National Service Is a Recipe for Destroying the American Republic
By Alex Epstein (sent to Time magazine on September 10, 2007)
"National Service," Richard Stengel claims in "A Time to Serve," is "a recipe for keeping a republic." In fact, it is a recipe for destroying the American Republic.
America was founded on the idea that each individual is a sovereign being with the moral right to his own life and to the achievement of his own goals. This is the basis of the political idea that the individual possesses unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. American individualism and freedom are incompatible with the notion that people are servants who owe their lives--or any portion of them--to their neighbors or to the state. The collectivist belief in the supremacy of the group over the individual is the foundation of the national-service ideology, which regards the individual as a servant to the nation. Every totalitarian society in history has rested on the premise of man's alleged duty to the state.
To call service to a collectivist state pro-American is false and perverse. To preserve our great nation, we must embrace not the subjugation of the individual to national service, but his sovereign right to the pursuit of his own happiness.