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In Defense of National Service

[1]2,484 words

Over the past years, I’ve made some efforts to keep fit and educate myself in the manly arts. So far, I’ve been able to slim down, quit smoking, quit porn, moderate my caffeine and alcohol intake, develop an upper body physique which is best described as “not too shabby,” learn the basics of unarmed and armed combat, attain a minimum of skill with a pistol and rifle, and now I’m looking into developing skills as an outdoorsman.

Self-improvement, I find, is a practical application of Right-wing, reactionary thought in this degenerated modern age. One cannot ride the tiger without strength and wherewithal and these things begin in the body. Self-purification of the poisons of modernity is vital. Gaining the strength to endure the onslaught and the courage to stand athwart the forces of evil begins with the strength to deadlift 200 lbs and stand athwart an axe kick to the head (but not just standing there like a dumbass, waiting to get punched. Keep your goddamn hands up, Jeelvy, or I’ll staple them to your fucking forehead!)

One thing one notices about self-improvement is that first of all, it’s bloody hard. Second of all, it’s bloody expensive. Third of all, it takes a good deal of mental energy to break the inertia of sitting in a comfortable armchair after work. Fourth of all, self-improvement is a team effort – no man is an island, and yet we live like bugmen, alienated from each other and therefore weaker, as we cannot tap into the vast power reserve of the local community, or the gang of men set to doing cool things when we are personally exhausted. These are all solvable problems, obstacles which can be overcome and in no way constitute excuses for not engaging in self-improvement, though problems nevertheless, whose solution drains resources and energy which could be used elsewhere.

Now, what if I told you that back in the day, my father received weapons training, unarmed and armed combat training, physical fitness and survival lessons, and the necessary discipline to keep developing those skills for free, with older men tasked solely with motivating him and breaking his inertia, and with men his own age positioned to bond with him and each other in order to create a powerful team which could together solve various problems. In short, my father was conscripted into the military.

Back in 2014, an overweight, chain-smoking, borderline alcoholic bearing my name would have wagged his nicotine-stained finger at you, pointing out that conscription is a violation of the non-aggression principle, that the conscripts are not there of their own free will and that their labor is expropriated by the government for its nefarious purposes. The consent of the conscripts (or lack thereof) would have been the main point of contention. There’s a meme going around of libertarians allegedly asking ‘what if the child consents?’ There’s a version of that going on here. What if the 18-year-old man, still a child in many ways, withdraws consent? A child cannot consent, but he also cannot signal lack of consent for a course of action determined to be in his best interest. Much as though they protest, our children will eat their green vegetables and brush their teeth before bed. They do not get to not consent to eating vegetables and brushing their teeth. I believe there is no doubt that parents tend to know better than children, and that older men tend to know better than younger men, with exceptions I’ve talked about elsewhere on this very site [2]. So, how’s that for a perspective flip – compulsory military service is not an imposition on your freedoms, but rather a gift given to you by the state, in spite of your pig-headed insistence on growing ever fatter, playing ever stupider video games, and watching ever more degenerate porn. It’s your dad forcing you to eat an apple instead of an aspartame sandwich.

The libertarian retort to this is that it is paternalism and that they’re a strahng, independant citizen who don’t need no state and that any imposition against them is morally indefensible. What is often missed is that the relationship between the state and the subject is a two-way street, that paternalism is reciprocal with patriotism.

It’s easier to think of this in feudal terms. The local lord needs an army, for which he trains his freeholders and peasants in the arts of war, at his own expense. For this service, for giving them the skills and weapons to be strong men, they owe him loyalty and fealty. The lord himself is a vassal of the king, to whom he has similar obligations as the freeholder to the lord, to serve in his army, to be loyal, to contribute to his coffers, and the king is himself obligated to protect the lord and his lands and his people, to provide aid in times of war and peace. The life of a king is a life of obligation and duty.

Moving on to the nation-state, while the personal loyalties to a lord and king are diluted and the edifice of the army is more mercenary than Männerbund, one can still conceive of reciprocal loyalty between a man and a people – loyalty to pluralities is nothing new – I am loyal to my family and they to me, I am a man of my neighborhood and the ‘hood will protect me. It doesn’t scale well, but it’s not all bad. The nation, out of interest in its security will take the young men and turn them into fine weapons of war, which are nevertheless flexible and can be rapidly beaten into ploughshares when times of peace abound. Conscription was, after all, invented in nationalist France. It grates against my patrician sensibilities to have merchant and priest class men hold weapons, but one can scarcely deny the strength of a nation which can mobilize its entire adult male population. Nationalism, of course, has many problems which make it unsustainable in the long run, but that’s a topic for a different post.

Paternalism in peacetime takes the form of ensuring that the people are gainfully employed and have skin in the game when it comes to the state. One of the first policies of Lee Kuan Yew’s government in Singapore was to allow Singaporeans to purchase their public-owned housing [3], for a very simple reason: Singapore was threatened by invasion from Malaysia, and Singaporeans needed a reason to fight. Having a house, having land and a family means having a stake in the state, means having a reason to take up arms, kill and die under the banner of said state. This usually means abandoning efficiency or GDP growth as a goal of the economy in favor of making sure that as many men as possible are gainfully employed homeowners who father children.

This was well known to King Henry VIII who cut down to size [4] the mercantile absentee landlords who wanted to destroy the commons and dispossess the peasantry. In a move I wish to see repeated by Chairman Yang against the various Bezos-type robber barons of today, he explicitly prohibited the destruction of his manpower reserve in the name of “economic efficiency.”

His efforts, alas, were not continued under subsequent rulers, and the enclosure movement was completed by Roundhead and Whig parliaments, especially following the Glorious (bankers’) Revolution. England’s peasantry was corralled and herded into the cities to become the alienated and ailing proletariat – men whose land was stolen from them were now free to destroy their bodies with back-breaking and lung-blackening labor to enrich the industrialists and bankers. The dignity of man and strength of the state have not recovered and will not until the collapse of modernity.

While the doilies and priests LARPing as rulers in Washington might like to imagine otherwise, there is no such thing as a strong military without strong men who have skin in the game, and I explore this logistical chokepoint of the American hegemony in my article on the American Sardaukar [5], which, as time passes, I am certain is the most important piece of prose I’ve written in my life. In short – America’s warrior caste is getting shafted by the American empire’s economic policy, and this will be the downfall of the American empire.

Economic paternalism ensures reciprocal patriotism from the people, as long as they see their government as their own and they’re not coddled – jobs, not welfare; land, not food stamps are what cultivate loyalty. Whether service to the state in a military fashion or a reduction of the cost of enforcement through community self-policing, paternalism returns significant dividends to the wise ruler. Of course, this all requires a strong state, which we don’t have anywhere in the West, but rather we have a state apparatus which is used to shore up private interests and strip-mine the commons, just like in the good old days.

Moving forward in time and space, we come to the state which plucked my father from his hedonistic, college boy existence and turned him into a fierce warrior and paladin of justice, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This ostensibly dictatorial and inhumane regime took young men from all six constituent republics and gave them the skills necessary to dismember Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The professional Yugoslav National Army was dominated by ethnic Serbs, but almost every adult male in Yugoslavia was trained and a reservist. On top of that, there existed Territorial Defense forces in each of the Republics, functioning as a Home Guard, and the armies of the breakaway Yugoslav states were built around these organizations. These skills and resources, given by the federal government in Belgrade to the men and nations which made up Yugoslavia were ultimately the means by which Yugoslavia died – fuck-you power which gave the Slovenes and then the Croats utilized to . . . well, say “fuck you” to Belgrade. You’ll hear many tales of Western support for Slovenia and Croatia, and such support definitely existed, but ultimately, the men pulling the triggers were homegrown Slovenes and Croats.

I find it telling that the socialist and Jewy Yugoslav regime, as well as the various socialist (and Jewy) socialist regimes in Eastern Europe nevertheless had a minimum of paternalistic instinct and trained their young men to be warriors, as opposed to the prevailing regimes in the west which seek to train young men to be jizz-stained, sugar-addicted defeatists.

Similarly, the socialist Yugoslav state sought to have full employment, often in make-work professions. This was inefficient, but it kept the people from descending into hedonism and despair and it engendered into them a sort of civic nationalism, which today manifests itself as Yugonostalgia – a yearning for the good old days of full employment. The East Germans have a similar phenomenon – Ostalgie – yearning for the socialist DDR which similarly, had full employment.

Now, to be honest, one of the rationales behind the Yugoslav conscription program was the rather insipidly stupid idea that the various ethnic identities of the men would be melded into a Yugoslav, civic nationalist identity in the crucible of military service. It didn’t work. Men who’d named each other brother not a year before were shooting at each other with the rancor typical of animals threatened by an invasive species. Ethnic identity triumphed over civic identity.

It took ten days [6] for Slovenian ethnic identity to reassert itself after 50 years of Yugoslav civic identity. Yugoslav civic identity was shattered to pieces along with the many historic buildings in old town Dubrovnik [7]. It was uprooted and told to go fuck itself along with the Serbs of Krajina [8]. It was revealed as at best a dangerous fantasy, at worst a cruel lie in the carnage that was the Bosnian war and in an anticlimactic fashion typical of my long-suffering homeland, repudiated in the 1991 Macedonian independence referendum [9]. That which the regime thought would strengthen and keep it alive ultimately killed it, and good riddance. Yugoslavia was Wilsonian insanity even when ruled by a monarch, let alone in its socialist disposition.

Alas, individualism has triumphed, and most countries in the Balkans do not have compulsory military service, though this could be our edge against the great powers of the world. The heavily mountainous terrain of the Balkans, as well as the defiant and violent disposition of our men can be leveraged in hypothetical asymmetric conflicts against foes superior in logistics and firepower. Think of Afghanistan, but with densely forested mountains, Taliban which are about a standard deviation higher in IQ and operating not out of religious fervor, but sheer contempt for outsiders.

Our leaders, however, feel the need to virtue signal to the stuffed shirts in Brussels and Washington about how modern and democratic they are. And so our men crumble and decay, and this decay is worsened by the paranoid, hedonistic, and violent tendencies of Balkanians. Our ancient cultures disappear in a whirlwind of alcohol, sports betting, and despair, while our societal elites compete with each other to be the best ethnomasochist, the most obedient lickspittle to the Brussels Horror and the most effeminate bugman drinking the most overpriced liquid crap which purports to be coffee.

Ultimately, I suspect that only outright political agonism will put enough steel in our spines for us to reclaim our rightful role of hill-dwelling, cultured savages. Thankfully, the morons in Washington and their even stupider puppets in Brussels seem intent on poking the sleeping dog of the Balkan warrior spirit.

This article was born in a split second, the moment I forked over the last of my monthly salary and a wee bit of my savings to my combat sports trainer, but it was a long time coming. I’ve always wondered what really shook me free of my libertarianism and I think that it was ultimately this song [10], describing the plight of Newfoundland’s fishermen in the wake of fishing grounds depletions by industrial trawler ships. I have nothing to do with fishermen – my family’s ancestral home is a mountain town engaged in mining, sheep herding, and apple orchards. But each line of the song is a knife in my gut, each stanza a rope around the throat. David Coffin’s melancholy baritone and the weepy accordion don’t help. Friends, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve shed many manly tears listening to this song about men I’ve never met, in a land I’ve never been to.

Overfishing is a classic example of the “rape of the commons” shtick that the moneyed bastards masquerading as leaders do to enrich themselves at the expense of men who “filled their dories twice a day, they fished their poor, sweet lives away.” The best of serious thought is born in the heart and that tempest of anger kindled by a song broke through the pig-headed whiggery of my youth. My great-great-grandfather, the town headman who, for as long as he could, protected his people from the predations of capitalists, would surely approve.