You can’t be feminist and advocate enslaving women.
Some people consider it unfair that the US government forces men to register for the draft but not women. They have a point. Why should some people be compelled to register and perhaps to die in a foreign country and others not, just on the basis of their sex?
But that “solution” extends an evil instead of eliminating it. It’s as if Lincoln, instead of issuing an Emancipation Proclamation, had proclaimed that white people could be enslaved too. It wouldn’t have helped the black slaves and would just have put more people in chains.
The draft is slavery. It’s involuntary servitude, which violates the 13th Amendment. It compels people to leave their homes, go to a foreign country, and in some cases die. Refusal means prison and other criminal penalties. It has no place in a free society.
The history of military slavery
The power to conscript enables governments to attack lands outside their direct control, using people who wouldn’t have joined the attack if they had a choice. In the old days, feudal lords forced their serfs to fight for them. The modern form is the levée en masse, which arose from the French Revolution along with the Reign of Terror. It enabled Napoleon to conduct his wars of conquest across Europe. Give governments the resources to go to war, and they will.
The United States used the military draft in World War I and World War II. The first was a war the United States had no business being in, and it provided Woodrow Wilson with unwilling cannon fodder. People were thrown in prison for opposing the war. In World War II forcing people into uniform might — many claim — have been the lesser evil. But if Americans were so convinced of the Nazi menace, why would they enlist only under the threat of arrest and imprisonment?
The draft ceased at the end of World War II, then was reinstated in 1948. That marked the first time Americans were forced into national military service without an ongoing war as an excuse. The draft supplied the manpower for the undeclared war in Korea. In the sixties, it did the same for the one in Vietnam.
In 1972, the draft came to an end, and draft registration ended the next year. It came back in 1980, not by a vote of Congress but by a decree of President Jimmy Carter. Any president since then could have revoked the executive order. None have.
Since 1980, men in the United States have been required to register with Selective Service when they turn 18. Not registering is a felony that can get the resister thrown in prison for five years.
So is advising people not to register. Yes, when it comes to the draft, you can get thrown in jail for advocating civil disobedience. Slavers have no regard for any human rights. If you can throw out the Thirteenth Amendment, why not the First?
Military servitude vs. a free society
In a free society, people choose how they live. If you threaten arrest and imprisonment to make them build bridges or eat their vegetables, you’re an enemy of freedom. Compelling people to kill others and put themselves at risk of getting killed is one of the worst denials of freedom.
We hear the jingoistic slogan, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Or in a more subtle form, we’re told that the draft helps to prevent war. The fear that they or their children will be sent off to die will supposedly discourage the population from seeking wars. But it isn’t populations that start wars, it’s governments. The draft didn’t dissuade the government from sending thousands to die in Vietnam; rather, it gave it the ability to send them against their will.
Practicality aside, that argument amounts to advocating hostage-taking. The government is, in effect, saying, “If we start a war, we’ll force some of you to die in it.” Threatening other people’s lives to ensure one’s own good conduct isn’t just ineffective, it’s repugnant.
We are involved in multiple wars right now, without the aid of a military draft. This is possible because war has changed. The battlefield is now based on technology, not on numbers, muscle, and the ability to follow orders blindly. There’s less excuse for a draft than ever. Carter reinstated the draft because of the prospect of a war in Afghanistan. It didn’t happen then, but now we’ve been at war in Afghanistan for over eighteen years, without any American draftees.
This change fuels the argument that women should be enslaved along with men. Muscle power isn’t as important as it once was. The smaller average size of women may even be an advantage in some situations.
A 2019 federal court decision held that if men are required to register for the draft, women have to be too. The decision didn’t order the US government to change its policies, but it’s hard to argue with its logic. Women have been allowed in combat positions without restriction since 2013. If the draft continues indefinitely, women will eventually be forced to register.
The prospect of such a requirement should be a wake-up call. For decades, the Selective Service System has been a purely parasitic organization, creating a database of citizens and forcing them to make themselves available for war. It would love to double the number of people it can browbeat. It costs Americans $24 million a year. That’s pocket change compared to the federal budget, but the SSS is worse than worthless.
Ted Cruz got it half right. He said, “I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their hearts’ desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in the foxhole, with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them, doesn’t make any sense at all.” All true, but he’s implying that if his children were boys, forcibly putting them in a foxhole with a murderous psychopath would be perfectly fine.
In any other job, you get people by offering good enough pay and benefits. Getting people to work for you by threatening and exercising brute force is the policy of a brute.
The mood in America is militaristic, and it will take strong moral opposition to stand up to the politicians who want to expand draft registration. The status quo isn’t tenable. We need to say clearly and firmly that the draft is barbaric, drafting women would make it doubly so, and the whole practice has to be abolished.
Let’s put Selective Service out of work.