Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Conscription’

Russia’s Draft and America’s Draft Registration

Posted by M. C. on October 1, 2022

by Jacob G. Hornberger

I find it fascinating how often Americans are being reminded of how similar the United States and Russia have become. 

First, there was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Hey, the U.S. does invasions too. Afghanistan and Iraq come to mind.

Second, there was the recent arrest, prosecution, conviction, and 9-year jail sentence for Brittney Griner for violating Russia’s drug laws. Hey, the U.S. has drug laws too and also sends people away for long periods of time for drug-law violations.

Third, trade restrictions, travel restrictions, and immigration controls. 

Fourth, a central bank, fiat (i.e., paper) money, and legal-tender laws.

Fifth, a government-regulated and government-managed economy, including minimum-wage laws.

We could also mention torture, indefinite detention, mass secret surveillance, tribunals, and state-sponsored assassinations. Both regimes engage in all of them. 

And now there is the draft. Russian President Vladimir Putin is resorting to conscription to force Russian men to go and fight in his war against Ukraine. Thousands of Russian men are now fleeing the country to avoid being drafted.

See the rest here

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TGIF: The Scourge of Conscription

Posted by M. C. on October 1, 2022

by Sheldon Richman 

The central government would then require an army to enforce conscription, just as it believed it needed conscription to raise an army. Webster said:

It will be the solemn duty of the State Governments to protect their own authority over their own Militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State Governments exist, and their highest obligations bind them to the preservation of their own rights and the liberties of their people. [Emphasis added.]

How is that not nullification?


By now Randolph Bourne’s observation that “war is the health of the state” ought to be such a cliche that it would hardly need to be said. And yet, it must be said — often — because many still haven’t gotten the word.

If the state is the adversary of liberty, as it nearly always has been, then it follows that war is also the ill health of liberty. And when one thinks of war, one ought also to think of conscription because it’s often somewhere close by. In a perverse way, Americans have been lucky. The divisive decade-long Vietnam war and access to the latest war-making technology have made the draft just a bad memory for Americans since 1973 and politically toxic. Repeated attempts to bring it back, even with “national service” packaging fortunately have failed.

Outrageously, however, American men 18-25 must register with the euphemistically named Selective Service System, as they’ve been required to do since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Make no mistake about it. This is not a registration for a benign contest. As the Selective Service website states:

While there is currently no draft, registration with the Selective Service System is the most publicly visible program during peacetime that ensures operational readiness in a fair and equitable manner. If authorized by the President and Congress, our Agency would rapidly provide personnel to the Department of Defense while at the same time providing an Alternative Service Program for conscientious objectors.

How reassuring. The draft is always in the wings. And the penalty for the felony of not registering is a $250,000 fine and/or a five-years prison term.

The evil of slavery is almost universally appreciated, so why is the draft, which is slavery with an expiration date and high risk of death and injury, not universally condemned? Is it because in many places people believe that governments ultimately own their subjects and may dispose of them as they see fit?

The draft has been in the news lately because Russia, the invader, and Ukraine, the invaded, compel men into combat and other military “service.” It is encouraging that neither Russians nor Ukrainians are fans of that policy. Russian men are protesting and some are getting out of the country. Ukraine has had to forbid men from leaving. Many people just don’t relish war.

It should go without saying that if individuals have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then individuals have the right to decide when they will take up arms, free of a despotic elite or majority. We may not always like the consequences of freedom, but that’s how it is.

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Don’t Draft Women (Or Men Either) | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on October 13, 2021

But the NDAA also often contains domestic innovations like this year’s inclusion of provisions “grant[ing] military courts the authority to strip servicemembers of their Second Amendment rights without due process and without the servicemember being present in court to defend themselves.”

After all, if women want to go help bomb children in Afghanistan—and join the Pentagon in losing wars across the globe—they are free to volunteer.

You can count on war party water carriers like Kelly, Toomey and Casey to jump on the NDAA bandwagon.

by Ryan McMaken

As in many previous years, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is chock-full of terrible legislation slyly inserted for the purposes of concealing matters from the public. Both parties have been long guilty of this, with both groups using the NDAA to pass police state legislation increasing federal spying and law enforcement powers.

All of the NDAA should be considered controversial, since so much of it is devoted to perpetuating the US’s aggressive, wasteful, and counterproductive efforts at global hegemony. But the NDAA also often contains domestic innovations like this year’s inclusion of provisions “grant[ing] military courts the authority to strip servicemembers of their Second Amendment rights without due process and without the servicemember being present in court to defend themselves.”

Unfortunately, though, the only provision that seems to be attracting a lot of attention is the so-called daughter draft which expands mandatory Selective Service registration to women.

In other words, the legislation expands what is de facto conscription, since it sets up the US government to enact an active draft with ease and to track down all the young people who are to be forced into military service should the federal government decide to do so.

Any opposition to expansion of the draft is welcome. Yet the reasons for the opposition—mostly coming from conservatives—amount to little more than weak-tea arguments wrapped up in the usual promilitary pablum we’ve come to expect from the Right. These arguments ultimately boil down to saying, “Yes, it’s perfectly fine to enslave young men for a period of years in service of the state. Just don’t do it with women.”

With “opponents” granting such draconian state acts this level of deference and legitimacy, it’s no surprise the regime turns around and decides “the draft is for everybody” after all.

Of course expanding the draft to woman should be opposed, but meaningful opposition must come in the form of opposition to conscription overall. After all, the worst part of conscription is the fact the real-world effect of any draft is a massive expansion in government power over the lives of the population.

Conscription as a 100 Percent Tax

“Conscription is slavery,” Murray Rothbard wrote in 1973, and while temporary conscription is obviously much less bad—assuming one outlives the term of conscription—than many other forms of slavery, conscription is nevertheless a nearly 100 percent tax on the production of one’s mind and body. If one attempts to escape his confinement in his open-air military jail, he faces imprisonment or even execution in many cases.

States have long implicitly recognized the fundamental nature of conscription as a form of taxation. In Switzerland, for example, young men who are found unfit for military service are assessed an additional tax for a period of years in lieu of military service. In other places, such as the United States, where state and local conscription existed prior to the Civil War, those with means were able to avoid military service by paying an additional tax of various sorts or paying for “substitutes.”

Conscription remains popular among states because it is an easy way to directly extract resources from the population. Just as regular taxes partially extract the savings, productivity, and labor of the general population, conscription extracts virtually all of the labor and effort of the conscripts.

Conscription as a Weapon in the Culture War

If the debate over this issue continues, we’re likely to hear a lot about how “fairness” and egalitarianism require an expansion of the Selective Service System. It’s part of the Pentagon’s much-touted mission in expanding roles for “transgendered” people and other groups who have presumably been unjustly denied the opportunity to participate in the latest “regime change” scheme.

But those claims are all distractions from the central issue here, which is the state’s power over the citizen.

After all, if women want to go help bomb children in Afghanistan—and join the Pentagon in losing wars across the globe—they are free to volunteer. Whether or not women can be directly involved in military acts, however, is a completely separate issue from conscription and the Selective Service. There is a difference between opening up military jobs to women and forcing women into military service.

Besides, if fairness is a concern, there’s an easy way to achieve fairness on this issue: abolish the Selective Service for everybody. It’s as easy as that. It wouldn’t even cost a dime of taxpayer money. Simply shred the records, fire everyone who works for Selective Service, and lease out the office space to organizations that do something useful. Then, we won’t have to hear anything about “discrimination” or the alleged sexism implicit in a policy that outrageously neglects to force women to work for the government against their will.

But Isn’t This Just a Symbolic Gesture?

Some who want to expand Selective Service for egalitarian reasons are claiming that it’s all just symbolic anyway, because the draft “will never happen.”

It’s a mistake to think that the draft could never return because people supposedly would overwhelmingly oppose people being forced into combat. Even if that is the case, there is no reason at all why conscription could not be used to draft people for noncombat positions. After all, only a very small portion of the military ever sees combat. The vast majority of soldiers are involved in logistics, transportation, and desk jobs such as computer programming.

Only a small portion of military deaths occur in combat. Most deaths in the military are due to accidents.

Additionally, there is no reason that Selective Service could not be modified to be used to draft people for so-called national service positions in which conscripts would perform noncombat bureaucratic and manual labor jobs. Austria and Switzerland (which have conscription) allow this option for those morally opposed to combat. And historically—such as during World War II—“service” was imposed on conscientious objectors, who were forced to work on farms or perform other types of manual labor in special camps.

So no, the draft is not “hypothetical,” “symbolic,” or something that “will never happen.”

Numerous countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia still employ conscription, and it is hardly some kind of never-used relic from the distant past.

Military service is one thing, the editors at National Review once wrote, but forcing women into it is “barbarism,” they admit. They’re half right. It is indeed barbarism to force women to fight wars for the state. But the same is also true of conscription for men.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute

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Conscription Is Slavery – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2019


…Yes, I know America has a volunteer army. And yes, I know that it has proven sufficient to fight America’s forever foreign wars for the past several decades. But the fact is that all that could change overnight if U.S. officials were to embroil the United States in a war that the volunteer army couldn’t handle on its own. In that case, the Pentagon and the CIA would not hesitate to advise the president to immediately initiate the draft.

After all, that’s the point of draft registration. When a male reaches the age of 18, he is required by law to register for the draft. With draft registration, the Pentagon has a ready list of people to conscript at a moment’s notice, should the necessity arise.

What happens if a young man refuses to register for the draft? He is criminally prosecuted, convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail. There is nothing voluntary about draft registration…

After all, we call it by that fancy word “conscription” or even by the less fancy term “the draft,” but the fact is that it’s really nothing more than slavery. The state orders a person to leave his life and report to a military installation, where he is required to serve the state, specifically the military, and obey its orders. The draftee has no effective choice. If he refuses, he goes to jail.

That’s the very essence of slavery. A slave is required to serve another person or another entity. He has no effective choice. If he refuses, he is severely punished.

There is no way to reconcile conscription with the principles of a free society. The big problem, of course, is that Americans have been born and raised under this system and, equally important, have been taught that they are living in a free society. Therefore, most Americans (libertarians excepted, of course) are not able to recognize that it’s the exact opposite — that everyone is living in an unfree society, one in which everyone within a certain age group can be enslaved on a moment’s notice and be forced to kill or be killed in one of the national-security establishment’s foreign wars. Ironically, with conscription freedom is destroyed in the name of protecting “freedom” or “national security” in some faraway land.

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The 13th Amendment – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2019

The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service should be called the Slavery Commission. Requiring Americans to perform public service or serve in the military is akin to slavery no matter what the Supreme Court says. Forcing someone to work in a particular occupation—even if you pay him—is wrong, even when the government does it.

A free person owns himself.


Although the word slavery does not appear in the body of the Constitution, the “peculiar institution” is alluded to in Article I, sections 2 and 9, and Article 4, section 2. This changed with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by the Senate in April of 1864 and by the House in January of 1865. It was ratified by the necessary number of states in December of 1865.

Although the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, it does not apply to the U.S. government.

In the Selective Draft Law Cases (1918), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that military conscription did not amount to involuntary servitude. Said the Court’s unanimous decision: Read the rest of this entry »

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Libertarian Lessons: Conscription – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on August 24, 2018

“If the state may force a man to risk death or hideous maiming and crippling, in a war declared at the state’s discretion, for a cause he may neither approve of nor even understand, if his consent is not required to send him into unspeakable martyrdom – then, in principle, all rights are negated in that state, and its government is not man’s protector any longer.”


Authoritarians love conscription because it turns human beings into resources, for the factory or the battlefield. The idea receives support from across the political spectrum, either (a) to fight wars abroad, or (b) for the development of a “youth corps” providing “free” services at home. Neither excuse justifies enslaving young people to serve the interests of the political class… Read the rest of this entry »

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