Anarchism and the MilitaryAnarchism in the Military
The military seems a case study in what anarchy is not. Following strict rules and regulations, Obeying orders descended down a chain of command, seeking maximum order and discipline in the ranks at the expense of freedom, sacrificing all to a single objective. With no one and nothing in charge, by contrast, anarchy allows everyone to do as they please, inviting social disorder and eventual chaos. Isn’t that right?
Below, the armed forces are not only noted for their anarchist features but recast as anarchist communities themselves. This is helped by the reality that anarchy is NOT at all social disorder, but unusually strong social order held together by voluntary choice and cooperation. Since threat, coercion, threat and authoritarian rule are ruled out in anarchy—the normal mechanisms of order—everything rests on consensus and cooperation without it. And so all effort must be concentrating on supporting the strong coordination of individual liberty for the group. Anarchy promotes de-centralized organization and intentional communities-of-scale (small scale) based on common or complementary goals. This allows division of socio-economic roles and the mitigation of individual conflict, leading to complementary confederations of divergent groups in joint projects.
The US armed forces are a de-centralized group of intentional communities—from branches like the army and navy to sub-divisions like platoon and squad, Green Berets and Navy Seals. Members join voluntarily, agreeing to a code of conduct beforehand, on limited contracts and discretionary tours of duty. Branches of the military were typically broken off from others to perform specific, but complementary functions, working in complementary fashion on joint projects. This is the anarchist way. While the ranks are under command, and the commanders under singular command, individual soldiers and squads have autonomy to function as units, improvising in the field, even issuing orders for, say, aerial bombing support.
Lower officers respond to local contexts in cooperation with those assigned to them, utilizing the varied experience and ability of their troops. Here de facto authority and leadership conforms largely to merit, which is the chief principle of legitimate leadership within anarchy.
Though formally bound or limited by rules or regulations, the actual motivations impelling soldiers’ actions has less to do with avoid punishment for violations than the development of abilities and expression of ethical virtues. Brotherhood, loyalty, mutual reliance and responsibility are central. The modern soldier strives toward excellence and professionalism—to be “all you can be”—overcoming a past reputation for bare competence, if that. The effective ideal is to earn the stripes of heroism with which military advertising and a new public image is granting them.
The greatest anarchist-military difference is found in political-economic ironies. While anarchism is economically self-sufficient, the military is wholly subsidized by government. Individual freedom, prized in anarchy, is sacrificed to group welfare—to the good of the force and the nation. The head of state rules the roost, as commander and chief, even subordinating the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In these crucial senses the military is far more socialist than anarchism is, in fact state-socialist or dictatorial.
For their part, anarchist communities are “under command” regarding the inexorably dictates of ethical principle. But having completely adopted theses principles and internalized them into self-concept, the rule of principles is the expression of self-determination. Anarchy runs solely on mutual respect and fairness, with aspirations toward benevolence. Anarchist’s dedication to group negotiation over autocratic dictate is a strict, systematic exercise in the rubric of principle—of freedom or voluntarism, allied to fair and mutual respect. These guided interactions achieve and embody these unwritten principles with greater ethical discipline, order and precision than do military rules and regulations designed for these purposes.
It is a great paradox for anarchists that soldiers fight for liberty while having so little liberty to do so in a free manner. More, anarchists do not see clear justification for such authoritarian subordination in the blanket military rationales of “efficiency,” “discipline” and “order” in the ranks. To anarchism, group and individual self-determination are sacred, as they were once sacred within the earliest American militias. Anarchist organizing principle demands a consistency of means and ends, as ethics does, approaching peace through peaceful means, guaranteeing ultimate liberty through near and present liberty, engaging in violence not only as a last resort, but with abject regret, not enthusiasm and pride. This was the medieval Christian perspective, excepting the (un)holy crusades and papal wars.
In this sense, anarchism is not only more ethical, but more Christian in its ethics than the military—an irony given the politically conservative tenor and support of this insitution, standing “for God and Country.” Anarchism’s creative innovations in strategic negotiation and conflict-resolution, yet to be reached by diplomats, show a concentration on peace-keeping that the military-industrial complex’s weapons research can not match. As in socialist dictatorships, the US military must rely on politicians to perform this “diplomatic function,” then live (and die) by the results.
While peace is the hope, war is the business of the military. For anarchists, war is mass murder pure and simple. Victory can only come via negotiations that can prevent or stop war, as soon as it has begun. There is no thought among anarchist troops to conducting a protracted war, which can only represent one day of defeat after another. This goes for liberating revolution as well where one “fights for the right” against egregious social oppression as it goes for aggression. While liberation is key, killing for it is intolerable. And in fact, it is difficult to see how any legitimate ethic could view matters differently, especially in a nation “under-God.” (Religious anarchists, incidentally, do not see themselves as “under” God, but in family partnership—“No Masters, no borders, no wars.” )
Military groups called “raiders” and “renegades” celebrated in the Civil War and WWII take an extremely anarchist lean, but for all the killing. Each achieved of these showed a certain autonomy of function, reputedly violating orders or bending the rules to remarkable effect. Guerilla warfare, initiated by colonial Americans and indigenous in revolutionaries throughout the world is an explicitly anarchist tack, launched somewhat willy-nilly, but soon confederating effectively. Retaining a de-centralized organization has proven, perhaps, its greatest weapon against defeat. Anarchist rules and regulations have actually been formalized and added to military codes--those that “require” disobeying direct orders on the basis that they are reasonably judged illegal or an infringement of human rights. Require is a dummy word hear since the rule is almost never invoked, nor punishment for breaking it. And there are powerful informal military sanctions against complying with it.
This “different drummer” and “resister” tradition reflects a range of anarchist high lights in American social history, outside the military, from Thoreau, Tolstoy and Gandhi in recent tradition, to religious renegades like Jesus. (“Jesus was an anarchist” is a popular anarchist slogan.) Virtually all original Christian communities were anarchist, voluntarily joined, run on respect and even love, treating each member, of whatever national origin, race, gender (and even religious creed) as equally sacred and blessed with free will. This is the secular as well as religious ideal of anarchist community.
Anarchism, like any similar social phenomenon, does not occur all or none though its advocates and opponents treat it that way. This is why it is possible to recognize anarchist elements in an authoritarian institution like the armed forces. In fact, anarchy typically co-exists with the authoritarian institutions of any society. Far from being an impossible, horrific or rare phenomenon, implicit anarchist organization has always defined friendship circles, families (where father is not a tyrant), neighborhoods and their organizations, (tenant’s associations, crime watch urban block) sports leagues, “fraternal” groups (veteran’s associations, Rotary, Elks, Lion’s clubs). The Minutemen, the (early) Tea Party and Occupy are more transient anarchies though anarchy need not last through generations to be successful, any more than need a human life.
Business entrepreneurship was the largest of anarchist phenomenon in history, one might say, defining to the capitalist system, which some anarchists decry, some praise. (Corporatism is decried because it infringes on free trade.) The internet has supplanted entrepreneurship, however, with its worldwide scope (www//:) and widely decentralized organization, featuring informal and spontaneously changing leadership structures. The internet’s vigilant fight against regulation by national governments is the anarchist fight writ large.
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Meaning and Reality: “Social chaos” is the common social sense of “anarchy,” usually marked by violence. Here, abiding by law has broken down with the dissipation of government. Spontaneous gangs of citizens run amok alongside criminals. Where political organization regroups, the military is often called in to restore order using the strictures of Marshal law. Where it does not, warlords often arise in mutual conflict, supplanting social chaos, aided by rogue or rag-tag military units, with civil wars, managed top-down by competing central commands. This is another version of militarism and Marshal law, under-represented in official military history perhaps. After all, when one warlord becomes dominant in such duals, and order by fiat is supplanted by a more systematic and standardized code of law, the “nation-state” is born. Military forces then become “the military” rather than murderous hordes or gangs. They are issued standard uniforms and weapons to mark their official authority and standards of official conduct, some valid. The former competition to warlord X is designated rebels or insurgents, and foreign nations become the primary military targets, leaving the homeland to a local paramilitary police and domestic tranquility.
For anarchists, anarchy means something quite different. It is highly organized social cooperation, ordered by mutual respect and voluntary consensus. It’s cooperation allows no social member or isolated individual to be pushed around, not by physical force, threat or strong social pressure. Indeed, anarchist social institutions are specifically designed to prevent such authoritarianism, empowering individual liberty and innovation against it. This even applies to the workings of social convention and tradition, for which anarchists share affection with conservatism. (Anarchism is neither conservative, liberal or moderate, but outside such partisan outlooks.) Conventions and traditions provide voluntary direction to social cooperation, a glue that allows the diverse freedoms of individuals to congeal and coordinate, as in military tradition. But they can turn authoritarian as well, as in the military, restricting individual liberty and social non-conformity. Here anarchism seeks their reform or overthrow. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance and other forms of unjust discrimination are age-old traditions, as American as apple pie, along with harsh bullying and schoolyard fighting to settle disputes, often instigated by teachers. They represent voluntary “cooperation,” but contrary to ethics. And anarchism stands for ethics. In anarchy, conventions are used to express our joint free will, not submitted to as a restriction on it.
Anarchism’s dedication to order, not disorder, is shown by its popular symbol of an A inside an O (not circle) which stands for “Anarchy is Order.” The rest of the slogan goes “and Government is Chaos.” Why? Because to a free individual or group, its restrictions bring outrage, resentment, and an uncontrollably legitimate resistance to the yolk, also because government makes war for nation states—their political-economic conflicts representing the main cause of wars on earth. And war is hell.
The ultimate goal of community under anarchist organization is not the general freedom and welfare alone, however, but the betterment of society and the quality of its members--the development of individual and group virtues alongside social progress. Anarchy’s ethic of freedom, mutual respect and fairness is crowned by character development and the realization of social ideals. It is this last crucial component makes anarchy seem most utopian to many—unachievable or naively idealistic. In this, however, anarchy and the military may be most alike. Where notions such as “Be All That You Can Be” and “A Few Good Men” transcend mere advertising, where a military’s stress on professional competence aspires to personal excellence, anarchism and military character jibe to a T. Only the military;s emphasis on relatively small, intentional communities, run by brotherhood, can compete.
Despite its reputation for holding that “There is no government like no government,” anarchism can accept certain political and legal institutions, not unlike those specified in the US Constitution. But these must be local and de-centralized (creating the opposite of a “more perfect union”), instead working dispersed across small social communities. This was the “federated” system even the US Constitution was supposed to observe. But the central government so coopted the system, as power concentrations inevitably do, that it even took the name “federal” government. Once removed from the direct and tight control of social groups, even a structural democracy becomes de facto oligarchy or autocracy, grossly abusing its power over “the people.” What’s worse, as anarchists see it, this leviathan indoctrinates its followers to believe they consented to it, when in fact they are not even asked to consent to anything but which individuals run the (same) show. Those within the military who gain perspective on its organization and authoritarianism can easily recognize these virtues and vices of command structure.
Under genuine democracy, government’s function is only to administer logistical matters that the citizens wish to avoid, like any service organization and service staff people’s by “public servants” in this case. It would lead the way consultants or coaches do, making proposals that its clients (and board of directors—The People) give thumbs up or down. It would only intervene in social affairs where democracy failed to resolve conflict. Only here, government’s more coercive measures and groups would be called in. Their first resort would be democratic, negotiating the conflict or violation (as police negotiate domestic disturbance). Next, more binding arbitration would be set, under threat of stronger community action. Then as a last resort, the undemocratic measures of threatening legal arrest would be invoked, leading to possible force--legal en-force-ment. Consider analogues to these democratic features in the military—the option to volunteer for tours of duty, to apply for transfers, to appeal certain placements and decisions, in contrast to direct order and military law. Contrast military law to civilian law and court procedures.
Under our US Constitution, the national government was given no more coercive power than noted above, showing that the central government does not constitute our democracy, but only protects or ministers to it. America has almost completely lost sight of this separation, calling the US Republic a democracy, which it is not, and allowing it to build social institutions while providing social leadership in them. As a social service agency, such “nation”-building is none of the government’s business, nor in its jurisdiction, as anarchists see it. Its agencies and sub-agencies, like the armed forces, are designed for very limited ends. Its president is the CEO of government, acting for the US nation state, but definitely not leader of America. This may explain why no attempt is made to find presidential candidates that remotely resemble someone fit for the category, “best American.” That prominent generals have become presidents and, even now, represent “presidential material” for party leaders, is extremely worrisome (Powell, Stockdale, Schwartkoff). “Management” is not this fungible, say anarchists.
Anarchy opposes central or unified government, as it opposes central and unified military command, but it does not necessarily oppose de-centralized versions of either. It is the centralization and concentration of power that invariably leads to tyranny in the State, in the economy via large-scale corporatism, and in the military which the US system has fortunately avoided throughout its history. As noted, branching and separating the services, creating medium and smaller-sized units under different commands is a powerful means to this achievement, diversifying confederation and leadership.
Anarchism opposes “capitalism” for its dehumanization of employees (labor costs) and consumers (profit streams). But its primary objection concerns the control of wealth, concentrated in few hands, which then is used to control all the rest, chiefly social liberty and equality of opportunity. Anarchism opposes state-socialist economies even more--for concentrating control in an already power-concentrated government-industrial complex. Such control prevents what might have been free trade, free and diverse job opportunity as well, which distributes wealth and economic power broadly and more fairly. Notice that whereas military command is concentrated in few hands, all sorts of checks and balances exist at the top of the executive chain and on the chief executive to reign in the dangers involved. Only Congress can initiate wars, the commander in chief running them with its permission and having to stop it should they so legislate. That this central power has been compromised continually in recent decades and even illegally surrendered by Congress in various resolutions show the inadequacy of this centralized approach.
Anarchy is a part of capitalist and socialist economy nonetheless, as it is part of the military. Like other forms of organization it is not everywhere or nowhere. Social democracy exists despite government coercions on it, free-trade exists despite the monopoly features of corporate conglomeration. In fact, democracy exists within dictatorships, only under great constraints. So it is with military brotherhood, for which many soldiers have bent or broken rules and regulations routinely
In The Military Beginning: It is said that when George Washington was given a commission to lead the continental army, the militias gathered in Massachusetts Bay Colony did not recognize his authority. The continental congress after all, had no more governmental status in any colony than the colony granted it. This is what military and political authority comes to in an aspiring democracy—consent of the governed. It is a compact of mutual trust, not something “out there,” written in stone, then imposed with a requirement of obedience or else. This is a truth vanished in the mists of time from the US military.
Being wise in the ways of war, Washington basically hung around the gathered militias there, trying to gain trust and earn leadership status, a significant quest and a remarkable accomplishment when achieved. Washington was appalled to learn, however, that in Massachusetts officers were elected by their men. And when officers lost the confidence of the troops, they were simply voted out and supplanted by leaders with more demonstrated competence. This was another sign of democracy, military democracy (god forbid). Based on experience in the French and Indian War, Washington felt a need to exert more dictatorial power over his troops, which he associated with discipline and with an official military.
The chance arose. When a certain militiaman got seriously drunk and disorderly, Washington had a brig constructed and ordered imprisonment for the offending volunteer. When George returned the next morning, however, the “brig” was burned to the ground and the militiaman released. Washington ordered a second brig built and the militiaman re-imprisoned, only to return the morning after to find the same result. Democracy dies slowly. So does anarchy, which basically is pure democracy—direct democracy—and full democracy, democracy in all group interactions, formal and informal.
Is the anarchist implication here that for anarchism a proper military should be democratic? In a way yes; in another way, yes. It should be as democratic as possible. Ethically speaking, and therefore through anarchist eyes, any social institution should be either democratic or able to show why it is not—why it merits an exception. Normally this general principle would be stated, “In a democracy, any social institution should be…” But from a genuinely ethical perspective there should only be democracies, or some comparable cooperative system of mutual respect. The principles of democracy are merely the principles of ethics extended to social groups. (This is why the paraphernalia of political process--election campaigns, voting, majority rule—should not be confused with its logic.) All other forms of social organization yet devised violate key ethical principles, especially individual rights.
Thus any legitimate social institution, showing undemocratic features, should seek an exemption for each such feature it embraces. As this goes for society, so it goes for military institutions and practices. And since the military is rife with undemocratic practices—since it is dedicated to them in many ways—it has a long row to hoe toward military ethics.
A case for military exemption—for there being “military ethics” at all—relies on “exceptionalism.” Here the case parallels that of specialized organizations or professions in which there are special obligations determined by mutual consent. (At least consent covers a voluntary army). As with violently competitive sports leagues such as football, hockey, soccer or boxing, participants surrender their rights to mutually decent treatment in exchange for suspended obligations to respect the right of others in certain ways, but only when this promotes the overall benefit of players, coaches, owners and fans. Normally we could not run headlong into others—tackling, “hitting” or checking them, and avoid arrest for battery and assault. Normally we could not publicize or charge fees to enter a ring for the sole purpose of beating someone else’s brains in without criminal charges. This is not to mention blowing the brains and limbs off thousands of civilians in the course of military encounters, then calling it collateral damage.
Note, it is not ethically obvious any society can be attacked, much less injured, due to a dispute between its government and that of the invader. It is tradition to fight on the lands claimed as the political jurisdiction of a state because battles were often fought over land. But if the fight is for control, there is no justification for doing so. The alternative is an isolated area—a desert—in which the contest is fought and monitored, control going to the victorious force.
There is a long tradition of creating special obligations, not only in the military or in violent sports, but in such common institutions as marriage, the parenting of children, the professions in which there are special trusts and confidences with clients or patients. But making a sufficient case for the ethical legitimacy of these obligations is another matter. There is an inalienability to ethics, most notable in inalienable rights, that bears too little notice. It greatly limits our powers of legitimate mutual consent. This is especially so in the military. Democracy is not established by mutual consent, though there is a principle of mutual respect in and behind the garnering of mutual consent. Rather mutual respect, democracy and ethics in general is there first. Our debates in ethics are over what is there exactly. Then when we believe we have found it, we explicitly consent to adopt what is there—to adopt these principles-- as the conditions and legitimate expectations of our cooperation. Consent is what turns implicit aspiration into explicit commitment and practice.
The military faces this dilemma in spades. To volunteer for a service in which killing other human beings is a central role creates enormous, if not ultimate moral problems. Obviously an aspiring killer should not join a police force or part of the armed services in order to kill people. But police forces of all sorts enable such intentions, legalizing them. More, they require such behavior, portraying it as a necessary means to some high ideal—justice, peace, the national good. Nothing could be clearer, however, than that the ends usually do not justify the means. While the ends here are among the highest imaginable, the means are the most horrific imaginable, especially in the killing of more innocents than combatants in war, including conscripted combatants. Since anarchists live only by ethics, difficulties encountered here are everything to their point of view and way of life.
Outside military tradition, we are well aware that general duties, human duties and rights, can not be surrendered to discretionary ones—professional ones for example, or even family ones. We can not legitimately violate duties not to shoot others for purposes of “kinetic art” ( a case in NYC) or to “make an important points of protest” (as self-immolators or human bombs do). In part this is because our responsibilities concern how it is permissible to act in itself, not merely how those we act on should be treated. There are issues of moral self-expression here and the inherent qualities of action and intention. And these are crowned by the expression of good character in virtue. We have duties to behave, not merely duties to the recipients of behavior. It is not enough that special duties function as a new and effective means to a generally beneficial end. Ethical responsibilities are not optional, not merely what we choose to make them or say they are.
And this is so even when we are not sure what our duties are, or when we view ethics as inherently fuzzy and murky. We are sure of very few things, yet we act and must act, we decide and must decide. More, the clarity of math and formal logic is rarely appropriate for managing daily life interaction—it is usually counter-productive.
Can there Be Military Ethics? “All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets”—Voltaire. To anarchists, heads of state and their “cronies” are the murderers in war. But soldiers should consider long and hard whether to conspire in the deeds, even to make legal pledges to follow certain requirements from command. Consider that President George W. Bush spoke publicly about not wanting to recognize World Court jurisdiction over US military actions in Iraq because US GIs were “technically war criminals.” He never explained where the merely “technical” part came in. Sending US soldiers to this world-criminal fate is bad enough. But more, “American heroes” should not willingly, much less patriotically “follow orders” in this effort.
For anarchists, the very possibility of military ethics depends on solving this central problem, a problem. Can executing standard military actions be justified at all--even committing to do so as part of a standing military force at peace. This is not to mention whether war can be so justified, but in the fewest of cases. To think that an ethics of internal military niceties matters very much within the context of waging mass murder is not the sort of ethical rationalization that anarchism can abide. Anarchists apply the same standard of justification to themselves regarding whether following high-minded principles of liberty, justice, community and consensus undermine the security and defense of society in some cases, when dealing with not so ethical or anarchy-minded tyrants.
Any contemporary military faces a double dilemma of history: first, the tyrannical track record of armed forces under their own unfettered military command, dominated by political ambitions; second, the subordination of military personnel to civilian leadership that is not only inept, but prone to political interests at the sacrifice of democratic principles. Soldiers often must hold a betrayed faith in their leaders. They are required to do so even when the betrayal comes to light, The military aim to defend society and justice is often subverted in the mass killing of children and families in a disgraceful effort toward economic imperialism. Their allegiance is often courted through political misinformation and indoctrination, creating a false “enemy.” These outrages should not confront any American youth willing to risk his or her very life to save others, as anarchists see it.
Only World War II, in recent anarchist memory, represented a genuinely just US cause, defending America against a truly evil dictator bent on world conquest and American enslavement. (Some anarchists who fought in WWII, such as Howard Zinn, are not even sure this overall effort was what it was claimed.) Every other modern US war before and after (save the War of 1812 perhaps) was fueled largely by partisan political and economic interests, in conflict with American well-being or that of other societies.
Anarchists never need face this dilemma due to their rejection of the state and its role in war. This is so even on those rare occasions when they fight in last-ditch defensive wars or justifiable wars of liberation on the side of society--America, the A only in USA. As noted, anarchists oppose the political state and its central government above all for assuming illegitimate power over societies. (“Criminalize Government: There’s no government like no government”). This opposition includes political republics such as the US, which are least guilty of oppression among forms of government. Anarchists note that the notion of forming this state and its sovereign government was explicitly rejected in favor of independent and closely-held state governments by those who fought the American revolution. These “colonial heroes” returned to their colonial communities—not even to “society” to “America” as a whole, declaring each a state, a very local and closely held and sovereign community-state. Consistently, anarchists also accept that the American revolution was a largely unjust and undemocratic cause, apparently supported by only one-third of colonials, and willing to commit mass murder for largely economic freedom, not human or social freedom—taxation without representation.
Through anarchist eyes, political nation-states have become the causes of war in pursuit of political-economic interests. (“Government is death.”) Foot soldiers then bear the brunt of prosecuting these interest, used as mere means or as pawns who are paid chiefly in the salary of praise for their “sacrifice.” (Paid properly, no veteran (who saw combat) would want for anything forever, especially if injured.) Not obeying a political state or its central government means not fighting in wars, and resisting government naturally means resisting wars. (“Resist” is a chief anarchist slogan.)
Anarchists choose instead to reach across national borders allying as members of American society, for example, with the societies of supposedly enemy nations. There are enemy nations, but not enemy societies as anarchists see it. Anarchist citizen-to-citizen initiatives of this sort were present during the US’s Iraq invasion as they are now (in 2011-2012) among Israeli and Iranian citizens. They try to pre-empt even pre-emptive war, not trusting the motives or good-faith negotiations of national dimplatis and elected “representatives.” It is no wonder that there activities are considered “bordering on treason” to the anarchist, anymore than that “treason” is a high crime reserved by the state to itself, and to its Constitution, disallowing betrayals or infringement of democracy or America itself as treasonable offenses. Whose state is it? Who established and ordained the Constitution ask anarchists?
Anarchists see little interest within societies to have war, which is a disaster for them win or lose. They are interested in simply living their lives, raising their families and having some means of employment. In this all societies share common bonds. The military, designed to keep this social peace, the “domestic tranquility,” is typically called in to destroy it at the state’s bidding and at the risk of their lives to boot. (“Government, bringing you more violence than it prevents since 3000BC.”) That all states claim justice as their flag and God on their side should make this obvious to even the casual observer. Anarchists would have national leaders fight wars in person, sparing youths, thus efficiently purging societies of their war-mongering leadership. (The number of more peace-minded candidates clamoring for their jobs stretched down the street and across many blocks after all—presidents are the most dispensible and replaceable of public servants in this regard, and as chief public servants, providing the ultimate service should be their special role.) Anarchists would also have societies set free from political indoctrination against fellow societies, along with the false teaching that war is a mere policy option. Among anarchists’ loud challenges to such social ideologies: “Support the troops: let politicians send them to deserts to be killed for no reason.”
Anarchist slogans, anti-state, anti-war bumper stickers, tell much of what this approach is about. (“Support the troops, let politicians send them to a desert to die for nothing.”) To anarchists, US soldiers are primarily one’s neighbor’s children who are being asked to shoulder a burden every social member must shoulder if it is really true that national defense and human survival at home is at stake—the only possible justification for war. For anarchists, the domineering state we serve in turn serves corporate interests (elite class interests) itself. And these are largely indifferent to principles of justice or social well-being on the whole—the 99%. (“Corporation” the modern word for dictatorship.”)
If particular relevance to the military, anarchists vehemently oppose a mixing the US state or republic and its flag, with American society, which democracy holds has created and now “owns” the US as masters of its “public servants.” The national anthem is not America’s anthem (which is “America”). The flag is not the American flag, it is the US flag, in fact the US flag of war. (Why would a society need a flag?) It makes sense for the military to care about the flag because it is the military’s banner in warfare. But it is not America’s banner. Thus the military should understand hostility toward the flag in some instances when US policy is threatening America and its freedom and when un_American policy is being wrapped in the flag to deceive The People it should fly for. This is no knock on the military, as anarchists see it. The problem is that the military uses the same US flag of state as the flag of war, just as America mistakenly does to represent itself. Instead of “USA, USA,” Americans should be chanting “A, A,” or “America,” a most beautiful word to anarchists. George Washington preferred flag of Vermont as his war flag, an evergreen on a white field. Merely reorganizing the red, white and blue stripes of Great Britain seemed inadequate.
The pledge of allegiance is backwards—the government should pledge allegiance to us, as We The People of America, not we to our social tool, the US Republic. Americans should not stand for, or serenade the US logo, flying unfurled. Rather the flag should nod to us, to any American as s/he walks by. This is why WE The People are not a fleet of public servants, as The Repuiblics central government is. The fact that military personnel are so trained in flag-respect is a sign of something terribly upside down to anarchists, concerning who the military ultimately serves—not the US and its constitution, us, the small u.s. known as American society. This is where soldiers should target their allegiance—to themselves as Americans, their families and neighbors, not their work supervisors, pay sergeants and some suit in DC.
Article by Dr Bill Puka