Editor’s Introduction: In the late 1950s and early 1960s as Cold War tensions grew and Sputnik resonated as a threat to U.S. security, Americans were grappling with a new phenomenon: the rise of the “military-industrial complex” (in Eisenhower’s phrase) and the maintenance for the first time in U.S. history of a large, standing military force. In this speech, Jack explores the implications of this new phenomenon for American civil liberties, while placing it in historical context. As he observes,
Our founding fathers inherited a mistrust of militarism that almost bordered on the pathological. Much of the Bill of Rights was a direct result of the American experience of a tyranny in their former homeland, an invasion of their civil liberties that would have been impossible if the King of England had not had a standing army to enforce his decrees and prevent resistance to his unlawful acts.
Need Our Sustained Posture of Defense Endanger Our Freedoms?
By Jack H. Adamson
Dean, College of Letters and Science and Associate Professor of English, University of Utah
(Speech delivered at the Great Issues Concerning Freedom, Wednesday, November 22, 1961, Salt Lake City, Utah)
From the beginning, the American was doomed to come to terms with “bigness.” He was never to know the small, communal intimacies of a Swiss canton where borders and boundaries continually made precise and secure definitions of property, of government and of the possibilities of life itself. He came to a land that was too big to manage. Again and again he tried to limit the scope of his problem by declaring that the boundary of this nation ought to be the Allegheny Mountains, the Great American Desert (whatever that was supposed to be), or the Rocky Mountains; but as fast as he absorbed and came to terms with Ohio or Oregon, some adventurer wished to purchase Alaska, annex Louisiana or conquer Texas. The reasons for the latter, especially, continue to prove puzzling.
In the nineteenth century the industrial revolution begot a similar bigness in corporations and industry. The intricacies, needs and potentialities of big business helped bring on big government which, although a much newer phenomenon, begins to seem to many people to be a kind of Leviathan of the deep, ready to devour everything else. Bigness in industry and bigness in government both have called, and continue to call, for restrictions and limits, new rules and a new set of attitudes, for changes in laws and in our mode and practice of government.
But the newest “bigness” in American life is in the sphere of the military establishment. Here the problem is scarcely ten years old and therefore it has not begun to engender the severe reactions which, in the past, have arisen to meet the shifts of power in business and government. But such reaction is bound to come; in my opinion it is already overdue. This altogether unprecedented new source and focus of power in the military establishment will overflow and fill up other areas of our national life unless, by legislation or by an effort of the national will we consciously erect new barriers or revitalize older attitudes which will contain this new power structure in ways which accord with the history of our nation, the intent of its founders and the spirit of its laws. And we must begin to do this now, for in recent times the military establishment has begun to depart, in certain radical ways, from its traditional functions.
In his final message to the nation before leaving office, President Eisenhower said,
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence–economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail 😮 comprehend its grave implications. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Before I discuss further the implications of this new power structure, I should like to place the role of the military into some kind of historical perspective. Our founding fathers inherited a mistrust of militarism that almost bordered on the pathological. Much of the Bill of Rights was a direct result of the American experience of a tyranny in their former homeland, an invasion of their civil liberties that would have been impossible if the King of England had not had a standing army to enforce his decrees and prevent resistance to his unlawful acts. Because of their historical memories, the legislators of the state of Pennsylvania stated in the Bill of Rights of their constitution “that standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be kept up in time of peace.” A similar declaration was embodied in the constitution of the state of North Carolina. The framers of the constitution for the United States tended to be of a similar mind and they were inclined to try to provide for the common defense with a militia, with volunteers, and to reject the idea of a standing army. Further, they made it a part of the Bill of Rights that every colonist was entitled to have his own musket or squirrel rifle; that is, to bear arms in his own defense.
This tendency to reject a standing army disturbed the leading Federalist,
Alexander Hamilton, and he argued the case for a small but permanent army in the Federalist papers. He based his case on a single, persuasive, overriding
reason. Whatever dangers such an army might bring, and Hamilton acknowledged
that they were considerable, the dangers were even greater without it. I think that he was right then, and I think that what he said is still true today. We cannot, at the moment, in the face of the threat of force from the Communist bloc, abolish or even seriously diminish our military establishment. For the moment, and probably for the foreseeable future we must live with it. But we must try to live with it as wisely and as warily as possible.
Hamilton knew well enough why the colonists rejected the idea of a Federal army. The colonists, he said, remembered how Charles II and James II had used a standing army to deprive their ancestors of their civil liberties. Hamilton’s explanation is partly true, but as Robert Frost has said, “There is always some-
thing more”. And the something more in this case was the historical events Hamilton alluded to and also a tradition and a vision.
The tradition and the vision concern the role of the English yeoman archer in the great battles of Poitiers, Crecy and Agincourt in the 14th and 15th centuries. In these battles, the massed chivalry of France, noblemen encased in
armor and mounted on chargers, advanced with insolent and arrogant pride against relatively small numbers of English freemen, yeomen, archers, whose right arms could draw their bows of yew the full length of yard-long arrows. These yeomen loosed shaft after shaft, first at a distance in a silvery arc and then at closer range, with a deadly hissing accuracy that penetrated buckler and breastplate, that overthrew horse and rider, Unarmored and with only improvised fortifications, they won England’s great battles by the strength of their arm and the keenness of their eye. And when they returned to England, they did not return
as serfs. Men who had proved their manliness and courage on foreign fields were not to be enslaved at home, When the vision of the yeoman archer became embodied in the legends of Robin Rood, it became clear that this newly won independence was the most treasured thing in the life of the yeoman and that it made him the equal of the Sheriff of Nottingham or any of the nobles of the land. Although the legends were historically false, they did not falsify the vision of the people of England who came to rely not upon large military establishments but upon the freedman who owned and worked his own land and who wore across his shoulders a weapon which he could afford or even make himself and one which he had so brilliantly mastered,
This ancient dream continued to animate the American colonists, only here
it was the yeoman farmer whom Jefferson counted on to keep alive the spirit of freedom. Here it was the freeman, not with the bow and arrow, but with the musket, the flintlock, and later the rifle, and no one was able to convince the American people or the Congress for over a hundred years that the free man bearing his own arms was not this nation’s best defense. But the dream, alas, ultimately died, the vision faded into the common light of day. In fact the very tenacity with which we clung to this dream, as Hamilton once remarked and as I shall demonstrate, on more than one occasion very nearly cost us our freedom.
In addition to this dream, there were perhaps three historical events which, more than any others, haunted the minds of the American colonists. The first concerned Oliver Cromwell’s New Model army. A: the beginning of 1647, the English
Civil War had been won by the Puritan party. The vanquished Royalist army, the army of King Charles I, was disbanded, but what of the victorious army? The
Puritan parliament proposed to disband it, but without adequate guarantees for long arrears of pay and with no plan for the absorption of the veterans into the civil life of the nation. Of course there was always Ireland and a bright Parliamentarian proposed that the victorious veterans might go fight in that unhappy land under some different commanders. There the rate of attrition from plague, ague and Celtic kerns might be sufficiently high that the Puritan parliament could cease to worry about the Puritan veterans. But the Army had other ideas. Deeply resentful of the manifest ingratitude of the nation, the Army began a kind of grass roots political movement that had enormous implications for
the future. First, each regiment appointed two political representatives who
were called “agitators” and these agitators were instructed to secure two things. First, of course, the back pay, and second, “liberty of conscience”. As one writer of the time said, “Some of the soldiers do not stick to call the Parliament men tyrants.” It was Cornet Joyce, in direct collusion with the military agitators, who seized the person of the King. In June, 1647, army units advanced and threatened the city of London, demanding as condition for their withdrawal that eleven Presbyterians should be expelled from Parliament. These eleven voluntarily withdrew in order to save the city But this was only the beginning. Sensing that a majority in the duly elected Parliament was hostile to it, the Army, under the leadership of Colonel Pride, conducted a purging of the Parliament known as “Pride’s Purge.” In this purge, over one hundred members of Parliament who were “favorable to the King”, which meant that they were opposed to his execution, were expelled from Parliament, and the King was ultimately executed, And so Englishmen learned something about a standing army which they and their colonial descendants never forgot that no element of civil government, neither the Parliament elected under the majesty of law, nor the sacred person of the sovereign, could withstand the threat of force which a standing army embodied. They learned, for the first time, how necessary it is, that the civil should control the military.
Their second lesson came about forty years later under James II. A rebellion by the Duke of Monmouth had been made an excuse for a large increase
in the standing army. When James II came to the throne he demanded more troops and Parliament refused him, Their fear of a standing army was greater than their loyalty to the King. Nevertheless, James was able to use his army to intimidate the courts and to make them entirely subservient to his will, to destroy academic freedom in Oxford University and to attempt, although with less success, to destroy it at Cambridge. But what was most terrifying of all, he used the threat represented by the standing army to attempt to impose religious views and opinions For this latter, especially, his people never forgave him and ultimately they overthrew him. The lesson embodied in this entire affair was one of the principal political maxims which the Colonists carried across the sea, and the maxim was, “Standing armies always threaten civil liberties.”
There was a third historical memory which the colonists never relinquished and that was the famous “Popish Plot” which occurred during the reign of Charles II, in 1678 to be exact, This whole plot demonstrated an extremely unsavoury condition which existed in late seventeenth-century England: the reliance of the government on paid political informers, that is men who, for money, reported to the authorities, their suspicions, conjectures or facts, about other men whose political views were considered unreliable.
This plot was the invention of such a paid political informer, Titus Oates, who was, says the historian J. R. Green, “One of those vile imposters who are always thrown to the surface at times of great public agitation.” The instability of this manes personality is shown by the fact that he was initially a Baptist minister who became a Catholic convert. He entered a Jesuit house and was expelled for misconduct, He thereupon made an affidavit saying that the Catholics were going to kill King Charles II and subvert the Protestant religion in England. This was heady stuff and those who wished to believe it promptly did so. The entire nation might not have got too excited if it hadn’t been for the remarkable slaying of Sir Edmondsbury Godfrey, the magistrate before whom Oates had given his information. This magistrate was found in a field near London with a sword run through his heart by some person or persons unknown. A panic ensued and with it there came a total suspension of civil liberties for a substantial minority of the English nation. Two thousand Catholics were placed in prison and a proclamation ordered every Catholic to leave London. This extraordinary abrogation of Civil Rights probably has no parallel [in the English-speaking world] until 1941 when the United States government excluded the Japanese from the West Coast. The Commanding General’s final report referred to all individuals of Japanese descent as “subversive” as belonging to “an enemy race” whose “racial strains are undiluted.” So it was in 17th century England. An exclusion bill was passed in Parliament which prohibited any Catholic from holding a seat in either house of Parliament and this bill remained in force for over a century and a half.
But soon this plot began to wane, as plots based on hysteria rather than fact inevitably must Suspicions concerning the reality of the plot were voiced
in Parliament and so the government did a remarkable thing. It offered a reward for anyone coming forward with evidence to support the plot. A man named Bedloe came forward and took the money, In exchange for it he swore to knowledge of a plot for the landing of a Catholic army which was to engage in a general massacre of Protestant civilians. Naturally Titus Oates felt the need to re-
store his own position as chief informer. Consequently he charged the Queen with intent to murder her husband, I thought that hysteria and falsehood could scarcely go further until I read, recently, of a group in Phoenix who have charged Senator Goldwater with being a Communist and then I felt that I knew what my own English ancestors must once have felt and thought.
As a result of this new information a proclamation enjoined the arrest of every Catholic in the realm and then a series of judicial murders began which soon horrified the conscience of the English people and brought them to their senses. Then there ensued a revulsion against the whole device of paid informers and political police that left a mark on the literature as well as the laws of the 18th century. For example Jonathan Swift, in the first book of Gulliver’s Travels tells us that the people of Lilliput have fortified their state against informers. If a man is accused falsely of a crime against the state, his accuser is to be put to death immediately. The lands and goods of the false accuser are then to be sold and the proceeds given to the one falsely accused.
And so the framers of our Constitution carefully worked safeguards into the Bill of Rights and into our legal system in order that the abuses to which political police and paid informers are so peculiarly subject, might be avoided and the individual protected. It is well to remind ourselves, first of the abuse of civil liberties embodied in paid informers and political police, and then of the safeguards which were devised. First, the political informer may often be an unstable personality given to fanaticism and excess, Second, such a person, led by a profit motive, may completely ignore the rules of fair play and the spirit of the due process of law, Finally, the charges of such persons may prove extremely useful to demagogues and extremely dangerous to minorities.
The safeguards, if observed, were adequate. There are actually many more provisions than I shall name, but four of them seem to be particularly important.
- No one is to be punished unless his conduct is in violation of a law in force at the time his acts are committed. Ex post facto laws are incompatible with civil liberties,
- The accused must, as the most elementary demand of justice, be apprised of the nature of the charge made against him and the
identity of his accuser,
- The accused must be allowed to confront his accuser in open court, to examine the accuser, witnesses and materials used against him. If there are reluctant witnesses, the court may use its authority
to bring them in.
- Finally, there is a presumption of innocence until proof of guilt is established by due process of law, not by suspicion, not by hysteria, not by association, not by prejudice but by due process of the fullness of justice and the majesty of law.
And so if I may conclude this historical excursion, I would affirm without hesitation that the two most potent fears of the Colonial American were his fear of a standing army and his fear of the abrogation of the due process of
law. It remains to be seen how we, the descendants of that American, have
managed to preserve and foster the safeguards he erected against these fears.
With the kind of background which I have presented, I should now like to examine the two military systems that faced one another in the Revolutionary War. The British Army had long since lost the vision of the freeman who had left the plow to take up the bow. It was officered by the younger sons of noble or wealthy families who had purchased their commissions. The enlisted men could roughly be divided into two groups. The first were the mercenaries upon whom American romanticism has poured so much scorn. They were men, for the most part, who chose a military career because none better was open to them and they proved, in many engagements, to be superior to volunteers, as professionals are always better than amateurs The other enlisted men constituted the Royal Army, the standing army which the colonists refused to have in America, the professional long-service soldiers and seamen who could be hired, threatened or impressed into doing the nation’s fighting.
The Americans who faced them were Colonial citizens. Many of them had served in their local militias As is well known, the Massachusetts colony resorted to the famous device of the Minute Men. The youngest and most active on the militia rolls were placed in special companies to be ready at a minute’s notice; the more sedentary warriors were consigned to “alarm companies”, to be used only if things were truly alarming.
Note the irony here. The American forces embodied the old British dream of the yeoman landholder resisting invasion; the British, on the other hand, with their “lobsterbacks” or redcoats, embodied the idea of the professional army. And so if dreams come true, we should easily have won. But the fact is that the British had a real advantage that Washington was soon to discover. Their professional force was enlisted for a long period of service; the Colonials on the other hand were volunteers who had enlisted only for the “campaign.” That meant the summer fighting season and their terms were scheduled to run out at the end of the year. The Congressional committee which reviewed this alarming situation assumed that it could get these troops to re-enlist. It was never more mistaken. The troops went home as their terms ran out, and often took with them the muskets and equipment so desperately needed. This is what Hamilton meant when he said that our fear of a professional army had almost cost us our liberty. And this led Washington to formulate a new philosophy concerning military service. He spoke of the “extraordinary and reprehensible conduct” of these men who went home when their enlistment was up without further regard to the safety of the nation. Toward the end of the war he asked for a regular long-service army, like that of the British, and larger enlistment bonuses on the grounds that “interest” and not “patriotism” could bring men to serve for the long pull. He noted further that the original passion for liberty seemed to have faded and that self-interest remained the only motive to which the state could appeal in securing the duty of its citizens. The dream of the yeoman-soldier was already slightly tarnished. General Washington said one other thing which was portentous for the future. Shortly after taking command in 1775, he was presented with the case of an officer who wished to resign his commission because he believed that he had not been given sufficient rank. Washington wrote him.
In the usual contests of Empire and Ambition, the conscience of a soldier has so little share that he may very properly insist upon his claims of Rank, but in such a cause as this where the Object is neither Glory nor extent of territory, but a defense of all that is dear and valuable in Life surely every post ought to be deemed honorable in which a Man can serve his Country.
The British regular, in other words, fought for empire; the Colonial citizen for “all that was dear and valuable in life.” If this were so, then surely the state had a military claim on every citizen. The whole democratization of war is implicit in Washington’s statement and that democratization, the total claim of the state upon its citizens for military service is now with us. Universal Military Training is the logical result of Washington’s position.
There is certainly one good side to this which we might mention in passing. The citizen who has served his country in order to defend all that is dear and valuable in life has a claim upon the state. And to this fact a number of veteran’s benefits may be traced such as the GI Bill or free hospitalization for veterans who have service-incurred disabilities. But even more important, the service rendered by the Japanese and Negro citizens in World War II and in the Korean war gave them inescapable claims upon the state. I personally consider this far more important than anything the courts have done in the elimination of racial discrimination.
There now begins a pattern in American military affairs which I would like to trace out. First the American people historically rejected Hamilton’s plea for a professional army and tried to get by with militia. These militia could
not be used for foreign adventures but only to “repel invasion.” Further their
enlistment period was for three months only. The disaster suffered by Arnold
and Montgomery at Quebec on December 31, 1775, was largely owing to the fact that they had to engage battle before they were ready in order not to lose
their troops whose time was to expire the next day on January 1. Again at
the end of 1776, Washington lost almost all of his troops because their enlistment was up and had to build a new Army in the face of the enemy.
During the War of 1812, the British were attempting to take New Orleans, the Federal Government, with no army of its own, called upon the states for
their militiamen. Massachusetts attempted to refuse on the ground that her
troops could only be called to repel invasion and Massachusetts wasn’t being
invaded, The Governor of Vermont sent his regrets with the same excuse.
During the Mexican war in 1845, Zachary Taylor got 10,000 militiamen from Louisiana and Texas. When their three months were up they left him. General Winfield Scott, in 1847, came to know firsthand what General Washington had once undergone. When he climbed to the plateau of Mexico and began to ready the final battle, his volunteer units went home and he had to suspend operations until they could be replaced. The green and untried replacements ultimately suffered heavy losses.
This pattern continued during the Civil War. The Volunteer Corps of 75,000 men went home after three months. New York’s 7th Regiment went home immediately after the Battle of Bull Run, not because they were cowards but because their time was up, just as I came home from Korea in 1952 because I had served my hitch. Then came World War I and the Americans still refused to abandon the militia or volunteer system. And by now this refusal was becoming dangerous. Both France and Germany kept some 800,000 men in their armies in peacetime. When mobilization was complete, the Germans had 1,750,000 men in the field. And so military men began to ask if we should not democratize war in America, make it the duty of every able-bodied man. In 1914, Wilson replied in the negative.
It is said in some quarters that we are not prepared for war. What is meant by being prepared? Is it meant that we are not ready upon brief notice to put a nation in the field, a nation of men trained to arms? Of course we are not ready to do that; and we shall never be in time of peace so long as we retain our present political principles and institutions!
He then continued in the language of the old American dream, the dream of the yeoman-farmer and his squirrel rifle.
We must depend in every time of national peril not upon a standing army nor yet a reserve army, but upon a citizenry trained and accustomed to arms.*..
On June 3, 1916, there was a National Defense Acts Thirteen days later, the entire National Guard of the United States was called out under its provisions, and for the first time in American military history, they came not as three-months volunteers who could only repel invasion, nor as volunteers serving a limited term, but as conscripts obligated to accept whatever duties and obligations the Federal government should demand of them.
In a few months, the Defense Act was scrapped and a draft act was passed. ‘It is a new thing in our history,” said President Wilson, “and a landmark in our progress.” He continued in words that some of the draftees might have hooted at, “It is in no sense a conscription of the unwilling; it is, rather, a selection from a nation which has volunteered in mass.”
Was this a landmark in our progress? Well, sadly enough, it probably was, if war was to be the permanent condition. But what of our long history of fierce defense of civil liberties against the threat of standing armies. Faced with the Kaiser’s armies, the American people simply did not talk about it. They broke a long and honorable historical pattern because they thought they had to. And let it be a part of the record that the intervention of our armies did avert the defeat of the British and French and assured for a short time, how pitifully short,’ the ascendance of the democratic world.
I have traced out one long historical pattern and the breaking of that pattern in the face of war. Let me now trace out another one and its ultimate end. After every bitter experience of the untrained militia and the short-term volunteers, the leaders of the nation tried to get the people to permit them to maintain a small trained army during peacetime. After the Revolution, Hamilton said, “Altho’ a large standing Army in time of Peace hath ever been considered dangerous to the liberties of a Country, yet a few Troops, under certain circumstances, are not only safe, but indispensably necessary.” He then asked for four regiments of infantry and one of artillery or 2,631 men in all. Congress then debated the issue and on June 2, 1784, it directed the discharge of all troops in the service of the United States except for “twenty-five privates to guard the stores at Fort Pitt and fifty-five to guard the stores at West Point, with a proportionate number of officers,” none of whom was to be above the rank of captain. The Congress concluded with what might be called, until recent times, the principle American military axiom: “Standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican governments.
After the War of 1812, the Congress immediately reduced the army from 38,000 to 10,000 men and in 1820 ordered the Secretary of War to cut it down to 6,000. The cut was made but not even this force could be maintained because enlistments dwindled. This fact pleased William H. Sumner who wrote to President John Adams in 1823, “The militia is intended for defense only; standing armies for aggression as well as defense. The history of all ages proves that large armies are dangerous to civil liberties.”
This pattern continued after the Mexican War and the Civil War. In the first year the latter ended, a million men were mustered out. By 1869, the national army consisted of only 25,000 men and it remained at approximately that strength until the Spanish American War. After World War I, even the pacifistic Wilson was inclined to think that we should maintain a standing army of some size. But the Congress noted that there had been over 11,000 desertions by NCO’s and enlisted men from the Regular Army not to mention the regular resignations. By 1927 the standing Army had dwindled to 120,000 men.
Again after World War II, there was a rush to disarm. Some blamed this on Communist agitation, and quite likely there was some of that. But the hurry to leave when war is over is a long-established American historical pattern. No Communist ever talked to me, and I couldn’t wait to get home.
In any case by 1948 our 13 million troops had shrunk to 1,374,000. In 1948, the military men, quite justifiably alarmed, in my opinion, considering the state of the world, asked for Universal Military Training. Congress, following its historical pattern, refused to grant it but did re-enact Selective Service, and, fearful of a large military establishment, placed a ceiling of 15 billion on military expenditures. By 1950 the Korean War was on and the ceiling was lifted to 60 billion where it has remained ever since. When the Korean War was over, we broke our historical pattern by not demobilizing and by making no cutbacks in military expenditure. In 1951 the Universal Military Training and Service Act was passed. Technically we were not at war and this was then universal peacetime conscription. The Reserve Act of 1955 continues this state of affairs.
I hope it is clear that I am not blaming anyone for all of this. We have had enough loose talk about plots and evil motives without my adding to it. I have tried to show that an open society, fiercely proud of its civil liberties, finally, in the face of external military power and in the face of a great fear which that power engendered, gradually broke many of its own historical patterns concerning the role and function of the military, especially in peacetime.
Again and again we have heard our nation’s leaders say, “This is something new in our history.” And it is this very newness, this lack of experience in living with new conditions, this very uncertainty of trying to establish new patterns in place of broken ones that justifiably makes us all apprehensive.
This, let me repeat, is the principal danger: the establishment of a new source of overwhelming power at the same time in which we have destroyed the historical patterns which have hitherto controlled this power.
First, let us look for a moment at the size of the monster we have made. Last year we collected 78 billion dollars in federal taxes. Of this amount, 46 billion went into defense outlays; veteran’s benefits took 5 billion and the interest on the national debt, which is largely a result of military expenditure, was 9 billion. Perhaps we should add to this 2 billion dollars for foreign aid and we have the total cost of making war or being prepared to make war. It adds up to 62 billion out of the total of 78 billion, or about 80% of our total Federal budget.
Let us see what this means in terms of science. From 1955 until 1959 we spent about 2 billion for scientific research. About 120 million, or six percent, went into basic research. Nearly all of the rest went into military technology.
In addition to these vast expenditures, we are keeping about three million men in uniform. To keep the ranks filled we have laid an eight-year military obligation on all young American males. Industrial corporations have grown proportionately. Of the total military budget of 1961, some 21 billion was spent on procurement. About three-fourths of this staggering total went to 100 corporations. Three corporations got more than a billion each. General Dynamics received 1,26 billion; Lockheed and Boeing each received slightly more than 1 billion. General Electric and North American Aviation received Just under 1 billion.
Please keep in mind that 86.4 per cent of this total was awarded without competitive bidding. So the question naturally arises of influence peddling, of a combine of military-industrial power. The Hebert Investigating Committee in 1959-60 found that more than 1400 retired officers were employed by the top hundred corporations which spent three-fourths of the 21 billion. There were 261 generals or admirals among them. General Dynamics, the corporation that received the largest amount of defense money, also had the largest number of retired officers on its payroll, 187 to be exact, including 27 generals and admirals.
Please understand that I am not making any accusations or even insinuations. I simply point to a dubious situation which we have not yet come to grips with. Surely, all this can make us sympathize with the statement issued by that staunch New Englander, Senator Ralph E. Flanders, Republican of Vermont:
It is not only that we are sacrificing to defense our standard of living and the free independence of our economic life, we are sacrificing our freedom itself. We are being forced to shift the American way of life into the pattern of the garrison state.
I have tried to trace the gradual relinquishment of the dream of an armed citizenry more jealous of its civil liberties than fearful of foreign tyranny, a dream that has gradually and unavoidably faded under the increasing threat of foreign enemies. I have tried to show something new among us, a shift of power so immense, so demanding on our national economy and energy, so all-encompassing in its universal claim on our lives, our loyalties and our liberties that we must at least alert ourselves to the area of danger and try to minimize as best we can the inherent threats to our freedom.
First I should like to take up the problem of the political police. Prolonged international tension provides the rationale for the existence of a political police force, the FBI. That sedition and subversion must be controlled is not, in my judgment, open to question. But unfortunately they cannot be controlled without the use of self-incrimination, condemnation by association, without tests for utterance or received opinion. As Walter Millis has said, “Disloyalty or sedition are matters of the inner mind and emotions, and these are accessible to the investigator in no other way.” And so the government agencies, on numerous occasions, have asked for a prosecution of American citizens, but have been reluctant to produce the accusers in open court or to allow defense counsel to examine the evidence and testimony on which charges were based. The reason for acting in this way was a perfectly logical one. The FBI relies heavily on a system of paid informers. If the identity of these people is disclosed, their usefulness in preventing subversion or sedition is at an end. But if their identity is not disclosed, there results a serious infringement on the rights of individuals, the door is opened to all kinds of abuses, and the entire spirit of the due process of law is compromised.
Naturally the courts sooner or later had to meet this problem and, in a number of important decisions, Parker vs. Lester (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) and in the Supreme Court cases of Sweezy, Watkins and Jencks, our Federal judges weighed the extremely critical matter of national security against the extremely critical matter of individual rights. In the Jencks case, they informed the Justice Department, in effect, that they must, if they intended to prosecute, make an open confrontation of accuser and accused in court, that the defense must be able to examine witnesses, and that previous statements of informers (presumably available only in secret files of the FBI) must be made available to the defense. In other words, the courts, in effect, said to the governmental agencies charged with protecting us against subversion, “You must decide whether you will prosecute and by so doing open your files and reveal your sources of information, or whether you will protect those sources and allow a suspected subversive to continue to go free.”
Surely no one will deny that this was a real dilemma, that the requirements of due process hamper the work of our political police in a way that it does not hamper the political police of the Communist state. And so it is not surprising that it was these very decisions, made with a painful awareness of the perils to freedom both from political subversion and from failure to observe due process, that led to the formation of certain private and voluntary political police associations which, without official knowledge or concurrence, and without observing any of the safeguards of due process, collect dossiers on various American citizens and circulate these dossiers sometimes quite indiscriminately to employers, superiors or associates. Generally this is done without observing the most elementary decency of informing the person in question that he is being accused.
The people engaged in this ugly business appear to believe quite sincerely that they are good Americans fostering the liberties of this nations But it is a radically new and menacing development in American life. For centuries it has been known in many lands and under many governments where the people had no adequate protection of the laws. But like Universal Military Training, like standing armies in peacetime, it is something new with us. It is an ancillary development of the garrison state and we ought to oppose it,
The second great point of danger to our liberties as a result of the rise of the garrison state is the massive involvement of the military in domestic politics. Again this is something entirely new, such a radical departure from our historical traditions that I am unable to understand why Americans are not outraged by it.
All over the nation, military commanders are presiding at “seminars” which involve the political indoctrination of civilians. One military commander, General Walker, an admitted member of the John Birch society, tried to influence the voting of his troops. Lieutenant Stephen Huffaker, a native Salt Laker, while in the service gave speeches to more than 60 groups in California. He said, among other things, that his listeners must not believe the American press because it was pro-Communist. It should be noted in passing that Lt. Huffaker had previously worked for the Deseret News and therefore presumably knew at first hand what he was talking about. And he asked these questions:
‘Do you want Federal aid to education? Do you want Federal aid to churches? Do you want socialism?” In other words, he equated a part of the domestic program of this and previous administrations with Communism. Senator Strom Thurmond, who fanatically defends this new role of the military in our national life, has recognized clearly that the military is engaged in domestic politics and he is willing to uphold such engagement. Senator Thurmond himself, incidentally, is a general in the Reserve.
If the military teaches the true nature of communism, it must necessarily teach that communism is fundamentally socialism. When socialism, in turn, is understood, one cannot help but realize that many of the domestic programs advocated in the United States and many of those adopted, fall clearly within the category of socialism. The conclusion is inescapable. Senator Thurmond sees it as the duty of the military to indoctrinate the public in domestic politics. Our founding fathers would have turned over in their graves.
In military-sponsored seminars in Pensacola, San Antonio, Glenview, Illinois, Houston, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as other places, rightwing speakers have implied that General George C. Marshall and President Harry Truman were traitors and that those who support the programs and policies of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations are either pro-Communists or Communist dupes.
To my mind, this involvement of the military in domestic politics is the clearest immediate danger that the vast military establishment poses. How far are we from the situation in Algeria where the French military are engaged in a mutiny against their legal government? I think that we are quite far, and I hope we are, but I also recall that the revolt of the Military Brass against the current attempts of Secretary McNamara to establish authoritatively the civilian supremacy over the military was referred to by Senator Stuart Symington, himself one of our chief advocates of military preparedness, as “a disloyal operation.” Those are ugly words; I hope that they are not true. But of one thing I am sure. The military establishment has no business in domestic politics; it never did; it never will. And the time is now for the kind of emphatic, precedent-setting expression of the national will which will check this one dangerous overflow of power into an area of the national life which has hitherto successfully resisted it.
I should like to point up a profound irony here. Our English and Colonial forefathers feared a standing army because they thought that it could be used to execute the will of a tyrant and deprive citizens of their liberties. But the real danger now is that the military establishment will unite, not with a tyrant, but with the masses, with an irrational political Third Estate. It is the people who threaten the liberties of the people.
Let me define the term “Third Estate”. It originally meant the third of the three classes of people whose consent was necessary for legislation: the nobles, the clergy and the commons. The Commons, in those ancient and desperate times, were not often moved by reason; they were subject to hungers and fears; they understood best what we would call “belly politics.” Their desperations, their irrationalities, their failure to pursue principle or policy and their dogged adherence to their emotional proclivities often earned the contempt of the nobles and the mistrust of the clergy.
We are often misinformed about the extent of the Third Estate among us today. Life magazine noted with some surprise a few years ago that there may be as high as 14 million members of the religious third estate in America, those who are not members of any of the major churches, but who belong, rather, to pentecostal groups who speak in tongues, who thirst for revivalism, who demand the strong wine of miracle and ecstasy, of doom and gore, of cosmic threat and cosmic assurance. And although the boundaries shift, there is also a political third estate, a group profoundly alienated from the major parties from the traditional patterns and from the historical context of the nation.
Among these people there is a high degree of frustration, a readiness to hate, a hunger for scapegoats and sacrificial enemies, a need for the kind of certainty and assurance that only oversimplification can give. At the moment, elements of the military establishment are fervently allied with this political third estate. And there, at the moment, lies the second real danger which we confront as a result of our large military establishment.
I should like to make a little further analysis of our political third estate. The philosophers of existentialism have acquainted us with a new phrase, ” existential anxiety. This existential anxiety they distinguish from ordinary fear. Fear, they say, has an object or an apparent cause. We may fear disease or impotence or especially we may fear death as we discover how brief a moment we have in the sun before we shall all” lie down in darkness”.
Existential anxiety is distinguished from ordinary fear by the fact that it has no apparent object or cause. Or at least we could say this, the sum of our anxiety and fear is greater than the sum of the objects or causes which produce that anxiety. But, unfortunately, it takes a certain intellectual sophistication to grasp such an idea. For people of the Third Estate, fear is very real ; and if fear exists there must be a cause, an object, a reason. And so objects are sought. Now if one were to determine that the chief object of his anxiety were Russia, he might, without being a neurotic, decide to hate Russia, unless of course, by some chance he were a Christian. Then he would need to look for a different solution. But more neurotic solutions would be to find the enemy, not three thousand miles away, but all around you, in the same church, the same school, the same family. We are close to paranoia here as everyone must surely recognize, and it is the people who have adopted this neurotic solution with whom an important segment of the military establishment has chosen to ally itself at this critical moment in our history .
I have pointed out two areas of danger: the rise of political police activity and the involvement of the military in domestic politics. Now I should like to suggest two areas of activity which I think we very much need to strengthen. I cannot, at this time, undertake to say how it will or ought to be done. I shall merely express my feeling that these are directions in which we need to go.
First , I should like to see us encourage and strengthen the religious element in our culture which is generally called the “prophetic” element, that element which stresses the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; which is wise, tolerant, committed to human and social values and which refuses to accept hatred and total annihilation as the means and end of human endeavor. America has frequently been moved by leaders of the religious Third Estate: Billy Sunday or Amy Semple McPherson, but, as a nation, we have never known what it is to have a living image of a prophetic religion comparable to that which Gandhi provided for the Hindus or Martin Buber for the Jews or Albert Schweitzer for German Protestants. I believe that the religious people of this nation would respond to a sane, kindly, decent and devoted religious leadership which would show us as immediately and as intimately as Gandhi showed his Hindu contemporaries the beauty of holiness, the power of love and the impotence of hate.
Second, I should like to see a recrudescence of the old Puritan virtues. I think I know as well as any man the limitations of the Puritans and the many failures in their character and society. But they held basically to one terrible and magnificent tenet: the individual’s responsibility to his own conscience. And with it there went a sense of vocation, of calling, of stewardship, a feeling that he was engaged in a life fraught with great meaning and that it became him to acquit himself well. It is a slackening in our moral fibre that disturbs me: the high incidence of crime and juvenile delinquency; racketeering in the labor unions; price-fixing in business; payola, the Madison Avenue complex, corruption and greed, the gradual acceptance of the most hideous forms of violence, a gradual acquiescence in the total demands of the garrison state.
We need a re-dedication to humane values, to moral and ethical living, I wish that some Gandhi would arise to lead us, but suspect that he will not, But there is still left for each of us the course of action recommended in an old proverb that came from one of the wisest peoples the world has produced, the Jews. There is an old Rabbinic proverb which says, “Is there need of a man? Be thou that man.”