How our society is indoctrinated with militarism
No matter what party holds government here in the UK, there has always been an aggressive foreign policy with a huge portion of the annual budget being spent on the military and building its reputation. The consistent resort to war and our habitual use of the military as a solution to political conflict has become normalised in every day conversation. It is seen as more unusual for someone to discuss and promote peace whilst the violent status quo is generally accepted without dispute. Why is this? Why are we promoting military recruitment amongst young children through the militarisation of education? Within international relations, the United Kingdom’s obsession with being a Great Power enforces a constant emphasis on security, something very unique to us. Research has shown that whilst we see our main threat as terrorism and ISIS, other continents like Africa and Latin America see their most concerning threat as climate change. Our country’s “need” for an army is clear from looking at government policy and military spending, though is it really necessary?
Since 2008, the government has made a conscious effort to encourage support and increase the visibility of the army. The armed forces made 11,000 visits to secondary schools and colleges in 2011-2012 and have been pushing for more involvement in schools and for expansion of cadet forces. Young minds can be much more impressionable and vulnerable to harm and although there is an international consensus for adult only forces, the United Kingdom still recruit 16 and 17 years olds. By simply raising the minimum age to 18 young recruits would have the time and the maturity to make an informed decision about a future in the military, rather than be subconsciously influenced by watered down versions of what the army actually does.
After listening to Ben Griffin, an ex-SAS officer talk about his experience from being in Iraq and Afghanistan, the true dangers of promoting the military to the younger generation were made clear. The attributes associated with the army include mental techniques such as; a constant emphasis on obeying orders without question, strong repetition of actions and unconditional loyalty to authority meaning that soldiers are trained to numb to their own opinions and ethics. These techniques remove their ability to question their integrity and their potentially harmful actions as a soldier. This military ethos is indoctrinated into cadets as young as 16, who are far more sensitive and malleable to this process. This military ethos is not always positive; hierarchy, obedience, conformity and a readiness to kill are attributes that encourage violence and subordination in situations where the political implications are not always made clear.
The war system, as Ben described, is every institution and individual that accepts warfare as a means to gain status, power and wealth. Anyone that reads the newspaper and gains some kind of reflected glory when seeing the military abroad contributes to the war system and the war system is what perpetuates the necessity for a large army. The aim of this exercise is to create another generation of people that love the army. People who will jump at the opportunity to go and fight in the next war that pops up. The military is sold as a point of pride and protection for our country, even though in reality, it fights wars for other countries and does little to protect this one.
So why the obsession of having a huge army? Perhaps we should be encouraging the younger generation to become more creative, to look for peaceful solutions to political problems, to learn ways of making the world a safer environment instead of encouraging a constant rhetoric of war and the need of a large army. Or perhaps we should be concentrating on problems within our own society. Abolishing the military might be seen as unrealistic, as it contributes to our economy and employs a huge amount of people. However raising the age from 16 to 18 would a progressive step forwards for the next generation.