Sunday, September 09, 2007

Conscription news

There's a lot of would-be conscription about nowadays. Educational conscription and conscription as social work have been suggested in the UK. A commentator on the latter link asks if I'd draw attention to Draft Resistance. My pleasure. Let's also remind ouselves of Milton Friedman's famous exchange with General Westmoreland:

"In the course of his [General Westmoreland's] testimony, he made the statement that he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. I [Milton Friedman] stopped him and said, 'General, would you rather command an army of slaves?' He drew himself up and said, 'I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.' I replied, 'I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries.' But I went on to say, 'If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher.' That was the last that we heard from the general about mercenaries."
- Milton and Rose Friedman, Two Lucky People, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 380.


Ismaeel said...

But what about national service, don't you think that it would help arrest anti social behaviour amongst our young people??

Peter Risdon said...

I hope you have been well, Ismaeel.

Yes, I think it might. But it would still be a wrong to correct a wrong. To take an extreme example (and I'm not suggesting conscription is morally analogous to this, I used to advocate National Service myself), castration would improve the behaviour of many young males - it works with dogs. Arbitrary imprisonment, which conscription is a sort of variation of, of all young people between 18 and 25 would eliminate 90% of anti-social behaviour, as well as a great deal of other crime.

What I am objecting to here is the pattern I suggest we have, of stupid "liberal" reforms leading to problems, as a result of which liberties are eroded.

I'd rather see police arrest people, every time, for anti-social behaviour, and make drunks sleep it off in the cells, then release them without charge.

Ismaeel said...

I'm fine thanks for asking.

Not sure i quite understood, do u think anti-social problems are a result of "liberal" reforms?

On the same note, aside from just arresting people and making them sleep it off in the cells, what are your suggestions for long term resolution of our increasing problem with young males behaving in seriously anti-social ways?

Peter Risdon said...

Yes, I do. Not that anti-social behaviour hasn't always existed, but there's a "what you gonna do about it?" tinge now that is fairly recent.

It's a big subject. Let's take schools.

Young males need to be allowed to be male. Competitive sports, including boxing, need to be a bigger part of school life, as they used to be. But they also need to know where the limits lie. The withdrawal discipline from young men in schools has been a catastrophe.

There's another problem in schools: when I was of that age the problem was female underperformance. Boys did better than girls in sciences and about the same in the humanities, so the net result was that boys did better. So schools were made more female-friendly - continuous assessment, modular courses, multiple choice tests. The predictable result is that boys now do worse. But whereas in the 1970s it was the fault of the system that girls did less well, now it's the fault of boys. And this attitude gets to them. They just quit.