The Military Myth
As the Red Army example shows, the practice of collective rape can even become a form of bonding process.
-- Antony Beevor, author of The Fall of Berlin 1945
The military, that greatest conservative institution in the U.S. and the embodiment of strength and honor, protects the American people from aggression. The foolish and cowardly naysayers do not comprehend how many foreign tyrants are looking to plunder our nation's silverware, force Microsoft to publish the Windows source code, and convert us to Islam at gunpoint. Our soldiers spread American virtues all over the globe, protecting the weak, establishing order, and securing important resources for the American consumer. God bless our guys, and may the sacrifices they make for all of us every single day be always remembered.
Such is our carefully cultivated myth about the military. This is what the guardians of what is perfectly normal, thank you very much, teach children in civics classes, and this is also the belief of many adults. Now I was blessed with attending school in the former Soviet Union, where the propaganda was too clumsy and heavy-handed to be taken seriously. That was also the time of the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which means that nobody really cared. Fortunately for all concerned, the American Leviathan is healthy and pleasantly alert. This is why the citizen-subjects of this great country overlook the obvious fact that the modern military is a Communist establishment, and the ideology which sustains it a relapse into primitive barbarism which took place after a period of relative civilization. Genghis Khan burned entire towns and piled thousands of skulls into enormous pyramids. Only a few decades ago million-men armies slaughtered each other in world wars with efficiency which would have astounded poor old Genghis. Thriving cities were razed to the ground and their inhabitants annihilated. No one could escape, for if a citizen was not a soldier, he was considered to be a tool of state working for the war effort. As Ludwig von Mises wrote poignantly in 1919,
If in ancient times the destructive will of the more powerful met its limits in the inadequacy of the means of destruction and in the possibility available to the conquered of escaping persecution by moving away, then progress in the techniques of war and transportation and communication makes it impossible today for the defeated to evade the execution of the victor's sentence of annihilation.
War has become more fearful and destructive than ever before because it is now waged with all the means of the highly developed technique that the free economy has created. Bourgeois civilization has built railroads and electric power plants, has invented explosives and airplanes, in order to create wealth. Imperialism has placed the tools of peace in the service of destruction.
With modern means it would be easy to wipe out humanity at one blow. In horrible madness Caligula wished that the entire Roman people had one head so that he could strike it off. The civilization of the twentieth century has made it possible for the raving madness of the modern imperialists to realize similar bloody dreams. By pressing a button one can expose thousands to destruction.
It was the fate of civilization that it was unable to keep the external means that it had created out of the hands of those who had remained estranged from its spirit.
Centuries of Christianity cooled the spirit of aggression and destruction in man. Classical liberalism, an ideology which ignited human imagination in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries further undermined the warlike instinct by firmly linking peace and prosperity and proving beyond all doubt the "futility of victory." The French Revolution and later the totalitarian states of the 20th century undid all that. Human life no longer mattered. Neither did liberty.
That the influence of Christianity has been tremendously weakened is apparent. (Some have suggested that many Christians have given up because they are waiting to be lifted into heaven while they are still alive.) God is still dead (or should I say "stunned"), and there are few signs of a serious religious revival. Intellectuals publish books with titles such as Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. That mass-men are content to live under any system of social organization has been clear for a long time. Yet even among the natural elite very few know or care about classical liberalism. The situation is desperate, which is why it is worth dispelling some of our common illusions.
Make no mistake: when a person joins the army, he for all intents and purposes defects to the former Soviet Union and asserts a preference for life under total state. Consider:
His life will be strictly regimented by his superiors to the extent that would have horrified a Soviet miner.
During the time of his incarceration he will be completely useless to his fellow man. Instead of starting a business or learning a trade, he will be learning how to destroy in the blink of an eye what others have spent years and even centuries building.
As a result of the brainwashing he will receive in the army he will run a serious risk of losing his ability to think critically. In addition, I fail to see how a man who has killed in an unjust war and has not repented can be a moral man or a believer in God.
He will be turned into a weapon to be used according to the whims of the General Secretary of the Republican-Democrat party in Washington, D.C. He will be used to kill innocents, disrupt free trade, prop up tyrants at home and abroad, and foment hatred for private American citizens.
Now I do not want to be unfair and overlook the benefits of military service. In general, a young man should consider joining the army if
He likes to kill people and destroy private and public property.
He thinks that he will enjoy recreations such as driving a tank or shooting big guns.
He believes that the military will give him ample opportunity to rape local women and use the services of prostitutes, e.g., while on shore leave.
He wishes to acquire certain rare skills, e.g., the skill of demolition or piloting airplanes or even hostage negotiation.
We have to admit that the historically greatest benefit of being a soldier -- the ability to loot sacked cities -- is offered less frequently these days. But for true professionals there are many opportunities to do well financially.
There was a reason why the Founders abhorred standing armies. It is very dangerous to have a well-armed, extremely expensive, mindlessly obedient, and uncivilized group of Communists among a free people. When the conservatives were yelling at Bill Clinton for "gutting the military," one wondered exactly what the problem was. It was simply that Clinton preferred his welfare state to his warfare state, while the current master, George Bush, has the opposite preference.
At any rate, the conservatives were wrong. It is true that the size of the military has been going down steadily since the end of the Cold and Gulf Wars. At the end of the Clinton administration the military had 1.37 million active duty forces (down from around 2 million in 1991). But military spending has been going up, e.g. from $270 billion in 1998 to $312 billion in 2002. To put these numbers in perspective, consider this Cato Institute's analysis:
When the U.S. annual budget for national defense is compared with that of other nations, the true magnitude of U.S. defense spending becomes clear. U.S. defense spending roughly equals the combined spending of the next 10 nations on the list -- eight of which are our wealthy allies (only Russia and China fall outside this group).
The U.S. share of worldwide military spending increased from 27.5 percent in 1986 during the height of the Reagan military buildup to 32 percent in 1995. Today, the United States spends more than all of its wealthy friends and allies combined and almost one and a half times the amount spent by all of its rich NATO allies combined (the next most capable militaries in the world).
More important, the United States spends over 3.5 times the combined spending of nations that are "potential threat states" -- Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba and North Korea.
This state of affairs is intolerable. Recall that in politics there is practically no goodwill, which means that peace prevails when there is a balance of power, i.e. when the costs of aggression to the state outweigh the benefits. We therefore face two choices: either cut the size and budget of the U.S. military substantially or watch other countries arm themselves and retaliate in ways which make it difficult for the U.S. government to use its own strengths. In other words, a balance of power today is achieved by cutting our own military spending.
Here then is a genuine pro-liberty reform. Let us root out Communism in our own midst. Let these poor government workers truly serve the people in the market, even as private security guards and consultants. Let international companies hire their own mercenaries so that everybody knows that the latter are not financed with our money. Let war contractors make the proverbial plowshares. Let the Joint Chiefs of Staff change their vocation to the Amazing Siamese Twins in a traveling circus. In short, abolish the standing army.