The Trick of Conscription
Tibor R. Machan
Most Americans seem to
think it is so quaint to be taken to be a member of the huge American family or
team or tribe. Btu it is a trick.
Being a member of some
group immediately creates obligations other members may impose. Team members must contribute to the team’s
efforts. Club members must pay dues.
Family members must do chores. And so on
In most instances,
however, one joints groups of one’s own initiative, without being forced into
membership. Apart from the draft, most
Americans aren’t familiar with forced labor, with being conscripted. They do not look upon paying taxes, for
example, as having their resources confiscated.
Most take it as a kind of fee for services. And quite a few actually claim that taxation
is voluntary, never mind that it isn’t.
The trick of getting
burdened by innumerable obligations that certain self-appointed leaders spell
out and enforce has to do with selling millions of people on the idea that
their lives belong to the nation or clan or tribe, not to them. Never mind that this goes squarely against
the American Founders’ idea that everyone has an unalienable right to his or
her life. We are now in the era of a
supposed second bill of rights which FDR concocted and which makes us all into
conscripts. We are forced to serve and
on terms we have but a little bit to do with.
Certainly the idea of the consent of the governed, the consent of the
taxed and taxed and taxed again and again, has disappeared from public discourse. Instead no one is asked for his or her
consent now; just being born makes one part of a team, with all the attendant
The best description of
this comes from the French father of sociology, Auguste Comte, who wrote two
hundred or so years ago:
"Everything we have belongs then to
Humanity…Positivism never admits anything but duties, of all to all. For its
social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of right, constantly
based on individualism. We are born
loaded with obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors,
to our contemporaries. Later they only
grow or accumulate before we can return any service. On what human foundation
then could rest the idea of right, which in reason should imply some previous
efficiency? Whatever may be our efforts,
the longest life well employed will never enable us to pay back but an
imperceptible part of what we have received.
And yet it would only be after a complete return that we should be
justly authorized to require reciprocity for the new services. All human rights then are as absurd as they
are immoral. This ["to live for others"],
the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively
to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man
must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely."
This is the public philosophy now in vogue, being
propagated by President Obama and Co.
And it is a vicious, enslaving thing, this is, certainly foreign to the
unique American political tradition.
The reason many are hoodwinked by it all is that of
course any self-respecting human being realizes that joining with other people
is a fine and dandy thing, indeed, provided those other people are themselves
decent folks and fully respect one’s human rights to one’s life, liberty and
property. In other words, if these
fellows do not kill, kidnap, or rob one, they are usually swell company.
But what we are having foisted upon us now is not
the idea of voluntary cooperation but of conscription. And that is a no-no.
I am not sure how these thuggish people will be
resisted—there are too many of them these days, sadly. But they must be resisted. They have no authority to bully us around. And I for one will keep agitating against
their perverse agenda so long as I have the energy to do so.