When Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed a “compulsory social time” for all young Germans in an interview on June 12, 2022, the idea was not new for long. According to a quick search, there were similar proposals in at least 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019. Even in 2022, Steinmeier was not the first From offering compulsory public service.
Legally, such a duty, beyond the scope of suspended military service, is difficult to fulfill without a change in the Statute, and whether and when there will be a majority at any given time will be at anyone’s guess. However, one can already approach the topic philosophically. After all, compulsory military service would be a serious infringement on individual liberty.
Despite the indisputable autocratic heritage of the Prussian state, the Federal Republic considers itself a liberal society. For example, while Article 1 of the Constitution of the German Democratic Republic since 1968 has stated that the state is a “political organization” led by the working class and their party, the Federal Republic of Germany does not see itself in its constitution as a hierarchical formation into which everyone must integrate, but As a framework for the development of free individuals.
Article 2 of the Basic Law states: “Everyone has the right to the free development of his personality, provided that he does not violate the rights of others and does not violate the constitutional order or morals.” It comes straight from the pen of John Stuart Mill, the most important representative of classical liberalism in philosophy. So it makes sense to think about what he would say about a general commitment to service.
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