Compulsory service

Steve Witham (
Sat, 19 Apr 1997 14:56:08 -0400

Phil Goetz wrote (on Exi-East):

>I like the idea of required community service.
>At least, I don't see it as an abrogation of personal freedom,
>any more than compulsory education is.

!! Which is pretty bad!

However, there is a difference: school is at least ostensibly for the
benefit of the student. "Service" is for the benefit of others. So
its message is that one has a duty to serve others as *they* see fit,
and that's even worse than the message of compulsory schooling (that
one should let others decide what one should learn).

>I believe the Extropians, on the whole, seriously lack an appreciation
>for the importance of an individual's obligation to the community.

Those libertarians among us (probably the ones you're thinking of)
have a *very* serious idea of an individual's obligation to the community,
and where that obligation ends. I'm obliged to peacefully coexist with
others, and that is it, period. I think you who fail to appreciate
everyone's obligation *not* to impose (whether individually or as groups)
on others. By approving compusory service, you are being a bad citizen.
You are failing to treat your community with the respect you owe it.

Each person deserves respect as an individual, and has the right
to *choose* his or her connections--or disconnections-- with others.

>No man is an island.

That's a reminder, a piece of advice, to each person.
It's *not* a compusion to follow someone else's idea of service.
I wonder whether the author [Bartlett's fails me] would approve
your use of that line.

>Anyone who calls community service "servitude" doesn't know what the
>word means.

And vice versa. Let's not confuse slavery with true service.
The main question is whether one's service is voluntary or not. An
additional question is, who is being served? The actual community or
an organization that happens to claim to represent the community?
Who is deciding what form "service" should take?

I believe compulsory associations make people into enemies and
destroy true community. I can't thank you for promoting that.


--           Steve Witham          web page under reconsideration
"At the latter I was informal, at the former I wore my suit,
 I wore my swimming suit."  --Kate & Anna McGarrigle