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 u201Ccommon ground.u201D
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 u201Cuniversal liability of all to serveu201D as the State ordains.
u201COne 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,u201D Edwards said Sunday (May 20) during a stop in Neene, New Hampshire. u201CWe 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.u201D
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 u201Copportunity.u201D The words u201Cmandatoryu201D and u201Copportunityu201D 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 u201Cwilling,u201D the other u201Cvery willing.u201D
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, extend to the rest of us an u201Copportunityu201D to surrender our time, property, and lives in the State’s service. Our u201Cprivilegeu201D 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 u201Cserviceu201D 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.
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, u201CA 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.’u201D
“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 propositionu201D u201C[O]ur national authority has the right under the Constitution, to every dollar and every right arm in the country for its protection….u201D (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 u201Cwar socialismu201D system for which conscription provided a foundation:
u201CEvery 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.u201D
Edwards wants to remove U.S. Troops from Iraq, while designing a u201Cstrategic planu201D 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 u201Cserviceu201D 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.