Antimilitarism (also spelt anti-militarism) is a doctrine that opposes
war, relying heavily on a critical theory of imperialism and was an
explicit goal of the First and Second International. Whereas pacifism
is the doctrine that disputes (especially between countries) should be
settled without recourse to violence, Paul B. Miller defines
anti-militarism as "ideology and activities...aimed at reducing the
civil power of the military and ultimately, preventing international
Cynthia Cockburn defines an anti-militarist movement as one
opposed to "military rule, high military expenditure or the imposition
of foreign bases in their country". Martin Ceadel points out that
anti-militarism is sometimes equated with pacificism—general
opposition to war or violence, except in cases where force is deemed
absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace.
1 Distinction between antimilitarism and pacifism
2 Criticisms on violence
3 Henry David Thoreau's anti-military views
Capitalism and the military-industrial complex
5 Right-wing antimilitarism in the United States
Antimilitarism in Japan
7 Antimilitarist groups
8 See also
Distinction between antimilitarism and pacifism
Pacifism is the belief that disputes between nations can and should be
settled peacefully. It is the opposition to war and the use of
violence as a means of settling disputes. It can include the refusal
to participate in military action.
Antimilitarism does not reject war in all circumstances, but rejects
the belief or desire to maintain a large and strong military
organization in aggressive preparedness for war.
Criticisms on violence
Cover of the Piano Score for the light opera The Chocolate Soldier,
based on George Bernard Shaw's
Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man – both of which make
fun of armies and militarist virtues and present positively a deserter
who runs away from the battlefield and who carries chocolate instead
Georges Sorel advocated the use of violence as a
form of direct action, calling it "revolutionary violence", which he
opposed in Reflections on Violence (1908) to the violence inherent in
class struggle. Similarities are seen between Sorel and the
International Workingmens' Association (IWA) theorization of
propaganda of the deed.
Walter Benjamin, in his Critique of Violence (1920) demarcates a
difference between "violence that founds the law", and "violence that
conserves the law", on one hand, and on the other hand, a "divine
violence" that breaks the "magic circle" between both types of "state
violence". What distinguishes these two kinds of violence
fundamentally is their mode of operation; whereas law-establishing and
law-preserving violence operate instrumentally on a continuum of means
and ends, wherein the means of physical violence justify the
political-juridical ends of the law, the Benjaminian concept of
'divine violence' is unique insofar as it is a bloodless violence 'of
pure means' through which the law itself is destroyed. The example
Benjamin provides in his essay is that of a the General Strike, the
latter of which is a key element of Sorel's Reflections on Violence
(cited in this essay by Benjamin). The "violence that conserves the
law" is roughly equivalent to the state's monopoly of legitimate
violence. The "violence that founds the law" is the original violence
necessary to the creation of a state. "Revolutionary violence" removes
itself from the sphere of the law by shattering its instrumental logic
of violence (i.e. its deployment of violence as a means of
instituting, preserving and enforcing its own authority). 
Giorgio Agamben showed the theoretical link between the law and
violence permitted Nazi-thinker
Carl Schmitt to justify the "state of
exception" as the characteristic of sovereignty. Thus indefinite
suspension of the law may only be blocked by breaking this link
between violence and right.
Henry David Thoreau's anti-military views
Henry David Thoreau's 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience" (see text),
originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government", can be considered
an antimilitarist point of view. His refusal to pay taxes is justified
as an act of protest against slavery and against the
Mexican–American War, in accordance to the practice of civil
disobedience. (1846–48). He writes in his essay that the
individual is not with obligations to the majority of the State.
Instead the individual should "break the law" if the law is "of such a
nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to
Capitalism and the military-industrial complex
Capitalism has often been thought by antimilitarist literature to be a
major cause of wars, an influence which has been theorized by Vladimir
Rosa Luxemburg under the name of "imperialism". The
military-industrial complex has been accused of "pushing for war" in
pursuit of private economic or financial interests.
Second International was opposed to the participation of the
working classes in war, which was analyzed as a competition between
different national bourgeois classes and different state imperialisms.
The assassination of French socialist leader
Jean Jaurès days before
the proclamation of World
War I resulted in massive participation in
the coming war. In Mars; or,The Truth About
War (1921), Alain
criticizes the destruction brought about by militarism, and
demonstrated that it wasn't patriotism that forced the soldiers to
fight, but the bayonets behind them.
War II, US President Eisenhower's 1961 issued a warning on
the influence of the "military-industrial complex".
Right-wing antimilitarism in the United States
American right-wing antimilitarists draw heavily upon the statements
Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers condemning standing
armies and foreign entanglements. Jefferson's beliefs on
maintaining a standing army are as follows: "There are instruments so
dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally
at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether
legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such
instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a
Right-wing antimilitarists in the United States generally believe that
"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained
to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country", as
stated by James Madison. To this end, there is much overlap
Militia movement and right-wing antimilitarists, although
the two groups are not mutually inclusive. The term "well regulated"
in the above quote (and in the Second Amendment to the United States
Constitution) is taken by such antimilitarists not to mean "regulated
by the state" but rather "well equipped" and "in good working order",
as was a common usage of the word "regulated" in the late 18th
Antimilitarism in Japan
War II Japan enacted its postwar constitution which, in
article 9, stated that "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a
sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means
of settling international disputes." Such antimilitarist constitution
was based on the belief that Japan's military organizations were to
blame for thrusting the country into World
In Yasuhiro Izumikawa's article "Explaining Japanese Antimilitarism:
Normative and Realist Constraints on Japan's Security Policy", the
evidences for the constructivist's belief in the existence of the
single norm of antimilitarism in Post war Japan are introduced.
These evidences include the Yoshida Doctrine, adopted after the World
War II, which emphasized the importance of Japan’s economic
development and acceptance of the U.S. security umbrella. Also the
institutional constraints imposed on Japan’s security policy after
War II and Japan’s
Three Non-Nuclear Principles which is about
not possessing, producing, or permitting the introduction of nuclear
weapons into Japan are mentioned as the evidences for antimilitarism.
In contrast to the constructivist's view, in Izumikawa's article, the
realists are said to believe that the postwar security policy in Japan
is a combination of pacifism, antitraditionalism, and the fear of
entrapment rather than just being based on the single norm of
However, the postwar constitution on which Japan’s antimilitarism is
based has seen some proposed amendments, and article 9 has been
renounced by the Liberal Democratic Party. Some new legislation allows
Japan’s Self Defense Forces to act more like a conventional army,
reinterpreting the constitutional restrictions. This legislation has
been strongly opposed by Japanese opposition parties, especially the
Japanese Communist Party, which is strongly opposed to militarism.
List of anti-war organizations
List of anti-war organizations and
Until its dissolution, the
Second International was antimilitarist.
Jaurès' assassination on July 31, 1914, marks antimilitarism's
failure in the socialist movement. The American Union Against
Militarism is an example of a US antimilitarist movement born in the
midst of the First World War, from which the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) formed from after the war. Some Refuseniks in Israel, who
refuse the draft, and draft resisters in the USA can be considered by
some to be antimilitarist or pacifist.
War Resisters' International, formed in 1921, is an international
network of pacifist and animilitarist groups around the world,
currently with 90 affiliated groups in over 40 countries.
2015 Japanese military legislation
Arms and the Man/
The Chocolate Soldier
The Chocolate Soldier a comedy by George Bernard Shaw
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Civilian control of the military
Criticism of capitalism
Insubordinate movement in Spain
Just War theory
Peace Pledge Union
Refusal to serve in the Israeli military
Three Non-Nuclear Principles
War Resisters' International
^ From Revolutionaries to Citizens :
Antimilitarism in France,
1870-1914 by Paul B. Miller. Duke University Press, 2002,
ISBN 0-8223-2757-0, p. 8.
^ Cynthia Cockburn, Antimilitarism: Political and Gender Dynamics of
Peace Movements. London, Palgrave Macmillan. 2012.
ISBN 0230359752, p. 2.
^ Martin Ceadel, 'Thinking about peace and war. Oxford, Oxford
University Press, 1987. ISBN 0192192000, p. 101.
^ "pacifism". The Free Dictionary.
Antimilitarism is not pacifism or the total rejection of war". Lisa
M. Mundy, American militarism and anti-militarism in popular media,
1945–1970. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2012.
ISBN 9780786466504, p. 7.
^ "militarism". The Free Dictionary.
^ Caviness, Rochelle. "Reflections of Violence, by
Georges Sorel -
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^ "Anti-militarism in the 19th Century". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
^ "About Thoreau: Civil Disobedience Walden Woods". www.walden.org.
War and Economic History". www.joshuagoldstein.com. Retrieved
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^ Tharoor, Ishaan (2014-07-31). "The other assassination that led up
War I". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved
^ "Alain French philosopher". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved
^ "Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961".
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^ "The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American
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^ "Jefferson on Politics & Government: The Military".
famguardian.org. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
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madisonbrigade.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
^ Izumikawa, Yasuhiro (October 2010). "Explaining Japanese
Antimilitarism: Normative and Realist Constraints on Japan's Security
Policy". International Security. 35 (2): 123–160.
doi:10.1162/ISEC_a_00020. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
Karl Liebknecht book "
Militarism and Anti-Militarism"
John Palatella, "The
War of Words"
Dan Jakopovich, In the Belly of the Beast: Challenging US Imperialism
and the Politics of the Offensive'
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