Friday, December 03, 2004

"Arbeit Macht Frei"

Anonymous writes:

NS hardens the spirit but it certainly isn't a violation of human rights or debasing of fine education, as so ineloquently written by the letter writer.

It does however, make many a mummy's boy more independent, toughen the resolve of many a wussy pansy who couldn't even make their own beds at home, expose many sheltered so-called 'top schoolers' to the lesser seen strata of Singapore society and thus rendering them more worldly-wise and street-wise, instead of being cloistered in a parochial coterie of academic strata and remaining ignorant for life.

Many NS men actually profess a nostalgic longing and quixotic fondness for their NS days though they have spent a large part of it griping when they were serving.

It forges close bonds between buddies, makes fit many guys who never knew that they could be that fit and exposes many 19 year old boys to adventures that they would otherwise NEVER experience if they never had to serve, like handling a rifle, riding a motorcycle, experiencing the eye-opening and breathtaking Taiwanese countryside, throwing a grenade, etc.

And there are actually men who see the value and merit of soldiering. Which explains the presence of professional soldiers. Despite the popular and widely disseminated belief that most professional soldiers are so because they couldn't eke out a decent living in the corporate world (probably the warrant officers *sniggers*), most decently educated Singaporeans concede that there ARE capable and sterling youths who see the larger meaning and merit of soldiering, which includes the good (defence) of society and the knowledge that people trust you with their lives, which is the biggest trust of all kinds conceivable.

It's all about making the best out of something thrust to you and the clever and wise know that. Whining like a wishy-washy, chicken livered pansy and trying to picket against the establishment makes one the real loser.

To which I reply:

"Arbeit Macht Frei"

If slavery is really so beneficial and exciting, it wouldn't have to be made compulsory, with no choice of alternative service for conscientious objectors and others.

If it really builds so many character traits, we would be sending our women for it, just like the League of German Maidens. And we wouldn't have so many suicide attempts, or traumatised people being seen by SAF psychiatrists, their minds ruined wrecks.

If it has so many beneficial side effects, why not find alternative, less dehumanizing activities that do the job at a lower cost and in a shorter time period?

Many old people long for the good old days when a bowl of noodles cost a cent, but they forget that back then they earned 30 cents a month, and the noodles had cockroaches swimming in them. People tend to forget the bad memories and remember only the good ones. Besides which, there are some people who are nostalgic for jail.

As for those who sign on, almost all fall into 4 categories:
1) Scholars
2) Sadists
3) Greedy for the money
4) Incapable of finding jobs outside

Most who have been slaves know that these 4 categories encompass 99% of regulars, if not more.

Trying to make people live up to society's archaic expectations of what real "men" should be like is a recipe for disaster, and continuing meek acceptance of unjust fates would have resulted in Singapore being a British colony today, South Africa still practising apartheid and fascists ruling the world.


Anonymous said...

"Arbeit Macht Frei" is so suspiciously familiar...Oh wait, I posted that not too long ago in my blog...Duh.

Lance said...

uhm hello, do you think you're the only person who knows what that phrase means?

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that there are those who enjoy soldiering and those who do not. To say that NS has all those side benefits is inconsequential as the ostensible purpose is to defend the nation. All those 'benefits' can be more easily obtained elsewhere. NS has not shown to create much more independent people, otherwise, Singaporean employees would be much more prized than say our American or European counterparts.

To say that the value of NS lies in building 'character' would mean that since I have lived overseas for months on end, I should be exempted from NS? My friend who trekked across freezing Russia should be exempt from NS? The side-effects of NS should not be used as its justification. Hell, since I come from a neighbourhood school and am not clositered in un-street-wise world...etc., I should be exempted from NS? See bal!

To say that the 'benefits' are not its justification is not to ignore the deleterious effects of NS. NS teaches people that man are just animals subject to the law of the jungle: Those with power makes the rules! It teaches people to cover their ass and play safe, to be dogmatic and obey without thinking and to argue by resorting to personal insults such as 'wussy pansy' instead of appealing to reason.

As someone who have worked in some pretty fine corporations before, I can say that not decent private firm will take on a former-military personnel as they are incapable of providing value-added work (maybe to do clerical stuff?). I personally respect those who join the army as by doing so, they have essentially given up on freedom of choice, and success in the private sector.

Maybe you enjoyed your army experience to which I say, good for you! I do not wish to learn to throw a for the Taiwanese countryside, I have seen it before as my GF lived there. I prefer looking after children, building hospitals for the poor and educating those living in the western regions of China over handling a rifle. Have you done that before? Seeing the smiles of children as they thank you for the joy you have brought to their rural village where no other foreigners have stepped into before?

Perhaps you could have, if you have not been busily learning to kill!

Identured Slave

Lance said...

the fundamental purpose of NS is to defend the nation - not to "build character traits" or make boys "more independent". if NS happens to provide some beneficial side effects along the way, well and good - but lets just keep in mind they are nothing but that exactly - side effects.

Anonymous said...

Of course I don't expect that. Just that YOU DON'T KNOW THAT gssq reads my blog too. And what's your problem with your tone? Besides, that comment was meant for gssq.


Lance said...

nilsinelabore>> firstly, the post where you used 'arbeit macht frei' was almost 3 weeks before gssq's.

secondly, you were not using it in its most common context (i.e. with regard to jews in concentration camps) nor did you provide a translation.

obviously this doesn't prove anything conclusively - "he can remember stuff for 3 weeks! he could use an online translator! he could wikipedia the phrase!" - but come on now, does it really seem very likely?

in any case, its not as if you in your post put up a similar argument against NS or even any sort of commentary at all in the context of 'arbeit mach frei' so even if gssq did read your blog and did copy the phrase off it, it wouldn't be plagiarising as such now would it?

so what is the problem?

and i don't know what the problem with my tone is. i was just pointing out a fact, NOT SHOUTING LIKE SOME PEOPLE AROUND HERE.

Agagooga said...

Err. I think you people are getting too worked up over nothing.

And for the record, I knew the phrase long before I saw it on nilsinelabore's LJ, so there.

Anonymous said...

Agagooga, if army were so bad as you have said, why would scholars willingly take up the scholarship?

I directed the question to you as you're the one who listed out the 4 main types of people who sign on with the army.


-current NJC student

Agagooga said...

Ah. An opportunity to psycho-analyse the minds of SAF scholars. Where to begin, I wonder?

Here are some possibilities:

1) Prestige - scholarships are prestigious and SAFOS is one of the three most prestigious scholarships in Singapore

2) Insulation - Scholars, especially SAFOS ones, are insulated from all the low-level crap that the scum of the earth suffer, because of their rank (as officers) and exalted status as scholars. They are not subjected to the dehumanising treatment that mere scum of the earth (ie enlistees) go through. Even BMT, the putative great leveller, is different from them, for usually they enter what are known as "Scholar Companies", or even better, companies with White Horses in them.

As someone put it: "slaves and royalty stay in the same palace but lead vastly different lives"

3) Obliviousness - Some (local) scholars I spoke to in my tenure as a slave told me they regretted signing on. Maybe some don't know what they're getting into. eg Those who get scholarships before enslavement.

4) Nature of the job - As a friend puts it: "these scholars want to look for something that needs no effort, pays a lot, and gives them the ability to fuck people around. what else do u need?" He adds: "usually cos they are enslaved, they are brainwashed, and usually stay til they die, mentally or physically"

5) Getting to be an officer - Some people sign on because that's the only way they'll get to be officers. I know this guy who, while a normal slave, was a PTI (Physical Training Instructor - think your PE teacher on steroids and with a bad attitude), but became an officer after signing on. From a cursory study of him, I conclude that he was sore at not becoming an officer and signed on to attain that status.

6) Affection/suitability for Army Life - Strange but true. Some people actually like army life. But then, some people like BDSM also, so. *insert latin phrase that's not good to use too often, or it loses its impact*

Some people are also better suited for the job than others, so they are inclined to taking it.

7) Future job prospects - The SAF has a great retirement plan. After you retire from the SAF they'll find a way to parachute you into a suitably comfortable, important and well-paying job (even if you're not suited for it).

8) They fit one or more of the other criteria - As I said, there are 4 types of people who sign on. Some scholars fit into one or more of those categories, namely: being sadistic, being greedy for the money and being incapable of finding jobs outside.

9) Brainwashing - Some are brainwashed. A friend tells of a time when there was a recruitment talk in OCS (Officer Cadet School) and "the whole LT signed on" because of brainwashing.

Some people are taken in by the rhetoric about Duty, Honour and Country, and the old lie - Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori - 'It is sweet and proper to die for one's country' (Horace, Odes, iii ii 13)

Agagooga said...

See the main page for a slightly expanded version of my answer

Silverelf said...

All I got to say is, I don't know why you chose to use the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei" but I wished you hadn't. It's not a phrase to be lobbed around freely.

the.biatch said...

evolution is a cruel process. mankind jus sped the process by adding in so many things we have to do. those that can't survive the process, die off. simple as that. sooner or later, if these people don't die, they will be a burden to society