A political system influenced greatly by a large, permanent military force

Militarism is the belief or the desire of a government or a people that a state should maintain a strong military capability and to use it aggressively to expand national interests and/or values. Examples of modern militarist states include the United States, Russia and Turkey. It may also imply the glorification of the military and of the ideals of a professional military class and the "predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state".

  • Armies, Standing - Maintaining permanent armies of paid or conscripted soldiers
  • Military Industrial Complex - The U.S. military "establishment": the armed forces and the companies and politicians that depend on them


Along Pennsylvania Avenue, by Murray Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Oct 1956
Summarizes highlights of the 1956 presidential race, thanking Adlai Stevenson for calling for an end to the draft and nuclear weapons tests, and various proposals about repealing the income tax
"The most heartening feature: Stevenson's resurrection of a lost issue in America—the draft. Those who object that Adlai will not really end the draft miss the point—for the first time since 1941 we do not simply accept the draft as an act of God. It rings once again as an issue. That alone takes a giant step forward. For this service, Stevenson deserves our thanks. ... Ending the H-bomb tests would not only slow down the cruel armament race; it would stop poisoning the atmosphere with deadly radiation, a poison that endangers the future of the human race itself. Why spread such destruction in peacetime?"
Related Topic: Taxation
An American Empire! If You Want It instead of Freedom, Part 1, by Richard Ebeling, Future of Freedom, Apr 2003
Examines Garet Garrett's 1952 essay "The Rise of Empire" and contrasts it with Charles Krauthammer's "The Unipolar Moment Revisited" and the concept of "unilateralism" espoused by him
"Civil society places the dignity and privacy of the individual at the center of social affairs. Commerce and trade are the peaceful and voluntary means and methods by which people interact for mutual improvement of their lives. The military mind, on the other hand, imposes hierarchy and control over all those under the direction of the commander in chief. The successful pursuit of the 'mission' always takes precedence over the individual and his life. And Empire, by necessity, places increasing importance on military prowess and presence at the expense of civilian life and its network of noncoercive, market relationships."
Related Topics: Garet Garrett, Imperialism
Blueprint for Dictatorship: Recent legislation sets us up for tyranny, by Justin Raimondo, 30 Apr 2007
Describes how the Defense Authorization Act, the Military Commissions Act and changes to the Insurrection Act could be used to impose martial law in the United States
"This use of the military to enforce domestic order is a new development in American history, one that augurs a turning point not only in terms of law, but also in our evolving political culture. Such a measure would once have provoked an outcry – on both sides of the aisle. When the measure passed, there was hardly a ripple of protest ..."
As We Go Marching / America's Emerging Fascist Economy / Toward a Planned Society, by Walter E. Grinder, Libertarian Review, Aug 1976
Review of the books As We Go Marching by John T. Flynn, America's Emerging Fascist Economy by Charlotte Twight and Toward a Planned Society by Otis L. Graham, Jr.
"In Twight's book there is inexplicably not one mention of the Pentagon, of the WIB, of the OPA, of military expenditures and contracts, or of national security management. ... It is militarism that places increasing power in the hands of the government to better control the economy. It is militarism that can most easily be used as a cover to create and maintain government jobs. It is militarism that can, with most political acceptability, be used for purposes of Keynesian pump-priming. It is militarism that permits the State to become, in Twight's words, a full-fledged 'market surrogate.'"
Forgotten Lessons: Selected Essays of John T. Flynn, by Paul Gottfried, The Freeman, Nov 1995
Review of Forgotten Lessons: Selected Essays of John T. Flynn, edited by Gregory P. Pavlik and published by FEE
"Flynn has been proven right in his view of the military in the modern welfare state, as a microcosm of social experimentation. Revenues raised for conscripted armies have been used throughout the century to support and render dependent on government much of the young male population; the military has also been a laboratory for creating a population subservient to public administration, which has made itself into a new voice of authority. Flynn rightly notes that military expansion in Imperial Germany was favored not by the Prussian aristocracy, but by the advocates of a powerful modernized German state, including socialists."
Give Me Liberty [PDF], by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
"In America we do not have even universal military training, that basis of a social order which teaches every male citizen his subservience to The State and subtracts some years from every young man's life, and has thereby weakened the military power of every nation that has adopted it."
Is Capitalism Why We Fight?, by Gregory Bresiger, Mises Daily, 6 Apr 2006
Critical review of the theses presented in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, also inquirying about topics omitted from the film
"Also, ['Why We Fight'] deserves credit because it seriously tries to discuss what is arguably the most important issue of our time: the militarization of America, a nation that once had a strong, classical liberal, anti-militarist tradition. Still, the documentarians, in true American fashion, do not want to go deep into how this militarization of America came about, a militarization that showed itself even before the feature started when the spare audience at my movie house was treated to — you guessed it — an ad for why everyone should join the National Guard."
It Came From Washington: A Criminally Insane Government, by Paul Craig Roberts, 1 Jul 2012
Examines U.S. government adversarial actions towards Russia and China
"For a country incapable of occupying Iraq after 8 years and incapable of occupying Afghanistan after 11 years, to simultaneously take on two nuclear powers is an act of insanity. The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers–Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy. The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction."
Related Topics: China, Georgia, Pacific Ocean, Syria
Killing Iraqi Children, by Jacob Hornberger, 19 Jun 2006
Comments on a Detroit News editorial condoning the bombing, rather than the arrest and prosecution, of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the "collateral" death of a five-year old girl
"The military mindset is totally different from the police mindset. Assume that there is a suspected terrorist hiding among 10 innocent people. How would the military and the police deal with that situation? The military would not chance the suspected terrorist's escaping or his killing a soldier in a gun battle. As we have seen in the al-Zarqawi killing, the military would simply drop a bomb on the suspect, even knowing that the innocent people around him would also be killed."
Mission Creep: US Military Presence Worldwide, Mother Jones, 22 Aug 2008
An interactive map showing the buildup of U.S. forces around the globe since 1950, with details on 2007 levels
Mission Creep in Iraq, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Aug 2014
Examines how the initial Aug 2014 "humanitarian" intervention in Iraq keeps morphing into something bigger
"The safe bet is that the mission in Iraq will continue to grow. Few people believe that airpower alone will defeat the justly abhorred Islamic State or that the Iraqi military can get the job done on the ground. So Obama could be tempted to up the ante in order to prevent any touted gains from being squandered. Mission creep is only one reason why intervention in foreign wars is never a good idea."
Non-Marxist Theories of Imperialism, by Alan Fairgate, Feb 1976
Examines writings of critics of imperialism that are not based on Marxist analysis
"Another early critic of the permanent war economy was Arthur A. Ekirch in The Decline of American Liberalism ... and The Civilians and the Military ... In these books Ekirch traced the decline of classical liberalism and of the antimilitarist spirit in the United States, culminating in an unprecedented peacetime militarization of both government and economy. Considerably ahead of the New Left critics of the 1960's, Ekirch pinpointed the emergence and consolidation of a vast military-industrial complex which required a progressive abandonment of laissez-faire economic policies."
Obama and King, by Sheldon Richman, 30 Aug 2013
Contrasts Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War with Obama's actions (planning to bomb Syria) on the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech
"This sort of radical analysis was rare among Vietnam War opponents, who preferred mostly to talk of policy blunders and miscalculations, rather than criminal opportunism. It was particularly courageous of King, for he was working with Johnson and other key politicians on the civil-rights agenda. ... King had been pressured not to denounce the war, but he ignored that advice. How could he preach nonviolence at home, he asked, while remaining silent about 'the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government'?"
On Conscription [PDF], by Daniel Webster, 9 Dec 1814
Condensed from speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, given in opposition to bill proposing conscription during the War of 1812, reprinted in Left and Right in 1965, during the Vietnam War
"This bill ... is an attempt to exercise the power of forcing the free men of this country into the ranks of an army, for the general purposes of war, under color of a military service. ... The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion. ... A military force cannot be raised, in this manner, but by the means of a military force. If administration has found that it can not form an army without conscription, it will find, if it venture on these experiments, that it can not enforce conscription without an army."
The Abominations of War: From My Lai to Haditha, by Cindy Sheehan, 5 Jun 2006
Responds to those who demand to "support our troops" and the President by listing various immoral and illegal actions, suggesting instead that George W. Bush be prosecuted as a war criminal and offering support to those who disobey unlawful orders
"Another false piece of propaganda that we are fed is that we need to support the president, especially when we are 'at war.' I say, 'No, way!' Our kids know the difference between right and wrong before they are sucked into a military system that dehumanizes our soldiers and forces them to dehumanize the 'enemy' to the point where it is apparently acceptable behavior to kill children and to cover up the murders."
The American Heritage of "Isolationism", by Gregory Bresiger, Future of Freedom, May 2006
Criticizes the use of the word "isolationist" by the media, "internationalists" and other foreign intervention promoters, looking at the heritage of noninterventionism as exemplified by Washington's Farewell Address
"The United States then had a relatively small armed force, which many Americans nonetheless viewed as expensive and dangerous in peacetime. Americans had inherited a suspicion of militarism from their British friends who had supported them in the American Revolution. Those maverick Englishmen celebrated the Whig tradition, which had defeated the Stuart kings in two civil wars. The Stuarts lost, in part, because of their fondness for standing armies in peacetime."
The Danger Is Intervention, Not "Isolation", by Sheldon Richman, 29 May 2014
Reflects on pronouncements by President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel on Americans turning more "isolationists"
"Hagel said that withdrawing from the world would have a high cost. Has he checked lately on what military and political engagement is costing the taxpayers? The full cost of the military alone is over a trillion dollars a year. The U.S. government spends more on this than most of the rest of the world combined. ... The butcher's bill and the money price cannot be tolerated. America's record of death, injury, and destruction has on net created enemies. The gross cultural and economic distortions from worshipful militarism have yet to be calculated."
The GOP, RIP: They're on the way out — and good riddance, by Justin Raimondo, 8 Sep 2006
"Militarism, not only as a foreign policy but as the organizing principle of the domestic order, is the central doctrine of the neoconservative creed, and they have never betrayed it no matter what their party registration. The neocons, in their takeover of what used to be the conservative movement, have Prussianized the GOP."
Related Topic: Republican Party
The Myth of War Prosperity, Part 2, by Anthony Gregory, Future of Freedom, Jan 2007
Review of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy by Robert Higgs
"Unfortunately, the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the U.S. garrison economy – its alleged promotion of productivity and the general welfare and its ostensible nature as an essentially capitalistic sector free of the trappings borne by the classic archetypes of socialist central planning – have endured."
The Pentagon's Power to Arrest, Torture, and Execute Americans, by Jacob Hornberger, 28 Feb 2007
"The president and the Pentagon now wield the omnipotent power to arrest, torture, and execute any American they label an 'enemy combatant.' It is impossible to overstate the significance of this power. It has totally upended the relationship of the military and civilian in the United States. ... Historically, the U.S. military has lacked the power to arrest, incarcerate, or inflict harm on American civilians."
The "Value" of Public Schooling, by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
Examines public schooling, first comparing it to military boot camp and the draft and then discussing indoctrination
"What is the first thing that the military does to new recruits? ... First comes boot camp, a seemingly nonsensical period of time in which soldiers are ordered to drop down for pushups at the whim of an officer. Soldiers learn to march together in unison, mastering such movements as right-face and left-face. ... Why? ... to mold each person's mindset into one of strict conformity and obedience."
The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 2, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Mar 2015
Discusses how James Madison's conduct of the War of 1812 led to changes in American attitudes, including mercantilism, militarism, imperialism and centralization
"Madison proposed conscription ... and later a peacetime standing army to the Congress. ... Attitudes toward the military also changed for reasons of national and economic security. When Monroe succeeded Madison as president, Weeks writes, a 'guiding principle ... in [his] effort to expand American foreign trade concerned the construction and maintenance of a formidable military force. Republicans traditionally had mistrusted large military establishments as subversive of republican institutions. Yet once again, the War of 1812 led to a reevaluation of a basic tenet of the Republican faith.'"
Washington's Farewell Address, by George Washington, 19 Sep 1796
Published in the American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia; facsimile of Washington's final draft and transcript available at The Washington Papers, hosted by the University of Virginia
"While then every part of our country ... must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and Wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighbouring countries, not tied together by the same government; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments & intriegues would stimulate & imbitter. Hence likewise they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty ..."
Related Topic: Foreign Entanglements
We Were Warned about the Rise of Empire, by Sheldon Richman, 13 Jun 2014
Revisits Garet Garrett's 1952 essay "The Rise of Empire" discussing Garrett's five traits "that belong only to empire" and their applicability to the United States in 2014
"One need only look around to see evidence of the 'ascendancy of the military mind.' Not even a looming fiscal crisis prompts a serious reconsideration of America's far-flung military presence or its putative 'interests' everywhere. Reverence for the military intrudes on everyday life; one cannot watch a ballgame or even a televised cooking competition without being subjected to sappy expressions of gratitude for supposed 'service to our country.' Americans did not always have a worshipful disposition toward the military."
'What Kind of Democracy Is This?': A grieving father wants to know, by Justin Raimondo, 23 May 2007
Examines questions about American democracy and militarism posed by professor Andrew J. Bacevich after the death of his son in combat in Iraq
"The militarist aesthetic is a key advertising tool used to market this war, and it is very useful in deflecting any effort to defund it: after all, we have to 'support the troops' and our Dear Leader, no matter what folly they're embarked on, and damn the consequences. 'Shock and awe,' the pretentious habit of giving each of our wars of conquest titles like Operation Iraqi Freedom ..."
Related Topic: Democracy
Why We Fight: Go see the movie, by Justin Raimondo, 1 Feb 2006
"The trick in the militarism business, we are told by a Defense Department analyst, is to over-promise the benefits and lowball the costs of any new defense system – and then spread around the campaign money to as many congressional districts as possible. Chalmers Johnson notes that the B-2 bomber has parts made in so many different congressional districts ..."
Would You "Support the Troops" in Bolivia?, by Jacob Hornberger, 27 Dec 2006
Discusses U.S. military contracts and the hypothetical case of a soldier objecting to being deployed for an invasion of Bolivia on orders from the President, contrasting it to the real scenario of the 2003 invasion of Iraq
"Soldiers who join the military voluntarily sign a very unusual contract with the federal government. It is a contract that effectively obligates the soldier to go anywhere in the world on orders of the president and kill people as part of an invasion force against other countries. It doesn't matter whether the intended victims deserve to die or not. ... [The soldier's] job is not to question why people he is ordered to kill should be killed; his job is simply to invade and carry out the killing, no questions asked."
Related Topics: Standing Armies, Ethics, War

Cartoons and Comic Strips

I'm afraid the situation is dire, gentlemen, by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 10 Aug 2015


What's So Bad About The Galactic Empire?, by Sean Malone, 4 May 2017
Analyzes the various Star Wars movies and attempts to answer the title question and conversely what is good about the Rebel Alliance
"And there's one more terrible thing we know about the Empire from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Reformed Storm Trooper Finn (FN-2187) explains to Rey that he was actually taken from his family as a child, conscripted into the Imperial Army, and trained to be a soldier. That's a form of slavery that many real-world governments have used throughout history. Sadly even the United States government still has the power to draft its citizens into war, though that hasn't happened for decades."

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Militarism" as of 26 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.