Climate science 5 conscription for Vietnam

The aim of this series is to describe a number of predisposing factors which enabled climate science to become corrupted and fall short of the ideals that made science, at its best, respected and admired. The first post noted the travails of education as described by Jacques Barzun who published his book The American University in 1968 as radicals were literally setting fire to their campuses, including his own, Columbia College NY.

Those fires were extinguished but now the flames of politicization on campus are burning stronger than ever. That can be explained as a lagged or “downstream” effect of the Vietnam war and especially the impact of the draft. The Vietnam debate activated a generation of radicals who made careers on campus, in the school system, in politics including the burgeoning NGOs and in the media. All of this shifted the political orientation of the middle class towards the left, and, as the environmental movement rose at the same time, to a hair-trigger sensitivity to environmental issues.

A case could be made for the war but to send conscripts to “fight for freedom” was a very different matter. As I have argued, this cost conservatives a deal of intellectual and moral credibility, with major impacts in the long term, which is now the present! The conscription issue had a tsunami effect. With a ripple on the voting figures in 1972, the conservative ships of state rode on to more election victories until the waves of activism and organisational acumen broke on the electoral shores during the 1980s and beyond. The full impact is being realised in the climate of public debate and commentary in the ABC and mainstream media at present after people in the cohort who were radicalized a generation spent their careers exerting ever-increasing influence as they rose in their professions.

On a point of detail to correct my piece from 2008 (linked above) conscription was not introduced for the Vietnam war, it was introduced earlier but not used during the Confrontation between Indonesia and Malaya 1961-65. It was then used for the Vietnam War.

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22 Responses to Climate science 5 conscription for Vietnam

  1. Anon says:

    This is by far the worst and most boring series posted on Catallaxy.

  2. Rafe Champion says:

    Good morning Anon!
    What is your favorite series?

  3. Anon says:

    Hi rafe, I am just finding it hard to connect with these serial type posts that you’ve been putting up recently. They just don’t feel particularly relevant to current affairs and they also feel a bit nutty/conspiracy theory/man never walked on the moon.

  4. Stimpson J. Cat says:

    I thought the Climate Science 5 were Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

  5. Stimpson J. Cat says:

    I’ve been wrong before.

  6. Rafe Champion says:

    Anon, taking up a couple of posts to be specific.
    The first. Do you see anything to be learned from Barzun’s critical appraisal of some developments in education since WW2?
    The second. Are you happy with the direction that the environmental movement has taken under the influence of radical Greens?

  7. Aristide says:

    The full impact is being realised

    Perhaps, but the most significant impact is on the surviving conscripts, their partners and offspring.
    Conscription was an abuse.
    An apology is due the survivors, and perhaps a Royal Commission, given the recent history (TURC and HIP – four died in the first; none in the second; over 200 Nashos were killed in Vietnam).

  8. Crossie says:

    All of this shifted the political orientation of the middle class towards the left, and, as the environmental movement rose at the same time, to a hair-trigger sensitivity to environmental issues.

    It was not the middle class as a whole but the upper middle class whose children did not need to be gainfully employed and could devote their time to activism. In essence they were the doctors’ offspring and those of the manager class.

  9. Herodotus says:

    Anon is by far the worst and most boring commenter on Catallaxy.

    Fronting up and failing to make a contribution to the discussion while merely casting a derogatory remark at Rafe is the poorest excuse for participation you’d hope to see.

    Back to the main topic. Climate science is the latest incarnation of the left’s long war on western society. It has used denial and ridicule of the communist threat, sponsored destructive socialism, undermined christianity and our moral bases, replaced marriage at first with “disposable” marriage and now seeks to transfigure it completely. The hydra-headed PC attack encompasses so many of society’s norms it would take a book, but the outrageous gender engineering which has sneaked into schools while duplicitously posing as an anti-bullying program takes the prize for destructive, non-progressive, absolutely hostile activity.
    The climate scam illustrates how far we have descended into propaganda based on junk science. But essentially, Rafe is right. The foundations have been laid down over many years. Each brick in that wall could be sold as doing not much harm of itself, but the cumulative effect and the harvesting of the whirlwind is now plain to see.

  10. miltonf says:

    Interesting article Rafe. Thing is, the US intervention Vietnam was a Kennedy-Johnson project. I thought Nixon was trying wind it down.

  11. miltonf says:

    The more I read about LBJ the more I think if was among the worst.

  12. miltonf says:

    *he was among the worst

  13. MareeS says:

    Rafe, conscription had a “tsunami effect” universally for cowards. They were the ones who missed out on a generation of character-building.

    The spouse won the birthday lottery, and says that two years in the army, and his year in Vietnam with 6RAR and 2RAR were the making of him as a man.

    He has been a fine and decent husband and father to me and our children, and a really good boss to his staff over the years.

    People who wimped out of conscription on doctors’. certificates, the army didn’t want them anyway.

  14. MareeS says:

    PS, our son works in and out of Darwin. That’s man territory.

  15. yackman says:

    Interesting Rafe.
    I was in the first ballot in 1965 and was balloted out. Approx 50% of the birthdays were selected. ref Edwards “The Offical History of Australias Involvement in SouthEast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975”. As I recall the issue of Konfrontasi was hot in the early 60’s and Malaysian students saying we had to help fight the Indonesians. Dr Forbes was minister for the Army and had said around late 1963 or early 1964 that conscription was not required only to be countered by Menzies announcement that conscription would commence in 1965. The tone at the University of Melbourne changed during the late 60’s to a more radical outlook (nothing like Monash) regarding Vietnam.
    Not sure however that you can blame the current activism on Vietnam as the Draft/Conscription issue was confined mainly to the USA, Australia and NZ.
    Maybe the changes would have happened anyway with the Baby Boomers and Vietnam may have given an additional push.

  16. HGS says:

    Yes, Vietnam was one of the fires to the timber; the dry timber caused by the idea of science (any thinking area, really) being reshaped by the modern total governments of the last century. We were taught to trust the scientist, because the scientific community had integrity, unlike other areas of endeavour. In reality the scientific community was already corrupted by big government long before mid century.

    So, yes, the conscription issue was a handy weapon to hurl through windows. But the radical 60’s and 70’s were part of a longer running corrosion of integrity within communities, which seems to be stronger each generation.

  17. Neilo says:

    Not a defence of the indefensible.
    Young men were conscripted into the army, true enough. Young men were NOT conscripted to fight in Vietnam. The young men(inc conscripts) that went to Vietnam were ALL volunteers for that role … a conscript did not have to go to Vietnam. They did have to serve their time in the military, but in Australia.

  18. Aristide says:

    The young men(inc conscripts) that went to Vietnam were ALL volunteers for that role … a conscript did not have to go to Vietnam.

    That is complete bullshit.
    That is a myth concocted by the media to rationalize history.
    Check the AWM.
    There is no mention on any of the battalion records of these alleged opt-out parades.
    The National Service Act made it quite clear that opting out was not possible.
    Read mark Dapin’s “The Nasho’s War.
    He interviewed hundreds of Vietnam Vets.

  19. yackman says:

    re Aristide/Neilo,
    I am aware of one of my contemporaries who responded to a question on parade as to who did not support the Vietnam War (cant vouch for the exact question) by taking the step forward. I have always thought that would have taken some fortitude. He said he was not penalised as a result and continued to serve out his time. My memory is that we had the conversation in 1969.
    Agree with HGS re the “longer running corrosion”. The generation prior to the Boomers went thru’ WWII and the Depression and worked on the basics.

  20. Aristide says:

    I have always thought that would have taken some fortitude. He said he was not penalised as a result and continued to serve out his time. My memory is that we had the conversation in 1969.

    The anecdote is out there, but there is no primacy source that confirms it. I served in an infantry battalion in Vietnam, and was never offered the opportunity to “opt out”.

    This anecdote and my experience are in complete contradiction. Neilo needs to produce proof, otherwise he is rewriting history. Dapin’s research was comprehensive and thorough.

  21. Neilo says:


    …”The general impression given by serving Army officers at the time is that more national servicemen were keen to serve in Vietnam than were needed, and that those unwilling to serve there were transferred to units serving only in Australia. Commanding officers were understandably reluctant to have any soldier who actively opposed participation in the war and who therefore might be a danger to other members of the unit. For most of the war the Government denied that this practice existed. In September 1971, with the level of Australian involvement in Vietnam decreasing markedly, the Minister for the Army, Andrew Peacock, stated that although national servicemen would continue to be sent to Vietnam, they would not be compelled to go”

  22. Doc Daneeka says:

    The government denied that the practice existed.
    Army officers “gave a general impression”.
    That is not history.
    You won’t find any reference in the extensive archive of Commanders diaries held in the AWM to opt out parades.
    That is because they did not happen. To say that every Nasho who served in Vietnam was a volunteer is an attempt to whitewash one of the most shameful episodes in our history.
    To rewrite history because it is uncomfortable is despicable, and deeply offensive to those who lived it.
    The existence of this myth is by itself, a very good reason for a royal commission.
    Put these “serving army officers” on oath in the witness box and test their recollections. That might reveal the truth.

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