We're All in the Army Now

Robert Wright, who wrote a terrific book that changed the way I look at just about everything, wrote recently in the New York Times that America would be...well...I'll just let him say it:

In fact, the whole, larger stereotype — that the military is a right-wing institution, best viewed with skepticism if not cynicism by the left — is way off. Growing up in, or at least amid, the Army helped make me a liberal — not because I reacted against my environment, but because I absorbed its values. If all of America were more like the Army, it would be a better country.

This is really a chilling passage. The Army is complete and utter totalitarianism. When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you. Whatever the state orders of you—even if it orders you to your death—you're trained to comply willingly and with vigor, and to never question the validity or morality of the order.

Wright thinks this would be a good model for the rest of society. So long as all that coercion is used to instill good, liberal values in the citizenry. By enforcing conformity, for example, the Army is at least making everyone equal. And equality to a leftist like Wright is the height of a virtuous society, more important apparently than any concept of personal freedom. Oh, and the Army gives everyone health insurance. And you apparently never hear the n-word.

If this is what's become of modern liberalism, we're in heap big trouble.

I'm not an anti-military libertarian. I think it's necessary, and I think there are times when it's necessary that we use it. When used properly—to kill people and destroy infrastructure—it's marvelously good at what it does (it's not so good at building liberal societies from sand, rubble, and ethnic strife, but that's another discussion). But that is what the military is for. It's for destroying things, including large quantities of life. The values Wright so admires—and the procedures the military uses to instill those values—are emphasized because time and experience has shown that those are the values most conducive to the military's mission. Which—at risk of repeating myself—is killing people and destroying their countries.

Wright values egalitarianism, access to health care, and economic mobility. Fair enough. I understand that he likes the Army because those things seem to be plentiful there. But it's telling that he neglected to acknowledge the wholesale surrender of rights the Army requires of everyone who enlists in order to achieve them.

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  • ||

    The Army is complete and utter totalitarianism. When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone.

    Radley, I'm just curious. Is this from first hand experience, or is it second-hand knowledge? (From the pictures I've seen of you, you look like you could be former military, but you never can tell.)

  • Russ 2000||

    Oh, and the Army gives everyone health insurance.

    Wright must not know his history very well. Forget the VA for the moment and review the history of revolutions that succeeded because governments couldn't meet their payrolls.

  • ||

    "When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone."

    Ha! Tell that to most of my subordinates, especially the "unquestioning drone" part. If they're not questioning, they're not American soldiers. Maybe it was true "back in the day" but not now. Former or current jarheads might have a different point of view.

    It is true, however, that the Army is very authoritarian and organized on socialist principles.

    It is also true that Wright's assertion that "if all of America were more like the Army, it would be a better country" is ridiculous. I would not enlist to defend a Prussianized America (I suspect others would but that's a different subject).

  • barneca||

    i can't RTFA because it's behind the curtain, but when you say:

    The Army is complete and utter totalitarianism. When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you. Whatever the state orders of you-even if it orders you to your death-you're trained to comply willingly and with vigor, and to never question the validity or morality of the order.

    is that from personal experiemce, or just from what you've heard? i'm an air force brat, and that's a pretty dramatic overstatement of what i saw.

    a lot (not all, or even most, but a lot) of the officeers and enlisted men and women and were really quite liberal too.

    i had some minor exposure to navy folks, who seemed somewhat similar. don't know much about the army.

    -cab

  • barneca||

    smappy wins.

  • ||

    Hmm, not to mention the rigid social hierarchy with those at the bottom 'knowing their place'. What could be better from the middle-to-upper class left/liberal perspective.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    The moral animal and nonzero are two of my favorite books ever. For him to say this is incredibly disturbing indeed. Either he doesn't even understand his own ideas or misjudges the insights they provide onto the world.

  • ||

    We offer you order!

  • Dave W.||

    "I am a libertarian except for the government spending I like." Too typical.

  • ||

    Speaking as an ex-Navy guy, I say Ha! Insubordination was rife.

    The United States, like most of the world, practices war socialism. The institutions for carrying it out, the military branches, are as a result socialist organizations.

    If you are in a good unit, or are in a receptive state of mind, the socialism in the military can make socialism look attractive.

  • ||

    "I am a libertarian except for the government spending I like." Too typical. - Dave W



    Word, Dave. Word.

  • ||

    The years I spent on active duty were the most miserable of my life. The thing that bothered me most, was the way ignorance was rewarded. The first four people in my chain of command didn't have the intellect to wipe their own ass. I'd like to think the higher-ups had more going on, but I worked hard to keep away from them. Anytime an O4 or above takes notice of an E3, it's almost always a bad day for the enlisted guy (the exceptions make for good sea stories).

    It always astonishes me when someone proposes that remaking society into an ant hill would be a good idea.

  • VM||

  • ____________-||

  • ||

    I bet cops, that were former military personnel, also wish the world was more like the military.
    Nobody with rights, everyone has to do what they say, etc. etc.

    The U.S. Military is ironically everything American is against: dictatorship, tyranny, socialism, etc.

    Equality? hahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha

    Kenneth
    11 year Navy Vet
    USS Ranger, USS Constellation
    Persian Gulf, Somaila
    Citizen of Earth

  • Fluffy||

    In Wright's defense, a lot of people are incompetent when they are young, and unfortunately they stay in that condition as they get older.

    They can't keep themselves organized or even clean. They have no self-discipline or ability to stick with a task - or even to wake up in the morning on time. They have absolutely no clue how to function in an organization that requires communication, precision, reliability, etc.

    There are more people like that than you think. And all of these character flaws produce adults who simply don't function very well in a market economy, but who wield political power in a democracy.

    So I can understand how someone might think that universal military service of some slight duration might in the end benefit a free society - by cutting down on the number of complete fuck-ups who will fail miserably at life and then clamor for collectivism in politics.

  • Grotius||

    Fluffy,

    Yeah, the military really straightened out Timothy McVeigh.

  • ||

    The military operates on trickle down intelligence. the top 5% in rank have the brains and everyone else does what they say.

  • ||

    Can't forget Lee Harvey Oswall...

    Just another example of one motivated Marine and his rifle.

  • Passim||

    I'm certainly not an anti-military libertarian either. Hell, I come from 6 generations of military men (and women!) from all branches. But there is no way military values are good for America as a whole.

    No, they are not totalitarian (clearly you don't understand the meaning of the word). But they are grotesque. FWIW, I think Jack Nicholson's speech in the horrifically disgusting movie "A Few Good Men" is spot on. We need these distorted men guarding our walls. To be truly civilized, we should deplore what they have to do; to remain civilized, we should nonetheless hire them, treat them with great respect, and pray we never need them.

    Basic training is all about destroying certain human moral instincts: the disgust of killing, the "huddling instinct," and the fear of death. Soldiers and sailors do not get enough compensation for giving up a part of their humanity, IMHO, but that's another topic. The fact is that we need their grotesqueness. And we should honour their sacrifice, but we should never enshrine it as some sort of ideal condition.

    Mr Wright deserves to be condemned and (I'm nt kidding) burned at the stake in the public square for his filth.

  • Plato||

    Could it be that we're a species that can flourish only if most of us are constrained by rules and discipline? How many of us who waste untold hours on the Internet would have gotten further and be more productive and happier individuals if someone had cracked the whip? Maybe unlimited freedom is only for a very intelligent elite. Do libertarians harbor a romatic idea of human nature?

  • VM||

    Hi Passim!

    Do you remember the case in Doitschland with the Kurt Tucholsky quote?

    (and not from die schöne Danin, either..)

  • Fluffy||

    Grotius, blogimi -

    Timothy Mcveigh and Lee Harvey Oswald are actually pretty GOOD examples of what I'm talking about.

    Oswald definitely seems to have had a serious personality disorder, and McVeigh doesn't seem like any great shakes either. To the extent that they were effective individuals at actualizing their goals at all, it's because they were in the military.

    Their goals happened to be fucked up and evil, but that's not what we're evaluating here. I didn't say that the military could turn deadbeats into good men - I said it could turn them into competent men. Or, at least, into less-incompetent-deadbeats.

  • Grotius||

    Doesn't the military (particularly the Army) have higher than average rates of spousal abuse?

  • Passim||

    VM,

    new to me...vielen Dank

  • VM||

    freilich.

  • Grotius||

    fluffy,

    Given the ease with which McVeigh was captured he wasn't particularly competant either.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you.

    That's a fact, Jack.

  • ||

    Hmm, I was in the army Infantry in the late 80's, so my experience is dated...

    Nevertheless, back then, individuality wasn't a desired quality. I had an enraged Lieutenant Colonel explain, in no uncertain terms, that my concept of interior design was not going to be allowed in *his* barracks. This was at my first duty station, not Basic, and I wasn't putting up anything offensive or "liberal hippie". It all was within the posted rules and regulations, but he just didn't like my choices, so it all came down while he watched. That was that.

    Hmm, if you stepped outside without your "headgear" the first person who outranked you would have you doing pushups for, oh, until they got tired. If you went on sick call you were treated like a lazy, shamming parasite and there were certain times, say, prior to a deployment, where you were ordered not to be sick. Period.

    If your wife got too many speeding tickets on base, your career would suffer. I had a friend who was ordered to stop his wife from driving...take her car keys away, whatever, they didn't care, but she was not to drive. I guess, in the military, you own your wife. That's a progressive philosophy.

    Strangely enough, I saw no reason to re-enlist.

    Now, if you think it would be great to live in a society where others have that sort of control over you, there is a recruiter who'd love to talk to you today. Immediately.

    Oh, and as for not hearing the dreaded "N-word", well, that's a laugh. It was thrown around quite a bit, just not by caucasian soldiers.

  • Passim||

    One day soon, someone is going to shoot me for my little rants.

    (Speaking of which, all you libertarians who might have been offended by my calling you pimply-faced kids the other day...sorry...I was having a particularly rant-worthy day)

  • ||

    [N]ever question the validity or morality of the order? I suppose you could argue that for the morality, but every recruit is taught over and over that you obey lawful orders and you can be disciplined for obeying unlawful orders. (See Nurenberg.) Of course, you can be disciplined for disobeying a lawful order, so you must be careful in deciding what is unlawful.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    I don't know about spouse abuse, but the military is hell on a marriage. And as far as raising a family while on duty, well there's a reason they're called 'military brats'.

  • Passim||

    I hate to beat a dead polar bear, but I must say that the aforementioned speech in that horrid movie is one of the best apologies for the military I've ever heard.

    Really, I don't like the military ethos. Nor should I, because I'm a normal human being. Trained killers are, and rightly should be, abhorrent to me. But I need such people, who have amputated part of their souls, to stand between me and evil. Yes, evil.

    But to base a society on their values--to celebrate it--to desire it for everyone...that is purely sociopathic. Again, I say, burn this bastard at the stake!

  • ||

    Johnny- That sounds about like my time in the Marine Corps. Our Col. insisted that the furniture in every barracks room be organized in exactly the same way. Why? Because he said so. I saw any number of people get shafted by the military justice system. The daily harassment was simply a fact of life.

    That said, the Air Force (Reserve) has been a revelation. The military culture there could not be more different. That, I suppose, it what comes from being the "thinking man's service."

    My first day on Reserve duty is a good example. I came down on Friday night, drove to the building I was to report to and spent about 15 minutes walking around looking for the Officer of the Day or the SOG so I could report in. There was no such animal. I finally found someone who seemed confused by the idea of reporting in. "Just come to work in the morning" was his suggestion. The same thing happened when I went to my MOS school.

  • Guy Montag||

    I thought this was about the US Army, until I read this:

    When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you. Whatever the state orders of you-even if it orders you to your death-you're trained to comply willingly and with vigor, and to never question the validity or morality of the order.

    How long were you in the Soviet Red Army? Tell us more of your experiences. You have been holding out! Kind of explains your calling my Aviator wings "air force wings" ;)

    My experience might be a little out-dated too, since I enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1979, spent several tours in training, got commissioned in 1982, spent a lot of actuve duty training time, switched to the Army Reserve supporting the Active Component, was mobilized to the same command, have been supporting (directly or indirectly) the field forces as a Defense Contractor since 1994 and I am baout to reach my MRD as only a Major. Shoulda gone to more schools, but I was busy.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    VM wins the thread.

    On Totalitarianism: anyone who has seen the movie Full Metal Jacket can understand how the term applies to basic training in the Marine Corps.

    Certainly things improve afterwards but the military remains an absolute socialist workers paradise.

  • ||

    Ah, the memories are flooding back. I don't know how prevalent spouse abuse was/is, but man, if your wife called the MPs or your chain of command and accused you of abuse, you were forced to move into the barracks and live under 24-hour watch. Have to ask the CQ for permission to go to the mess hall, that sort of thing.

    "Justice", right or wrong, could be amazingly swift...

  • Ashish George||

    Ex-AF--
    The trouble, as always, is that in the court of law and public opinion the government is the heavy favorite in the contest between the conscience of an individual and the muscle of Uncle Sam.

  • Grotius||

    Anyone watch Wright's "Meaning Of Life" interviews?

  • Mike Laursen||

    If you want an exhaustive depiction of the liberal, militaristic fantasy, it's all right there on Star Trek.

  • VM||

    Passim -

    your summary of it was excellent. You've spared this moose two hours of hell!

    No worries about being rant-filled! Glad you've stuck around!

  • ||

    I wouldn't use Timothy McVeigh as an example of how the army turns its people into left-wing drones who unquestioningly obey a totalitarian government.

    Markos Moulitsas is another left-winger who says the army turned him from a Republican into a Democrat. I also don't see him as someone who takes marching orders from whoever happens to be in charge.

  • Fluffy||

    Mile Laursen is dead on - Trek has the full package of the fantasy, right down to the Neverland economy whose operation is never explained.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you. Whatever the state orders of you-even if it orders you to your death-you're trained to comply willingly and with vigor, and to never question the validity or morality of the order.

    How long were you in the Soviet Red Army?

    I know the US Army is for pies and it was really a long time ago, but I can assure you that I could not have written a more apt description of my time at MCRD San Diego. There is/was no question that this was exactly the MO and, the drill instructors admitted as much at the end. Nothing was by accident, it was all a controlled and well planned 13 weeks and when they were done, we were Marines. And proud of it.

  • ||

    "If all of America were more like the Army, it would be a better country."

    Sounds like a statement from a Latin American generalissimo.

    Plato:
    How many of us who waste untold hours on the Internet would have gotten further and be more productive and happier individuals if someone had cracked the whip?

    Loaded question.

    Maybe unlimited freedom is only for a very intelligent elite.

    Pure evil.


    Do libertarians harbor a romatic idea of human nature?


    Loaded question. You know, for a guy that uses the nick "Plato", you really indulge yourself deep into logical fallacies.

  • Passim||

    VM

    Thanks. My appreciation comes from personal experience. I love my ex-Navy brother, but I am terrified of him at the same time.

  • ||

    Maybe unlimited freedom is only for a very intelligent elite.

    That "elite" is called the human species.

  • Goldwater Conservative||

    I'm no historian but didn't the ideal of the military city-state (a la Sparta) work pretty well from a social order standpoint? I doubt it could work in a multicultural nation-state, but I can see the virtues of it if, and only if, social order is the goal. Essentially, it is the logical outcome of militaristic liberalism. Liberalism (at least the non classical kind) loathes the individuality and like all warfare statists, they see the individual as a cog.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The only thing I should add is that you don't necessarily become a drone but you learn how to pretend to be one (because if you do what they want they leave you alone)--and you also learn how to doze while standing at attention in formation.

  • Dave W.||

    I wouldn't use Timothy McVeigh as an example of how the army turns its people into left-wing drones who unquestioningly obey a totalitarian government.

    McVeigh claims that he was made lunatic by seeing cruelty toward Iraqis in combat / combat aftermath. Seeing combat, depending on the type, can probably trump whatever tendencies your military training tends to give you.

    Here is a fascinating account of an alleged (and I have no reason to doubt) soldier in Iraq who claims to have a killcount of 43 enemy (some of which may have been collateral damage):

    http://tinyurl.com/2swehn

  • Guy Montag||

    The Wine Commonsewer,

    So the Marines never showed you endless films about the difference between legal and illegal orders? Just to name one item that quashes the "mindless drone" accusation about the Army.

  • Goldwater Conservative||

    Also, it is very important to separate the Air Force from every other branch. You simply do not face those issues in the Air Force unless you are an unlucky SOB. The quality of living in the Air Force far surpasses every other branch, and airmen are typically treated like human beings.

  • ||

    It will always be a great irony of America that our freedoms and individuality only exist because our ancestors were willing to enlist people to kill those who had something we wanted.

  • GILMORE||

    I read Wrights book.... or at least most of it... and was left with the feeling that he was gluing together a lot of contradictory and incompatable concepts in a way that was disingenuous about it's 'sciency-ness'

    i.e. under the veil of science, he was writing exploratory essays about much that science said little/nothing about.

    reason i never finished the book was i felt a little peeved he wasnt just coming clean and saying 'we dont really know' - rather, he developed hypothesis on scant, cherry picked ideas, exclusive of consideration of alternative explanations.

    anyhoo. so not necessarily surprised he comes up with this kinder-gentler view of the military. Its consistent with his mutable approach to 'logic'.

    JG

  • Grotius||

    Goldwater Conservative,

    I'm no historian but didn't the ideal of the military city-state (a la Sparta) work pretty well from a social order standpoint?

    No, it did not.

    Why did the Spartans/Laconians create the an elite military order? To hold down most of the enslaved population that they lorded over. The Spartiates were as much internal military police as a fighting force meant for conquest. Indeed, when the Spartans did try to create a Greek-world wide empire they were ultimately crushed by the Thebans.

  • ||

    I read Wrights book.... or at least most of it... and was left with the feeling that he was gluing together a lot of contradictory and incompatable concepts in a way that was disingenuous about it's 'sciency-ness'

    I agree...the Selfish Gene is a far better book and far more backed up by the science...

    I put the moral animal at about the same place i put The singularity is near...based more on informed speculation then on science.

  • Grotius||

    Goldwater Conservative,

    Indeed, Laconia was an inherently unstable society and fear of slave revolts predominated the politics of that society. Indeed, such a society required the services of allies and it was because of that that Laconia's allies could act like tails wagging the proverbial dog and thus involve Laconia in a war against Athens that probably was never in its best interests.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Guy, as I said, it was a long time ago, but in that man's Marine Corps, orders was orders.

    Did get some cultural sensitivity training though. It went over well. About half way through the first seminar one of the pilots stood up and said something like when those people stop shitting in the street I'll accept that their culture is equal to the US. He got applause.

  • ||

    Markos Moulitsas is another left-winger who says the army turned him from a Republican into a Democrat.

    can we just stop calling these people liberals...they fail just about every test one would associate with the being liberal...fascist seems to be the most accurately descriptive term.

  • Passim||

    TWC

    Thank you for that quote. THANK YOU!

  • ||

    TWC- Orders were orders in this man's Corps as well. (1997-2001) We were told that we could deny an illegal order 3 times, but must then obey it. The point of the denial was to go on record that you considered the order illegal. Then you shut up and did it anyway.

    Their view was that the legality of the order would be worked out at the court martial. And you would lose.

  • ||

    Written by the truly ignorant. You really don't know what your talking about. How many soldiers have you actually spoken with? How many war movies have you seen? Which number is greater? The 5 smartest, most liberal people I ever met were grunt privates in the Army (Airborne Rangers). The 5 dumbest were college or law school students and professors.

  • Grotius||

    There is a way of course to test Wright's theory. Compare the U.S. to nations that have compulsory military service.

  • ||

    "They can't keep themselves organized or even clean. They have no self-discipline or ability to stick with a task - or even to wake up in the morning on time. They have absolutely no clue how to function in an organization that requires communication, precision, reliability, etc."

    An excellent description of most undergrads in dorms thorughout the nation.

  • Goldwater Conservative||

    There is a way of course to test Wright's theory. Compare the U.S. to nations that have compulsory military service.

    The USA was one of them until 30 years ago: segregation and all.

  • Grotius||

    Goldwater Conservative,

    Yes, and thus we have at least two generations of folks who didn't experience such. Thus it seems like comparisons of those two generations to similar cohorts in other nations would be apt.

  • Guy Montag||

    Guy, as I said, it was a long time ago, but in that man's Marine Corps, orders was orders.

    Long time ago as in before 1979?

  • Guy Montag||

    An excellent description of most undergrads in dorms thorughout the nation.

    For the males anyway. I got to work a few weeks with maintenance at a University. You could tell immediatly if you were in a male or female dorm floor as soon as the elevator doors opened.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Their view was that the legality of the order would be worked out at the court martial. And you would lose.

    LOL, sounds like the same USMC to me.

    Passim, welcome.

  • ||

    Written by the truly ignorant. You really don't know what your talking about. How many soldiers have you actually spoken with?


    How many comments in this thread have you actually read?

  • ||

    Wright suffers from too narrow a focus. The benefits of military service and structure are there - but only as a phase of growth put in context by a liberal society. There is, as someone up thread suggested, great value for an individual within our very loosely structured civilian society to have the skills to become effective. These are work ethic, an appreciation that a hard road can have great rewards, understanding of organizational effectiveness, how to deal with leaders of various types, and so on.

    The military is A way to pick up these skills, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that they are valuable BECAUSE they help you succeed in the real world where people make lots of choices.

    I'm one of two in my set of friends from high school who didn't choose to go through military training, but they all talk about that moment when you 'get it'. You get that it is all a big game, but you also get the lessons from the game you are supposed to learn. If the whole world were the big game, there would be nothing to get. You would move through life like the people in "Brazil". Everything would be a capricious, totalitarian game with no larger point.

  • ||

    "When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished."

    Isn't that true of most jobs?

  • Passim||

    meerdahl

    not at all. you can leave most jobs.

  • ||

    I served in the military. It taught me a great deal, most of it entirely unintended by the military itself.

  • Guy Montag||

    I served in the military. It taught me a great deal, most of it entirely unintended by the military itself.

    Same with college for me.

  • ||

    While he doesn't say it, he probably admires the rigid cast system of the Army as well. It is a mirror of how many liberals see "equality" in action. My point, the average person joins as a private and no matter how much experience or smarts they have, they will never be more than a Sergeant. Then non-average person, from a wealthy or connected family of privilage, will come in as an officer, and no matter how ignorant, bigoted, or just plain stupid they are, the enlisted person will have to take orders from them even if their experience tells them they are wrong. The officers, while having their own pecking order, will live in comfort and prvilege, have their own clubs, nice houseing, have a great deal of control over how they spend their time, and in every way will live better than the enlisted person. The medical and dental care for an officer is superb, the enlisted's care is all about doing the minimum needed to keep them functioning. All this comes without doing anything exceptional other than being born right and going to the right schools. This is exactly the world view many liberals would like us to live out where the chosen ones make up the rules and the rest of us live with the results.

  • ||

    JK- The officer/enlisted division can be described fairly as "feudal."

  • ||

    Robots, robots are the answer!!!

    But seriously, the military never sounded appealing to me to go in as an enlisted man. Although boot camp was short, the idea of being subject to the whim of someone you may or may not see as superior is not an easy thing to accept if you possess a certain level of intellectual ego (read that however you want, its certainly true for me). Its not that I go around sneering at people I don't think are at my level of knowledge or ability, but I certainly would find it mentally straining to do random, nonsensical things just because I was told to do so by them. Its supposed to teach you discipline, and gain reactive skills so that you do not stop and think about whats being asked and then get blown to pieces. Also, with the punishing of many for the infractions of one, its supposed to build the idea of working as a team. Personally, this sort of discipline works on some groups of people, but not all, and causes lots of problems in those individuals whose mentality doesn't lend them to being compliant to this sort of thing. Thus, the army must "BREAK" those non-compliant individuals and reshape them, something which they are happy to do. I think this is a mistake because humans are very good at changing behavior as a means of self preservation, but retaining the vices hidden until the pressure is off. Thus, you can end up with some rather poor soldiers, which has been demonstrated over the years. Better to know what you're dealing with and place them properly than try and modify people to fit certain desirable patterns.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Robots, robots are the answer!!!

    The problem with a robot army is that all someone has to do is sneak into the mothership and throw the master kill switch, and your shiny, new army powers down.

  • VM||

    MikeL:

    that's why we'll get rid of any precocious ten year old dusty blond boys.

  • ||

    """My point, the average person joins as a private and no matter how much experience or smarts they have, they will never be more than a Sergeant."""

    In the Marine Corps, there are various levels of Sergeant from E-5 to E-9. The highest ranking enlisted Marine is the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

    Also, I guess you have never heard of a Warrant Officer. An enlisted man CAN become an officer someday.

  • ||

    Mike,

    Not my robots!!!

    Mine will be autonomous droids like the Terminator or "I Robot", but will have a lifespan like those in "Blade Runner"

  • ||

    Tricky-Yes, and a Sgt. Major still has to salute/answer to a 2nd LT. Granted, it doesn't usually work like that, but technically, it's supposed to.

  • ||

    My experience in the Army hardly turned me into an unquestioning drone. In fact, unless one is intent on becoming a lifer, enlisted personnel spend most of their time finding ways to circumvent the binding, chafing regulations of the Army. Great training for finding ways to circumvent the ignorant, binding, chafing rules of the larger American society.

  • ||

    "Sgt. Major still has to salute/answer to a 2nd LT."

    But the important thing, the sqt. major is getting paid twice as much as the 2Lt

  • ||

    My experience in the Navy hardly turned me into an unquestioning drone, either. I worked my ass off, but it was not a repressive environment either.

    If anything, my nine years in the Navy made me a much more liberal (dictionary definition) in my views and definetly more tolerant of others. On a sub one has to learn to get along.

  • AndyJ||

    Being in the military is much like being married. As Rumpole said "I say what I think and do as I'm told." Everybody takes orders. Everyone is responsible for their stuff.... The Comments make it easy to see who has never been in the service and who has and who stayed...

  • Guy Montag||

    My point, the average person joins as a private and no matter how much experience or smarts they have, they will never be more than a Sergeant.

    Good! Well, I guess I get the flaiming retard approval for being "way above average" as I enlisted when I was 17 as a private and I am now a Field Grade Officer (if you even know what that is).

    In my EXPERIENCE there were plenty of people with even fewer "smarts" than I who graduated from flight school the same year I did (we graduated around 400/year, yea, oh so 31337 ). Of that set (the dim ones) damn near none of them were Enlisted before. The bright ones? Many of them were Enlisted before.

    Oh, and let's not get into all of the Officers I know who were Enlisted and got into the Vocational School (that West Point place).

    You have a brilliant future writing for The Nation, The New Republic, Worker's World Daily, The New York Tomes, The Washington Post or even for Reason.

    Go back to your SciFiRadleyFiction you retarded Eisensteinian bastard.

    BTW, shitbrain, none of us were from wealthy families or "connected". Take youe Anarchist "no struggle but class struggle" shit and shove it up your ass. I hope I can meet you so your left arm can follow.

  • Guy Montag||

    not at all. you can leave most jobs.

    Are you under the imoression that it is not incredibly easy to leave the military?

    Perhaps you can be Radley's next mindless writing drone.

  • Guy Montag||

    The USA was one of them until 30 years ago: segregation and all.

    Yea, until that 'evil Nazi' Richard Millhouse Nixon ended the last of it.

  • Jim Bob||

    During my time in the Air Force (eight years total, six years active and two reserve), I was given a great amount of responsibility over technical matters and a high degree of autonomy.

    This was after my long-ass training phase was over, of course, but when I got to the operational Air Force I was making critical judgment calls on technical and complex equipment almost immediately. Believe it or not, the entire military is not a place where craggy sergeants scream orders all day and check for dust on the floor with a white-gloved finger. There's more important stuff to worry about.

    Of course there were standards to be followed, especially for young junior enlisted personnel, but as soon as one hits E-4 they tell you to go live off base. Have your own place. Come to work in the morning. Go home at night. Your time off is your own. That was the Air Force, which I why I can't wait to get my commission and get going again.

    Deployments were a different story sometimes, but the sense of teamwork, camaraderie, and the feelings of pride and accomplishment I had at the end of a long deployment (including two tours in the bad place) have stayed with me. Sometimes life was hard, but never was it bad.

    I am not a robot, Balko. Your view of the military seems to be one that considers that the entire apparatus is made of cybernetic killing-machines from some vivid Spartan wet dream. I assure you this is not the case, at least not from my experience.

    My new career in the military will involve healing the sick and caring for the injured, and I couldn't be more proud of that.

  • Guy Montag||

    I am not a robot, Balko. Your view of the military seems to be one that considers that the entire apparatus is made of cybernetic killing-machines from some vivid Spartan wet dream. I assure you this is not the case, at least not from my experience.

    My guess is that he wrote this after getting hammered with David Weigel and Ezra Klein. Maybe Eve Fairbanks too.

  • Jim Bob||

    @Guy:

    I giggled. :P

  • Guy Montag||

    My guess is that he wrote this after getting hammered with David Weigel and Ezra Klein. Maybe Eve Fairbanks too.

    And, perhaps, David Corn, Maureen Dowd, Jeff Gordon, The Dixie Chicks and Dick Button.

  • ||

    What a great recruiting poster boy you are Jim Bob.
    Out of the tens of thousands of enlisted shmucks just how many make it to the commissioned life style you speak so highly of. Oh, and without selling your fucking soul to do it.

    The Wine Commonsewer: I too learned how to sleep at long attention sessions. I was Gideon bearer and I learned to lean on my flagstaff to go to sleep. 1988. Long... time... ago...

  • Guy Montag||

    blogimi Dei (or is that David Corn fress off of Happy Hour?),

    Out of the tens of thousands of enlisted shmucks just how many make it to the commissioned life style you speak so highly of. Oh, and without selling your fucking soul to do it.

    If you were in past basic training, and paid the slightest bit of attention beyond sleeping on a pole, you would know it is incredibly common.

    What is this selling of souls nonsense?

  • Jim Bob||

    @blogimi Dei

    It's good to know that speaking of my own experiences and my own point of view makes me a recruiting poster boy. Truly, I walk up to strangers on the street and profess the joys and rewards of military life. Of course, I am compelled to do so by the cranial microchip I got at basic training that allows guys in black helicopters to control my every action. Vivid Spartan wet dream, right?

    And yes, I will be very proud to be an officer, the first in my family, but I will be more proud to be a person who heals sick people. Am I allowed to be proud of myself? Is that okay with you?

    ...wait, wait...I'm getting a transmission from my cranial microchip...

    Go fuck yourself, Dei.

  • Wild Pegasus||

    Robots, robots are the answer!!!

    Where are we going to get enough old people's medicine to feed them all?

    - Josh

  • Trey||

    Here's about 20 minutes of Mr. Wright flapping his gums.

    He does say that we are moving towards the moral truth of the fundamental equality of everyone. That sounds UNIFORM to me.

    http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=r_wright

  • Kevin Carson||

    "The Army is complete and utter totalitarianism. When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you."

    Now I see why liberals are so fond of the publik skools.

  • sapper||

    "The Army is complete and utter totalitarianism. When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone. Dissent is punished. At the onset of your career, all facets of your life are dictated to you."

    As a platoon leader in Iraq, tell me where I can get such well behaved obedient soldiers. I know I don't act like this with my commander. I complain alot about his dumb decisions. (and he takes my suggestions into considerations just like I do when my soldiers complain)

    That being said, I'm getting out soon and I wouldn't want to have to take a PT test just to get my income tax return or have to get weighed and taped to vote.

  • ||

    Jim Bob, Don't be mad because they took your poster boy picture all shitty like. Be proud. But know what you are.

    Yeah, Guy M, all you have to do is wish to be an officer is so fucking common. Fuckwad.

    In my career I excelled at everything I started. However, you may have been the one who sat on a pole. Shmuck.

  • ||

    'selling of one's soul' Navy Style...

    Inorder to advance to Chief many have to sign up for at least 6 more years and be assigned to a forward operational ship.

  • Guy Montag||

    Yeah, Guy M, all you have to do is wish to be an officer is so fucking common.

    You never spent a fucking day in any unit anyplace, or it is a good thing that an idiot like you is out.

  • John||

    blogimi Dei:

    Inorder to advance to Chief many have to sign up for at least 6 more years and be assigned to a forward operational ship.

    That's what the Navy does, bD (a social disease?), it goes to sea. You must be a classic FTN kind of guy.

    Check out OCS, ECP, and other programs that transition enlisted members to officers. Of course, those programs are for motivated individuals, which clearly you are not.

  • Guy Montag||

    John,

    That goofball seems to think that 99% of the Officer and Warrant Officer Corps are created by watery tarts tossing swords at snotty little rich kids.

    If he was really in the military he should know better, much better, than that. He talks about it like the crap made up for TV shows and movies. Just like the "unquestioning drone" crap that Radley wrote that sounds like it came straight off of an episode of "Democracy Now" on the Pacifica Radio Network.

    You have at least two of us on this thread who admit to being Officers, or going to be Officers, who came from plain backgrounds, up through the Enlisted ranks and into highly skilled areas of service, but somehow none of this sinks in with the droneoids.

  • ||

    I have been an Information Technology professional for the last 18 years. 11 of them were in the Navy. So sorry, I am a motivated individual.
    Back in 1999, as a First Class Petty Officer I just woke-up. I then decided to move OUT not UP. And my quality of life has improved exponentially, because I was able to get away from dumb fucks like you.
    Enjoy all of your family separation. You are prolly one of those lifer fucks that says things like "sure, yes, my family comes first," while you are on the other side of the earth.
    I did my "fruit loops" already; sounds like you are doing yours. Just don't act like the military is a wonderful place. Its not.
    Would you wish for your children a military life? If so, then you ARE the type that belongs in the military.

    Oh and since I DO have my Constitutional rights back, like my right to free speech, FUCK YOU, YOU OFFICER FUCK. Go enjoy your career.

    Here is another one, for all military persons that have ever shit on someone of a lower rank, FUCK YOU TOO.

    All you officers getting that?

    Believe me, being a civilian again is WAY better that being under the UCMJ control of dumb fucks like you. Ahhhhh FUCK YOU again.

    Feels good. Do you miss your Bill of Rights? Fuck Face?

    If I could see you in uniform I would say it right to your fucking face.

    The UCMJ will not always be there protecting you boy.

  • ||

    And YES. By the sounds of it the UCMJ is the only thing that protects the likes of you from enlisted men like me. But hey, I am no longer an enlisted man, sooooooo fuck you?

  • ||

    It has been eight years since I separated, and the venom still comes out.

    I apologize to all of reason.

    FTN

  • ||

    Oh, and "mustangs" are usually the most fucked kind of officer...

    Sorry. I have been there. USS Ranger. USS Constellation.

    Worked for the sorriest piece of shit to ever wear an officer's uniform.

    LCDR Rob Loeh, Convicted Drug Dealer (highest ranking Naval officer to be busted for dealing drugs) would say things to me like "there is time enough for sleep when you are dead, petty officer!"

    Military officers have a captive audience; so every 'bright idea' is a good one to those dumb fucks. They have never ending enlisted assets to do their bidding too.

    Oh Shit! I am sorry.

    The military, and its lifestyle are grand social experiments. It is a great life, go Navy, go Army, go Air force, go Marines, and go Coast Guard.

    I must not know what I am talking about. There are never any people in positions of authority that shit on lower ranking individuals in the U.S. Military. Never ever.

    It's all just a bunch of fun, like the Boy Scouts.

    Please send all of your children.

    And I love the reasoning: Because this guy talks so much shit he MUST have been a shitbag in uniform.
    Completely wrong. I advance and excel at every fucking thing I do.

    Please continue to attack me AND my arguments. I can definitely take if from dumb fuck officers like you guys.

  • ||

    Does it bother you that a (former) enlisted man can say FUCK YOU to you, and there is no UCMJ recourse for you to get at me?

    Your UCMJ "protections" will not last forever.

    However, my Bill of Rights will because I will never volunteer them away ever again.

    Go do your "job" and protect my Constitution and Country fuck face.

  • ||

    After reading the last five comments, I think Dei was a Section 8.

    And needs to reup his meds.

  • ||

    I'm starting to wonder whether "the military" is such a big, varied and changing environment that different participants in different locations and services and times might have had substantially different experiences.

  • ||

    Well opus dei seems to have gone off his rocker.
    I found the service to be very liberalizing. I grew up in a college town, and felt conservative next to the loony left. Then seven years in the enlisted ranks made me realize the loony left has nothing on the crazy conservatives.

  • ||

    The military is what you make of it. Got my 20 year letter from the National Guard a few months ago.Was raised an Army brat & quite frankly, had a helluva a good childhood because of it.

  • Britannica: \"Humour\" example||

    The cannon ball shot off the soldier's legs so he was forced to lay down his arms.

  • ||

    [Captain Kirk vox]

    Must

    Not

    Rock

    Boat...

  • Guy Montag||

    LOL, I really don't care what you say but it sounds like you should be saying it to a mental health professional.

    And, no I still don't believe that you spent a day on duty anyplace.

  • ||

    Guy M. Nice,

    You really are one of those officer punks. Just can't stand an ole'enlisted man speakin his mind huh?

    Lets see, been to; Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mogadishu, Perth, Sidney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pusan, Sasabo, Yukusoka, Nagasaki, even made it to Vancouver. All on active duty. But no, these weren't duty days, these were port visits, except Mogadishu of course.

    However, you are prolly like Bush; wear the uniform - don't go anywhere. Heh heh.

  • LarryA||

    When you enter, you're stripped of all individuality, then built back up into a proper, orders-taking, unquestioning drone.

    True. And very soon thereafter you are taught how to give orders of your own. You learn that if you are the senior officer or non-com present it is your responsibility to take charge and do what has to be done. No excuses. No "let's form a committee and come to a consensus." Commanders are responsible for everything their units do or fail to do.

    For most problems encountered in a democracy, of course, these are terrible problem-solving techniques. But when the shit hits the fan, for instance when you find yourself in the middle of a street full of wrecked cars and bleeding people, you need the bastard who once wore stripes to step forward, not the civilized business school graduate.

    Dissent is punished.

    Bitching is a military art form. Try making comparable gripes in a civilian organization.

    By enforcing conformity, for example, the Army is at least making everyone equal.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Nowhere are you less equal, and nowhere is it more obvious. Look at any soldier's uniform, and if you can read the insignia you have his rank, job title, current assignment, education, and service history.

    Whatever the state orders of you-even if it orders you to your death-you're trained to comply willingly and with vigor, and to never question the validity or morality of the order.

    When the order is "Enter the continent of Europe and wrest it from control of the enemy," nothing else will work.

    Wright thinks this would be a good model for the rest of society.

    Absolutely not. But there are military/warrior virtues that society needs. One example is responsibility for your own actions. "This is your rifle. When the enemy soldier comes if you haven't kept it clean and learned how to hit the target, you won't get a do-over."

    My backstory? Four years in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University, four years active duty as an infantry officer including Ranger School and Vietnam, RIFed during the post-Vietnam cutbacks, returned to graduate school and several civilian careers while serving occasional reserve duty.

    It's amazing how differently, and more successfully I approached school after military service. It's amazing how naïve some of the professors were. It's amazing how many people think a dry room, soft bed, clean clothes, and hot meals are necessities of life. It's amazing how many people think regular sleep is a necessity of life.

    I have a plot for a novel. The premise is that for some reason the U.S. initiates universal military service, two years training directly after high school. The story is what happens when the first cohort enters college.

    All this is not to say the military is any more perfect than any other aspect of society. As an organization any military, and particularly the U.S. military, face two insoluble problems.

    First, much of any army's time is spent without a job to do. That is, armies are designed to make war, and most of the time there isn't one. However, particularly in modern times, you can't mothball your forces and count on having time to gear up before it's too late. So the army spends most of its time in garrison, training. That's where most of the bullshit creeps in.

    The second problem is that the civilians controlling the army don't always use it appropriately. So the military gets tasked with impossible missions, missions it's not trained or equipped to do, and missions with so many artificial restrictions its hands are tied.

    So I suppose my summation is that, no, the military is not a good model for a free society, but everybody needs a little experience with it.

    Because sooner or later, the shit hits the fan.

  • ||

    http://navysite.de/cvn/cv61_1.htm

    Just for our Reason crowd. This was us doing a flight deck spell out a mile off shore of Mogadishu. I am one of the people spelling out the "T."

    At the time, Restore Hope seemed like a really positive plan. However, after our battle group left the operation the Army guys just had too much to handle by themselves.

    Like I said before. I have already done my "fruit loops." What about you?

  • ||

    And by "you" I am speaking to Guy M. I Don't want to piss anybody else off...

  • ||

    Vincent,

    Every have your Bill of Rights taken away from you?

  • ||

    John said:

    "That's what the Navy does, bD (a social disease?), it goes to sea. You must be a classic FTN kind of guy."

    Half of the Navy is at sea; the other half is shore duty as support for the sea duty side.

    Sailors are rotated from sea to shore duty. Most sailors look forward to their shore duty, for many reasons like less family separation, etc.

    Many a new Chief has had to give up that shore rotation in order to put on those Chief Anchors. Eventually equating to a triple sea duty rotation. By the way, one sea duty rotation can last for five years or more.

    In other words, "bend over if you want to make Chief."

    I was offered Chief (E-7) before I separated from the Navy (1999). I told them they could give me Captain (0-6) and I would not reenlist. Had to get out of that place man.

  • ||

    Just two more words...


    STOP LOSS

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