Georgia is a country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1921 and remained part of it until 1991. Military service was mandatory in the USSR because the Soviet leadership didn’t have any respect for individuals’ lives and used them as mere pawns.
This practice remained intact in contemporary Georgia until a libertarian party called Girchi established a “Christian, Evangelical, Protestant Church of Georgia—Biblical Freedom” in 2017 to free people from being government slaves, as priests were legally allowed to avoid conscription.
Since its creation, the church has managed to free some 50,000 individuals from this form of modern slavery, but recently the government introduced a new law making it illegal to avoid conscription this way. Therefore, Girchi is now battling against the government to completely cancel the military draft and make the service fully voluntary by offering willing soldiers a decent salary, contrary to how it is nowadays when the government pays them less than $25 per month.
For all these years, the immoral practice of forcibly taking eighteen to twenty-seven year-old males and exploiting their labor for twelve months has been justified with patriotic slogans. However, patriotism is not just a word; it’s an act of showing respect for those who voluntarily want to defend their country, because patriotism or any other virtue can only be moral if it’s done voluntarily and not under the threat of force.
There’s been research done on the topic of whether the size of an army is an important factor when it comes to winning the battle, but it turns out it’s not the size of the army but other factors such as motivation, weaponry, and tactics that play the main role.
Therefore, concentrating only on soldier quantity without guaranteeing that the army is staffed with people who voluntarily chose this profession and are equipped with decent weaponry only highlights that the government places little value on individual lives, as unmotivated and inadequately armed soldiers are doomed to an undeserved death.
There have been cases when conscription was justified with false argumentation that it’s a duty of every patriot to serve in the army. But this reasoning overlooks a simple fact that defense is a public service that’s financed from the state budget, therefore it is in fact taxpayers who are charged with keeping the army well-fed and armed.
Thus, it is no more of a patriotic act to serve in the army than to be employed or run a business that pays taxes in order to actually keep the army financed and functioning. Especially nowadays, when modern armies are exclusively dependent on high-tech equipment and weaponry, it is foolish to hope merely on troop numbers rather than directing the funds towards a fully professional and well-armed voluntary army.
No army pressed into service is as effective as one that is staffed with people who have willingly accepted their occupation as a soldier, and it is in fact counterproductive to keep unmotivated people in the army, as it’s a waste of financial resources required for the training as well as dear lives when it comes to the actual battle.
In some cases, Girchi’s church was criticized from a religious perspective—with some arguing that it’s a sinful act to help people avoid the conscription. However the Bible itself states the following in 1 Samuel 8:10:
“Samuel told all the words of the lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said: This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the lord will not answer you in that day.”
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The post How a Libertarian Church in Europe Is Fighting to Abolish the Draft was first published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and is republished here with permission. Please support their efforts.