Small Thoughts for a Complex World™
Written by: C. Jeffery Small, 2009

National Service:  A Vicious Concept — And Its Antidote

Indentured Servitude

Starting in 1933 with FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, progressive Democrats have had a long history of promoting the idea of "National Service" in this country. Barack Obama continued that tradition during his campaign with proposals for one hundred hours of community service in exchange for a $4,000 college tuition tax credits coupled with fifty hours per year of mandatory service to be demanded from every middle and high school student. While this particular plan has yet to be implemented, on April 21, Obama did sign the Serve America Act which transfers six billion dollars of taxpayer money to the government's Corporation for National and Community Service, to be used to expand the existing AmeriCorps organization, adding 175,000 additional people to the government payroll. He also signed a bill which takes the audacious step of redesignating September 11th as a "National Day of Service"!

President Obama has stated:

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." [Emphasis added]

And Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said:

"Citizenship is not an entitlement program. It comes with responsibilities.... Everybody—somewhere between the ages 18 and 25—will serve three months of basic training and understanding in a kind of civil defense. That universal sense of service—somewhere between the ages of 18 and 25—will give Americans, once again, a sense of what they are to be American and their contribution to a country and a common experience." [Emphasis added]

And notice that Emanuel's plan is not just for training, but for understanding, which can only mean indoctrination into the government's view of what it means to be a "good and useful citizen"!

These quotes, along with the actions of this administration, make it very clear that Barack Obama believes that the citizens of America owe a duty to their country, and that they should be compelled to meet this obligation through mandatory service. This is nothing less than a push to make every citizen and indentured servant to the state, which of course, inverts the proper relationship of the government and its citizenry while violating the Thirteenth Amendment.

United We Slave

While working to push mandatory service legislation through Congress, the White House has created an organization called United We Serve, which acts as a clearinghouse for initiatives all across the country where individuals can volunteer for public service in their communities.

Now, if this were an activity undertaken by a private organization, there would be nothing wrong with publicizing such opportunities and allowing people to freely volunteer their time, effort or money to promote actions which they judged to be beneficial and were therefore eager to support. But the government is not like any other private organization. It is a repository and instrument of force. While we may freely choose whether or not to associate with any given private organization without fear of reprisal, the government operates through coercion, compelling us to follow its mandates under the threat of fines or incarceration, and it is this simple fact which renders the government's involvement in promoting activities like these wholly inappropriate.

It might be argued that, in and of itself, United We Serve appears to be completely benign, without a hint of threat or coercion associated with any of the activities being promoted, — but this is not true. The implication of force always accompanies any governmental action. We already know from this administration's own statements that it desires to make national service a requirement of citizenship, so an organization such as this, which uses public funds to register information on all "projects", and aids in matching "volunteers" to those projects, can easily be seen as just a first step towards the ultimate goal of mandating participation from all citizens in the future.

But don't take my word for it. Many of Obama's Hollywood supporters understand exactly what the President requires of them. For example, in this video ad, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore make it all explicit when they:

"pledge to be a servant to our president and to all mankind ..."

Now, some might argue that these are just a few actors who have completely misinterpreted the President's meaning. So instead, let's look at what the administration is proposings in its own words. In preparation for Obama's September 8th speech to school children all across the country, the government originally made the following "suggestions to teachers of pre-K through sixth grade, to have the students:

"write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president"


"to engage in a discussion about what 'the president wants us to do'"

In response to the public outcry at such blatant tactics of indoctrination, these guidelines were changed, but the intent and the message is clear. Students, too young to fully grasp the principles involved, are being subtly encouraged to see themselves as subservient to the President and to learn to place the government's desires or society's goals ahead of their own. With the release of the text of his speech to students, we see this mind-set in action:

"Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country."


"What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?"


"So don't let us down—don't let your family or your country or yourself down."

So, the message to the students is that they should stay in school and study hard, not strictly for the benefits of creating more opportunities and achieving a better life for themselves, but principally so that they can become good, productive citizens and contribute to solving the countries myriad problems.

Don't let your country down!   Meet your obligation and commit to serving the common good.

This is not the credo of freedom, but instead a call to slavery.

Individualism versus Self-Sacrifice

What is insidious about the push for National Service is how it so totally violates the concept of individualism, which is the bedrock principle underlying the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the Constitution was to: (1) recognize the unalienable rights of each individual; (2) establish a governmental framework for protecting those rights; and (3) place strict limits on the power and scope of government so that it could not abuse its mandate and itself become an instrument for the violation of individuals' rights. As the Declaration of Independence states:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed ..." [Emphasis added]

This statement very clearly established the hierarchical relationship between a citizen and their government. The existence of the rights of the individual, and the need to protect those rights, are the sole justification for the creation of government. A government is not a sovereign entity with any inherent rights or privileges of its own, but instead, only acquires it legitimacy from the voluntary consent of its citizens, and only insofar as it adheres to its constitutionally prescribed function of protecting its citizen's rights. The existence of government is not an end we strive for, but simply a means to a different end:

To create a society where free people may pursue their own individual goals and dreams—in other words, their happiness—while living in peace and harmony with others.

Barack Obama's incessant call for sacrifice by US citizens is an affront to the Constitution. Free individuals are not a resource to be called upon to serve at the behest of the President for the government's grand designs. Instead, it is the government, which has been instituted for the explicit purpose of serving the needs of its citizens in protecting their rights. By elevating the purpose and value of "government" or "society" above that of the the citizen, Obama perverts the fundamental principle of the Constitution, substituting collectivism in place of individualism.

The Morality of Altruism

Individuals are turned into sacrificial animals, only by accepting the moral code of altruism, which is defined as:

Only by first convincing someone that their personal hopes, dreams, desires, feelings, goals and lives are of less importance when compared to those of another person, group, or even possibly to an abstract ideal, do you prepare them for slavery and sacrifice. Growing up in Soviet Russia during the aftermath of its revolution, the philosopher, Ayn Rand, watched first hand as the morality of altruism played itself out, writ large across an entire country's population. The lesson she learned was that altruistic dogma applied only to those destined to be ruled by an elite leadership that was not subject to the same standards. Or as the character Ellsworth Toohey from The Fountainhead puts it, when asked by Peter Keating as to what he is really after:

"Power, Petey. I want to rule.


You. The world. It's only a matter of discovering the lever. If you learn how to rule one single man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it—and the man is yours. You won't need a whip—he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse—and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself. Want to know how it's done? See if I ever lied to you. See if you haven't heard all this for years, but didn't want to hear, and the fault is yours, not mine.

There are many ways. Here's one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. ... Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. ... Kill by laughter. ...

Here's another way. This is most important. Don't allow men to be happy. Happiness is self-contained and self-sufficient. Happy men have no time and no use for you. Happy men are free men. So kill their joy in living. Take away from them what they want. Make them think that the mere thought of a personal desire is evil. Bring them to a state where saying 'I want' is no longer a natural right, but a shameful admission. Altruism is of great help in this. Unhappy men will come to you. They'll need you. They'll come for consolation, for support, for escape. Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man's soul—and the space is yours to fill.

I don't see why you should look so shocked, Peter. This is the oldest one of all. Look back at history. Look at any great system of ethics, from the Orient up. Didn't they all preach the sacrifice of personal joy? Under all the complications of verbiage, haven't they all had a single leitmotif: sacrifice, renunciation, self-denial? Haven't you been able to catch their theme song? 'Give up, give up, give up, give up'? Look at the moral atmosphere of today. Everything enjoyable, from cigarettes to sex to ambition to the profit motive, is considered depraved or sinful. Just prove that a thing makes men happy and you've damned it. That's how far we've come. We've tied happiness to guilt. And we've got mankind by the throat. ...

The world of the future. The world I want. A world of obedience and of unity. A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of the next neighbor who'll have no thought—and so on, Peter, around the globe. Since all must agree with all. A world where no man will hold a desire for himself, but will direct all his efforts to satisfy the desires of his neighbor who'll have no desires except to satisfy the desires of the next neighbor, who'll have no desires—around the globe, Peter. Since all must serve all. A world in which man will not work for so innocent an incentive as money, but for that headless monster—prestige. The approval of his fellows—their good opinion—the opinion of men who'll be allowed to hold no opinion. An octopus, all tentacles and no brain."

Can you hear the voice of our politicians in these words?

When you read the phrase:

"You won't need a whip—he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse—and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself."

isn't it ominously suggestive of the video by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, pledging to be servants to the President and all mankind?

While the concept of National Service is particularly vicious, it is only one program of many that the government imposes, or attempts to impose, upon us under the justification of self-sacrifice and service to others. All social programs that declare that some individual or group is entitled to goods and services by right, also involve some other party that is then made responsible for providing those goods and services at their expense. Some of these include:

Each recipient benefiting from these programs abdicates responsibility for their own life and casts themselves into the role of ward of the state. And, for each of these government programs to operate, other individuals are required to work, producing value in the marketplace, only to have the product of their labor taken from them by force and redistributed to "the wards" against their will, while receiving no direct benefit themselves. The proper term for this arrangement is slavery.

It is the morality of altruism that makes all of this possible, and it is altruism that must be stopped.

The Antidote: A Personal Declaration of Independence

This country is at a crossroads. We can either continue the move towards the form of collectivism that is being actively pursued by the current administration, abdicating more and more responsibility for our own lives while placing ourselves in servitude to others and agreeing to be ruled by the elite in Washington D.C. — or we can change direction and move back towards the principles of freedom and individual rights embodied in The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. And as Ayn Rand identified it in the quotes above, this is a battle for nothing less than one's very soul.

The antidote is to adopt a morality of rational self-interest:

"Reason is man's only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man's survival qua man—i.e., that which is required by man's nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute). Rationality is man's basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life." [From the Ayn Rand Institute]

In the novel, Atlas Shrugged, the essence of this morality was encapsulated in the following pledge that was taken by every person who wished to reside in the haven of Galt's Gulch:

"I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

This pledge, which one makes to oneself, is an expression of individualism, and a Personal Declaration of Independence from the shackles of both society and the state.

The first half of the pledge is a recognition that no others have a claim, by right, to your life, whether they be an individual, a group, or the government, and you assert your freedom and independence.

The second half of the pledge indicates a recognition that you are a self-sufficient adult, prepared to take responsibility for the conduct of your own life, and, respecting the rights of others, you have no intention of forcing them to fulfill that responsibility for you.

In other words, you are stating that you are neither a ward nor a slave of the state.