By Conference of Socialist Economists
Read Online or Download Capital & Class. - 1983. - Issue 19 issue 19 PDF
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Extra info for Capital & Class. - 1983. - Issue 19 issue 19
Battle is a brutal and terrible experience and modern states have not relied on either ideology or material interests to sustain their soldiers' will to fight . Coercion, John Keegan reminds us (1978 : 330), remains central to armies, and desertion may well have been reduced less by commitment to a cause than by the fact that on a modern battlefield - defoliated and many miles deep - there is simply nowhere to desert to . 16 The true significance of the citizen soldiers arguably lies outside the conduct of battle, and has to do with the provision of people and finance for war .
These necessaries are more easily found from a willing population - though again we should be wary of assuming that general approval of a war or of a state's armed forces translates into readiness to join up or to pay . Perhaps more significantly, mass citizen armies imply a different institutional relationship of the person to the state than did the eighteenth-century mercenary armies . Obviously, a citizen army requires citizens ; if they do not volunteer themselves in sufficient numbers, they have to be conscripted, and this, minimally, requires a state to know who its citizen's are, how many of them there are, and where to find them .
Their commanders feared desertion by their own men as much or more than they feared defeat at the hands of the enemy . They often dared fight only in tightly restricted formation, in daylight and on flat open ground . Hills, woods, marching by night, free-ranging patrols and skirmishing - all these opened too many opportunities to men who could not be trusted . Frederick of Prussia, the virtuoso of such militarism, knew it to be necessary to make his soldiers fear their own officers more than they feared the enemy ; discipline in his army was `famously ferocious' (Best, 1982 : 32) .