Other Names:
Compulsory military service
Conscription is compulsory military training and regementation of young people, usually males.

The requirement that an able-bodied male citizen must serve in the military forces usually takes place under the universal military training provision (as for example in Switzerland), or under emergency or war-time conscription. Compulsory military service presents a number of problems. First is the questionable effectiveness of compelling non-arms bearing citizens to become fighting or defensive forces when other options might include: an all-volunteer military; mercenaries; or, less likely, a military alliance where a particular country's role would be strictly logistic and could be fulfilled by civilians. Another difficulty is the cost to the state of compulsory training or service. The motivation of conscripts or those inducted under UMT provisions is problematical, and the disruption of private life and economic activity also can be considerable.

After Napoleon first imposed military conscription the system spread rapidly to all countries of continental Europe and has since been extended to practically the whole world. Countries without conscription are rare. Often one of the first acts of newly independent states has been to impose compulsory military service upon their citizens. Conscription is almost considered to be a necessary adjunct of national sovereignty and independence. Governments of come countries with a large proportion of their people living in poverty, still feel that they must divert money and manpower to the maintenance of a conscript army.
Conscription indoctrinates young people in patriotic lies and sends them to kill and be killed in foreign countries, against their will or personal choice and often with threats of prison if they refuse. Conscription is accompanied by registration which acts to make a young person submissive to the authority of the state. Registration is a totalitarian way of requiring a loyalty oath to support the military policies of a government. Conscription is slavery, anti-democratic, and immoral. It deprives the individual of personal responsibility in matters of life and death, his own and, more particularly, of others. To compel a man to engage in the killing of other human beings whom he does not know and with whom he may well have no quarrel, is the greatest infringement of natural liberty and moral freedom. Conscription continues to indoctrinate people with war-minded ideas - and hence continues the acceptance of military institutions.

Compulsory military service may violate the conscience of those who object to violence, and once instituted opens the way to conscription of women and adolescents.

Counter Claim:
If military service is seen as a necessary part of citizenship, a general obligation is in many ways fairer than selective service or a standing army. Under a system of general conscription where every family is going to be affected by an outbreak of war, public opinion will act as a greater restraint on a reckless foreign policy of its government than if war is likely to affect only professional soldiers who have accepted the risk as part of their career.
Narrower Problems:
Extra-legal conscription
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET