The Case for an Australian Militia (I)
Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his ploughshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. The charge was two thirds of a shekel for the ploughshares, the mattock, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan (I Sam.13:19-22).
How could the Philistines oppress and control Israel? By forcibly suppressing Israel’s blacksmiths, so it was almost impossible for Israel to produce arms for war. Israel had to pay Philistines for their blacksmith work, and would be powerless to resist invasion. The Philistines knew what they were doing, just as evil governments today know exactly what they are doing, when they prevent law abiding members of the community having easy access to their weapons of choice. Dissidents then, had no way to resist. Dissidents today, cannot resist by force.
The idea of Christian society being made up of an armed, skilled populace has deep historical roots tracing back through medieval times, to the Bible. Alfred the Great codified the laws of England in the 9th Century, often utilising Biblical law to do so. Alfred applied the Deuteronomic laws of kings that forbad a standing army (Deut.17), and as a result developed a national defence based on militia:
By the Saxon laws, every freeman of an age capable of bearing arms, and not incapacitated by any bodily infirmity, was in case of a foreign invasion, internal insurrection, or other emergency, obliged to join the army…
A militia has a number of advantages over a professional, “full-time” defence force. Firstly, there is little cost to be borne by taxpayers. A militia force is largely self-supporting, dependent on the initiative and energy of locals.
Secondly, it is apolitical, and not dependent on government. It cannot be manipulated, controlled or reduced by a government, and cannot be sent to war overseas. This has important implications.
Tyrants have always been suspicious of armed, independent subjects; it is in their nature to suppress the liberties of individuals. Charles II sought to disarm Protestants, and one of the early attempts of Britain to move against dissident Americans prior to the War of Independence, was when the British Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, General Gage, sought to stop armed protest by confiscating American stores of arms in September 1774.
Thirdly, it is decentralised, which removes the danger of an incompetent, tyrannical or corrupt central control.
Fourth, it provides a measure of defence anywhere, at extremely short notice: no need to wait for professional troops to be marshalled at a central point, and then sent thousands of kilometres across the nation with few supplies, to territory they are unfamiliar with, to confront an invader that may have already dug in. That’s not the way to fight a war.
Fifth, it is almost impossible to defeat. What is evident from history, is that well-armed and determined locals can make it extremely difficult for an invading force to hold territory. The raw fire-power of an invader is only one aspect of warfare. A local population, angry and indignant at an invading force, will be resourceful, perseverant and tireless in their resistance. Think of the American thirteen colonies in 1776, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Switzerland has had a well organised militia for hundreds of years. Though Germany shared a common border with the Swiss in 1939, even Hitler avoided invading Switzerland. What other nation in Europe did he leave alone? This may explain why Switzerland has not been invaded in two centuries.
Conclusion: A national, trained but decentralised militia, in place of a full-time, professional defence force, has historical legitimacy in the Western nations. It is on hand to protect the community and the nation in time of invasion. We must work towards its inauguration
The Case for an Australian Militia (I)