A New Coat for the Militia Debate

JeffersonMemorial-InstitutionsMustAdvanceThe debate between those advocating a return to the federated militia structure as a “constitutionally based” homeland security and those touting private security as an alternative to the leviathan police state are both noble in their endeavor. The main objective should be to break the monopoly on the use of force enjoyed by the modern democratic nation-state. Arguing from a legalistic versus economic point of view is bound to elicit philosophical, as well as procedural differences, yet the outcome is not entirely different; security functions are decentralized and more individual choice is asserted in participation with those localized security functions.

The legalists call for a revitalization of the militia system as designed by the US Constitution and cite a long history of precedent for militia formation, as governmental entities, in the colonies going back to the 1600’s. The legitimacy and authority of these militia rest in the state charters and their subordination to political control. In other words, these militia are composed of all able bodied males within a given age range in a given territory and subject to service at the call of the respective heads of state.

As a legacy of British common law, and relying upon Blackstone’s Commentary on the Laws of England, the militias of the several states draw upon legal precedent and service is compulsory at the pleasure of the central civil authority. Exceptions are allowed for certain members of a community that are unable to serve (such as the infirm or who hold positions deemed more important, such as magistrates), and conscientious objectors have the option of paying a fine in lieu of their actual time in service. Private militia companies are allowed within the legal architecture as long as they are chartered through the state and subject to political control.

While significant attention is given to the militia of the several states, it is important to note that the federated system envisioned by the founders, at the general/national level, was understood to be replicated at the state level. Each ward, district, town, and city was to have their own militia and be led by officers chosen from amongst their peers. In this way, the federated structure of the militia was intended to disperse the use of force to the lowest possible plebiscite and coordinate these disparate units in a way that would allow them to function when called into the actual service of the state, or of the general government shared by these states. It also called for individual participation in, and significant voice to, how security would be provided at the local level.

Still, even this system failed to prevent the erosion of the federated republic and the consolidation of power into the modern welfare-warfare democratic social state existing today. Despite the designs etched into a constitution, both the purse and the sword have been co-opted by politicians and bureaucrats that act more upon their own interests than toward fulfilling the functions delegated by any legal charter. The constitution of a federated republic, even with the provision for the militia of the several states, has proven to be either complicit with or incapable of preventing the rise of leviathan.

Further, despite the significant contributions to political theory offered by the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, it is clear that Thomas Jefferson’s 1816 observation of how “institutions must advance” implies that 18th century security structures are to civilized society “the regime of their barbarous ancestors”. There are more economic structures available that offer greater efficiency in security provision.

The political economy of security comes through avenues of increased self-determination, customized solutions for local conditions, and the selection of providers that meet the best interests of individuals and communities. Just as there is no need to “require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy”, there is no need for the civilized society of the 21st Century to subordinate militia and other security providers to the same political-bureaucratic apparatus that rendered the current condition.

Recognizing that there is no legitimate monopoly on the use of force is the key to evolving beyond petty squabbles and on to generating solution-oriented thought.

About The Jade(d) Warrior

Decades of walking the path of the warrior in service to noble ideals leaves one, well...jaded.
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