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National service should be re-introduced

National Service keeps young adults out of trouble and teaches them discipline and respect for authority. In these times of great uncertainty we also need a standing army ready to be called in case of emergency. National Service should be reintroduced.

All the Yes points:

  1. Society needs a standing army ready to be called to action
  2. National service binds society together
  3. National service teaches young people valuable skills
  4. National service could be offset against student loans

All the No points:

  1. The military does not want conscription
  2. It will cost a fortune and be difficult to implement
  3. National service would lead to unfair treatment of conscientious objectors
  4. It is unjust for a government to coerce its citizens
  5. There is No Decent Argument for This.
  6. 13th amendment

Society needs a standing army ready to be called to action

Yes because…

We live in uncertain times and our troops are already stretched with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. National service supplements these forces and provides the country with the resources it needs to protect itself at very little cost. Besides, when national emergencies do come, we have a large, ready, disciplined and prepared army- not one that was thrown together in the nick of time. Don’t believe me? Consider the Nazis in the final days of WWII. They were basically throwing out newly-conscripted soldiers out to die.

No because…

National service is something which should only be considered at times of national emergency, and no such state exists. Soldiers already suffer enough when they return from war, as those are people who’ve volunteered. The psychological damage from people forced into action could be immense.

National service binds society together

Yes because…

Putting people from different cultures in the forces together will help counter prejudice and racism. Moreover, everyone in the forces will get a clear sense of what it is to be British and will gain a respect for Britishness. This will foster nationhood, as was witnessed by national service in the 50s and can be seen from those countries who have national service now.

No because…

The army is already very multi-racial and yet black and Asian recruits often suffer very serious racism. Putting lots more teenagers from different cultures together is hardly going to make that situation any better. Also, there is a danger that national service could be used to celebrate white Britishness and anyone outside that could be made to feel most unwelcome. This was proved during the original National Service period when the Ministry of Defence had the unofficial policy of removing the names of those who sounded “foreign” from the lists of conscription: National Service photographs very, very rarely showed anyone black or Asian.

National service teaches young people valuable skills

Yes because…

Today’s children are often feral and feckless. Too many of them are without purpose or direction. National service would give them a sense of purpose and identity. It would teach them valuable skills, both vocational and social. It would allow the country to deal with social problems such as cleaning up the streets or helping old people. And it would help them develop a sense of responsibility to society, something that’s desperately needed. I think if national service is brought back it should only be young people who have no goals or no aspirations in life. It should be used as a form of control over young people who continually re-offend. Young people who have ASBOs and are not interested in contributing constructively to society should be made to do national service; then maybe we would not have as many problems as we do now.

No because…

Young people are in no way as bad as they are depicted in the media. The vast majority are good, decent, law-abiding members of society and punishing the many for the actions of the few is something no advanced society can be seen to do.

Any minute benefits which might be gained from getting young people to clean up graffiti will be undermined by the deep and abiding resentment they’ll feel while doing the job, especially if the innocent are being punished for the crimes of the guilty – what message does that send to them? The message that the legal system doesn’t work. This would undermine any confidence in the legal system that we have.

National service could be offset against student loans

Yes because…

Instead of a ‘gap’ year students could sign up for a year’s national service in return for free further education.

No because…

Young people might feel cornered into signing up for financial reasons when they otherwise wouldn’t. There should be no financial incentive for risking one’s life.

The military does not want conscription

No because…

Conscripted soldiers undermine the professionalism of today’s army. Conscripted soldiers care less about their job than volunteers and so will be worse soldiers, as proved in the Korea conflict. Instructors will waste valuable time trying to train people who are simply counting time until their conscription ends. Furthermore, national service created a firm animosity between professional soldiers and enlisted soldiers, and any such division is detrimental to the fighting strength of any combat unit.

Yes because…

If we can’t get a Sergeant Major to whip any recruit into shape then he’s not worthy of the title. Plus, the skills necessary to train an unwilling soldier will make it much easy for him to train someone who is willing.

It will cost a fortune and be difficult to implement

No because…

The bureaucracy needed to implement national service is immense. We’d need banks and banks of people set-up just to ensure candidates cannot evade conscription – those who do will most likely come from middle-class backgrounds so again the poor will suffer. The costs for this will fall on the taxpayer and they are already overburdened.

Yes because…

In fact, national service is a very cost-effective way to train young people to become better citizens whilst at the same time finding people to do the dirty jobs that no-one else wants. The cost of leaving children to steal and take drugs is immense and national service would be far cheaper.

National service would lead to unfair treatment of conscientious objectors

No because…

National Service denies rights to those who object to war for political or personal reasons, and these people would be unfairly targeted for not supporting their country or for not ‘pulling their weight’.

Yes because…

People doing national service do not have to necessarily go to war or even join the army. The point is to do service to your country. They can be involved in humanitarian work, community service, teaching etc.

This happens in other European countries.

It is unjust for a government to coerce its citizens

No because…

Mandatory national service in any form is philosophically unjust because it is necessarily a violation of the most essential liberty of liberal societies: free action. Only in times of compelling state interest might a government even begin to make a claim that the social contract allows conscription or other coercive acts. It is for each citizen to decide whether they wish to join the army, spend a year teaching in an at-risk school, or undertake any other service project, or whether they prefer to pursue a career, education, or a form of service to a church or Non-governmental organisation.

Yes because…

yes i definitely believe conscription should come back? if you emigrated to australia you would of probably ended up in vietnam during the war there as certain people i know did. it would remove all the drug problems and give the unemployed a chance to have cash in their pockets again, 3 great meals a day , fitness gained, and pride that they are defending the country they love. it would make immigration better by the immigration communities that come here to live are conscripted like the australian government did. if they live here they should come under our law and sign up to fight for us , if they claim our benefits and take our peoples jobs they should be treated the same way. criminal activity would diminish and our country would get better if youths were off our streets . criminals should have no say if they are conscripted and they certainly cant moan and say their human rights are being breached as they dont care about others rights when they are out commiting crimes against some one, its always the wrongdoers that moan about how bad they are treated. the law in this country must be changed and anyone doing wrong like these extremists are doing should be deported at once with no appeal, after they have done a sentence. joining the forces should be compulsory.

There is No Decent Argument for This.

No because…

Respect can be taught in many other ways than military service. The sort of respect for authority that is taught in the military is of a very, for lack of a better word, “militant” nature. It is to respect authority without questioning authority. A healthy respect for authority would consist of questioning authority, being able to disagree with authority, but to still do something despite one’s disagreement if it is for the greater good or the moral thing to do. This is what respect should be like.

Respecting authority is not synonymous with obedience. In fact, in many cases, it is the opposite.

Also, the idea that military service is needed now because of “emergencies” is absurd. What emergency? What country has the capability (realistically) to attack us? What country has the nerve and what would be the point? Be realistic.

The cost of compulsory military service would be gross, and bordering on the line of hilarity. During a recession, or even in times of economic “safety” (relative as it is), young people should be getting an education, not joining the military. Whatever my views of war is irrelevant. Pragmatically speaking, young people should be still developing as themselves, should be getting a good and decent education, and should be having a good time also. People don’t develop properly if you shove them into the military for a year or however long.

With National Service the Government is far more prone to engaging militarily. When the forces are strong and plentiful, you are far more likely to go to war. What you end up with is a country like Israel who spends blood like its water (they too have a National Service regime).

Only the impetuous and morally perverse could advocate such a thing.

National Service has no decent argument supporting it.

Yes because…

The word service and the military are not synonymous. I don’t think anybody was suggesting people being required to do military service. People who are required to do service could choose to do things other than join the military. They would learn “respect” from other services such as working in the police force, or the fire department. That would even pay for itself as it would be just like a job, but it would be required from the country. I think that also covers the other issues that were brought up in the opposing argument.

13th amendment

No because…

it goes against the 13th amendment. (Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.) Hence the involuntary servitude.

Yes because…

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3 years ago

“If we can’t get a Sergeant Major to whip any recruit into shape then he’s not worthy of the title. Plus, the skills necessary to train an unwilling soldier will make it much easy for him to train someone who is willing.”

I am sorry to say this, but the army is there to defend the nation, not to act as a “daycare” for your troubled teens. This is a case of mission creep.

I honestly do not get why we should burden the army “to whip up”18 year olds when they will stay in the army for a very short period of time. Even, then during peace-time recruits will spend the majority of time doing nothing.

John Kelly
10 years ago

The danger in bringing back conscription would be young muslims who would have more of a opportunity
to kill innocent people.

3 years ago
Reply to  John Kelly

Are you sure about that ? That young muslims are really being that dangerous to kill other people ? What I’ve seen it is opposite of it…..

Last edited 3 years ago by BlaiirEd
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