• Isaac
    8k


    No. You're absolutely right. I should try and join in with the spirit a little more.

    The thing you have to understand about conscription is that the word originates from the latin "conscriptionem" - a drawing up of a list, but the 'compulsory sense is meaning "enlistment (of soldiers)" is from the French Republic act of Sept. 5, 1798.

    You see the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon English army, called the fyrd, was composed of part-time English soldiers drawn from the freemen of each county. In the 690s laws of Ine of Wessex, three levels of fines are imposed on different social classes for neglecting military service.

    So when it comes down to it The range of eligible ages for conscripting was expanded to meet national demand during the World Wars. In the United States, the Selective Service System drafted men for World War I initially in an age range from 21 to 30 but expanded its eligibility in 1918 to an age range of 18 to 45. In the case of a widespread mobilization of forces where service includes homefront defense, ages of conscripts may range much higher, with the oldest conscripts serving in roles requiring lesser mobility.
  • _db
    3.5k
    It seems the OP has lost interest anyway,Isaac

    Sorry, just been busy with stuff. I have been monitoring this thread and reflecting on things though.

    The oddity the OP is picking up on is that in the case of war, the decision (of literally life and death magnitude) is not only removed from any democratic process, but removed from personal choice too.Isaac

    :up:
  • _db
    3.5k
    David Graeber writes:

    I have never understood why this mass slaughter of Iraqi men isn’t considered a war crime. It’s clear that, at the time, the U.S. command feared it might be. [...] It makes sense that the elites were worried. These were, after all, mostly young men who’d been drafted and who, when thrown into combat, made precisely the decision one would wish all young men in such a situation would make: saying to hell with this, packing up their things, and going home. For this, they should be burned alive?

    On some level, let’s face it: these men were cowards. They got what they deserved.

    [...]

    There seems, indeed, a decided lack of sympathy for noncombatant men in war zones. Even reports by international human rights organizations speak of massacres as being directed almost exclusively against women, children, and, perhaps, the elderly. The implication, almost never stated outright, is that adult males are either combatants or have something wrong with them. (“You mean to say there were people out there slaughtering women and children and you weren’t out there defending them? What are you? Chicken?”)

    [...]

    About the only real exception I know of is Germany, which has erected a series of monuments labeled “To the Unknown Deserter.” The first and most famous, in Potsdam, is inscribed: “TO A MAN WHO REFUSED TO KILL HIS FELLOW MAN.” Yet even here, when I tell friends about this monument, I often encounter a sort of instinctive wince. “I guess what people will ask is: Did they really desert because they didn’t want to kill others, or because they didn’t want to die themselves?” As if there’s something wrong with that.

    [...]

    Nevertheless, as anyone familiar with the history of, say, Oceania, Amazonia, or Africa would be aware, a great many societies simply refused to organize themselves on military lines. Again and again, we encounter descriptions of relatively peaceful communities who just accepted that every few years, they’d have to take to the hills as some raiding party of local bad boys arrived to torch their villages, rape, pillage, and carry off trophy parts from hapless stragglers.
  • Pie
    553
    I guess the logic is that by living in a country, you enjoy all the benefits provided by it, and that if the country's existence is threatened, you owe it to the country as your duty to fight and possibly die in order to preserve it._db

    Conscription for a defensive war strikes me as far more...defensible that that for an offensive war.

    It does seem a little wrong to stay behind in a safety that is only made possible by the risk of others. This seems like a version of freeloading. The devil is in the details though. Do we send old men ? Teenaged boys ? The differently-abled? It's going to be messy.

    If possible, perhaps those who didn't want to fight could be allowed to leave the country entirely, as a kind of compromise. "You don't have to kill/die for us, but we don't have to kill/die for you either."
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    Stop trying to derail the thread with your insults and condescension.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    If possible, perhaps those who didn't want to fight could be allowed to leave the country entirely, as a kind of compromise. "You don't have to kill/die for us, but we don't have to kill/die for you either."Pie

    Good point. That was more or less what happened with those Americans who fled to Canada because they didn't want to go to Vietnam.
  • Isaac
    8k
    It seems the OP has lost interest anyway, — Isaac


    Sorry, just been busy with stuff. I have been monitoring this thread and reflecting on things though.
    _db

    Oh, not a problem. I just felt for a minute I was wasting my time trying to keep the thread focused on what I understood to be your question about the justification for conscription. Had you picked any country other than Ukraine for your example it would have been a lively and interesting discussion, but since there's a contingent of posters who think that saying anything bad about Ukraine amounts to Russian propaganda so you'll get a pretty clipped discussion.

    It does seem a little wrong to stay behind in a safety that is only made possible by the risk of others.Pie

    It's this assumption of safety that's in question. In Ukraine, for example, there's a not insignificant number of the population who wanted to be under Russian rule, or who couldn't care less whose flag they were under.

    So the question is - if these people don't want to risk their deaths for the gain being offered, then in what sense is forcing them to do so in their interests (the people)?

    Also, if there's a moral justification to forcing people to act for the greater good, then why are we still struggling with climate change, why are thousands still dying every minute from poverty? The actions people might be forced to take to resolve those travesties are way more minor impositions than risking being shot or tortured.

    If possible, perhaps those who didn't want to fight could be allowed to leave the country entirely, as a kind of compromise. "You don't have to kill/die for us, but we don't have to kill/die for you either."Pie

    In the case used by the OP, this has already been ruled out...

    Ukraine imposed a general mobilization of all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60, and banned them from leaving the country._db
  • Pie
    553
    In Ukraine, for example, there's a not insignificant number of the population who wanted to be under Russian rule, or who couldn't care less whose flag they were under.Isaac

    That indeed makes it messier and more questionable.

    So the question is - if these people don't want to risk their deaths for the gain being offered, then in what sense is forcing them to do so in their interests (the people)?Isaac

    To me it's only reasonable/decent to pressure people to fight whose lives are already in serious danger -- and who otherwise plan to remain safe only at the cost of those who take up the burden. Even then it might not be prudent to trust the reluctant in battle.

    The guy who makes me die for a cause I don't believe in is my enemy, no matter what flag he waves. Forbidding males leaving seems wrong. I doubt the leaders and the rich are exposing themselves much to danger.
  • Isaac
    8k
    To me it's only reasonable/decent to pressure people to fight whose lives are already in serious danger.Pie

    I agree. The tricky part is in how we judge that danger. The problem being that fighting a war is bloody dangerous, so the alternative has to be pretty clearly more so before one could justify forcing the former to avoid the latter.

    This is the point @ssu was obfuscating earlier. It's insufficient to simply point out that things would be bad for Ukraine under Russian rule. To justify forcing people to fight a war (by claiming it's for their own good), it must be clear that things would be more bad than war. And that's a pretty tall order since war is really, really bad.
  • Pie
    553
    Good point. That was more or less what happened with those Americans who fled to Canada because they didn't want to go to Vietnam.Olivier5

    To me, the Vietnam draft was unambiguously wrong. Send the young and the poor to die for the old and the rich.

    Reminds me of lyrics from The Boss.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPhWR4d3FJQ
  • Pie
    553
    the alternative has to be pretty clearly more so before one could justify forcing the former to avoid the latter.Isaac

    :up:
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    Reminds me of lyrics from The Boss.Pie

    Big fan here.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/489830
  • Isaac
    8k


    Absolutely.

    Bruce eh! An American singer, songwriter, and musician. He has released 20 studio albums, many of which feature his backing band, the E Street Band. Originally from the Jersey Shore, he is one of the originators of the heartland rock style of music, combining mainstream rock musical style with narrative songs about working class American life. During a career that has spanned six decades, Springsteen has become known for his poetic, socially conscious lyrics and energetic stage performances, sometimes lasting up to four hours in length. He has been nicknamed "the Boss".

    Just doing my bit to keep the thread firmly on those rails you're so concerned about.
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    Conscription is pointless, oui? A nation that has to force its people to fight for it is, in a sense, already vanquished. I recall reading about a Russian tactic in WW2 where orders were given to shoot soldiers retreating from battle. The tragedy of conscription on pain of death is outmatched only by the circumstances that lead up to it!
  • _db
    3.5k
    I recall reading about a Russian tactic in WW2 where orders were given to shoot soldiers retreating from battle.Agent Smith

    This is an exaggeration. The main purpose of the blocking troops were to prevent uncontrolled and panicked retreats. Most of the retreating troops were sent off to the front again and only a small minority were actually executed.

    To justify forcing people to fight a war (by claiming it's for their own good), it must be clear that things would be more bad than war. And that's a pretty tall order since war is really, really bad.Isaac

    Right, exactly.

    On the other hand, there is some evidence to support the claim that retaliatory action is an effective way to deal with bullies (tit-for-tat, Axelrod). If nobody resisted the invasion of Ukraine, this would likely only encourage more bad Russian behavior - if nobody resists, then they're gonna take everything they can for themselves. But the problem then is that the Ukrainian power structure took it upon itself to decide how the resistance would happen.

    Maybe there's a more effective way to resist Russian dominion, but if this would entail the destruction of the Ukrainian power structure, it's not considered. First and foremost the military of a country serves to protect the interests of the existing power structure; human life is not the number-one priority. And the media can be used to trick people into thinking that the interests of the people are the same as the interests of the power structure.

    At the end of WWII, Hitler & Co. ordered children and the elderly to defend Berlin, tooth and nail. That's obviously just a total waste of human life - the corrupt and evil leadership were just throwing away their own citizens so they could cling to power for a few more days. If the same thing were to happen in Ukraine though, there would be worldwide sympathy, the media would portray the child soldiers as martyrs, etc - yet it would largely be the same thing, just the leadership of a country trying to hold on to their positions of power for as long as possible, regardless of the costs.
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    This is an exaggeration. The main purpose of the blocking troops were to prevent uncontrolled and panicked retreats. Most of the retreating troops were sent off to the front again and only a small minority were actually executed._db

    I don't see how I'm guilty of hyperbole? I merely mentioned but left out the details, making it quite impossible for me to blow things out of proportion, oui monsieur?
  • Isaac
    8k
    If nobody resisted the invasion of Ukraine, this would likely only encourage more bad Russian behavior - if nobody resists, then they're gonna take everything they can for themselves._db

    True.

    the problem then is that the Ukrainian power structure took it upon itself to decide how the resistance would happen._db

    Yep. Exactly. Not to mention the fact that they had their hands tied in that decision by the constraining circumstances placed on them by other institutions of power.

    At the end of WWII, Hitler & Co. ordered children and the elderly to defend Berlin, tooth and nail. That's obviously just a total waste of human life - the corrupt and evil leadership were just throwing away their own citizens so they could cling to power for a few more days. If the same thing were to happen in Ukraine though, there would be worldwide sympathy, the media would portray the child soldiers as martyrs, etc - yet it would largely be the same thing, just the leadership of a country trying to hold on to their positions of power for as long as possible, regardless of the costs._db

    Yeah, the media have managed (largely by some fairly extreme censorship and swamping) to fortify this fairly weak idea that Ukrainian sovereignty is some kind of moral good, that fighting for it is like fighting for freedom, or democracy, or human rights... It's clearly not. Ukrainian sovereignty is the ability of a particular power structure to determine the laws in a particular geographical area. There's nothing especially noble about it and it's certainly not worth risking such monumental death, pain and destruction over. Ukraine wasn't even that great a country, worse that Russia in some measures, marginally better in others. All in all much of a muchness

    I think a lot of Ukrainians recognise this, and I think conscription is the government's answer to that problem.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    just the leadership of a country trying to hold on to their positions of power for as long as possible, regardless of the costs._db

    There is no evidence that this diagnostic applies to Ukraine.
  • Isaac
    8k
    There is no evidence that this diagnostic applies to Ukraine.Olivier5

    The use of conscription constitutes the evidence. That's the whole point of the OP (@_db will correct me if im wrong). If the government were concerned about something other than its own survival, then it would not need conscription. Getting a government to behave the way you want it to is done by voting (if you're fortunate enough to have both a democracy and a majority), protest, unionising, lobbying... It doesn't matter who that government is, by and large. It's not sufficiently in the interests of the people themselves the exact group of people who run the place to be forced into risking their own death to preserve.

    What's in the interests of the people is the means at their disposal to influence that government, the freedoms and benefits that government offers. And literally every single metric there is on measures of human welfare shows little difference between Ukraine and Russia on that score.

    There's little to choose between them, many Ukrainians see this and don't want to risk their lives for the sake of it. Forcing them to is inhumane.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    If the government were concerned about something other than its own survival, then it would not need conscriptionIsaac

    Why not?

    It's not sufficiently in the interests of the people themselves the exact group of people who run the place to be forced into risking their own death to preserve.Isaac

    And in English?
  • Isaac
    8k
    If the government were concerned about something other than its own survival, then it would not need conscription — Isaac


    Why not?
    Olivier5

    Read the next paragraph.

    It's not sufficiently in the interests of the people themselves the exact group of people who run the place to be forced into risking their own death to preserve. — Isaac


    And in English?
    Olivier5

    The make up of a government (Zelensky or Putin, to put it simply) is of little relevance to serving the population's interests relative to their ability to influence what that government does. Turnout at elections, for example, is often very low.

    A government justifying conscription purely to preserve sovereignty on the grounds of public good is claiming that the people's interests are served by who is in government, not how that government relates to them. Not only this, but that this is so strongly true that young men must risk death to preserve it.

    But the claim is false (or mostly so). It is of very little relevance to an individual's interests who makes up the government, only how that government exercises its power.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    The make up of a government (Zelensky or Putin, to put it simply) is of little relevance to serving the population's interests relative to their ability to influence what they do. Turnout at elections, for example, is often very low.Isaac

    Hostomel and Bucha bear witness that there is a huge difference between the two.

    A government justifying conscription on the grounds of public good is claiming that the people's interests are served by who is in governmentIsaac

    Not really, no. It is rather, in this case at least, to defend an independent polity, free to make its own collective choices.

    All this talk about "the leadership of a country trying to hold on to their positions of power" applies squarely to nations of slaves, such as Russia. Evidently, Putin is trying to hold on power and waging a war was a way to try and do that. The worth of a Czar can only be demonstrated in battle.

    But the case is more complex for democracies, that may sometimes (in war times) impose stringent obligations such as conscription, that may appear undemocratic, for the purpose of safeguarding their democratic system from an aggressive dictator.
  • Isaac
    8k
    Hostomel and Bucha bear witness that there is a huge difference between the two.Olivier5

    How do those atrocities have any bearing whatsoever on the relative ability of citizens to influence peacetime governments?

    Honestly. You can't just answer every single question about Ukraine and Russia with "look Russia did a bad thing". It's puerile.

    to defend an independent polity, free to make its own collective choices.Olivier5

    For which you'd need evidence that the polity would be less free to do that under the threatening government than they would under the defending one. And that this difference is significant enough to risk unwilling lives for.

    Evidence you lack.

    All this talk about "the leadership of a country trying to hold on to their positions of power" applies squarely to nations of slaves, such as Russia.Olivier5

    Yes. It does. So? Russian conscription is also immoral.

    the case is more complex for democracies, that may sometimes (in war times) impose stringent obligations such as conscription, that may appear undemocratic, for the purpose of safeguarding their democratic system from an aggressive dictator.Olivier5

    Again, if you want to present anything other than your comic book fantasy version of reality, you'd need to show some evidence of the peacetime difference between the two nations involved in terms of the interests of the unwilling population (those who don't want to fight).

    It might work on Facebook, but here I'd like to think we expect a higher degree of evidence than the crap you pick up from the telly. If your argument is that the unwilling conscript's interests are so much better served by peacetime Ukraine than by peacetime Russia that they'd best risk their lives to retain it, then I think at least a modicum of evidence is the minimum requirement.

    Almost every single metric of human well-being that's so far been devised puts the two nations about the same. So what's your evidence for an improvement of such worthiness that even the unwilling must be forced to fight for it?
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    How do those atrocities have any bearing whatsoever on the relative ability of citizens to influence peacetime governments?

    Honestly. You can't just answer every single question about Ukraine and Russia with "look Russia did a bad thing". It's puerile.
    Isaac

    Russia did more than one bad thing. In Ukraine alone there are hundreds of cases. And remember Aleppo, and Grozny. They murder journalists and political figures wherever they can. The Putin regime murders people with impunity in your own country, too.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    For which you'd need evidence that the polity would be less free to do that under the threatening government than they would under the defending one. And that this difference is significant enough to risk unwilling lives for.

    Evidence you lack.
    Isaac

    It is pretty obvious that a majority of Ukrainians are in favor of the current resistance. A poll in March indicated that 3/4 of men and a majority of women were willing to fight personally in the war. I assume that they have good grounds for saying so. In fact I would feel exactly the same if some goons invaded my country.

    Strategically, the proof of concept will have to wait for when the Ukrainian conscripts reach the frontline. It's not a given that they will make a difference there, but the Ukrainian side clearly expects their "million men army" to prove decisive.
  • Isaac
    8k
    It is pretty obvious that a majority of Ukrainians are in favor of the current resistance.Olivier5

    When you read the word 'unwilling' what happens in your brain? Does it just go blank? Does it struggle for a bit before giving in? I'd love some insight.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    You've heard about the concept of democracy, and how it functions? The majority usually trumps the minority.
  • Isaac
    8k
    You've heard about the concept of democracy, and how it functions? The majority usually trumps the minority.Olivier5

    So your idea of democracy is that absolutely anything the majority decides to force upon the minority is morally justified?

    No human rights? No constitutions? Might makes right, yes?
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    Stop inventing straw men.
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