Chapter XlX

MILITARISM


. Militarism makes the profession of arms its servant, but the profession of arms feeds and promotes militarism. Militarism is a state of mind which looks upon war and conquest as noble enterprises. It often contends that war is the natural state of a progressive society, that it brings out the virile qualities of men, and that peace promotes softness and deterioration. The militarist thinks of himself as superior. The great national military schools teach their graduates that they are better than other men, and make them believe this fiction. Militarism engenders an attitude of national superiority and belief in the inferiority of other peoples. This leads to arrogance and to injustices to other nations, and to their subjugation and exploitation. Militarism is based on the use of force and looks upon force as a necessary virtue in dealing with other nations. Its method of negotiation is with force. Militarism displaces moral sentiment; and since it can be defeated by its own methods, it promotes militarism in other nations. It compels nation to meet nation with force, militarism with militarism. Ultimately it destroys itself, because what would destroy other nations by building up its own qualities in them, in time finds itself attacked by the very force it creates. Militarism is always found preparing for war when prevention of war is the great need. It has no methods of prophylaxis except force.

Militarism is serious enough when described in Webster's Dictionary as a "disposition to maintain strong military forces." It becomes dangerous when it represents "the spirit and temper that exalts the military virtues and ideals." It is fatal to any nation in its third stage when it becomes "the spirit which tends to confer undue privilege and prominence on the military class."

The subject taught in military schools is the theory and methods of destruction and mass murder. It is called the "science and art of war." The art of deception, called "strategy," is a large part of military training. It is training in the glorification of dishonesty. No army or navy is above using what is called the "sneak attack." The "sneak attack" or "fooling the enemy" is the basis of military strategy.

Military institutions are found favoring the multiplying of soldiers. Compulsory military training is one of the devices. The President, generals, admirals, politicians, and diplomats in the United States demand preparedness. They say: "A strong United States will not be attacked." They talk as though that were the way to prevent war. With the political energies and most of the Government's receipts going into war and preparation for war, comparatively little attention is given to peaceful prevention of war. Politicians conduct affairs as though they were driving a sharp bargain at horse trading. They seem not to consider that other countries have interests at stake, not to realize there is another side besides theirs, not to be willing to make some concessions as a price well paid, and not to think in broad humanitarian terms with generosity as a guiding sentiment. The small-minded, quibbling, haggling methods of the market place are used instead. And it is at the market place that wars start. Its methods are dangerous.

Military preparedness is a cause of war, more than it is a guardian of peace. Every nation that has been best prepared has made war. In 1945 the United States exhibited "The most impressive demonstration of naval strength in all history." This was the aim of the war party in Germany, Italy, and Japan. The war party is doing the same in the United States--and more. The militarists are gaining control of military affairs which should be under civilian control. They are becoming the dominating power in the control of science. They are becoming all-powerful in foreign relations. They are a strong influence in radio and movies. In education, military influence is expanding. Young men are urged in lurid language to join the Army and Navy because of the superior educational advantages they offer. Hundreds of pulpits and forums are occupied by soldiers and ex-soldiers who extol the Army and Navy as institutions of righteousness. A powerful military lobby influences members of the Congress of the United States. The militarists in Japan did all this gradually and insidiously until they had their way. They took their country into war with China in 1894, with Russia in 1904, with Manchuria in 1931, with China in 1937, and with the United States in 1941.

In the United States the militarists have great influence and are attempting precisely what the same cult attempted and accomplished in Japan prior to their attack upon the United States. By intrigue, misrepresentation, and a vast machinery of publicity, through the press, radio, and screen, they produce war scare and belief in the need of a great army. They have a vested interest in war. It is their stock in trade. They promote military training and have even succeeded in having peacetime conscription made a law. Frederick J. Libby of the National Council for Prevention of War has shown how they have the backing of the huge airplane industry; the ship building industry; the munitions makers; the Wall Street bankers; the military officer cast, "left by the war stranded by the shores of peace"; and the several million people whose jobs are related to war. These are people who favor the war method of dealing with international problems.

The public theoretically maintains military organization in the form of army and navy for purposes of protection. The military is ostensibly to be used as a last resort. But the military itself captures the stage, projects itself to the front, and demands to be used as a first resort. Militarists claim that they can prevent war and preserve peace. This they would do by creating fear of themselves in other nations. In the United States it is said: "We must make ourselves so strong that no nation can attack us." This is announced as a preventive of war. Russia says: "That is what we are doing." Power politics means an armament race among nations, in which peace is but an armed truce, and war guaranteed. Give militarists the chance and war is certain. Peace by force is a futile philosophy, because both sides can not be the stronger. The stronger one will keep peace? No, historically the stronger one will make war.

Among promoters of militarism are most of the veterans' organizations. These veterans, who might be thought of as disillusioned with war and the military, keep alive the military spirit. They favor compulsory military training, although for themselves they would hate it. They seem to want to make the younger generation get a taste of what they suffered.

Compulsory, or "universal," military training in peacetime inculcates ideals of militarism in the youthful and impressionable mind. Army life, military life, places men in a bad environment morally and mentally. Initiative, the hope of the individual, is suppressed. A man does what he is told to do. The army is the school that trains men to follow blindly a "duce" or a "fuehrer." Man is made irresponsible in the sense that he ignores economies; the army takes care of all expenses. Profligacy is encouraged. Personal feeling toward property values is minimized.

Class distinctions damage democracy. Officer and private preserve the ancient psychology of master and slave. Cliques among different classes of officers such as regular and reserve, awarding of medals by one class to the members of its class, and the urge among officers to increase their number for the purpose of increasing promotions to higher ranks all militate against democracy and expand the military.

Gibbon in his study of the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (Chapter V) says: "It has been calculated by the ablest politicians that no state, without being soon exhausted, can maintain above a hundredth part of its members in arms and idleness." Already the Army and Navy of the United States engage about two percent of the population, and plans are on foot to double this number. According to Gibbon either this nation will soon be exhausted or it has a power of survival beyond his calculations.

Military training in plain language is for the purpose of inculcating the military spirit and technically for education in the ways of violence. Military training of men for the next war is uncertain if not futile. The weapons the soldier will use are secret weapons and he will not be permitted to see them till the war comes. What weapons will be used are not known. Attacks will not be upon soldiers who are supposed to be taught to defend themselves, but will be on cities, industries, laboratories, railroads, power stations, dams, and the civilian population.

The next war may be fought with atom bombs. There is no defense against this weapon. Drilling and teaching youth to defend itself against atom bombs may appeal to the military mind, but not to the scientists who understand the weapon. There is only one defense against atomic warfare, that is peace. The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, with Albert Einstein at its head, asserted: "Preparedness against atomic war is futile and, if attempted, will ruin the structure of our social order."

Indoctrination of youth completely under military control can warp the mind in the direction of servility and create followers of leaders but not citizens for democracy. The War Department of the United States has announced: "There will be no place in a sound military training program for activities that are nonessential to the task of preparing our young men for combat." The obvious purpose of the military is to take over control of the minds of young men. This militarization of a generation of youth is a way to World War III.

Military conscription assumes that the individual is but a pawn in the hands of an autocratic power. Free men abhor it. For many decades millions of men have come to America from Europe to escape the tyranny of militarism. Military conscription in Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries is utterly unrelated to that planned for the United States and can not be compared. The United States has never before 1945 used peacetime conscription but has cherished its democracy. It abandons many aspects of democracy for the sake of adopting a bad feature of the nazi regime.

The speed with which militarism is advancing is shown by the fact that in 1937 some eight million men were under arms in 40 countries. These countries were spending 17 billion dollars yearly for military purposes on the eve of World War II. In 1947, two years after the fall of Germany and Japan, the number of men under arms in 40 countries was 19 million and war expenditures were 27 billion dollars. Annual outlay for the armed forces in the United States since 1905 is spectacular:

Militarism makes for permanent war. This has existed during the first half of the present century. The only peace has been occasional lulls in the war. Not new war but a continuation of The War is what we see. A great standing army and an "invincible navy" spell militarism. "A standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen," said President James Madison.

Those who voluntarily elect to enter military life as a career know that most of their time would not be occupied in war but between wars. Some may enter for the same reason that in the middle ages thoughtful men entered upon monastic life as a pleasant way of escaping the impoverished world and its responsibilities. Some able men have been found among the military. Marcus Aurelius and George Washington were for a time soldiers. They were men of intelligence, integrity, and fine character; but not professional soldiers for life. The professional soldier in political office has usually proved a hazard to the people because of his tendency to solve political problems by military means. In modern times the people try to keep professional soldiers out of nonmilitary political positions.

Militarism and the urge toward power politics are expanding throughout the world. Back of these is the economic struggle for profit and advantage. They will continue so long as the purpose of industry is to get the profit--to get more than one gives. Industry must be organized for another purpose. The interest of the consumer, namely, of all people, must become the paramount interest. The question must not be how high I can rise by pressing others down, but how high can I rise by helping others to rise with me, who in turn are helping me while they are helping themselves. The cooperative method may be invoked to save the world from militarism. For where cooperation prevails militarism cannot thrive.

The cynical contend that in a militarized world the nation that is not militarized will be swallowed up and disappear. Therefore it must become militarized. In a society where everybody steals, must I also steal? This is not the answer. In such a society, I must show my neighbors that I can thrive, and they can thrive too, without stealing; and I must find a way to prove it. I must gather about me those who believe as I do. We must carry on education till it has penetrated society, and people are learning a better and more satisfactory way of life.

In the world today the nation that is greatest and richest does not need to stoop to the pattern of the worst. It can exalt peaceful methods of international relationship. It can develop a happy, loyal and united citizenry who do not want war, but who would stand together as an invincible unit were another nation to attempt to break down its structure. This solidarity of a successful people can be maintained best with the methods of cooperation practiced among the people themselves. A people who cooperate among themselves are a people who are most capable of harmonizing their interests with other nations and of protecting themselves against forces that would destroy their peaceful institutions.


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.