But no. Retired General Stanley McChrystal dares lecture us that we don’t yield enough of our lives to government despite its exorbitant, unending, and pervasive taxation, compulsory surrender of our children to its brainwashing, forced “service” on juries, and even mandatory titillation of federal thugs at checkpoints in airports: “Americans performing critical, selfless service to our country are less common than they must be,” he scolds in 1500 platitudinous, self-righteous words for Newsweek Magazine.
You remember McChrystal. He lied about Cpl. Pat Tillman’s death in 2004, then last summer blabbed to Rolling Stone exactly how inept Obama and his minions are. Which was great stuff, and undoubtedly as much truth as we’ll ever get from one of the Pentagon’s puppets. But it cost him his job. So we might conclude his loquacity was a tad ill-advised.
We might also wonder why Newsweek’s editors deemed the prattle of this lying fool worthy of national publication.
Obviously, McChrystal defines “critical, selfless service to our country” far differently than do those of us paying his bills. Forget the plumber who repairs your overflowing toilet, the pastor whose wise counsel holds your marriage together, the chemists who developed and the clerks selling the painkiller that tames your migraine, the supermarket’s in-house baker who decorates your daughter’s birthday cake so adroitly she claps her 6-year-old hands with delight. These folks work for us rather than for the army McChrystal once commanded and the government he worships, so their skills, dedication, and conscientious labor don’t count.
Besides, I suspect you’re like me: you’d rather eat — well and deliciously, if possible — than slaughter foreigners who’ve never harmed us. Which renders the “service” of a single grocer or restaurateur far more “critical…to our country” than that of whole platoons bombing Baghdad.
McChrystal’s solution to such humble and peaceable preoccupations is “national service” — though he waits until the fourth paragraph to name it. And for good reason: despots from Stalin to Mao to Kennedy to Obama have prized this tired old statist scheme. They’ve disguised it with a multitude of euphemisms and aliases: the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Hitler Youth, the Komsomoi, the Communist Youth League of China, Israeli Defense Forces. By whatever designation, national service enslaves people to the State, sometimes by outright force (Israel requires all citizens to enroll in its army) and sometimes with bribes or by playing on idealism, à la the Peace Corps.
National service is also totalitarians’ tacit admission that their public schools have failed. Everyone knows said schools don’t educate, but national service is evidence that they can’t even propagandize adequately. Ergo, Leviathan craves further opportunities to indoctrinate kids. That’s easy if they join the military after graduation — but what if they don’t? McChrystal whines, “We have let the concept of service become dangerously narrow, often associated only with the military. This allows most Americans to avoid the sense of responsibility essential for us to care for our nation — and for each other.” What rank and arrogant insult to every parent and grandparent, spouse, fiancée, sibling, uncle and aunt, cousin, or friend.
Nor have we exhausted McChrystal’s hauteur. He invents “inalienable responsibilities” and pairs them with the Declaration’s “inalienable rights.” Jefferson may have preached eternal vigilance against government as our chief duty, but McChrystal knows better. “All of us bear an obligation to serve,” he thunders, with an implied “government” hanging at the end of that decree. And what are those “inalienable responsibilities”? I’m not sure, and I don’t think McChrystal is either, except that they “typically” involve “doing things that you would not choose to do, but that must be done.” Who gets to decide whether they “must be done”? Not the poor grunt squandering time on them. His betters in their air-conditioned offices will settle such issues, thank you.
McChrystal’s other sine qua non: these distasteful tasks either don’t pay or pay badly. Poverty for serfs (though never rulers) is always the hallmark of the State. Yet morons like McChrystal can’t figure out why sensible folks despise Leviathan.
He belabors us with a couple of anecdotes to prove national service’s redemptive powers. His first concerns an Afghani “community’s” “extensive and complex underground tunnels” for irrigation of their farms: “…maintenance was clearly understood to be a responsibility of the community, performed as a shared task without pay.” Take a lesson, you selfish Americans: the Feds compel you to finance their murderous conquest of these exemplary villagers because you stubbornly refuse to work at “shared tasks without pay.”
Yet so did the villagers when disaster struck. They forsook communism for capitalism, though McChrystal damns them for it: “The Soviet intervention [sic for imperialistic war] in 1979 resulted in damage to the systems; subsequently, private individuals acquired wells and pumps, disrupting the community dynamic” but providing water and food, you idiot. “What had been a unifying responsibility for all was now a source of wealth for a few — and yet another source of frustration for the rest.” Clearly, McChrystal relied on his rations for nourishment, not those wet but “frustrating” fields.
His second story features “a veteran of AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps” who “described his experience working and living for a year as part of a 10-person team doing projects: ‘My teammates were conservative and liberal, black, white, Asian, Jewish, Christian, atheist ... We had to get along or be miserable.’”
You’ll find the same mix in the dining room of the average Chinese restaurant in New York City, or, depending on whether your neighborhood has managed to attract newcomers despite ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) xenophobia, perhaps even the gym at your local Y. But these natural and spontaneous groupings don’t interest Our Rulers because they don’t control them. Meanwhile, they discount the “teamwork skills, confidence, problem-solving abilities, community building, leadership, and communication skills” we learn in these venues, insisting that only government can teach them to us.
Yet even McChrystal acknowledges that national service is as silly and wasteful as everything the State does: “We can always outsource work — hire other people to complete projects — arguably with greater efficiency.” But of course production and results aren’t the goal.
“Our real objective” McChrystal chillingly confesses, is “shaping Americans.”