“Step Up For Your Country” Through Sacrifice to The State

illustration: John Ritter

Brandon Turbeville

For anyone who might have thought General Stanley McChrystal and Barack Obama no longer saw eye to eye, it might surprise them to read McChrystal’s recent article, “ Step Up For Your Country,” published in the January 31 issue of Newsweek.  For all the hype having to do with McChrystal being relieved of command, it seems the General and the President have more in common than the average television watcher might think. That is, at least when it comes to implementing civilian labor programs along the lines of Joseph Stalin or Mao.  The illustration to the right is an interesting choice to represent McChrystal’s article in Newsweek, as it echoes the very same work camp and civilian service propaganda posters of former totalitarian regimes.
In his op-ed piece for Newsweek, McChrystal makes the case for the creation of a national civilian service program and laments the fact that we have “allowed the obligations of citizenship to narrow.” 
McChrystal writes, “’Service member’ should not apply only to those in uniform, but to us all . . . the concept of national service is not new, nor is it outdated.” Of course, the General is correct in this assessment, as dictators from all political backgrounds have found “national service” to be an indispensable tool of tyranny. 

He goes on, “All of us bear an obligation to serve – an obligation that goes beyond paying taxes, voting, or adhering to the law. America is falling short in endeavors that occur far away from any battlefield: education, science, politics, the environment, and cultivating leadership, among others.”
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This obligation, which McChrystal defines as “community responsibility,” goes beyond merely providing services to the community. In the end, he writes, “ . . . we must understand that our real objective must be in shaping Americans. We must build into our society, and into ourselves, a sense of ability and responsibility.”
One would be justified in asking who is this “we” whose real objective is shaping Americans? To be sure, if Americans wanted to shape themselves they would be able to do so without their government forcing them wouldn’t they? If Americans have decided that, as a country, they would prefer not to accept these “responsibilities,” then their government would be operating openly against the will of the people. Either way, it is clear that “we” does not mean “we the people” and, instead, “we the controlling elite.” 
If one were wondering exactly what this “community responsibility” would entail, McChrystal provides a definition. He writes:

We must recognize that service is typically doing things that you would not choose to do, but that must be done.  It can be rewarding; it can also be difficult, onerous, and even dangerous. It cannot rely on short-term volunteers any more than our independence could be won by the people Tom Paine termed ‘summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.’ It must have people with a firm commitment, backed by a society that values their contribution.

First, it should be pointed out that in the quotation McChrystal utilizes, Tom Paine was in no way referring to forcing Americans to engage in work projects. In fact, Paine’s position was quite the opposite of the McChrystal’s. 
Second, McChrystal’s definition of service is steeped in Orwellian doublethink. If service is “doing things that you would not choose to do,” then it is no longer service. Serving without one’s choice or consent is therefore slavery. Interestingly enough, the term service is derived from the Latin servus which means “slave.”[1]  
Third, it is important to note McChrystal’s claim that service can be “difficult, onerous, and even dangerous.” This sounds a bit different than Habitat for Humanity or teaching in low-income communities. One must wonder exactly what kind of “service” McChrystal has in mind for the useless eaters that will be working beneath him.
Barack Obama  famously called for a program of national civilian service in a campaign speech two years ago that drew a great deal of attention. Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel echoed his desire for a domestic work and re-education program as well. 
McChrystal concludes his article by claiming that “we” will realize “we” have succeeded when “new graduates of high schools and colleges talk with each other about how, not whether, they will serve America.”  In this statement, Gen. McChrystal is quite correct. Unfortunately, we will know that America has officially been turned into a tyrannical and dictatorial state who is as dead and lifeless as all of its historical and current parallels. 

Notes:
[1]  RandomHouse Webster’s College Dictionary. Random House. New York. 2000.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University where he earned the Pee Dee Electric Scholar’s Award as an undergraduate. He has had numerous articles published dealing with a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, and civil liberties. He also the author of Codex Alimentarius – The End of Health Freedom  


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