Campaign of the Month: Campaign to Cut the Military

The destruction of millions of jobs and the increase of inequality and social exclusion are the most scandalous consequences of the current crisis of the capitalist system. In spite of this, the Spanish government continues to cut back on education, health, social service, etc, jeopardising people's ability to enjoy these rights. In this context of the brutal imposition of budgetary cuts on already-inadequate social spending, allocations for the military and social control not only avoids cuts of a similar proportion, but actually receive a larger proportion of the General State Budget 2013: 17 billion Euros!

  • Even though the Defence budget for 2012 decreased 8.8% -- the lowest cut, along with Interior-- standing at 6,316.4 million Euros, when you consider military allocations camouflaged in other ministries, military spending cuts vanish. Actual military spending is twice that of “Defence”. In 2013, Defence will still have 6,903.65 million, a quantity which, to repeat the pattern, in the end will be increased by 10%.
  • The 770 million Euros in military shares abroad that the government has announced that it will spend in 2013 haven’t been budgeted, as is usual practice, and are illegal.
  • The public debt accumulated just in the Special Armament Programmes already exceeds 40,000 million Euros to be paid until 2030-2040. The 19 active programmes were created with an opaque financing model to award, via the Ministry of Industry, contracts for the development and acquisition of aeroplanes, helicopters and tanks, airlifters, submarines and frigates, etc, of which the companies EADS, Indra, Santa Barbara and Navantia benefited most. A Eurofighter plane costs 80.3 million Euros, and 87 have been ordered: that will entail 9,255 million. Furthermore, new programmes such as the acquisition of a new F-100 frigate (4,100 million Euros) and participation in the millionaire anti-missile shield of NATO (4 warships) increase this military financial bubble that has generated an illegitimate and already unpayable military debt.

Military spending is just one of the components of the process of social remilitarisation that we are experiencing, maybe something which could generate greater social opposition, but enormous resources invested in publicity for the military protects it from criticism and debate.

From Alternativa Antimilitarista.MOC we believe that a citizen opposition can still be developed that is more head-on to the absurdity, the unreason, and the injustice that the military spending nurtured by our taxes entails, and we want to invite citizens to “disarm the budgets”.

We believe that what was needed was a campaign that would link the capitalist crisis and its social consequences with remilitarisation and social control. Thereby our campaign poses these objectives:

  • To denounce the maintenance of military spending alongside widespread cuts of items of a social nature. We particularly want to call attention to the public debt, illegitimate and odious, generated by the Special Armament Programmes, as well as the cost of deployment of the new NATO Anti-Missile Shield in the Rota base.
  • To denounce the very existence of military spending and other items of a militaristic character, such as the links to social control and repression (security forces, prison centres…)

For this we have arranged a three-year campaign, that is flexible, and wide enough to encompass many small tasks that we have been doing for more than 30 years, and at the same time to give continuity to our previous state campaign Disobey war: No army defends peace. Our routine work has been and will continue to be promotion activities, boycotts of acts of military publicity, education for peace, nonviolent direct action, campaigning against military spending (which includes financial protest against military spending), international solidarity, etc.

We wanted an image and a motto that would accompany us for several years and that would make it possible to identify the content and publicise it in social sectors which we don’t usually reach. Of course, from its launch we wanted to involve other social collectives. And we have found it.

We have designed some campaign materials with the motto Cut? Yes: the military, that in a few months has evolved into CUT THE MILITARY!. We have chosen elements from the popular computer game pacman: a pacman with military helmet chasing with scissors ghosts that, with their different colours, represent the social struggles that resist the cuts (education, health, social services…). In one of the variants, as in the game, it is the ghosts of social rights that turn against the military pacman.

We developed a campaign document to gather up initial support between collectives, as well as information resources: a manifesto, pamphlet, stickers, video and radio spots [see informative material].

We chose 15 April 2012, Global Day of Action on Military Spending, to make the campaign public with decentralised presentations. We received the initial support of 32 collectives or networks of social collectives from the whole state.
The chosen image has favoured conducting street parodies and colourful actions, both centralised and decentralised. Among these were:

  • Presentation of the campaign (Alicante, Madrid, Las Palmas: 17-4-2012; Bilbao, 21-4-2012)
  • Antimilitarist action against the cuts in health (2-6-2012)
  • Action in the Basque Employment Service-LANBIDE (12-6-2012)
  • Military Un-parade in Bilbao on the 12th of October (12-10-2012)
  • Chaining at the gate of the General Army Barracks; state action to which various groups from Madrid joined (29-12-2012)

We launched a collection of signatures online and two viral broadcasting initiatives on the internet. Also, we have continued in parallel with the campaign of financial protest against military spending.

This campaign is now allowing us to facilitate or maximise the denunciation of military spending in various social spaces, as well as to share actions with other social collectives. Fortunately we are not alone, and we share this path with many other people who contribute with their work to social demilitarisation.

More information at http://www.antimilitaristas.org