Beyond National Service: The Ideal of the Militia

This article was originally published in Hierophant on 3rd December 2020.

Calls to restore National Service are common in my country. It is rightly believed that it would instil in our listless young men masculinity, discipline, patriotism, gratitude and life-purpose. But the full potential of such a scheme has yet to be realised.

Conscripting young men to fight and die in wars in far-off lands is an ethical dilemma for all those who believe in that very English cause of individual liberty. I would not suggest such a thing. I say reform the Army Reserve (known until 2014 as the Territorial Army) into a full scale conscripted Militia, consisting of all capable Englishmen. Its duties would include defending England in cases of defensive and total war, acting as a safeguard for English liberty, and organising regular lone foot patrols as a preventative measure against crime.

The Militia has always been the Anglo-Saxon, and more broadly Germanic, ideal. The Germanic peoples have always been known both for their freedom and for their warrior nature – this is not a coincidence; the two are inextricably linked. Ancient Germanic kings, by virtue of being warriors, were meritocratically selected and accountable to their kinsmen. The warrior is free precisely because he is skilled in self-defence; because he has the power as an individual to fight for what is his. The Germanic mercenary, the seax-wielding Saxon, the plundering Viking – they were all free because they were warriors. As I describe in a previous article, the Germanic spirit of individual liberty arose because the wild, inhospitable environments of Northern Europe naturally rewarded the individual warrior and adventurer.

Therefore, it was only natural that the Militia – a population of well-armed, self-sufficient, fundamentally free warriors – has historically been preferred by Germanic peoples over a standing army, which until recent centuries was considered a tool of tyranny. However, by the modern age the Germanic Militia in its pure form survives only in Switzerland. A standing army was not introduced in England until Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, which paved the way for the English Army in 1660. Both were regarded with suspicion, so that the latter was placed explicitly under Parliamentary rather than Royal authority.

The American Revolution was little more than a repeat of the English Civil War on American soil – the colonists, the vast majority of which were of English descent and originally identified as English or British, were after all rebelling to restore “the rights of Englishmen” – and America remains a very Anglo-Saxon, Germanic nation to this day (culturally and ideologically, if no longer ancestrally). Thus we have the Second Amendment which has caused so much controversy in that country in recent years: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

America has lax and poorly implemented firearms regulations and background checks; it is increasingly demoralised and ethnically divided, with a large underclass and drugs culture (the journalist Peter Hitchens has uncovered a disturbing correlation between the mass killings of recent years and drug use). Switzerland, unlike America, still has a truly well regulated Militia, and the subsequent differences between Swiss and American gun culture are profound. As an article by Big Think puts it,

“… Where Switzerland does shine, however, is in its low number of mass shootings … Switzerland has mandatory military service for able-bodied adult men … After their military service, the Swiss are kept in reserve until age 30–34, if they were an officer — during which time they must keep their service weapon. As a result, many Swiss people own firearms and are highly trained in their use by default. In contrast, if a U.S. citizen lives in a particularly permissive state, they can buy a gun without any kind of training whatsoever.

Furthermore, Swiss civilians must demonstrate that they are physically, intellectually, and mentally capable prior to conscription in the army. While this is a requirement for service in the U.S. military, it is not required for gun ownership in many states in America. Since many Swiss citizens obtain their weapons through the military, this acts as a major avenue by which gun owners’ capability can be verified.

Technically, American federal law does prohibit the severely mentally ill from purchasing firearms, but the implementation of this ban is poor … In contrast, some Swiss police may ask for a certificate from a psychiatrist prior to approving a gun license, which is required before buying most kinds of guns in Switzerland.”

America’s trouble is that it is trapped halfway between having a Militia and being without one, so that it has a heavily armed but untrained and unprofessional population. A true Militia like that of the Swiss is vigorously trained and disciplined. Therefore, England under such a system would be more safe, not less. The English Militia would be a true People’s Army, counterbalancing the power of the State and its ever-expanding military arsenal. The Militia’s capability requirements would ensure decent, law-abiding citizens were well-trained and well-armed at the expense of criminals and lunatics. Regular police foot patrols – the “bobbies on the beat” – were once crucial to crime prevention in England, but were largely phased out for budgetary reasons. The Militia, as a large cheap conscript army, could easily fulfil this function – and as a civilian force, needn’t share the objections usually raised against gendarmeries.

Younger Englishmen would serve full time for something like eighteen months to two years (as in the old National Service). They would of course be able to exchange Militia service for membership of the Armed Forces proper, or other somesuch duty. Older men would still be expected to serve part time. This is no less important. As we began this article by mentioning, the Militia’s purpose would be as much psychological as military. Masculinity, discipline, patriotism, gratitude, and life-purpose – these are things all Englishmen of every age are in desperate need of. The modern West is too comfortable. We cannot exactly blame people who have lived their entire lives in a womb of mass entertainment and cosy security for being materialists, hedonists and socialists, who think that all there is to life is pleasure and that everything is in abundance. We have bred generations of self-centred leisure lords and pansies. It is very telling that those who still recognise the urgency of national preservation – namely, the working class – are also the most deprived. Meanwhile I have long resented the emasculated fathers and wine mums of our middle class, withering their purposeless lives away on cruises and garden parties. It is for this reason I have come to believe the counter-revolution for national revival will be a class war – in other words, a spiritual war against materialism.

It was Aldous Huxley who first foresaw technology creating an over-comfortable, lax, hedonistic population susceptible to tyranny. As technology advances this will only get worse and worse. If we can no longer rely on Mother Nature to give us a hard dose of reality, then the time has come to intentionally inflict such a hard dose upon ourselves. The time has come for a degree of voluntary poverty and asceticism.

The Militia’s function will above all be an ascetic one. Vigorous physical training and organised brawls and war games will make the English a proud, competitive, strong, healthy, beautiful people once again (while women will naturally be exempt from Militia service, they can be expected to have their own mandatory physical fitness programme more suited to femininity and the female body). It is no coincidence that various studies have suggested that attractive people and macho men tend towards the right. Some have taken to calling the left’s tendency in the opposite direction “Biological Leninism” or Bioleninism, which has clearly been on display recently in the ghastly mugshots of antifa rioters in Portland, Oregon. As Spengler put it, “One has only to glance at the figures in meetings, public houses, processions, and riots; one way or another they are all abortions, men who, instead of having healthy instincts in their body, have only heads full of disputatiousness and revenge for their wasted life…”. Leftism is a bitter, vengeful slave morality, fuelled by weak men. It naturally follows, therefore, that the only way to defeat it is to make weak men strong. An excellent place to start would be to make men proud and comfortable in their bodies.

Anyone who loves exercise is well aware of its psychologically, morally and spiritually beneficial properties. To learn to overcome pain, to sublimate one’s body to one’s will, to achieve great things both individually and, self-sacrificially, as part of a brotherhood* – these are some of the well-known virtues attained in military life which my proposed Militia would extend to all capable Englishmen. Such spiritual gain has been noticed before, and inspired the Scouting and “Muscular Christianity” movements, which likewise sought to replicate military life for moral and spiritual purposes. Muscular Christianity in particular was an inspiration for the masculine “Neo-Christianity” I recommended in a recent article; therefore the Militia would be perfectly suited to this new creed. Indeed, it would be essential for Militia duties to take on a religious ritual quality – in addition to making the spiritual element more pronounced, this would serve to preserve the ideal of the Militia for the upcoming age of informational warfare and robot armies. While soldiering will then no longer be physically necessary, it will not cease to be metaphysically so. The Christian ritual of Mass preserved the custom of “love feasting” popular in Antiquity for two thousand years; likewise, the Neo-Christian ritual of the Militia could preserve masculinity and masculine, right-wing virtues for another two thousand. This is absolutely vital, lest we enter the future of fat, sterile, machine-led adult babies depicted so perfectly by the 2008 film WALL-E. In that future, all men will be weak, and the left will ever after be triumphant.

*Post scriptum:

One of the very few benefits which the World Wars brought to our country, and which National Service continued for a time, was a true sense of national unity which breached class divisions. The sons of gentlemen trained and fought beside steelworkers and farmhands. I would prefer the English Militia to be as local as possible (as our police forces once were before the great budget cuts) to maintain strong local accountability; nevertheless in many areas of our nation the rich live beside the poor and neither interact with the other. Brexit proved these divisions still exist; if anything they have been exacerbated by neoliberalism.

The entire comprehensive system of schooling was introduced to encourage interaction between the social classes, to the grave detriment of education. The Militia could execute such a function just as well with no such adverse side effect. Place a middle class boy and his working class counterpart – one refined yet weak, the other masculine yet crude – side by side in a war game, and in camaraderie they may be able to improve one another and come to an understanding between the classes. I say this as someone who grew up with friends from diverse social strata – and I’m all the better for it. The aim of any sensible society should not be class equality, but class cooperation.