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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


October 29th, 2000.

Hunter, Farmer and Trader:
The Rise of the Professional Soldier

I quote Thomas Babington Macaulay:

"In a community of hunters or of shepherds every man easily and necessarily becomes a soldier. His ordinary avocations are perfectly compatible with all the duties of military service. However remote may be the expeditions on which he is bound, he finds it easy to transport with him the stock from which he derives his subsistence. The whole people in an army, the whole year a march. Such was the state of society which facilitated the gigantic conquests of Attila and Tamerlane. But a people which subsists by the cultivation of the earth is in a very different situation. The husbandman is bound to the soil on which he labors. A long campaign would be ruinous to him. Still, his pursuits are such as give to his frame both the active and the passive strength necessary to a soldier. Nor so they, at least in the infancy of agricultural science, demand his uninterrupted attention. At particular times of the year he is almost wholly unemployed, and can, without injury to himself, afford the time necessary for a short expedition. This the legions of Rome were supplied during its earlier wars. The season during which the fields did not require the presence of the cultivators sufficed for a short inroad and a battle. ...
But when commerce and manufacturers begin to flourish, a great change takes place. The sedentary habits of the desk and the loom render the exertions and hardships of war insupportable. The business of traders and artisans requires their constant presence and attention. In such a community there is little superfluous time; but there is generally much superfluous money. Some members of the society are, therefore, hired to relieve the rest from a task inconsistent with their habits and engagements. ...
The soldier was altogether disjoined from the citizen and from the subject." ("Machiavelli.")

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Peter Landry

October, 2000 (2011)