The Cuba I wish for (4)
“What is military service? The State exercizing an act of property over its citizens.” Pierre Joseph Proudhon
HAVANA TIMES — Compulsory Military Service is a social arrogance, a democratic perversion and there is no rational justification for society, as a whole, to decide to force someone to spend a period of time serving as a soldier, even when the majority decide that its right. A real democracy has limits, it isn’t a dictatorship of the majority.
Freedom is an innate human quality which comes before the creation of States, even though people do give up a part of their freedom for the sake of living together as a society. However, military service should be voluntary because the State has no right to take away what it hasn’t given, just as individual citizens have no right to exercize their freedom if it restricts another person’s freedom. My freedom ends where my neighbor’s begins.
Anyone will agree that national sovereignty is the only justification for having and upholding an army. But, national sovereignty isn’t an absolute, ensuring people’s rights isn’t a natural imperative, it’s a social convention and, therefore, as a convention, it will always be open to discussion and reconsiderations.
The fact that both sovereignty and State are both symbolic constructs which there are many debates about, including differences in approach, just goes to prove that they are both relative concepts.
Let’s explore some of these views.
Some people prefer “to sink at sea”(1) before losing sovereignty and they are terrified to see our flag flying next to another and ask “our dead to raise their arms”(2) to defend it and are willing to kill to hold onto power, because this is what sovereignty is, power, or rather the place where power is exercized.
Other people would put other religious principles before this, such as “thou shalt not kill” and will refuse to defend national sovereignty at the expense of human life.
Others will be pragmatic and sit down and do a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether it’s better to protect sovereignty or not or whether it’s in their best interests to take over another sovereignty.
It’s important to place completely inalienable values on this ladder of priorities, such as life and freedom, and those “useful” constructs, which people love but have been socially conceived, which can’t be implemented if these violate the abovementioned, such as equality, democracy or nationality for example.
Thus, defending national sovereignty by the use of an army is a legitimate option, but it isn’t the only one: not defending it or annexing it are just as legitimate.
Personally-speaking, I would like a Cuba without an Army, not because I’m a pacifist (which I happen to be), but rather because the Cuban army will be absolutely useless in the face of a US attack, which is where the attack would come from in theory (I don’t think anyone is expecting Panama to invade).
If we spent the next hundred years dedicating our national budget exclusively to buying and developing military technology, we would still be insignificant when compared to the US Army, so why bother? Wouldn’t it be much better to dedicate these efforts and resources to achieving objectives which are really helpful?
How much do all the Army’s weapons, military facilities and resources amount to, today? Wouldn’t it be better to sell all of that and dedicate those resources, as well as what the National Budget allocates to it, to something productive?
Even so, I respect the choice people have to keep an army, however, I would propose that they are consistent with their decision and uphold it by enlisting themselves for a Voluntary Military Service and pay a special tax which would be the only money the Government would have to keep this militia going.
Of course, contributing to this force wouldn’t imply any legal privilege and contributions made won’t be deduced from general tax charges. The army these people contribute to, voluntarily, will always be State property, while it exists.
I believe that this is the way we can protect the freedom of those people who want an army, while they are able to finance it themselves, and also the freedom of those who don’t ever want to form a part of this machine because of different reasons.
In any case, every Cuban citizen’s right to freedom needs to come first in the Cuba I wish for, which might resemble the Cuba you wish for.
1 from a Pablo Milanes song
2 from a Bonifacio Byrne poem