[By Ben Noble]
The turmoil surrounding the 2016 Presidential election has accelerated the deepening chasm between the left and the right. As a free market anarchist, I get to observe this insanity from a relatively safe distance. It is a common subject for social commentators, politicians, and even the occasional Facebook friend. Each of them urging for more unity and patriotism; successfully signaling their faux enlightenment to the world without saying anything of substance. In contrast, I would say that we have entirely too much unity.
Instead of the various individuals and communities in the US being allowed to live as they wish, we are all crowded into a one size fits all set of rules under a centralized power. Our money, healthcare, retirement, civil liberties, property, employment, and so on is managed by the government. If you want to live your life per your values and goals, odds are you will need to get the government to codify your preferences into law. Then those laws are enforced, under penalty of loss of property or freedom, upon all Americans no matter their preferences and if they are acting peacefully. Besides this being highly antithetical to a free society, this pits one group against another in a struggle over who will get to rule over all of us.
The government is so powerful that it matters greatly who is in charge and who is writing the laws. So no, we cannot “come together and get things done.” We cannot become more tolerant of each other’s views. Doing so will only allow those that are unwilling to compromise win and, as a result decide how the rest of us must to live. This forced unity is no unity at all. Only free association and mutually beneficial trade can create the unity these Facebook philosophers are pining for. It is a great tragedy that most people are unable to see this. We are unified, at the point of a gun in a win/lose scenario. Worse are the suggestions some have put forward to increase our “national unity.” Without realizing it they are advocating for a sort of neo-slavery that other countries around the world practice to one extent or another. These policies include mandatory voting and a mandatory national service that includes the draft.
Patriotism is a hell of a drug. It can magically fool people into supporting unethical actions; especially if they are taken by the government. For instance, it can cause some people to want flag burners to go to jail all the while not realizing that they are the ones defiling the freedom the flag represents and not the person burning it. That’s the ugly side of patriotism.
This is similar to the process that allows some people to believe that America is the freest country in the world and it would not tarnish that image for the government to compel its citizens to take certain actions.
Mandatory voting is a terrible idea. Is voting a sacrament so holy in the religion of democracy that everyone must be forced to partake? Even President Obama has floated the idea of mandatory voting. When people refer to the freedom that Americans have, it is in terms of the extent that the US government does not interfere in the lives of its citizens. I don’t think I need to explain how the government forcing its citizens to take an action would violate the foundation of that freedom. The government already influences virtually every aspect of our lives. Do we want to let them rub our noses in it and allow them to imagine that they have our consent for every action they take because 100% of the population has voted? “The candidate you voted for won so you must be cool with whatever action he takes.” “Your candidate lost so you must accept whatever the winner does because you lost fair and square.” I smell bullshit.
Practically speaking, voting is fraught with problems. Political parties, special interest groups, and the wealthy have a large influence over what candidates appear in elections. There are exceptions, but in my mind, they prove the rule. We end up with candidates that are more similar than different and when ether of them make it into office they are heavily indebted to the donors that paid for their campaigns. In practice, we must be allowed to abstain. People abstaining from voting sends the message to politicians that people don’t want any of what they’re selling, or that the candidates suck, or worse, that the people would rather rule over themselves! Oh no! That sounds so dangerous!
It should be obvious that mandatory national service, including the draft, is straight up slavery. It doesn’t matter how long or brief the “service” is going to be. It doesn’t matter is the individuals forced into service are paid. It especially doesn’t matter if it achieves a “greater good.” The ends do not justify the means. Individuals should own themselves and the products of their labor. By allowing the government to force individuals, for any amount of time, to labor for its benefit you allow government to assert ownership over those people. That, my friends, is the very definition of slavery.
If you think patriotism and unity are valid excuses to let the government assert ownership over its citizens, then you are no patriot. You are a boot-licker. If there ever was an American spirit rooted in freedom you have betrayed it and are digging the grave where it will perish.
Jon Stewart Thinks We Should Bring Back the Draft [http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jon-stewart-thinks-we-should-bring-back-the-draft/ ]
Obama: Maybe it’s time for mandatory voting [http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/19/politics/obama-mandatory-voting/ ]
Expanding National Service [https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/07/15/expanding-national-service/ ]