FREEDOM AND MILITARISM
Millions of poor fools have died for feudalism.
Millions of poor fools will die for militarism.
Industrialism stands for production, militarism stands for destruction.
It is tyranny to command; it is slavery to obey.
Unlimited power leads to irresponsible action.
To settle disputes, the people, instead of armies, should be assembled.
To abolish war forever requires freedom of thought and speech.
Invasion is as degrading to those who impose it as it is to those who endure it.
To restrain the invader is an act of justice; to restrain the non-invader is an act of injustice.
Tyranny produces secrecy; secrecy produces insurrection; so tyranny fosters insurrection.
Militarism is founded on force, not freedom; on rule, not reason.
Those who endure Kaisers and Kings without kicking, may not be donkeys, but their docility would indicate it.
Where freedom unfurls her banner, civilization advances; where militarism reigns, knowledge is forgotten and races degenerate.
Militarism is a violation of the principle of Equal Freedom. Militarism is founded on force; its method is violence; its theory is “Might is right”; its purpose is to conquer or destroy. Its greatest heroes are those who have slaughtered the greatest number of people. When differences between nations are settled by appeals to force, and not to justice, the stronger nations soon demonstrate that they are right. While the majority of men have outgrown the notion that a pugilist is in the right and an invalid is in the wrong because the former can thrash the latter, an analogous opinion is still entertained by those nations that rely solely on arms to vindicate the right.
The function of the militarist is war. His business is a fighting one. His teachings are to prepare the people for war and to excite other countries to war.
The distinguishing characteristic of the militarist is parasitism; the power and ability to destroy, and to levy tribute, to impose arbitrary restrictions and collect taxes, to take and to consume; in short, to govern. There was a time when most men were warriors; but as industry developed, fewer and fewer went to war, until only a small minority did so, and the militarists had ‘to force men to serve; and of late years the militarists have to instill ideas of war into the plastic minds of school children in order to keep alive the dying embers of militarism.
In order to better understand the nature of the militarist it may be best to compare it with its opposite, the industrialist.
In the evolution of society there was a new type evolved. This new type preferred working to fighting, preferred raising crops to raising hell. It chose to make what it needed instead of stealing it from others. The difference in the types is apparent by contrast.
The industrialist is constructive. The militarist is destructive. One builds, the other tears down. One produces, the other consumes. One is useful, the other useless. The first is peaceful, the other warlike. The first is humane, the second is inhuman. The first is coming up, the second is going down. The first will inherit everything, the second will perish from the earth. In the past the militarists were in the majority; today they are a small minority. In times of peace they consist of a small per cent of the population of most counties, and in times of war they are only able to get a little larger per cent of the people to join them in their murdering business.
The militarists of one country do not trust the militarists of another country. They stand gun in hand on guard to prevent being taken by surprise by their class in other countries. They have no confidence in them, and they are quite right-no confidence can be placed in them. They are a surviving relic of barbaric times. They pretend to represent the whole people, but they represent themselves only. They cause war without consulting the people. After creating the trouble, they raise the cry that they have been attacked, that they are fighting in self-defense, that they are fighting for the people and the country, and that the people must back them. And, as the people have been taught patriotism, there are but few instances where a nation has repudiated them. The militarists of the other country say the same thing-that they are being invaded, and are fighting in selfdefense-and their nation accepts their statement as true and backs them.
These secret wire-pullers who connive at trouble making, like other criminals blame it upon others, and say they did all they could to prevent war. All the trouble they cause only strengthens their position in a country. It causes an increase in the army and navy, and an increase in one country causes a corresponding increase in other nations.
Without trouble they would soon disappear, and like all types they intend to survive if they can.
The jingo press is the main instrument used by the militarist to enslave the people of a nation to militarism. It neglects nothing that will stir up strife. It constantly plays on the fears of the people. It always sees an enemy in some other country. It is always predicting trouble, and then it manufactures dispatches to sustain its predictions. Like the militarists it represents, it has for its highest motive conquest, loot and greed for territory.
After stirring up trouble between nations, these daily liars will set up the defense that the other country started it, and the same class of liars in the other nation tell the people the same thing and are believed.
This kept press teaches that big navies and armies and military power are identical with progress.
It teaches that these things will prevent war. It doesn’t call attention to the fact that those nations best supplied with them are the ones at war most of the time. If the wealth of a nation depends upon military power, as its champions say, then nations like Germany, Austria, France and England would be very rich, while nations with little or no military power such as Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden would be very poor. But the truth is that the latter nations are richer per capita. Indemnities levied have never been equal to the expenditures. If they had, there would be no war debts in strong nations, while these are the ones having the largest war debts.
The fact is that these conquering nations could buy the territory they have stolen for ten per cent of what it cost them to take and hold it by force.
It is easy to show by statistics that no nation profited by war, but that a small class in a warring nation profits by war is easy to show.
These unscrupulous capitalists, these pilferers for profit, play up in their press patriotic palaver, and fan to flame race prejudice and hatred, till a conflagration ensues, so that they may benefit by the sale of armament.
With its modern method of publication, it is able rapidly to spread fear and hatred as a mental contagion. Teaching militarismis its crime. It appeals to the lowest passions and worst prejudices in man. It boasts of the fighting qualities of “our soldiers” and the strength of the army and navy one day, to please the egotistical militarists and their dupes, and, on another occasion, frightens the people by telling them that the enemy is stronger, in order to get more funds to build a larger navy.
Mentally strong men do not boast of their superiority, but a strong military state does. A single bully does not inspire respect in us. Why should a class of them do so?
The press tells the people what they think, and they think they think it. Was ever anything easier than this? Control the mind and you control the individual. Control the individual and you control the nation.
The power of suggestion is a wonderful power. A single suggestion has directed some individuals all their lives. This fact should teach us what an influence daily suggestion has on the public, and that is just what we have in the jingo press.
The people repeat the suggestion of the press with as much faithfulness as the subject of a hypnotist does. Whatever it believes, they believe; when it is indignant, they are indignant; when it is alarmed, they are alarmed; when it is patriotic, they are patriotic; when it is neutral, they are neutral; when it is warlike, they are warlike.
The public is so much putty in its hands to mold into shape to suit its purpose. Whatever the press thinks, the public thinks. Whatever the press says, the public says.
This shows the power of teaching. Hypnotism is a substitution of the hypnotizer’s idea for his subject’s idea, and the method is suggestion repeated. This is the method of the jingo press, daily suggesting the thing it wants the public to believe, and when well done there are no instances of failure. With most of the public, this press does not even have to substitute its idea for theirs. They have no idea of their own to be supplanted. This makes the work all the easier.
Other rulers have forced its unwilling subjects to obey; these rulers not only exact obedience, but by daily advice convince them that it is good, and all this not in the name of a ruler, but in the name of the people themselves.
These papers never say, “This is the opinion of the militarists who own this paper” ; they say, “This is the opinion of the public.” They never say, “This is what the militarists want”; they say, “This is what the people want.” Of course, they never consult the people in this matter. They don’t need to. All they need to do is to tell the people what they think and what they want and what they are going to do, and the things are done. Is not this simple? Yes; for it has simpletons to deal with, made to order for their benefit.
The militarists say that “fighting is instinctive” and “that you cannot change the real character of man by any intellectual process.” If this is true, the case is still not hopeless, as some think, for there are animals and men without this “fighting instinct,” that do not kill each other; there is a possibility that those with the “fighting instinct” will succeed in exterminating each other, and permit those without it to breed a better race. If the “fighting instinct” is the impelling force back of slaughtering and being slaughtered, what has become of that dominant instinct of self-preservation that has been called “the first law of N ature”? Has man lost it, but retained the fighting one?
But is it true that man’s instincts cannot be changed? If so, man’s instincts are much more stubborn than animal instincts, for we see remarkable changes wrought in animals by teaching, by training. One instance will suffice-the cat and dog are instinctive enemies, and yet by teaching and association they become friends, and often learn to love each other.
Most boys like to hunt and kill things. Do they have a “fighting instinct”? Many men testify that as boys they enjoyed killing animals, and now they shrink from the thought of killing anything. This is true of millions of men and proves that a “fighting or killing instinct” can be changed.
There were more of the German people in favor of militarism than in other countries, for the reason that militarism had been taught more there than elsewhere. Militarists have had possession of the schools and the press. Children taught militarism will believe it. Children put into uniforms and taught to drill and play war will practice it conscientiously when grown. A little group of militarists succeed in deceiving the public into believing it is large.
The yelp of one coyote sounds to a tenderfoot like a hundred of them. So with the noisy militarists. They impress the public as being quite numerous, when, in fact, they are numerically of but little importance.· Military-ridden Germany was the most extreme case, and yet, Mr. Frederick William Wile, who, for years, was the chief German correspondent of the “London Daily Mail,” says in “The Outlook”: “There are 66,000,- 000 Germans; 65,000,000 of them did not want war; the other million are the war party.”
After the warring group involve a nation, then the latter feels bound to support them.
The peaceful people of a nation must get over the nonsense that they must back up this invasive, destructive, and worse than useless class. They should look upon them just as they do upon other criminals.
The militarists say, “You must maintain the nation’s honor.” Yes, that is what we had the duel for, but even half civilized nations have abandoned it, and the nation’s honor is about the same as before.
According to military standards, only those nations with large armies and navies have honor; defeated nations have lost theirs. The duel is much more honorable than war. In the duel, the individuals who have quarreled are the ones who do the fighting, but in war those who do the fighting are those who have not been injured; they seldom know why they are fighting.
Again, in the duel, it was one man against another; two aganst one would be disgraceful. But in war, large armies wipe out small ones with great honors. Reasonable individuals have no more confidence in the war method for setting matters right than they had in the duel.
Libertarians know that it is not the fifteen or twenty great battles of the world that have advanced mankind, but the fifteen or twenty great scientific discoveries that have done so.
Libertarians are opposed to German militarism, with its crime against the people of Belgium and Russia; but they are also opposed to the military of Belgium, who committed the Congo atrocities. They are opposed to the English military oppressors of India and Ireland and the destroyers of the Boer Republics.
The Libertarians are opposed to the militarists of France, who massacred the natives of Morocco, and they were opposed to the bloody Czar with his cossacks and his Siberia.
To lower the military flag of one nation by war is to raise the military flag of another nation. Nothing is gained for peace by the process.
During the French Revolution, there was a period when France’s military flag waved in triumph and Germany’s military flag was lowered.
In 1870, when France invaded Germany and was defeated, her military flag was lowered, Germany’s flag was raised, and now Germany’s flag has been lowered, and what do we see? France as militaristic as she was a century ago. She has just invaded disarmed and helpless Germany to collect a war debt.
And now, if France’s flag is again lowered, what are we to expect? A lowering of the military flags of the conquering nations? How absurd! Success does not stop militarism. It just changes its base to the successful side. Militaristic murder is the same regardless of sides.
That one side is worse than the other, does not justify a peace lover in joining one side. There is no necessity for joining with a lesser evil; a man of justice will condemn evils of all degrees.
The world has passed the period when individual murder was believed in and practiced, and it must see to it that the militarists stop practicing wholesale murder for its profits and glory. Moral courage is much finer than physical courage, and when this truth is taught for a while, we will have more of the first and less of the second. “We want action and change,” say the militarists. Yes, we do; but we want intelligent action. We want “change” also, but we want change for the better and not for the worse, as is war.
The statement that life is a struggle is true, but the struggle that has been beneficial is not the struggle of man against man, but the struggle of man against the elements, with his environment. It is not the man who kills his fellow men that has brought progress. It is the man who has changed his disagreeable environment into an agreeable one that has accomplished this. It is not the man with the gun, but the man with the tool, that has made for progress. The man who went to war and left his family to shift for themselves was not the preserver of the race, but it was the man who built four walls and a roof to shelter them from the storm.
The man who planted the field and harvested the crop is the promoter of a higher civilization. Let “struggle” be the law, but let the struggle be with nature and not with man. Animals do not destroy their own species; it takes a militarist to do that.
The evolution of the industrial type and the anti-war education have made the majority of all people opposed to war.
But the people of a nation are not consulted when the military want war.
Even the people in republics, who boast that “We are the Government,” have not a word to say about whether they are to be involved in war and killed. They may have something to say about whether the tariff is to be LOWERED or not, but they have nothing to say about whether they are to be LOWERED into the grave or not.
It is a simple matter to decide whether you want to kill or be killed. Most people have already decided in their own minds against killing, but they have no opportunity to vote against it. They should work for general disarmament.
(1) Those who believe in the use of the ballot should demand it in matters of life and death to themselves and their nation.
(2) Let those who vote for invasive war be registered as such, both male and female, so they may be called on first to face the bullets.
(3) Take away from the military class the power to declare war.
(4) Secret diplomacy should be wiped out; the people should know what is now concealed from them.
(5) Let an International Board of Arbitration composed of men of peace, not militarists, furnish an International Guard, composed of the navies and air fleets of all countries, and if this guard behaves itself, it will soon be seen that even it is not needed.
(6) Demand that the nations accept Equal Freedom (which implies equal rights and equal opportunities) as the guiding principle of nations.
One way to abolish invasive war, is to stop invading other countries. The way to stop bloodshed is to refuse to shed blood. The way to abolish the military class is to stop supporting it. Stop teaching war. Stop believing in war. Stop patronizing war papers. Stop teaching strife; teach mutual aid.
Stop teaching destruction, teach and practice co-operation.
Stop teaching force and murder; teach justice and liberty.
Instead of war mottoes like “My country, right or wrong,” let us have peace mottoes something like these:
It is better to work for your own country than to fight for another country.
It is nobler to live in peace in your own country than to die fighting in another.
It is finer to strive for the liberty to live, than to die in a ditch at the command of a class.
With proper teaching peace can be brought about, the teachers of force and murder must be replaced by teachers of truth and justice, of equal liberty, and the brotherhood of all mankind.
When that day comes murder will cease, for the militarist will have no way to glorify it. Robbery will cease, for greed will not be eulogized. Slavery will disappear, for the master will have been discredited. Mankind will respect his neighbor, for he will be in fact his friend.