Mapping the militarisation of youth in your region(s)
Countering the militarisation of youth requires, first of all, an awareness and understanding of the different forms it takes. The aim of the discussion in small groups on Friday evening is to produce a mapping of the different ways in which the military, and militarism, are present in the lives of young people.
Each of the groups will have in it participants from different parts of the world and from different organisational backgrounds. After a brief round of introductions, we would like you to list the different ways in which, from the knowledge and experience of your group's members, militarisation of youth takes place. Having listed these forms, please discuss both the similarities and the differences between the situations mentioned by the group members. Try to map the way in which social, economic, political, and other contexts affect the militarisation of youth in different places.
The discussion in small groups will be self-facilitated. It is your responsibility as a group to make it both open and fruitful, to record its outcome in writing, and to have it presented to all other participants in the evening plenary.
Military and public spaces
(Facilitators: Diana Dolev and Ruti Kantor)
Our civilian environment contains many military images: soldiers in uniform, guns and rifles, army parades and many others. But are we always aware of their presence and of its consequences?
We can all identify some military and militaristic images, even when those appear in advertisements and computer games. Yet what makes us unaware of military and militaristic images in civilian public spaces? How do those become concealed/transparent? How did we train ourselves to actually avoid the appearance of militarism in our civil environment?
We will begin the workshop with examples from our native (Israeli) context, by showing a few images of militarized spaces in Israel, especially those which are not identified as such by the public in general, such as an art gallery placed in a military memorial hall, or a lottery cartoon figure.
We will then ask the participants to share their own geographic and cultural civilian militaristic environments. Together we will unveil processes that lead to a new awareness that may bring about critical approaches: we will identify together the sources of our unawareness and the danger it carries when it becomes a normal component of the civilian environment. We will look especially into the impact of this phenomenon on young people, and explore ways to bring about transformation.
Participants are invited to bring images they would like to share.
Militainment: war on the video screen
(Facilitator: Michael Schulze von Glaßer)
In 2014, US troops invade Iran, the Russian Army occupies Berlin and Hamburg in 2016, and in 2027 the USA are being conquered by North Korea – today's video games tell explosive stories. In doing so, an audience of millions is presented with Western images of the enemy and fears are being spread. On the other hand, many games promote soldierly heroism and modern weaponry. In the development of new games software companies do not shy away from cooperation with the arms industry and the military. For a long time this kind of cooperation has been established in the film industry. There is hardly a blockbuster movie in which the military has not been involved. Obviously, only those media productions that are friendly towards the military and present the images desired by the military and the arms industry are supported.
The workshop will begin with a short introduction giving an overview of the political dimension of war video games and movies and the cooperation between with military, arms industry and the media. After that alternatives – such as video games critical of war – will be presented and the complex area of militainment will be discussed.
Analysing Militarisation: The Military and Education
(Facilitators: Emma Sangster & Ralf Willinger)
Many countries are seeing an increase in the presence of the military within the education system. In addition to direct recruiting activities, army presentations and careers talks, visits to military bases, work experience, mentoring and curriculum materials all serve as an essential recruitment and propaganda tool for the armed forces. In some countries, the militarisation of schools and colleges is so advanced that recruiters have direct access to school students and information about them. Elsewhere the armed forces are developing a softer approach that nevertheless seeks to directly influence young people within the education system.
This workshop will compare the situation across countries, looking at the different ways in which the military gain access to, and seek to influence, students in schools and colleges. What is the role of the law, the schools authorities, teaching unions, teachers and others in this process? How do students, teachers and parents respond to the presence of the military in their schools? The workshop will map out the situation in preparation for a discussion in the afternoon workshop of how militarism within education can be resisted.
Queer/gender and militarism
(Facilitator: Andreas Speck)
In this workshop, we want to explore the relationships between gender, sexuality, and militarism. How does the military contribute to maintaining patriarchy and heteronormatism in our societies? What ideas of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality does it promote? But also: how does the military exploit ideas of masculinity, femininity and sexuality in its public relations and recruitment efforts?
In many countries, the military nowadays promotes itself as an “equal opportunities employer”, open to women, queers, and immigrants. But what is the reality of women or queer people in the military? Do women or queer people in the military make it a less patriarchal institution?
The workshop will focus on an exchange among participants, using a range of tools.
Recruitment of immigrants and low income youth
(Facilitator: David Gee)
Resistance in educational settings
(Facilitator: Kai-Uwe Dosch and Sarah Roßa)
In our workshop we want to exchange the experiences of the participants with resisting militarisation in the field of education, using creative facilitation tools. In addition, we want to collect new ideas, and develop how we can resist the continuing militarisation of education.
In doing so, we will discuss questions such as: what role does the participation of peace movement activists in educational institutions play for the chance of criticising the military in education? Is it at all possible to completely demilitarise education? On what levels can resistance be successful: at the level of school administrations, individual schools, or of the students themselves? What forms of resistance appear to be possible?
(Facilitators: Hanns Molander and Cattis Laska, Ofog)
In this workshop we will share experiences, ideas and strategies in relation to how assumptions and prejudices about gender/sex and sexuality are used in recruitment campaigns and war/defense politics.
- What can we do when the military hijacks words and struggles that should be about human rights (for example lgbt-struggle or words like 'democracy', 'security' and 'peace')?
- How can we integrate the struggle against heterosexism in the work against military recruitment, and in antimilitarist work in general?
- What strategies and methods can we use to reach out to groups at risk of being recruited to the military?
(Facilitator: Kelly Dougherty)
Veterans and military service members bring unique perspectives and important experiences and knowledge to organizing work aimed at countering war and militarism. Many men and women who have been militarized and taken an active part in war have been radicalized by the experience and can become powerful activists. Having a network of non-military allies to support, work and learn with is essential for veterans and service members who are organizing around issues of militarism. Many times, however, this is difficult. Civilians often don’t know how to approach military people and veterans often find it difficult to relate to people who are detached from the realities of war and military service.
Over the years, Iraq Veterans Against the War has struggled with finding our place in the larger anti-war movement and with how to work effectively with non-military allies. Currently, IVAW works closely with the Civilian Soldier Alliance, an organization that works directly with vets and service members to build a GI resistance movement aimed at a just foreign policy. IVAW’s strategy is to organize the veteran and military community to withdraw its support from wars and the systems that perpetuate them. IVAW and CivSol engage this strategy in our current campaign, Operation Recovery. Op Rec aims to win the right to heal from military trauma for service members and vets and to empower service members to challenge the military culture that fosters trauma and dehumanization. I will talk about the importance of encouraging vets and military personnel to become leaders in the struggle against war and militarism, potential challenges and barriers that may exist and how IVAW’s organizing work has developed over the past eight years.
Direct action against the militarisation of youth
(Facilitator: Cecil Arndt)
In different countries, the militarisation of youth follows different strategies, takes on different forms and develops differently: This applies to the normalisation of war and military presence as well as to concrete recruitment activities. Similarly different, but often much more imaginative and inspiring are the various actions with which antimilitarist groups counter those developments. In this workshop, we want to take a look at the various strategies and forms of direct action taken against the militarisation of youth in different countries and at different levels. It will be important to take into account the various conditions of and for political struggles and direct action that may differ broadly on an international as well as an individual scale. Therefore we want to look for ways of relating to one another, of expressing and exercising solidarity and of supporting one another across and beyond country borders and political factions.
By exchanging our experiences, strategies and ideas, we can inspire and learn from one another. In doing so, we can develop novel and manifold ideas for direct action and interventions as necessary complements to appeals and parliamentary politics.
(Facilitators: Ralf Willinger, Helen Kearney, Geneva)
After a brief introduction on child rights, the existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and an example how to use those (based on the German Shadow Report Child Soldiers), participants will exchange their experiences, ranging from using child rights to resistance by youth/children themselves.