President-elect Barack Obama has quietly changed the meaning of the American Dream and introduced a proposal for American Serfdom. In America, what it means to serve one’s country is very clear. It is voluntary and for the purpose of defending the country during a time of war, or for the purpose of upholding the constitution by serving, for example, as a judge or on a jury.

Obama has reinterpreted the American Dream of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as a collectivist ideology. He believes it is a dream about the collective happiness. He connects the notion of “service” to the American Dream, as he interprets it:

When you choose to serve — whether it’s your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood — you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That’s why it’s called the American Dream.

Obama is wrong. It is called the American Dream because in America the individual is secured rights and liberty, and with those rights protected and liberty ensured anything is possible. The American Dream is an individual dream. It is the dream of each of us, not the dream of a collective hive, or a collective outcome. This is not to say that private charity in un-American. Private charity and civil society are very much part of the American spirit. But this is because they are private and voluntary.

But then Obama goes on to describe what it means to him to serve. He has a list of new “corps” to add to his expansion of the Peace Corps. Then he lists “a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.” That is, 500 hours of unpaid mandatory community service.

Obama says that it is when “you choose to serve” that you are connected to the American Dream. But this quote is used to bolster support for a program that includes mandatory community service for every American child and college student. So, now mandatory community service is the American Dream. Now, it is not an independent pursuit of a better life but performing unpaid manual labor for the state that constitutes the American Dream.

Now to serve one’s country in America will have the taste of being a servant to the state, a serf, rather than the proud voluntary service of a free man.