1. The military is a cult that brainwashes you.
The military is painstakingly designed around the cult model, and the two biggest red flags that the military is a cult are its unethical indoctrination process and totalitarian, pyramid shaped caste system. Other warning signs are the use of an inside language, in-group symbols, rituals, in-group socializing, constantly telling you that the military is your family, convincing you that military history is your history and other tactics that convince you to base your identity and purpose in life primarily on the military. Individually these practices aren’t necessarily sinister, but the military goes to extreme lengths to use every trick in the book every day to convince its members to base their identity on the in-group and devote their life to it. That’s what cults do, and the military does it better than anyone.
I’m not saying this to attack the troops. I’m not saying, “You suck because you’re a brainwashed slave in a cult.” I’m saying this to raise objection to the mistreatment of the troops. If you support the troops then you shouldn’t get angry at me for pointing out that the military misleads, manipulates and mistreats the troops. If you support the troops then you should support UCMJ reform
2. The military doesn’t care about you.
The military will convince you to love it so much you’ll get military tattoos, wear military-themed civilian clothing and yell at anyone who criticizes the military, but the military doesn’t return that loyalty. Sure, the military gives its troops a lot of perks and bonuses, but like all other cults, the pampering stops the second you start questioning the organization. If you don’t drink the Koolaid you’ll get thrown out in the streets for “failure to conform.” If you breach the military’s puritanical code of ethics the military won’t hesitate to throw the book at you as hard as possible to make an example of you. The military also loves group punishments. Sooner or later you will be punished for something someone else did. Your superiors won’t care that it’s unfair. Group punishment dehumanizes you, conditions you to police your peers and reinforces the idea that higher ranking personnel wield total and unquestionable power over you. It’s a powerful psychological tool to keep you obedient and submissive.
The military loves you in the same way a slave owner loves his slaves.
3. You will lose almost all of your civil rights.
You will lose the right to free speech, the right to assembly (at least, the right to assemble with any group that opposes the agenda of the military). You’ll lose the right to work a second job at any business the military disagrees with. You’ll lose the right to enter businesses (including many night clubs) that the military disagrees with. You’ll lose the right to self-determination. You won’t be able to quit your job when you’ve reached the point where you hate it or disagree with it. Your home life will affect your work life. You can be demoted or even lose your job for legal trouble you get into on your private time. There will be limits to what kinds of tattoos you can get and where you can get them. There will be limits to what kind of piercings you can get and even what kind of civilian clothing you can wear on base. You can’t even make a private sex tape. Just to be safe, Article 134 or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that says pretty much anything you do can be considered against the law; someone in your chain of command just has to say that some thing you did was bad, and that makes it against the rules. See for yourself:
““Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.“”
You’ll lose many more rights listed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that nobody will go out of their way to tell you about until after you’ve signed your soul away. And if you ever complain you’ll be told, “You knew exactly what you were getting into when you signed up.”
4. Your self-worth will become based on rank.
When you go through basic training you will be told that upon graduation you will become an adult. In fact, you will become more than an adult. You will become a member of the elite echelon of society. Your maturity and responsibility will make you superior to the petty, selfish, undisciplined civilian herd.
However, the reality of life in the military does not reflect the propaganda you will be fed in basic training. The reality of your day to day life is comparable to what you experienced in high school. Everyone in the ranks between E-1 to E-4 are treated like high school students. The ranks of E-5 and E-6 are treated like teachers, and E-7 to E-9 are treated like school administrators.
When you wear the bottom four ranks you will be treated like children. Your superiors will look down on you, talk down to you, bully you and rub their rank in your face. You will be made to do menial chores and do the bulk of the work. You will be punished severely for any and every infraction possible. You will even be punished for things you didn’t do wrong, and you will have very little recourse to fight this, because your worth is based on your rank, and your rank is that of a peon. When you reach the middle tier ranks you will finally be treated like a human being. Your job will mainly involve training the lower ranks and managing paperwork. You will be less accountable for your actions and will have comfortable leeway to bend the rules. When you reach the top tiers of the enlisted pyramid you will become a figure head. You will spend most of your days doing paperwork and giving speeches. Since there are very few people above you to hold you accountable, and all of those people are in your club, you will be almost unaccountable for your actions. You will have to seriously screw up to get in trouble.
The power dynamic between the officer corps and the enlisted corps is comparable to slave owners and slaves. The slave owners are treated like gods and literally dine on golden plates under golden chandeliers. They have total power over the lower class and destroy their underlings lives with the snap of a finger. They are trained to believe in their superiority and wear their arrogance on their sleeves. They are less accountable for their actions. They will get in far less trouble for committing the same crimes as enlisted troops if they get in trouble at all. Being an officer is a very good life to have… and a very immoral one. It is an obsolete class structure that degrades the value of the lives of the human beings who wear enlisted ranks and directly contradicts the ideal of human equality.
5. You’ll fight and possibly die to defend the very ideals you swore to fight against.
You won’t defend democracy. You’ll defend corporatocracy. You won’t defend freedom. You’ll defend a militarized police force that crushes dissent and locks up more people than any other country in the world in a for-profit prison system that uses inmates as slave labor. You won’t defend the Constitution. You’ll defend the politicians who have thrown it out the window. You won’t fight for peace. You’ll destabilize weaker countries to allow America to fleece them out of their natural resources and outsource jobs to their sweatshops.You won’t fight terrorism. You’ll create terrorism. You’ll even take part in terrorism. You’ll perpetuate the industrial war complex that builds bombs with your tax dollars while your schools crumble. All in all, you’ll directly help make the rich richer and the poor poorer, but don’t take my word for it. If you want to know what America’s military stands for, just ask the good people of Diego Garcia.
Theoretically you’re supposed to get preference when applying for federal jobs. Sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. For all the other jobs out there, military experience can sometimes hurt your chances of getting a job because many civilians see ex military members as dumb grunts who can’t think for themselves. That and the stigma that ex-soldiers are unstable killers suffering from PTSD.
You won’t get much if any VA medical help unless you were injured while in the military or you retired through the military. Even then, it’s very, very difficult to actually claim your benefits.
You can retire in 20 years, but a large portion of your paychecks in the military are made up of housing pay, Cost of living adjustments and other side benefits that you don’t pay taxes on. This looks great at the time, but your retirement pay is based on your taxable income. For enlisted troops this is only enough to live well on in the Philippines.
The MGI Bill has finally become usable, and it’s a really good deal. The VA will also vouch for the down payment on your house, which is a really, really good deal. But no matter how good the monetary benefits of joining the military are, it’s still all blood money.
7. Life in the military sucks…but don’t take my word for it.
8. Military culture is devolving into a maniacally politically correct, anal-retentive snow flake office Hell.
Daily life in the military is starkly different for infantry soldiers who have their boots on the ground in a war zone and support personnel who will spend their entire careers working in offices at bases located far from any war zone. Daily life on military bases not in a war zone isn’t like Full Metal Jacket. Life in the Marine Corps is closest to that. The second least politically correct branch is the Army, followed by the Navy. The Air Force is full-on maniacally politically correct, anal-retentive snowflake office Hell. As rough as the Marine Corps and Army are today, they’re far tamer places than they used to be, and every branch will continue to become more stuffy and Puritanical.
I’ll explain what life is like in the Air Force, and you can just subtract a few degrees for each of the other branches: Cussing at all is frowned up, and in a lot of offices it’s banned. The only kind of music you can listen to at work are Pop and Christian. You can’t make crude jokes. You can be court martialed for sexual harassment for saying the word “vagina.” There was a public service announcement commercial that ran on the Armed Forces Television Network at my first duty station that said, “You don’t have to do anything to be guilty of sexual harassment.” Literally. It literally said that. You can’t smoke anywhere but at isolated, designated smoking areas, and you can’t smoke at all on some bases. You can’t put your hands in your pockets. You can’t walk and talk on your cell phone. You can’t walk on the grass. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll get yelled at for wearing any article of civilian clothing on base that you wouldn’t wear to church. You generally have to act like Ned Flanders or you’ll get yelled at for being unprofessional.
There is some validity to these rules, but when you add all of them (and the many others not mentioned) together and continue to make more and more rules that force you to act like a neutered youth pastor you create an environment that’s less like the adventure advertised on recruiting commercials and more like embodiment of everything the movie “Office Space” was satirizing.
People who can’t conform to that standard ended leaving the military willingly or unwillingly. Those who act the most whitewashed and sanitized rise to the top. So that’s who you work for. That’s who you work with. That’s the environment you eat, sleep and breathe in. If that kind of life appeals to you, and you don’t mind being complicit in the deaths of thousands of civilians every year then join the Air Force today. If you can’t take that kind of heat, don’t go to that kitchen.
9. You’ll be indoctrinated with battered person syndrome.
“When Battered Person Syndrome (BPS) manifests as PTSD, it consists of the following symptoms: (a) re-experiencing the battering as if it were recurring even when it is not, (b) attempts to avoid the psychological impact of battering by avoiding activities, people, and emotions, (c) hyperarousal or hypervigilance, (d) disrupted interpersonal relationships, (e) body image distortion or other somatic concerns, and (f) sexuality and intimacy issues.
Additionally, repeated cycles of violence and reconciliation can result in the following beliefs and attitudes:
- The abused thinks that the violence was his or her fault.
- The abused has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.
- The abused fears for his/her life and/or the lives of his/her children (if present).
- The abused has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.
The syndrome develops in response to a three-stage cycle found in domestic violence situations. First, tension builds in the relationship. Second, the abusive partner releases tension via violence while blaming the victim for having caused the violence. Third, the violent partner makes gestures of contrition. However, the partner does not find solutions to avoid another phase of tension building and release so the cycle repeats. The repetition of the violence despite the abuser’s attempts to “make nice” results in the abused partner feeling at fault for not preventing a repeat cycle of violence. However, since the victim is not at fault and the violence is internally driven by the abuser’s need to control, this self-blame results in feelings of helplessness rather than empowerment. The feeling of being both responsible for and helpless to stop the violence leads in turn to depression and passivity. This learned depression and passivity makes it difficult for the abused partner to marshal the resources and support system needed to leave.” (Source: Wikipedia)
This is how the military conditions you to see the world, except the military no longer physically beats the troops. They can accomplish the same result without leaving a physical mark by yelling, threatening, publicly shaming, imprisoning you, giving you horrible duties and paper work. If all else fails they can send you to remedial military training.
The end result is that you’ll feel guilty for breaking meaningless rules, and you’ll attack anyone else you see breaking meaningless rules. And any time anyone criticizes your masters or their agenda you’ll defend them to the death oblivious to the fact that you’re defending your abuser and attacking anyone who tries to free you from the abuser who has manipulated you into celebrating and defending your own oppression.
Note: The author of this blog received an honorable discharge after 7 years enlisted service in the U.S. Air Force.
Common criticisms of this blog post:
1. The military is not a cult! I served in the military and never knew anyone who was brainwashed!
There’s no point arguing whether or not the military is a cult without referencing a checklist of cult practices. Read any book on cults and brainwashing techniques. The more you know about cults, brainwashing techniques and military culture, customs and courtesies the more obvious it will be that the military is deliberately designed using every unethical mind control technique used by cults.
2. You were in the Air Force and never saw combat. So you don’t know what you’re talking about.
You can say I’m not a hero because I never saw combat, and I won’t argue with that. But my role in the military has no bearing on whether or not the military is a cult. It has no bearing on the fact that the United States government has consistently eliminated more and more rights of its citizens, spied on on its citizens, persecuted whistle blowers, knowingly killed civilians and backed Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinians. These are all facts that can be verified by anyone, even people who never served in the military or saw combat at all.
3. I was in the military and I enjoyed it. Plus I got paid well and learned valuable job skills. Hence, the military is good.
The fact that you enjoyed the military and got a lot out of it doesn’t change the fact that the military is a cult that treats its own troops in ways that are hands-down illegal to treat anyone else. The benefits any troops do get out of the military are still stained with the shame of the rights American citizens have lost and the blood of the civilians the American government has killed.
If you liked or hated this blog you’ll probably feel the same way about these:
- How and why military basic training brainwashing recruits
- American soldiers are as much victims as they are heroes
- You can support the ucmj or the troops but not both
- Parallels between the stanford prison experiment and student leaders in military tech school
- Objectively quantifying the heroism of the troops
- An overdue critique of the military caste system
- Lessons civilians can learn from the military
- The military is a cult
- State of the Troops Address on the 10th Anniversary of September 11th
- An open letter to the U.S. military
- The War Debt