Military life is a perfect example of socialism in action says Daily Beast columnist and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Jacob Siegel.
Other than a few key ways it's not actually socialism at all (example: we are an all volunteer force), which Siegel's article does point out, and a few statements I find inaccurate (like his idea that living on base is free -- HA!) he's basically spot on.
Military bases are as close to a U.S. Government sanctioned socialist paradise as we're going to get. And that's the way I like it.
Speaking as a blue-blooded American, I know that real socialism (and its extension Communism) has heaps of flaws, not the least of which is that it generally leads to tyranny.
In a real socialist society, you can't opt-out and personal freedoms are basically non-existent.
You don't need to look far for some glaring examples of why true socialism doesn't lead to overwhelming health and happiness. Words like "the Soviet Union," "Cuba" and "Nazi Germany," should all ring a bell.
Socialism as displayed in the American military, however, manages to take what I see as the limited good parts of socialism and capitalize on them (see what I did there?). From the column:
Across the thousands of bases where soldiers, marines and airmen live with their families, a few common features shape military life. It’s the commonness of the life, actually, that makes it unique. From Fort Bragg to Camp Pendleton, there is a shared experience on a scale that exists almost nowhere else in America.
Millions of people on military bases live in communal arrangements. They participate in centrally run programs that govern the most basic and fundamental aspects of their lives, from their housing and children’s education to where and how they shop for food.
The key that's missing from making the American military actual socialism can all be summed up in the fact that it's an all-volunteer situation. If you don't like it, you can leave (after your commitment has ended). Real socialism doesn't really work like that.
I like military life for the very reasons Siegel thinks that it is socialism. I like the uniformity of bases and units. I like the traditions that mark our lives. I like the predictability that makes military life so attractive -- and makes the prospect of quitting it for the Real World so scary.
But none of that makes the military the poster community for socialism -- that's the beauty of the all-volunteer force, isn't it?
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