Lovegrove and I had different reactions to the post that a fella wrote about not supporting the military. I thought his response was interesting to read in that you’re taught a little history about what was going on in the minds over on his side of the pond, and perhaps, why they feel as they do. (Contrary to popular belief, I actually do read and enjoy it. Oh, and I dig history. And I also dig…. never mind ….I’ll stop there so as not to offend…..). So I asked if I could post his article and he obliged. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did……….. Here we go:
Support the Troops is an old cry
Inspired by a post, I ramble on below historically, which is my wont but which is different from my wont to digress which is also a wont but not this wont. I guess I have two wonts at least, but I digress, which is my wont.
The military has always been an arm of government and if necessary, one that can be turned on a rebellious people. I refer to historical examples, as is often my wont.
Take the unrest in colonial New England for instance. The misjudgements there by the authorities included the misconception that the unruly colonials did not have a self-identity that differentiated them to some extent from the ranks of the British people from whom they were almost exclusively drawn.
The colonists were seen as rebellious even traitorous Englishmen, while the Colonists saw themselves as protecting hard-gained English freedoms from tyranny. The king’s party forgot that Englishmen had already taken the ultimate step in regard to a perceived tyrannical monarch only a century plus beforehand.
The “Americans” were only continuing the constant struggle against oppressive authority since the Anglo-Saxon nation, which having been relatively recently formed out of the seven basic tribal lands, had been ruthlessly crushed and subjugated by Norman usurpers. That’s how it was expressed by the “progressive” radical element at the time at least. That the motley bands of invasive Germanic colonials who eventually came to be known as Anglos, had only relatively recently before, themselves ruthlessly crushed and subjugated the indigenous peoples of this new land was conveniently forgotten. Sound familiar? Celts or Indians, Anglos or Americans: “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” But I digress as is my wont.
The authorities tended to consider the colonials as “Englishmen abroad” who were therefore subject to the king and his ministers as were “Englishmen at home”. As long as things went well this simplified perception held but as history reveals, when the pressure was on, it fell apart.
The military was all things to all men. It protected the people from external hostility, internal criminality and kept the king’s peace from riotous and unruly behaviour. Royal regiments from both the Mother Country and local recruits, supported by the colonial militia were everywhere. They were on the frontiers confronting the indigenous locals and the rival French. They were the army, the National Guard and the police rolled into one.
The term “the military” covers a lot of ground. The mentioned three branches of overt coercive authority, now supported by covert coercive authority, are in effect all part of the military. They can be and are constantly utilised in support of each other to maintain order and keep control.
The constant refrain to support or not the military in whatever it does, reflects to some degree the Patriot v. Loyalist division of late colonial North America. Those who would call the critics unpatriotic aka traitors, are in effect the loyalists whilst the “traitors” are the Patriots. But what’s in a name? That which we call a legion by any other name would smell of Caesar.
The present call to “support the troops” is an understandably emotive call to remember the human element, the flesh and blood in the ranks. However, the call is deliberately high-jacked to also mean to support the military in the adventures or misadventures it get involved with. A cry to consider people is in effect, a cry to support the authorities. A possible comparison was the call in the United Kingdom regarding the rebel colonies to support the troops in the Royal regiments. They were the sons, brothers, friends and neighbours of British people, they were in a traumatic situation, dying in droves and returning home wounded and broken.
However, to support the troops was in effect to support the king’s Party. Englishmen everywhere, throughout the mother country and the colonies, were divided on the American question.
The radicals, the progressives” were in support of the Americans in their endeavour to take the liberties of Englishmen a step further, which they saw would be of benefit eventually to all.
The traditionalists, the “conservatives” supported their king in his endeavours as they saw it, to maintain law and order amongst unruly ruffians who took treason lightly and who thought distance gave them a right to refuse their dues to Caesar. Why should the one element pay taxes and the other not? Sound familiar? Why should some pay for the “benefits” of others who refused to pay their dues? The security and development of the colonies and the maintenance of order there had been and continued to be paid in the blood of Englishmen and by the taxes imposed on some. That the external threats had been curtailed in the case of the French; and significantly weakened in the case of the natives, did not answer the question of the finance involved. Who should pay for that enterprise?
Confronting the king was a noble “treason” in the minds of the radicals on either continent. It was the natural and historical consequence of a long history of class struggle in England. As the radicals perceived and expressed it, it was a struggle of free Englishmen to shake off the Norman yoke. The American struggle was seen as another burst of activity in this never-ending saga of fighting oppression. Indeed, if it had been lost, Anglo-Saxon democratic development would have been greatly hindered everywhere and consequently, tyranny strengthened.
The colonists protested as to why they should continue to pay for a once necessary but now defunct service. The loyalist protested that the cost of the once necessary service had not yet been offset by a significant colonial contribution. As Marx pointed out: “all is economics”. As more often than not if not always, principles and ideals were and are utilised by those who own the major wealth to maintain their influence and lucrative positions.
Hell has no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle!
So the stage was set and the cast in place in the wings, stage left and stage right, each awaiting their turn to play their part.
The point? When you are asked to support some emotive call, don’t rush in but fear to tread. Search who is asking and why.