The growing current of remilitarization that Europe and the USA have embarked on, together with a cruel and generalized rearmament, demands an aggressive (and lucrative) policy of arms sales and the propagation of wars beyond the limits of Western comfort. The goal of domination-violence, which feeds the logic of violence that governs the world system we live in today, makes the business of war and its preparation one of the main windows of opportunity for the ruling hawkish elites.

By Juan Carlos Rois

The reintroduction of conscription and militarist indoctrination are part of the narrative and practices of taming the non-violent consciousness of the European populations. The reintroduction of militarist, nationalist, racist, colonialist, anti-feminist, denialist, and violent narratives and practices are once again at the forefront of the political agendas of the EU and the US and are thus being replicated on a global scale.

Indoctrinated, confused, frightened and subservient citizens are part of the top-down program launched by leaders to implement, with a chainsaw or “leaving no one behind”, the new policy responses to the multiplicity of systemic crises underway, the real and denied threat to human security and life on the planet.

About the reintroduction of conscript armies in the West, such ideologies do not even respond to a military necessity in the current phase of the technification and specialization of warfare, but to the pretension of the hawks and power groups in Europe to impose the hegemony of the discourse and practices of militaristic submission that they need to discipline the global order and the internal order.

In Spain, I think they will have a harder time than elsewhere. Not because we are less docile or more intelligent, but because the memory of insubordinate empowerment and the practices that took place during the development of their overwhelming cycle of social mobilization still vibrates in our memory.

They think that we have lost our memory and that these practices are unrepeatable, that they have not gone beyond the epidermis of collective knowledge, that they have not crystalized the wisdom of empowerment, and that the youth of today will willingly accept the return to the darkness of a militia that we were able to banish.

There have always been fools, and there will be no shortage of warlike hyperventilating fools, either among the nostalgic of those barracks that geographically coincided with the profile of this bull’s skin in the blackest past, or among their brown-shirted epigones of today. Judging by the increasing level of political violence promoted by the more pro-militarist parties, we will see many claims to military power.

But, fools aside, society is not seeking its collective suicide, nor is ignorance or laziness such that people today do not know what social evil lies behind the militarist discourse and the pretense of reintroducing the military.

Just in case, I have dusted off one of the many leaflets with which the anti-militarist movement in the early 1980s called on young people to resist militarism and proposed disobedience to conscription laws or their civilian substitutes.

A leaflet from the early 1980s on military and civilian conscription.

The accompanying document was produced in Getafe in 1982. In this context, Spanish anti-militarism was opposed to military service (known as “mili”) and called for political conscientious objection as a tool for social transformation and to achieve the abolition of “mili”.

Previously, those who refused military service were repressed through the application of the Code of Military Justice, but after the approval of the Constitution and the recognition of conscientious objection in its article 30, at the end of 1977, the then Minister of Defense, Gutiérrez Mellado, ordered that those who objected to military service be given an indefinite extension until a law regulating conscientious objection was passed.

Since then, and in the years that followed, several thousand anti-militarists have been placed in legal limbo by this order, and the struggle for conscientious objection has gained strength and coordination, at that time mainly through the Cons

In 1982, the PSOE drafted a law on a conscientious objection that sought to reduce anti-military dissent to a mere question of moral scruples, without questioning conscription or the armies, and to oblige those who objected to military service to perform civilian service as an alternative to military service, a service that was different both in its approach and in its duration, was widely rejected by conscientious objectors, was widely rejected by objectors and gave rise to a broad debate within their organizations about the legitimacy of civilian service and the effectiveness of accepting a law which, far from allowing the fight against military service and for demilitarization to progress, was seen as a further reinforcement of military service itself, which was not questioned.

Now is not the time to break down this rich debate (which has also opened up other fields and perspectives of the social struggle of antimilitarism, such as the search for a global alternative to defense, demilitarization processes, the struggle against the militarization of territory, against military alliances, against military spending, the perspective of antimilitarist feminism, etc.), but only to explain the context in which this document was written. For those who are more interested in the evolution of disobedience and the abandonment of any “civilian service” perspective by anti-militarist organizations, we refer to the interesting work of Pedro Oliver, in which he develops this evolution.

In 1982, the PSOE’s draft law (later published as a law in December 1984) brought together the consensus of anti-militarism around its radical rejection, both of the non-political concept of objection and of the concept of alternative civilian services proposed and led shortly afterward to the announcement by the MOC of a referendum on the draft law (later published as a law in December 1984), The MOC announced its rejection of the law and the refusal of the objectors to comply with it if it were passed, thus starting the process that over time would trigger the cycle of mobilization that ended with the Objection Law in March 2001, with Aznar as Prime Minister and Federico Trillo as Minister of Defense.

At the time of writing, Getafe (where there is a military base) had an active and significant MOC group, which was also responsible (thanks to some of its activists participating in a kind of printing cooperative in the town) for producing much of the MOC’s publicity in Madrid.

The anti-militarist message of the diptych

Let’s go back to the document, which can be downloaded here in case anyone is tempted to reprint it, or use it to re-launch awareness-raising among younger people who will want to use them as guinea pigs for the new military proposal (it’s provided in OCR so it can be cut and pasted).

The arguments were as clear yesterday as they are today. Militarism is abhorrent and harmful to our social health, and disobedience to its impositions, everyone from their place and according to their possibilities, is the best way to fight for a more just society. It is said that conscription means annihilating one’s personality to impose “their” truth, that of the warlords:

To do military service is to let yourself be carved, conscripted, uniformed, numbered, uprooted, in short, it is another way of annihilating your personality. It is about forming a submissive mass of people without the capacity to make decisions. Others think and decide for you. Hierarchized, disciplined, robotized; you are left with blind obedience. The nightmare of a year where you will learn that war is “inevitable”, where contempt for life, especially the life of others, is encouraged. Kill or be killed is the philosophy of the warlords.

They denounce military defense, because what they want to defend is not what societies want to defend. Today it is more accurate to speak of social defense and human security, as opposed to the military paradigm of military defense, domination-violence, and war-making.

“They ‘defend’ us even when we don’t want them to, by provoking wars to line their own pockets, wars that we, the ordinary people, always lose.

They point to the instruments of preparation for systemic war, which is one of the main arguments of the current neo-capitalist system, and how they need our voluntary servitude as the keystone of their claim to domination.

“We know them, they are the ones who got us into NATO, who increase our military budgets, who make events like 23-F and other coup attempts possible, who organize security and disarmament conferences. And they export arms to support South American dictatorships. And all this, after which they become docile workers, obedient citizens, possessive husbands, the perfect model for this unjust and oppressive society to perpetuate itself”.

The above statements are, in my opinion, the most relevant and useful for the moment in which we live, where the threat of the reintroduction of conscription is once again on the agenda. The rest of the document, which refers to the legitimacy of civilian service, seems to me to be outdated today. Today, even from a tactical point of view, any kind of service imposed on anti-militarist dissidents to ensure the survival of conscription for the rest of the population would be unacceptable.

Prevention rather than cure

You have not yet dared to reintroduce military service or any other kind of civilian or military obligation of the same severity. I believe that it would not find non-violent acceptance in society here and that it would provoke a new insubordinate social struggle in response.

I do not believe that the generations that have been touched by the experience of struggle and the anti-militarist proposal that triggered the insurrection (and so many other struggles) will passively participate in the reintroduction of military service. Nor do I think that today’s youth are a different breed from us, or that it is easier now than before to subject them to militarist impositions, or more difficult now than before to raise their consciousness of anti-militarist commitment.

We have a task ahead of us to keep the black storms in the air at bay. It is important not to rest on our laurels and to extend memory and remembrance, to make available to society the whole toolbox, the whole experience of collective empowerment, and all the creativity that triggered the cycle of conscientious objection and disobedience.

The original article can be found here