Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I am a Fascist.

So yeah, every so often in the news, there's something about THE DRAFT and everyone goes completely fucking bonkers. Sometimes it's almost as if the media is like, "Hey, have we mentioned anything about the draft lately?" and some dude in the back is like, "Uh naw, it's about that time," and then they mention it again, juuuust to keep people on their toes. Juuuust to instill the right amount of paranoia to keep people against hostile engagements with people who would chop off your head without thinking twice.

I find this interesting on a number of different levels -- I wonder what peoples' reasons for being against the draft would be, i,e. would they be based on an ideal or simple self preservation? They'd rather not be bothered? How many people would actually go, and if they did, how many of them would be malingering little bitches? In this day and age, how many people would decide that society had called upon them, and as someone who enjoys the benefits of society, it was time for them to make a little sacrifice of their own? What would the breakdown of socio-economic levels look like? Interesting stuff, I reckon.

Robert Heinlein has some wicked social commentaries in his books. His basic message is usually something like this: 1) The needs of the individual will never take precedence over the needs of society, 2) everyone needs to do their part, and 3) average individuals can do huge things when they work together and are creative. I'm sure there are a lot of other things in there too, but those are the 3 that I came up with just now. Anywho, in Starship Troopers (it's a good book, so don't bash it just cuz you thought the movie was goofy, which it was, but it still kicked ass in its own right), in order to be a citizen / vote / run for public office, you had to do national service. Here was the idea: People choosing the nation's leaders and people who actually were the nation's leaders had to be a part of something that was difficult to join, easy to quit, and required a person to have some serious perseverance for a selfless reason. If you quit or didn't join, you could enjoy the benefits of society, but you had no say in how society was run or who would run it.

OK, yeah, the book is fiction, and no bug creatures are hurling asteroids at our planet, but it's a pretty interesting idea - something that I think about a lot. I often wonder how practical it would be to have an enforced national service policy in the USA, keeping in mind that joining the Military is not the only way a person can serve their country. Jobs like being a teacher, public defender, cop, nurse, etc etc could count, and everyone would have to do, say, 3 years of "national service" in order to earn the right to vote and hold public office. Three years is not a lot of time. A person could graduate high school or college, do their three years, not get paid very much, then move on. It wouldn't even have to be like South Korea, where if men don't do their 2 years required service in the military, they can't get a job. You could get a job without doing national service, no problem. You could make a fuckload of money right out of college. But you would not be able to participate in choosing elected officials because you don't place a high value on doing your part. Maybe people who stayed on in their "national service" jobs could get pay raises, tax breaks, etc.. I think that after the system was in place for a while, it would be "self propagating' in a way. Maybe being able to vote would be a cool thing; something people would aspire to be able to do. Maybe the general attitude would be, "Well, I did my time, you need to do yours too, punk." Maybe it would motivate people to go out there and earn the privledge to vote. Taking part in the political process would require more than just words or casting a ballot - it would require a person to actually contribute and make sacrifices to assist society, and the act of voting would have a certain amount of credibility and self sacrifice attached to it.

OK, so I'm sure there are people that would read the aforementioned madness and flip-the-freak-out. I'd like to hear reasons why it's fucked up or fascist or blahblahblah. I'm not talking about logistical problems, administrative problems, etc, cuz I know that would be a complete nightmare, especially since if it WERE implemented a lot of people would be looking for ways to get out of it but still maintain the right to vote.

Your thoughts?

6 Comments:

Blogger Never A Dull Moment said...

would Hong be allowed to vote?...me thinks no.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

dude, voting rights have to be based on Pro and Cons marks...

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Cory said...

So, which are you talking about, a required 'service requirement' for people (a la Germany, Russia, etc.) or a Heinleinian 'Become a citizen' requirement? You talk about both, but I think you mean Heinlein.

I'll assume Heinlein.

Playing devil's advocate, here's the Cons:

Without a "Coventry" to escape to, you are forced into the 'society' regardless of what you do. Thus, you gain the benefits of the society, as you mentioned, but also the failings of society are forced upon you whether you 'serve' in the society or not (which isn't mentioned as much when people discuss the 'required service' idea). Urban crime, overpopulation, wars you don't believe in, mandated religions, environmental destruction, etc. are all things Heinlien points out are the result of an overreaching society (or the Native Americans could tell you). In order to 'change' this society you would have to be a direct participant in these things you don't agree with ("...for 2 or more years as determined by the Federation..."). And not just being forced to be a soldier if you disagree with killing people, but even if you're something as mundane as a teacher you have to teach the history as determined by the state (shaping more society-followers). People who agree with how things are going will be more likely to join up, and the status quo won't change, as they'll always be the majority over those who disagree with how things are going (where fewer are willing to compromise their "morals" for so long.)

Like in "Future History" where there is the 'New Messiah' and he totally sucks. Then you gotta join the Masons if you wanna get something done.

Basically, I don't think it would work well unless there were giant bugs that were invading our space (or those Skinnie bastards) and threatening our survival.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Mmm mmm.. Good points. I kind've came to the realization that a "national service" policy would pretty much ensure a republican government. That's a really good point about the somewhat corrupt content taught in schools by such teachers - I hadn't thought about that. Maybe I should watch Starship Troopers again. *sigh*

In any case, I do think that it would kind've force people to be a little more politically proactive (as opposed to reactive or passive aggressive). Again, political activism would truly be political activism, as opposed to activism through passive-half-assed-ism and/or political passive aggression (sitting at home running your mouth and sniping shit.)

Still, based on the voter turnouts and the percentage of votes in the last 2 elections, I'd venture to say that the depending on the states, teachers probably wouldn't teach anything different. I can go down south and be told I'm going to hell and that I'm a communist for not accepting the baby jesus as is. I don't think national service would change that, and people are teachers now even though there is very little monetary/social status involved. If anything, making it an option for required service might actually bring the quality of teachers down because people would just be "biding their time" until they could do something else. I guess expecting people to do their best at whatever they do is something that isn't realistic...

I like the mention about coventry. That was a good story. I understand that one of the risks of "too much government" is the idea of things spiralling out of control until we find ourselves in a similar situation, but I often wonder if that's a bit of a cop out for not doing anything to help things and keeping the "status quo," however fucked up it might be. People don't like putting themselves out and making mistakes, I guess.

I don't even know why I'm talking about this. I claim to hate talking about politics, and here I am talking to Cory about it. I'm gonna punch you right in the gizzard the next time I see you. I guess that's a testament to how much ass Heinlein kicks. Or kicked. He's not kickin much of anything now I reckon. Anyway, I better get back to my job. Your tax dollars at work and all that. =)

9:03 AM  
Anonymous cory said...

Service guarantees citizenship

3:07 PM  
Blogger That Guy said...

That's a great idea, to be honest with you. Maybe the govt. could implement a policy of grandfathering in all of the people that are legal voting age as of the implementation date and everyone who is of minority age has to earn the right to vote.

So many people have the opportunity to shape the government of our country and so few take advantage of it.

Japan has a democracy. They vote for Diet memebers...the majority party's leader becomes the defacto prime minister...so in essence you can have great legislators with a dumbass for PM...I think Koizumi is great for Japan, maybe ahead of his time; but many Japanese think otherwise...they don't like him. Apparently they like his party though. So in voting for his party they inadvertently vote for him...I think England has the same system, I'm not sure though.

America is one of the few countries in which we directly elect our leader...we actualy have a say. The electoral college goes by our voting, for the most part. So we actually pick our leaders. That is the biggest priviledge we have as Americans. People who don't vote should gradually lose priviledges granted to them as they skip each election...with the eventual penalty being short term jail sentences. Unless the right to vote was never earned...

That might be extreme, but there is a reason we have the freedoms we do as Americans...fascist dictators will never be in power, people like Vladimir Putin will never be elected into office. People should have to earn the right to vote.

The right to vote should be allowed to be earned at any age...

Let me know if I just rambled again...i tend to do that.

9:30 AM  

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