American Military Culture

Jason Quintana's picture
Submitted by Jason Quintana on Mon, 2005-12-05 21:43

Something which has always left me feeling uncomfortable is the culture of the American military. The military seems to have its own religion (or even cult) which is set up with the express purpose of breeding mindless conformity and a staunch sense of collectivist duty. The other day I was watching a TV program in which several young military men were interviewed and all of them said almost the same things -- and strangely with almost the same exact accent and terminology. Listening to them one after another made them seem like robots. They said things like :

"I'm just honored to have the opportunity to serve a higher purpose."

"Doing my duty for my country, even if it means dieing for it is the most important thing I'll ever do."

I recall speaking to a coworker who was a former member of the military in which he explained that many of the exercises that soldiers go through in boot camp and beyond are meant to train out any elements of individual judgement in the soldiers. On a daily basis commands are given which have no logical purpose other then training people to follow the commands of their superiors no matter what. Some of the examples he gave me were rather strange and grotesque to an outsider. His explanation for this kind of training was that "If your commanding officer tells you to do something that has a 99% chance of resulting in your death you have to be selfless enough to peform your duties anyway." This coworker took a great deal of pride in this kind of achievment and the thought of such a mentality got me so upset that we ended up getting into a heated argument.

For those who might have military experience is my fear about military culture warranted? Is there any ethical argument that can be made in favor of the arch collectivism of the American military? Or do I have a misunderstanding of this culture?


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Him's picture

Michael, you've just turned

Ross Elliot's picture

Michael, you've just turned context dropping into an art form.

You talk about the draft all you like. You won't find me advocating the draft in any context. That's a silly smokescreen and I suggest you try it on someone else.

I'm talking about men who volunteered to defend their civilisation & by extension, themselves, their families & their land. If an armed gang invades your neighborhood are you guilty of bad philosophy & a killer mindset if you take up arms and put a stop to their actions *before* they break down your door? Clear & present danger is enough to invoke the right of self-defence. If it wasn't, aggressors would use the tactic of divide & conquer, just as the Nazis initially did, to attain their goals, and free men would have no course but to wait for the hammer to fall.

What were the men of my father's generation to do? Wait for the Japanese to step onto our beaches before they reacted? If it hadn't been for the 100,000 American troops that we sent to defend my part of the South Pacific then we would have suffered untold horrors. What's your solution to that scenario, Michael? To sit inside your house, polishing coins, hoping that the fascists pass you by?

If you're suggesting that good, decent men like my father & his brothers can't voluntarily take up arms to defend their civilisation & therefore their own property from aggression, it's your anarchist philosophy that's corrupt and murderous, not theirs.

Organization _is_ Collectivism

milesian's picture

I edit a quarterly journal for numismatics. I recently asked the Board and they agreed to up our payments from 5c per word to 10c per word with a maximum of $100. We were never short of articles before. I just felt that we could afford paying more to those who write. Those who do are happy to send in material, to share their knowledge, to establish their standing, to show what they know, to participate in the hobby, and to be paid for it.

None of that involves shaving off their hair and dressing them all alike.

They do not even need to punch a time clock... or eat only in the cafeteria... or smoke cigarettes out doors... or not tell jokes about sex...

And they do not expect to get paid for hanging out at the water cooler... or for calling in sick... They get paid for what they WANT to do, when and as they WANT to do it.

I pay for what I want to publish, according to my professional judgement.

That is COOPERATION but it is not an ORGANIZATION.

________________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

Kill Them All and Let God Sort Them Out?

milesian's picture

The very handsome Jody Gomez wrote: "Saving the life of a single innocent person is not worth preventative measures?"

You cannot show a single example of a (potentially) GUILTY person was killed ahead of their hurting a (putatively) innocent person. Take a worst case: the German invasion of Poland in World War II. However, Poland was a military dictatorship. Life under German domination would have been worse for most Poles, perhaps, but only as they made it so for themselves. Polish nationalism versus German nationalism is not a rational choice.

Given that you were sent back then, and given that you could have revealed the future to them, whom would you have suggested they kill?
Hitler? He is a convenient target, but really only a scapegoat for our outrage. Other people did his bidding, but he only bid them do what they asked him to order them to do. As Ayn Rand said about the dictator who has his people on a leash: a leash is a rope with a noose at both ends.

The point is there are no GUILTY people until AFTER the act. Sorry, but that is the nature of government. PRIVATE protection, of course, has a totally different view of the problem.

________________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

Italiano Brave Gente

milesian's picture

Ross Elliot collapsed into vulgarity: "Are you fucking nuts, Michael? ... my father & his brothers ..."

Yeah? Well uncles were DRAFTED into a conflict they wanted no part of and sent to Europe to kill their cousins who were themselves DRAFTED and sent to kill.

My grandfathers both came here from different parts of Europe to make a new life in a new world where people did not kill and die for kings and emperors. They came from APOSTOLIC MONARCHIES. (It said that right on the coins: Franz Josef Apostolic King.) Do you understand the medieval nature of European society at that time? And America imitated it. WE EVEN PUT THE _FASCES_ on the "Mercury" dime of 1916. The world was engulfed in collectivism and paid the price.

Some of those ideas are still haunting us. Several wars are going on, though we hear a whole lot about just one of them.

My father was DRAFTED and sent to Korea, where he was shot on patrol of the DMZ _after_ the fighting was over. My family was not happy or proud and no one thought that he was defending our neighborhood against an invasion from northern Korea.

And as I said, we excuse our own family from moral guilt and we refuse to believe that they were killers. But we are distant from that time and place. The world has changed. Back then, Negroes were lynched by viligantes for being "uppity." The Ku Klux Klan held open rallies in Washington DC. The "choice" offered by the intellectuals and their mass media was between fascism and communism, between poison and poison, as Rand pointed out.

You cannot excuse your father and uncles from the consequences of their (lack of) philosophy.

My family voted Republican. I still do. When my uncles came home, they never joined the VFW. We never flew flags on holidays. We were AMERICANS because America is a democracy were people GET ALONG with their neighbors, despite the differences between us. We don't kill people just because they are different.

And by the way, I drive a Toyota. My first car was a Volkswagen. I have worked for Carl Zeiss and Kawaaski and Honda. German is my second language. Your prejudices are your own, and you have a perfect right to them, but they are prejudices.

________________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

War is Socialism. Socialism is War.

milesian's picture

Jeff Perren wrote: "A small percentage see combat, nor do most wish to, and they know that going in. Many were distressed when they found out that unexpectedly became a requirement."

Yes, the USAF recruits on the slogan, "Only 1% of all Air Force personnel are pilots. Come see what the other 99% do." In combat, it is an effective strategy to WOUND rather than kill because wounding consumes more enemy resources in support personnel and material. All of that is irrelevant to the topic. The purpose of the armed forces is to kill the enemy and people who join the armed forces do so to participate in that.

Jeff Perren claimed: "And combat is not murder, far from it -- it's self-defense and the defense of others they were hired to protect."

So, when a criminal attacks a policeman, that is not attempted murder, but a fair fight between equals? When two gangs shoot it out over drug turf, that is just a more intense form of market competition?

War is a consequence of politics. War is diplomacy carried out by other means. Terrorism is war carried out by other means.

Obviously, Jeff, your commitment to capitalism is not glued on too well. Your personal philosophy appears to have some internal contradictions. Perhaps you think that free enterprise is something that happens when we have the luxury of not needing to kill each other over scarce resources.

________________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

War is Hell

milesian's picture

Jody Gomez wrote: "He came back to the ship pumping with the excitement, and the entire ship was revelling. When he climbed out of his plane, someone said, "Hey Duke, what's it like to kill someone?" He immediately had to leave the celebration and seek the help of the chaplain."

That is also expected and true. Generally speaking, no one ever gets over it. We called it "combat fatigue" and now we call it "post traumatic stress syndrome." My comments were misunderstood by those who chose not to understand them. I did not say that most or all enjoyed killing. Some do. That is the range of human behaviors, unfortunately. Most people are horrified by the experience of combat and some never "get over it." Only now are we able to understand that. In the 1950s, for instance, there was no understanding and the men who fought in World War II were expected to bury it all someplace. Many never did. That is why all their lives, all they could talk about was "the war." Why they joined the VFW, to hang out with others who went through the same thing. No one else could understand. That is all true.

It remains that people volunteer for the militaty do so because they have the warrior ethic, the warrior mentality. Never having experienced it, they think they want to kill.

_______________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

"Duke" Cunningham

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

That's the right attitude to have. I'm sorry to have inadvertantly touched a raw nerve.

Jim

Jim-Sorry, that was a bit

Jody Gomez's picture

James-
Sorry, my post was a bit snippy. When I was a young teeneager, Randy Cunningham was my hero. I had a dog named "Duke"!, I read his book "Fox Two" and I bought every documentary in which he was interviewed. When I clicked on a link from Drudge the other day, "Congressman pleads guilty to accepting bribes", and saw that it was "Duke", I felt a lot of anger. What do we do when our hero's fall. Admit that they have fallen and no longer deserve to be a hero, but also acknowledge that their greatness of yesterday still stands, and that the accomplishments we admired them for are still admirable.

"Duke" Cunningham

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Jody,

I was making no argument on this thread. Simply something I saw in the news I thought you should be aware of if you weren't already. I agree with you about military personnel in general not enjoying killing. I apologize if I gave the impression of ad hominem as I am generally pro-military. This was probably not the right place to bring it up.

Jim

Yes, James. Nice ad hominem.

Jody Gomez's picture

Yes, James. Nice ad hominem.

"Duke" Cunningham

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Jody,

I think this is the same guy that resigned from Congress for accepting bribes from defense contractors.

Jim

Ditto Ross.Randy "Duke"

Jody Gomez's picture

Ditto Ross.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Naval aviator, and America's first ace in Vietnam described the first time he shot down an enemy Mig. He came back to the ship pumping with the excitement, and the entire ship was revelling. When he climbed out of his plane, someone said, "Hey Duke, what's it like to kill someone?" He immediately had to leave the celebration and seek the help of the chaplain. He correctly said that if you ever get used to it, and if you ever come to like killing, that you'll never readjust to civilian life. Fortunately the great majority of our military men and women do not come to the point that they enjoy killing.

"But in the main -- except

Ross Elliot's picture

"But in the main -- except for our own lovable teddy bear soldier fathers and brothers and sons -- most people go into the army, even the AMERICAN army because they want to kill someone and get away with murder."

Are you fucking nuts, Michael? That's akin to suggesting that people become surgeons because the want to stab & disfigure others and get away with it.

The reasons for men joining armies are complex but to suggest that my father & his brothers voluntarily gave up their civilian occupations & travelled to the other side of the world in horrid conditions so they could kill Germans & Italians AND feel good about it because they were "getting away" with it isn't just nuts, it's mean, nasty & stupidly ungrateful.

Military murderers? No.

Jeff Perren's picture

Adding to Andy's excellent comments, the view that individuals join in order to get away with murder is sheer, cynical brain rot.
A small percentage see combat, nor do most wish to, and they know that going in. Many were distressed when they found out that unexpectedly became a requirement.

And combat is not murder, far from it -- it's self-defense and the defense of others they were hired to protect.

Michael, increase the lithium.

Organization is not collectivism

Andy Postema's picture

Organizing with others to reach a common goal is not collectivism. If that were the case then any activity involving more than one would be collectivist. Collectivism is when the organization is no longer the means to a goal, but the goal itself.

I won't argue that many military cultures aren't collectivist. Ancient Sparta is an excellent example. But the volunteer armed forces of the U.S. are hardly that. Cooperating in the common defense of the country is just that, cooperation. A soldier agrees to take orders from superiors, because that's what's necessary to achieve the goal.

By volunteering to take a place within a hierarchy to accomplish something he values, a soldier is not sacrificing himself to the organization. He is taking action towards his goal in concert with others. He is operating on the trader principle. The soldier will execute the orders of his superiors in exchange for his superiors' management of his efforts and that of his fellow soldiers to achieve that which he greatly values but cannot do alone.

There's no brainwashing involved. No weak will either. Nothing but an agreement to cooperate with others to a worthy end.

Andy

MSK wrote -- "The USA

milesian's picture

MSK wrote -- "The USA military places high regard on teaching honor, honesty and integrity as values to temper blind obedience."

but Jeff Riggenbach had written -- "... people who are willing, for money (and not much of it at that), to travel halfway around the world and try to kill people they don't know for reasons they rarely even bother to look into, much less evaluate. I see fools, dupes, and scumbags."

Both are true.

What of the men high on androgen and testosterone who simply NEED ACTION? Well,there are plenty of dangerous jobs out there with warrior virtues. _Firefighting_ comes to mind. And as a firefighter, saving lives is your primary job with protecting property being second. [In the (American) military you destroy property first and lives second. In other militaries, the destruction of property is just icing on the cake.] Firefighting, Civil Air Patrol search and rescue, EMT, and security guard are easy examples. In mining and other areas of engineering, explosives experts are highly paid. Everything the military does has a peaceful analog.

Every army -- like every national art museum or every city bus system -- is a reflection of the society that it belongs to. The American military prosecuted the perpetrators at Abu Ghraib. As MSK noted, following your conscience and doing what is right even (or especially) in the face of authority is a primary American virtue. American soldiers are indoctinated to believe that it is perfectly acceptable to refuse an unlawful order. That attitude would be considered insane with the German Wehrmacht -- and most of the other armies in the world -- even today.

But in the main -- except for our own lovable teddy bear soldier fathers and brothers and sons -- most people go into the army, even the AMERICAN army because they want to kill someone and get away with murder.

However, Newt Gingrich said, speaking of bureaucrats, "You cannot hate them. Folks, these are your neighbors. They are not evil. They just have the wrong information system."

Part of the Activism of Objectivism must be to AGORIZE THE STATE. Get these military types into productive careers.
________________________________________________________
"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

Not pure collectivism

Michael Stuart Kelly's picture

Jason,

You had an interesting question. I have a perspective on the military from a Brazilian angle. I used to produce a protest singer named Geraldo Vandré. As we lived in a military dictatorship down there back then, where only Generals became the President, Geraldo used to make a comment that made people think. He said he was not against the military - he was against Generals who forgot that they were military.

The idea of subjecting your will to obedience of others in a hierarchical structure is fundamental to an organization whose aim is the use of force. Getting high-esteem people to do that is VERY DIFFICULT for the proper reason. How can you tell an intelligent person to go out and die on your order because you know more than he does about a particular situation? Yet that is the only practical reason that blindly following orders is set up to accomplish - making a group of people act effectively on the vision of one who knows more.

Since reason doesn't convince all that much for dying, they take recourse to all that stuff about serving a higher purpose.

Obedience is necessary if the military is to be competent. Can you imagine waging a war when a group of, say, 15,000 different people constantly question what the leader orders?

One thing that is usually not mentioned in this "brain-washing" approach. The USA military places high regard on teaching honor, honesty and integrity as values to temper blind obedience.

Not a perfect system, but there it is. It works.

Michael

Jason, I suspect that

Pete L's picture

Jason,

I suspect that people in the military have a variety of motivations, including the two extremes you mentioned. Many people make the gamble that they won't be thrown into harms way, and will use a few years of service to pay for a college education and/or learn a trade. Others look for a sense of discipline in their lives that they themselves can't provide. The more educated, high-achiever types might go the West Point route with an eye on a high profile career later in life in either politics or business.

One of the tricky aspects of joining is not knowing exactly what missions the political leaders of the day will have in store for you once you're trained and ready for active duty. Control of your own destiny is sort of thrown to the wind in that regard. There is also a chance that you might find yourself receiving direct orders to do something that you believe is immoral. Not a choice I'd want to face...

Jody,The issue of when

Pete L's picture

Jody,

The issue of when pre-emptive strikes are or are not justified was not the focus of my argument. I was mainly trying to characterize the nature of war, which in turn determines the nature of the military. I maintain that the military environment generally does not attract people who have an explicitly individualistic philosophy, although I'm sure there are exceptions.

Further, it's hard for me to justify from an Objectivist perspective how to call a soldier a hero when in battle when he knowingly does something that will certainly kill him (or at least severely impair him for the rest of his life) - particularly when he could have stepped back and perhaps spared himself. You hear about these stories all the time, and they're very moving. I often feel immense respect and honor when I hear of such acts, but I can't intellectually see them as anything other than acts of sacrifice for a greater good.

Jason-Before I address your

Jody Gomez's picture

Jason-Before I address your ideas, I apologize for letting Jeff R. get the best of me and for diverting your very serious musings. In deference to you I'll refrain from responding to him on this thread from here on out. I assure you, that I have more respect for your ideas than I have vitriole for Jeff R. Sorry about that.

Pete

Jason Quintana's picture

Well, I thought this would be an interesting subject but the toxic Riggenbach had to interject and screw up the thread. I hope that we can salvage this discussion.

In any event, in response to Pete. If I were to decide to be a soldier I would most certainly be fighting for my own self interest. I would be fighting against some enemy government that is somehow a threat to my life or my way of life. I would be fighting for something that is important to *me* -- which very well might be the United States but I wouldn't be sacrificing myself for something "greater then myself". I would in this case be choosing, very consciously to subject myself to military rules. The position I just described seems to be in stark contrast to the collectivist notion of duty preached and reinforced by the military.

I once had a discussion with another former military person who mentioned that he had served in the former Yukoslavia. Once he mentioned this I attempted to have a conversation with him about that particular situation, the various factions involved etc. His response? Something along the lines of "Yeah, I really don't know anything about the situation the president gave me his orders and I went and did my job." Contrast this with the former NFL football player Pat Tillman. Here was a person who knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. The former type is incredibly dangerous. He is a tool for whatever leader, good or evil is pushing the button. Pat Tillman on the other hand was a hero. I hope that there are far more type #2s then type #1s in the military but I am skeptical of this.

- Jason

I'm with you Robert, but

Jody Gomez's picture

I'm with you Robert, but I've had it out for this prick from day one, and I'd hate to see him merely banned. I do want to intellectually kick the shit out him. Banning him would let him get away too easily.

I don't care who left the

Robert's picture

I don't care who left the door open, how about we kick his useless slimy arse back through it and slam it after him?

I'd PAY to see the back of that prick.

As I always suspected, Ash.

Ross Elliot's picture

As I always suspected, Ash. From a Kiwi perspective I've always found it interesting that when the team lineups where shown for college football, each player had his major listed below his name. And in most of the pre & post game interviews with those guys they come across as very articulate. Since the percentage of college players who make good in the draft must be low, their level of academic achievement is crucial and obviously more than just a way to stay on the team.

As an aside, am I correct in assuming that the high percentage of black college & pro football & basketball players is due to a higher number of scholarships awarded to blacks?

So Pete

Jody Gomez's picture

You think a nation should sit back and wait for the enemy to step foot on it's soil, to draw the first blood, to decapitate the first(or many) victim(Drunk, to unleash the first WMD before we act? Saving the life of a single innocent person is not worth preventative measures?

Back to the topic at hand...

Pete L's picture

Hey everyone,

This is 'Pete' from the old SOLOhq. Good to be back posting.

Anyhow, I think Ross's original response in this thread is about the best that can be mustered from an Objectivist perspective, and his comments seem to be based on an 'ends justify the means' principle, which seems valid in this context.

War is an inherently collectivist act, no way around it. It's the projection of force from one group to another group, with a complete disregard for the individual merits of those on the other side. It's hard to imagine a rational individualist sacrificing himself in battle to advance his army's mission - unless of course he's defending his own nation's soil from an invading force who is more evil than his current government (this hasn't been the case with most modern American wars, though).

Student Athletes are Real Students

Ashley's picture

"Yes. And on any university campus, who's on the football team? The meatheads who wouldn't be able to get into the university at all, were it not for their prowess at one of the most mindless games ever invented. People who can maintain their grades only because they're carefully funnelled into special classes populated by nothing but jocks in which everyone with a body temperature over 97 degrees gets an A."

I don't know where the hell you are getting your information, but it is insanely exaggerated. I got scholarship money in college in Oklahoma and one of my duties in return was to live in the athletic dorms and serve as a "peer tutor" for football and basketball players. I got grief for years about what my "real duties" in the dorms were, but the fact is that I was helping student athletes get through *the same* classes that everyone else took, across the same variety of majors that everyone else took.The way they are different from other students is that they have to abide by Athletic Dept. and NCAA rules (curfews, restrictions on working, grade point requirements, roll calls, and so on and so on) and spend 60+ hours per week fullfilling their roles as athletes.

In graduate school I worked in the Athletic Dept. - I did my master's thesis on student athletes - and I found the discipline at North Carolina to be even more stringent. It is easy to believe the hype that student athletes are all getting money and cars and drugs and skipping out of class, but it just is not true for the most part. Although occasionally people break the rules (which are mostly ridiculous in the first place) that should not reflect on all school and athletes. Student athletes work harder than the majority of students in college. They basically hold down a full-time job where they have to perform at an extremely high level *while* they earn the same college degree as any other student in the school. You can argue that different degrees are comparatively "easier" or "harder" than others but the fact is that student athletes are enrolled in many different degree plans. They are not all PE majors.

Don't worry, there will

Jody Gomez's picture

Don't worry, there will never be any confusing Jeff P. for Jeff R.

Name request

Jeff Perren's picture

I have a personal request of the posters on this (and potentially other threads -- which probably will not be required for long).

When addressing Mr. Riggenbach, would you please refer to him as something other than Jeff. JR, or Jeff R. or... well some of you don't need suggestions.

I wouldn't want the casual onlooker to confuse me with that thing who has been inadvertently given an undeserved second chance to spew his venom in the usual directions.

If you have time, I would appreciate it if you would edit your current posts.

Thank you.
Jeff
The guy who never before regretted his first name.

Maybe it should...

Peter Cresswell's picture

...but not if Jeff Riggenbach writes it. (Who left the door open?)

Don't despise the soldiers, JR.

stormyeyes's picture

Despise the scumbag politicians who make soldiers necessary. I think your contempt is misdirected.

Jeff-I think you meant to

Jody Gomez's picture

Jeff-
I think you meant to describe the faculty in the humanities departments of universities.

Well, of course, Jeff, I

Ross Elliot's picture

Well, of course, Jeff, I have every confidence that when someone tries to invade your sad ass you'll be able to suppress your retching long enough to scream: Where the fuck are those dupes & scumbags to defend my freedom!

Ross [ready to ralph]

Mindlessness & the Military

jriggenbach's picture

"I don't think for one second that the military is filled with mindless grunts, far from it. These men & women, it seems to me, have a confidence, competency & clarity of purpose that belies any connotations of mindless gruntings."

Anyone who's spent any time at all in the Bible Belt knows full well that confidence and clarity of purpose are commonplace among the mind-numbingly ignorant, militantly Christian meatheads of that region.

As for "competency," my father, who was career Air Force, always told me that incompetence rose to absolutely unheard of and unbelievable levels in the military. The military is, after all, run by the government. Where is there an example of competence in government?

"What about a sports team?"

What about one?

"A football team?"

Okay.

"Isn't that like a military grouping where you have well trained individuals acting within a narrowly defined context? I think it's identical. Get the ball over the goal line. Kill the enemy."

Yes. And on any university campus, who's on the football team? The meatheads who wouldn't be able to get into the university at all, were it not for their prowess at one of the most mindless games ever invented. People who can maintain their grades only because they're carefully funnelled into special classes populated by nothing but jocks in which everyone with a body temperature over 97 degrees gets an A.

"When I see images of American soldiers walking through the dusty streets of Iraq, I don't see sacrificial animals or automatons. I see highly-trained, courageous individuals acting together in accordance with their sense of life. In a volunteer army, how could it be any other way?"

I see people who are in the military because they're unemployable outside it, people who are willing, for money (and not much of it at that), to travel halfway around the world and try to kill people they don't know for reasons they rarely even bother to look into, much less evaluate. I see fools, dupes, and scumbags.

"[Looking at these fools, dupes, and scumbags,]I also feel an immense sense of pride in the human spirit . . . ."

I feel an immense desire to retch.

JR

Jason, General Patton (I

Ross Elliot's picture

Jason, General Patton (I think) had some interesting things to say relating to your query. I'll try and dig them out.

Now, while you could separate out collectivist sentiments like selfless duty & higher purposes as the bromides they are, fact is, the military machine requires conformity & obedience. Soldiers simply must act in groups and they must follow orders. If one can't deal with that from an individualistic perspective then a) don't join the military or b) don't contemplate the military.

In a volunteer setup, individuals *choose* military service. And with soon-to-be-weeded-out exceptions, the military life sits well with them. If they weren't following orders from their company commmander they would probably be following orders from their departmental supervisor. Horses for courses.

That said, I don't think for one second that the military is filled with mindless grunts, far from it. These men & women, it seems to me, have a confidence, competency & clarity of purpose that belies any connotations of mindless gruntings.

Here's an analogy. What about a sports team? A football team? Isn't that like a military grouping where you have well trained individuals acting within a narrowly defined context? I think it's identical. Get the ball over the goal line. Kill the enemy.

When I see images of American soldiers walking through the dusty streets of Iraq, I don't see sacrificial animals or automatons. I see highly-trained, courageous individuals acting together in accordance with their sense of life. In a volunteer army, how could it be any other way?

I also feel an immense sense of pride in the human spirit, something I don't feel for one microsecond when I look at the real agents provocateurs of selfless duty: the bureaucracy & their political masters. Warts and all, gimme a volunteer military anyday. At least *their* guns are pointed in the right direction.

Very interesting theme, Jason.

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Maybe it should be developed into an article?

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