Having recently read Will Self’s light-hearted call for a return to the draft, I would like to suggest a modest proposal of my own for a new British levee en masse. It is clear that today’s broken Britain is failing young people in all sorts of ways. Many simply do not have the skills they need to survive and pull their weight in society, causing them to become a burden on hard working families and taxpayers.

What I suggest is this: after finishing school, these layabouts should be obliged (or at the very least strongly encouraged) to sign up for a three year tour of duty, whether in their home towns or, still better in another part of the country. Three years may sound excessive and impractical, but it is not by any means unheard of in other democratic countries. Israel, for example, demands a similar period of service.

Separated from their parents and housed for the most part in large, impersonal concrete structures, young people would be forced to learn crucial values of independence, self-respect and self-reliance.

Readers may worry that such a plan might threaten, rather than strengthen our national security. After all, the days of the massed infantry battle are now long behind us. Since the revolution in military affairs, it is accepted that we live in an age of information war in which victory goes to the side with most knowledge, rather than the side with most muscle power. Indeed, today, information assets crucial to a country’s economic strength are often considered a matter of national security: why else has America has talked about contemplating ‘kinetic operations’ against China in response to the hacking of its industrial knowledge?

Never fear. My suggestion is for a thoroughly modern type of draft. Rather than squarebashing and stripping rifles, I instead suggest that the nation’s youth be placed in institutions in which they would instead serve their country by acquiring knowledge.

Obviously present military resources would be inadequate to cope with this task. I therefore propose the creation of a strategic resource for the ongoing mobilization of youth to the defence of our national knowledge space. Indeed, am I going too far by suggesting that this ‘higher education sector’ (for want of a better term) could in time evolve a wider range of tactical capacities, such as horizon scanning exercises aimed at discovering new knowledge, and perhaps even conducting joint exercises with similar institutions overseas.

These proposals would, I realize, not be light on the public exchequer. However, given the present social problems caused by feckless, directionless youth, corrupted night and day by the lascivious siren calls of ‘hip-hop culture’, I humbly suggest that inaction may prove even more expensive.

Gilbert Ramsay

About Gilbert Ramsay

Dr. Gilbert Ramsay is a lecturer on terrorism at the University of St. Andrews.