizenry fit to delight a Rodham, a Blair, or a big government conservative, but other than in a profound national emergency (and compelling youngsters to dig ditches or whatever does not seem to fall into that category) it ought to have no part in a America still run according to the ideals of its founders. Is encouraging patriotism and a pride in this country a good thing? Absolutely. But is a draft the way to do it? No.

It's worth adding that, beyond the moral and political objections, there are, of course, the practical ones. Militarily, conscription would misallocate resources away from the creation of the specialist, technically advanced and highly trained armed services that are needed today, while the creation of non-military 'national service' would simply mean that government would delegate some of the functions it now performs incompetently, inadequately or, usually, both, to a force of underpaid, discontented and untrained conscripts who would make even more of a mess of it. That is not the way to go.

Thank God that the rabid right hasn't taken over all of the blogosphere.


These kinds of calls for instituting the draft really get under my skin. And none of this has anything to do with practical manpower needs but rather some guy sitting on his couch lost in a reverie at how he can force millions of men to be patriotic.

"...would help cultivate the patriotic solidarity that our society sorely needs."

You can't force people to be virtuous and you can't force people to be patriotic. Every unit organized under this plan would be poisoned by those who didn't want to be there. They would destroy the morale of the unit and the leaders would spend a huge amount of time trying to manage these people and punishing them. Plus after basic training these draftees would spend most of their time doing nothing because there is nothing for them to do. There aren't enough emergencies requiring a mass draftee response. Painting rocks, mowing lawns, picking up cigarette butts, GI-ing the latrine and stripping and buffing the CO's office do not lead to patriotic solidarity.

But think about it another way. On the one hand Sandy Berger is sentenced to 100 hours of community service (and 50k) as punishment for stealing and destroying classified documents in a successful effort to hide something relating to 9/11. On the other, every male in America, year after year, is forced to do 365 days of community service so that people like Krikorian (who himself won't be subject to the draft) can feel warm and fuzzy that "patriotic solidarity" is being instilled. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong about both of these.

Posted by: phil | Friday, December 22, 2006


A perfect comment. It's hard to think of a better parody of conservatism -- corrupt, arrogant, authoritarian, and militarist -- than what Kirkorian gradually writes.

Kirkorian combines the moral corruption of forcing one class to labor while another class is at leisure with the idiocy of believing that you can build morality at the barrel of a gun.

Not to mention that it's economically insane.

The posts are unspeakable angering.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, December 22, 2006