The Conservative Cult of Human
[December 5, 2002]
By Nicholas Provenzo
Leave it to the
conservative Heritage Institute to print a stab at freedom in America. In a
column by Ross Mackenzie that appeared in today’s
issues a call for mandatory universal service for America’s youth.
“Compulsory universal service—one year with an eight-week military
component, men and women, no exceptions except for physical or mental
incapacity—would work miracles for this beleaguered nation's heart and
soul.” Mackenzie quotes Ted Sorensen, John Kennedy's former speechwriter,
addressing young people: “For at least part of your life, part of the
time, give something back to this country. Put service ahead of self. Try
it. You'll like it."
Oh, really? Put service ahead of self? Rather than save the nation’s
heart and soul, I think compulsory universal service would destroy it.
say America is about the individual’s right to his “life, liberty, and
pursuit of happiness.” That more or less means the birthright of every
American is the right to live one’s life for one’s own sake—freedom comes
first. Yet you can’t live your life for your own sake and simultaneously
put “service ahead of self.” There is no such thing as part-time slavery.
why then do many conservatives support something that is tantamount to
part-time slavery? Why do they believe the pursuit of one’s happiness
somehow erodes the national soul? They believe this because at root, they
believe in altruism; that is, the sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of
others. By that standard, when a young person pursues his one interest, he
fails to pursue the national interest.
So it’s not individual freedom that a conservative seeks to defend, but
some kind of American nationalism with freedom only as a veneer. This
explains why conservatives do such a miserable job defending
capitalism—they ultimately reject its moral foundation.
In his column, Mackenzie points out that enlistment rates in the armed
forces are in decline. He attributes that to a defect in the American
character, much like Jimmy Carter attributed the so-called “malaise” of
the 1970’s to a similar defect. America
is too self-interested and unwilling to sacrifice enough.
Yet there is a point that causes a conservative’s head to explode—defending
freedom is in one’s selfish interest. How can one fail to defend their
freedom if they value it? How can a person go though their life and say,
“I value my right to live by my own judgment and for my own sake, but when
that right is threatened, I will do nothing to defend it?” One can’t, and
the history of America speaks to this truth.
Worse, it never dawns on Mackenzie that perhaps the reduction of
enlistments in the armed forces has more to do with the lack of leadership
in the war against militant Islam than any weakness in the national fiber.
The White House doesn’t even have the honesty to admit who America’s
enemies really are, and yet somehow America’s
youth are supposed to line up to fight a cause its leaders don’t even
Give me a break. The problems in America are not due to its youth falling
to take retards to the zoo or falling to volunteer to change the bedpans
of the terminally ill or not wanting to be drafted into the military. The
problems in America are due to its leaders not having a clue what freedom
is, or what an objectively defined individual right is, or what the proper
mission of government is. This is an intellectual leadership problem.
Conservatives are no help in this fight, and as Mackenzie evidences, they
do nothing but threaten our freedoms and retard the proper understanding
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