|Some dare call it
|What THEY don't want
you to know!
Martial Law, short for Martial Arts Law (MAL), is the set of rules that govern how characters in martial arts movies fight. A synopsis:
- No matter how many bad guys are swarming around the good guy, only one baddie can attack the hero at a time
- When the biggest and baddest dude arrives, everyone stops fighting so he can make a grand entrance
- At least 25 bad guys must be defeated for every good guy defeated
Government: When used in conjunction with government, "martial law" generally denotes the set of policies that take effect when a military force becomes responsible for administration and the enforcement of order within a community. Both foreign and domestic militaries can impose martial law, and the rules of martial law often include curfews, quarantines, increased civil and criminal penalties, and the suppression of free speech. Most of the instigators of martial law defend their actions as necessary to prevent anarchy and violence. Still, while martial law has undoubtedly been used to forestall such dangers, it has also been used by repressive regimes as a last-ditch defense against revolution or democratization.
Or, to put it less (*ahem*) delicately: Martial law is the end result of a governmental body realizing that its administration is effectively FUBAR. When the citizens of a country realize how badly they've been screwed over since the country's foundation, the government sends in the military to bluntly do the job that it has been trying to inconspicuously accomplish for hundreds of years: taking away people's guns and newspapers and making sure they don't get the nation's flag near any gasoline or open flames. This gives the government enough time to rewrite the constitution while nobody's looking and start the country all over again.
Put in another way. Martial law exists so that if a situation develops that causes normally established policing organizations to be useless or even nonexistent, the government can send in soldiers to keep the peace until the situation can be put back to its normal state. For example, martial law was imposed on parts of Europe freed from Nazi Germany during World War 2, as the standard policing bodies would either be Nazi-controlled or influenced when the territories are taken back.
A widespread misconception is that martial law could be imposed as a replacement to standard policing bodies period. The truth of the matter is that martial law is a temporary measure for a reason. Primarily military-grade supplies and weaponry are far, far more expensive than the materials used by law enforcement, and so are military vehicles and paraphernalia. Basically, it is far too costly to impose martial law for an extended period, let alone encompass the entire country in it, because of this. Not to mention that soldiers have no training in forensic fields, which means that while they could easily kick the ass of a group of bank robbers, they could not correctly determine if someone amongst the bank tellers were part of the robbery plan.
Of course, this snark also overlooks cases where citizens get upset because the government tries to take away their "right" to oppress their fellow citizens... Reconstruction was a case of martial law that attempted to fix this kind of problem.
- Egypt - since 1967, Egypt has been under variations of martial law almost continuously, with various types of state of emergency and emergency laws allowing civilians to be tried in military courts and other denials of human rights.
- Ireland - the British imposed martial law on Dublin, Ireland, in 1916 to stifle the independence movement, and a state of emergency persisted in various forms after independence during the Irish Civil War.
- Israel - ever since independence, Israel has used military law to restrict the freedom of Palestinians, initially within Israel proper (pre-1967 borders), and later within the Occupied Territories; they still have military control over parts of the West Bank.
- Pakistan - General Zia-ul-Haq seized power in a coup in Pakistan in 1978. For several years the country was run by the military, with Zia appointing judges and provincial administrators from the armed forces (admittedly the military was one of the better-functioning elements in Pakistani society, but the judges helped Zia execute his political enemies); in 1985 he was forced to hold elections although he stayed on as President, dismissing the Prime Minister shortly before dying in 1988 in one of the archetypal "mysterious airplane crashes".
- Poland - following the rise of the Solidarity trade union and widespread industrial unrest, Poland was under martial law imposed by its communist leaders from 13 December 1981 to 22 July 1983; General Wojciech Jaruzelski was formerly defence minister and had been elevated to supreme leader in October 1981 as the crisis intensified. Historians debate whether Jaruzelski imposed martial law to forestall an invasion by Soviet Russia, or if he was just a jerk.
- South Korea - in the days when South Korea was basically a fascist dictatorship, short-term martial law was used at various times to counter popular protest, notably by Syngman Rhee in 1948 and 1960; there were also lengthy periods of military rule in the 1960s and 70s.
- Tasmania - Sir George Arthur imposed martial law in Tasmania, now part of Australia, in 1828. This allowed him to have lots of Aborigines killed.
- Turkey - since its foundation, parts of Turkey have frequently been placed under martial law, although in 2017 its constitution was revised and martial law was banned to be replaced by states of emergency, without any improvement to human rights.
- USA - martial law has been used locally in the USA on various occasions. Some of these were in times of war such as in 1815, the Utah War, and following Pearl Harbor, or major emergencies like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Racial conflict was another common reason. The longest was in Cambridge, Maryland in 1963 following unrest over desegregation where the National Guard were deployed, initially for 25 days, but returning and staying 2 years, with black activists detained in "protective custody". There was widespread racist violence in 1919, and in Omaha, one of the worst-affected cities, martial law was declared. In Lexington, Kentucky in 1920 the army was deployed when lynch mobs threatened the trial of black serial killer Will Lockett.
A state of emergency is a similar but not identical thing: as with martial law, normal human rights and due process can be suspended, and people's actions, movements, and rights may be restricted, but the military is not necessarily called upon to enforce the new rules.
Martial law can be initiated either by civilian or military government. Rule by the military in general is called military government or military dictatorship, although sometimes the punning khakistocracy is used from khaki (color of military fatigues) + kakistocracy ("rule by the worst"). A related concept is stratocracy, where military service gives political privileges such as citizenship and the right to vote (the most famous example is Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers.)
Not all rule by the military has the characteristics of martial law: the military leaders may leave policing and administration to civilian authorities, although history shows they tend not to, and in particular feel the need to have their opponents arrested or shot. For example, Zia in Pakistan experimented with a civilian Prime Minister and government but dismissed it after a while. Ex-military figures such as Dwight Eisenhower may lead civilian governments without imposing military rule.
A common element in many fringe moonbat and wingnut conspiracy theories is that secret plans to implement martial law (or as the nutjobs commonly spell it on the web, "marshal law") are being carried out covertly, e.g., the construction of FEMA concentration camps in the US. This may constitute the beginning of the New World Order. Alex Jones and many others have been warning the sheeple about the coming implementation of martial law for years. Still waiting on that one... yep, still waiting... Damn, it is taking those lizards a long time.
Of course, every time a truck with signs saying martial law is somewhere in the US, that's proof that martial law is about to happen. Every time a UN truck is shown on the road, that's "proof". The Army can't do its goddamn job of transporting tanks around the country without someone yelling MARTIAL LAW!
- See the Wikipedia article on Emergency law in Egypt.
- Israeli military law stifles Palestinian rights, watchdog says, The Guardian, 17 Dec 2019
- See the Wikipedia article on Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
- See the Wikipedia article on Martial law in Poland.
- See the Wikipedia article on April Revolution.
- Arthur, Sir George (1784–1854), AGL Shaw, Australian Dictionary of Biography
- See the Wikipedia article on Martial law and state of emergency in Turkey.
- See the Wikipedia article on Martial law in the United States.
- Cambridge, Maryland Riot (1963), Black Past
- The Lynching of Will Brown, Adam FC Fletcher, North Omaha History
- See the Wikipedia article on Will Lockett.
- See the Wikipedia article on State of emergency.
- See the Wikipedia article on Military dictatorship.