Militia v. Inimicitia
by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

The crisis of legitimacy in the United States and the tension between a ruling class that seeks to undermine and overthrow the Constitution and the people still seeking to uphold it is a civil war with many fronts, and one of them is language and the meaning of words. The ability of the elites to subvert the Constitution depends on their ability to redefine many of the key words in the Constitution, and the most important of these is "militia".

The Founders mainly used the term "militia" as a collective noun, and when asked to define it, one of them George Mason, said it was "the whole people, except for a few officials". This definition is indicative, but not entirely adequate, because it does not explain why we need a separate word from "people" if it means almost the same thing. Mason, like most of the Founders, tended to think and write in terms of concrete things rather than in abstractions, but to fully understand the concept of militia, we need to return to abstract fundamentals and to the historical origin of the term.

The term militia comes from Latin, and is usually translated as "military service". In other words, an activity rather than a collection of persons. That definition could be somewhat misleading, however, in that for the Latins, "military" services also included law enforcement and disaster response, and the duty of every citizen to perform those functions if called upon to do so by the situation. Since in today's world we usually separate military from law enforcement from disaster response, a better translation would be "defense service".

Since it is common in English to use a word for an activity to refer to collections of persons engaged in that activity, it is therefore in accordance with such usage to use the term "militia" to also refer to one or more persons engaged in militia, the activity. However, the Latin term for a body of (armed) defenders would be volgus militum.

The word "militia" is a polyseme, with multiple related meanings, either at the same time or depending on context. It is a type called an actronym in which a noun meaning "those engaged in the activity" is derived from the noun meaning "activity" without losing the original meaning.

It is important to understand the origin of the duty of militia, or of militia as a duty. Every society is formed by individuals coming together for mutual defense of their rights against anything that might threaten those rights, including other members of the society. The agreement to restrict the ways they compete with one another, and to defend one anothers' rights, is the social contract that creates the society. Each individual joins the social contract by being inducted into it from childhood by his parents or guardians.

The reference to the militia in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, as a justification for the right to keep and bear arms, is potentially misleading. The defense of the society may require the use of arms, but there are other ways of defending it that do not. While law enforcement may be part of militia duty, so is enforcing the law on oneself, or obeying the law, and setting a good example by doing so.

If we examine the various rights against the actions of government which are recognized by the Constitution, we find that they are not just for our enjoyment or fulfillment. We also have the duty to exercise all of those rights in defense of the society. The rights to speak, publish, practice religion, assemble, petition, contract, vote, travel, and bear arms are not just for private happiness, but to defend one another.

Even religion, by encouraging civic virtue, is militia, because it makes better citizens who are better prepared and more willing to engage in militia in other ways.

Therefore, in the broadest sense, militia is the exercise of civic virtue.

Now the enemies of the Constitution seek to redefine that word, to make it mean merely armed groups, with a connotation of being unsavory. If they can succeed in reversing the meaning of the word, they will have gone a long way to subverting the Constitution, because militia is the foundation of the Constitution.

The opposite of militia is, therefore, the exercise of public vice, or offense to the rights of members of the society, and we need to identify the word for that, the word that is the opposite of militia. In English we have such words as treason, crime, or hostility, but "treason" is redefined in the Constitution to have a more restricted meaning than it had in common usage before the Constitution was adopted, and while we can speak of domestic public enemies or foreign enemies, we need a word that means hostile or inimical activity. The Latins had the word inimicitia[1], meaning enmity or hostility, which was applicable to either domestic or foreign enemies, and that word comes closest to being the diametric opposite of militia. As a collective noun, it would be one or more persons engaged in activity that is hostile to the society.

We can therefore array our various rights as duties and their opposites:

Defense against invasion
Law enforcement
Equipping oneself
Disarming people
Investigation and exposure
Public education
Covering up of wrongdoing
Public distraction
Redress of wrongs
Abuse of legal process
Organize, train to defend
Prevent organizing, training
Informed vote for best person
Uninformed vote, or for
promised benefits
Religion Teach virtue, set good example.
Faith, hope, charity, fortitude,
justice, temperance, prudence.
Teach vice, set bad example.
Pride, envy, gluttony, lust,
anger, covetousness, sloth.

Those who would defend the Constitution against those who would subvert it therefore have the duty to apply the word "militia" to any and every instance of virtuous civic activity, and "inimicitia" to every instance of its opposite. If we make these usages common, we will have done a great deal to resist the overthrow of the Constitution and our civil liberties.

1. The Anglicized pronunciation would be "ih nim ih SEE sha". For Latin purists it would be "ee nee mee KEE tee ah". A composite of "in", not, and "amicus", friend. It is the origin of the word "enemy".

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Authored: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Original date: 2000/6/24 —