Superphysics Superphysics
Part 1a

The Development of Militaries

by Adam Smith Icon
5 minutes  • 984 words
Table of contents

Part 1: Defence Expenditures

The sovereign’s first duty is to protect society from the violence and invasion of other societies.

  • This can only be done through a military force.
  • The cost of this military force in peacetime and wartime is very different in the different states and periods of the improvement of society.

The Development of Militaries

1 The hunting nation is the rudest state of society.

  • An example is the North America native tribes.

There, every man is:

  • a warrior and
  • a hunter.

When he goes to war, he maintains himself by his own labour as when he lives at home. His society does not spend to:

  • prepare him for the field, or
  • maintain him while he is in it.

This is because there is no sovereign nor commonwealth.

2 The shepherd nation is a more advanced society. Examples are:

  • the Mongols and
  • the Arabs.

Every man there is a warrior. The people:

  • live in tents or in covered wagons, and
  • change their location according to the seasons and other accidents.

Its herds more from one area to another to consume the forage.

When they go to war, the warriors take their herds, old men, women and children with them.

  • They are used to a wandering life and so they easily take the field in wartime.

Among the Mongols, even the women have engaged in battle.

  • If they conquer, whatever belongs to enemy is the recompense of the victory.
  • But if they are vanquished, all is lost.
  • The survivors evem surrender to the conqueror for the sake of immediate subsistence.
  • The rest are commonly dispersed in the desert.

3 The ordinary life and exercises of a Mongol or an Arab, prepare him for war.

Running, wrestling, cudgel-playing, javelin-throwing, drawing the bow, etc. are the common pastimes of those who live in the open air.

  • All such activities are also war activities.

When a Mongol or Arab goes to war, he is maintained by his own herds which he brings with him in peacetime.

  • His chief does not spend to prepare him for the field.
  • The chance of plunder is the only pay he expects or requires.

4 An army of hunters can seldom exceed 200-300 men. The chase affords a precarious subsistence which could seldom sustain more men.

On the contrary, an army of shepherds might sometimes reach 200,000-300,000. There seems no limit on how many can march together, as long as:

  • nothing stops their progress, and
  • they can go from one district to another while consuming the forage

A nation of hunters can never be formidable to civilized nations. A nation of shepherds may be formidable.

  • An Indian war in North America is most contemptible.
  • On the contrary, Mongol invasions in Asia are the most dreadful.

Thucydides judged that Europe and Asia could not resist the Scythians united.

The Russians or Mongolians were frequently united under the chief of some conquering horde.

  • Asia’s devastation has always resulted from their union.

The Arabs were only united under Mohammad and his immediate successors.

  • Their union was more the effect of religious enthusiasm than of conquest.
  • It also caused the havoc in Asia.

If the hunting nations of America ever become shepherds, they would be much more dangerous to the European colonies.

5 A nation of husbandmen is a more advanced state of society.

Such nations have:

  • little foreign commerce, and
  • only coarse and household manufactures

Every man of such a nation is a warrior or easily becomes one. Those who live by agriculture generally pass the whole day in the open air, exposed to the seasons. The hardiness of their ordinary life and their necessary occupations prepares them for the fatigues of war.

The necessary occupation of a ditcher prepares him to:

  • work in the trenches,
  • fortify a camp, and
  • enclose a field.

The ordinary pastimes of such husbandmen are the same as those of shepherds.

  • They are the same activities during war.

Husbandmen have less leisure than shepherds.

  • Husbandmen are not so frequently employed in those pastimes.
  • They are soldiers not quite so skilled in their exercise.
  • It seldom costs the sovereign any expence to prepare them for the field.

6 Agriculture requires a settlement even in its rudest and lowest state.

It requires a fixed habitation which cannot be abandoned without great loss. When a nation of mere husbandmen goes to war, the whole people cannot take the field together. The old men, women, and children, must remain at home to take care of the habitation.

All the men of military age may take the field.

In small nations of husbandmen, they have frequently done so. In every nation, the men of military age are supposed be around 1/4 or 1/5 of total population.

If the campaign should begin after seed-time and end before harvest, the husbandman and his labourers can be spared from the farm without much loss. He is willing to serve without pay during a short campaign.

It frequently costs the sovereign as little to maintain him in the field as to prepare him for it. The work in the fields can be executed by the women, children, and old men in the meantime.

All the ancient Greek citizens served in this way until after the second Persian war.

The people of Peloponnesus served in this way until after the Peloponnesian war. Thucydides observes that the Peloponnesians:

  • left the field in the summer, and
  • returned home to reap the harvest.

During the first ages of the republic, the Romans did the same.

Starting from the siege of Veii, those who stayed at home began to contribute towards maintaining those who went to war.

In the European monarchies before and after the establishment of the feudal law, the great lords served the crown at their own expence. In the field and at home, they maintained themselves by their own revenue, and not by any stipend or pay from the king.

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