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.