Mulling over why I instinctively feel it is an error to misperceive military superiority as a precondition of freedom led to my tracking down a parenthetical idea in a piece I wrote some years ago on Steve Biko and his 1977 death. This at the hands of a system which, at that very time, I had entered as a bewildered, respectably scornful but unmistakably chastened conscript.

“It’s tempting,” I wrote in 2014, “to think that one of the finest inoculations against incipient militarism is to pack young men off to boom-gated camps to endure the imbecilic existence of conscription for a year or two and be lastingly disabused of the shabby appeal of guns and bangs and skirmishes in the veld.”..

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