Most are blind or indifferent to the problem. A few strive to protect our democracy.
The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
The Militarization of U.S. Culture
Though the United States of America shares with other nations in a history of modern state militarism, the past 76 years following its consolidation as a world military power after World War II has seen a shift away from previous democratic characterizations of the state. The last forty years, with the rise of the neo-conservative Reagan and Bush (2) administrations, began the abandonment of moral justifications for democracy building replaced by bellicose proclamations of the need and right to move towards a national project of global security by preemptive military force. Even with the return of eight years of the, so called, Liberal Obamaadministrations we saw the further erosion of long held human right protections with the suspension of habeas corpus and the increased usage of extra-judicial drone bombing killings of claimed combatants in multiple conflicts worldwide. Now with the Trumpand Bidenadministrations, these programs have increased unbeknownst to the general public as the mainstream media silenced and normalized perpetual wars.
In the process of global military expansion, the US population has been subjected to an internal re-education to accept the role of the U.S. as consolidating its hegemonic rule internationally in the interest of liberal ideals of wealth creation and protectionism.
The average citizen has slowly come to terms with stealthily increasing campaigns of militarization domestically in media offerings; from television, movies, militarized video games, and scripted news networks to reinforce the inevitability of a re-configured society as security state. The effect has begun a transformation of how, as citizens, we understand our roles and viability as workers and families in relation to this security state. This new order has brought with it a shrinking public common and an increasing privatization of publicly held infrastructure; libraries, health clinics, schools and the expectation of diminished social benefits for the poor and middle-class. The national borders are being militarized as are our domestic police forces in the name of Homeland Security but largely in the interest of business. The rate and expansion of research and development for security industries and the government agencies that fund them, now represent the major growth sector of the U.S.economy. Additionally, as the U.S. economy continually shifts from productive capital to financial capital as the engine of growth for wealth creation and development, the corporate culture has seen its fortunes rise politically and its power over the public sector grow relatively unchallenged by a confused citizenry who are watching their social security and jobs diminishing.
How increasing cultural militarization effects our common future will likely manifest in increased public dissatisfaction with political leadership and economic strictures. Social movements within the peace community, like NNOMY, will need to expand their role of addressing the dangers of militarists predating youth for military recruitment in school to giving more visibility to the additional dangers of the role of an influential militarized media, violent entertainment and play offerings effecting our youth in formation and a general increase and influence of the military complex in all aspects of our lives. We are confronted with a demand for a greater awareness of the inter-relationships of militarism in the entire landscape of domestic U.S. society. Where once we could ignore the impacts of U.S. military adventurisms abroad, we are now faced with the transformation of our domestic comfort zone with the impacts of militarism in our day to day lives.
How this warning can be imparted in a meaningful way by a movement seeking to continue with the stated goals of counter-recruitment and public policy activism, and not loose itself in the process, will be the test for those activists, past and future, who take up the call to protect our youth from the cultural violence of militarism.
The "militarization of US culture" category will be an archive of editorials and articles about the increasing dangers we face as a people from those who are invested in the business of war. This page will serve as a resource for the NNOMY community of activists and the movement they represent moving into the future. The arguments presented in this archive will offer important realizations for those who are receptive to NNOMY's message of protecting our youth, and thus our entire society, of the abuses militarism plays upon our hopes for a sustainable and truly democratic society.
[If anything, this is long overdue, and surprising that it did not come from an anthropologist first -- not that the professional designation ought to be taken too seriously, especially as a lot of good anthropological work on issues of great public significance is now done by many non-anthropologists. I am speaking here of Nick Turse's The Complex, from which I typed the following extract. It almost appears to be a marriage of anthropologist Ralph Linton's classic "100 percent American," and President Eisenhower's farewell address dealing in large part with his warnings of what he called the "military-industrial complex (archived)." This extract comes from the Introduction of The Complex, "A Day in the Life."]
Maximilian Forte - “Propaganda is at its most effective when the audience does not know it is being manipulated and one of the best, glitziest examples of that is when propaganda is delivered on the big screen in the guise of a Hollywood blockbuster.”–
The Listening Post, 12 June 2010 Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post had an excellent review and overview today of the nature and extent of militainment (resources for this follow below). In particular, The Listening Post described how various branches of the American armed services–the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard–and the Department of Defense itself have each established a beach-head in Hollywood. The Pentagon has liaison officers stationed in Los Angeles, precisely for the purpose of working with Hollywood, and indeed, one of these officers has since left and joined Al Jazeera, and is interviewed in this report. In return for Pentagon consultants, and even actual troops performing stunts and carrying out action scenes in select films (such as Blackhawk Down), as well as the provision of U.S. military equipment, Hollywood filmmakers submit their scripts to the Pentagon for review and approval. The result is a “slickly produced feature length advertisement” for the U.S. military. Where news media are concerned, the Listening Post provides a quick review of what has already been documented and established, concerning the practice under Rumsfeld’s Pentagon of preparing retired generals to go out and serve as “expert military analysts” in order to talk up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Entities such as NBC/CNBC/MSNBC are owned by GE, a major defense contractor. Meanwhile, the video game industry, which exceeds Hollywood in profits, has been a major output of militarized culture, with some games meant to serve as intentional recruitment tools, while actual war itself is being rendered into a video game (such as the flying of drone strikes). Other examples of the wide reach of political-economic militarization throughout American culture was covered in this previous essay here: “100 percent (Militarized) American” (note the Pentagon Lt. Col. who then appeared to slam the essay in the comments section).
Interestingly, the Listening Post makes the comment, “Ladies love a man in uniform,” when referring to a Ukrainian military recruitment video–which brings to mind the Human Terrain System’s own Montgomery McFate and her blog, titled precisely “I Luv a Man in a Uniform” now back online to serve the same propaganda functions of sexually idolizing military men. As for the contract between the media and the military, with reference to HTS, we saw this again recently on this site, twice, in “Video Propaganda: Human Terrain System on National Geographic,” and in, “Human Terrain System in Afghanistan.”
Video: Video Documentaries and News Reports on Militainment:
The online edition of The American Prospect published an article comparing the Bush administration's current policy in the Middle East to comic books -- specifically, to the Green Lantern Corps. Here's what they had to say:
The trouble is that a broad swathe of hawkish opinion, taking in most conservatives and a tragically large number of liberals, have bought into a comic book view of how international relations works.
I refer, of course, to the Green Lantern Corps, DC Comics' interstellar police force assembled by the Guardians of Oa. Here's how the Corps works: Each member is equipped with a power ring, the ultimate weapon in the universe. The ring makes green stuff -- energy blasts, force fields, protective bubbles, giant hammers, elephants, chairs, cute rabbits, whatever -- under the control of the bearer. When it's fully charged, the only limits to the ring's power (besides the proviso that the stuff must be green) are the user's will and imagination. Historically, the rings couldn't affect yellow objects, but in recent years it's been revealed that this was the "parallax fear anomaly" (don't ask) and that the problem could be overcome by overcoming fear -- which is to say, with more willpower.
This is an OK premise for a comic book. Sadly, it's a piss-poor premise for a foreign policy.
Without getting into the specifics of Bush's current foreign policy (or for that matter, the current run of Green Lantern), this statement seems grossly unfair -- to comic books. I understand why Bush's world view full of its talk about capturing "evil-Doers" who are hell-bent on destroying the "American way of life" reminds some people of comic book superheroes -- it is colorful, broadly drawn, larger than life, and sometimes a little punch-drunk. But the reality is that contemporary comic books have offered a much more nuanced depiction of our current political realities and have adopted a pretty consistently progressive framing of these events than The American Prospect and its readers might imagine.