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New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism
Volunteer demanding national service

Against the Un-American Call for ‘National Service’

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Agustina Vergara Cid discuss the resurgence of demands for “national service,” which call for young people to give up a year or two of their lives to serve others, perhaps even to be mandated by law.

Among the topics covered:

  • Recent calls for increasing funding for “national service” programs;
  • Why both mandatory and voluntary “national service” would be un-American;
  • Why young people have no obligation to “give back” to society;
  • Why “national service” would not help unite a divided country;
  • Why “national service” wouldn’t help young people develop work or cooperative skills;
  • Why the real motive for “national service” programs — the value of teaching self-sacrifice — is morally corrupt;
  • Why “national service” is not needed to fill difficult, high-value jobs;
  • The deeply un-American collectivism of William James’s essay “The Moral Equivalent of War”;
  • What calls for “national service” reveal about the real meaning of the morality of self-sacrifice;
  • Whether young people would reject “national service”;
  • The historical and philosophical roots of the moral ideals behind calls for “national service” — and their alternatives.

Mentioned in the discussion are Ayn Rand’s book The Virtue of Selfishness, her essay “The Wreckage of the Consensus,” and Ben Bayer’s article “Democrats’ ‘National Service’ Plans Immoral, Un-American.”

This podcast was recorded on June 2, 2021. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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The senior editors of New Ideal are Onkar Ghate, Elan Journo and Keith Lockitch.

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