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 automati-
cally 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 legiti-
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 Stu-
dents 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 every culture.
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 dangerous
ness 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 to convey.
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
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" doc-
trine, 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 argu-
ment 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 of terrorism.
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 terms.
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 na‹ve 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 indistin
guishable 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 mutual threat.
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 statement.
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 fianc‚e that his father is no different from politicians and presidents, she tells him
that he is na‹ve: "Presidents don't kill people!" His response? "Who's being na‹ve?"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
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 terrorism.
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
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 considered "legitimate."
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
Greater opprobrium has been directed by nominal Christianity against revolu-
tionary 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--revolu-
tionary 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 argu-
ments 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 shiny medals.
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
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
The most effective subversion of the violent state uses solely the "weapons" of
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 disaster.
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 real-
ization 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-
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 reckless
ness. 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
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
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 manage-
able 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
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 frus-
tration 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
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
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 and privilege.
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
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 organiza
tional 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-American
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 turn.
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 some-
times the threat which triggers it comes from a subculture. The threat may be real or
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 repen-
tance. 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-…-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"?
3-47. If you believe in the power of conscience (or moral suasion) to change the
world, then do not glorify fear: any threat or appeal to fear, however subtle, tends to
produce anger and thus to interfere with the progress of reason, which is the
foundation of conscience.
Even God, I dare say, does not deal in fear. Fear is the absence of God, or the
absence of divine reason, or of the Spirit of God. That Spirit is referred to biblically
as a comforter (John 14:16-17), not a threatening presence. One cannot simulta
neously truly believe in God and fear God: "For God has not given us the spirit of
fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (II Timothy 1:7) If the God
that one says that one believes in is the God of fear, then one does not believe in God
at all, but in some idolatrous product of someone's imagination. When we do fear
God, that is, we are fundamentally deluded, for in God there is nothing to fear.
When we say that we are going to "teach someone a lesson" or "put the fear of
God" into someone, we are speaking what could be called "idolatrous" nonsense.
This is the ultimate "blasphemy" against the Spirit of God.
3-48. Threatening persons does not make them easier to control: it makes them
mad as hornets and generally unmanageable and unpredictable.
3-49. What is faith in God but faith in alternatives to fear?
3-50. Perhaps we should radically redefine peace as the freedom from fear.
"Peace through deterrence" would then be seen as the obvious contradiction that it
is: "peace through fear."
3-51. Peace as freedom from fear entails not only freedom from overt threat, but
freedom from most methods of social control, including the fear of adverse public
opinion--fear of becoming a social outcast.
In a state of perfect peace, persons would be responding entirely to the intrinsic
sanctions of conscience, not to any extrinsic attempts to coerce, bribe, manipulate, or
threaten them with destruction, incarceration, or other punishment or deprivation of
3-52. John Paul II, in his World Day of Peace Message in 1982, posited not only
a right of self-defense, but a duty of it as well. Augustine was even more emphatic,
arguing that it is a "Manichean heresy" to say that war is evil in and of itself: "War and
conquest are a sad necessity in the eyes of men of principle, yet it would be still more
unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men."4
Whatever happened to the simple, humble ethic of the Prince of Peace? What is
"turning the other cheek" but a metaphor for abjuring a claimed right of self-defense?
3-53. How can we let a barbarian culture, such as the Nazis, overrun a peaceful
and civilized culture? This is the ultimate challenge for the pacifist, and there is more
than one response to it. One of them is that, if we must become barbarians in order
to stop barbarians, then of what value is our own surviving culture? Has it not
become barbaric also?
The questions are not hypothetical. We did meet the Nazis. We did defeat them.
Perhaps we even became the new barbarians, the nuclear terrorists, barbarians and
terrorists on a scale never before seen, prepared to destroy the world for the sake of
our own dubious security.
Therefore, fear not the transgressor, the aggressor, or the barbarian. If we must
fear, then let us fear what we are or what we may become. Fearing that, let us risk
everything to become all that we might be.
3-54. In the face of organized aggression, let us demonstrate that we care less
about our own safety than about the moral community that is even now emerging.
Let us demonstrate to the aggressor that we care more about her or his spiritual
well-being than about our own physical and material well-being: let him kill us if so
doing will cause him--someday--to rethink the error of his ways.
3-55. An assault upon the institution of war is perhaps the most mammoth
undertaking conceivable. For this project, and this alone, God himself saw fit to
intervene directly, to come to earth in the form of man. Beside this challenge, triumph
over physical disease, building of the Suez and Panama canals, going to the moon, all
pale by comparison. There is nothing that captures the imagination like the idea of
eternal, worldwide peace.
Yet, we do not act upon our imaginations--even at the level of interpersonal
3-56. The assault upon the institution of war is in some ways a risky undertaking.
It must go forward without sanction from the state, for the state is born and
maintained of war. One might even say that the state has a vested interest in war:
without conflict the state would be out of business. Therefore we may expect the
state to spend enormous sums of money not only to be prepared to wage war, but to
promote the institution of war through promotion of the military and of nationalism.
Against such massive efforts by the state, what chance does peace have, being
capable of coming into being only by the actions of myriads of individuals? The
answer is surely that peace is the will of God, and the will of God surely cannot be
frustrated indefinitely. It is also my belief that peace on earth is the will of God, and
that we do ourselves a disservice--and commit a disloyalty to God--when we say that
global peace is not possible.
3-57. Perhaps the cause of peace requires us to believe that peace is not only
possible, but inevitable. I do not accept this, however: it has the ring of Marxism
about it, the assumption of the inevitability of the success of communism.
Somewhere between saying that peace is inevitable and peace is impossible lies the
reality: peace is possible.
3-58. Consider the following fragments from a paper entitled "Peace Is Our
Profession" by a former graduate student of mine, a very amiable and intelligent Air
Force Academy graduate who went on to become the commander of a B-1 bomber
crew. Like all good students during the era of events preceding the bombing of Libya
(1986), he was much appalled by and concerned with the problem of terrorism. As
was (and is) the case for so many reputable thinkers, he made a clear distinction
between "terrorism" and "deterrence":
I'll ponder what "right stuff" is found in people who wait patiently for
the signal to launch missiles or drop bombs--"administrators" who can
claim "Peace Is Our Profession" and without whom there could be no
policy of deterrence. . . .
Although the military man will establish and maintain cooperative
behavior toward the goal of deterrence, a flood of new discretion roars
in should deterrence fail.
This Air Force officer, no mere cog in anybody's machine, believed that nuclear deter-
rence helps to prevent nuclear war, and in his paper he expressed the idea that
cooperating with the system (by obeying orders coming down the hierarchy) is the
right thing to do as long as deterrence is working. Yet, he grappled with the enduring
intellectual and practical dilemma as to what to do if deterrence should fail:
Once the system breaks down, a different set of processes allows new
alternatives to be considered. Should the weapons be sent on their
assigned paths of destruction? Those who control nuclear weapons. . .
must convince themselves that nuclear warfare is not the greatest of evils-
-indeed, a giant step in rational thought. . . . At first inspection, to find
something more evil than nuclear war seems impossible. However, closer
examination forces the consideration of modern Soviet communism as a
potentially greater evil. . . .
[A] thorough study of the predicted effects of a nuclear strike against the
U.S. must conclude that much of the "free" world would survive
unharmed. Contrary to the widely publicized opinions of anti-nuclear
groups, I'm convinced that much of the world's population would, in fact,
be spared. Without revealing any of my classified knowledge, I contend:
1. Total destruction of U.S. and Soviet population centers is impossi-
ble. . . .
2. Fallout will be the most widespread threat. However, fallout is
also the easiest to defend against. . . .
3. Most of the world's existing warheads will not be involved. . . . At
any one time, the vast majority of warheads are in storage. A significant
number will be destroyed by others targeted at the same location (called
"fratricide"). Some will fail or refuse to be launched, and some will fail
mechanically. . . .
From these three points, I challenge the "nuclear winter" and
"Armageddon" predictions bemoaned by those who either aren't aware
of some critical facts, or prefer not to exercise logical examination of
these facts. I'm not making light of the seriously frightening aftermath of
a nuclear war--I'm merely arguing the high probability that quality life
will continue, forcing us to make appropriate decisions on how to protect
that life. [Emphasis supplied.]
It would be easy to end the quote at this point and leave the reader with the
impression that this particular officer is doing nothing more than simply trying to
rationalize away the horrors of nuclear war. In fact, he is trying to deal with the
longstanding issue of the morality of following orders: the perennial problem of
"administrative discretion," albeit in the context of nuclear deterrence and U.S.
Ending the above quote out of context would not be doing justice to his
arguments, which take a surprising twist and continue in a way that defies easy
categorization. He certainly is not arguing from egoistic premises, whether at the
personal or national levels, for he goes on to argue that not only personal, but
national, sacrifice may be the moral requirement for the larger cause of freedom for
Consequently, a retaliatory strike against the Soviets would prevent
them from forcing their will on others, even if the U.S. perished. Biblical
study reveals Christ refused to defend himself as an individual, but
attacked evil when it threatened the spiritual life of God's people. . . .
[Cites scriptural account of Christ driving the money changers out of the
We could never tolerate inferior minds in control of nuclear weapons.
Those people who do have the "right stuff" must be encouraged to seek
and remain in nuclear administrator roles. . . . In today's world, without
them there could be no peace.5
Although the arguments above can be best understood in the context of the Cold War,
their continuing relevance is obvious with appropriate modifications to the post Cold
War era. Indeed, if anything, the argument in favor of the use of nuclear weapons is
perhaps stronger in a world in which only limited nuclear exchange is likely.
I must yet ask the reader of the above to consider several questions:
(1) If the above writer (or one of his colleagues or a counterpart in an updated
scenario) were indeed to launch his weapons and inflict, say, 100,000 to 3,000,000
casualties (mostly civilians if the weapons were targeted against cities), would his
good intentions prevent him from causing consequences more horrible than those
caused by all but a handful of the world's terrorists, and would the resulting conse-
quences justify calling him, a conscientious enemy of terrorism, a terrorist?
(2) If a member of the PLO were to put a gun to the head of an airline pilot but
never fired it, or if the above officer were to aim his missiles at the Soviets but never
launched, would either, or neither, or both, be de facto terrorists?
(3) How are the usages of such concepts as "terrorist" and "terrorism" shaped by
ethical assumptions and normative linguistic frameworks?
(4) How are normative linguistic frameworks linked to empirical facts and
associated empirical conceptual frameworks?
In the answers to such questions lies the solution to the problem of the morality of
nuclear deterrence, since what is really at stake is whether or not a teleological ethic
of consequences is preferable to a categorical renunciation of violence and the
threat of violence.
This is a general problem of ethical theory, and I shall return to these and related
theoretical issues in subsequent chapters.
3-59. What is the nature of the profane in persons or in cultures? I ask the
question because it seems that we live in an increasingly profane culture.
Perhaps one may generalize and say that what really typifies the profane person (in
any social or organizational context) is a glorification of fear. In the realm of action,
the profane person glorifies intimidation and waxes eloquent about coercive forms of
social organization and their sometimes brutal practices. In the realm of sexual
behavior, the profane person glorifies the forbidden, because the sexually profane
person relishes the perverse stimulus offered by risk and its attendant fear.
Even in attitudes toward "authority," the profane person goes out of his or her way
to antagonize those in power, not merely to challenge them: he enjoys the game, the
sport, of baiting others because he knows that there is risk and thus a psychological
"high" in doing so.
All of this is to be distinguished, of course, from those challenges which are the
necessary ingredient of duty and sport. Life without challenge would not only be dull:
it would be meaningless. But where challenge becomes mixed up with deliberate and
unnecessary risk for the sake of the stimulation, even challenge and work itself may
3-60. There is a conservative maxim which says that one should not criticize the
existing order of things unless one is prepared to offer an alternative. This is a very
useful maxim, not only for those who control the existing order, but for those who do
not wish to jeopardize their own position of comfort or privilege: the maxim reassures
them that their silence in the face of injustice is not only permissible, but virtuous.
Can one imagine a physician who would not venture a diagnosis unless he already
knew the cure? Yet, those who disparage the critical social analysis of the uses of
fear are saying that one should not diagnose a social pathology unless one can pre-
scribe the cure.
3-61. The maxim which says that one ought not to criticize the existing order of
things unless one can offer a concrete alternative is essentially a southern maxim. It
is, to be sure, known and revered beyond the South. In the South, however, it is the
Golden Rule of the slave owners and their spiritual progeny--the arch-terrorists of
legend and fact.
The South has been unadaptable to change, and the prime reason for this is that it
has suppressed dissent and debate. At the same time, southern culture has a strong
propensity toward violence and militarism precisely because it does not know any way
to deal with conflict other than to repress it: this has always been the formula for war.
It should be remembered that it was the southerners, not those who wanted to abolish
slavery, who fired the first shots of the Civil War.
The culture of repressed dissent is the culture of war, for it is by fear that dissent
is repressed. The South has been and remains a manifestation of repression and war.
The South, whatever else it might be, is the realm of reverence for fear as the ultimate
3-62. In some ways, the culture which we call "Southern" is one of the worst in
terms of denying any middle ground on the issue of criticism and conflict. Southern
culture is inherently authoritarian, and in this authoritarian culture ladies and
gentlemen are "bred" to believe that controversy and conflict are dangerous and
Southern culture is also the prime recruiting ground for generals and sergeants: the
same attitude which encourages repression of words has never hesitated to use
violence and threat to settle conflict. One might even go so far as to say that
Southern culture is backwards and primitive precisely because it does not know how
to handle conflict in any way other than to suppress it, whether by the clucking of
tongues or the cracking of skulls.
3-63. What we call "southern culture" is a backward culture, and its ladies and
gentlemen are too often barbarians in Sunday clothes. Its orphans and its disenfran
chised are its true aristocrats, but many of them, being either black, poor, or liberal,
are in exile. Many do not wish to return. When they do, they typically wonder why.
3-64. Ultimately, what one sees when one reviews repressive Southern attitudes
toward social criticism is something akin to the taboo in other primitive cultures: the
unspeakable. Whereas the taboo usually proscribes only actions, however, the
Southern attitude toward the unspeakable proscribes words.
The unspeakable: this is that which typifies Southern culture, which gives it its
distinctive flavor. Is there a problem with pregnancy among teenagers? Then let
there be no mention of sex education. Is there racial discrimination? Then let there
be no mention of it in polite society, or let it be rationalized away as something else.
There will be time enough after dark to deal with social problems.
The New South will not have been truly reborn until it forsakes its fascination with
3-65. Southern culture has been from its inception military culture. Nowhere is
the warrior more revered, nor the pacifist more hated, than in the South. As in all
militerroristic cultures, the use of force and hierarchy is closely associated with the in-
vocation of formal channels of communication: routinized methods of suppressing
Bureaucracy as a formal theory originated in Prussia, in what is now East
Germany. The agrarian South is the Prussia of the U.S.A. In hierarchical culture,
there can be no communication without permission. (Communication with permission
is what "channels of communication" is all about.) Communication threatens to allow
disparate and dissenting opinion, opinion which might lead to the collapse of the
Joining the military is easy for the southerner because he has been there all along.
3-66. How did the South come to be the South? How did the authoritarian mind-
set come to be so deeply engrained here? The institution of slavery was the prime
culprit. So odious an institution could only be maintained by terror, and only if ordi-
nary moral sentiments were denied, or at least suppressed. Language, which has the
power to evoke such sentiments, was thus the object of repression: only if language
could be controlled could such an odious institution be allowed to persist. Only those
opinions which supported the economically privileged class could be allowed.
This control of opinion created difficulties, of course. The result was an elaborate
set of protocols which established who could speak, when they could speak, and
about what they could speak. Whereas in most cultures such protocols would only
be enforced rigidly within the military establishment, in the South they had first to be
established within the home: the children above all had to be taught, and taught well,
that all persons in positions of subservience must know their place, whether they were
children, women, or black persons (which is almost to say the same thing, for all of
these were kept in a state of moral infancy against their will).
The natural sentiments and tendencies of children being what they are, however,
the potentially most potent enemies of slavery were indeed within a man's household.
Therefore the children were taught first of all respect for institutionalized authority,
as well as belief in the natural superiority of the white man. This latter nonsensical lie
could only be maintained by the strictest control over questioning and discussion: the
bigger the lie, the more severe the repression. The southern child learned quickly that
there is no sin greater than speaking back to his elders. Once the child had learned to
constrain his opinions in the home over the institution of slavery, this type of "disci-
pline" was quickly transferred to other issues and finally to social settings outside of
the patriarchal family setting: the military.
The slave owners were not put out of work by the Civil War. They simply became
modern military men.
3-67. It might be thought that Biblical inerrantism, not slavery or the rule of
terror, was the source of Southern authoritarianism. The reverse was true. The
lesson of unquestioning obedience learned in conjunction with protection of the
institution of slavery became a deeply ingrained attitude which could be transferred
to the study of history, ethics, anthropology, and theology: everything on which the
Bible professed to have the final word.
In like manner, persons socialized to accept received opinion as true beyond
q uestion were halfway socialized into militarism already: all that was lacking was a
rifle on the shoulder and a new set of badges of status and servitude. The difficult
part of military socialization--taking away the birthright of independent thinking--had
already been done by Daddy and Sunday school. Southern culture became the
breeding ground of every reactionary tendency imaginable.
The final travesty was, of course, the intrusion of Southern values into the realm
of education. Since the conflict of ideas was dangerous, those sporting souls who
insisted upon maintaining their independence of thought were best advised to get out
of the South--and many did. Those who remained promoted, in too many cases, a
conception of education which might be called "the transmission of culture" rather
than critical analysis of culture. Critical attitudes were frankly discouraged. Positive
thinking was encouraged.
Whitewashing was even better, if one could achieve it.
3-68. Through a process of unnatural selection, the ideas which flourished in the
South were often inferior ideas. Intellectual waves and currents from other parts of
the country, or from those repositories of independence in Appalachia extending from
West Virginia into northern Alabama (buttressed by a few independent souls here and
there), did provide a counterpoint from time to time, but overall every idea
(progressive or otherwise) which swept the country swept the South last. The sixties
finally arrived in the South sometime in the early seventies, and the twentieth century
came not with the Wright Brothers in 1902 or the automobile a decade or two later,
but with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
Every milepost of progress in the South can be measured in terms of triumph over
terror. There is reason to believe that the same thing might be true everywhere.