Are You Ready for Some Murder?


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December 12, 2007

Let's say the revolution came tonight. By next week, deposed federal and state governments have paid off all debts, public and private, after auctioning off all their alleged property. Most of their 20 million employees could transition easily enough to free markets; many people -- teachers, firefighters and mail carriers, for example -- could obtain jobs very similar to those they had before. But what about all the freshly unemployed soldiers?

Some communities would choose to hire professional defensive militias manned by ex-military, and many soldiers would compete with former police for private security jobs, though need for contracted security would be diminished in a society freed from prohibition and gun control laws. Some soldiers would move to countries with active militaries, but plenty of others would take advantage of our liberated market and make use of their non-violent talents by starting businesses. Obviously, the concern is that too many unemployed soldier boys would gang up and tyrannize less-armed communities, either out of nationalist nostalgia or for fun and profit.

America's massive military leaves post-America with only two outcomes: either community militias band together to combat rogue gangs in a rapidly spreading war ending with an eventual brand new state, or, simply, markets are allowed to take over.

If consenting adults are free to take part in any activity, no matter how horrible, provided no person or community is forced to participate, what legal or moral opposition would there be to a 'national' league of militias competing in war with each other in areas far removed from bystanders? Herds of trained killers would be able to kill to their content, and they'd only be purging the general population of other killers by doing what they love. Win-win! Best of all, battles would be monitored by the nearest community watchmen, highly compensated by the league for their time, to ensure no strays attacked non-participants, making these the first wars without dead innocents and therefore among the most justifiable wars in history.

Lifelong soldiers, raised as boys to revere proactive violence and always salute the flag, could carry on in the new war market as if nothing had changed; in fact, they could enjoy a scheduled battle every month or so, provided they survive. War songs, banners, training schools, special ops, ridiculous mythologies, enhanced interrogation, cries to the media about unfair opponents . . . they can continue it all. Smart teams will want to mimic our government's successful media campaigns by alleging opposing teams cheated with terrorism or banned weapons. Boxing weigh-ins are dynamic and dramatic, but just imagine press conferences starring generals of geographic rival militias days away from arranged war. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, but only one can make the playoffs.

Team owners could buy or lease open fields for arranged match-ups, and champions could be crowned by tallying territory won and lost, all with embedded reporters and analysts, free agency, fantasy leagues, and the orderly distribution of newly signed recruits, or the only military draft to ever be anywhere near morally acceptable.

Instead of denying Socrates' charge that all wars are fought for money, this league may choose that wisdom as its slogan. Again, soldiers interested in protecting people could join militias; this league is for those who love to fight. And if we think soldiers wouldn't be as excited to fight for shoe sponsorships and TV revenue as they were for oil grabs, we should pay attention to the energy and passion displayed before NFL games by already-wealthy players.

Disapproving community members could choose to ignore or openly oppose the league, free of the intimidation and guilt the former United States used to encourage support for its wars. Concerned parents would complain about all the violence in the sports page, forgetting the far worse violence that would no longer be on the front page. But if some kids grew up wanting to be rich like their favorite soldier-athletes, isn't that still an improvement over bombing civilians for the state?

It's not like there aren't modern precedents for voluntary, contractual combat to the death. In the American frontier West, it was accepted that sometimes adults would choose to settle disputes through duels, and the stipulation of consent would certainly be an improvement over the forced spectacles of imperial Rome 's state combat leagues. Plus, it's apparently OK for audiences to gather for executions in North Korea and, well, the United States .

And let's not forget that wars would end with a whistle and handshakes instead of bitter resentment boiling for years over various injustices. War fans would finally be able to talk about war the way they want to, in terms of wins and losses, instead of having to account for things like Woodrow Wilson's entrance into World War I setting the stage for its sequel.

While most former soldiers would choose to become productive private citizens, some would remain determined to be all they can be. A free society could choose to resist this, or just pay to watch it. Besides, honed and refined league champion militias, trained to actively avoid civilian casualties, would be able to sell much better protection, in the far fetched event that a foreign state would attempt to conquer the former America , than gangs of reckless soldier boys could ever have. Game on.

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Jason Kirk's picture
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Jason Kirk blogs at Mutiny Baby and is working on his debut collection of short fiction.