Soldiers cannot be separated from the crimes they commit. One can’t hate the senseless destruction and suffering created by war and the greed and hate that motivates it and simultaneously “support the troops.” That’s like being against the Third Reich but supporting the Nazis because they were “just following orders” after all. Without soldiers, there are no wars. They fly the planes, drop the bombs, and pull the pins and triggers. They terrorize vulnerable people and they make the decision to join. It is not the abstract concept of “war” that causes all of this senseless destruction. The sentiment that state militaries are “brave” and “heroic” purported by statists is one of the most vile and putrid lies on Earth. US soldiers are simply hired killers in the largest, most advanced, best equipped, and most heavily funded military on Earth who terrorize mostly defenseless people for control of their resources and people. At best, soldiers are misguided, impressionable, opportunistic youth who think they’re making a difference. At worst they are trigger-happy, psychopathic, xenophobic, obsequious cowards fighting for American hegemony. The same is true of police except they prey on the American public. Along with the rest of government, they are a sick, twisted, perverted cult with its own leaders, propaganda, and system of indoctrination that makes new recruits out of children every year, wasting so many lives and ecosystems in the process. What truly does take courage is resisting these vile, ubiquitous machines and the military industrial complex and prison (slave) system more broadly.
Fortunately, there isn’t a draft in the US. No one in the state forces any one else to join, so there is simply no excuse for voluntarily joining. Military apologists justify individuals’ decisions to join with the deception of the propaganda. But we live in the age of information. Never has so much information been available with a simple internet connection, including information about the myriad of crimes against humanity the US government has committed and continues to commit every day in the name of “freedom,” “security,” “order,“ and “democracy” from droning innocent civilians in seven different countries to conventional bombing to use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium on civilians in Iraq, to arming the militaries of 172 different countries, to black site prisons where torture is an everyday occurrence, and on and on. Propaganda is no excuse for joining.
Other apologists cite the effectiveness of military advertisements to exploit young people’s interest in higher education. Signs promoting “free tuition” just for joining the cult of the military adorn areas impressionable young people frequent. But this again is no excuse. The potential utility of college degrees to convince employers of worthiness of employment that allows for financial security appeals to most. But there are a potentially infinite number of ways to earn the money for higher education, aside from killing people in foreign countries for their resources. (America is one of the only rich, modern nations in the world that only offers free education if you are willing to become a hired killer for the government. Education is otherwise not seen as a right here as it is in many other industrialized countries.) There are also scholarships awarded to those with very high grades, community service, and extracurricular activities on their record, along with public schools with much more affordable education. Furthermore, there are countless ways to survive or make a living without a job that requires a college degree. It is lazy, amoral, and self-serving to join the military for any reason. Democrats market themselves as the “anti-war party.” But both republicans and democrats in office unilaterally support wars for American hegemony. Establishment democrats often repeat the refrain “Support the troops. Bring them home.” But why support them at all? Again, there would be no wars without them. They have made a decision to kill people and impose American hegemony for their own selfish interests. They deserve no support and our support justifies what they are doing and encourages more to join. It furthers the myth that there is something honorable or noble about war and indiscriminate killing and that war is anything other than a despicable racket. The only time it is noble is when its directed against empires in self-defense.
The military and police are the gears and oil that keep states running. Without them all that is left are the bureaucrats and lunatics in positions of enormous power and wealth conjuring up lies and propaganda for their lucrative wars – lunatics who we outnumber and who thus can be easily defeated without their armies. The most heinous actions ever committed in history were performed by people “just following orders” like the pilots who dropped nuclear weapons over Nagasaki and Hiroshima or the officers of Japanese internment camps commanded by their “superiors.” Because they were just listening to their commanding officers, they were able to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions. Their commanding officers often did the same as they argued they only gave the commands but did not actually do anything beyond that. This hierarchy that allows for so much endless buck-passing exists so that no one has to feel responsible for the atrocities of war.
The rulers of the pathocracies of the world only have so much power because we give them their monopoly on force. Without that they are mere peons like the rest of us like lone kings on a chess board. Their titles become meaningless when they are surrounded. They can’t defend themselves once their armies have disappeared or stopped fighting for them. If we can convince the foot soldiers of the 1% to come to our side, then the revolution doesn’t have to be so bloody. More common people don’t have to kill more common people by the orders of their “masters” for political or economic gain.
We must try to wake these people up, even though they are the hardest to wake up. The people with perhaps the most potential to do this are veterans and currently enlisted soldiers against war. Those who have been or are currently enlisted in the military generally have far more power to influence current and prospective soldiers than regular civilians. They must dissuade everyone they can from joining or staying in the military and instead encourage them to take direct action against the state and corporate monopolies. They have to make their voices heard as loud as possible and use their platform as current soldiers or vets against war to promote their message. Community militias and solider councils that actually fight for the people and are the people can replace state militaries.
Fundamental in people’s armies is the absence of hierarchy and shifting of positions, so that no one is merely a solider until death and no one is ordered to carry out some suicide mission by a general or marshal who never has to get dirty, much less bloody. We are all capable of playing a myriad of roles, even at the same time. One could be a solider one year, a medic the next, a baker next, or all three at once. This way these positions don’t “go to people’s heads” and soldiers don’t feel removed from the rest of us as “better” than us or alienated such that they feel common people don’t understand their plight. When this psychology infects soldiers, they stop listening to civilians against war. In their minds, they just “don’t understand” because they “weren’t there.”
Community militias require all in the community to play a role. Even those who aren’t physically capable of defending others can keep watch and play an important role as lookouts. We must all be “potential soldiers,” as in a certain set of circumstances we may all be required to fight. As Mikhail Bakunin said, “All that a well-organized society can do is, first, to assist at the birth of a revolution by spreading among the masses ideas which give expression to their instincts, and to organize, not the army of the Revolution – the people alone should always be that army – but a sort of revolutionary general staff, composed of dedicated, energetic, intelligent individuals, sincere friends of the people above all, men neither vain nor ambitious, but capable of serving as intermediaries between the revolutionary idea and the instincts of the people.”
They call anyone who resists state violence “radical” or “terrorists” but there’s no one and nothing more radical or terroristic than the state’s tyranny. The greatest dangers in the world by far come from governments, which rule without consent and declare any attack on their borders to be an attack on everyone living within these arbitrary borders drawn up by conquest and genocide. We need a world with equity and justice for all forms of life. We need basic human rights to be upheld like clear air, clean water, healthy food, health-care, and voluntary education. The will for indiscriminate violence and non-state acts of terror would dissipate almost entirely if we upheld these basic rights. Justice and peace would then come. But there will be no peace without justice and equity. And peace without justice and equity is still tyranny as it is a negative or social “peace” that only exists due to coercion, state violence, hierarchy, and the subjugation of the working class, poor, and minorities. We must strive for equity and justice first by resisting the state and all forms of tyranny, hierarchy, environmental destruction, and capitalism.