Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Down With the Draft! or How Ron Paul Could Win

John Edwards may have performed an unintended service for the Ron Paul presidential campaign.

First, he has decided to position himself as an anti-war candidate, a move that attests to the political potency of that issue.

Second, Edwards has endorsed the proposal to re-institute slavery in the form of conscription, for both military and non-military purposes. This exposes him as a consummate fraud and opportunist, a fact that will throw Dr. Paul's authentic anti-war convictions into sharp relief. Edwards has also handed the Paul campaign a nearly ideal unifying element to build a youth movement that could – I'm not saying that it will, but that it could – redefine the 2008 electoral landscape.

Through the simple and repeated act of telling the unadorned truth about the impact and consequences of Washington's imperial foreign policy, Rep. Paul ignited the blogosphere, infuriated the gatekeepers of the Bu'ushist cult, and provoked astonished approval from those parts of the voting public who want to be treated as adults. His message, digested to its essence, is that our rulers have led our nation into disrepute and impending bankruptcy by bullying the rest of the world – and that this must stop immediately if we are to have any prospect of avoiding outright dictatorship and penury.

Rarely, if ever, has a national political figure of any stature called attention so forcefully to the inescapable connection between an imperial foreign policy abroad, and the constriction of liberty at home. And the fashion in which Dr. Paul has done so – speaking the truth in language devoid of cant or other rhetorical artifacts, retaining his composure and avuncular dignity amid the theatrical faux outrage of Establishment lickspittles (yeah, I'm talking to you, Hannity) and aspiring dictators (yo, that's you, Rudy) – has elevated his message above Republican primary politics: He has achieved trans-partisan status by speaking about freedom as the “common ground.”

I suspect that Dr. Paul's success in capturing the public imagination through an anti-imperialist campaign influenced John Edwards to re-brand himself as an anti-Iraq War candidate. But there is nothing principled about Edwards' current position: It would have taken a measure of courage to oppose the war clearly and forcefully in March 2003, as Ron Paul did.

Every other presidential aspirant on either side of the narrow Donkey/Pachyderm divide is a collectivist of some variety – from militarist nationalists like John McCain and Tom Tancredo to technocratic corporatists like Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton. John Edwards is trying to get some of that post-New Deal-labor movement-popular front Mojo going for him by opposing the war and calling for enactment of the eighth plank of the Communist Manifesto, which dictates a “universal liability of all to serve” as the State ordains.

One of the things we ought to be thinking about is some level of mandatory service to our country, so that everybody in America – not just the poor kids who get sent to war – are serving this country,” Edwards said Sunday (May 20) during a stop in Keene, New Hampshire. “We have people from all walks of life in America who are serving, including Reservists and National Guard. What we want to do is to have all Americans to have a chance to serve their country.”

Hey, don't think of it as a death sentence -- think of it as a "chance to serve your country" (in your case, as the main course).

I am constantly amazed by the unctuous dishonesty with which collectivists describe servitude as an “opportunity.” The words “mandatory” and “opportunity” are blood enemies. Those who force them into an unnatural marriage remind me of a story I came across years ago in a book entitled Showa: The Age of Hirohito.

As the Pacific War was grinding down, a Japanese commander summoned a squadron of fighter pilots and told them that they had received an opportunity to die for the Emperor in Kamikaze attacks. Each of them was handed two ballots and ordered to choose the one that best described his attitude regarding that opportunity; one ballot read “willing,” the other “very willing.”

The fearful summons: The State steals a young man's future.

Such is always the case when the State and those running it, out of their boundless generosity and magnanimity, extent to the rest of us an “opportunity” to surrender our time, property, and lives in the State's service. Our “privilege” in this transaction is to submit with docility – nay, with happy gratitude – to whatever imposition our rulers see fit to inflict on us, including the surrender of our lives in their service.

This is emphatically not the same thing as serving our country. Every individual who provides any useful service, whether as a volunteer, an employee, or a businessman, is serving our country. Collectivists believe that coercion is the magic ingredient that makes State-imposed “service” morally superior to private industriousness. They have the sovereign right to luxuriate in their delusions. Should they seek to inflict them on my family, they will do so at their mortal peril.

I am utterly and completely serious.

Conscription is chattel slavery of the most pernicious variety. It is intrinsically immoral and entirely unconstitutional. The Bible records that when apostate Israel sought a king, the prophet Samuel offered a detailed warning of the tyranny and corruption the monarchy would bring in its train; the very first curse he mentioned was conscription.

Conscripts were employed in King George III's war against the American colonies, along with enlistees and mercenaries. On one occasion, writes Stanley Weintraub in his splendid book Iron Tears: America's Battle for Freedom, Britain's Quagmire, 1175-1783, “A group of hungry [British] soldiers on short rations were shot while foraging for potatoes in an open field, and [General Sir John] Burgoyne warned, `The life of the soldier is the property of the king' – and that any Redcoat caught venturing beyond British lines would be `instantly hanged.'”

"The life of the soldier is the property of the king." Or president. Or dictator.

Such is the nature of conscription, which is why it has no place in any society that claims to be free.

In defending the Lincoln regime's imposition of conscription during the War Between the States, the New York Times published a house editorial on July 13, 1863 that digested the case for the draft to one simple proposition” “[O]ur national authority has the right under the Constitution, to every dollar and every right arm in the country for its protection....” (Emphasis added) As I've pointed out before, this makes obvious the fact that through conscription, the subjects exist to protect the government, rather than the government existing to protect citizens.

Bernard Baruch, Woodrow Wilson's commissar for war production, was similarly blunt in his description of the WWI-era “war socialism” system for which conscription provided a foundation:

Every man’s life is at the call of the nation and so must be every man’s property. We are living today in a highly organized state of socialism. The state is all; the individual is of importance only as he contributes to the welfare of the state. His property is his only as the state does not need it. He must hold his life and possessions at the call of the state.”

Edwards wants to remove U.S. Troops from Iraq, while designing a “strategic plan” to deal with the genocidal inter-communal war that has been made inevitable by US intervention. This would require a large permanent US presence in the region, and almost certainly mean involvement in military conflicts beyond Iraq. This, in turn, will mean expanding the ranks of the military through involuntary servitude, with civilian “service” being treated as a concomitant civic responsibility.

Assuming that Muslim radicals hate us for our freedom, the Edwards approach would solve that problem by extinguishing freedom.

Ron Paul's approach is much better: End the war, bring the troops home, resume the practice of genuinely even-handed diplomacy abroad, and reduce the size and expense of domestic government by several orders of magnitude. Opposition to conscription is an obvious and indispensable element of that program, and one that would capture the attention of freedom-focused young people.

Ron Paul's anti-imperialist campaign has already gone viral. Imagine how his campaign would expand and prosper if he mounted a youth appeal focusing on a promise not to let the State steal their future through conscription.


... are due to Kevin and Ellen Bearly for the exceptional generosity they displayed to me and my family while I was in Los Angeles to address the United Republicans of California convention last Saturday. Kevin and Ellen opened their home to Korrin, Katrina, Sophia and me, fed us extravagantly, and treated us with amazing kindness.

I'd also like to thank UROC for inviting me to speak, Scott Watson and family for helping with the travel arrangements, Marvin Pro-Life Richardson (his legal name is, simply, Pro-Life) and family for billeting our sons over the weekend, and Robert Malaby for inviting me to speak at the Bible Missionary Church in Pomona on Sunday. God bless all of you!

Please be sure to drop by The Right Source!


Local Ale said...

Worth noting, Reagan made abolishing Selective Service part of his 1980 campaign and he almost went through with but Al Haig talked him out of it (or so the story goes.)

cindy25 said...

I agree with you that Ron Paul is the best choice for 2008, but what are your thoughts about Mike Gravel?

William N. Grigg said...

Cindy, I've been impressed with Gravel's candor and clarity -- how could one NOT be impressed with a guy who looks at the consultant-controlled warbot Replicants sharing the debate platform and say, "Some of these people frighten me"? -- but I have some pretty serious problems with him.

Perhaps the largest is the fact that Gravel has long promoted a second constitutional convention, which I think would be an unmitigated disaster. For some reason, Gravel will quite sensibly say that Congress and the President have been violating the Constitution -- and then in the next breath suggest that we should radically revise that same neglected Constitution.

There are some changes I'd like to see in the Constitution -- abolition of eminent domain, for instance, as well as elimination of the congressional power to suspend habeas corpus -- but a Con-Con would leave us in even worse shape.

If I recall correctly, I interviewed Gravel at some UN or UN Association conference over a decade ago and was grudgingly impressed with him, albeit not entirely on the same page philosophically.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grigg,

I just stumbled across your blog by clicking a link place within your commentary on lewrockwell.com, and I must say, what a breath of fresh air you are. A Christian Libertarian...I LOVE it. I'm going to read several of your previous pieces, in an attempt to get a clearer picture of you and your beliefs, but thus far I am nothing but impressed with you.

Thank you, and unless you object, I will be passing the link to your blog to everyone I know. Good day.

A Radical Whig in Chattanooga said...

Actually, Daniel Webster gave a speech in the US House of Representatives back in 1814 that "Conscription" was Unconstitutional. His speech is in the book "War and Leviathan". Quite a bit of it may be found here (Do we feel a draft in the air?):


Note that this was before the 13th Amendment.

Anonymous said...

If a man/woman cannot freely, and of their own volition, defend as they see fit, not under compulsion or force, their nation/home, then they are indeed NOT free in any sense of the word, and those and the nation they purport to represent are to be rejected. Thats tyranny folks! Plain and simple. No uniformed goon is going to take my children without a fight.

dixiedog said...

I seem to recall The New American had published articles opposing a Con-Con in past issues, IIRC, especially as it pertained to being the driving force for adding a BBA to the Constitution (perhaps even authored by you?), but it is nevertheless somewhat ironic to me that you would say:

There are some changes I'd like to see in the Constitution -- abolition of eminent domain, for instance, as well as elimination of the congressional power to suspend habeas corpus -- but a Con-Con would leave us in even worse shape.

Where's the irony, you may be asking? Like I said, the irony here is probably only unique to me, but the irony is that the very same kind of event, a Con-Con, had transpired in 1787 to draft the original Constitution out of the baggage of the Articles of Confederation, would NOW be an unmitigated disaster.

Hmmm, why would that be exactly in your view, Will? What specific reason(s) would you pony up for claiming it "would be an unmitigated disaster?" And the specific reason(s) can't conveniently be because a Con-Con couldn't be constrained or limited to the disputed issue(s) at hand. Why could it not be so limited?

After all, that would be nothing new, as anything and everything was also on the table back in 1787, as well, and the Founders (that era's "elites") must have thought that a future Con-Con would be, at the very least, an acceptable Constitution-altering process, however risky, or they wouldn't have made it one of the two ways to amend the Constitution (per Article V) to start with.

Could it be that you yourself think that today's commoners, as well as today's corresponding politicos, are not built from the same hardy moral mold of those of the Founding era?


Just to be clear, Will, I also think a latter day Con-Con would be a disaster, but for precisely the reasons I've said in the past here repeatedly in other contexts. In essence, that would be that the commoners are not built of the same moral fiber of the commoners of yore and/or are way too dependency-minded to be able to collectively keep their passions bridled and, thereby, keep a convention constrained to just the critical issue(s) in question that initiated and promulgated the call for a Con-Con in the first place.

I think it would indeed become a ballyhooed porkfest as well as, by extension, a probable death knell in toto for freedom from debauchery and depravity as well as from the State elitists' desires for conscription and other forms of involuntary servitude.

The reality is that, not only are the commoners themselves NOT of the caliber of their 18th century forebears, but also by extension authority figures and elites as well. I'd venture to say that no current politician today, except for Ron Paul, even approaches the caliber of character possessed by the likes of Washington, Jay, Madison, Hamilton, or even the much later Crockett of the early 19th century.

Ergo, may I never see a Con-Con in my lifetime and I'd add that method of amendment to your short list of desired abolitions.

William N. Grigg said...

D.D., it obviously comes as no surprise to you that I would be horrified at the prospect of a Con-Con in the age of "American Idol" and identity group politics.

We were blessed beyond measure by the way the first Con-Con turned out. God is parsimonious in dispensing such blessings, I believe.