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The world is at war with an hostile alien race. This species invaded earth a few decades back, and forced the governments of the planet to unite under a single federation. This world government is similar to the EU and retains some of its democratic institutions, but with more centralized power. This was done to combine resources and to make fighting back more effective. Unfortunately, the war is going badly. People are being slaughtered in the hundreds of millions, genocide on a scale unprecedented in human history. These aliens are committed to exterminating the human race for unclear reasons. Trying to reason with or understand them has failed, and the world government has resigned itself to total war. In these circumstances, the human race has just barely managed to hold on.

A secret organization within the government has managed to develop a weapon referred to as a geneseed. It is an advanced form of genetic engineering that turns humans into supersoldiers. People who are implanted with the seed transform into beings similar to the demigods of mythology. They are able to move at incredible speeds, and have the strength to lift dozens of tons. They also gain a host of other abilities, including increased intelligence, heavy resistance to weaponry, and heightened senses.

These abilities come with a cost. The geneseed can only be implanted successfully in children between the ages of 10-16, with anyone older dying horribly from the process. These child soldiers grow and mature at a quickened pace, and have little to no memory of their former life. Their emotions are suppressed due to the strain of the change on their bodies. They are then indoctrinated by the government to become the perfect weapons, killing when necessary and obeying orders without question .

The government is considering mandating this policy, but want to sell this program to the public without too much resistance. One idea is to treat the parents of said child as saviors, honoring them as heroes doing their duty to save their species. Parades and celebrations are made in their honor to acknowledge their sacrifice. Another is to offer them lifetime privileges, such as tax reduction or free schooling for their other children, to cash grants, to other monetary benefits.

Would these steps the world government is taking be enough to sell a modern public to support this policy?

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    $\begingroup$ Ender's Game accomplished this, somehow. $\endgroup$ – BrettFromLA May 16 '17 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ Off topic, but after the war, those demigods are going to (1) run the world, and (b) think that the rest of us are worthless vermin. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '17 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ What is the benefit of "the strength to lift dozens of tons" when space aliens are dropping nukes and shooting death rays at us? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '17 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ You are making a few mistakes here - Emotions are exactly what you need to fight a war. Removing then removes motivation, and you end up with pathetic drones instead of super soldiers. Just check the best soldiers in the world - they are not "emotionless warriors" - it is the love for their families, their country and their identity that makes then scary good. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar May 16 '17 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ In most places throughout most of history 14 year old men were considered adults. Even 12 year old men were considered adults in many places and in many historical periods. And 16 year old people are considered adults in many if not most European countries. Just saying. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 16 '17 at 21:56
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You already answered your question.

"People are being slaughtered in the hundreds of millions, genocide on a scale unprecedented in human history."

This means that there are many, many orphans which have no living relatives anymore. So nobody will object because nobody is there who has a vested interest in the child. The good people who could balk are already mostly dead because their compassion either convinces them to fight hopeless fights (they are dead) or their empathy either drive them to suicide or cripples their soul (they are broken). The sole purpose of the sad rest of humanity is the fight for survival and procreation. If people would have a fair chance to repel the attack, they would be thinking about protecting the children, but if the situation is so desperate, they will hope that the new children can change anything, it is the last straw.

Essentially it's the choice between being dead (alien are winning) or having a maimed soul (alien are repelled).

One point: "They are then indoctrinated by the government to become the perfect weapons".

Completely unnessary. Soldiers that can think and decide (especially if they are more intelligent) are much better soldiers than drones. It makes them flexible and adaptable. You do not want obedience, but determination and resolution. And this is quite easy to achieve if you have only the choice between being slaughtered or fighting for your life. You do not need someone giving you orders, you need someone who gives you the best tactical information to achieve the best result.

I would go so far that if the situation is really so bad that every fight could be the last, incapable officers will be killed on the spot. There is no room for pride or rank anymore, all heading positions are also hanging on the edge of their seats during a battle.

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    $\begingroup$ not just unnecessary, but nearly impossible to indoctrinate if they were super-geniuses $\endgroup$ – smurtagh May 16 '17 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ There's a lot of room between being compelled to fight every good fight, no matter how hopeless, and resisting people destroying the lives of children (even if for the greater good). The assumption that most who will resist will already be dead seems illogical. $\endgroup$ – NotThatGuy May 17 '17 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the unnecessary point. If nothing else, as you pointed out, orphans will have a vengeance vendetta against the aliens and may sign up on their own. $\endgroup$ – Jammin4CO May 17 '17 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ @NotThatGuy Who is the person who tries to save a wounded companion screaming for help under withering fire? Who is the person sacrificing themselves by throwing their bodies on grenades to dampen the explosion? Who is the person sharing food even if it too small for him/herself? Who is the person who knows that if they run now they will be very likely all killed and therefore decides to hold the position so the others can escape even if it means certain death? Being good and kind is a wonderful thing, but it is very detrimental for survival in a crapsack world. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. May 17 '17 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ Consider Larry Niven's Known Space stories, in particular the Pak protectors. They are portrayed as being ultra-smart, but because they are compelled to protect the Pak breeders, the greater their intelligence, the fewer choices they have - they can do only that which will benefit the Pak breeders the most, and the smarter they are, the more certain they can be as to what that is. Ultra-smart super-people with an instinct to protect humanity? They couldn't help but act the part of superheroes. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild May 18 '17 at 3:39
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Due to population crashes, etc. society rolls back what is considered to be an "adult" to the early teens (12-14) instead of the 18+.

Now the former children are adults and can choose for themselves to take the drug/etc. that triggers this change.

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In desperation, humans will cling to any hope. The idea Thorsten S. mentioned about using orphans was spot on. There is no need to pull the children from their families when such an abundant source exists. Many of these older orphans would relish a chance to seek revenge for the deaths of their families. Although, once the new soldiers start winning, I suspect families would seek to participate.

I would suggest that either the genetic changes are made somatic cells instead of to the germ-line (or sterilize the children.) Otherwise, the human race will be extinct.

To sell it, promote the successes and market the program as the only hope of humanity. Celebrate the children as heroes. Interview them. Mourn when they fall.

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By only reading the title, yes. At the most basic level they can get public support for child soldiers by not telling the public that they're making child soldiers. It's super simple really. They could also do it with loads of propaganda over time. They could also just brainwash the public using media to make them think that it's okay.

After reading your question fully, yeah in that scenario people would be volunteering their kids and raising children specifically for geneseed. It's likely that cultures would start considering 13yr old children adults for this sort of thing. Humans like to win their wars. If the species is facing an extinction level war, then we'd do a hell of a lot worse than that to win.

In certain regions all the government would have to do is air an ad showing kids killing aliens with geneseed, and then prove that it might not be not complete bullshit. It really wouldn't be that hard. Especially when you consider that your sending younger teenagers to go do this and not young kids. Just model the ads after the ones for the marine core in the US. That should be good enough.

Remember that in this scenario the entire planet is losing. The gov. just needs to show that this is a viable path to victory.

Bonus answer to a question you didn't ask: I'm not convinced making people into demi-gods will actually win this war. Are aliens invading with spearmen? Do they have the means to travel to earth, but not the means to bombard it from space? Can they seriously get here and force humans to make a global government, but not create an effective chemical weapon to kill the humans? These aliens seem to have a really dumb tech tree. Are the kids in this scenario able to fix the economy so we can get weapons that might let us win? I would like to read this though. It sounds entertaining at the very least. It would make a good one off anime.

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    $\begingroup$ Your bonus question is exactly what I thought. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 17 '17 at 0:40
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Yes. Because it is about convincion, I assume it is in a democratic frame.

First, the World Government should create an ideology for that. Typically, this ideology would say the following points:

  • "the life of these children and ours are equal"
  • becoming one of these children is not our decision, instead it is the result of a higher determination. I.e. "it is predestinated in his personality if somebody will be a child soldier, we only acknowledge it" (and give him the required treatment)
  • talking about their shorter lifespans and their disadvantages should become rude. It should be handled as if we would say to a cancer patient that he will die.

There should be also words constructed for these children. These should be always positive words. Their ordinary names ("child soldiers") should be considered rude.

After that, it depends only on the time.

In around 2-3 generations, it won't be a problem any more if somebody becomes a child soldier.

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Yes, but it will take time. Like any other controversial war policy, the government can and should expect political resistance--to expect that the entire public will simply go along with the plan is naive. To overcome the public resistance and actually create a child soldier army, the most effective solution is propaganda.

Assuming that your world government controls the public's sources of information, they should do the following.

  1. Suppress opposition: Without a doubt, there will be those who oppose the government's use of child soldiers--pacifists (if there are even any left), child advocacy groups, and those with a strict sense of ethics. Don't let their arguments be heard. The moment the government makes it look like a debate, like the people have a choice, everything breaks down. I don't know exactly how this world government is run, but if it gets to the point that Earth starts turning against itself instead of focusing on fighting the aliens, humanity is doomed and the child soldier project is dead. Brand those who oppose your idea as unreasonable bigots who think that children can't achieve anything. Even if their objections are for completely different reasons, the public doesn't care. The public just wants someone to blame for their recent military defeats, and the opponents of the child soldier idea are the perfect scapegoats. "They're the ones responsible for this, they want Earth to lose this war!"
  2. Promote service: Label the children that sign up (or their parents that sign the children up; I don't know how the decision is made in this scenario) as heroes of humanity, to be praised and commemorated. The children that live through their service are given some sort of special status; maybe they are given prestigious jobs with the government, or made first-class citizens, or given one of the other rewards that you already mentioned. By doing this, the government links the feeling of patriotism with the desire to serve. For the children, instead of "I want to join the Army when I grow up" it becomes, "Not only do I want to join the [insert world military force name here], but I can. I can finally realize all my dreams of doing great things." For the parents, instead of "I wish my children would grow up to serve humanity and show how great they are", it becomes, "My children, whom I have spent 10 years raising, now have a chance to prove themselves in the real world. They can finally show the world how (strong/smart/brave/whatever quality parents think their children have) they are. The door to my dream, which is for them to make a difference, is open right in front of me."
  3. Normalize child soldiers: Spread the message that children are no different from everyone else. Say that, since Earth is barely holding on, we are all one people, white and black, rich and poor, (insert other divisions), child and adult. When the public realizes just how close Earth is to destruction, and how they need every bit of help they can get, they're a lot more likely to support child soldiers than if you just say "Hey, we're going to train children to go out and fight aliens! How does that sound?" The idea is to imitate the effect of the civil rights movements--everyone is equal, so everyone can take part and should have a part in this war. The more desperate people are, the farther they're willing to go. Make them desperate.

    Tl;dr: Silence and villainize opposition, glorify service.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! I hope you stick around and keep giving through answers like this :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen May 17 '17 at 22:15
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Even a democracy can brainwash huge percentages of their populations to believe almost anything. Just look at "the greatest nation on earth". For an outsider, it is hard to understand why so many citicens of these contries think that was true, when even a brief glimpse at the facts that are readily available to them prove unmistakeably that it's plain fiction in any "sensible" meaning of the word "greatest".

Add to that the fact that these people are desperate. Even without the soldiers being turned into demi-gods it has always been reasonably simple for democratic (and other) governments to convince a sufficiently large percentage of the population to send their children to certain death for a common cause.

Admittedly, it might be wise not to disclose the full effects of the program in all detail. Leave them the hope that their children would come back as soon as the war is won, minus a few unfortunate casualties, but of course your sons (or your children) will be safe...

The combination of endless propaganda and the sheer enormity of the onslaught should really make it easy.

You should be aware of, and prepare for, the fact that there will always be a minority who will protest against your ideas.
The simplest way to handle them is to discredit them beforehand, for example by publicly describing a few (set-up?) nutcases who state wild theories about the government being a bunch of reptiloids that don't want the children as soldiers, but as food for their hive-queen that resides in a 12-mile-high pink crystal in antarctica, secretly erected by raptor-riding nazis in 1944, with the help of the illuminati and the freemasons, using materials from their secret base on the "dark" side of the moon... you get the idea. After that, link any protest to this bizarre nutcase, and the protesters won't reach a wide public acceptance.

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  • $\begingroup$ "greatest" is relative, and does not mean "perfect". $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 17 '17 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ and how far can you bend the generally accepted meaning of such a term before it becomes a religious (and thus uncontestable) mantra? $\endgroup$ – Burki May 17 '17 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ As far as you want to, until noticeable amounts of people start immigrating to other countries (not just some expats retaining their citizenship), instead of just promising to every time a guy you don't like gets elected President. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 17 '17 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ well, if you say so... i assume that (unwillingly) counts as backup for what i wrote. $\endgroup$ – Burki May 17 '17 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ Huh? Are you confusing "immigration" with the completely different "deportation"? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 17 '17 at 14:20
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We already do encourage 'child soldiers' in our democracies: we have army/navy/airforce cadets programs; even Scouts (and Girl Guides) is a preparation for gendered (fighting/camping vs. nursing) military service; and the reason rugby started to be highly prized in schools in England was to help 'masculine-ise' young men - dirty, rough play (moreso than cricket) in all weather conditions, leadership, team work & loyalty, snap decisions & reflexes, physical fitness and bulk, high-contact & injury resilience etc.

We just don't tell them the end goal is for them to see military service even though that was explicitly the reason for their creation.

Look at the Hitler Youth - the Germans didn't see this organisation as exploiting children to be soldiers, it was basically nazi scouts/cadets but that's exactly what actually happened - they sent some groups of Hitler Youth to actually fight in the war towards the end when they were desperate for troops.

Quotes and Sources:

In 1859 several prominent English public schools including Eton, Harrow, Winchester and Rugby, raised cadet detachments with the idea of supplementing the militia in the likelihood of clashes with the forces of Napoleon III ...

...[F]or its supporters rugby union had a higher moral purpose than mere recreation: its goal was to train young men to be leaders of the Empire, to demonstrate the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race in peace and in war. In the eyes of many it had long been seen as a more than adequate form of military training. Without it, mused B. Fletcher Robinson in 1896, Britain would lose its place as Europe’s leading nation to those countries that practised conscription. Loretto headmaster H. H. Almond argued that rugby’s purpose was to produce ‘a race of robust men, with active habits, brisk circulations, manly sympathies and exuberant spirits’ who were ready to lead and to follow in defence of the Empire (1)

(1) B. Fletcher Robinson, Rugby football (London, 1896), p. 50; H. H. Almond in Reverend Frank Marshall, ed., Football: the rugby union game (London, 1892), p. 55.

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Somewhat side-stepping the question: if science manages to make enough advances to create the geneseed, I would fully expect they will be able to improve on the current in-vitro fertilization and/or cloning technologies.

Right now, we're already at a stage where the only thing really needed for a new human child is a womb for roughly 7 months. The "mother" doesn't need to be biologically related, the father doesn't need to serve any purpose beyond providing genetic material.

As soon as they're born, they can be kept by the government. No parental strings need to become attached whatsoever.

So if science can develop artificial wombs, well then there is no more need for anything resembling parents.

And if there's no parents involved, then honestly, you'll have some resistance on principle, but compared to the threat to humanity, it'll be small.

You can also counter some of that opposition by harvesting genetic material from everyone. Everyone will have donated something to the cause, everyone will have a child (whom they never met or even knew existed) serve in the war. Let the standard human herd mentality do the rest.

The only downside is, if the geneseed is an unexpected discovery, then you need 10 years before you have your first soldier, since you can't start producing children like this in advance. If it's a long-term scientific work, then you can work out a schedule in advance. It'll still take a few years to truly ramp up, though.

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