J. Landrum Kelly, Jr., Ph.D.
de-ter-rence\ L deterrere, to frighten\
2. the maintaining of vast military power, etc.
3-1. "Militerrorism" is a neologism, a "new word." I shall use it as an inclusive term to
describe all attempts to use fear to control or modify the behavior of others, regardless of
the worthiness of the end being promoted.
Even though the term is inclusive of all formal organizations in whatever realm
(including teaching, if the teacher relies upon fear), it still seems most appropriate when
used to refer to military and paramilitary organizations, whether in democracies or in
totalitarian regimes. The original object of creating such a new word was to point up the
hypocrisy of calling upon military or paramilitary organizations to "control terrorism." Yet,
the longer one works in any type of formal organization, the more one sees the problem
with focusing exclusively on military and paramilitary organizations, so well established is
the tradition of using fear as a social regulator.
A consistent pacifist would have to be against the deliberate use of fear in all realms,
of course, since some sort of violence or threat of violence is the means of inducing fear.
This is obviously true for military and paramilitary organizations, but it is also true for
organizations which use economic violence in order to enforce compliance (such as the
threat of withholding remuneration in bureaucracies, public or private). Since the use of
fear as a social regulator is so pervasive in modern organizations, it seems reasonable to
expand the uses of the term "terrorism" so that there is some logic is referring to a
"pacifism-terrorism" dilemma: those who endorse the use of fear in any capacity may
justifiably be called "terrorists," whereas those who abjure the use of fear as a deliberate
motivator in all types of organizations and social situations could be called "pacifists."
3-2. Calling such a wide range of activities "terrorism" is not going to automatically
convince persons that all such activities are wrong. Yet, this is exactly what Christian
pacifism would like to do, and the creation of a term such as "militerrorism" might help to
dramatize the point: one wants to deny most emphatically that the deliberate use of fear to
modify behavior or enforce compliance is ever morally legitimate.
3-3. In spite of its inclusiveness, the term "militerrorism" would certainly have primary
applicability to that great variety of organizational forms which rely upon coercion and fear
as the primary methods of social control and manipulation. Thus, even though
"bureaucracy" in all of its rather routine manifestations could qualify, the primary focus
would indeed be upon military and paramilitary organizations. Among these, there would
certainly be instances of militerroristic activity which would fit the bureaucratic model, such
as the highly disciplined and bureaucratized SS of Adolph Hitler. Yet, the highly disjointed
and fragmented activities of the Weathermen or Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
during the 1960's would also qualify.
The term "militerrorism" admittedly connotes a negative judgment of the morality of
using fear as a method of enforcing compliance. As such, its use is a standing moral
indictment of a wide variety of actions and social practices--most of which are viewed by
nominal Christianity as morally legitimate, including but not limited to those military and
paramilitary organizations whose "essential services" involve the delivery of deterrent
potential through overt violence or threat of violence: the military and police forces in
3-4. Although it may sound outrageous to say so, perhaps the archetypical example of
militerroristic organization on a massive scale in the United States would be the United
States Air Force. While the U.S. Air Force is far from being the most brutal organization in
terms of maintaining internal discipline (possibly less brutal than, say, IBM), its glib
defense of the efficacy of nuclear terrorism ("deterrence") as the avenue to peace would
surely allow it to gain the honor of serving as the paradigmatic model of militerrorism. The
fact that the U.S. Air Force also has the most highly polished public relations devices and
euphemistic slogans for justifying its terrorist methods ("Peace is our profession") would
also increase the dangerousness of its basic enterprise: one man's terrorism is another
man's motherhood and apple pie, and what qualifies the Air Force for the dubious honor of
paradigmatic militerror-istic organization is in part the masterful image-building which
allows it to pass its militerroristic activities and missions off as the most wholesome and
genuinely "All-American" of pursuits and professions.
Many militerroristic organizations do not, of course, concern themselves with image or
public relations, nor are they always well-organized. These are the more likely to be
perceived by the general public as "terrorist" organizations: the PLO, the SDS, and the
Islamic Jihad are examples of these types of organization, which in fact seem to try to
infuriate or thumb their noses at their adversaries. The U.S. Air Force, by contrast, is
concerned with maintaining an image which conduces to its lobbying efforts for increased
expenditures. Such an image also promotes its claim of defending democracy and thus
serves to give it a cloak of legitimacy and dignity which its use of euphemism is intended
Even so, in the U.S. Air Force, the image of smooth professionalism and detached
moral judgment hides the ugly reality of the greatest concentration of massive destructive
power in the world today by any single organization. On this ground alone, one might
consider the U.S. Air Force as the archetypical case of militerroristic organization in this
country--and possibly in the world.
3-5. "After college, my son is going to go into a career in mili-terrorism."
Alright, so most persons will never adopt such a usage. One hopes that at least a few
others, however, will get the message and never adopt such a profession.
3-6. There are two broad ways of effecting change or maintaining order in the world,
regardless of the scale of the action or its consequences. One method uses moral
suasion and is committed to peace not only as an end but as a means. The other uses
fear, which in turn implies the use of force or the threat of force.
There is a true dichotomy between appeals to moral suasion and appeals to fear, and
thus have I referred to "the pacifist-terrorist dilemma." Although there are many gray
areas, the two methods are conceptually distinct.
The advocates of both methods (of pacifism and terrorism) speak of peace. For the
advocate of fear, peace is a state of affairs which refers as correctly to the graveyard as
to a state of genuine harmony: wherever there is order and the absence of overt conflict,
there is seen to be peace. For the advocate of moral suasion, peace refers not only to
the absence of conflict, however, but to freedom from want and fear. This kind of peace
cannot be brought about by fear and the concomitant use of force or the threat of force,
for the appeal to coercive force is always an appeal to fear.
3-7. Are there justifiable uses of terror? I believe that most advocates of nuclear
deterrence are saying, behind the cloak of euphemism, that the use of fear or terror is at
least sometimes justifiable, if the terror is used to promote someone's conception of
"justice." Otherwise the use of terror is mere terrorism. (Is this not the implicit assumption
of the "just war" doctrine? If we relabel it as the "just terror" doctrine, will there be
any loss of meaning?)
Terror can be used to promote a number of things, including property, privilege, and
national security. Justice, however, is surely something more than some end which can
be promoted by any old means. Surely justice has something to do with means as well as
ends, and--just as surely--just means measured by the example of Christ would
automatically preclude the use of terror.
The argument for nuclear deterrence is reducible to an implicit claim that the end
justifies the means: one may use terrible means to achieve wonderful ends. The
argument has a raw utilitarian ring in its casual acceptance of an evil for the sake of a
greater good. And--make no mistake--the threat of annihilating cities or a whole people in
the name of peace is an evil, whether one ever uses the weapons or not.
The mere threat of the use of a weapon, physical or economic, constitutes an instance
3-8. Even the Islamic Jihad makes some claim of ultimate good in its defense of
terror--most terrorist groups do invoke a moral cause. They would not claim to be
pursuing violence for the sake of violence. Yet, though they may say that they are
promoting justice through the use of terror, one may reasonably question whether or not it
is indeed justice which is being promoted: "justifiable terror" is surely a contradiction in
3-9. One reading of Paul in Romans 13 would appear to suggest justifiable uses of
terror: "Magistrates are no terror to an honest man, though they are to a bad man. If you
would avoid being alarmed at the government authorities, lead an honest life and you will
be commended for it; the magistrate is God's servant for your benefit. But if you do
wrong, you may well be alarmed; a magistrate does not wield the power of the sword for
nothing, he is God's servant for the infliction of divine vengeance upon evil doers."
(Romans 13:3-4, Moffatt translation.)
Orthodox Christianity, to the extent that it affirms the retributive message and seeming
endorsement of state violence on the part of Paul, demonstrates that it, too, is a terroristic
organization--perhaps the most dangerous terroristic organization in the world, for it
falsely invokes the sanction of God for such evil.
3-10. Although it may seem naïve and simple-minded to hold that war and punishment
are never justifiable (or "just"), I cannot understand what the whole significance of
Christianity is supposed to be if Christ's example is really indistinguishable from the usual
worldly, statist way of responding to evil.
The example of Jesus gives us a particular conception of God, such that none more
forgiving or more benevolent can be conceived. God is no terrorist, and His Justice could
not therefore be promoted by the use of terror. My Prince of Peace is not one who
advocates peace through preparedness for war, nor one who calls the condition of anxiety
under the umbrella of nuclear deterrence "peace." Such "peace" is mere stalemate by
Shalom, the biblical concept of peace, is more than the absence of conflict, in the
same way that justice is more than mere "law and order."
As for those who still believe in a God of retribution, I can only say that I find such a
concept of God too small, too petty--and all too human. A valid religious claim ought to
distinguish itself from the commonplace, and the justification of routinized legal terror and
punishment is too commonplace--not to mention too arbitrary and too cruel--to be taken
seriously as a manifestation of the divine will.
3-11. What commonly goes by the name of "government" rests ultimately upon fear,
terror. Yet, to the extent that actual governmental organizations are composed of persons
who to varying degrees employ moral suasion in lieu of fear, these persons operate by
pacifistic methods. Most organizations and most of the centers of power which we call
"governments" do in fact rely upon both methods.
Even so, many organizations would put the new wine of moral suasion in the old
bottles of fear and threat. Bureaucracies are, in their pure form, designed with an eye to
the ultimate appeal to fear if moral suasion fails to persuade. Such organizational forms
are inherently terroristic, although to say so seems (but only seems) to make too strong a
3-12. What passes for diplomacy (at least since von Clausewitz) is too often terroristic:
"Come, let us sit down at the bargaining table and discuss matters rationally. If you won't,
then we will bomb you back to the bargaining table."
This is really only a slightly better dressed version of Don Corleone's conception of
diplomacy in The Godfather: "Let me make you an offer you can't refuse."1 Translated,
this meant, "Let us reason together; and, if you don't come around to our way of thinking,
we're going to blow your brains out." When Michael Corleone tells his fiancée that his
father is no different from politicians and presidents, she tells him that he is naïve:
"Presidents don't kill people!" His response? "Who's being naïve?"2
The pacifist accepts Michael Corleone's argument--not for the sake of justifying
violence, however, but for the sake of demythologizing the state and its claim of legitimate
3-13. Von Clausewitz's conception of "diplomacy" is a curious mixture: apparently a
simultaneous appeal to moral suasion and to terror. What appears on the surface to
be an earnest appeal to moral suasion is actually, in such circumstances, only veiled
If new wine is put into old leather wineskins, are not both destroyed? If moral suasion
is backed up by threat of force, are not both messages weakened or destroyed?
3-14. What is peace that it may be referred to as both end and means? Indeed, the
only peace worthy of the term must be conceived of as both end and means. That is,
"peace" in any meaningful sense cannot be conceived of as an end state if it is presumed
to be achievable by violent or coercive means: that would only be the "peace" of the
graveyard or the "peace" of regimentation and political repression.
3-15. The common usage of the term "terrorism" conceals a multitude of sins: the term
has almost come to signify a certain selective blindness toward all but one sort of
violence--revolutionary violence. That is, persons who speak too glibly of "terrorism"
typically use the term to refer only to that violence which is used for revolutionary ends.
Violence which is used for anti-revolutionary purposes is somehow praised and
Of violence we may say that there are usually two broad rationales for its use by two
broadly different types of persons: first, those who are basically satisfied with the existing
or established order and who tend to react with violence to any perceived threat to that
order; and, second, those who are basically dissatisfied with the established order and
whose frustrations with their own social or economic standing impel them (with or without
being incited by others) to revolt against the established order or its defenders.
The United States, today a very fat and satisfied nation, is sometimes seen as having
changed from having been a predominantly revolutionary culture to being a profoundly
reactionary culture. There has indeed been some tendency in that direction. Yet,
although the use of violence has routinely been invoked in this country's history, that
usage has seldom really been for truly revolutionary purposes: the only war even
smacking of "revolutionary war" was not the Revolutionary War at all but the Civil War,
which did result in a radical transformation of this country. Most other wars in this
country's history--and most obviously and notably the war against the native
inhabitants--have been profoundly anti-revolutionary or reactionary. As for the so-called
"Revolutionary War," one may say that it was basically a war led by and for the
established classes in this country. The tendency to call that war and that war only the
"Revolutionary War" is associated with a purely nationalistic conception of revolution. By
contrast, acts of war resulting from dissatisfaction with social and economic conditions
have been seen instead as "labor violence," "anarchism," "communism," or "terrorism."
Violence against the established order is thus typically derogated as being "incendiary"
or "inciting," and has been cause for criminal prosecution. Violence on behalf of the
established order, by contrast, has been labeled as "noble" and "heroic" and has been
cause for rituals of reward, commendation, and memorial: there is to my knowledge no
memorial in this country to the innocent victims of war. The state only rewards and
memorializes those who have fought to maintain the existing order. Thus, by both honor
and remuneration the state succeeds in the purchasing or at least the long-term leasing of
the souls of most of its "citizens," most of whom are not even aware of how short the
bargain really is.
The irony of all of this, however, is that by the most insidious process of reaction, "war"
has been elevated into a noble institution commanding the immediate loyalty of the
citizenry, while the less effective disorganized acts of violence have come to be
disparaged by such derogatory terms as "anarchism" and "terrorism" referred to above.
And, in times of war, countries with more primitive and less organized instruments of war
are not only mocked but are also more likely to be labeled as "terrorist" nations. In war
more than in any other institution, nothing succeeds like success--its advocates glorify
brute national strength as if to say that justice really is nothing more than the will of the
stronger. Thus, the same primitive moral view that sees war as a wholesome exercise of
divine justice through the arm of the state also tends to see national strength as indicative
of national justice and righteousness of purpose.
Greater opprobrium has been directed by nominal Christianity against revolutionary
violence than against reactionary violence, which is typically applauded and defended as
being very nearly the incarnate "wrath of God."
From a Christian pacifist view of history, however, both types of violence--revolutionary
and reactionary--are to be deplored.
3-16. There is a view of military organizations which sees them as relying upon a
mixture of methods of achieving compliance with organizational goals, methods ranging
from coercion to remuneration to moral exhortation. (See Amitai Etzioni, A Comparative
Analysis of Complex Organizations.3)
Yet, military organizations do not merely mix their types of appeals, as Etzioni correctly
says; they also use coercion to varying degrees in the teaching of moral ideals. Since
one of the characteristic features of the truly normative mode of control is the appeal to
voluntary compliance, this mixture of modes of control in the socializing process works
against the realization of that atmosphere of rational persuasion within which one may
speak meaningfully of an appeal to truly moral modes of gaining compliance. Since
coercion sets the framework for the moral appeal, and since the limits of inquiry and
intellectual response are set and enforced within an institutional framework maintained by
coercion, certain types of moral arguments cannot be seriously considered, thus vitiating
the appeal to rational persuasion which is so central to moral appeals.
In addition, in the case of the military, the institutional devices used in the stripping
away of certain previously socialized norms are devices so filled with threat and coercion
that one cannot take seriously as moral phenomena those lessons that are so taught.
The methods of instilling these norms so nearly border on the techniques used in
"brainwashing" that one cannot respect the claim that any true appeal on the moral level
has occurred. One feels somehow that "programming" is the kind of "moral teaching" that
has been achieved.
3-17. In a significant sense, the "institutional stripping" of military socialization attempts
to reduce the individual to a "blank slate" status, a process which can never be completely
successful, but which in any case can succeed to varying degrees in reducing the recruit
to something of a moral infant. If the recruit is already a virtual child, so much the better is
the chance of achieving this goal. Young persons--children--are chosen as recruits in the
first place, of course, since they are much more malleable than older ones.
The etymology of the word "infantry" should not be forgotten: l'enfant, the French word
for child (and going back even further, to refer to those who could not speak).
3-18. Policemen and soldiers are told that they are there to protect the public.
What they are in fact being used for is to enforce the limitations on access to primary
goods. They are there to guard against the challenges to exclusivity with regard to these
goods. Policemen and soldiers are thus the unwitting guardians, not of the
commonwealth, but of exclusive wealth. A true commonwealth would have no boundaries
of status and privilege. A true commonwealth would have no policemen or soldiers.
3-19. Equal access would mean the end of exclusivity. Equal access would also
mean the end of the jobs (and status) of those who enforce exclusivity.
But this is not to blame the policemen or the soldiers. The state touts the soldiers and
the policemen very highly so as to use them--to exploit them for the sake of those
politicians and citizens who enjoy the greatest access to those goods (and that status)
which are most exclusive and most highly prized. Thus it is that the state gives awards
and memorials only to soldiers but not to noncombatants who are also the victims of war:
the soldiers must be deceived as to the gloriousness of their mission.
The wealthy and the privileged will not share wealth and privilege with the soldiers and
the policemen. Therefore they pretend to share honor with them--they even seem publicly
to give the policemen and the soldiers the greatest, most exclusive honor ("The highest
honor your country can bestow. . . ."). The life of the common man, an earnest person, is
often bought with many lies and few dollars--but with lots and lots of pretty ribbons and
They gave the Indians trinkets, too--before they exterminated them. They were noble
beings, too, just as almost all soldiers are.
3-20. Beware when you let them pin that little trinket to your lapel, soldier. It is not for
what you have done that they wish to reward you. It is for that use to which they might
next have need to put you--or your children.
3-21. Yet, yet, if there is ever a memorial to all of the innocent victims of war, do not let
them exclude the soldiers' and policemen's names from the plaques.
3-22. Since I abhor violence in all forms, I cannot accept the logic of those who might
take it upon themselves to sabotage all nuclear weapons if they but had the capability.
A true victory over the weapons of war lies not in the sabotage of those weapons, but
in the subversion of faith in the moral efficacy of war. Only those whom one has rationally
converted to one's cause can be counted upon not to rebuild the weapons--probably
better than before. Sabotage only hardens the faulty belief system of the militarists.
The most effective subversion of the violent state uses solely the "weapons" of ideas.
3-23. This country has counted its successes in the confrontational game of mutual
nuclear deterrence in the same way that a novice dice-thrower crows about his successes
at playing "double or nothing". The game is fun while one is on a roll, but the exuberance
of the "winning" novice is a cause of considerable scorn and disbelief among more
experienced players as they wait for the odds to catch up--and for the ever-doubling pot
go to the inevitable nothing.
3-24. The analogy of nuclear war with a game of craps is only suggestive and far from
strict: nuclear deterrence has a lot going for it which makes the odds very good in any
given confrontation or "roll." The prospect of disaster should also make any rational actor
stop short of a nuclear exchange. Even with very good odds on every roll, however, the
pot will go to nothing quickly enough if one insists upon continuing to roll the dice. The
limited wars of the Cold War era always had some finite probability of escalating into
full-scale nuclear exchanges. The present situation still contains some finite risk of total
Nuclear deterrence might have to work indefinitely to work at all, for all we know (or
knew in the late 1980's). It cannot work forever, no matter how low the odds may be for a
given "roll" or confrontation. It is an arrogant strategy that is presumed to be 100%
successful, and nuclear deterrence as a long-range strategy obviously has a lower
chance of success the longer it is depended on to work. Perhaps it is this realization that
impels many advocates of nuclear deterrence to talk about a "winnable" or at least
"survivable" nuclear war: when "crapping out" (and losing the whole pot) is a virtual
certainty sooner or later, the ones who want to keep rolling must have some way of
denying the horror--and the near inevitability--of finally rolling snake-eyes.
3-25. Seen in the light of the crap-shooting metaphor, the very "success" of nuclear
deterrence since WWII is thus cause for concern. Its success (like that of the
double-or-nothing crap shooter) tends to promote a greater boldness and recklessness.
Success in the real nuclear power game thus encourages the fatal miscalculation to occur
at some point: one actor, inebriated by power and the illusion of the virtual impossibility of
war, is likely to commit an act of aggression which is falsely presumed either to lie within a
zone of indifference (or at least acceptability) on the part of the other side, or else which is
presumed to be safe enough simply because "nothing has gone wrong for x years now."
The stage is thus set for the novice player to roll craps.
The analogy with crap-shooting has it limitations, of course: if either side craps out in a
bi-polar situation, everyone loses. In the era of nuclear proliferation, however, the
damage might admittedly be containable: only one or two countries might take significant
losses in a given exchange. Even so, the odds of somebody losing are very great.
3-26. Did I hear someone say that he thought that discussion of nuclear war is quite
irrelevant since the collapse of the Soviet Union?
3-27. I have assumed that the use of terror is morally unjustifiable, but I have not
argued for this underlying premise. I do believe somehow that the premise is correct, but
what kind of proof or reasoned argument would demonstrate its correctness?
A similar problem faces those who would try to demonstrate the correctness of their
claim that there are justifiable uses of terror. Indeed, from the point of view of
epistemological burden, theirs is the greater: they have to justify terror.
3-28. The defender of the presumed "justifiable use of terror" (war, punishment) has at
his disposal only arguments which are purely empirical and consequentialist. He can
surely offer no a priori arguments for the morality of using violence and terror. About the
best that he can do by way of his "practical" consequentialist arguments is to say that the
end justifies the means (which is about all that raw utilitarianism amounts to in practice).
If terrorism is claimed to be practical on utilitarian or other conse-quentialist grounds,
can its efficacy actually be demonstrated by empirical or a posteriori means? I think not,
and I am not aware of any a priori argument which one could possibly invoke to
demonstrate its efficacy, much less its morality.
3-29. It would be very nice if the solution to oppression were as easy and as quick as
dismantling either nuclear weapons or a mere physical wall of concrete and steel.
Dismantling a wall of moral rationalization is a much more formidable challenge.
3-30. War, as the most insidious manifestation of institutionalized terror, is at once the
most successful and most abjectly unsuccessful of institutions. It is successful in that it
continues to recruit new converts with every generation and promises to do so into the
foreseeable future. In terms of longevity, it is thus a very successful institution indeed.
On the other hand, if peace is the goal of war, then its success is very hard to
document. There certainly has yet to be a war which could be validly claimed to have
ended all wars, and there never will be, for war feeds upon war as violence feeds upon
violence and retaliation feeds upon retaliation.
War, that is, contains within itself the seeds of its own propagation.
3-31. Even if one concedes that war is unjustifiable, one might wish to insist that there
are more limited and manageable uses of terror which are justifiable. Although I have a lot
of problems with any claim of "justifiable terror," I have to concede that the policeman
does seem to have a stronger prima facie claim to the use of terror than does the soldier.
The policeman presumably threatens violence (and thus induces terror) for the sake of
justice, and he can affirm that, in his attempt to uphold the law, he is only frightening
criminals and is able to do so on a scale that is not only manageable but by methods
whose consequences can be clearly seen.
This argument, although powerful, still fails to be very convincing. What the policeman
upholds in the typical case is not justice but merely "the law," and the law is always the
instrument of class interest. Even if the interest is that of the middle class and of the
majority of the people, the sad truth is that law enforcement terror falls dispropor-tionately
upon the poor, the disadvantaged, and those of minority status. In most cases, that is, the
terror of the law falls upon either the innocent or the least advantaged--or both.
3-32. There is no justification for members of dominant cultures to label acts of
hostility on the part of less dominant cultures or individuals as "terroristic" at the same time
that they label their own reactions to provocation as "just" or "justifiable": both are
terroristic, and neither is justifiable. Not even wars of "national liberation" are "just wars."
Yet, if one had to ask which was the greater injustice, one would have to say in
general that violence on the part of the established class or culture is the greater injustice:
"underdog" individuals or cultures often react with violence out of the frustration of
suffering under one or another de facto caste system, whereas dominant classes or
cultures use violence in a calculated and deliberate manner to maintain their position of
dominance or privilege. Thus, although one does not want to condone the resort to
violence, the resort to revolutionary violence is perhaps typically less evil than the
institutionalized system of violence which maintains the de facto caste system. (Race
riots and wars of national liberation are cases in point.) It is true, of course, that there are
examples where both anti-revolutionary and revolutionary violence are for the sake of
defensible values, even if the resort to violence is not truly defensible.
This is not to justify violence on the part of either party: it is to say that there is no a
priori basis in a given situation for saying that one or the other resort to violence is more
nearly justified. Even so, the tendency of the established classes to label uprisings by the
oppressed as "terrorism" reflects the greater hypocrisy.
3-33. Beware the "expert on terrorism": the term "terrorism" implies not so much that
any particular threshold of anxiety has been reached, but that a moral judgment is being
made for one side's use of violence and against the other side's use of violence.
The term "terrorism," that is, is a profoundly political term, a term more useful for
propagandizing than for objective scientific analysis. Thus, when we see some social
scientist who is claimed to be an "expert on terrorism" being interviewed on television, we
are almost certain to find someone who speaks on behalf of the status quo, someone who
probably would defend the use of violence against the "terrorists" as being "justifiable"
rather than "terroristic."
Most analysts of terrorism, that is, are pawns of the established order, and the degree
of respect which they are accorded is consistent with the established order's pattern of
rewarding those who support its value system, its biases, and its position of dominance
3-34. It is time to declare a war of reason on the military mind-set. The military
mind-set transcends national boundaries, so that this battle must be a global one.
Nonetheless, like guerrilla wars everywhere, this one must begin in occupied territory,
which is to say at home. The methods developed here can be transferred elsewhere
easily enough, since they involve merely words.
In this war, at least, the pacifist has the advantage in the mobility of his weapons, not
to mention their ultimate power.
3-35. In traditional warfare, one wages war on the other side. When attacking
militarism, the logical place to begin is by attacking one's own side or nation: self-criticism
is a virtue, and what is the nation but the self writ large?
3-36. Military euphemism is used to distort reality. What is the U.S. Air Force but the
greatest and best-funded public relations organization in the world today? In fact, anyone
who watches television cannot but help wonder if the Air Force could possibly be as
successful at waging war as it is at waging an advertising campaign.
Unfortunately, it is very, very good at both.
3-37. Can the moral "war" against militarism be successful? Consider that there was
once a time in which there was only One consistent pacifist: God Incarnate.
There are now quite a few. Someday there will be millions more. The nice thing about
all of this is that the increase in sheer numbers is not a "show of force": no one should be
frightened, terrorized, by a rising tide of international, transnational pacifism.
Let all potential recruits into the struggle for peace, however, be reminded as to what
they might have to give up in order to help wage this struggle: their countries, their
families, their reputations, their lives.
The faint of heart need not apply.
3-38. May heaven help the poor soul who believes (and expresses the belief) that the
Marine Corps does not build men, but instead builds killing machines. Heaven help
anyone who admits that the Army might not be the best way to "Be all that you can be!"
As for the Navy, can there be any doubt that here is, at best, a gentlemen's club for its
officers (at least when they are not engaged in organized rapine)?
An assault upon the military is seen to be an assault not only upon the organizational
culture, but upon its personnel, their wives and children and all who support them.
Criticizing the military is perceived to be a profoundly un-American activity, and woe to the
person who is willing to risk any semblance of un- or anti-Americanism.
The fact remains that militarism is nothing more than organized terrorism, and anyone
who criticizes the military can expect--sooner or later--to be terrorized.
3-39. The metaphor of a "military virus" may seem flippant. It is not, but neither does it
demonstrate respect for the military mind-set.
It is, of course, the mind-set, not the people in the military, which is the virus. It is the
mind-set, not the people, that one wants to avoid or destroy. Yet, to attack the virus, it is
necessary to associate with military people, to understand their thinking and their culture,
so as to be able better to work against the virus without hurting the individuals who are
infected with it. One wants to be able to do all of this without becoming infected with it in
3-40. A military triumph by the less militaristic culture or faction, the lesser of two evils,
is analogous to the spread of a retrovirus: the triumph by the use of military force sows
the seeds for the glorification of the military among those who are presently less
militaristic. Thus does the virus perpetuate itself, even in democratic causes and regimes:
it infects healthy cultures and uses their vital resources until the time comes for it to
replicate itself in that culture and to spread beyond its original confines. Generally, a
threat from outside that culture is the trigger, although sometimes the threat which triggers
it comes from a subculture. The threat may be real or imagined.
Although it can afflict persons of all ages, the military virus seems to have a particular
affinity for the young, whose infantile power fantasies and lack of maturity make them
more susceptible to it. As a cultural phenomenon, it spreads most rapidly among those
people and in those cultures most impotent and thus most susceptible to it. In one form or
another, however, it threatens everyone everywhere.
The virus also "mutates," meaning in this case that it has ways of converting itself into
forms which one may not yet be immunized against. Almost everyone in this country, for
example, is immunized against the kind of fascism personified by Adolf Hitler. They are
not thereby immunized to the variants of the virus found in the ideology of our own armed
forces or in other paramilitary organizations.
3-41. Since the military virus is deadlier than drugs and disease, the remarkable thing
is that we do not spend nearly so much time warning the young against it. Indeed, the
esteemed members of society typically lure the young into those activities and
organizations infected with it: they are its "carriers." This is its peculiarly insidious nature:
many threats lie outside the individual and the healthy core of his or her culture. The
danger and power of the military virus lie in the very fact that it lies within the culture, is a
component of the culture: indeed, the infected culture becomes the prime propagator.
The body politic is infected with it, and non-militaristic forms of organization tend to be
either squeezed out by it or destroyed by it.
3-42. When we offer militaristic rationales to young people, we are like parents who
give their children serpents when they ask for bread.
3-43. Retaliation, whatever the motive, goes through at least an intermediary state of
inducing fear in another person. In simple vengeance, fear is the simple end or goal of
retaliation: one enjoys another's displeasure, horror. In simple deterrence, fear is an
unfortunate means for achieving some higher end. In either case of retaliation, however,
fear is anticipated and yet accepted as either the end or as a necessary means for
achieving the end. The point is that retaliation condones the use of fear, even where it
does not glorify it.
The overt retributivist does glorify fear: he believes either (out of simple vengeance)
that someone ought to tremble, or he believes (as in a more principled retributivism) that
such trembling is good for the soul, for the sake of inducing repentance. The
utilitarian-deterrence conception does not glorify the use of fear in quite the same way,
but it certainly condones the use of fear: indeed, it perceives fear as being essential to the
achievement of the goal, the modification of certain behavior.
Any philosophy which tries to justify retaliation, however, is a terroristic doctrine.
Noble ends do not change this fact.
"For God has not given us the spirit of fear. . . ." (II Timothy, 1:7)
3-44. If the world were down to its last pacifist, and if the militarists are right in saying
that such a weak person would be killed by unlawful men, then one thing is certain--that
death would produce more converts to the cause.
Have the militarists not heard of the one mustard seed which fell into the ground some
two thousand years ago? The death of one pacifist is a wondrous thing, for it sows the
seed for many, many more.
3-45. Vis-à-vis Hitler, one often hears, "But would you not have fought against
Yes, I would have fought against it. I am fighting against it now.
3-46. What is militarism but the defining core of fascism? I would not have joined the
military to fight against fascism. I would not, that is, have joined fascism in order to defeat
fascism. Can one expect to defeat fascism by embracing its methods?
Is it by "demons" that we are to cast out "demons"?
[Please continue to