Civic Militarism

“Civic militarism is the creation of a broad, shared military observance among the majority of the population” (Skelly, 1). Also embodied in the concept is “the idea that a citizen has particular rights as an individual that transfer into battle” (Hanson). Or that a person does not give up certain basic rights when entering the military; like trial by jury, security of personal property, and so on. At least one book claims that the French Revolution and the Levee en Mass “re-invented” this concept, taking it, as it were, from the Romans and Greeks. (Lynn, 184). Victor Davis Hanson would disagree with that thesis, as he sees a strain of “Civic Militarism” all through Western military history (Hanson).

One thing is clear, that mass military service develops, or imposes, a high degree of social cohesion and discipline on a society. In short, it “team builds” in a massive way that no other social institution can do. Two examples of this massive team building are Prussia in 18th and 19th Century (Porter, 116) and Israel in the 1940s and 1950s (Porter,18).

Also, civic militarism seems to encompass the idea that military service is not only necessary for state survival, but is also honorable and one of the duties a citizen owes the state.

However, people who join the military should certainly receive praise and social benefits as well. After “they are those that places thier frail bodies between thier loved home and war’s desolation”. But should a society that cannot foster and encourage enough sense of obligation to join the military in its own citizenry really have the ability to compel its citizens into a duty that they, the individual, clearly does not feel obligated for which to volunteer?

 Hanson, Victor Davis. “War and the West, Then and Now” paper presented at the University of Oregon on February 11, 2004 online at html 

Lynn, John A., Battle: A History of Combat and Culture (Cambridge, MA: Westview Press, 2003). 

Porter, Bruce. War and the Rise of the State: The Foundations of Modern Politics. (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1994). 

Skelly, Patrick G. “Evolution in ‘The Western Way of War’: Continuity, Punctuated Equilibrium, Neither?” 28 May 2006 online at


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