How Could the Draft Not Be Slavery?
By Bryan Caplan
From the Free Dictionary:
slav·er·y 1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.
con·scrip·tion 1. Compulsory enrollment, especially for the armed forces; draft.
[A]s we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government
from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of
contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as
the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the
people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in
violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are
constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is
refuted by its mere statement.
It’s tempting to dismiss all this as doublethink, but after many years of reflection I think I finally figured out what most people are thinking. Namely: They implicitly regard slavery not as mere involuntary servitude, but as low-status involuntary servitude. Since most of us honor, respect, and even adore all our soldiers, conscripts have high status – and therefore can’t be slaves. From this point of view, saying “conscription is slavery” isn’t righteously standing up for the rights of conscripts; it’s wickedly denying them their high status. Sigh.