While criticizing militarism we remain realists, and hence, although one of the foundation blocks of the anarchist ideas is removing violence from relations within society, we are forced by external circumstances to consider the defence of anarchist society and consequently the way of organizing the possible armed units. This is a result of historical experience gained throughout centuries of social struggle. The wealthy and privileged classes are willing to allow only those challenges that do not, by their essence, radically limit the classes´ own influence.
Whenever this should happen, they are capable to join forces even with former enemies in order to thwart any emancipation effort threating their position. In the event of having to face threat they are ready to abandon all humanist ideals in order to retain their profits they are leading their liberal-parliamentary democratic positions to allow harsh dictatorial regimes, such as Fascism in Germany of 1930s or Pinochet´s regime in Chile take over 1973. As anarchists we strive to achieve far-reaching changes, depriving of power and economic advantages practically all who now live at others´ expense; hence it is more than obvious that the reaction to our striving for free and classless society is going to be unusually strong. If we are to survive this struggle and contest successfully, it is necessary to face the reactionary armies with our own defensive initiative, capable of protecting the society we are setting up. The idea of a traditional army is unacceptable to us. Whether conscriptional or professional, its structure is always rather authoritarian. The way and principle of any organisation is a manifold reflection of trends within the particular society the army belongs to. The more authoritarian society, the more totalitarian and inhumane the army. If we apply this principle in the search of defence organisation, we shall conclude that the defence units must be structured strictly according to fundamental anarchist principles of organisation. By these principles we mean, first and foremost, public control, inspection, free agreement and federalism. If these principles are applied to the issue in question, they render several fundamental blocks on which the anarchist defence initiative rests. These are: militia system, defensive territorial character of the armed forces and a strong stress on the moral aspect of the revolutionary upheaval as well as society itself.
What is meant by militia system and how does this concept differ from a classical authoritarian army set up? The alpha and omega of militias is democracy and equalitarianism. Commanders at all levels are elected directly and are subject to rules of assignment and may be removed from office. The right of removal office, however, may be limited within the framework of combat action. Nevertheless, although in the case of militia system we speak of electing leaders, higher decisive levels etc., all key and strategic decisions are made collectively in such a way, that all those who are eventually to be affected by them have a say in the final resolution. Classifies decisions are made by an elected council, controlled by a peoples´ body. Commanders as such are viewed within concept of militias, rather as delegates to higher coordinating bodies and as militiamen responsible for operational control and coordination. They take over whenever it becomes impossible to make collective decisions, e. g. in above mentioned combat operations or coordination of defence in case of an enemy attack. The elected commander also propose military solutions, where the final resulting pla of an actual operation, situation allowing, in subject to approval by a general assembly of militia units are to take part the operation.
The democratic character of militias is closely related to another important aspect, and that is equality. All militiamen are equal, there are no privileges or ranks for those entrusted with position of leader. No officers´ clubs, better rations or even using rank tittles are acceptable from the point of view of maintaining a libertarian character of militias.
Another typical characteristic of the militia system is voluntary participation. But who would voluntarily suffer war hardships or risk his own life – might by the most frequently raised objection. In our opinion it will be more people, whose resistance will be much stronger, than could by found in classical authoritarian army. People fighting out of their own conviction, for their ideals, or defending their homes before tyrannical aggression are capable of enormous sacrifices. They do not need to be forced to fight through mobilisation or under the treat of harsh punishment for disobedience. Only the ruling class has to force people to fight for its interests and gains by threats of repression and imprisonment.
Authoritarian objection is that the militia model is not effective or capable of fight. Nothing could be further from the truth. Militiamen, who participate in appointing their own commanders as the best in their ranks, have as consequence full trust in them and readily accept their decisions. There is no need to force people into submission, because they themselves have taken parting the decision making, and hence view it as their own and are prepared to sacrifice far more than if thy were merely to obey orders of some anonymous staff somewhere in the rear. Such phenomenon may by observed after all even in classical armies. The troops that went through turmoil of wars were led by experienced veterans, possibly no military rank, who were nevertheless held in high esteem for their abilities and bravery and followed by others.
It can be reasonably concluded that militia democracy is, as a result, far more effective than classical authoritarian hierarchical structure of armed forces. Our concept stresses mainly its defensive nature. It is not our aim to form an aggressive army in order to annex further and further regions. We are concerned, first and foremost, about defending our homes and freedom and, as we have mentioned, that is the only reason why we are willing to consider military organisation at all. The armed units would be attacked to a village/town or a region, within which they would function as a kind of civil defence.
All the military technical equipment would be, according to need, kept by specialized units, most likely around large factories. It would by maintained by specially trained people and controlled by a local council. However, defence - as well as many other activities – cannot be split and atomised into individual municipalities or regions. It is not the anarchist goal, either – quite on the contrary it is cooperation and togetherness. Hence regional units would be bound into territorial federations. In this way the coordination of defence overall national territory will be provided, whilst keeping full autonomy of regional militia. Such national federations would naturally form futher federations and thus international defence libertarian structure. Futhermore, some sophisticated equipment or apparatus would have to be maintained in such a way; it would be a step back and also rather expensive if each regional militia should be equipped with it. By such e. g. we mean e. g. radiolocators, anti-aircraft defence or electronic combat units.
As has been already said, the armed troops would be under direct control of local councils. Within these councils should by incorporated also a military council dealing with coordination, control and logistic support of militia units. This control and its delegates would – like the other controlling bodies – follow fundamental libertarian principles of organisation: it would be effective, responsible for assigned tasks, and may be removed from office. There would be representants of all professions (metal industry, food industry, etc.) consumers´ bodies, public administration, not forgetting military experts. Thus the highest possible public control of militias and their cooperation with manufacturing and consumer sectors would be secured.
These local councils then federalize into national and international councils. Every important issue related to armed troops would be subject to national referendum. Its result would decide all fundamental social issues, such as the degree of country´s “militarisation”, its long-term strategy concept etc.
The safeguard of armed forces not becoming decisive and ruling power of the society is the peoples´ democracy character contained in the militia concept. The very fact the “army service” will be absolutely voluntary and available to all, and the people who decide to fight for the ideal of libertarian society will do so of their own free will and indetifying with this ideal, and also the fact, that all key decisions will be taken collectively, should ensure that these units will not be misused by potential power interests of minority. Refusal of a membership in the militias would be considered as a punishment for those, who wrong the society, although this is rather disputable and would have to be subject to a decision of a particular collective regional or federal body. In any case militia members should have the option to keep their weapons at home, and this right would be denied to anyone else. Weapon ownership would be no longer the privilege of the powerful and wealthy classes and their repressive organs, but could be claimed by every eligible individual. People are not viewed as incapable individual, ready to shoot at anything that moves as soon as they lay their hands on a weapon. To be prevented from weapon ownership would be viewed again as a punishment and would be extended to those hindering the smooth running of anarchist society or those not eligible to it (mentally or physically).
Although it is a sad fact of life, and may appear on superficial inspection contradictory, it has to be admitted that military career is a kind of craft and requires certain specific knowledge. Merely use and maintenance of even the simplest fireguns or mastering the basics of tactics require at least a short course. Moreover, military art moves forward with the help of scientific and technological inventions faster than any other resort, and the use of much of army equipment requires special training, be it anti-aircraft defence system, pyrotechnical equipment, vehicles etc. Solution to this problem is seen in a mechanism of “voluntary conscription”. In practise this would mean that every man or woman, after reaching certain age limit, e. g. 18 years, would be approached and given opportunity to undergo voluntarily elementary military training. This would consist of basic martial and combat arts and the use of hand weapons. After completion they would be made part of militia reserves and then could decide whether they wish to further specialize within the reserve service. Gaining further military expertise would be done through short-term courses and the reserves would also have the opportunity to participate in monthly combat training. Certain position in the armed troops would have to be filled by long-serving experts. Such positions would be subject to strict public control in order to prevent, to the highest degree possible, potential misuse of the expert status. These positions would be again elective subject to all rules applicable to elective delegates. The very status of an expert would be accompanied by clear boundaries of rights and responsibilities of this post. At the same tine and accordingly to the democratic spirit and in order to prevent possible authoritarian trends emerging, it is suggested to incorporate these positions into rota system, together with time limit and repeated applications for these posts.
Another important aspect of our concept is also the moral dimension of the anarchist defence initiative. We aim to free human absolutely from all oppression and the means through which we intend to reach it must be necessarily subject to the goal. The transition to a new society and its ensuing defence must be, to the greatest possible extent, filled with anarchist spirit of ideas. Freedom, free initiative, refusal of the principle of collective guilt, limitation of violence to absolute necessity, humanity and preference of education to the use of firearms are moral credos, that must be, in our opinion, observed at all costs, otherwise the attempt to establish a more just society might turn into a much harsher regime than the previous one had been. Therefore we reject the Marxist-Leninist theory of dictatorship of proletariat as well as its practical consequence of red terror during the Russian Revolution and Civil War in 1917-1921. “The unbeatable power of social revolution rests in its justice and humanity.” (Alexander Berkman), and in the same way the survival of anarchistic society is subject to keeping anarchist moral principles.
Weapons of mass destruction, i. e. nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, represent a serious problem, that has to be taken into consideration while contemplating the anarchist alternative defence. These weapons are the result of, and a warning against, the perversity of the ruling elite of authoritarian societies, that are capable of producing weapons of such destructive, devastating and by definition antisocial nature, merely to protect their power and economic interests. This inhumanity in extreme is in direct conflict with our perception of the world, and weapons of mass destruction would be once and for all disposed of in an anarchist society. Unfortunately, the disposal of many such weapons will present problems and even the residual material will represent potential high risk. It will have to be stored in special safe places, maintained directly by a military council of the region in question. Rather a significant risk is the keeping of the weapons of mass destruction by the ruling class. As has been already pointed out, it is not possible to rely on the ruling elite´s executive organs having any conscience, a and hence it is necessary to be ready even for dreadful possibility to use of weapons of mass destruction against revolutionary transition, but also move probably, against established libertarian society. Alongside or within the militia units, if would be desirable to keep organs, that are in charge of civil defence. That is building of bunkers, equipping individuals with protective materials and means, educating and training civilians etc.
This is our proposal of a scheme providing the protection of society in accordance with principles of libertarian organisation contained in anarchist ideas. That means in such a way that the defence and all armed troops be free and humane in the highest possible degree. Although we tried o cover all important aspects of this problem, it is clear that many other issues will surface whilst actually putting these ideas to practise, and also some solutions may prove to be wrong. We, the anarchists, are fully aware that life, society and, after all, even revolutionary rebirth toward more just and freer society cannot be planned at drawing board, and that much of what people striving for realisation of this ideal will have to solve will occur only during the process itself. However, considerable percentage of these complications can be anticipated now and it is our responsibility to seek answers to the questions these potential problems present us with.