Ayn Rand on the Draft

24 Nov 2007

In an ancient post of mine, on my other blog, I hinted at my views on the draft. I was 18 at the time described in the post, completely unable to articulate my views on the subject matter, aside from my being generally against it.

As I hinted, I'd like to focus on some objectivist philosophy. Here are some quotes from Ayn Rand on the draft, which mirror my own feelings well. Too bad I hadn't discovered her prior to my unfortunate dinner with that ultra-right-wing parent:

"[The draft] is an abrogation of rights. It negates man's fundamental right--the right to life--and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man's life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle."

...

"...[s]o-called 'conservatives,' who posture as defenders of individual rights, particularly property rights ... uphold and advocate the draft. By what infernal evasion can they hope to justify the proposition that creatures who have no right to life, have the right to a bank account?"

...

"'[L]iberals'... claim that man has the 'right' to economic security, public housing, medical care, education, recreation, but no right to life..."

"...If a country's government undertakes to fight a war for some reason other than self-defense, for a purpose which the citizens neither share nor understand, it will not find many volunteers. Thus, a volunteer army is one of the best protectors of peace, not only against foreign aggression, but also against any warlike ideologies or projects on the part of a country's own government. ... Not many men would volunteer for such wars as Korea or Vietnam. Without the power to draft, the makers of our foreign policy would not be able to embark on adventures of that kind. This is one of the best practical reasons for the abolition of the draft."

Source: Rand, Ayn. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, "The Wreck of the Consensus," (1966).

As I said in that other post, don't read this the wrong way. I believe most people, myself included, would freely give their lives for certain causes. Would you take a bullet for your child or spouse? Of course. Would you head out into the streets with a rifle if the Chinese began parachuting themselves onto Main Street in your town? Sure.

Anyway, those are my views. They haven't changed much in the 20 years that have elapsed since my dinner at that home in Hazleton, PA; I don't expect they'll change much in the next 20 years, either.

As an interesting aside, I should note that the story linked to above (for anyone who hasn't read it) takes place at the home of a guy I've named "RushFan." The post begins with a picture of a Rush album and a quite from their drummer, Neil Peart. As it happens, Peart was highly influenced by Ayn Rand, which is something you might pick up in his explanation (discussed in that post) about the cover of their album, 2112. However, this Rush connection also brings up an area I'm struggling with vis-a-vis objectivist philosophy, which I'll cover next time.

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