(Wishful Thinking II)
Who is it that wages war?
It is not the people!
If a Prime Minister declares war on a foreign state does he grab a rifle and steel helmet, take a flight to Bagdad or wherever and dig himself a slit trench?
What he/she does is use the powers of Parliament to legally and compulsively recruit with force the flower of the young generations and send them into battle to survive if possible – to incur wounds, life threatening or not, – or very likely to be killed.
These were the means with which WWI and WWII were fought, together with those conflicts occurring during the time of National Service.
Who then is it that wages war?
It is not the people, they merely wish to be left in peace to oil the chain on their bicycle or put a child to bed and get the dinner on.
People do not go to war! There may be minor skirmishes on the borders when the pubs close, but for instance, Camden has never declared war on, or invaded South Kensington.
In order for this to happen Camden would have to recruit all its unemployed into at least a battalion or two of infantry, while transferring its considerable force of traffic wardens into some sort of supply corps. Then a lightening blitzkrieg into South Ken territory to seize the Town Hall; incarcerate the Councillors, and install a puppet board from the Camden elite.
They might then, with loud fanfare and a firework display, announce the birth of:
‘The New Borough of Greater Camden.’
This too is more than unlikely.
People do not go to war! But they have given to their government the power to coerce them, willingly or not, into fighting the wars that they consider righteous.
Governments go to war with other governments and use their population as cannon fodder.
The only persons legally exempted from this ‘duty’ are conscientious objectors.
A conscientious objector refuses to kill another human being on the grounds that he/she considers such an act, for whatever reason, ethically forbidden, as well as finding the suggestion a repulsive insult to his/her humanity.
A conscientious objector must be able to withstand interrogation of their philosophy and present their position as convincingly sincere.
Should an association of registered Conscientious Objectors arise with a dissident Lord or two on the board to give it some clout, plus a published code of ethical values and a well argued philosophical stance, then each member might refer to and quote from this text should the government attack its population with forcible conscription.
It might also encourage those who feel war to be against their principles but are unable to philosophically and intellectually present their case.
Optimally such a society should assemble in times of ‘peace’, in order to be well established and recognised when comes the next call to arms.
There now arises the question of whether a particular war can be justified, especially when defence is a serious issue.
Members of the association would be bound to no rules since these only exist as a defence should the government threaten its population with forcible recruitment. Members would be free to make up their own mind about any justifications or arguable circumstances.
Thus might arise ‘The Honourable Association of Conscientious Objectors’.
Pic: Nick Victor