Dismantling Militarism

Militarism fails us on many fronts. It fails to resolve conflict. It fails to keep the global community safe. It delivers physical and emotional suffering. It damages our planet's environment. It severely drains our financial, human, and natural resources. And it wrenches our spiritual lives.

If we want to build a safe and peaceful world, where everyone has the essentials, we need to dismantle militarism.

Since everyone plays a role in supporting militarism (we fuel this system with our money, labor, consent, votes, social traditions, and beliefs), everyone has a role in dismantling it. We each have different tasks, corresponding to the particular nature of our support. Below are several options to consider.

This work might feel futile, but it is our only path out. A society abandons militarism only to the extent that its individual members abandon militarism.


• If you are a citizen, consider using your political status to help shift the priorities of your nation-state. Make a genuine and ongoing effort to lobby your legislators to devote more attention and resources to diplomacy than to militarism.

• If you vote for representatives who support militarism, consider stopping this practice. Instead, cast your ballot to elect representatives committed to reducing or eliminating military programs.

• Identify cultural support for militarism in your community (war memorials, military holidays, military parades, special treatment for military personnel, military events as entertainment, military education programs, etc.). Explore options for replacing these traditions so the next generation will not be encouraged to support militarism.

• Patriotic fervor is fuel for the harshest aspects of militarism. As a citizen, you are in the optimum position to encourage fellow citizens to moderate this turbulence. When the flames of patriotism arise, consider speaking out.

Military Families Speak Out
Peace Action
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Women's Action for New Directions
War Resisters League
War Resisters International
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom
Global Zero


• Militarism requires a steady flow of financing. Most of this financing comes from taxes. Make a genuine effort to learn what portion of your taxes are spent on militarism.

• If you pay taxes to support militarism, consider reducing or eliminating your support. Options include:

- Reduce the taxes you pay by taking full advantage of legal deductions, credits, exemptions, and technicalities.
- Reduce the taxes you pay by reducing your taxable income and living more simply.
- Reduce the taxes you pay by practicing war tax resistance (see the section below for Conscientious Objectors).

• Offer your support to conscientious objectors who are penalized for refusing to pay taxes for militarism. Make a contribution to the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund.

US Budget Pie Chart (WRL)
US Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities (PERI)
National Priorities Project
Taxpayers for Common Sense
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Conscience and Peace Tax International

Parents & Teachers

• Teach children how to resolve conflict using proven tools: acting in good faith, intending no harm, offering high levels of respect, making extra-ordinary attempts at understanding, using means consistent with the ends desired, making gestures that promote cooperation, leaving room for error, and generating a variety of creative alternatives. If you do not feel skilled with these tools, consider devoting personal time and resources to get training.

• If your child or student is considering joining the military, consider working with them to explore other satisfactory options.

Association for Conflict Resolution
Pace e Bene
Metta Center for Nonviolence
Nonviolence Training Hub
Educators for Nonviolence
Center for Nonviolent Communication
Living Nonviolence
Class of Nonviolence (Colman McCarthy)
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth
Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities
Alternatives to the Military (NNOMY)
Alternatives to Enlistment (CCW)

Religious Leaders

• The highest callings of most ethical and religious traditions include respect, kindness, patience, compassion, understanding, and generosity. These are the ultimate tools for dismantling militarism. Consider becoming an expert in these practices, and encouraging your followers to do likewise.

• When colleagues in your religious tradition promote militarism, consider speaking out. If your tradition has any facet of peacemaking at all, make this known with clarity and vibrancy.

• The core purpose of militarism is to protect our own interests. Encourage your followers to consider how the values of your religious tradition mesh with this purpose. In most traditions, it is more important to benefit others than to protect oneself.

• See the list of peace fellowships below for resources related to your particular tradition.

Religious Practitioners

• Consider learning more about the work of peacemaking in your religious tradition.

Fellowship of Reconciliation (Multi-Faith)
Prayers for Peace (Multi-Faith)
Religious Statements on Conscientious Objection (CCW)

Adventist Peace Fellowship
American Friends Service Committee
Baptist Peace Fellowship
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Disciples Peace Fellowship
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
Mennonite Central Committee
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Jewish Peace Fellowship
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Pax Christi
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Salam Institute for Peace & Justice

Employees of the Military

• If you are employed in the military, consider looking for new means to earn a living.

• If you choose to continue working for the military, make a genuine effort to keep abreast of the suffering that is associated with militarism. Be mindful that patriotic and religious fervor can cloud our awareness of the suffering of others.

• Consider the opportunities you have in your position to reduce the suffering of others.

Alternatives to the Military (NNOMY)
Alternatives to Enlistment (CCW)
Center on Conscience & War (CCW)
Courage to Resist
GI Rights Hotline
Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment (US-DoD)
Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (US-VA)
Veterans Employment Center (US-VA)
Veterans ReEmployment (US-DoL)
Career Resources for Veterans (JobHero)

Contractors for the Military

• If you are the owner or manager of one of the many businesses that support militarism, consider repurposing your work. Investigate what it would take to let go of work that supports militarism. Explore non-military opportunities to earn a profit and provide employment.

• If you are an employee, consider talking with your employer about business opportunities that do not support militarism.

• If you see no possibilities for converting the work of your company, consider looking for new work.

Defense Industry Adjustment (US-DoD)
Peace Ecomony Transitions (IPS)
Peace Conversion (B. Martin)
Economic Conversion (Wikipedia)
Disarmament, Economic Conversion, and Jobs for All (S. Melman)
US Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities (PERI)
Beating Swords into Solar Panels (IPS)

Military Veterans

• Veterans are powerful spokespersons for the cause of demilitarization. Your firsthand experience in the military provides valuable perspective. Consider using your experience and your voice to encourage others to join in the work of demilitarization.

Veterans for Peace
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Courage to Resist


To live with honor is a common theme for men, especially in the context of militarism. Although honor talk typically tends toward machismo, there is a much broader spectrum of skills for living respectably and respectfully. To dislodge our fascination with militarism, we can explore these possibilities:

• It is possible to create safety without harming others.
• It is possible to resolve conflict without coercing others.
• It is possible to be responsible without being in control.
• It is possible to be patriotic without being superior.
• It is possible to protect the ones we care for without dominating others.
• It is possible to provide for the ones we care for without controlling resources.
• It is possible to live in peace and freedom while facing great uncertainties.


• Since militarism finds its home in the halls of government, the political work of demilitarization requires a sustained effort. Consider making a long-term commitment to dismantle programs designed to coerce and harm.

• Consider hiring staff to work solely on demilitarization initiatives.

• Consider proposing legislation to shift resources from your government’s military program to your government’s diplomatic program.

• Consider using your powers of persuasion to touch hearts. You have the ability to encourage your constituents to look more deeply at the suffering associated with militarism.


• If you invest in companies that support militarism, consider using your shareholder power to shift corporate priorities toward other commercial interests.

• Consider divesting your resources from companies that support militarism.

• Promote and fund non-military approaches to difficult situations. There are millions of people working in innovative, effective, and compassionate ways to build peace, safety, and freedom, using less resources to achieve better results than militarism. If we want these people to succeed, we need to support their work. Here are a few examples:

The Albert Einstein Institution
International Crisis Group
The Carter Center - Conflict Resolution Program
Witness for Peace
Peace Brigades International
Nonviolent Peaceforce
AJ Muste Memorial Institute
Nonviolence International


• Consider abandoning stories that stir fascination with military options.

• Consider cultivating stories that stir fascination with diplomatic and creative alternatives.

• Consider cultivating stories that shed light on the suffering associated with militarism.

Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Global Nonviolent Action Database
Waging Nonviolence


• If you conduct research, consider abandoning projects that promote militarism as a tool for meeting our needs. Consider cultivating projects that explore more diplomatic and creative tools for meeting our needs. Consider cultivating projects that explore the suffering associated with militarism.

• If you teach, educate your students about how to resolve conflict using proven tools: acting in good faith, intending no harm, offering high levels of respect, making extra-ordinary attempts at understanding, using means consistent with the ends desired, making gestures that promote cooperation, leaving room for error, and generating a variety of creative alternatives.

Peace & Justice Studies Association
International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
The Albert Einstein Institution
Metta Center for Nonviolence

Entertainers & Artists

• Consider abandoning projects that stir fascination with military options for conflict resolution.

• Consider cultivating projects that stir fascination with diplomatic and creative options for conflict resolution.

Other Professionals

•  Many professions have an association devoted to the work of demilitarization. Consider joining your colleagues in this work.

Physicians for Social Responsibility
Economists for Peace & Security
International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility
Psychologist for Social Responsibility
National Lawyers Guild - Military Law Task Force
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Conscientious Objectors

• If laws that require you to support militarism conflict with your conscience, consider becoming a conscientious objector. Throughout history, many people have refused to comply with the laws of militarism. This honorable path includes resisting demands to work for the military (by refusing to register or show up for conscription) and resisting demands to pay for the military (by refusing to pay taxes that support military-related endeavors).

Center on Conscience & War
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Conscience and Peace Tax International
War Resisters League
The Nuclear Resister


• Explore demilitarizing the heart. Reflect on the publication Daily Life.

• Consider participating in or supporting Satyagraha Institute. The world is in need of leaders trained in the traditions of nonviolence. This program offers such training.

• Encourage friends and family members to look over this website. Ask them what they think. If we don’t engage each other about the issues of militarism, nothing will ever shift.

• Consider making a gift to support DMZ. This is a simple and immediate way you can help promote demilitarization.

If we want to dismantle militarism, each of us needs to make some changes. What changes will you consider?

Clark Hanjian