“Should I Join The Military?”
Five manly answers to the one question every man will ask himself at least once
Where does the queston about joining the military actually come from? Unless you were growing up in a family tradition where being in the military is the most natural thing ever you must ask yourself: what man would ask himself that question in the first place?
In reality, asking yourself the very question whether you should join the military always comes from two angles. These two angles are:
1. The Involuntary Approach
2. The Voluntary Approach
Before we get to the five points that will tell you why joining the military is not a favorable choice for men let us dig in a little deeper into the theoretical backgrounds of the two approaches. We will start off by dissecting the implications of the involuntary approach to joining the military.
Little Known Fact:
Buying yourself out of military service is not limited to corruption-ridden countries like Russia. Switzerland still has conscription, but lets its men pay money in order not to serve in their militia-organized military.
1. The involuntary approach
What I mean by involuntary is that asking yourself that question originally was no idea of your own, but that it was brought onto you from the outside: the involuntary approach is the case when you live in a country that has conscription. Depending on what country that is you are then confronted to make one of the following four choices at a very early age:
As a first option you could just accept you are being drafted and serve as requested. Since this article is titled ‘should I join the military’ and not ‘I should join the military!’ it is obvious that you have not made a decision yet. Let us therefore concentrate on the other choices.
The 3 options of dealing with compulsory military service
1. As a first option, you can work your way around compulsory military service by having influental people do you a “favor” or by flat out buying yourself out of it. This option might work in countries like Russia, Ukraine – or even Switzerland (see left).
2. The second option would be to become a conscientious objector. Here, you would make use of the constitutional right in many nations to object to conscription for various moral reasons. You would claim that serving in any military organization whatsoever is against your core personal beliefs of peacefullness, human rights or perhaps even Christiany-based brotherly love.
The objection to conscription in almost all countries means you will have to serve in an alternate way. Working in hospitals, working with the disabled or working with children are the usual ways for those who reject joining the military for morality-based reasons. It is worth noting that going for the alternative can mean you will be serving for a longer period of time.
3. The third option is the most profound one, namely to reject military service as a whole, including all of its substitutes. I called this one ‘profound’, becaus what most countries do not offer is to generally object to any state-imposed service. Quite to the contrary, an outright denial of any compulsory service is a crime that will have you incarcarated.
This point allows you to see how involuntary this approach really his: not only is the yes/no question on whether you should join the military imposed on you from the outside and by force, a simple refusal of that question and its “alternatives” practically means you will face jailtime. The state may allow you to ditch the military, it does not allow you escape serving it like a medival serf.
Global conscription policies
What is the future of the involuntary approach? How is the involuntary approach distributed among the nations? Looking at conscription from an international point of view shows a very differentiated picture. Here, a certain pattern stands out that sets off Europe and the West from the rest of the world.
Europe: With the exceptions of Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Greece and some minor former Yugoslavian countries (Moldavia) the 30+ European countries now have professional armies and no longer draft young men.
The same goes for non-European yet Western countries like Canada, the US or Australia.
World: Things look completely different once you look at the Middle East, Russia & Ukraine, Asia as well as South America. Here, things are opposite to Europe. Conscription is standard procedure while professional armies are the exception.
This means that the involuntary approach is a dying breed. There might still be countries that go the old way of drafting men into compulsory military service, but this practise will die out in the long run. The trend is going into the direction of professional and not draft-based armed forces. This leads us right to the voluntary approach to joining the military.
2. The Voluntary Approach (that isn’t voluntary)
One thing you must keep in mind is that the voluntary approach is not the anti-thesis to the involuntary approach. With draft and conscription there is no simple black or white. In fact, there is a hidden aspect about the voluntary approach that makes it just as imposed from the outside as a forced draft. What I am talking about here is economic necessity.
Ask yourself: is it any wonder that the majority of soldiers in Western countries are made off of those with low-profile professional training or no training at all? It is not. In fact, at least the US military is openly advertising with the prospect of heaving a steady job. This once more shows that joining the military has never be the decision of any free thinking man. Be it through force by the state, through force by tradition or, as in 90% of the cases, through the force to simply make a living joining the military will always be related to making an ‘forced’ decision.
Doesn’t make for a good start, does it?
What to expect if you join
With this theoretical lesson in mind we can now turn to real life. As we have seen that joining the military is never a true expression of free will, there is so much more evidence from the actual day to day life in the military that backs up what has been said so far.
I am far from giving you the details on what this and that position in this and that army will be like. Run like massive enterprises even the smallest armed forces in the world are much too complex in order to sum it all up in one paragraph. What I can do, however, is point out 5 things about being the military that are crucial insights for those considering to trade in plain clothes for a uniform.
Let’s get right into it.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join The Military
“Young men burn their draft cards at a peace rally in New York City in 1965. Such acts were popular ways of protesting conscription for duty in the Vietnam War.”
(text & image: brittanica.com)
1. You are not making a free decision
This one should be obvious by now. With minimal exceptions where men might actually have joined the military out of free will and with a purely moral intent, turning men into soldiers has always ben don by force and threat.
Even when joining the military might have a been a good cause, like joining an allied army in order to free Europe from the Nazis, the Allies had to enact conscription in order to make that happen. You can rest assured that without conscription the average young man in Quebec, New Zealand or Oregon had about zero intent to risk his life in a conflict he had not started and in countries he had never been to.
2. It’s not a job like all the others
The same is happening these days when the US army, like all other professonal armies, tries to make a name for itself by acting as what it actually is: a big time employer offering benefits and that would accept the lesser desired applicants.
The one downside to this promising job opportunity that will finally allow you to always pay your bills is that you might just get shot or blown to pieces when working for your new employer.
Another reason why ‘working’ in the military is not a real profession becomes clear when you consider leaving that fine organization or switching over to the ‘competition’. While in real life you are free to work wherever you want or could stop working with another person/organzition/company if there has been a breach of contract the one thing you will face when you try to quit the military or join another force during an operation is death. Even if you witnessed your co-workers’ committing ouright war crimes would you not be allowed to change sides. If you do it nonetheless you have become a ‘deserter’ or ‘traitor’ and are facing capital punishment.
Quite different to getting a reprimand, I say.
3. There is no camaraderie
It is an everlasting argument to say that a ‘men-only’ organization like the military would allow for a ‘brotherhood’ to emerge that is ruled by valor, camaraderie and reciprocity among the group. Anybody who has ever served in a military unit know that the exact opposite is the case. While there are certain male-only environments that can bring out the best in manly behaviour, in the military it is intrigues, lies, hatred and resentment that are omnipresent. And the way these things are carried out among the different ranks only differs in quality, not in quantity. Movies like Oliver Stone’s Platoon, while at times over-exaggerating, provide for a more credible idea about what kind of characters actually join the military. Meaning, either those who are drafted and do not ditch the burden out of some noble spirit – or simply the lowest of the of the low. With the military the idea of honesty and integrity among men who then fight for a good cause happens to be just that: an idea.
In reality, a Full Metal Jacket-like ‘code red’ for the weak – or for those who show weakness – are more likely to be part of your every day life than companionship and support.
4. You give up the most basic civil rights
Once you are behind that barack’s fences it is no longer about you as an individual, but about what how much weight you wear on your shoulders. Rank alone is the new king to determine who speaks and who follows. This will be become a real noisance as it really is about nothing but the epaulettes. No matter how dumb any of your superiors will be, as long as he has been around before you he will have the last word. No merits or ingenuity take the cake here, it is simply about how much time has passed.
This being said, the one lowlife who basically fled the real life so he could dive into the safe haven that he seemed the military will have the last word over you. Transfers to other units, promotions and even the people you will be sharing the same barrack room with – you decide nothing, they decide everything. No chance for any appeal here as the military even comes with its own penal and judicial system.
5. You don’t create anything
This point I personally find the most striking one. As a soldier you are to receive orders. This is the core principal of all military as even they highest ranked soldiers still receive orders, namely those from parliament. The highest ranking generals might not have to the the grunt’s job of being the guy in the trenches, nonetheless they are not free to even becoming active as the mere decision to start a military operation is always made outside of the military.
In fact, the small-time street artisan has a higher degree in self ownership than the highest ranking general who in the end still is another brick in a thick and mindless wall of order and command.
Just asking yourself the question ‘Should I Join The Military’ is not an expression of your free will. Instead, it is imposed on you by forces that have no interest in you, but in a body that is able to hold a rifle or operate a tank. The clearest signal telling me that the military is looking for ‘material’ and not for ‘men’ stems from my own time in the military which in my case was the army.
I remember one time where we were training in an urban territory. During the exercise we attached simulators to our gear and weapons. These small high-tech boxes would allow our rifles to also shoot laser rays every time they were fired. Simultanously, the small reflectors attrached to our gear and helmet would react to any ‘hit’ by having the smal computer unit send out a shreekingly loud beep. Together with the noise a small computer display would tell you where and how severe you were wounded. Once you were git you were out of the game and had to take off your helmet and put down your gun.
We were crossing a deserted street when my computer started beeping. I was the only one to be hit and I didn’t even see what hit me. The small computer display read “H Up R SEV” which stood for “Hit Up Right, Severe”, with severe being the strongest category of injury. To put this into actual words: it basically meant that my right arm had been shot off.
While the rest of the team ran across the street and into the next building they didn’t even notice one man was missing. With my gun down and my helmet off I realized that this was exactly what it would be like if the scenario was real. I was ‘virtually’ beelding to death and the others did not really ignore their wounded comrade, they didn’t even notice. The one thought that was going through my mind after that little thing started beeping was this:
[quote_box_left author=””]What a lump of shit the military really is[/quote_box_left]
That one thought hasn’t changed since.