Many areas of society in the UK have seen a growing involvement and/or visibility of the military and military approaches in recent years - from schools, to local communities, to ‘militainment’ (military-themed films, TV programmes, video games etc). This process of privileging and prioritising the military is often referred to as ‘militarisation’; Cynthia Enloe, one of the foremost thinkers on the subject, states that “To become militarised is to adopt militaristic values and priorities as one's own, to see military solutions as particularly effective, to see the world as a dangerous place best approached with militaristic attitudes.”
See here for videos of 12 presentations
that were made at the conference
In response to the recent developments in the UK, there has been an increase in critical academic studies, media coverage, and work by campaigning organisations and others on these issues. On 19 October 2013, around 70 academics, activists, campaigners, and writers came together in London at the Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference organised by ForcesWatch.
The main aim of the day was to allow academics and activists to share their work and ideas, through a series of plenary presentations and group discussions, and to develop ideas on how to raise public debate and encourage critical thinking on the issues.
In the introductory plenary, the conflict transformation consultant and writer Diana Francis pointed out that war – organised lethal violence on a mass scale – is a relatively recent development in human history, asserting that we can un-learn militarism, which is closely linked to dominating structures such as patriarchy. Bryan Mabee from Queen Mary University gave an overview of militarism as something that changes over time and regionally. It is driven by nationalism (seen for example in the UK’s Armed Forces Covenant), which makes dissent very difficult, and global dynamics such as the arms trade and liberal ‘interventions’. War itself brings about transformations in terms of what preparedness for it look like which adds to the momentum of militarism. David Gee from ForcesWatch outlined current changes within the armed forces, noting current recruitment difficulties despite the apparently favourable conditions created by the financial crisis. However, he asserted that this is likely to lead to more use of drones and more privatisation of defence, and highlighted the importance of finding ways to communicate a critical analysis to a wider audience.