Didn\’t someone try this before?

Demos today launches a report arguing that the principle of national service, abolished in Britain in 1960, still has something to offer. A national civilian service — a sort of “civic corps” — would look very different from its military forebear: it would be flexible and tailored to people’s lives, not a one-size-fits-all compulsory scheme.

It would, however, be based on the same principles that underpinned wartime service: the idea that we owe something to each other and that citizenship is more than a soulless contract between individuals and the state. It would be paid for by introducing interest on student loans, raising about £1.2 billion a year.

The scheme would see people serving throughout their lives, taking up opportunities, from school projects at the age of seven to paid leave for employees. For a week a year, people would down their tools or keyboards and pick up litter, dredge canals, become reading mentors or help the elderly. The community benefits would be huge.

That last sounds very like a subotnika.

And, err, yes, people did try this


In fact, it\’s been tried several times.


What is it with these people? Why can they not understand that civil society is, by definition, voluntary society?

Fuck me, they bring in nonsense like this I\’ll have to not just move back but start having children: so that they  can jail me as I deny them to the State and it\’s myrmidons.


10 thoughts on “Didn\’t someone try this before?”

  1. Well I’d have time for a (considerable) variant on this. A”Civic Corps” or whatever you want to call it that anyone may join and which may be left at one months notice. No possibility of the sack, hence military discipline. After completion of basic training (and any disciplinarians accrued) anyone may leave on one week’s notice. Minimum wage, docked for accommodation during basic training but not afterwards. Any housing/accommodation needs to be sorted separately after basic training.
    I doubt it would be anyone’s first choice of employment- but for those who really can’t find a job it would guarantee them a minimum wage, maintain their human capital and leave the free to go to something better as soon as that something arises.
    The disabled could also join- and the able bodied could be tasked with caring for them.
    With this in place we could time limit unemployment pay- since long term everyone has a guaranteed job.

  2. Pingback: Longrider » National Service Again

  3. The Swiss seem to have found a way of making national service work, without becoming a totalitarian state like the other examples you highlighted.

  4. Winston, I know, but the Swiss do it better. Maybe it is because they keep their rifle at home and can buy it when they leave. It’s much harder for a government not to pay attention to the people when so many of the people are armed.

  5. Serfdom is not acceptable in the UK.

    If they want to do something for the young unemployed, then it should be voluntary. Give them a training allowance to cover travel expenses, insurance, etc, and let them sort out a work placement for themselves for say 3 to 6 months. so they get a chance to learn, and build up a track record of brownie points, new skills, and experience to go on a CV. Make it easy for potential employers to give them a chance, regardless of whether they want to be binmen, bishops or lion tamers, so long as they have a valid employer. But all the government ever does is make such things difficult.

  6. At first glance one would think that the assorted voluntary youth organisations pretty much cover all this; indeed the Scouts, the cadets, Boys/Girls Brigades and even the bloody Woodcraft Folk pretty much do.

    The only problems are that they are not organised centrally (under a suitably indoctrinated Reichsjugendführer) and sometimes display a distressing allegiance to unapproved things (flag, monarchy etc).

  7. btw As for National Service, it works fine if what you want is a huge reserve of trained light infantrymen whose only task would be to run to the mountauins and act like better trained Mujahadeen in defence of the nation. Sadly Britain doesn’t fight that sort of war.

    Britain’s warfighting strategy is based on expeditionary forces capable of being deployed at short notice. This requires professionals, not semi trained conscripts and reservists.

    National service actually deprives the frontline army of trained professionals as they tend to get sucked into the massive training organisation. Indeed, according to Basil Liddle Hart (a not completely thick military thinker) in The Future of War, the ending of National Service in the UK actually enabled an increase in the number of professionally manned fighting formations.
    Applying that same thinking to non-military service I imagine the same results would occur.

    So, quite apart from the obvious moral objections, National Service is about the most inefficient way to get something done. Unless, of course, your objective is not to achieve the stated aims, but something more subtle. Like a little social conditioning for example.

  8. Dredging canals? One of those jobs which sounds easy but, I suspect, isn’t.

    Especially for an unfit, fat knacker who on Friday was the floor manager in a call centre.


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