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 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.

The Militarization of U.S. Culture

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel, with President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)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 Obama administrations 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 Trump and Biden administrations, 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.



The De-Militarization of Colombia. Ending US Military Presence: Pillage, Promise and Peace

James Petras -


Image source: live in a time of great destruction and grand economic opportunities and Latin America is no exception. In the global context, the US Empire is engaged in destructive wars ( Afghanistan , Iraq , Pakistan , Libya , Yemen , Somalia and Haiti ). In contrast China, India, Brazil, Argentina and other “emerging economies” are expanding trade, investments and reducing poverty. The European Union (EU) and the United States (USA) are in deep economic crises. The EU “periphery” ( Greece , Ireland , Portugal , Spain ) are totally bankrupt. The US “dependencies” in North America ( Mexico ), Central America and the Caribbean are virtual narco-states plagued by mass poverty, astronomical crime rates and economic stagnation. The US dependencies are plundered by foreign multi-nationals, local oligarchs and corrupt politicians.

Colombia stands at the crossroads: it can follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, narco-President Alvaro Uribe and remain a military dependency, a lone outpost of the US Empire in South America . Colombia can remain at the margin of the most dynamic world markets and at war with its people or via a new socio-political leadership it can effect a profound reorientation of policy and consummate a transition toward greater integration with the dynamic markets of the world.

Colombia has all the objective ingredients (material and human resources) to be part of the dynamic new order. But first and foremost it must shed its role as the militarized vassal of the United States and an object of exploitation by a rentier oligarchy. Colombia must cease backing US coups ( Honduras , Venezuela ) and threatening its neighbors ( Ecuador ).

Colombia cannot develop its productive forces and finance the modernization of higher education and upgrade technical training and expend billions on the hundreds of thousands of military, paramilitary, police and intelligence operatives. The military repressive apparatus is directed at repressing the most productive, creative e and motivated sectors of the labor force. Prosperity depends on civil peace which depends on the profound demilitarization of the Colombian state. The connection between economy and military is clear. China spends one tenth of the US military budget but grows five times faster. Brazil ’s independent foreign policy and realignment with the Asian market has led to high growth, while Mexico , as a satellite of the North American Free Trade Treaty, is a stagnant, failed state.

De-Militarization: The Specificities of Colombia:

Colombia is the most militarized society in Latin America , with the highest number of civil society victims. “Militarism” in Colombia includes the largest active military force operating within state boundaries and being the largest recipient of military financing from the greatest militarist power in the world. As a subordinate client of the US Empire, Colombia has the worst human rights record, as far as the killing of journalists, trade unionists, peasant activists and human rights advocates.

State and para-state violence, however, is not random; over 4 million Colombian farmers, peasants and rural intermediaries have been forcibly dispossessed and their lands seized by big landowners, narco-traffickers, generals and businesspeople allied with the government. In other words State terror and mass dispossession is a peculiarly Colombian method of “capital accumulation”. State violence is the method to secure the means of production to increase agro-exports at the expense of family farmers.

In Colombia , state and para-state extermination replaces the market and “contractual relations” in effecting economic transactions. The unequal relations between a militarist state and popular civil society movements has been the principal impediment to a transition from an oligarchical political regime to a pluralistic representative democratic electoral system.

Colombia combines 19th century forms of elite representation with highly developed 21st century means of military repression: a case of combined and uneven development. As a result we find ‘unbalanced growth’; an overdeveloped military, police, paramilitary apparatus and underdeveloped social and political institutions willing and capably of engaging in negotiations through reciprocity and compromises within a civic framework.

The state culture of “permanent war” undermines the conditions of trust and reciprocity and raises unacceptable risks to any social and political interlocutors.

Within the militarized state – especially because of its deep-rooted links to regional US military institutions – only “negotiations” which reinforce the current socio-economic order and political institutional arrangement are acceptable. Even recognized “peace mediators” engage in one-sided “negotiations” demanding unilateral concessions from insurgents and rarely make demands for reciprocal concessions from the State.

Most Latin American countries which have gone through a transition from dictatorial rule to electoral politics have respected opponents; only Colombia has murdered the entire political leadership and activists – from the Patriotic Union – who converted from armed to electoral struggle. No other Latin American (or European or Asian)opposition has experience the state violence inflicted on the Union Patriotica (UP): the murder of 5,000 activists including Presidential and Congressional candidates.

South America ’s current center-left regimes, their thriving economies and the free and open social movement struggles, are a product of social upheavals (between 1999-2005) which ended ‘militarized politics’. Popular revolts in Bolivia , Argentina , Ecuador , and Venezuela cleared the way for the Center-Left. In Brazil , Uruguay and Chile social movements helped displace rightwing regimes.

As a result of mass struggles and popular uprisings, center-left regimes pursue relatively independent economic policies and progressive anti-poverty programs. They have raised living standards and provide political and social space for continued class struggle.

Colombia is one of the few countries which have failed to make the transition from a right-wing militarist regime to a center-left welfare and development model, because unlike the rest of Latin America it has yet to experience a popular uprising, resulting in a new political configuration.

Peace Settlements: Central America or Indo-China?

“Peace settlements” produce winners and losers and reflect the external and internal correlation of forces. The process of negotiation, including who is consulted in setting priorities and making concessions ,is central to the future trajectory of the “peace process”.

Recent history provides us with two diametrically opposed ‘peace processes’ with dramatically different consequences: the Indo-Chinese peace settlement of 1973-75 and the Central American peace settlements of 1992-1993. In the case of Indo-China and more specifically the Vietnamese-US peace settlement, the National Liberation Front (NLF), secured the withdrawal of the US military forces, the dismantling of US military bases and the de-militarization of the state. The NLF agreed to a process of political integration based on the recognition of certain basic socio-economic and political reforms, including agrarian reform, the repossession of farms by millions of displaced peasants and the prosecution of civilian and military officials charged with crimes against humanity. The FLN negotiators made political concessions but were in close consultation with their mass base of peasants, workers and professionals. They upheld the principle of democratizing the state and demilitarizing society as essential conditions for ending the war.

Over the past 35 years, Vietnam has evolved from an independent socialist toward a mixed public-private capitalist economy, transiting toward higher growth and higher living standards but increasing inequalities and greater corruption.

In contrast, the Central American peace agreements signed by the guerrilla leaders led to the end of armed conflict and the incorporation of the insurgent elite into the electoral system. However, there were no basic changes in the military, economic and social system. None of the mass popular organizations were consulted. The bulk of the armed fighters, both popular insurgents and paramilitary mercenaries, were discharged and became an army of “armed” unemployed. Over the past 20 years, criminal gangs have taken over large swathes of Central America, while the ex-Farabundo Marti guerrilla elite and their Guatemalan/ Nicaraguan colleagues, have become affluent businesspeople and allied with conservative electoral politicians. They are protected by private bodyguards and oblivious of the conditions of 60% of the population living below the poverty-line. The “peace accords” in Central America served as a vehicle for social mobility for the guerrilla elite. They did not end the violence. Every year more people meet a violent death than were killed during the years of civil war.

The Vietnamese and Central American peace agreements took place during different international moments. In the 1970’s the Soviet Union and China provided broad international material and political support to the Vietnamese. During the Central American peace negotiations, the Soviet Union disintegrated, China was turning to capitalism and Cuba was facing a “special period” of economic crises because of the loss of Soviet aid and trade.

Clearly the change in the international correlation of forces influenced but did not determine the unfavorable results in Central America . In less than a decade after the disastrous Central American peace accords, Venezuela , under President Chavez, proceeded to defeat a coup and advanced toward a socialist transformation. Popular revolts overthrew neo-liberal rulers in Argentina , Bolivia , Ecuador and elsewhere. The end of the USSR did not end successful class struggles in Latin America .

The reactionary political correlation of forces of the 1990’s has changed dramatically. By 2011, only Central America , Mexico and Colombia remain as islands of reaction in a sea of resurgent leftism and popular struggles in South America, North Africa and South Asia .

The Central American peace settlement, with its acceptance of the militarized state, linked to agro-mineral export elites and narco-criminal gangs has become a monument for a failed “peace process”. The Vietnamese peace settlement, while far from perfect, at least has provided peace, security, agrarian reform, and higher income for the peasantry and workers. No doubt Colombia has historical and structural differences with Central American and Indo-China.

The armed social movements in Colombia have a specific history which preceded the Central Americans insurgents by many years and has developed political ties with certain regions and social movements which have endured over time. Unlike Central American and Vietnam insurgents they are also not dependent on “external” supporters. Above all the failed experience with “political reconciliation” in Central America has caused Colombian insurgents to raise significant conditions regarding the peace process, namely demilitarization and socio-economic reforms (agrarian reform and land recovery for the dispossessed). “Peace at any price” will only lead to new and equally virulent forms of violence, as is the case today in Mexico with 10,000 killings a year 7,000 murders a year in El Salvador and an equal amount of homicides in Guatemala .

The Vietnam experience of peace via social justice and de-militarization seems to ensure a modicum of prosperty. Certainly the international correlation of forces has dramatically improved. Latin America has replaced neo-liberal puppet regimes. The Latin American economies have found dynamic Asian markets independent of the US . Popular revolts in the Middle East and Asia – from Tunisia to Afghanistan are forcing the US military to retreat. The international and regional context is very favorable if Colombia can take advantage of it. The method and modes of struggle ,those which unite popular movements without distinction, should be openly discussed and resolved without exclusions . The insurgency is part of the solution, not the problem. The key to a successful dialogue is the demilitarization of the state-ending the US military presence, terminating Plan Colombia and converting military spending to economic and social development.


The Maimed – On Eleven Years of War In Afghanistan

Chris Hedges -

image source: of us who are here carry within us death. The smell of decayed and bloated corpses. The cries of the wounded. The shrieks of children. The sound of gunfire. The deafening blasts. The fear. The stench of cordite. The humiliation that comes when you surrender to terror and beg for life. The loss of comrades and friends. And then the aftermath. The long alienation. The numbness. The nightmares. The lack of sleep. The inability to connect to all living things, even to those we love the most. The regret. The repugnant lies mouthed around us about honor and heroism and glory. The absurdity. The waste. The futility.

It is only the maimed that finally know war. And we are the maimed. We are the broken and the lame. We ask for forgiveness. We seek redemption. We carry on our backs this awful cross of death, for the essence of war is death, and the weight of it digs into our shoulders and eats away at our souls. We drag it through life, up hills and down hills, along the roads, into the most intimate recesses of our lives. It never leaves us. Those who know us best know that there is something unspeakable and evil many of us harbor within us. This evil is intimate. It is personal. We do not speak its name. It is the evil of things done and things left undone. It is the evil of war.

“Useless Anthropology”: Strategies for Dealing with the Militarization of the Academy

Maximilian Forte -

image source: does not need to seek employment with the Pentagon, take part in counterinsurgency, or work for the Human Terrain System in order to provide useful, even if involuntary, support for the national security, intelligence and military goals of the U.S., or any NATO state for that matter. In fact, one does not even need to be an American anthropologist in order to provide the U.S. military and intelligence with the information they seek. One needs to simply produce useful anthropology and not be mindful of the consequences of how it can be used by unintended audiences, now or in the future, to support agendas of which one may have limited awareness and even less desire to support. With this and much more in mind, my ambition is to seek the creation of a useless anthropology, and while some would say I was always on the right track for achieving that, I think more of us need to share a goal of producing useless research, to make worthless contributions, and by useless I mean useless to power, to empire, to domination, to regimes of scrutiny and inspection of the periphery. And not just useless, but even toxic and repulsive to the scientists of conquest – an anthropology of both withdrawal and resistance, free of false dilemmas that work to support business as usual, willing to set fire to the crops we planted if it stops them from being harvested by the tyrant, liberating ourselves from being our own best hostages. The idea is to refuse further engagement with the international traffic in information and knowledge that supports the workings of empire, capital, and the state.

In this presentation I seek to make three main points. First, to indicate some of the ways that all of us can be even unwillingly useful in supporting U.S. military and intelligence interests. Second, to reflect on the meaning of useful anthropology. Third, to point the way to possible alternatives, that could entail unthinking anthropology as we know it.

With reference to the first point, Gerald Sider made the point that at this moment in history “there is no such thing as an innocent anthropology” (p. 43). We know now that the U.S. military and intelligence are looking for ways of incorporating scholars in producing a global surveillance net. One way is to bring social scientists on counterinsurgency and pacification missions. Another is to have them conduct analysis of stolen Iraqi documents (see here and here), or to conduct fieldwork in areas of emerging or potential threat and describe the radicalization process and ways of counteracting it, as part of the Pentagon’s Minerva Research Initiative, managed in partnership with the National Science Foundation. Another is to comb through open access electronic resources. And yet another is just to get everything for free, by scanning, copying, seizing any or all electronic devices or written records from researchers as they enter the United States whether returning home to the U.S., or just traveling through, U.S. Border Patrol and Customs agents can: scan and hold laptops indefinitely; they can make electronic copies of hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes; and, they can seize papers, documents, books, pamphlets, or even litter. This is also true of Canada and the UK.

Open access publishing, and publishing in electronic formats that are thus amenable to automated harvesting, is a critically important way that ethnographic data can be used by the national security state without the willing participation of researchers. “Intelligence does not have to be secret to be valuable!” says the website of the University of Military Intelligence, regarding open access resources, which takes us to Intelink-U, part of the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (archived), emerging from the Open Source Information System which serves the US intelligence community with open source intelligence. Among Intelink-U’s subscriptions is the University of New Mexico’s Latin America Database, as well as EbscoHost Databases. The Foreign Military Studies office is also in the process of creating the World Basic Information Library (WBIL) (archived), which promotes the concept of “distance drilling” (archived) telling us that: “About 85% of requirements in the intelligence business can be met with open source, unclassified sources, and can be exploited by qualified military reservists working by telecommuting. The WBIL has remotely located reservists from all four branches of the service doing ‘virtual’ collection and production utilizing their home Personal Computers.” ?Also, the Information Operations Advisory Task Force states that it has a “requirement to provide US Forces [in] Afghanistan…with the capability to collect, analyze, and disseminate open source (i.e. sociological or anthropological) information.”

With reference to the second point of this presentation, the bases for a useful anthropology, let us note that useful, objective, neutral, and scientific, are once again the buzzwords for an anthropology aligned with power, in the service of the national security state, while rhetorically attempting to move the militarization of the academy beyond the sphere of “politics”. Criticism is political; support is scientific. If you oppose military objectives, you are biased; if you provide practical knowledge, you are objective, and objective is good, just like machines are good. On the other hand, military interest in anthropology is to a significant extent the perhaps unintended outcome of anthropology’s success in marketing itself. The compulsion in this discipline, from the time before its institutionalization in universities, has been to market itself to power as a useful science, with valuable contributions to make, later boasting of the vital importance of ethnography as anthropology’s unique contribution, so much so that anthropology and ethnography are wrongly equated. We wanted the attention of elites, and now we’ve got it. The military is interested in both culture and ethnography. In an article in National Defense Magazine, we are told that “A deeper understanding of culture has become an official part of Marine Corps strategy.” Meanwhile, General William “KIP” Ward, Commander, United States Africa Command, said this about the Pentagon’s work in Africa:

“A lot of activity goes on in the continent through our non-government organizations. Academia is involved. When I was in previous assignments, someone came to me and would talk about, well, ‘Ward, you need to get a cultural anthropologist on your team.’ I said, what! A cultural what? Anthropologist? To do what? Get out of here. Or, ‘Ward, you need to have someone to help you understand the human dimension. You need some human terrain analysis.’ I said, ‘what? Get out of here.’ But it’s important, and where do those skills, talents reside — academia.”

But for more academics to be more useful, they need to get over certain twinges of moral compunction. In the minds of the state and military some of us have already reverted to being a tool of imperialism, assuming we were ever anything else. Not serving imperialism is routinely called “retreating from the world” by some. Montgomery McFate, the anthropology PhD who has been the most prominent spokesperson for the Human Terrain System, wrote in a military journal that,

“Over the past 30 years, as a result of anthropologists’ individual career choices and the tendency toward reflexive self-criticism contained within the discipline itself, the discipline has become hermetically sealed within its Ivory Tower….anthropologists still prefer to study the ‘exotic and useless,’ in the words of A.L. Kroeber….The retreat to the Ivory Tower is also a product of the deep isolationist tendencies within the discipline.” (p. 28)

She doesn’t stop there, unfortunately, she notes that,

“frequently backed up by self-reflexive neo-Marxism, anthropology began a brutal process of self-flagellation, to a degree almost unimaginable to anyone outside the discipline….The turn toward postmodernism within anthropology exacerbated the tendency toward self-flagellation….(also) This movement away from descriptive ethnography has produced some of the worst writing imaginable.” (p. 28)

In this regard, she merely echoes some of the conservative and often overwrought backlash within the discipline over this trend that it imagined to be postmodern, whatever that is, apparently being self-critical is evil.

With reference to the third and final point of this presentation, looking for alternatives and options to cooptation, for less useful anthropologies, I was inspired by Sider’s ideas about how a partisan anthropology, done “to help the victims of currently intensifying inequalities,” might begin, and it would begin in “the design of fieldwork and in the context of understanding struggle” (p. 44). He advocates against interviews, against asking questions of so-called informants, and against any form of recording data. Asking questions, he notes, is a seemingly simple act that opens our work to use by those who seek to dominate and control the people we study (p. 45). There are other ways we can work, he says, less open, but not impervious, to subsequent manipulation. Other options include choosing research projects that, in the eyes of the national security state, are entirely useless, and to write up the results in very esoteric language, with ample self-criticism. Another option is do to more “research at home” either collaborating with persons who are not the subject of either a moral panic or some hyperbolic national security hysteria, or, producing critiques of the way elites exercise power and enforce inequalities and injustices. Another option is open source ethnography (archived) done online, to collaborate with the producers of online information of ethnographic value, remixing it so that it becomes problematic to military examination. Not publishing in open access formats is another option, especially once the work is not funded by a public agency, the argument that “the public has a right to the research it funded” vanishes into irrelevance. We can also imagine experimenting with forms of research communication that defy easy understanding and conventional requirements of the military planner’s database, such as fictionalized ethnographies; ethnographic poetry; open source cinema  (archived)(see here also); theatrical coproductions, and so forth.

What we cannot do, however, and pretend to be innocent about it, is simply to leave here today and continue to conduct business as usual.


For more examples of open source cinema that I have tried, see some of my recent productions, such as: Sour Chutney, West India, and Deep Obeah.

Play Audio:

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Revised 11/01/2019

Against the Militarized Academy

Henry A. Giroux -

While there is an ongoing discussion about what shape the military-industrial complex will take under an Obama presidency, what is often left out of this analysis is the intrusion of the military into higher education. One example of the increasingly intensified and expansive symbiosis between the military-industrial complex and academia was on full display when Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, announced the creation of what he calls a new "Minerva Consortium," ironically named after the goddess of wisdom, whose purpose is to fund various universities to "carry out social-sciences research relevant to national security."(1) Gates's desire to turn universities into militarized knowledge factories producing knowledge, research and personnel in the interest of the Homeland (In)Security State should be of special concern for intellectuals, artists, academics and others who believe that the university should oppose such interests and alignments. At the very least, the emergence of the Minerva Consortium raises a larger set of concerns about the ongoing militarization of higher education in the United States.

In a post-9/11 world, with its all-embracing war on terror and a culture of fear, the increasing spread of the discourse and values of militarization throughout the social order is intensifying the shift from the promise of a liberal democracy to the reality of a militarized society. Militarization suggests more than simply a militaristic ideal - with its celebration of war as the truest measure of the health of the nation and the soldier-warrior as the most noble expression of the merging of masculinity and unquestioning patriotism - but an intensification and expansion of the underlying values, practices, ideologies, social relations and cultural representations associated with military culture. What appears new about the amplified militarization of the post-9/11 world is that it has become normalized, serving as a powerful educational force that shapes our lives, memories and daily experiences. As an educational force, military power produces identities, goods, institutions, knowledge, modes of communication and affective investments - in short, it now bears down on all aspects of social life and the social order. As Michael Geyer points out, what is distinctive about the militarization of the social order is that civil society not only "organizes itself for the production of violence,"(2) but increasingly spurs a gradual erosion of civil liberties. Military power and policies are expanded to address not only matters of defense and security, but also problems associated with the entire health and social life of the nation, which are now measured by military spending, discipline and loyalty, as well as hierarchical modes of authority.

As citizens increasingly assume the roles of informer, soldier and consumer willing to enlist in or be conscripted by the totalizing war on terror, we see the very idea of the university as a site of critical thinking, public service and socially responsible research being usurped by a manic jingoism and a market-driven fundamentalism that enshrine the entrepreneurial spirit and military aggression as means to dominate and control society. This should not surprise us, since, as William G. Martin, a professor of sociology at Binghamton University, indicates, "universities, colleges and schools have been targeted precisely because they are charged with both socializing youth and producing knowledge of peoples and cultures beyond the borders of Anglo-America."(3) But rather than be lulled into complacency by the insidious spread of corporate and military power, we need to be prepared to reclaim institutions such as the university that have historically served as vital democratic spheres protecting and serving the interests of social justice and equality. What I want to suggest is that such a struggle is not only political, but also pedagogical in nature.

Over 17 million students pass through the hallowed halls of academe, and it is crucial that they be educated in ways that enable them to recognize creeping militarization and its effects throughout American society, particularly in terms of how these effects threaten "democratic government at home just as they menace the independence and sovereignty of other countries."(4) But students must also recognize how such anti-democratic forces work in attempting to dismantle the university itself as a place to learn how to think critically and participate in public debate and civic engagement.(5) In part, this means giving them the tools to fight for the demilitarization of knowledge on college campuses - to resist complicity with the production of knowledge, information and technologies in classrooms and research labs that contribute to militarized goals and violence.

Even so, there is more at stake than simply educating students to be alert to the dangers of militarization and the way in which it is redefining the very mission of higher education. Chalmers Johnson, in his continuing critique of the threat that the politics of empire presents to democracy at home and abroad, argues that if the United States is not to degenerate into a military dictatorship, in spite of Obama's election, a grass-roots movement will have to occupy center stage in opposing militarization, government secrecy and imperial power, while reclaiming the basic principles of democracy.(6) Such a task may seem daunting, but there is a crucial need for faculty, students, administrators and concerned citizens to develop alliances for long-term organizations and social movements to resist the growing ties among higher education, on the one hand, and the armed forces, intelligence agencies and war industries on the other - ties that play a crucial role in reproducing mili tarized knowledge.

Opposing militarization as part of a broader pedagogical strategy in and out of the classroom also raises the question of what kinds of competencies, skills and knowledge might be crucial to such a task. One possibility is to develop critical educational theories and practices that define the space of learning not only through the critical consumption of knowledge but also through its production for peaceful and socially just ends. In the fight against militarization and "armed intellectuals," educators need a language of critique, but they also need a language that embraces a sense of hope and collective struggle. This means elaborating the meaning of politics through a concerted effort to expand the space of politics by reclaiming "the public character of spaces, relations, and institutions regarded as private" on the other.(7) We live at a time when matters of life and death are central to political governance. While registering the shift in power toward the large-scale pr oduction of death, disposability and exclusion, a new understanding of the meaning and purpose of higher education must also point to notions of agency, power and responsibility that operate in the service of life, democratic struggles and the expansion of human rights.

Finally, if higher education is to come to grips with the multilayered pathologies produced by militarization, it will have to rethink not merely the space of the university as a democratic public sphere, but also the global space in which intellectuals, educators, students, artists, labor unions and other social actors and movements can form transnational alliances to oppose the death-dealing ideology of militarization and its effects on the world - including violence, pollution, massive poverty, racism, the arms trade, growth of privatized armies, civil conflict, child slavery and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Bush regime comes to an end, it is time for educators and students to take a stand and develop global organizations that can be mobilized in the effort to supplant a culture of war with a culture of peace, whose elemental principles must be grounded in relations of economic, political, cultural and social democracy and the desire to sustain human life.


Revised: 10-11-2019


(1). Brainard, Jeffrey. (April 16, 2008) "U.S. Defense Secretary Asks Universities for New Cooperation," The Chronicle of Higher Education, online at

(2). Michael Geyer, "The Militarization of Europe, 1914-1945," in The Militarization of the Western World, ed. John Gillis (Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 79.

(3). William G. Martin, "Manufacturing the Homeland Security Campus and Cadre," ACAS Bulletin 70 (Spring 2005), p. 1.

(4). Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004). p. 291.

(5). See Cary Nelson, "The National Security State," Cultural Studies 4:3 (2004), pp. 357-361.

(6). Chalmers Johnson, "Empire v. Democracy," (January 31, 2007), available online at (Archive)

(7). Jacques Rancière, "Democracy, Republic, Representation," Constellations 13:3 (2006), p. 299.

What can an analysis of everyday life tell us about the militarisation of popular culture?
In the 21
century, militar isation has become a prominent aspect of our lives. Fro meducation to entertainment, our daily life is full of militaristic ideas, values andunderstandings. That impact shows itself primarily in popular culture. Digital war games,movies, toys or camouflage clothes seem so cool that
any people can easily becomemilitarized in their thinking in how they live their daily lives, in what they aspire to for theirchildren or their society, without ever wield
ing a rifle or donning a helmet?
(Enloe 2000)Militarisation as a process seems inevitable for popular culture. While digital war games andmovies in particular explore undiscovered militaristic fantasies, legitimize and justify militaryinterventions, and teach some basics of using weapons, they are also used as an effectivemilitary recruitment tool and a propaganda machine.In this paper I aim to consider what an analysis of everyday life can tell us about themilitarisation of popular culture. As a criterion, I have tried to look at the most popular andthe most effective dimensions of everyday life in terms of the militarisation of popularculture. My central argument is that there are four universal dimensions of everyday life -entertainment, fashion, media and education
which are arenas of the militarization of popular culture, first in thought and then in practice, and that, therefore, militarisation hasbecome absolutely inevitable in our daily life.My study is constructed from two sections. To begin with, I will briefly define theterms
and „popular culture?
. The main part of my essay, which is composed of four parts, consists of an analysis of everyday life with regard to the militarisation of popularculture. Firstly, I will analyze the military-entertainment complex; secondly, I will examinethe relations between the military and fashion/shopping; Thirdly, I will look at military-mediarelations; and lastly, I will discuss the military-education dimension.
First and foremost, in order to analyze the militarisation of popular culture in everydaylife, it is vital to understand
what „militarisation? is.
There are a number of definitions, whichmakes it a challenging task to distinguish between militarisation and militarism. However, inthis analysis, I used militarisation as
a process which leads to militarism
(Ross, cited inShaw 1991: p.13). Militarisation is a process which privileges, legitimizes and justifies themilitaristic ideas and values that arise from it. Enloe supports this definition when he writesthat militarisation is
a step-by-step process by which a person or a thing gradually comes tobe controlled by the military or comes to depend for its well-being on militaristic ideas
(2000: p.3; 2002). On the other hand, Crandall defines militarisation more specifically. Heconsiders that
militarization is tied into the media and entertainment industries and verymuch a player in the youth-driven field of video game culture
. Also, he thinks that
it is apowerful rhetorical frame and a machine of territorialisation, indoctrination and recruitment
(Crandall, cited in Power 2007: p. 274). I will argue that this process of militarisation affectsboth thought and the practice of everyday life.Secondly, I define popular culture as a group of people, who are heavily influenced bymass media, entertainment, trends in fashion, and characteristic language. These aspectscreate popular culture. Having provided these definitions of militarisation, a broad analysis of everyday life will make it easier to understand how complex and purposeful the militarisationof popular culture is.
In this main part, everyday life is analyzed in terms of the militarisation of popularculture, in which popularity and effectiveness are used as criteria. Four main dimensions of daily life: entertainment, fashion, media and education, are discussed respectively.
The Military-Entertainment-Fashion-Media-Academics Complex
1) The Military- Entertainment Complex-
Generally speaking, two main forms of entertainment, digital war games and warmovies, may be considered as being of the highest importance to an analysis of themilitarisation of popular culture in the entertainment world.
a) Digital War Games
More and more people, especially teenagers, are becoming addicted to digital wargames every day. Today, a walk through the corridor of any digital games
shop „
can seem likea visit to your local military academy
(Kane, cited in Power 2007: p.272), which offers a
range of “grittily realistic” games that seek to
glorify the war. A big part of the appeal of such
games is that most seek to “proudly transport the gamer into immersive, gut wrenching virtual battlefields. They persuade the gamer that, in an echo of WWII era journalism, „“you arethere”? –
on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, in modern military hotpots[like the deserts
of Iraq]” (Cowlishaw, cited in
Power 2007: p. 272)
. As Nieborg argues, „the
increasing militarisation of game culture, as an extension of the military-entertainmentcomplex, has never been so cool and deliberately
chosen to directly interact with the “Internetgeneration” ?(Nieborg 2006).
The influence of digital war games upon the militarization of popular culture and the shaping
of people?s
understandings serves some deliberate aims:(1) Digital games provide a way to explore undiscovered militaristic fantasies in aneasy and clean way. As Power indicates, war games present
a clean, sanitized and enjoyable
version of war for popular consumption, obscuring the “realities”, contexts and consequences
f war? (2007: p.
274), most importantly, doing so bloodlessly. (2) Digital war gameslegitimize and justify military interventions by targeting an already demonised enemy, givingwrong information and glorifying the art of war. (3) Digital war games serve as anincreasingly effective military recruitment tool and teach some basics of using weapons fromgame play.On the one hand, as Allen
argues, „the official site for America?s Army game
consistently denies that players can learn the basics of using weap
ons from game play? (citedin Power 2007: p.281). On the other hand, „Chris Chambers, a graduate of the University of
Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, a former Army major and the deputy director of development for "America's Army"admits that the game is a recruiting tooland Turse argues

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