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For other uses, see Militant (disambiguation).

The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, comes from the 15th Century
Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier". The related modern concept of the
militia as a defensive organization against invaders grew out of the Anglo-Saxon "fyrd".
In times of crisis, the militiaman left his civilian duties and became a soldier until the
emergency was over, when he returned to his civilian occupation and life.


• 1 Noun usage
• 2 Adjective usage
• 3 Characteristics of militancy
• 4 Mass media usage
o 4.1 Legal inferences
• 5 Span of militancy
o 5.1 Compare and contrast

• 6 References

[edit] Noun usage

Militant, as a noun, is used as a term for warriors who do not belong to an established
government military organization. It can also be used as a euphemism for the word
terrorist.[1] (For more on this, see mass media usage below.) In general usage, a militant
person is a confrontational person, regardless of the use of physical violence or pacifistic
methods. A militant can, but not necessarily, engage in violence as part of a claimed
struggle against oppression. Militant can refer to an individual or to groups displaying the
aggressive behavior or attitudes. (However, Merriam-Webster does not recognize the use
of militant as a noun. It defines it only as a word which functions to describe an attitude,
not the person or party exhibiting such attitude. See the adjective usage for more.)[2][3]

Militant is often used within some religious circles to denote the continuous battle of
Christians (as church members) or the Christian Church in their struggle against sin. In
particular, the Roman Catholic Church differentiates between Church militant and church
triumphant. [4][5] Ellen G. White, a significant force in the founding of the Seventh-day
Adventist church, also refers to the Church Militant. "Now the church is militant. Now
we are confronted with a world in darkness, almost wholly given over to idolatry."[6]

Such religious meaning must not be confused with the belligerent meaning used to
describe extremist religious behaviours found in some who, based on their extreme
religious beliefs or ideologies, take up weapons and become involved in warfare, or who
commit acts of violence or terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist religious
agendas. Such extremist groups can be Christians[7][8][9], Muslims[10][11][12], Jewish[13][14][15],
or of any other religious subscription.

[edit] Adjective usage

Militant can mean "vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause" as
in 'militant reformers'.[16] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,
defines militant as "Having a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of
a cause". The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines militant as "aggressively active (as in
a cause)".[3] It says that the word militant might be typically be used in phrases such as
'militant conservationists' or 'a militant attitude'.[3]

An example of the adjective usages is demonstrated when the The New York Times ran
an article titled Militant Environmentalists Planning Summer Protests to Save Redwoods
describing a group that believes in "confrontational demonstrations" and "nonviolent
tactics" to get across their message of preserving the environment.[17] Another usage
example includes 'a militant political activist',[18] drawing attention to behaviours typical
of those engaged in intensive political activism. The political protests headed by the
Reverend Al Sharpton have been described as militant in nature in The Washington Post.

[edit] Characteristics of militancy

Militancy is the state of being militant. The term "militant state" colloquially refers to
any individual which holds an aggressive posture in support of an ideology or cause.[20]
More precisely, a person or group which is in a psychologically militant state is in a
physically aggressive posture. A militant view can constitute an extremist's position or
have an inherent implication of intolerance (although in the militant's view s/he is merely
being consequential as a matter of principle).

The work and support of militants can under certain circumstances be allowed within the
limits of international law and civil disobedience.

The various movements that seek to apply militancy as a solution, or who use militancy
to rationalize their solutions for issues in the modern world seldom share common tactics.
The characteristics of a militant who is aggressive and violent to promote a political
philosophy in the name of a movement (and sometimes have an extreme solution for their
goal) include the following shared traits:
1. employing force or violence directly, either in offense or in defense
2. justifying the use of force using the ideological rhetoric of their particular group

Persons described as militants — either individuals or groups (composed of multiple

individuals) — have usually enrolled and trained to serve in a particular cause. Militants
may fill their ranks either by volunteering, enlistment or by conscription.

[edit] Mass media usage

The mass media often uses the term "militant" in the context of terrorism.[1] Journalists
often apply the term militant to movements using terrorism as a tactic. The mass media
also has used the term militant groups or radical militants for terrorist organizations.[1][21]
The terms serve to avoid usage of the term terrorists.

Newspapers, magazines, and other information sources may deem militant a neutral term,
whereas terrorist[25] or guerrilla[26] conventionally indicates disapproval of the
behavior of the individual or organization so labeled, regardless of the motivations for
such behavior. Militant, at other times, can refer to any non-military individual engaged
in warfare or combat, or generally serving as a combatant.

[edit] Legal inferences

Those resisting a foreign military occupation can be seen as not meriting the label
terrorists because their acts of political violence against military targets of a foreign
occupier do not violate international law. Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions gives
lawful combatant status to those engaging in armed conflicts against alien (or foreign)
occupation, colonial domination and racist régimes. Non-uniformed guerrillas also gain
combatant status if they carry arms openly during military operations. Protocol 1 does not
legitimize attacks on civilians by militants who fall into these categories, however.

In the UN General Assembly Resolution on terrorism (42/159, December 7, 1987). which

condemns international terrorism and outlines measures to combat the crime, with one
proviso: "that nothing in the present resolution could in any way prejudice the right to
self-determination, freedom and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United
Nations, of peoples forcibly deprived of that right [...], particularly peoples under colonial
and racist regimes and foreign occupation or other forms of colonial domination, nor...the
right of these peoples to struggle to this end and to seek and receive support [in
accordance with the Charter and other principles of international law]."

[edit] Span of militancy

Militants occur across the political spectrum, including white supremacists, separatists,
abortion opponents and proponents, and environmentalists. Examples of left-wing, right-
wing, and special interest militants include militant reformers, militant feminists, militant
animal rights advocates, and militant anarchists. The phrase militant Islam can suggest
violent and aggressive political activity by Islamic individuals, groups, movements, or
governments. The phrase militant atheist is usually used confrontationally when
discussing those people who are more outspoken than the general population on subjects
which explicitly or implicitly promote atheism[27], but is also used in a non-contentious
manner to describe those who persecute religion in general. Various secret societies that
have been known to be militarists are know as militant.

[edit] Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast these related articles:

• Activist - individuals in intentional action to bring about social or political

• Belligerent - one of a contracting parties in a conflict.
• Church militant (Ecclesia Militans) - Christians who are living.
• combat or fighting- purposeful conflict between one or more persons, often
involving violence and intended to establish dominance over the opposition.
• combatant - a soldier or guerrilla member who is waging war.
• crusader - Warriors in a series of several military campaigns—usually sanctioned
by the Papacy—that took place during the 11th through 13th century. Used
contemporarily to describe people that attack Islam, whether perceived or real.
• demonstrator - An individual who is publicly displaying the common opinion of
an activist group, often economically, political, or socially, by gathering in a
crowd, usually at a symbolic place or date, associated with that opinion.
• extremist - term used to describe either ideas or actions thought by critics to be
hyperbolic and unwarranted.
• fundamentalism - anti-modernist movements in various religions.
• guerrilla - small combat groups and the individual members of such groups
operating with small, mobile and flexible combat groups called cells, without a
front line.
• insurgent - an armed rebellion by any irregular armed force that rises up against
an established authority, government, administration or occupation.
• man-at-arms - medieval term for a soldier, almost always a professional.
• mercenary - soldier who fights, or engages in warfare primarily for private gain,
usually with little regard for ideological, national or political considerations.
• military - any armed force, it generally refers to a permanent, professional force
of soldiers or guerrillas.
• Militant Islam - Used by mass media news[28] to describe the ideologies of groups
viewed as participating in Islamic terrorism.
• Militant tendency - Trotskyist group within the UK Labour Party, accused of
entryist tactics. They were most powerful during the 1970s and 1980s.
• partisan - member of a lightly-equipped irregular military force formed to oppose
control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation.
• protester - expresses relatively overt reaction to events or situations: sometimes in
favour, more often opposed.
• rebel - individuals who participate in rebellions
• Reform Movement - kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change,
or change in certain aspects of the society rather than rapid or fundamental
• rioter - people in crowds committing crimes or acts of violence
• soldier - person who has enlisted with, or has been conscripted into, the armed
forces of a sovereign country and has undergone training and received equipment
to defend that country or its interests.
• vigilante - any individual(s) who establish their own form of justice or forms a
collaboration with law enforcement to fight against criminal activities. Usually
militant and armed.
• war - state of widespread conflict between states, organisations, or relatively large
groups of people, which is characterised by the use of violent, physical force
between combatants or upon civilians.
• warrior - person habitually engaged in combat. In tribal societies, warriors often
form a caste or class of their own.
• zealot - An individual that is zealous on behalf of God.

[edit] References
1. ^ a b c Sanders, Clinton. Marginal Conventions: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and
Social Deviance. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular
Press, 1990. Decoding the Mass Media and Terrorism Connection. Page 98.
2. ^ American Heritage
3. ^ a b c Merriam-Webster
4. ^ Catholic View of Church Militant - Theology
5. ^ Catholic View of Church Militant - Teachings
6. ^ The Ministry of Healing, page 504
7. ^ Terrorism by Christians
8. ^ More Terrorism by Christians
9. ^ Third Article on Terrorism by Christians
10. ^ Terrorism by Muslims
11. ^ More Terorrism by Muslims
12. ^ Third Article on Terrorism by Muslims
13. ^ Jewish Terrorism Against the British
14. ^ More Terrorism by Jews
15. ^ Third Article on Terrorism by Jews
16. ^ Dictionary
17. ^ The New York Times
18. ^ American Heritage Dictionary
19. ^ The Washigton Post, by Howard Kurtz, March 30, 1990.
20. ^ This should not be confused with a political state or nation that is armed and
21. ^ Paul Wilkinson, Homeland security in the UK: future preparedness for terrorist
attack since 9/11. Taylor & Francis, 2007. Page 55.
22. ^ Savitch, H. V. Cities in a Time of Terror: Space, Territory, and Local
Resilience. Cities and contemporary society. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.
Page 45.
23. ^ Terrorist or Militant?
24. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious
Violence. Comparative studies in religion and society, 13. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2003. Page 9.
25. ^ Richard Jackson, Jeroen Gunning, Marie Breen Smyth, Critical Terrorism
Studies: A New Research Agenda. Taylor & Francis, 2009. Page 162.
26. ^ Peloso, Vincent C. Work, Protest, and Identity in Twentieth-Century Latin
America. Jaguar books on Latin America, no. 26. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly
Resources, 2003. Page 238.
27. ^ See The Twentieth-Century Darwin by Mark Steyn published in The Atlantic
Monthly October 2004.
28. ^ A simple Google News search for Militant Islam

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Categories: Military terminology | Terrorism | Activism


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• This page was last modified on 3 December 2009 at 12:21.

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