Compulsory military / humanitarian service?

Hello Pirates :wave:

I am sorry for the kerfuffle of my last thread. I guess I win the troll award but you haven’t banned me yet so I’d like to raise an interesting topic that presented itself to me in conversation last night, which I can’t see any discussion of in here from a quick search, nor clear policies internationally from cursory Googling.

First though I’d like to say that I’m actually recruiting for you, even though I’m not a member (had a conversation with someone a few nights ago who said they thought Pirates had the only good policy platform and he supported completely - I said well join the party then, they need all the members they can get :slight_smile: You’re welcome.)

But this thread is a bit more interesting. Conversation with a bloke from Israel, been living in Melbourne a decade or so.

Told me about the compulsory military/humanitarian service there - in Israel, you are required to serve but it doesn’t have to be combat, lots of other roles. A thing I am actually slightly familiar with having lived in Thailand for part of my life where they also have compulsory military service (though it is a lottery).

And his argument was that he felt that it was a key policy which helped with equality, and that he felt women were treated more as equals in his home country, because the service is compulsory not just for men, but women as well.

I found this fascinating as I wasn’t aware of this about Israel, and this morning looked up the countries in the world that have compulsory military/humanitarian service for both women and men - and while a great many countries have compulsory service for men, only the following currently afaik for both men and women:

China, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Norway, Peru and Taiwan…

and as of 2017 - Sweden.

I’m really intrigued by this idea. While I am basically anti-military myself I do understand a little the need for it, and if there were an option for humanitarian service, or instead perhaps to enter the monkhood for the same period of service (this is a popular and strongly revered option in Thailand), I think this could actually be really beneficial. But it must be required by all citizens, regardless of gender. That is the crucial point, and there must be options for non-violent objectors to serve in some way which still gives them purpose.

To me it fits with the ideas Pirates promote around equality. Not so much around freedom, but hear me out. All members of society have something of a social contract, and if counties like Norway and Sweden, bastions of freedom and equality, have this requirement, it could be a useful discussion to consider what it could mean for Australia. It could also be popular with those who aren’t ok with UBI, but blather on about Job Guarantees - this would be a kind of enforced job guarantee, for a year or two, and give people a sense of belonging (even if in a room on their own meditating for hours on their reason for existing, or maybe think of it as The Breakfast Club but for a year or two), and help mitigate a small amount against automation as it continues to erode the job market for humans.

I know it would be controversial to propose.

But controversy can be very useful.



We already have systemic high youth unemployment coupled with earn or learn requirements that can be met with humanitarian volunteering. If you provide a military job guarantee you’ll end up with an underpaid and underskilled defence force full of hungry desperate people who don’t want to be there.

I think you misunderstand. The compulsory service in most countries is somewhere between 6 months to 2 years. it’s not at all meant to be permanent job. (though might convince more people to choose careers they might not have otherwise). it’s about giving everyone a shared experience of some kind, contribute in some way - and to me, in many cases now, spread the existing available work a bit while giving people a formative life experience as young adults.

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Banning would be hypocritical for a political party with a free speech platform.

This would tend to conflict with our general preference for personal liberty.

Maybe optional humanitarian service?
Optional military service already exists.


Yes, I kinda acknowledged that. but I’m rolling around in my head the potential benefit in increasing equality mainly, which I think from my Israeli friends opinion, may have the benefit of actually increasing real personal liberty (for everyone, not just limited demographics that already hold power) in the long game.

Yes, and optional will most likely continue with existing demographics making that choice, and do nothing to initiate change.

I’m interested in change, not continuing in the status quo.

You could propose to decimate Australian men and women equally and the equal part wouldn’t make it a good idea. Compulsory military service is much the same.

… obviously that’s why Norway and Sweden have chosen it as a policy.

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You ignored “optional humanitarian service”.
That could provide positive change.

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Sorry, that was unintentional. Both options will still tend to be pursued only by a small number of people, and yes while there would be a small amount of positive change (and do nothing to further true equality), I think it could be transformative level of change if compulsory (and further the cause of equality far more efficiently).

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I absolutely agree with compulsory military service if only for a single reason: that a democratic populace needs to be personally invested in their military. Optional military service has led to a majority considering the decisions of the military is someone else’s problem… and you can’t blame anyone for that when they haven’t served, don’t have any family or friends who have served, etc. When the majority of the populace doesn’t care what the military does, it’s a given it will be used uncritically and ultimately misused.


I would also like to point out that we are currently extremely under-prepared for the eventuality of war.

(This isn’t some conspiracy site. It’s the ABC).

Whether conscription/compulsory service is a good solution to this or not is up for debate.

I’m rather unfamiliar with our military policies.


The main idea is that we focus on being as prickly as possible (sea denial), and a pivot away from force projection and invade-other-countries capability, with the resources put into foreign aid.

The primary objection to that ideal is that for better or worse, we live under the American’s security umbrella, and the price we pay for it is accompanying them on their, er, ‘adventures’.

A secondary objection I have is that when you have as much territory to cover as we do, everything looks like force projection capability. Speaking of, there’s a preference for subs over ships, but priority number zero is actually to keep at least some sea lanes open, so the logical extension of our platform also would include a significant anti-enemy-submarine component.

Being America’s Deputy Sheriff doesn’t necessarily make us safer. Against some kinds of threats, it does the opposite. If the ABC article above is right and Asia is starting to resemble Europe pre-WW1 then being entangled in great power alliances might be the worst thing we can do. It makes us a target and a hostage to events that we don’t control.

Subs can shut down shipping lanes. That doesn’t help us occupy another country, but it would put another country off trying to occupy us. If we aren’t the deputy sheriff then there’s little tactical reason to attack us. And if we can shut down an aggressor’s shipping lanes and put their economy into a depression, then no sensible country would attack for us for economic reasons either. Defence for a country our size is not about “winning”, it’s about not getting attacked.

In terms of national service - even if we put aside the civil libertarian arguments, it’s not the right time. The age of humans fighting wars with soldiers and rifles is coming to an end. In the age of automation, human soldiers will be little more than cannon fodder.


What about compulsory service in a cyber warfare unit? That would get people engaged in their privacy and digital security. Not that I endorse anything compulsory.

My first and probably undercooked reaction; isn’t the expectation of unpaid work by youth already a big enough problem?

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Oh look it’s force projection again.

Oh look it’s force projection again.

Ha. Yes; you are correct in the sense that all military is force projection by definition. But submarines are still mostly a tool of deterrence, and can’t really be used for the kind of military adventurism and occupation of foreign lands that we have been engaged in for the last 15 years.

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priority number zero is actually to keep at least some sea lanes open, so the logical extension of our platform also would include a significant anti-enemy-submarine component

This is an important point, but recall they couldn’t even find that Malaysian 777 that went down in the ocean; so good luck stopping a submarine with silent running and 500 miles of shipping lane to lurk in. The only way to keep shipping lanes open is not to give anyone a reason to close them. This is one of the things defence planners don’t like to talk about.


Ha! Gamer army.
Edit: not sure you’d even need to make that compulsory to get enough volunteers.


I agree. It will be drones drones and more drones, but the concept of compulsory service being more than just military is the key here, and it being everyone, not just men. Very little cannon fodder, much more with the everyone pitching in somehow, being told that they should be engaged in some direct way, in the structure of our societal organisation.

I brought the subject up with a friend who works for the US govt, for some perspective, and they agreed, but that it should include some kind of civil service (ie working for the government, familiar territory) for pretty much the same reasons that Ryan states above. They also stated that they reckoned no way in hell it would happen in the US, the population is way too entitled and lazy.

I’d like to think we’d be better, but I doubt it. Still… Norway! Sweden!!

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