What was, and what will be
The American militia is unique among civic groups in the Western world. The concept of a citizen-based soldiery is not new. Peasant levies provided
the backbone of most armies long before the existence of standing professional forces. After the Renaissance, when standing militaries became normal
State fixtures; most non-colonial governments forbade the existence of privately funded armed forces. This ban included militias.
During the age of Western colonization, provincial and territorial governments incorporated sanctioned militias in to their defense. Many volunteer
units took part in the U.S. civil war (1861-1865) after they were upgraded in to larger formations. In the aftermath of the civil war, Federal and
State officials clamped down on militia activity in an effort to cut down on post-war vigilantism.
The popularity of militias in the United States decreased during the first half of the 20th century. Cold War considerations caused many Americans to
re-evaluate the need for small personally funded patriotic groups. A combination of MaCarthy-ism and fears of invasion by the Soviet Union convinced
many that the time had come to re-invent the American-style militia concept. Events relating to the Vietnam conflict and the Watergate scandal that
followed were seen as ‘proof’ by many that their woeld was changing for the worse, which could only mean that militias might once again be
Federal power continued to grow throughout the 1970’s, which reinforced the idea for some that the national government wasn’t to be trusted.
During the 1980’s, many militia members had their patriotism questioned. Although patriotism ran high during the Reagan years, the mainstream media
took a dim view of these groups. In most cases, they were characterized as hide-outs for the radical, or havens for the misguided.
The incident at Ruby Ridge
on August 1992 caused many to question the patriotism of U.S. militias.
Media pundits from across the spectrum suggested that these groups might be ideal fund-raisers and trainers for terrorists. Nobody could know it at
that time, but this question was going to come up again less than ten years later. The Siege at
(1993) and the First World Trade Center bombing
(also 1993) would serve
to magnify the effects of theOklahoma City bombing
(1995) would fuel fears of home-grown
terrorism in the aftermath of the trans-national terror attacks on the World Trade center in 1996 and 2001.
It’s becoming more likely that trans-national terror groups will operate openly on U.S. soil by the middle of the next decade, American militias
will at that time be under great suspicion. Some of that scrutiny might be justified. Even so, we’ve got to plan for the possibility that a
power-hungry Federal bureaucracy may try to stamp out even the most patriotic and well-meaning of these groups.
It may sound odd to describe a militia as a civic group. They may not style themselves as debating clubs, but they do kick around the issues that
matter to them. In the not-too-distant future, under the ‘guidance’ of a very potent unitary executive…we could see Federal investigations of
any and all civic groups. Because they have a tradition of firearms ownership and militant opinions, it may not be unreasonable to suggest htat the
militias will be among the first “dangerous groups” to be so closely examined and outlawed.
Whether you like them or not, these groups play an important role in our society. By existing, they preserve an idea that many feel has been
enshrined in our national Constitution. Freedom of speech and the right to bear arms in defense of a hostile government may soon be mocked and
pilloried as out-dated thinking as our leaders strive to justify gathering more power to fight the global war on terror. What do we lose of we are
convinced to give up our militias?
The pattern of bureaucratic centralization which has been documented by many observers over the last one hundred years would suggest that the demise
of our militias would herald the end of our true social freedom. As a population, we might not be capable of resisting any future tyrannical regime
that sought power inside the borders of our country. With no traditional mechanism for resistence or reform to fall back on, we’d be just another
captive population like those that we’ve occasionally liberated in the last century.
The defeat of our civil rights by legions of Federal attorneys who are driven by one President after the next should serve to tell us what’s
coming…but…it doesn’t. It’s too easy to ignore something when it happens slowly. The wheel of our bureaucracy turn slowly, but they do turn.
I can’t help feeling like the people who are making it happen know exactly what they’re doing...and why.
The Future of American Militias
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that today's American militias will have to modernize and embrace new ideas if they want to
survive. Recent changes in U.S. domestic law and military capability could spell trouble for existing militias if they don't make allowances for the
threats that will come from within. This goes well beyond the Patriot Act, body armor, and wireless phones. It means a total reassessment of what
they do, how they do it, and why.
Today's militias can trace their collective heritage back to the earliest uncertain days of the American Revolution. Even then, armed revolt was
seen as the absolute last resort when faced with unchecked authority. Over the last two centuries, these militias have been alternately praised and
denounced, depending on the mood of each decade. In spite of all that turmoil, they are still with us. Some militias are little more than social
clubs. Others are quite radical. Like the conspirators in my novel, most hope they will never be needed.
We may never need to call on these patriots, but one thing is certain: today's militias need to take stock of their situation. Hard questions need
to be asked. Washington is taking the anti-terrorist fight to our enemies overseas, but is also preparing our own military to be used against us at
home. If it happens, it'll be done "for our own good." If and when transnational terrorists do become active on U.S. soil, our own government
might not be able to resist the temptation to both fight back and "clean house" at the same time. If it comes to that, the militias may be our best
hope for preserving the future of this country we hold so dear.
I don't make this charge lightly. Please let me explain my thinking. There's a trend in government today that we can all see. Turn on your t.v.
or pick up a newspaper, and it's there. Federal authority is expanding. Since October 2001, Congress and the President have asked for, and been
granted, more new authorities than FDR had at the height of World War Two. The dark side of this growth in power can be seen in the areas of civil
rights, law enforcement, and surveillance.
It has never been so easy for the Federal government to spy on you, arrest you, or even hold you, as it is now. J. Edgar Hoover never had this much
authority when he ran the FBI with an iron fist during the worst of the Red Scare. Add to this the fact that very few governments ever give back any
of the power they take and you can see where I'm going with this. This is the modern threat our militias will face if this power-grabbing trend
Under these conditions, the militias must fend for themselves. There is no one single mechanism to ensure their survival. Being aware of the Federal
government's expansionist trend makes for a good start, but it also fosters a lot of worry. How do you beat THAT? With history as our guide, we can
look at a few common-sense options.
In many respects, today's career politicians are doing what's in their best interests. If the Federal government has more power, so do they. The
same holds true for the top civil servants who lead the bureaucracy. In both cases, each camp is inhabited by a vocal majority that really does think
they're doing what's good for you. Senior politicians lead their parties. Senior supervisors lead their agencies. Both groups are misled by a
How do you overcome them? Run for office. Get out and vote. Militias, as organized groups, can organize this. Starting at the local level, vote
for people you can trust or run for office as somebody who can be trusted. Do the same thing at the state level. Do your homework and send people to
D.C. who have proven their honesty and integrity in your home state. If you must, be the person that gets sent to Washington. People who don't
covet power are the best candidates to use it, as they can be trusted to give it back when the job is done.
21st century militias will need more political savvy. They'll need it to avoid being slandered by the media and also to recruit. If a militia can
fund war games and keep its armory stocked, it should think about its public image and how to manage it. In those cases where the group doesn't want
to be politically active, it might still need a good media image if its membership is large. By the end of this decade, it's quite likely the
American media will once again focus its harsh limelight on the more well-known militias. Without more political skill and a better media image, they
won't be able to defend themselves against the false charges that will surely come.
If transnational terror groups start their dirty work on U.S. soil, politicians and bureaucrats in Washington will see it as a dual opportunity:
defend against the terrorists and neutralize dissent on the home front. Naturally, doing both will require greater levels of power and authority.
You'll see this one coming, if things go that far. Why? Just one thing. The media still treats homegrown patriotic militias like they could be
terrorist cells. The temptation to label them as such will be overpowering. Because militias are known opponents of big government and politicians
with too much power, they will be seen as easy targets.
How do you overcome that? Voting for reform will only do so much. It will take decades for reform-minded politicians to have an impact on a trend
that has lasted for 60 years. Even if a militia does have a good media image or stays well out of public view, it can still be misrepresented. Under
these conditions, knowing your rights won't be enough.
The politically aware and media-sensitive militias of the near future won't be able to stop the government's legislative steamroller, nor will they
be able to prevent the pasting they'll take by the media. Like the conspirators in my book, they'll have to plan for it and hope it doesn't
happen. They can advocate for reform or revolution as they see fit, as long as they're aware of the facts. As one of my characters might say, "Our
job is to know it might happen and be ready for it."
The Evolution of American Militias
You don't knave to be a conspiracy theorist to know that today's American militias will have to change the way they do business if they want to
avoid the wrath of an increasingly hostile Federal government. U.S. foreign policy has always been a forecaster of things to come on the home front.
Today's American foreign policy makes it quite clear that U.S. militias will be at risk by the end of this decade.
In the past, when our Federal government has pursued an agenda overseas, we've been able to see how that same bureaucracy will deal with us here at
home. Before the trans-national terrorist threat emerged, our elected leaders were pre-occupied with matters of trade and human rights. In both
cases, we saw a lot of activity on domestic soil aimed in the same directions. Some of it we agreed with, and some of it we didn't. NAFTA (North
American Free-Trade Agreement) would be the best and most recent example.
As our government grapples with the threat of trans-national terror, we are faced with a growing number of disturbing indicators. Each time the
government adopts a new anti-terrorist measure, it comes at the expense of just a few more of our civil liberties. Much of the new "protection"
legislation that comes off Capitol Hill these days presumes that the next threat will come from hostile forces operating inside U.S. borders.
It's not really up for debate. In time, hostile forces will take action on U.S. soil. Anything these people do will be despicable and under-handed.
If we're not careful, our own government might use that crisis as an excuse to clamp down on legitimate dissent. If certain officials in Washing
feel the need to rally support, the good standing of our own militias might be the cost of that political power play.
It's already been said that today's militias should become more politically aware and media-savvy. As meaningful as that should be, it won't be
enough to preserve one of our most fundamentally important Constitutional rights. Modern militias should assume that they'll be targeted at some
point. This may not happen militarily, but it will certainly happen politically.
The actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco have long since demonstrated the need for modern militias to adapt their unconventional warfare tactics.
De-centralized command and dispersion of money and supplies should now take on a whole new level of importance for group planners. No matter how much
money and manpower they put in to their public images, the fact remains that they will be out-spent by Government and private-sector media
As dissenters of big government, militias will be natural targets for career politicians seeking to improve their own fortunes. There may come a time
when U.S. militias are forced underground. This means they'll have to actively go in to hiding. Because American militias have such a strong
tradition of reluctance to act, this will be the most logical step when the time comes.
As hard as they try, militia leaders in the next decade will have a hard time making the case that the groups they represent are not terrorist cells.
Under these conditions as portrayed in my book, Politics & Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy, politicians at the Federal level may have too much to
gain by making this false charge.
If they start now, most militias can take steps they feel will do them the most good. As complicated as the political side of this equation has
become, militia planners should not ignore the military aspect of this problem. Recent advances in electronics now give Federal troops a big
advantage. Emphasis on Urban-style tactics and house-to-house combat drill only serve to underscore this point.
Unconventional warfare remains the Patriot's best option to counter this new stance. As effective as civilian weapons may be, they no longer confer
as many advantages as they once did. As today's militia members become more politically aware, they should also become more familiar with the
capabilities of tomorrow's Federal forces. Like it or not, this is going to mean a re-thinking of traditional guerilla methods.
Knowing this, and knowing that there will always be a reluctance on the part of real Patriots to put these things in to practice, it isn't hard to
see how today's militias can evolve in to the organizations they need to be in the world of tomorrow.
What we think of as a militia today needs to be something else tomorrow. Conspiracy theory or not, there is a real and verifiable drive underway to
bring the States in to line with the pro-Federal agenda. The fact of the matter is that what we call civic virtue is about to be defined as an
impairment to natinal security.