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Looking Into Conscription

Last updated on August 20, 2020

Photo Credit: Petras Maluka

In the wake of hostilities between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, the issue of manpower was brought up to the table after the defeat of the Union Army early in the war. The nation had been long divided on the issue of slavery for decades ever since the country was formed.

At stake were the lives of millions of African-Americans and the cotton industry, the culture of the South, and the unity of the country. Initially, the North had three main advantages: technology, finance, and population size.

However, the number of men needed to fight this war of attrition only amped upwards, with a draft eventually being put into place. The draft was a way to call up a substantial number of men in a short amount of time to fight a large-scale conflict like the American Civil War.

Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that a largely unanswered question came to be brought up by many people of the time of the ethics of a certain loophole privileged Americans could bypass the entire process: by hiring substitutes. If a certain individual had sufficient money, they were able to buy a substitute to essentially fight for them when the time came.

Although most Americans had no qualms about it at the time, as manpower soon became an issue of the past, it is an interesting topic of morality to which is still controversial to this day. Thereby, although substitution seems like a morally bad thing to do because of it essentially removing one’s duty to his or her country, it overall is the right thing to allow to happen.

Substitution should be allowed because fighting a nation’s war on a battlefield is not the only place where an individual can contribute to the conflict. Furthermore, the moral implications brought about by the controversial nature of not fighting for one’s nation should not be compared to the unloyalty of that citizen to their country.

It is often said that the individual who does not fight for one’s country is not contributing at all, therefore, he or she is not completing his or her duty. This logic essentially wraps up to be that the country will lose more in a fight because of this, which is wrong.

Blatantly giving everyone the same job is tantamount to the most unreasonable and immoral logic which will bring a nation apart in times of war. The essential building blocks of a nation, its leaders of industry, finance, governance, and other peacetime business operations will find itself crushed under the weight of having its leaders killed off in battle.

These men, who once had their companies led by competent and skilled leaders, will soon find themselves stuck and unable to move as efficiently as before. This lack of efficiency will impair a nation’s warfighting abilities, and soon with it, the balance shifting in favor of the enemy.

Not only advocating for the equal distribution of drafts to the populace is a dangerous idea, but it is also essentially giving the enemy a leg-up in a long, drawn-out war.

This idea surmounts to treason. Imagine sending off skilled laborers, mathematicians, engineers, and surgeons whose potential skills and lifesaving abilities are ended when they have no interest in fighting at all with no battlefield fighting capabilities.

If resources are allocated efficiently with intent to make sure the nation’s best interests are presented in an orderly manner, the country will be able to fight its wars more efficiently, and even more quickly.

This will bring down the costs of war, reducing the number of men lost, and making sure that human lives are saved. Not only is the intellectual sector of a country saved from slaughter, but the potential contributions to which they were originally planning to give to their nation.

These potential future contributions will inevitably build a nation up to a position of strength and power, as seen from the aftermath of the Second World War when America had come out of that conflict from a position of strength. It had allocated its intellectual resources efficiently.

Imagine having sent all of its mathematicians and scientists over to the front lines of Okinawa in the Pacific from the Manhattan project just because it was one’s duty to go out and serve.

It was arguably better to let them stay and research/ finish the atom bomb, which inevitably saved millions of both Japanese and American lives when these incredibly destructive devices ended the war early. Because these bombs ended the war early, America had a sure foothold in winning the war with millions of brothers, fathers, and uncles coming back home to their families.

One should not be labeled as unloyal to a nation because he or she will not fight on the battlefield for his or her country. But, as explained in the previous paragraph, it is not the only way to fight per se. However, just because it is the “most efficient way to allocate resources” does not mean it is completing one’s duty to his or her country.

As a citizen, a loyal one at that, it is a natural inclination to serve in the armed forces when called upon, no matter one’s station, wealth, or intellect. Because someone has their rights protected and allowed to be free in this great nation of ours, they must pay back this incredible freedom with their own time fighting against their country’s enemies.

Therefore, this amounts to the question of not how to efficiently fight a nation’s wars as efficiently as possible, but rather the question of one’s true loyalty to the ideal he or she has fundamentally inherited.

Rather than jumping on questions of logistics and technical difficulties encountered in warfighting, one can argue that it is the American ideal of equality that is at stake here.

Was not the fundamental cornerstone of our nation built on the idea that “all men are created equal”? Even the advocates of hiring substitutes often stopped to think upon this essential question. First off, this idea of American equality can only be protected through sheer ruthlessness and warfighting abilities.

Maybe it can be argued that such a precedent can set a dangerous path that can legitimize a hierarchical structure of society. However, one can also argue that there has always been an unofficial hierarchy of society.

If a nation cannot even win its wars, and maybe even capitulate to a foreign power, this hierarchy of society will become, not only “official”, but an even worse form of mandated hierarchy by the state, with quotas of taxation and ruthless regulations put into place.

The American ideal will be trampled in place of the enemy’s ideas of what a “just” society should look like, preferably to their pleasure. Thus, it should be the duty of every citizen to advocate for the efficient allocation of resources to not only fight physically on the battlefield but also the homefront.

We should try to be as utilitarian as possible in such an approach to protect our American ideals of equality, liberty, and justice from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The ideal of the king pops images into the heads of everyday people of regal pomp and majesty. A red carpet furnished with fine gold rolls down the palace entryway, and down the line comes a man and woman, dressed in the finest clothing imaginable, surrounded by noblemen and a cheering crowd. One of the pair’s heads displays a magnificent crown on their head.

They are the center of the nation. Or rather, as King Louis XIV loved to repeat, he was the nation. It was from France. Why are they the symbol of the nation? They represent the interests of that nation. It is not a position that is only full of relaxation and fun. It is a job and the same as any other position.

The difference in where the individual at that procession stood in either the crowd of people, or under the crown, is that they were set in different parts of the stage; the Sovereign was simply at the center, and the crowd was the supporting cast.

When the boss at work starts to abuse one of his workers, it is safe to assume that the employees will start to complain. He is not only abusing his position for personal indulgences but is forsaking his duties at the expense of the security and safety of the company. That boss has essentially committed treason and has committed a serious injustice.

He or she must work at his job. The company is his family. They are his brothers and sisters; a united front against their competition. Each of them has their own goals, but the end goal is all the same: to make sure that they are safe, secure, and happy.

The Sovereign functions as the head of state, keeping the country unified and representing them abroad. The Prime Minister functions as the head of government, keeping the policymakers in Parliament up and about, making new laws and reforms to keep the country running smoothly.

The Member of Parliament collaborates with his or her colleagues to make these laws with their own knowledge and individual experiences. Each of these jobs is all different, but are all essentially equal in importance. From the high King to the lowly baker, or the mean old boss to the veteran soldier, they each have vital roles to the function of the country.

Their skills and tactics become heightened over time, and they pass on these traits and lessons to their successors. Aristotle describes that the just choice in giving a flute to a musician is that the choice relies on what the purpose of a flute is, which is to play music. Giving it to anyone else would be unjust because you are stripping society of those benefits.

A professional who has perfected his or her art, whether it be through warfare or engineering, will then pass on such traits to their own successors, and they will pass on such traits to their own successors, and so on. That knowledge is built upon and “sandwiched”, layer upon layer, will allow future generations to thrive and live in continued peace and prosperity.

Therefore, it is paramount to never separate the duty of a soldier, from the duty of a king to their country. Such is the reason why it is unjust to separate a citizen’s passion for their work, to another foreign field of work. Letting a mother be with her child is an instinctual proposition because that mother will naturally love and cherish her child.

She would want the best for her child, to grow up, and to be a productive member of society. Would it be just to strip a man away from his lifelong work to serve on the battlefield, like stripping a mother away from her child?

As long as one is loyal to their country, and displays such in their work, letting them stay away from the field of battle should be the right choice, as each individual in the country has a vital part to play onstage, regardless of their casting roles.

By allowing each actor to find the best part to play which best fits their own quirks and personality types, the show, led by a competent passionate director, will be able to perform for the audience a magnificent show, which will live on in the minds of many as a classic.

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