Saturday, May 14, 2011

Are we being Militarised?

Andrew D Atkin

I admit that the following is rather speculative, and I invite contributions. It's very much an 'open thinking' hypothesis. Nonetheless I believe what I write makes sense, and is consistent with what I have personally observed.

What is a Civilisation?

I think there are two basic kinds of civilisations: Civilisations based on resources and civilisations based on defense.

A civilisation that develops from resources would be an expression of concentrated development growing from an area of concentrated resources - so, the population just keeps on growing to a massive size because the resource base naturally permits it. A society like this is still tribal, as we are a tribal animal, only the many "tribes" that compose the civilisation are not rigidly geographically defined, nor explicitly intra-tribally dependant i.e. trade is intensive. I think this kind of civilisation is in essence what western civilisation has been for over the last hundred years or so, though less so today.

The other kind of civilisation is based on defense. In short, these are civilisations that are, basically, massive fortified communities. They can develop directly from threatened tribes joining together to form collective defenses (like the New Zealand Maori did, as I understand); or they can develop as a peaceful resource-based civilisation that later becomes threatened by external dangers, and in turn comes to develop the character of a militarised society.

The character of a militarised society:

The structure of a militarised society is heavily exaggerated centralisation and hierarchy.

In a militarised society conformity is king, hence the need for centralisation. A militarised society does not serve the individual but the collective; so, everyone must give up a major part of their productive life to the singular objective of collective defense. Hence, a militarised society is tax and compulsion heavy.

Understandably, a militarised society is rooted in fear (conscious and/or unconscious). I believe it must be otherwise people would abandon their civilisation for the outskirts, and develop their own non-militarised communities. There must always be the feeling of "barbarians at the gate", so to speak, otherwise your society will progressively disintegrate. A militarised society is not what people want if they feel they don't need it.

By default a militarised society does not and cannot represent freedom. It represents security.

The psychology of a militarised society:

Over generations a militarised society will become imprinted in the civilians as 'natural'.

People become belittled by their fears and look up to their hierarchies. They see people further up the ladder as 'above them' in substance. In other words, they believe in hierarchy on an emotional level (as opposed to just an operational formality) and so it becomes psychologically easy for them to know and conform to their place. They might believe that man is equal as a religious abstraction, but they will not actually feel that way. (In my view that is the essence of true hierarchy.)

This I believe is what happens when you have a mature, militarised society. Its operational mode of hierarchy becomes natural for people. But on the deepest of levels, it is still rooted in fear. Behind the parental (and/or scholastic) programming within a hierarchical society lies the emotional need to conform to that programming in the first place, and again that need will be rooted in fear. It's just like epigentic programming - scared parents pass on their fears to scared children. It's about efficient adaptation, and "programmed" parents always give their children a head start, whether they know it or not.

I do not believe that there is anything unnatural about a militarised society as such. It's a necessary adaptive condition demanded by tough circumstances. But it's certainly unnatural when you don't need it.

Are the powers-that-be creating an unnatural militarised society?

Orwell's movie, 1984, was an extreme expression of an artificially created militarised society. People were kept in fear of an enemy that did not really exist so as to create support for centralised control. But another example from Aldous Huxley's movie, Brave New World, was more interesting. Brave New World depicted a militarised society based in part on the fear of what everything would turn into if they lost their centralised control. You don't need barbarians at the gate as such - just something for everyone to be afraid of.

There's no doubt that the trend in western civilisation has been towards the militarisation of society. We're reeking of it more than ever. And I think the Brave New World model is what we are largely moving into, supported through government schooling especially, though artificial (or not?) fears are always being generated like in the 1984 movie.

It's a bit of a combination of both styles, I think. It's like schooling gives us our conditioning, and TV gives us our fears. We are constantly being spooked by terrorism, global warming, leaky nuclear power plants, etc, and the answer, as we are told, is always more centralisation, even global centralisation.

Why is this happening? I can only speculate. There are real threats, namely over-population. But the kind of threats that are real threats seem too long term for people to emotionally respond to today, so the controlling oligarchy is militarising us with artificial here-and-now threats instead, because they believe we won't centralise otherwise. But that's just a guess. Others would say it's just power-lord control-freakism, and that might be part of it too.

A better solution?

Let the world decentralise into non-defensive civilisations because no-one (in their non fear-ridden minds) wants to live in a Soviet Russia. But educate people into the factual, ultimate need for some centralised control due to the true long-term threats such as over-population and diabolical rouge states, etc. Or at least do this for people who can accept reason, responsibility and care about long-term sustainability. And people like that should be "created" by pulling the neurosis out of society, as I have talked about before.


  1. Interesting article. I agree that the west is moving more and more into "defense" societies. I think there is a role for well-managed and logical centralization. Along with decentralized communities that are able to individually exist as a common whole. That would require modern economics, social structures, and institutions of discipline to some remodeling. I am eager to read your previous posts.

  2. Thanks Aikin,

    Yep, I've got a lot to say. A post most related to this one is here:

  3. I do think we are already organized into extreme militarism. Corporations are fronts which actually serve as arms and braches of the governments. Eisenhower called this the Military Industrial Complex. It is a vast network that is totally connected and completely controlled.

    But I tend to think centralization is the worst and most dangerous course. Let me put it this way. Controlled network = Centralized Hierarchy. The only weapon or solution against control, accomplished by mass accumulation of all wealth, resources, and military power, is the breaking up of all wealth, resources, land, populations, and power into itty bitty tiny pieces so that no individual piece is worth all that much except to those how live on or in it. Mass enslavement is evil. Mass freedom is salvation.

    It should be noted that the Spartans of ancient Greece wanted to avoid the ills of mass accumulated wealth. So they set about banning money and making large rocks the currency, which rocks could not easily be hidden or exchanged. May societies have tried to block mass wealth. But it never lasts long for corrupters eventually out number the good guys and then it all gets changed.

    They start by appealing to base corrupt desires. Encourage libidos and free sex, wealth, surveillance, militarism for police protection, imaginary enemies to further build the army, and corrupt the legal system as well. Soon, the good realize they are outnumbered and doomed. They become slaves or die.

    Mass militarization is natural but very harmful. It is really mass slavery. It is worthy of noting in the ancient Mid East of Early Bronze that surrounding city states would join together in a crisis and appoint a leader, who would step down after the crisis was over. But the Middle Bronze ceased to function that way. The Leader decided he was not going to stop down.

    As well, ancient Israel in the bible was organized in 12 tribes, each independent. At times of Crisis, they would all contribute armies to the cause and then go back home after. But Israel eventually decided they wanted a king with a standing army. God warned them how they would come to regret it but they would not back off. So god gave his big warning and then gave them what they asked for as it fitting.

    Small decentralized independence is the best way to keep control and freedom to manageable levels. Besides, just as we each have different ways of doing things and tastes and habits, so it is with towns and tribes. Each has their own way and should be able to pursue it. This would be my thinking at present.

  4. Apollo,

    Where corporations and governments are one it is apparently called fascism. I don't doubt for a second that the American government is a bought and paid for entity. I don't know about my own country though, New Zealand, or to what degree it suffers from the American disease.

    We do need a level of international centralisation today, because the cat is out of the bag. We are far too technologically advanced and in turn far too dangerous. A single rouge state can kill us all. International regulators, for better or worse, are a vital necessity now I believe. We really are now in a different age with different demands. We need to work with this fact.

    Also you might like to look at my Club Economies post, which relates to what you say about decentralisation (and I agree with it). In my view a collective economy can work, but the "village" must have ownership regulation; so when you buy your house you must also buy proportional shares in the general infrastructure of the village - shares which are locked to the ownership of the home. This way all the vested interests are pointing in the right direction. Also the population scales must be small for it to work well (like you say).