FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Militaristic Culture

by LAURA L. FINLEY

Guns. Media. Mental Illness. Lax Security. All these and more have been offered as explanations for the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14 that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. And all of those things may have played a role. But none are the cause of the problem. And heated debate about them, while important, serves to obscure some other very important conversations about the root issue, which is that the U.S. is a violent, militaristic culture that, in virtually every institution, demonstrates violence as a means of solving problems.

The US is a society organized for war. We spend almost 50 percent of federal tax monies every year on military—not just to pay soldiers and veterans, but to engage in conflict, for research and development of weapons and equipment, and more. When this amount of funding is spent on military, it clearly cannot be used to build infrastructure, to enhance the quality of our public schools, to provide social services, to assist the poor, hungry and mentally ill, etc. Our military budget is equal to that of the next fifteen countries combined.  More than this, however, militarism is an ideology that privileges certain values, including hierarchy, competition, authoritarianism, and obedience, among others.

Politicians, fearful of being seen as “soft,” engage the country in still more violence, at the same time inadequately addressing human needs. This militaristic ideology has shaped the ways our schools are structured, what we teach, and how we teach it. It impacts our media, as commentators on either side of the political divide use the same aggressive methods of yelling at and interrupting one another and degrading their “enemy” whenever possible. Media over-represents the amount of violent crime, for which creates a fearful populace that will sometimes accept any effort that is supposed to keep us safe.  Our criminal justice system is militaristic, from our incessant “wars on” mentality to our arming and equipping military-style swat teams and more. I could go on, but I hope the point is made.

To counter a militaristic culture, we need to begin infusing every institution with an alternate model. To do so will require not just schools but the other institutions listed here to begin to see their work as that of peacebuilding. We need to engage in dialogue that dissects our devotion to militarism and violence and that critically assesses its impact. We can take back our democracy from politicians who are influenced by militaristic lobbies—the gun lobby, the prison lobby, etc—and we can demand that our politicians begin investing in projects and institutions that empower people and communities, affirm human rights, and promote social justice.

I recognize that this won’t be easy. Radically changing a societal ideology as hegemonic as militarism is never easy. But how many more people, how many more children, do we need to lose before we say better to work hard, engage the difficult conversations, and build a more peaceful future for our children?

Laura L. Finley, Ph.D., Sociology and Criminology, Barry University, is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail