C&C / GG&S

Ian Welsh iangwelsh@hotmail.com
Sat, 23 Mar 2002 20:34:04


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<P>Max Weber wrote a number of books that bear directly on these questions.&nbsp; "Max Weber: A Skeleton Key" by Randall Collins is the best single volume introduction I've read.&nbsp; Weber's books on Islam and Chinese civilization still stand up very well and are worth reading.</P>
<P>Another book I strongly reccomend for its' look at the direct effects of new technological discoveries on both military affairs and the economy is "The Sovereign Individual" by James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg.</P>
<P>A third book, which may seem unrelated but is very much to the point is "Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade".&nbsp; The West would not be what it is today without the largely independent medieval cities and how they arose is an interesting story - it is also a strange artifact of SPECIFIC events (starting with&nbsp;the essentially complete shutdown of trade in western Europe caused by the muslim conquests.)&nbsp;&nbsp; The general freedom that merchants were granted to manage their own affairs in the middle ages is extremely unusual and was a major factor in the rise of calculable and useful mercantile law.&nbsp; (Another example of this sort of situation occured in Japan, btw, where the Samurai caste could not be bothered to regulate commerce in detail during the Tokugawa shogunate, leaving merchants to develope their own system remarkably free of the constraints of a land-centric aristocracy that didn't understand mercantile affairs.)</P>
<P>I'm afraid that I am inclined to disagree that making infantry powerful is a "choice".&nbsp; Infantry works well in certain&nbsp;terrains and&nbsp;in certain technological and socioeconomic circumstances.&nbsp; So&nbsp;does something like the extremely disciplined&nbsp;Mongols during their period of dominance (the Mongols had probably the greatest military dominance that the world has ever seen.&nbsp; They were essentially undefeatable during their heydey - and their time lasted a long time.)&nbsp; </P>
<P>Those societal circumstances didn't exist during most of the dark and middle ages - one of the few places they did exist (England) lost to a cavalry army due to specific circumstances (the Saxon shield wall was more than capable of defeating cavalry).&nbsp; Infantry came back to dominance due to specfic economic and technological changes.</P>
<P>It's worth noting, by the way, that infantry today, especially in the US, is becoming very capital intensive and that the general consensus seems to be that highly trained infantry is necessary and conscripts are not particularly useful.&nbsp; Mind you this hasn't gone nearly so far as it did in the middle ages - where it was generally considered necessary to train from childhood to make a good Knight.&nbsp; It's also questionable if it is true, but if true it is troublesome: especially when combined with the end of conscription and the existance of a large standing military with a culture that generally despises civilian culture.&nbsp; The economic and military underpinnings that generally accompany democracy are waning.</P></DIV></div><br clear=all><hr>Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device: <a href='http://g.msn.com/1HM301601/11'>Click Here</a><br></html>