121 comments on “Prince Harry approves of slavery

  1. It isn’t slavery, because (i) it’s fixed term, (ii) you retain most of your legal rights, and (iii) your children are not conscripted too.

    I do wish people would stop cheapening the horrors of slavery with these lame-brained comparisons.

  2. You retain most of your legal rights do you?

    The right to walk the streets of England minding your own business at any time you wish?
    The right to strike a bargain for your services with whichever employer you ( and he) choose?
    The right to grow a beard should you wish?
    To wear the clothes you wish?

    In short, the fundamental right to your own conscience.

  3. OK you wannabe libertarians: if the State (a very Courageous State indeed) has the right to claim sovereignty over 18 months of your life, it must also have sovereignty over your finances. 80% income tax everyone?

  4. Conscription, like enforced schooling, infringes on liberty to add value to both individual and nation. Forced adoption is the modern UK’s state-sanctioned slavery.

  5. Dearieme is correct. It’s more like indenture than slavery. It certainly bears no relation to chattel slavery.

    I doubt I would enjoy national service. Nevertheless, I am sympathetic to the idea that in return for enjoying the protection from invasion of our armed forces, we might have an obligation to participate in said protection. Look at Switzerland.

  6. Why do people think that just because you’ve been in the military that you automatically think conscription is a good thing.

    I’ve lost count of the number of people who upon finding out I was in the Army pass a comment like “you’ll agree with me that conscription is a good thing” only to be surprised when I give a vehement no.

    Its not the slavery thing, its about what we need as a military and it isn’t 1m kids who’ve done 6 weeks basic training and bugger all else for 18 months. We won’t be able to send them to war, unless they turn in to volunteers, and there’s not enough time and money to train them in the the specialisms that even the basic infantry soldier needs. Furthermore, it will be a huge distraction for the professional military personnel who will be nothing more than a cross between baby sitters and bouncers pulling apart various warring factions.

  7. How about you can’t claim any benefits at all until you’ve done a year’s conscription in either the armed forces or social services (i.e. helping out in an old folks home)?

    I guess that would stop it being slavery?

  8. Sean O’Connor

    Well I am one person at least you have made to stop and think.

    Yes, there may be something in that.

  9. Actually no.

    A young person in productive employment is doing their bit for the nation’s health and wellbeing, it doesn’t need to be national ‘service’.

    The contributory principle of national insurance is fine.

  10. @Sean O’Connor

    How about if you can’t claim any benefits at all, you don’t have to pay for them?

  11. My Stirner-sense is tingling:

    “Worstall thinks he is telling the worst about conscription when he calls it slavery. Passing quite over the embarrassing question, what well-founded objection could be made against slavery, we only ask: Is the concept “slavery” at all possible unless one allows validity to the concept “free will”?

  12. Of course it isn’t slavery; that’s hyperbolic nonsense. As others have noted, it is fixed term, you retain most rights, you get paid. Think of it as a quid pro quo for the NHS. And if you are a coward who likes to live under the protection of others with more guts you could always register as a conchie and work in hospitals or whatever. (The Swiss, quite rightly, send such despicable poltroons to jail.)

    But it is still a really shitty idea. (I am a former RAF officer, in case you are wondering.) Modern warfare is highly technical and you need pretty smart motivated people to do most jobs; and 18 months to 2 years simply isn’t enough time to rectify the defects of the piss-poor schooling most disaffected spotty chavs get and turn them into useful personnel. Rather than make the useless little bastards get a haircut, hitch up their trousers and peel spuds for 2 years we should remove the lefty stranglehold on the education system and try to teach them to read and write and have a bit of respect for both themselves and others.

    The military is not a branch of social work, there to remedy society’s ills, whatever social justice warriors may think.

  13. Mind you, I reckon that IS would quite like the idea of the state training their potential jihadi recruits for them.

  14. I can think of no case whatsoever for conscription in peace time.

    There is no military purpose whatsoever, and in straitened times the effect would be deleterious if anything.

    And if is not to be military then there really is no justification.

    I suspect the idea is that people will learn to love their country and all that – this is unlikely… those who might benefit are probably not those who are the problem.

    But I agree about the debasement of the word slavery Tim, you should know better.

  15. Sebastian Weetabix

    “Modern warfare is highly technical and you need pretty smart motivated people to do most job”

    Agree, conscription would improve the quality of the armed forces significantly.

    “The military is not a branch of social work, there to remedy society’s ills, whatever social justice warriors may think.”

    The military is most certainly a branch of social work.

  16. Conscription is tyranny and slavery–and bollocks to the crap above about “you get paid”. Slaves get fed–so what?. You retain your legal rights –to live and die at the orders of political and bureaucratic scum?.

    If a country can’t find people willing to volunteer to fight and risk death for it –that says everything you need to know about that country. How much more so when foreign adventurism is what the military seem to be about–not defence of the land. The country is being invaded at the rate of 300,000 a year (plus a shitload more illegals) and the fucking state approves.

  17. Yes, having people who don’t want to be there would really improve it.

    The role of the military is to kill people, you silly cunt.

  18. People seem to miss the point of national service. Yes, it’s like putting people in jail. But who in their right mind would argue that the country wouldn’t be a better place if males in their late teens were routinely locked away from the rest of us for a year or two?

  19. On a practical note, why is it that many countries are moving away from conscription? Are any even moving towards it? The swiss voted to retain their system, but the Spanish, French, Germans etc have all professionalised their militiaries, and even the Russkies are desperately trying to go in that direction.

    Interestingly, the Swiss don’t go in for the spit and polish BS beyond basic training, largely cos they have to a) pack in a lot of proper training into very short repeat courses, and b) remain popular.

  20. Of course slavery is a valid term, and the apologists here are being ridiculous.

    As is Prince Harold, with his “I don’t know where I would have ended up” nonsense. Other than being a prince of the realm you mean, Harry?

  21. Ironman – “OK you wannabe libertarians:”

    I don’t think you will find a single self-identified libertarian defend conscription.

    “if the State (a very Courageous State indeed) has the right to claim sovereignty over 18 months of your life, it must also have sovereignty over your finances. 80% income tax everyone?”

    You may have noticed that they have sovereignty over our income. I can remember taxes being over 80%. But why don’t we tax that much? There is an argument about not binding the mouth of the kine that treads the corn. But more to the point, it doesn’t work. We don’t support lower taxes because lower taxes are inherently good (although I think they are). We generally do so because high taxes are counter productive. If the Laffer Curve did not kick in until 85% and the money was spent wisely relieving genuine misery, who would argue for a 20% tax?

  22. Ian B – “Of course slavery is a valid term, and the apologists here are being ridiculous.”

    Slavery exists all over the world in numerous forms. I believe that the Soviet apologists at the ILO define slavery in terms of inheritance. Slaves can own things, but their owners, not their children, have rights to it.

    Conscripts are forced. Like apprentices. Or people doing jury duty. But they are not sold.

    “Other than being a prince of the realm you mean, Harry?”

    They are just chavs with a pedigree.

  23. Another upvote for Dearieme.

    To those talking about the effect on the military: National service isn’t to make the military better. Since that is not its purpose, the fact that it wouldn’t achieve it isn’t much of a criticism of it.

  24. Dave,

    “But who in their right mind would argue that the country wouldn’t be a better place if males in their late teens were routinely locked away from the rest of us for a year or two?”

    Unlike you and your social group, my friends and I had already grown out of fighting by the time we were 18 and were responsible, tax-paying people.

  25. If you don’t have the right to say No then you don’t have “most of your rights”. Desultory to you; certainly not to me.

    SMFS

    No Libertarian would argue for conscription would they? Read back on his thread
    No genuine Libertarian would, I agree.

  26. Ironman – “If you don’t have the right to say No then you don’t have “most of your rights”. Desultory to you; certainly not to me.”

    No to what? Men don’t have a right to say no to paying alimony. Are they slaves? Apprentices don’t have the right to say no to work either. People called up for jury duty.

    But you can be deprived of some of your rights without being a slave.

    “No Libertarian would argue for conscription would they?”

    Who identifies as a libertarian and has done so? Not every one here is a libertarian.

  27. Unlike you and your social group, my friends and I had already grown out of fighting by the time we were 18 and were responsible, tax-paying people.

    Whereas, and not really meaning this as a 1-up, I was a responsible, tax-paying person, fighting HM’s enemies. Sort of – neither side were exactly friends, although only one was attacking UK merchant shipping. Active combat duty anyway.

  28. Even a libertarian can approve of denial of some liberties provided that there is a good reason. Prison for convicted offenders, for example. Some libertarians are more fundamentalist than others. Some here are classical liberals, some here are minarchists.

    Protection of the nation from existential threat _might_ be considered a good enough reason, even though I doubt this is Prince Harry’s rationale. In less technical days, National Service both provided us with a large standing force and provided people with a degree of training that might still be useful if there was time to recall them if the Cold War ever went Hot.

    However, nowadays:

    1. any rationally acceptable training period is too short for the amount of training and experience required, even for the line,

    2. there is no existential conflict (at least none for which having a large, conscript army would be any good.)

    3. changes in kit and TTPs happen too quickly for much of that experience to be relevant for a future existential conflict.

  29. Oh, and as a junior officer, I often did feel like a social worker.

    Care of your lads (and lasses, although I never served at sea with them except one trainee officer) was probably your primary responsibility. And the degree of life fucked-up-ness which an apparently sensible sailor or marine could get in to took a long while to stop surprising me.

  30. As Bloke in Italy said, there’s no point in having conscription during peacetime.

    So we need a war to occupy the hoodies. But which war?

    Fighting ISIS is a waste of time: they have nothing we want.

    I’d suggest we invade France, eat their women, steal their cheese, and rape their wine. But they have nukes and nobody likes bombe surprise.

    Belgium is pointless. The Netherlands is full of freakishly tall people, so I’m not interested in picking a fight there.

    So Gernany it is. A country so pussified they not only don’t have nukes, they don’t even use DU weapons in their prissy little tanks – which are probably powered by wind turbines and national self-loathing anyway.

    Consider the litany of outrages Germany has inflicted on the free world:

    * ALDI
    * Schiesser porn
    * Bony M
    * Four (4) series of Auf Weidersehen, Pet
    * The mullet and blond moustache combo

    We can no longer ignore the Teutonic Menace. It is time for decisive action.

  31. I am at the age when any war would have to be going pretty fucking awfully badly before I got conscripted.

    Having said that, if they could chuck in one of those uniforms that the Nazis war, I could go for it.

    No, I don’t like the Nazi’s policies (their economic policies back then were almost as extreme as Murphy’s are today) but they did do good uniforms.

    I mean, if you were a tank commander or Luftwaffe pilot you’d have to be beating women off in bars with a shitty stick.

  32. “[Germany’s] prissy little tanks – which are probably powered by wind turbines and national self-loathing anyway.”

    All hail Steve.

    I suppose the Japanese (if they had any tanks) would power them with a superficial apologetic tone masking a continuing deep-felt xenophobia and misogyny mixed with a weird desire among women to dress like a pre-pubescent Minnie Mouse and among the men to lust after western women who they want to first shag then cut up into little pieces.

    The Japanese psyche is truly unfathomable.

  33. @Steve

    Agree with most of your comments about Germany but Boney M I have to disagree with. Cracking tunes and educational at the same time.

    How else would we know that Rasputin was the lover of the Russian queen and that Ma Baker taught her four sons to handle their guns?

  34. ? Men don’t have a right to say no to paying alimony. Are they slaves?

    Yes, though it could be argued that by participating in a marriage contract whose outcome they knew could be divorce and alimony, they voluntarily sold themselves into slavery.

    There are conditions in which enslavement in this manner might be considered a lesser evil than, say, being conquered (e.g. by Nazi Germany). That does not mean that we should shy away from calling it what it is.

  35. Stigler>

    “Unlike you and your social group, my friends and I had already grown out of fighting by the time we were 18 and were responsible, tax-paying people.”

    I wasn’t talking about fighting, but about being obnoxious. Clearly you would be a prime candidate for permanent national service.

  36. Andrew – the thing about the Nazis was, they went a bit overboard with the evil-Aryan-supermen-trying-to-take-over-the-world look.

    So, OK, the Hugo Boss SS kit was quite smart, but death’s heads?

    Who thought that was a good idea? It’s not easy to convince the world that you’re the goodies when you’re wearing a frickin grinning human skull on your uniform. Though I suppose it was easier to draw than a picture of Hitler stealing sweeties from a baby.

    Anyway, if we’re talking about snapping knicker elastic at 20 paces, the Highland regiments had it covered.

    People laugh at the Scots for wearing skirts, but the Caledonians aren’t daft. Kilts are like catnip to women. They also keep your man-junk at the optimal temperature and readiness for sexytimes.

    I’m not so fond of tartan trews. Make you look like a twat who wandered off the golf course.

  37. Surreptitious Evil – “1. any rationally acceptable training period is too short for the amount of training and experience required, even for the line,”

    And yet, oddly enough, people with very little training did a pretty good job of it in WW2. Even in the Navy.

    “2. there is no existential conflict (at least none for which having a large, conscript army would be any good.)”

    But the advantage of having a large reserve is that should such a conflict arise, we would have an Army ready. Now we would find ourselves with very few soldiers and no reserves so that the Army could not expand rapidly anyway.

    “3. changes in kit and TTPs happen too quickly for much of that experience to be relevant for a future existential conflict.”

    That piece of Austrian sh!t has been the main rifle since 1987. Before that the L1A1 served from 1954 until the 1990s. Before that they flirted with the EM-2 but relied in the Lee-Enfield since the 1890s. The Minimi has been around since the 1970s. That has mainly replaced the L7 which was approved in 1957.

    The kit soldiers see isn’t replaced that often.

    Steve – “As Bloke in Italy said, there’s no point in having conscription during peacetime.”

    Then you will always go to war with an Army made up of people conscripted into the Army with no experience whatsoever.

    I sneeze in threes – ““Conscripts can’t be sold” but the do get drafted.”

    Sometimes they get rented too. The British after all tried to fight the Americans with Hessians.

  38. Ian B, Andrew – I will grudgingly concede that “Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord’ is on my Christmas playlist.

    However, the evil German mastermind behind Boney M went on to create Milli Vanilli.

    Case closed.

  39. Steve, there’s apparently only 22 countries never invaded by England. Rather than going back to Germany we need to complete the set:

    Andorra
    Belarus
    Bolivia
    Burundi
    Central African Republic
    Chad
    Congo, Republic of
    Guatemala
    Ivory Coast
    Kyrgyzstan
    Liechtenstein
    Luxembourg
    Mali
    Marshall Islands
    Monaco
    Mongolia
    Paraguay
    Sao Tome and Principe
    Sweden
    Tajikistan
    Uzbekistan
    Vatican City

    Where to start???

  40. Andrew – “a weird desire among women to dress like a pre-pubescent Minnie Mouse and among the men to lust after western women who they want to first shag then cut up into little pieces. The Japanese psyche is truly unfathomable.”

    I don’t know. I think lots of Western men tend to like the pre-pubescent Minnie Mouse look – and not all of them named Gary Glitter.

    But I think it is an offshore islander thing – the Japanese and the British are basically similar compared to their nearer neighbours. I am sure if you went to Tokyo you would find lots of girls so desperate for a boy’s attention they are dressed as squirrels.

    Andrew – “How else would we know that Rasputin was the lover of the Russian queen and that Ma Baker taught her four sons to handle their guns?”

    The only parts of the Bible known to children of the 70s comes from Boney M songs.

    Ian B – “Yes, though it could be argued that by participating in a marriage contract whose outcome they knew could be divorce and alimony, they voluntarily sold themselves into slavery.”

    A man who marries today only has himself to blame. But millions of men signed a contract that said one thing only to have the government decide that it meant something else. They did not sign up for no fault divorce.

    Ian B – “Boney M were a particular kind of awesome you just don’t see any more.”

    Not since Franz Fabian got caught with Millie Vanilli.

    Steve – “Who thought that was a good idea? It’s not easy to convince the world that you’re the goodies when you’re wearing a frickin grinning human skull on your uniform.”

    It pre-dates the Nazis. It is a Prussian thing. At least one of their cavalry regiments wore it.

  41. I’m sorry, but this “you use public services so a year of your life is the least the state can claim” is right out of the Tax Research UK “don’t you use the roads and the health service, then your income is only yours after the state has taken what it thinks is its share”.

    With no existential military threat on the horizon, the rationale for national service is the good of the individual. Well the state doesn’t have the right to decide what’s good for me. And no prince sounding like the intern from W1A (“yeah, no, bummer, cool”) gets to have a say either.

  42. Ra Ra Rasputeen was Russia’s greatest love machine. You just don’t get that kind of useful historical education from modern dance music.

  43. @SMFS

    ‘And yet, oddly enough, people with very little training did a pretty good job of it in WW2. Even in the Navy.’

    Navy Schmavy.

    Anyway, in terms of land warfare people with very little training never do very well against professional soldiers, as the 450 vs approximately 45,000 head count in Britain’s ‘losing’ Afghan war suggests.

    If you took away our superior weaponry and air power and their superior numbers, put them in uniform and made it a WWII-style infantry battle with machine guns, mortars and bayonets, we would have won even more convincingly. A battalion strength fight would have ended about 600-10 in our favour.

    British conscripts in WWII were massacred early on by the experienced professional enemy they faced at every engagement but gradually got on top through a combination of attritting the enemy (at huge personal cost), natural selection (the biggest losers tended to die first), the Japs attacking the Yanks, and Hitler being a dickhead.

    Anyway, I don’t think Harry meant it.

  44. I reckon that list needs to be tackled in terms of difficulty and pointlessness. Is Chad more pointless than Liechtenstein, when invading the latter only yields thousands of brass nameplates? Is Paraguay more difficult than Bolivia?

  45. Interested – “Anyway, in terms of land warfare people with very little training never do very well against professional soldiers, as the 450 vs approximately 45,000 head count in Britain’s ‘losing’ Afghan war suggests.”

    The Armies of the Revolution pushed aside the Armies of the Ancient Regime. For that matter, the conscript armies of WW2 beat the crap out of the professional armies. The Afghan problem might be a problem with Afghans.

    “If you took away our superior weaponry and air power and their superior numbers, put them in uniform and made it a WWII-style infantry battle with machine guns, mortars and bayonets, we would have won even more convincingly.”

    We would not fight without air power and superior weapons. The British Army declined to fight Shia thugs in Basra.

    “British conscripts in WWII were massacred early on by the experienced professional enemy they faced at every engagement but gradually got on top”

    I think you got that exactly backwards. British professionals were massacred early on by the mass conscript German Army – remember when Hitler came to power there were only 100,000 German soldiers in total. But the Russians, with their mass conscript Army wore them down, until the British Army very gently and tentatively came back to the mainland at the last minute – and then tried to push the Germans back with artillery rather than fight them whenever possible.

    “Anyway, I don’t think Harry meant it.”

    He probably did. I expect he is a UKIP voter.

  46. Dongguan John – Hmmm… there’s a reason why we haven’t invaded most of those countries.

    I say we invade the Vatican, because its art treasures are absolutely gorgeous, it’s a great location to explore Rome from, and we could probably take a couple of platoons of halberd-wielding Swissies in fancy pantaloons.

    The Pope would probably be a bit hacked off but he’s an Argie, so he should be used to losing to the British.

    SMFS – It pre-dates the Nazis. It is a Prussian thing. At least one of their cavalry regiments wore it.

    That’s no excuse. If the Prussians had jumped off a cliff, would the Wehrmacht have followed?

    They should’ve focus group tested the design to come up with something friendlier, like a smiley face, or a cat eating ice cream.

    But noooo… they went all in on the Evil Horde of Doom aesthetic, and that’s why their brand is toxic.

  47. Steve – “That’s no excuse. If the Prussians had jumped off a cliff, would the Wehrmacht have followed?”

    It would have been nice if they did. Given that virtually all the Prussians despised the Nazis and formed the core of opposition to them, while the southerners, especially middle class southerners, were Nazis almost to a man.

    “But noooo… they went all in on the Evil Horde of Doom aesthetic, and that’s why their brand is toxic.”

    Doesn’t seem to have done the Queen’s Royal Lancers any harm:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen%27s_Royal_Lancers

    I assume that dates back to the days when sausage munching was a lot more popular in the British Army. You know, what with the Royals being cousins of the Kaiser and all.

    Besides, people love evil. The Nazis are the object of the love that dare not speak its name. People really do love them. Partly because of the uniforms, but mainly because of Auschwitz I think. Perhaps it is like the peacock’s tail – they are signaling they are so bad ar$e they don’t need to pretend to be nice to anyone.

  48. @SMFS

    The Wehrmacht was a conscript army in name only until the war got going and Hitler realised he was going to lose.

    The BEF was professional in name only, too, but in any event I’m talking about the war proper, where professional German soldiers, particularly in volunteer units eg the SS, were very tough nuts to crack indeed.

    It wasn’t until El Alamein 2 that we had a serious victory.

    Never mind all that, anyone who seriously thinks that trained soldiers in martial nations generally lose to barely-trained conscripts (fighting on level terms, partisans etc can achieve results) is mad.

  49. Anyone who ‘loves the Nazis because of Auschwitz’ really ought to have a word with themselves.

  50. ^^ should have read ‘Hitler was persuaded to go for it by generals who realised they could lose’.

  51. Steve, I love you, but a downvote for ripping off Mitchell & Webb’s Nazi baddies sketch.

    Not just me who noticed that then? 🙂

    Their finest hour is brain surgeon/rocket scientist anyway.

  52. S2 – Bah! And I would’ve gotten away with it, too… 🙂

    Ian B – I am fond of the “alcoholic lager beer” sketch too.

    And Peep Show is genius.

  53. If you want to train people to get up every morning, wear practical clothes, take orders from a hierarchy and stop whining, perhaps you should revisit the old concept of school from before it transmogrified into state sponsored babysitting and indoctrination. Eighteen is way too old.

  54. @Steve,

    We still have a few American nukes lying around that we could point at you should the need arise. And who knows what we might find if we put our hands down the back of the sofas in any of the old Soviet bases in the East.

  55. “It wasn’t until El Alamein 2 that we had a serious victory.”

    And even then it was mainly down to having superiority in numbers of everything. And fighting an opponent with an over extended supply chain.

    I actually wonder if there was one battle/campaign in WW2 where the Western Allies won without having superiority in numbers and material/technology. Certainly not against the Germans. Italians early on in N Africa, yes. Maybe the Japanese in Burma? That was a feat of arms that must be near the top of the Allies best efforts.

    Basically the story of WW2 in Europe was in an even handed fight the Germans win every time, only to be overcome in the end by superior numbers and productive capacity.

    The Pacific campaign is similar, though that hinged on two bits of luck (or possibly secret code breaking, who knows?) a) the US carriers being at sea for Pearl Harbour, and b) the Japanese carriers getting caught undefended at Midway.

  56. Bloke in Germany – That’s the spirit!

    I’ve seen Threads, When The Wind Blows*, and the music video for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes.

    I knew they’d come in handy one day.

    * Modern British cartoons just don’t communicate soul-searingly bleak existential despair to children like they used to.

  57. Yes IanB, best sketch, though the “are we the baddies, then”, is also good.

    But that’s hardly brain surgery.

  58. I’ve often thought of the ‘trained regular soldier against civilian conscript’ fight as probably being a bit like a game of rugby between the All Blacks and 15 guys picked at random off the street and given a week to prepare. Not likely to be a pretty sight.

  59. I’m with Heinlein on this topic:

    “I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don’t think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain!”

  60. Arnald, Steve,

    Also worth a mention is Cheese Argument, which sums up the internet debate in three minutes of genius.

  61. the best way to kill an idea like this is to insist it applies to everyone, not just teenagers. The fat middle-aged bore in the pub who thinks national service is a good idea might think differently if he himself was conscripted for 18 months, sent to Catterick and forced to peel potatoes all day.

  62. @Jim

    True maybe. Japan and Germany were military geared countries for years before the war started so had a head start in terms of fighting ability but I think we in the UK do ourselves down. Sure the Germans had the Tiger and Panther tanks and the MG42 but the Churchill tank although under gunned was damn near indestructible and once we put the British 17 pdr in the Sherman we had a Tiger destroyer. We developed the ‘funnies’ that helped win D Day, we had the Spitfire and Hurricane and the Lancaster was held in awe by US bomber crews as ‘an airplane built around a bomb bay big enough to hold a bus’.

    As for the Japanese. Banzai charges? Did they think they were going to a heaven full of pre-pubescent Minnie Mouses?

    At times I think we Brits are too good at comparing our failings with others’ successes.

  63. The fat middle-aged bore in the pub who thinks national service is a good idea might think differently if he himself was conscripted for 18 months, sent to Catterick and forced to peel potatoes all day.

    I think they should be sent to Syria to try to figure out which of the people shooting at them are the Good Guys, personally.

  64. Basically the story of WW2 in Europe was in an even handed fight the Germans win every time, only to be overcome in the end by superior numbers and productive capacity.

    Which is pretty much the case of the American Civil War, too. Certainly the Southern generaliship was an order of magnitude better than that of the North in the first half of the war.

  65. Incidentally, does nobody advocating conscription wonder what the teenagers of Bradford, Tower Hamlets, and Rotherham might do with loaded weapons in the middle of a British Army barracks? Or would they get exempted on the grounds that they would rather be – and sometimes are – fighting for the other side?

  66. “The Wehrmacht was a conscript army”

    Tortured German. Wehrmacht is armed forces, and includes the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. Heeres is army.

  67. As always, it’s slavery if you are against it, and not slavery if you are for it.

    Tim is correct, Prince Harry approves of slavery. The commenters above tell us only why they are for it.

  68. Most wars are won by the side with the greater resources in both men and materiel, by the way. The Germans knew they could only win if they won rapidly on both fronts before the respective enemies got their shit together, and failed on both to achieve that.

  69. And the Japs were always doomed. Even if they’d knocked out all the US carriers, American productive capacity and manpower compared to Japanese would have made it impossible to hold their perimeter in the long term.

  70. @Jim:
    I actually wonder if there was one battle/campaign in WW2 where the Western Allies won without having superiority in numbers and material/technology.

    The Battle of Britain? The RAF was outneumbered in terms of fighters at the start of the Battle. One could argue we had superiority in technology through Chain Home and Chain Home Low, but it was as much the integration of the technology into the command and control chain as the kit itself that allowed it to be so effective.

  71. Gamecock,

    > Prince Harry approves of slavery. The commenters above tell us only why they are for it.

    Nonsense. It is perfectly possible to oppose conscription while still observing that it is not slavery.

    Similarly, one can object to PETA’s ridiculous and insulting assertion that battery farmers are the same as Nazis and battery hens are the new Jews without supporting battery farming.

  72. It is slavery of the most pernicious and damnable kind. I would genuinely rather pick cotton than be hit by an artillery shell.

  73. @Gamecock. Tortured German. “Heeres” is Army in the Genitive. “[das] Heer” in the nominative case required for saying wot it iz.

  74. WW1 was the first total war, or collectivist war, bc it was the first war in which each country had universal conscription. The damage that egomaniacs can inflict on mankind is very much reduced if there is a) no conscription and b) no/limited power to tax and borrow.
    This is immediately evident if one compares 18 C wars with 20 C wars.
    Conscription is not chattel slavery but being ordered into the trenches and being shot if you do not go is repugnant to the notion of liberty. Recall that in the later days of the Roman Empire slaves cld not be arbitrarily executed by their masters-in this respect conscription is even less civilised than chattel slavery.

  75. The difference with the 18C being that back then most of the people who would find themselves conscripts 200 years later were needed to supply whichever forces currently had the upper hand in their area.

    Thus, it was mechanisation of food production that made conscription realistic. Discuss.

  76. “Their finest hour is brain surgeon/rocket scientist anyway.”

    No, I think Homeopathic A&E is the best one.

  77. Ian B is right. The sort of lack of agency that being in the military entails is sui generis. You’re a 2nd Lieutenant in a ditch with a bunch of terrified 18 year old conscripts taking effective fire from a machine gun up ahead. Your company commander is yelling in your radio that you’re holding up the advance and to get moving. You tell one of your sections to take that position, knowing that at least one of the fireteams is going to get the hammer. There are no other fields of human endeavour I can think of where one can lawfully order someone else to commit suicide. If everyone in that ditch is a volunteer then it’s still a terrible moral dilemma but not an insuperable one. But if they’re there because the State has directed they be there then a great wickedness is occurring.

    Now, we might say that conscripts won’t be exposed to that sort of intense infantry combat. If that is the case, then what is the fucking point of having them? National Service/conscription is a vile idea in itself, but it’s also a solution in search of a problem. There are no current issues that it would ameliorate and many that it would worsen. Practicalities: are they all going in the military? Are women conscripted too? Do they get military training as well? There’s about 700,000 people a year entering the 18 y.o. age cohort right now. Where does the kit come from to supply a fourfold increase in the armed forces? And the money?

    And, most of all, why the fuck does anyone who reads this blog who is not Arnald think that the state directing the activities of its citizens, down to their precise disposition in employment, is anything other than a cretinous, inefficient, tyrannical idea?

  78. I’m not surprised Harry is in favour of conscription – it means lots of people being forced to swear loyalty to his gran or whichever unelected benevolent dictator of the day is sat on the throne.
    Or would they get rid of that archaic part of swearing allegiance to the queen?

    Something I’ve always wondered, if I got conscripted and was willing to go get trained to be an effective killing machine and go shoot people from whatever country had annoyed the politicians this month, but refused to swear loyalty to Lizzy, would that count or would I still get called a draft-dodger?

  79. Aside from the whole “loyalty to the crown” issue, I can see a case for a limited conscription, kind of like the Swiss model.

    Men turn 18, have a couple of months basic, followed by one week refresher a year thereafter (to keep if fresh in people’s minds which end of the gun the bullet comes from) and make sure every man has a couple of serviceable firearms (one rifle, one sidearm) at home.
    Then if anyone invades, the whole population can arm quickly and make life hell. Send out a message like the Swiss did – “if you hear a message saying we surrendered, it is enemy propoganda”.
    Good luck trying to invade a country like that.

    Alternatively scrap the armed forces and just keep the nukes. First time a tank/soldier/meanie with a club lands on our shores, fire a nuke at their capital, working your way down the list of cities until they leave.

  80. @ Dee – for your information Britain went into the war with a (rather small) volunteer army only, and Kitchener’s New Armies were also volunteer only. It was only later in the war that, what appears to have been quite a difficult decision, was made to introduce conscription, but I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of UK troops were volunteers, as were I believe the Indians, Aussies, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans.

    By the way, the need to ramp up the size of the Army so fast was a major cause of the heavy casualties on the Somme, as the lack of trained and experienced troops and NCOs/officers limited the sophistication of the tactics which could be employed, and these led to political problems which led to large amounts of available manpower being sent to non-priority operations such as Greece and Italy in 1917, which available shortage of manpower on the al important Western Front increased loss of life and possibly lengthened the war, but this wouldn’t have been solved by pre war conscription – the French conscript army was brave but tactically less sophisticated than the Germans. It is also true that by 1918 the British Army was the only one still in a position to mount an offensive, helped, it must be said, by German despair at the seemingly unarrestable flood of arriving yanks.

    Anyway the following is clear:
    conscription in peace time is un-British
    conscription in war time may be necessary and given the choice between losing a war and introducing conscription for a limited period personally I don’t have a major problem with it.
    Prince Harry is not in favour of slavery but may be guilty of opening his mouth before putting his brain into gear, a traitno doubt inherited from his father (assuming that to be Prince Charles)

  81. Contra the ‘war is now too technical for oiks’ school:
    A modern army needs lots of drone pilots. Such pilots require only x-box skills. All 18-year-olds have those skills. QED.

  82. BIG:As we are talking about slavery I’m confining myself to the legal/constitutional aspect.
    Up till the French Revolutionary wars European wars can be called mercenary and gentlemanly . Dukes and princes never claimed that “the govt is us”. We can also call such wars limited: limited to the kind of people who will kill for money or glory. In other words, the worst members of society. This was something of a satisfactory arrangement for the productive and peaceful members.
    Conscription was introduce into England, with misgiving, in WW1-religious objection being a kind of hat tip to the vanishing liberal dispensation.
    Since then the worst have been able to destroy the lives of the best without legal constraint.
    That everyone now accepts this legal obligation on men to obey orders to go and to die is testimony to the astonishing success of collectivism.
    The collectivistic aspect is probably the reason why people have difficulty in seeing conscription for what it is. Slavery is not limited to chattel slavery, and if a man must leave his home to die abroad, or be shot for refusing, what shall we call this, if not slavery?

  83. Bloke in Germany
    May 18, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    @Gamecock. Tortured German. “Heeres” is Army in the Genitive. “[das] Heer” in the nominative case required for saying wot it iz.

    ===========

    Thanks for the grammar lesson, Bloke.

    Since we don’t have “Genitive” over here, I was sure to mess it up.

  84. “As always, it’s slavery if you are against it, and not slavery if you are for it.

    Tim is correct, Prince Harry approves of slavery. The commenters above tell us only why they are for it.”

    Bollocks: I’m against conscription, but I’m also against stupid misrepresentations of it.

  85. National Service may be a tremendously bad idea for a variety of reasons, but accusing Harry of “approving of slavery” is just daft.

    We won’t have harmed recruitment though I’m sure.

  86. @ Chernyy_Drakon

    I’m afraid the use of “Lizzy” is not nearly as edgy as you may think. And, so that you’re aware, the older generation tend to loathe being called by their first name by total strangers, regardless of who they are.

    Twat.

  87. Jack C –

    I’m afraid the use of “Lizzy” is not nearly as edgy as you may think.

    Quite so. I believe that ‘Brenda’ is the preferred term. 🙂

  88. Following dee’s excellent comment, it is also worth noting that Conscription had become an “issue” in Britain well before WWI, in the 1900s, among those “progressive” types who idealised Prussia as the very model of a “modern” state, compared to old-fashioned England with its inadequately proactive State. It was part of that view that we still see used as justification, that the very best thing is for a society to be “ordered”, and the more people in uniforms and literally following orders, the better.

    It’s always worth remembering that many of the values now called “conservative” are in fact the values of late Victorian “progressives”.

  89. Gamecock –

    Since we don’t have “Genitive” over here, I was sure to mess it up.

    Are you, by any chance, the product of the English educational system?

  90. Interested – “The Wehrmacht was a conscript army in name only until the war got going and Hitler realised he was going to lose.”

    Well by the time it was obvious that he was going to lose, the Army had had lots of experience. But the war was probably not popular among Germans. Not sure they would have done it at all if not for conscription.

    “The BEF was professional in name only, too, but in any event I’m talking about the war proper, where professional German soldiers, particularly in volunteer units eg the SS, were very tough nuts to crack indeed.”

    Sorry but how was the BEF not a professional Army? The Germans were good soldiers because the Germans were good soldiers. No matter how they ended up in the Army. But they were not professional soldiers. They were mass conscripts.

    “Never mind all that, anyone who seriously thinks that trained soldiers in martial nations generally lose to barely-trained conscripts (fighting on level terms, partisans etc can achieve results) is mad.”

    There are so many qualifications to that. These days? Who knows. But the British Army was beaten by barely trained French conscripts in the early years of the French Revolutionary wars.

    Interested – “Anyone who ‘loves the Nazis because of Auschwitz’ really ought to have a word with themselves.”

    No sh!t. And yet there it is. There is a strong, but mainly underground, love of Hitler. That is why the History Channel was pretty much Hitler 24/7 for a while.

  91. Tim Newman – “Incidentally, does nobody advocating conscription wonder what the teenagers of Bradford, Tower Hamlets, and Rotherham might do with loaded weapons in the middle of a British Army barracks? Or would they get exempted on the grounds that they would rather be – and sometimes are – fighting for the other side?”

    Well we have a problem. But is that problem with an angry and disaffected Fifth Column going to go away if we keep on inviting 300,000 of them a year to come here and we all insist on pretending that the problem does not exist in case Ironman goes off his meds again?

  92. dee – “WW1 was the first total war, or collectivist war, bc it was the first war in which each country had universal conscription.”

    Total for whom precisely? The Napoleonic Wars also had conscription. We just did not call it that.

    “The damage that egomaniacs can inflict on mankind is very much reduced if there is a) no conscription and b) no/limited power to tax and borrow.”

    But this is backwards. We do not get rid of the motivation to inflict damage on humanity by trying to restrict the means. They will just find another means. The problem is our intellectual class that made politics so extreme that mass conscription was seen as a price worth paying. We need to take the bitterness out of politics. Or as I would put it, shoot all the Leftists. Which admittedly might not work as intended. Where there is a will to murder and enslave most of humanity, a means will be found.

    “Recall that in the later days of the Roman Empire slaves cld not be arbitrarily executed by their masters-in this respect conscription is even less civilised than chattel slavery.”

    Officers cannot arbitrarily execute soldiers.

  93. “Once we put the British 17 pdr in the Sherman we had a Tiger destroyer”

    Read the Wiki page on the Sherman Firefly, its enough to make you weep. If it hadn’t been for two junior British Army officers running their own amateur conversion project and lobbying the War Dept hard to take up the idea (they of course didn’t want to and tried to stamp on such demonstrations of initiative) it would never have happened, certainly not in time for such tanks to be available in Normandy. Only a bit of the old boy network ‘who you know, not what you know’ saved the day from the bureaucrats, and a lot of tank crews lives.

  94. “Most wars are won by the side with the greater resources in both men and materiel, by the way.”

    Exactly why Europe is doomed in the longer term

  95. @Gamecock,

    You do have the genitive in English, it’s the only properly marked case left in the language.

  96. Jim – “Read the Wiki page on the Sherman Firefly, its enough to make you weep. …. Only a bit of the old boy network ‘who you know, not what you know’ saved the day from the bureaucrats, and a lot of tank crews lives.”

    There is a lot to be said for old boy networks. Look at Percy Hobart as well. Rational bureaucracy is not that rational and may not be a particularly good form of government.

  97. “I can think of no case whatsoever for conscription in peace time.” – Germany is re-arming ?

  98. In truth, I don’t even know what genitive means.

    I do note that I was called out for failing to provide it with Heeres, but it was not provided with the Wehrmacht references. But that could be correct in German.

    My frame of reference is OKH and OKW. Using Wehrmacht to mean army grates on me.

  99. “Bollocks: I’m against conscription, but I’m also against stupid misrepresentations of it.”

    What part of “involuntary servitude” do you not understand?

  100. So, what happens when kids get their callup papers and decide they have better things to do than be sent overseas to murder people because some politician says so?

  101. Edward,

    They take notice of the Vietnam experience and cross the border into the cold, northern vastness of the newly independent People’s Democratic Republic of Alba.

  102. I wouldn’t overestimate the time it takes to train someone to be a frontline soldier. South Africav did quite well in taking conscripts and after 6 to 12 months intensive training turning out capable troops and junior leaders.

  103. @So Much for Subtlety
    ” The Napoleonic Wars also had conscription. We just did not call it that.” Yes, that is why I specified “each country”

    ” We do not get rid of the motivation to inflict damage on humanity by trying to restrict the means” 1. Motivation w/out power is impotent. 2.Power itself is an incitation.

    “Officers cannot arbitrarily execute soldiers.” Obviously. But whose life is safer- a household slave under late Roman law or a conscript soldier sent to the trenches?

  104. Surreptitious Evil – “They take notice of the Vietnam experience and cross the border into the cold, northern vastness of the newly independent People’s Democratic Republic of Alba.”

    That is only a problem if we have to let the c*nts back.

    dee – “Yes, that is why I specified “each country””

    Which country in the Napoleonic wars did not have conscription? France did. Germany, or the Prussians anyway, did. The Russians did. And so did the British.

    “1. Motivation w/out power is impotent. 2.Power itself is an incitation.”

    No, it is not impotent. It will find a way. As it did in WW1 – to gin up the proles to enlist they had to demonise the Germans until peace was not possible.

    “Obviously. But whose life is safer- a household slave under late Roman law or a conscript soldier sent to the trenches?”

    The soldier of course.

  105. @Bloke in Italy
    “conscription in war time may be necessary and given the choice between losing a war and introducing conscription for a limited period personally I don’t have a major problem with it.”

    I have to disagree for two reasons:

    (i)We have nukes – we should only ever need to get involved in a land war if we are invaded, and we should be able to mitigate a lot of the risk of that if we’re willing to nuke the hell out of the homeland of anyone who tries.

    (ii)If there are not enough people who care enough about the country to volunteer, so we have to conscript, then the country is past saving.

  106. So Much for Subtlety
    Can you name the legislation existing in England between 1789 and 1815 which had a legal effect equivalent to the Military Service Act 1916 and subsequent legislation?

    Cf my second post on the change from mercenary wars to collectivist wars. For further reference: de Jouvenal On Power (available in PDF)

    A thing w/our power is by definition, impotent. Lovers of peace and liberty will therefore strive to deny govt the power to conscript-here in a vey minor way by arguing that conscription is slavery, or something very like it-state servitude will do.

    I think you are wrong about the soldier being safer, as a fact. I am certain you are wrong as a matter of comparative favourability of legal status.

  107. > We have nukes

    Well, we have nukes, but we haven’t had a deterrent for the last couple of weeks. The Faslane whistleblower (who I personally think has done the right thing) has revealed the total fucking ineptitude of the numpties in charge of our nuclear arsenal and the decrepitude of the equipment. I doubt anyone is worried that we might destroy one of their cities.

    > we should be able to mitigate a lot of the risk of that if we’re willing to nuke the hell out of the homeland of anyone who tries.

    If we’re invaded by a nation-state after an official declaration of war, yes. Have you noticed that the world no longer operates according to the Queensbury rules? If we’re invaded by ISIS, where’s this homeland we could nuke? Damascus? Baghdad? Paris? Tower Hamlets?

    Nuclear deterrent only works against an identifiable nation-state enemy who wants to take your territory. Frankly, it’s amazing it worked for so long before everyone worked out the obvious flaws in that.

  108. dee,

    > Can you name the legislation existing in England between 1789 and 1815 which had a legal effect equivalent to the Military Service Act 1916 and subsequent legislation?

    Are you seriously not aware of the press? It was a real thing — and it really was slavery, no question. Kind of ironic, that you could be enslaved by the organisation responsible for destroying slavery. Life, eh?

    On the up side, if your ship had a good campaign, you could return home a rich man. So, slavery, but with a lottery thrown in.

  109. > How about Mecca?

    Probably very effective as revenge. But we were talking about deterrent.

    Also, setting the precedent of allowing an enemy force to choose an effective capital (or target that they care about) inside someone else’s territory seems like a pretty bad plan. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a worse plan.

    “Hi. We are DETSAF. We are going to kill all Sri Lankans and fishmongers for some reason. Death to the fishmongers! We come from all over the place — India, Mongolia, Idaho, Belarus, and Lanark — but the place we really identify with, our spiritual home, is Croydon. Really, don’t touch Croydon. That would upset us.”

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