Bringing back National Service

by | Feb 28, 2009

Just thinking through how our society copes with climate change. One way might be to bring back national service.


1) We need to train a generation of young people how to deal with crises, whether that’s food riots, race riots, or extreme weather. They will have to be physically and mentally tough, resilient and disciplined.
2) In general, we need to instill a war-time discipline into the country if it is going to cope with a drastic reduction in our quality of life.
3) We need a bigger domestic emergency force.
4) We may need a bigger external defence force as well.

What are the arguments against it?

1) It’s the first step to a fascist military state.
2) We need experts, not amateurs.
3) We need a bigger global peacecorps, not brownshirts at home.
4) We need de-centralised innovation and spontaneous systems evolution, not goose-stepping drones.

I think the arguments for are better than the arguments against. If you want the UK to be at a forefront of a global solution to food shortages, helping other states that are failing, then you will need an even bigger armed forces.

Our country will need to become much more disciplined very quickly, and I think national service is one step towards that.

The US seems to be thinking along the same lines. Eg the Innovations in Civic Participation’s Youth Service and Climate Change initiative. President Obama also seems keen to resurrect JFK’s Peace Corps spirit. Ask not what your climate can do for you. Ask what you can do for your climate.

I wonder if this could become part of the Resilience programme which Martin Seligman developed, and which the government is now piloting in some schools in the UK.

That programme is based on the assumption of an affluent society. But it could easily be adapted to a much more Stoical sense of resilience – how to survive and stay positive, engaged and ethical in a crisis-prone society.


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    <strong><a href="">Jules Evans</a> </strong> is a freelance journalist and writer, who covers two main areas: philosophy and psychology (for publications including The Times, Psychologies, New Statesman and his website, <a href="">Philosophy for Life</a>), and emerging markets (for publications including The Spectator, Economist, Times, Euromoney and Financial News).

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