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, 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: the Senate approved it unanimously, and there were only thirty-something dissenting votes in the House. Added to the Military Commissions Act, this new brick in the wall of domestic repression creates the structure of a new imperial system on the ruins of the old constitutional order. "
Bush's Wartime Dictatorship, by Justin Raimondo, 21 Dec 2005
Examines Bush's claims regarding secret surveillance, the militarism and fascism underlying his regime and the lack of an effecive opposition
"This doctrine of presidential supremacy is derived, in substance and style, from the unrestrained militarism of the regime. That we are now in a state of permanent war requires that our government undertake a perpetual war on what is left of our civil liberties. Given the nature of this conflict with a formless, stateless enemy, more a concept than a combatant, there is no longer any division between the 'home front' and the struggle against the worldwide Islamist insurgency, between domestic and foreign policy. That the antiwar opposition ... will wind up being treated as 'the enemy' should surprise no one."
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.'"
Democracy: The God That Failed, by Justin Raimondo, 12 Oct 2005
Discusses the actual results from the so-called Bush Doctrine involving "democratizing" the Middle East as well as several other countries which have a "democracy deficit"
"Chalmers Johnson, the trenchant critic of American militarism, has characterized the U.S. as an "empire of bases," and what we are witnessing is the extension of this global system of linked launching pads for American military intervention from Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine to Iraq. This ... is our real foreign policy objective. Ukraine is preparing to enter NATO, so that Western troops and weaponry will soon be poised 15 minutes from Moscow. Iraq, too, is the future site of permanent U.S. military bases, and there are ample signs that we are already digging in for the long haul."
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 through NATO, in the Middle East and in the Pacific
"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."
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, Reason, 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."
North Korea's Nukes: Why Now?, by Justin Raimondo, 11 Oct 2006
Comments on the first North Korean nuclear test and the political prospects for the Korean peninsula, considering also China and the United States
"The reason for this is, simply put, because Washington adamantly refuses to end its 50-year-plus military occupation of the South ... for internal political reasons, as well as the economic interests of base-building military contractors, the American occupation has continued as part of the U.S. "forward" stance in the Pacific and around the world. ... What brought us to this moment is our refusal to recognize that the costs of global hegemony are far greater than the alleged benefits, including the dubious "benefit" of maintaining expensive and militarily unnecessary bases on the far frontiers of Empire."
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."
Road to Empire, by Justin Raimondo, 28 Nov 2007
Discusses the "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America" signed on 26 Nov 2007, after the U.S. Congress went into recess
"Oh, they may solicit the complicity of the top Democratic leadership ... but essentially they'll do what they have always done in the hundred-plus countries where U.S. troops are currently stationed, and that is negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement, the essential element of which immunizes our soldiers from being prosecuted by local authorities for crimes against the natives. In this case ... the scope of the agreement is a bit more comprehensive ... as well as the "security" factor, i.e., the military details of the continuing occupation, including U.S. troop levels and the construction of permanent American bases."
Searching for America's Next Enemy, by Doug Bandow, Mises Daily, 17 Jul 2006
Discusses attempts by some U.S. conservatives to find a new enemy nation and focuses on China as a "threat"
"You may have thought that the end of the Cold War ... meant peace. Think again. Washington must occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, attack Iran, confront North Korea, and, most importantly, beat back the yellow horde ... Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently suggested that "Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment. Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?" In fact, that question would be better asked by Chinese officials to Secretary Rumsfeld. Who threatens whom? America's increase in military outlays over the last few years alone equals China's entire defense budget."
Related Topics: East Asia, China
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, by Justin Raimondo, 8 Sep 2006
Ponders the status of the Republican Party prior to the 2006 mid-term elections and after nearly six years of the George W. Bush presidency
"Their policies discredited ... the neocons retreated ... and regrouped to fight another day. The first stage ... would catapult them to the opposite side of the political spectrum – but without, of course, in any way altering their core principle: devotion to the cult of the war god. 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."
The Iraq War Crash, by Justin Raimondo, 2 Mar 2007
Discusses a 9% drop in the Shanghai Stock Exchange on 27 Feb 2007, which also affected other markets, in the context of the Iraq War and potential conflict with Iran
"Bush is demanding $716 billion for his "defense" budget, which, as one news report described it, is "greater than the annual gross domestic product of all but 14 countries." ... Which brings to mind Madeleine Albright's infamous scolding of Colin Powell, which had her saying: "What's the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can't use it?" Well, I hope Madame Albright is satisfied: these days, our formerly superb military is getting a lot of use, and there are growing indications that the Bush administration is preparing to use it against Iran."
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 Servile State Revisited, by Joseph Sobran, The Wanderer, 5 Jun 2003
Ponders David Hume's observation as to the ease with which "the many are governed by the few" and positing that in modern society, "the habit of obedience" has been taken too far
"To me one of the most dispiriting features of the war on Iraq was the ease with which the State was able to convince millions of productive Americans that this was somehow a war for their freedom. These people, mostly conservative, are simply unable to see the military establishment as a huge and integral part of the bureaucratic State, parasitic on the country's wealth. The military is the one part of 'big government' with which conservatives have no quarrel, though every objection to socialism applies to military organization — to the warfare state as well as the welfare state."
Related Topics: Democracy, Law, The State
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?', 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, and those presidential photo-ops of George W. Bush decked out in uniform and mingling with the troops like a Roman emperor with his praetorians – all this glitz has, until now, served to mask the cruel reality of war ..."
Related Topics: Democracy, Democratic Party, War
Why We Fight, by Justin Raimondo, 1 Feb 2006
Detailed review of the 2005 documentary Why We Fight
"... we segue into shots of an air show where militarism and entertainment meet and merge. Then a few statistics: the U.S. spends more on the military than all other categories, and, furthermore, spends more than the combined total of the top 10 other military budgets in the world ... A key sub-theme ... is the business of militarism ... dramatized in a series of interviews, shots of military trade shows, and a visit to Raytheon ... 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 ..."
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.