09 January, 2008

Social Contract & Military Service

An old concept has turned up in discussion again; this time following the death of a good American soldier in the Iraq Conflict. It is the concept of the Social Contact that is implied in Military Service.

It is a social contract that is implied not just in voluntary military service; it is implied - in a slightly different way – in conscripted military service too. It is implied whether the service is within one's national borders or overseas. It is implied – in various ways and in varying degrees – whether one's service is in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Foreign Legion, Marines, Waffen-SS, MVD, FSB, WJ, Coast Guard , Insurgent Forces, Partisans, Gurkhas or a private security firm; it is implied wherever there is an organized armed force with a responsible system or chain of command and that has definable political objectives [which excludes bandit gangs, no matter how military they may appear]. It is implied regardless of rank – although Generals and other senior commanders do have additional onerous responsibilities that come with their position or rank.

In a grossly over-simplified way, the social contract goes something like this:

I will risk my life fighting for your cause [which is usually but not always, my cause too].

I will attack your Enemies where this is unavoidable and I will defend you against your Enemies where this is necessary.

In return, you will not attack nor abandon nor despise nor cheat me for having done so.

If I am injured in your conflict with your Enemies, you will not scorn me nor exacerbate my injuries nor prevent these injuries being ameliorated nor deprive me of whatever living I can then make nor rob me.

If I die in doing this service for you, you will not attack nor shun nor neglect nor ill-treat nor defraud my loved ones in their grief.


You will make clear to me exactly who your Enemies are and who are not your enemies. You will also tell me why these people – who themselves may be good decent people in normal circumstances – have become your Enemies.

I will do everything in my power to overcome your Enemies, to frustrate their schemes and, if it is at all possible, to deflect their hostile attention from you.

If there is no alternative but to do so – and your Enemies wilfully and repeatedly refuse to go away or change their hostility to you - I will strive to destroy them.

If you decide your Enemies are no longer your enemies, you will tell me by the swiftest possible means so that unnecessary suffering and destruction can be stopped abruptly – or even prevented.

You yourself will strive, in every possible way, to overcome your Enemies too. Furthermore, you will not make profit from my suffering or death by doing normal business with your Enemies, either directly or through third parties.

You will keep open channels of communication so that you could – if the opportunity arises and it is ultimately beneficial for our cause to do so – enter into negotiations for the end of fighting, suffering and destruction [whether that results in a win, a loss, a draw or whatever].

However, you will not betray me or my family merely because you have become tired or bored with the conflict or because you lack the courage to face up to the consequences of going into conflict with people you deemed to be your Enemies.

You will keep me regularly and truthfully informed [in the broadest terms and without revealing our side's plans or other secrets] about how the conflict is going – whether that be good or bad – so that my morale is not shattered by hearing the truth first from the lips of the Enemies. I will not be lied to. I will be given the truth so that even if things are going very badly, I can still be resolute in carrying out my duty to you and in so doing, preserve your honour as well as my own..


You will supply me with sufficient and suitable material in serviceable condition and in a timely manner.

I will use that material as best I can to overcome your Enemies.

You will supply me with the best material that can be obtained at the best price and not with the material that can get you the most lucrative kick-back from the supplier.


You will not make false promises of reward for my service nor will you steal from me any rewards or payments you have already given to me. If my only reward is the praise and respect of my fellow citizens then so be it. You will not condemn me nor humiliate me for having done my duty. If the treasure or other assets of your Enemies falls into our hands, you will not plunder it for your own selfish purposes but instead you will stand aside and allow it to be added to our own national treasury for the benefit of all the people of our nation.

There is probably a lot more in such a social contract – but you'll get the idea.

This is a social contract. It is definitely not a legal contract. It lacks some of the features of a regular legal contract. It is not an Enlistment Form nor an Employment Contract nor an Appointment nor any other document.

There is not a court of law in the whole wide world that could or would enforce such a social contract.

It is enforced under only one law: the pitiless, iron-hard Law Of Victory And Defeat – the law that determines whether a nation and its people survive or get annihilated.

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