One might think from all the hype that some earth-shattering step forward has just taken place for americans who fuck and suck with others of the same sex. Now they can participate in the murder of people in distant lands without having to lie about whom they have sex with. And this is something to be striven for and celebrated?
I am an anarchist and believe that government in all its forms, as well as all other power structures and non-voluntary hierarchies, should be eradicated in its (and their) entirety. I am also an abolitionist, in that I advocate the immediate elimination of the state and welcome any diminution of its power to kill, tax, bully, threaten, regulate, and otherwise interfere in the life and affairs of those whom it purports to represent and/or rule. I oppose both the warfare and the welfare that are its products. So how should an anarchist react to “reforms,” especially an initiative like allowing homosexually active people to openly serve (the evil empire), which appears to many as an achievement that allows people more freedom than they previously had?
While I oppose the very existence of government, the state shows no signs of withering away at present. Therefore, I take a pragmatic approach to its activities. All of us are compelled, to one extent or another, to recognize the power of the government and pay tribute to it, whether literally or figuratively. There is thus a sound argument that our self-appointed guardians should not discriminate in their treatment of those from whom they extort their lifeblood, tax revenues. So I argue that the state should not consider the sex, skin color, worldview, or sexual tastes of the person involved when providing services such as monetary assistance to poor people, health care, food stamps, voluntary educational opportunities, etc. Needless to say, none of these services is really voluntary since all are supported by theft in the form of taxation, but no one is compelled to accept any of them.
In addition, there are compulsory interactions with the state which should be free of arbitrary discrimination. I am opposed to all the laws and regulations with which we are plagued, but I think that their enforcement is rendered even more detestable when people of certain skin colors, for example, are penalized more commonly and more severely than other people of lighter complexion. And when people are forced to deal with government bureaucrats in order to go about the business of daily living, like when drivers or nurses are required to obtain a license to operate a vehicle or provide health care, their appearance, beliefs, or sex lives should have no bearing on their dealings with the powers-that-be.
But there are some institutions of government are so foul that any participation in them by anyone is reprehensible and indefensible. The military is the institution that springs most quickly to mind. The army, navy, air force, etc, are organizations committed to armed, forcible enforcement of the whims of people who have arrogated to themselves the power to tell others how to live their lives and interact with others. They invade other countries where they slaughter civilians and retreating conscriptees when ordered to do so; they kill and incarcerate people engaging in voluntary and peaceful activities that their masters find distasteful; they confiscate and destroy people’s property; and they have a license to kill anyone who does not submit to their orders. While much publicity is given to the occasional “humanitarian mission” of some branch of the military, this phrase is window-dressing to cover up the force, violence, and abuse of people just going about their business which are, necessarily and inevitably, part of such an undertaking. Meanwhile, the members of any military organization are treated as chattel who risk death themselves if they don’t follow orders.
Given the malignant role of the state and its armed servants, how can anyone who claims to pursue a freer world welcome the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? The only principled position to take is that not only should openly homosexually-inclined people be barred from the military, but so should those who get busy with people of the opposite sex, as well as those who have no interest in sexual activity at all. Calling for its abolition is the only libertarian approach to any discussion of the state-sponsored death machine. But until that comes about, freedom-seekers advocate a boycott of the military, not the extension of an invitation to join to an even larger pool of wanna-be indentured servants and killers.
Don’t ask? Don’t tell? Don’t enlist!