Collections: The Universal Warrior, Part I: Soldiers, Warriors, and…

This is the first part of a three part (II, III) discussion of an idea I am going to term (borrowing from one of its proponents) the ‘universal warrior’ – the idea that there is a transcendent sameness about either the warrior experience or warrior values which provides some sort of useful blueprint for today or a fundamental truth about viewing the past (it is generally presented as both).

Of course the ‘universal warrior’ is not meant literally; no one, save George S. Patton, is claiming that a single warrior was reincarnated through a host of battles, always the same in each case. Rather, the claim that there is a ‘universal warrior’ is really a claim that there is a universal war experience, which all combatants in all wars take part of and which remains largely unchanged or that there is fundamentally a universal set of warrior values, behaviors or attributes which define combatant through the ages and through different kinds of armies, different kinds of service.

And that notion is a popular one, appearing equally at home in anti-war songs and military recruitment propaganda (along with lava monsters). Most recently, my attention was drawn to it by a series of what are effectively self-help videos framed around the idea by best-selling author Steven Pressfield and I am going to use those videos as the clear form of the argument I want to engage. In part, this is because Pressfield makes the argument in almost all of its fullness, making many of the implications (‘warrior societies,’ the life advice, the transcendent connection between ‘warriors’ past and present, the implication that ‘warrior’ life is more morally pure and so on) explicit and clear. And also because Pressfield’s books – his fiction I should note, for his historical fiction works have at best a tenuous relationship with the historical record – are, among other things, on officer training reading lists making it a rather important thing if he is peddling an utterly bunk notion of the past.

And it is not hard to see why the idea of a universal warrior value set or a universal warrior experience is an attractive notion; it offers a transcendent connection, linking the experience of combat – whether that is understood positively, as Pressfield does, or negatively as the famous song does – across generations, centuries and cultures. And it offers the promise of turning that feeling of transcendent connection into a sense of heroism in everyday life, a blueprint for self-improvement, or a timeless model for political consciousness.

And it feels true. After all, we call people who fought in wars even at the beginnings of written history ‘soldiers’ and ‘warriors,’ and we call our own war-fighters ‘soldiers’ and (unfortunately) ‘warriors.’ That suggestion of equivalence is built right into our linguistic systems. Students often marvel at the ludicrous tendency for historical artists to represent conflicts in their own deep past (like medieval manuscript illustrators depicting conflicts from classical antiquity) using present (to them) day arms, armor and tactics. But those same students will often almost immediately fall into the mistake of assuming that combatants of the past shared the same attitudes and motivations about war as they do.

Of course a lot of things feel true which aren’t. Standing on the ground, the Earth feels flat, it seems the Sun moves across the sky; of course in reality, the Earth is a ball and in a real sense the sky moves across the Sun. Many things are intuitive, they feel true, without being true. So is there a universal combat experience?

To probe that question, we are going to examine it in two ways. This week, we’re going to look at the kinds of people in war, what the distinctions are between them and whether their experience really can be universally applied or not. Then next week, we’re going to look at this question culturally and chronologically, asking if the experience of the same kinds of people in war was really the same in different wars, drawing heavily on the social-military-history lens which concerns itself with the experience of battle (often called the Face of Battle-school after J. Keegan’s The Face of Battle (1976)). Then the week after that we’ll take a look at the implications (particularly for how manliness and masculinity are understood) that this historical theory and its failures have on the broader cultural constructs built around it.

Because – spoiler alert – there is no universal warrior (in case some of you were concerned that I was going to spend two weeks carefully explaining different categories only to conclude that they were meaningless!) and there is no universal combat experience.

As always, if you like what you are reading here, please share it; if you really like it, you can support me on Patreon. And if you want updates whenever a new post appears, you can click below for email updates or follow me on twitter (@BretDevereaux) for updates as to new posts as well as my occasional ancient history, foreign policy or military history musings.

Alright? Let’s soldier on!

Soldiers and Warriors

We want to start with asking what the distinction is between soldiers and warriors. It is a tricky question and even the U.S. Army sometimes gets it badly wrong (Pressfield, I should note, draws a distinction which isn’t entirely wrong but is so wrapped up with his dodgy effort to use discredited psychology that I think it is best to start from scratch). We have a sense that while both of these words mean ‘combatant,’ that they are not quite equivalent.

I suspect many of my readers (specifically the native English speakers) will immediately agree, for instance, that this fellow is a warrior, but not a soldier:

While these fellows, volunteers enrolled in an army for just a single conflict, are soldiers but not warriors:

But why? The etymologies of the words can actually help push us a bit in the right direction. Warrior has a fairly obvious etymology, being related to war (itself a derivative of French guerre); as guerre becomes war, so Old French guerreieor became Middle English werreior and because that is obnoxious to say, modern English ‘warrior’ (which is why it is warrior and not ‘warrer’ as we might expect if it was regularly constructed). By contrast, soldier comes – it has a tortured journey which I am simplifying – from the sold/sould French root meaning ‘pay’ which in turn comes from Latin solidus, a standard Late Roman coin. So there is clearly something about pay, or the lack of pay involved in this distinction, but clearly it isn’t just pay or the word mercenary would suit just as well.

So here is the difference: a warrior is an individual who wars, because it is their foundational vocation, an irremovable part of their identity and social position, pursued for those private ends (status, wealth, place in society). So the core of what it is to be a warrior is that it is an element of personal identity and also fundamentally individualistic (in motivation, to be clear, not in fighting style – many warriors fought with collective tactics, although I think it fair to say that operation in units is much more central to soldiering than the role of a warrior, who may well fight alone). A warrior remains a warrior when the war ends. A warrior remains a warrior whether fighting alone or for themselves.

By contrast, a soldier is an individual who soldiers (notably a different verb, which includes a sense of drudgery in war-related jobs that aren’t warring per se) as a job which they may one day leave behind, under the authority of and pursued for a larger community which directs their actions, typically through a system of regular discipline. So the core of what it is to be a soldier is that it is a not-necessarily-permanent employment and fundamentally about being both in and in service to a group. A soldier, when the war or their term of service ends, becomes a civilian (something a warrior generally does not do!). A soldier without a community stops being a soldier and starts being a mercenary.

Incidentally, this distinction is not unique to English. Speaking of the two languages I have the most experience in, both Greek and Latin have this distinction. Greek has machetes (μαχητής, lit: ‘battler,’ a mache being a battle) and polemistes (πολεμιστής, lit: ‘warrior,’ a polemos being a war); both are more common in poetry than prose, often used to describe mythical heroes. Interestingly the word for an individual that fights out of battle order (when there is a battle order) is a promachos (πρόμαχος, lit: ‘fore-fighter’), a frequent word in Homer. But the standard Greek soldier wasn’t generally called any of these things, he was either a hoplite (ὁπλίτης, ‘full-equipped man,’ named after his equipment) or more generally a stratiotes (στρατιώτης, lit, ‘army-man’ but properly ‘soldier’). That general word, stratiotes is striking, but its root is stratos (στρατός, ‘army’); a stratiotes, a soldier, for the ancient Greeks was defined by his membership in that larger unit, the army. One could be a machetes or a polemistes alone, but only a stratiotes in an army (stratos), commanded, presumably, by a general (strategos) in service to a community.

Latin has the same division, with similar shades of meaning. Latin has bellator (‘warrior’) from bellum (‘war’), but Roman soldiers are not generally bellatores (except in a poetic sense and even then only rarely), even when they are actively waging war. Instead, the soldiers of Rome are milites (sing. miles). The word is related to the Latin mille (‘thousand’) from the root ‘mil-‘ which indicates a collection or combination of things. Milites are thus – like stratiotes, men put together, defined by their collective action for the community (strikingly, groups acting for individual aims in Latin are not milites but latrones, bandits – a word Roman authors also use very freely for enemy irregular fighters, much like the pejorative use of ‘terrorist’ and ‘insurgent’ today) Likewise, the word for groups of armed private citizens unauthorized by the state is not ‘militia,’ but ‘gang.’ The repeated misuse by journalists of ‘militia’ which ought only refer to citizens-in-arms under recognized authority, drives me to madness).

(I actually think these Greek and Latin words are important for understanding the modern use of ‘warrior’ and ‘soldier’ even though they don’t give us either. Post-Industrial militaries – of the sort most countries have – are patterned on the modern European military model, which in turn has its foundations in the Early Modern period which in turn (again) was heavily influenced by how thinkers of that period understood Greek and Roman antiquity (which was a core part of their education; this is not to say they were always good at understanding classical antiquity, mind). Consequently, the Greek and Roman understanding of the distinction probably has significant influence on our understanding, though I also suspect that we’d find distinctions in many languages along much the same lines.)

The idea of the ‘universal warrior’ erases these important distinctions, instead supposing that there is really only one way that combatants relate to their societies, often by anachronistically retrojecting the values of modern soldiers onto pre-modern warriors (as Pressfield does, assuming that modern soldiers share a value system with the Spartiates; they do not). Of course this poses real problems for historical understanding (if you want to see some of those real problems in motion, I live-tweeted my reactions to the first few of Pressfield’s “Warrior Archetype” videos, I, II, III; this assumption that there was a universal warrior archetype repeatedly tripped him up).

As you might well imagine warriors and soldiers have quite different values and a very different relationship to their societies. It is perilous to generalize overmuch, but generally, warrior-classes tend to sit at the top of their social hierarchy, ruling the rest by a mix of force and legitimacy born from their military success. The honor or glory of a warrior’s actions derive from their unique excellence and combat skills. Consequently, in societies with warriors we often see a strong emphasis on personal identifiablility for those warriors, often in stark contrast to the ‘lowlier’ soldiers in their employ, either in the form of personal banners or a high social value placed on the gathering of specific spoils or trophies (or similar acts, such as counting coup).

Via Wikipedia, a 13th century Mongol horse archer. This fellow was a warrior, though it is important to note that the Mongols were excellent at fighting in groups. The reason we call them warriors is that they fought because fighting was a core part of their identity. Every adult male Mongol was expected to be able to fight on horseback.

(As a quick aside, because this is a point we will come back to, it is important to note the place of ‘warriors’ within their societies. Within non-agrarian societies – hunter-gatherers, Steppe nomads, etc – it is generally the case that all free adult males are expected to fight and are thus warriors. By contrast, ‘warriors’ within agrarian societies appear as an aristocratic elite. There is no ‘all elite warrior’ society, despite this being a common trope in the public thinking about the Spartans or Vikings or what have you (and one, I should note, Pressfield explicitly invokes). There are societies where every male, from the most fearsome to the most incompetent, is expected to be a warrior (these societies have at best an indifferent track record against more specialized societies) because those societies lack significant amounts of specialization within gender roles (these are generally non-agrarian societies) and there are societies with a small aristocratic elite that consider themselves warriors, where the real strength of the society comes from the great masses below them. Put a pin in that point for a couple of weeks, we’ll come back to it.)

Soldiers, by contrast, are – almost by definition – never at the top of their hierarchy, because they must be in service to a community which can give them orders. That isn’t to say soldiers are not honored – in many societies they are (although in many societies they were not; the professional soldiers of Early Modern Europe were very poorly thought of by their officers and civilians), but that honor derives from duty and service. The importance of individual exploits never wholly goes away (these are humans, after all) but is often far more strongly leavened with the importance of group-belonging (unit cohesion). And of course, being not generally wealthy aristocrats whose position of social dominance generates large rents with which to maintain them, soldiers must often be paid (though in conscription based systems, often quite poorly out of an understanding that soldiering was a civic duty and also a civic honor).

To be clear, this is not to flatten out the distinctions between different warriors and soldiers! As we’ve seen, a Mongol warrior was not the same as a Sioux warrior, nor was a Roman soldier the same as a Han Dynasty soldier or a Macedonian soldier. It is also not, by the by, to suggest that the two types cannot coexist in the same society either; quite the opposite – complex, specialized societies with warrior classes almost always also include a soldiery which serves that aristocratic warrior class (indeed, the word ‘sergeant’ – now a military rank – comes via French from the Latin serviens, ‘a serving man,’ as the term for the lower-social-status soldiers who served the knightly aristocrat in his army).

But as a system of classification, we may safely conclude that there are soldiers, there are warriors, and there is – as a product of their definition – no real overlap between these two groups. Attempting to treat them as a single undifferentiated whole is sure to make a giant mess of their motivations and social roles because they occupy such different places in their societies. But this ‘universal warrior’ and the attendant glorification of a ‘warrior ideal’ isn’t merely a problem for understanding the past. It is a problem in the present.

Via Wikipedia, a Sumerian heavy infantry formation of spear-and-shield troops forming a shield wall from the Stele of the Vultures (c. 2600-2350). Contra Wikipedia, I do not think we should term this a ‘phalanx’ as I think that term is best left to Greek contexts (I prefer ‘shield wall’ as the culture-neutral term).
These are soldiers, and artwork like this is a good reminder that there is nothing uniquely ‘western’ about soldiers.

Warriors Not Wanted

Alright, so that is a nifty linguistic distinction. Soldiers and warriors are somewhat different. Does it matter?

Yes.

Today, most – though by no means all – free countries (along with a number of rather unfree ones) have shifted from mass conscription based militaries to professional, all-volunteer militaries. The United States, of course, made that shift in 1973 (along lines proposed by the 1969 Gates Commission). The shift to a professional military has always been understood to have involved risks – the classic(al) example of those risks being the Roman one: the creation of a semi-professional (I tend to think that the Roman army before Augustus is only truly semi-professional; the true professional Roman army only comes with the creation of permanent standing legions and fixed service lengths) Roman army misaligned the interests of the volunteer soldiers with the voting citizens, resulting in the end (though a complicated process) in the collapse of the Republic and the formation of the Empire in what might well be termed a shift to ‘military rule’ as the chief commander of the republic (first Julius Caesar, then Octavian) seized power from the apparatus of civilian government (the senate and citizen assemblies).

It is in that context that ‘warrior’ – despite its recent, frustrating use by the United States Army – is an unfortunate way for soldiers (regardless of branch or country) to think of themselves.

Encouraging soldiers to see themselves as ‘warriors’ means encouraging them to see their role as combatants as the foundational core of their identity. A Mongol warrior was a warrior because as an adult male Mongol, being a warrior was central to his gender-identity and place in society (the Mongols being a society, as common with Steppe nomads, where all adult males were warriors); such a Mongol remained a warrior for his whole adult life. Likewise, a medieval knight – who I’d class as a warrior (remember, the distinction is on identity more than unit fighting) – had warrior as a core part of their identity. It is striking that, apart from taking religious orders to become a monk (and thus shift to an equally totalizing vocation), knights – especially as we progress through the High Middle Ages as the knighthood becomes a more rigid and recognized institution – do not generally seem to retire. They do not lay down their arms and become civilians (and just one look at the attitude of knightly writers towards civilians quickly answers the question as to why). Being a warrior was the foundation of their identity and so could not be disposed of. We could do the same exercise with any number of ‘warrior classes’ within various societies. Those individuals were, in effect born warriors and they would die warriors. In societies with meaningful degrees of labor specialization, to be a warrior was to be, permanently, a class apart.

Creating such a class apart (especially one with lots of weapons) presents a tremendous danger to civilian government and consequently to a free society (though it is also a danger to civilian government in an unfree society). As the interests of this ‘warrior class’ diverge from the interests of the rest of society, even with the best of intentions the tendency is going to be for the warriors to seek to preserve their interests and status with the tools they have, which is to say all of the weapons (what in technical terms we’d call a ‘failure of civil-military relations,’ civ-mil being the term for the relationship between civil society and its military). The end result of that process is generally the replacement of civilian self-government with ‘warrior rule.’ In pre-modern societies, such ‘warrior rule’ took the form of governments composed of military aristocrats (often with the chiefest military aristocrat, the king, at the pinnacle of the system); the modern variant, rule by officer corps (often with a general as the king-in-all-but-name) is of course quite common. Because of that concern, it is generally well understood that keeping the cultural gap between the civilian and military worlds as small as possible is important to a free society.

Instead, what a modern free society wants are effectively civilians, who put on the soldier’s uniform for a few years, acquire the soldier’s skills and arts, and then when their time is done take that uniform off and rejoin civil society as seamlessly as possible (the phrase ‘citizen-soldier’ is often used represent this ideal). It is clear that, at least for the United States, the current realization of this is less than ideal. The endless pressure to ‘re-up‘ (or for folks to be stop-lossed) hardly help. But encouraging soldiers (or people in everyday civilian life; we’ll come back to that in the last post in this series) to identify as warriors – individual, self-motivated combatants whose entire identity is bound up in the practice of war – does real harm to the actual goal of keeping the cultural divide between soldiers and civilians as small as possible. Observers both within the military and without have been shouting the alarm on this point for some time now, but the heroic allure of the warrior remains strong.

Samurai in battle from the Gosannen War Scroll. The war was c. 1085 and the scroll was produced c. 1171.
Samurai provide a good example of a warrior class within a complex, specialized and stratified society. The development of the Samurai class during the Heian period (794-1185) is instructive as to the danger of having a warrior class within such a society: the bushi (‘warriors’) who began as samurai (‘attendants’) of the traditional Kyoto-based aristocracy used their military position to usurp control, supplanting their former masters as the true ruling class.

And Everyone Else

Of course, blurring the distinction between warriors and soldiers when thinking historically also makes it difficult to think clearly about the different ways those combatants were attached to their societies, how their role in warfare and their role in society was understood. I am struck that Pressfield thinks that he can transition almost seamlessly from discussing the values and social position of Spartiates to those of Macedonian Phalangites (or United States Marines). But – and to an extent you will have to take my word for this (but for more, read J.E. Lendon, Soldiers and Ghosts) – Spartans, Macedonians and Marines thought about their place in society very differently. The Spartiate was a military aristocrat, with an entire society (mostly of slaves) built to support his lavish lifestyle, while the soldiers of Alexander’s army were hard-marching semi-professionals held to service by a direct relationship (albeit a sometimes distant one) with their king (transferred from his father), with expectations of service and reward (in loot, land and cash more than warm patriotic feelings) completely alien to the Spartans. The citizen-Marine serving in the military of a democratic country (regardless of what they may think of the current elected leader) and swearing an oath to the constitution, rather than to a person, is even more alien to both.

But as I noted above, we’ve discussed on this blog already a lot of different military social structures (mounted aristocrats in France and Arabia, the theme and fyrd systems, the Spartans themselves, and so on). And they are very different and produce armies – because societies cannot help but replicate their own peacetime social order on the battlefield – that are organized differently, value different things and as a consequence fight differently. But focusing on (fictitious) ‘universal warriors’ also obscures another complex set of relationships to war and warfare: all of the civilians.

When we talk about the impact of war on civilians, the mind quite naturally turns to the civilian victims of war – sacked cities, enslaved captives, murdered non-combatants – and of course their experience is part of war too. But even in a war somehow fought entirely in an empty field between two communities (which, to be clear, no actual war even slightly resembles this ‘Platonic’ ideal war; there is a tendency to romanticize certain periods of military history, particularly European military history, this way, but it wasn’t so), it would still shape the lives of all of the non-combatants in that society (this is the key insight of the ‘war and society’ school of military history).

To take just my own specialty, warfare in the Middle Roman Republic wasn’t simply a matter for the soldiery, even when the wars were fought outside of Italy (which they weren’t always kept outside!). The demand for conscripts to fill the legions bent and molded Roman family patterns, influencing marriage and child-bearing patterns for both men and women. With so many of the males of society processed through the military, the values of the army became the values of society not only for the men but also for women as well. Women in these societies did not consider themselves uninterested bystanders in these conflicts: by and large they had a side and were on that side, supporting the war effort by whatever means. And even in late-third and early-second century (BC) Rome, with its absolutely vast military deployments, the majority of men (and all of the women) were still on the ‘homefront’ at any given time, farming the food, paying the taxes, making the armor and weapons and generally doing the tasks that allowed the war machine to function, often in situations of considerable hardship. And in the end – though the exact mechanisms remain the subject of debate – it is clear that the results of Rome’s victory induced significant economic instability, which was also a part of the experience of war.

In short, warriors were not the only people who mattered in war. The wartime social role of a warrior was not only different from that of a soldier, it was different than that of the working peasant forced to pay heavy taxes, or to provide Corvée labor to the army. It was different from the woman whose husband went off to war, or whose son did, or who had to keep up her farm and pay the taxes while they did so. It was different for the aristocrat than for the peasant, for the artisan than for the farmer. Different for the child than for the adult.

And yet for a complex society (one with significant specialization of labor) to wage war efficiently, all of these roles were necessary. To focus on only the warrior (or the soldier) as the sole interesting relationship in warfare is to erase the indispensable contributions made by all of these folks, without which the combatant could not combat.

It would be worse yet, of course, to suggest that the role of the warrior is somehow morally superior to these other roles (something Pressfield does explicitly, I might add, comparing ‘decadent’ modern society to supposedly superior ‘warrior societies’ in his opening videos). To do so with reference to our modern professional militaries is to invite disastrous civil-military failure. To suggest, more deeply, that everyone ought to be in some sense a ‘warrior’ in their own occupation sounds better, but – as we’ll see in the last essay of this series – leads to equally dark places.

A modern, free society has no need for warriors; the warrior is almost wholly inimical to a free society if that society has a significant degree of labor specialization (and thus full-time civilian specialists). It needs citizens, some of whom must be, at any time, soldiers but who must never stop being citizens both when in uniform and afterwards.

Next time, we’ll turn to the question of a universal combat experience. Does war really never change?

275 thoughts on “Collections: The Universal Warrior, Part I: Soldiers, Warriors, and…

  1. Thanks for writing this piece. I found this essay to be particularly interesting, and rather disturbing in terms of some developments I’ve noted in the religion I grew up in. The most recent leader of the LDS church has started referring to the youth as “the Lord’s youth battalion” and now that I see how this can push an increased cultural gaps (in this case the believer – nonbeliever gap) I find it rather disturbing. Thanks for the reminder that the most important thing we can do to help modern society continue to succeed is consider ourselves and others part of the group, so that we can work together to find the solutions to the problems we all face.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought that Mormonism / the CLDS explicitly encouraged separation between believing and non-believing communities?

      Not that this is unique to them, nor is viewing themselves as ‘milites Christi’ or soldiers of Christ and outsiders as ‘paganus’ or civilians. Those ideas are very core to Christianity as it’s been practiced since at least the 1st century.

      Like

      1. The LDS church hasn’t encouraged separation between believers and non-believers for a long time now. The church does encourage marriage between fellow believers, (though you can marry a non-member without censure), but we are expected to be good friends and good neighbors to all. To give just one example, when we built a temple in Rome, a big deal was made about LDS and Catholic leadership meeting on friendly terms.

        Also, gaussian_, I would point out that as far as fighting analogies are concerned, the term is, as you put it “battalion”, implying organization. Basically the Church is encouraging our youth to be diligent in sharing the Gospel and doing good works, with the discipline and devotion of soldiers serving a cause bigger than themselves, NOT the selfishness of warriors seeking personal glory.

        I think it would be a good idea, as we critique the notion of the universal warrior, to beware of listening for dog whistles. Just because someone speaks of soldiers or warriors in any approving or admiring context, it does mean they are secretly pushing a murdering, pillaging, or vigilante agenda. I admit that too much emphasis on a “universal warrior” ideal can lead to these negative outcomes, and it’s absolutely worth cautioning against them, but we shouldn’t assume the worst from the get-go.

        Like

          1. Thanks. It should be “it does NOT mean they are secretly pushing a murdering, pillaging, or vigilante agenda.”

            Like

        1. The usage of military language in christian contexts is in itself fascinating, since it has been used both to glorify christian soldiers and warriors in the proper sense and serve as a kind of alternative/contrast/rebuke (IE: Better to be a soldier of christ than a soldier of the world)

          Like

        2. Well I wouldn’t say it is without any censure, it does explicitly restrict you in some sense to not being able to fill certain church positions (callings) i.e. Senior Couple Missionary, Temple President/Matron, and I suspect other ‘higher ranking’ positions, especially for men, where it may be an expectation for the spouse to be a member to be up for consideration.

          Like

      2. The church my parents go to says that god is all-powerful, doesn’t need us, but voluntarily works with us because he likes that way of working. I can’t find the song anymore but there was a song that they often sing which had lyrics that came down to ‘We are a soldier in the army of god, protecting our leader jesus’ which like… how can you sing that right before talking about how god is all-powerful?

        Like

  2. It is profoundly odd that the US Army has been leaning into this ‘warrior’ concept for a while when, as you say, it’s so obviously bad and dangerous. In addition to the danger to civ-mil relations, warriors have war in their very being, so they often *want* to go to war. A soldier can be a good soldier for 10 years without firing a shot in anger, but warriors tend to feel incomplete if they’re not actually fighting someone. You don’t want that idea in your armed forces. Furthermore, in a lot modern counter-insurgency the ‘warrior’ spirit is also unhelpful. Sitting there and taking fire without responding is extremely soldierly but not very warrior-y, but often the right medium term response (see British in Northern Ireland)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly. The Brereton Report on Australian war crimes in Afghanistan specifically calls out the promotion of “Warrior Culture” among special force, both in creating a sense that they were heroic figures above the law, oversight, or the chain of command, and in creating an obsession with killing. So SAS soldiers competed to kill the most people, new soldiers were “blooded” by making them murder prisoners, trophies were taken from corpses and used in drinking games, and so on.
      I don’t know whether Bret is going to discuss Australian war crimes and the Brereton report in later parts but it’s a horrifying example of how important this is.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Makes sense to me: US culture is strong on myth, of macho, strong men. Also built on the bullying system (might makes right) so while the military needs soldiers who follow orders, the whole advertising is about how heroic warrior-like it is for a man to kill other people (unlike civilian life) to show you’re the biggest, toughest man around.

      Like

      1. Not how I’ve seen it. None of the military advertising I’ve seen actually depicts people killing other people. It’s mostly shots of soldiers performing maneuvers and operating military hardware. “Join the armed forces, get physically fit, and play with cool toys!”

        And while bullying can come out in practice, I don’t know about a bullying “system”. The macho myths you refer to typically revolve around standing UP to bullies, from the British, to the Nazis, to terrorists.

        Like

        1. It’s in every book I’ve read about the British Commonwealth of Nations’ collective and individual responses to the UK’s declarations of War in the First and Second World Wars – young men eager to join up for adventure and seeing the world. Killing and being killed was not considered part of the package. And we have CS Lewis’ memories of first seeing combat – iirc “Surprised By Joy”, he thought, so this is what Homer and the rest were talking about. Totally detached from the reality of the killing. And I’ve seen the ads for the National Guard in the various US magazines that cross the Pacific – fancy gear, uniforms to impress the girls, and whatnot, nothing about killing and being killed.

          I myself have volunteered to join the Territorials, but have been turned down every time. My motivation is simple – doing something useful with spare time. I had hoped to have been with the East Timor peace-keeping force, but sadly, never got in. (I know Portuguese – I could’ve been useful.)

          Like

          1. On the face of it, if someone’s first response to combat in a world war was that it was like something out of Homer, that would suggest that there is such a thing as a “universal warrior experience”.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. It’s in every book I’ve read about the British Commonwealth of Nations’ collective and individual responses to the UK’s declarations of War in the First and Second World Wars – young men eager to join up for adventure and seeing the world. Killing and being killed was not considered part of the package.

            Not something that was emphasised in the recruitment drive, maybe, but it’d be pretty mind-boggling for someone to join the army in the middle of a world war and not realise that they might be required to kill and risk being killed.

            Like

          3. On the face of it, if someone’s first response to combat in a world war was that it was like something out of Homer, that would suggest that there is such a thing as a “universal warrior experience”.

            And of course, there are books like “Achilles in Vietnam” which argue that characters in Homer and Greek tragedy show the same PTSD symptoms as modern combat veterans.

            Like

          4. Our host covered the historical PTSD thing a while back, and I expect he will touch on it again here. I tend to agree with his stated skepticism that PTSD is a universal experience. Not all mental trauma is PTSD, and the psychological impact caused by an army charging at you is different from that caused by sudden explosion right next to you.

            Like

          5. In modern times, when we are aware of it as PTSD and ready to diagnose, we know that most people exposed to situations that can cause it — don’t. It’s not a large majority but it’s a majority.

            Whether some warriors/soldiers always got it is another matter.

            Like

    3. Young men like to have a sense of purpose and achievement in life, and lots of people don’t really feel that they get that with modern society. Telling people “Hey, join the army, and you can have that sense of purpose and achievement with you’ve always wanted but never been able to find” is an obvious recruiting strategy.

      Like

      1. “War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend”

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Wading into more fraught political waters for a bit:

      My impression is that the military has at least some institutional checks on this “warrior” acculturation. The really extreme consequences are in US policing, where “warrior cop” culture is endorsed by powerful institutions like police unions, and doesn’t meet any real counter-narrative from formal authorities.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Vide the comments, of unknown (to me) accuracy, that US soldiers have stricter rules of engagement and more not-killing-civilians training than US cops. And the bizarre dumping of military surplus on police departments.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The problem probably has to do with increasing use of police in high intensity situations i.e. drug busts and SWAT teams. These usually require heavily armed men and can expect fatalities, the fact that police are increasingly expected to deal with high danger armed situations has probably been a component in the militerizing the police.

          Like

          1. There’s not really any routine operation the police do in which they can be said to “expect fatalities.” Certainly not in the same sense of a military operation like an amphibious landing or assaulting a fortified position. Using 2018 numbers, the number who died in “tactical situations” for the year was 6. This is out of over a million officers.

            https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2018-statistics-on-law-enforcement-officers-killed-in-the-line-of-duty

            (There were about 50 other total deaths from directed violence, and a roughly equal number of accidental deaths–usually vehicle related. As of September the death rate in 2020 was lower, unless you include Covid.)

            Certainly the training can lead police to expect fatalities, and there I agree it’s an issue. But that is a part of culture, not some huge number of SWAT-related casualties. There are a minority of police who are advocate to get away from “warrior” metaphors for training as it leads to this problem–and many related ones our host discusses here. You can google the warrior vs. guardian disputes if you’re curious.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Radley Balko gets into some of this his with Rise of the Warrior Cop (2013) that the level of danger police face is much lower than a lot of police training and culture makes it out to be, which produces poor policing tactics responding to imagined rather than real threats.

            Liked by 4 people

          3. Generalization about policing in the US is Very Dangerous, because our federal and subsidiarity systems mean that there are so many different and varied “police departments” that making a generalizing statement will come back to haunt you.
            That having been said:
            The thing that gets me about “danger to cops” is their training curricula don’t reflect the supposed “level of danger” that The Job has, either. Outside of SWAT (and SWAT doesn’t even always get good versions of the training), cops don’t get “tactical training”. Most police departments don’t have the budget or the corporate culture to support anything beyond the barest minimum of firearms competency, much less actual “tactical training.”

            Because it’s a rarely encountered part of their job. I’m reasonably sure that it is still true that most police officers in the US will not discharge their service weapon “off the range” in their entire careers.

            (PS: Radley Balko is a national treasure)

            Like

    5. It is not odd at all when one considers the dirty little psychological guilt behind it: The officers are no longer either warriors nor soldiers. They are clerks. All this chest-beating in the officer classes, all this self-help “warrior” ideology is a pack of middle-class college kids who sign papers for a living (a necessary part of any military, to be sure) trying to convince themselves they deserve to be in charge of the real professional soldiers, the NCO corps. Insecurity is a hell of a motivation.

      Like

  3. Talking about how the military and civilian society change each other has me thinking about Glen Cook’s Tunfaire novels (“Sweet Silver Blues” and sequels). They are fantasy novels about a film noir detective working in a city full of humans, elves, dwarves, trolls, etc.

    While the plots are generally detective stories, there is a lot of stuff about the society and how it has been greatly changed because of the decades-long war that drafts all of the men and a lot of them don’t come back. The protagonist has no living male relatives and this is not an unusual situation. The loss rate and the economic cost of the war effort have caused a lot of stressful changes in society. And then halfway through the series the war is finally won, which causes a lot more problems. Different problems, but nasty ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. > Does war really never change?

    “[Under attack, h]e looked for the Culture ship, then told himself not to be stupid; it was probably still several trillion kilometers away. That was how divorced from human scale modern warfare had become. You could smash and destroy from unthinkable distances, obliterate planets from beyond their own system and provoke stars into novae from light-years off…and still have no good idea why you were really fighting.”
    – from Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks.

    We can imagine such futures. Your average Spartan wouldn’t be able to imagine 21st century warfare; virtually every aspect of the modern infantryman’s role would be alien to him, and that’s the role which has changed least of all.

    The distance between our current situation and the future imagined by people such as Iain Banks is vast, but it’s smaller than the vast gulf that separates us from the Ancient Greeks and medieval chevaliers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This seems like an odd form of slander. “Bezos likes it, therefore it must be bad”. Have you even read the Culture books?

      “a truly advanced society would have abandoned the xenophobia and greed that drives war”

      Would your “truly advanced society” abandon self-preservation? All it takes is one less “advanced” society to start the war.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. On the other hand, we do not know what will happen in the future, it is possible that what actually happens will be something we have failed to imagine even in all our sci-fi books. I remember (but a series of google searches did not yield) books or websites talking about how earlier books from the Victorian times thought of zeppelin warfare as an aerial version of crossing the T, with airships fighting near another and firing guns from short range, maneuvering to try and cross the T with another like warships of the period did.
      Such a writer could then say that they were much closer to future combat than they were to an ancient fight between galleys trying to board or ram another.
      However in the current day I would say that Victorian naval combat is much closer to ancient naval combat than to the current fighting from across the horizon with both navy and airforce.

      Like how these old ideas about how airships fight have been wrong and they didn’t imagine the real thing, we might not (very likely are not) be imagining the real thing.

      Like

  5. My own thoughts on the distinction were never very advanced, but the point about the soldier being a cog versus the warrior being self-motivated, is one of the things I had concluded myself.

    I think where I would argue your analysis is incomplete is this – a male in a hunter-gatherer or stone-age/bronze age farming community would be expected to be a combatant as a matter of course, whenever his village or band was threatened. It would be definitely part-time, though part of his identity, his mana. The warrior in a stratified community such as for example, the image presented by Vedic and later Indian literature, the Kshatriya, does not have that option, and is in consequence, a lot closer to the officer class of the current military establishments than he would be to his hunter-gatherer and farming village ancestors in that regard.

    Or in other words, it’s a continuum, imho, depending on the nature of the society and the consequent nature of the conflicts. (BTW, Aragorn, Theoden and Denethor are warriors in that sense. As is Legolas and Gimli. None of the hobbits are, even remotely. On the other hand, the orcish societies as we see them, dimly, are nothing but – they have little to no culture besides that of fighting.)

    Like

      1. The option of being a part-time warrior. If you are, say, an Indic kshatriya, or Japanese samurai, or medieval knight, you were always a warrior, and even when not actually on campaign you were expected to be preparing for it (by practising your fighting skills and whatnot).

        (Of course, in the case of knights and samurai, the position ended up becoming a social rank only theoretically tied to fighting. A 17th-century English knight or Tokugawa-period samurai might well live his entire life without ever hearing a shot fired in anger.)

        Like

    1. Or in other words, it’s a continuum, imho, depending on the nature of the society and the consequent nature of the conflicts.

      The author gestures towards this, I think, when he says that “there is – as a product of their definition – no real overlap between these two groups.” (Emphasis mine. Well, technically the whole thing was previously emphasized, so I guess de-emphasis mine, but you know what I mean.) I think the middle ground is more significant than he implies it is, and that describing it as a spectrum/continuum/whatever would be more generally useful than describing it as a dichotomy, but I see how the dichotomy most strongly supports his thesis that there is no “universal warrior”.

      Like

    2. Yes, I agree, Prof. Devereux is conflating two concepts under the heading “warrior”: societies which lacked specialization in which every male was expected to fight and be able to fight at any time in his life, and societies which supported a military elite as one among a number of specialists (“those who fight, those who pray, and those who labor”–the last being subdivided in ways not interesting to those in the first two categories). Men in both societies has warfare as core parts of their identities. Both stand in distinction to the brief period from the French Revolution through Vietnam when warfare was mostly carried out by mass armies conscripted from the civilian population. (There were similar militaries in certain other historical periods, to be sure.)

      Like

    3. But the modern officer class retires to be civilian, and answers to a civilian authority, so there’s still a big difference.

      “Aragorn, Theoden and Denethor are warriors in that sense. As is Legolas and Gimli. None of the hobbits are”

      Hmm. Noting that Tolkien could have *very idealized* societies, I’m not so sure. All those characters could fight at need — including the hobbits, surprisingly quickly: Sam kills an orc in Moria , 3 months after leaving Hobbiton — but were they warriors by identity? Theoden, probably. Denethor shows off his sleeping in mail “to stay tough”, but he’s moved beyond or above actual fighting, he’s the director of warfare behind the lines. Faramir fights, but expresses a very soldier-like attitude, and Aragorn is probably Faramir but more so (though also spends a lot of his kingship fighting wars, we’re told.) Boromir was probably a warrior, in fact I think that’s almost explicit in the text:

      “We are become Middle Men, of the Twilight, but with memory of other things. For as the Rohirrim do, we now love war and valour as things good in themselves, both a sport and an end; and though we still hold that a warrior should have more skills and knowledge than only the craft of weapons and slaying, we esteem a warrior, nonetheless, above men of other crafts. Such is the need of our days. So even was my brother, Boromir: a man of prowess, and for that he was accounted the best man in Gondor.”

      Tolkien is very vague about non-human class relationships, but I feel that Gimli’s prestige wouldn’t come from being a fighter, also that probably all male dwarves could fight at need, also all male elves. Legolas’s grandfather probably became king of Wood-elves because he was bearing the civilization of Melian’s Doriath, not because he organized the strongest warband. Elrond probably could fight, but he’s known first as Gil-galad’s herald, and then as loremaster of Imladris.

      Nearly all of Tolkien’s male characters could fight, and few if any were soldiers in a strict sense (though the orcs may have a warrior culture but they’re also organized as soldiers, under various Dark Lords), but I’m not sure that many of them were members of a warrior class. Especially with the elves and dwarves, it feels more like “everyone’s a warrior” but with a complex society rather than a hunter-gatherer one. Note neither species *feels* agrarian.

      Tolkien uses the word ‘warrior’ a lot, but I think in a generic sense of “person who fight”. He also uses ‘soldier’, for the orcs but also as “soldiers of Gondor”, applied even to the Rangers of Ithilien, and Pippin after he takes oath, and Merry when Aragorn is trolling him.

      Like

    4. Ah yes, the liberal capitalism of the ancient Sumerian shield wall.

      Soldiers throughout history have been “cogs” because that kept them from dying. And it’s not the only place. Solidarity with your comrades is almost as important for a union as for a shield wall.

      You sound like a bad caricature of Marxist academics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not seeing a refutation here.

        Dr. Devereaux points out, and the post you reply to does not deny, that group-fighting techniques (such as shield walls) exist both among ancient soldiers (civilians recruited to fight for a limited term) and ancient warriors (men for whom fighting is a part of their identity for all of their lives).

        Where’s the reference to capitalism? I don’t get it. Am I missing something here?

        Like

  6. I wonder if we know anything much about Bronze Age societies in this context? It seems to me – never having tried it – that chariot archery must be an extremely difficult skill requiring a lifetime of training and practice to be competent at. And unlike foot archery, it requires a rare piece of expensive high tech, high maintenance equipment in the form of the chariot. Not to mention the horses. So would chariot fighters have been a warrior aristocracy? The way Ramses II chose to have himself depicted would suggest this.

    Or – since the Mycenaean palace tablets seem to suggest that the “state” owned & maintained at least some of the chariots – might some of them have been something more like very highly skilled professional soldiers? Something like being a fighter pilot, which also requires a lot of training, practice and expensive kit.

    Like

    1. I think it depended on the place, it’s likely the palace states held the capital to maintain chariots but might have called up the charioteers as retainers.
      I have heard some people talk about the Mycenaeans as being possibly feudalistic with management of smelters and herd’s being overseen by nobles.
      That and the word for charioteer was Eqata if I remember correctly and meant ‘companion’.

      Like

        1. That’s fairly clearly supposed to be a dramatic role-inversion: even within the text, this is seen as a low-status role (see basically everything about Karna, in the very same battle storyline).

          Like

      1. This is a curious thing about driving: even when aeroplanes were taken to military use, piloting was initially a lower-status job. Von Richthoffen tells in his memoirs about the disdainful amazement of his officer colleagues when they hear that he is his own “aeroplane driver”, Flugzeugführer. They evidently think that the nobleman has sunken low to do his own piloting. The normal way in the early phase of the First World War was for the observer to be an officer and the commander of the aircraft, while the pilot was an enlisted man.

        It was only after machine romanticism allowed the identification of an airplane (or a race car) with a horse, that instinct-level control of a machine could be considered a high-status thing.

        Like

    2. It seems to me – never having tried it – that chariot archery must be an extremely difficult skill requiring a lifetime of training and practice to be competent at.

      You’re not wrong, but the amount of effort it takes to learn a skill has little relation to the amount of prestige or compensation someone got for using it. Farming is the classic example; it’s not something any idiot can pick up overnight, but it’s rarely more than a rung or two from the bottom of society.

      Like

      1. Good point, but I was thinking more in relation to the warrior/soldier distinction. A temporary or part time citizen soldier’s necessary skills can’t, by definition, require full time training & practice from childhood on. Modern armies can & do train even elite light infantry from scratch in a few months; I doubt if you could do that with a chariot or horse archer.

        Like

        1. As described in this article, the distinction between warrior and soldier isn’t one of how long it takes to train someone, but of identity. It doesn’t matter how little a warrior-noble actively trains his warrior skills, or how often a citizen-soldier is required to drill; if the noble considers himself a warrior and the soldier a citizen, that’s the point which divides them.

          (Also, I’d like to see what elite light infantry modern armies train in just a few months.)

          Like

          1. USMC is “elite light infantry” and their basic training is “just a few months”

            Likewise the various light infantry units of the US Army, though their additional training is a little longer

            Like

          2. We have different thresholds for what units seem “elite enough to count,” I guess. I guess the Marines are more “elite” than any old army man, but they’re not at the level of a Green Beret or SEAL Team Six or something.

            Like

          3. (a) If somebody is fighting using weapons, tactics and techniques that require years of full time training and practice to use effectively, he therefore *cannot* have any role in society other than learning & practicing those things and is rather unlikely to consider himself anything other than a warrior.

            (b) British Royal Marines 32 weeks, Paras 30 weeks.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. That’s just not true. Several counterexamples are mentioned in the article, even on the “warrior” side. Steppe nomads considered themselves warriors, but they also had other roles in society (which is why the Mongols didn’t starve to death before conquering an infamously large empire). ianargent also brought up English yeoman archers in a comment that I’m starting to realize was probably intended for you; they had to practice archery from childhood, but they were farmers 99% of the time.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Counterpoint – the yeoman longbowman of English Legend did not consider himself a warrior (nor did whatever Warrior Class existed in England at the time). Despite the english longbow being the epitome of a “raised from childhood to employ” weapon system.

            Like

          6. That’s exactly the example I was thinking of when I wrote that. The knightly class are warriors, because their profession is war; the yeoman class are farmers, because their profession is farm agriculture.

            Liked by 2 people

          7. The USMC’s infantry component, the airborne/airmobile units, and the actually-designated “light infantry” units of the US Army are all light infantry. I’m comfortable with calling any of them “high-quality” troops even compared to their peers in the US Army, much less anyone else in the world.

            SOCOM units are not infantry – they are special forces. Not the same thing at all. Of all the United States Armed Forces, the SOCOM units (and the USMC equivalents if they still don’t fall under SOCOM) are the closest to Warriors as we are discussing.

            Infantry is not just “military members who fight on foot” – though I suppose the Ranger Regiment counts as “light infantry” even by my more restrictive definition. Ranger School is 61 days according to a google search, so we are still in “a few months” of training time.

            Like

          8. Counterpoint – the yeoman longbowman of English Legend did not consider himself a warrior (nor did whatever Warrior Class existed in England at the time). Despite the english longbow being the epitome of a “raised from childhood to employ” weapon system.

            The legally-mandated frequency of longbow training was, IIRC, once a week, so whilst it may have taken a while to build the requisite upper-body strength, it clearly wasn’t necessary for men to dedicate their life to training in order to become proficient archers.

            (Also, I do wonder how much of the “raised from childhood” bit is because the longbow is inherently difficult to use, and how much is because people were only training once a week. Presumably, somebody who can train full-time would be able to build up his strength much more quickly. It might be worth mentioning in this context that 16th-century England witnessed a vigorous print war over whether the longbow or the arquebus was the better weapon, and nobody, as far as I’m aware, brought up the lifetime of training argument, even though it seems like the sort of thing people would mention if it were true.)

            Like

          9. The legally-mandated frequency of longbow training was, IIRC, once a week, so whilst it may have taken a while to build the requisite upper-body strength, it clearly wasn’t necessary for men to dedicate their life to training in order to become proficient archers.

            If you change the goalposts from “has to spend years training” to “literally does nothing except train,” then yes, anyone who does nothing except practice for war cannot have any role in society except practicing for war. What does that have to do with anything anyone else has been talking about?

            Like

          10. If you change the goalposts from “has to spend years training” to “literally does nothing except train,” then yes, anyone who does nothing except practice for war cannot have any role in society except practicing for war. What does that have to do with anything anyone else has been talking about?

            AlanL said: “If somebody is fighting using weapons, tactics and techniques that require years of full time training and practice to use effectively, he therefore *cannot* have any role in society other than learning & practicing those things and is rather unlikely to consider himself anything other than a warrior.”

            Ianargent said: “Counterpoint – the yeoman longbowman of English Legend did not consider himself a warrior (nor did whatever Warrior Class existed in England at the time). Despite the english longbow being the epitome of a “raised from childhood to employ” weapon system.”

            Of course, the yeoman longbowmen of England can only be a counterpoint if their weapon actually did “require years of full-time training and practice to use effectively”. Accordingly I pointed out that English longbowmen did not, in fact, train full-time with their weapons (and therefore that they aren’t a valid counter-point, although I didn’t make this explicit).

            If you’re finding it hard to keep up with this conversation, maybe you can specify which stage exactly is causing you difficulty.

            Like

          11. Let’s try to adopt some charity in our tones, shall we?

            In any event, I think the issue here is confusion between the soldier/warrior dichotomy (which is about identity) and the professional/non-professional dichotomy (which is more nearly about training and focus). A Mongol does not spend all of his time training for war. Indeed, he probably spends less of his time training in a given year than a professional soldier who is also an adult (like a highly drilled 17th century musketeer, for instance).

            The Mongol is not a professional or ‘full time’ fighter. But he is a warrior: being a fighter is much more fundamental to his social role and identity. Likewise, I’d note that ‘warrior classes’ in societies, where it is often asserted that they ‘train from birth’ almost always are educated in more things than just fighting. A knight was to learn not just fighting but the essentials of courtly behavior (eloquent and persuasive speech, dancing, manners, poetry, and so on). Samurai learned poetry, manners and calligraphy, among other skills.

            In stark contrast, early modern ‘mechanical’ soldiers were narrowly but extensively drilled to perform specific tasks with mechanical precision (in part because their aristocratic leaders believed the commoners who made up their infantry were lesser men who required such drilling to perform on the battlefield).

            But the core soldier/warrior dichotomy has nothing to do with this difference of training. Sure, there are completely untrained soldiers (Athenian hoplites, for instance) and heavily trained soldiers (Roman legionaries, the aforementioned early modern infantry). Training amounts also vary among warriors.

            Instead the question is about the social place of the individual. Consider it this way: when a soldier returns home after a war and takes up an unskilled job in a factory, we do not tend to think they have lost any honor or standing. But if a knight decides he will fight no more, his entire social position collapses. There isn’t even anywhere for him to go, socially – there is no social script for ex-knights (except as monks; note this is also true of samurai!). The Mongol warrior who decides to never fight again is practically deciding to renounce his gender (unless we’re late enough that he too, might become a Buddhist monk, as some did). There is no civilian life for him to return to, because the role of ‘warrior’ unlike the role of ‘soldier’ is a totalizing one.

            That’s the difference. The level of training is immaterial to the point.

            Like

  7. “there are soldiers, there are warriors, and there is – as a product of their definition – no real overlap between these two groups”

    Where (sparsity of sources permitting) would you draw this line in the history of Rome? Treating the legend about the Fabii as vaguely historically inspired at least to the extent that gens-based raiding was a (the?) common form of warfare, it seems to me that the citizen men of the very early Republic were warriors. To pin the other end, by the time the maniples play whack-a-Samnite, they are quite clearly soldiers. (Warriors chafe at formal subordination to officers, unless they are the Mongols.)

    “With so much of the males of society processed through the military, the values of the army became the values of society”

    Actually, doesn’t this make them fit the statements “it is […] an irremovable part of their identity and social position” and “all free adult males are expected to fight and are thus warriors [sic!]”? They would switch between being soldiers and civilians depending on whether they were on campaign or not, while… also staying warriors throughout (as reflected in e.g. their intolerance of being beaten *except* in the context of military discipline).

    I think there is a parallel in inter-polity relations. To a warrior, the default relationship (i.e. assumed to be the case unless given specific evidence) between polities is that of war (though this does not imply actual fighting) and formal peace (or perhaps “truce” is the better word) is the unusual thing which requires mention. To a soldier, the default is peace, and a formal declaration of war (which almost always implies high-intensity fighting) is what needs to be mentioned.
    ___________________________

    The complete deracination of the early Imperial full-professional soldiers (mercenaries?) with the very long service length, and afterwards being settled in some colonia rather than into civilian society, could inspire an author of fantasy to write the new recruits leaving a town via an adapted form of the local funeral ritual.

    Like

    1. Like you and Bobert below I would be interested in a further teasing apart among soldiers of ‘professional soldier’ and ‘militiaman’, where I would define the latter loosely as someone who’s identity is ‘civilian who does not usually fight but fully expects, and has always expected to, to if the situation requires it’. I believe that, for example, many Taliban soldiers fall into this category (as would Republican Romans, Saxon fyrdmen and Imperial German men of fighting age). I think it is distinctive because a ‘militiaman’s ability and willingness to fight is absolutely *part* of his communal identity, from birth, but only *part* and not the largest part. I’m guessing the US Army warrior nonsense is a way of re-emphasising to the troops their moral and practical superiority over these kind of troops. (As Bret noted in his Rohan vs Saruman series, it’s not actually at all a given that ‘militiamen’ have intrinsically lower unit cohesion and capability than incapable professional soldiers.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m guessing the US Army warrior nonsense is a way of re-emphasising to the troops their moral and practical superiority over these kind of troops.

        Maybe that’s the intent, but the effect is definitely setting the soldiers into their own separate class of citizen. And that gets worse when the same rhetoric is used to train police officers…which is absolutely is. Along with, in some districts/for some instructors, language which paints “fighting crime” as a literally divine battle between all that is good in a society and the wicked elements within it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. On of my pet peeves is removing “police” from the definition of civilian. This is entirely contradictory to the Peelian Principles of Policing, which are foundational to modern anglospheric policing.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. If the police want to be civilians, they shouldn’t be so damn militarized.

            …unless you’re talking about metaphorically removing police from the definition of civilian rather than just changing what we call them, in which case I agree.

            Like

          2. The core of the Peelian Principles is: “the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

            Police are and must be, under the Peelian Principles, “civilians”

            I’m of the opinion that, except for certain specialized gear necessary for executing certain sorts of warrants (wiretaps, mainly) the police should not employ equipment that is prohibited to be possessed by a regular citizen or resident of their jurisdiction.

            Like

          3. The Peelian Principles are foundational to UK police, and maybe Australia/NZ too, I dunno. I’m not sure the US ever looked to Peel; critics often talk about US police growing out of slave patrols and immigrant/labor control forces. Peel certainly doesn’t seem to be a lodestar now.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Only if the anglosphere is confined to the UK and NZ. US and (most) Australian policing has always had a more ‘us and them’ flavour.

            Like

          5. Only if the anglosphere is confined to the UK and NZ. US and (most) Australian policing has always had a more ‘us and them’ flavour. Australian and US police were heavily involved in countering organised labour, and of course suppressing blacks.

            Like

          6. It’s a little more aspirational in the US that elsewhere, but the US police tradition draws on Sir Robert Peel as well. Hence, deputization and “citizen’s arrest”

            Like

          7. Not sure if the Dutch (local to me) police ever looked to this, but there is literally a distinction between ‘politie’, civilian police, and ‘marechaussee’, military police. The second is only meant for policing on military ground (so on military bases), airports, securing the borders and protecting the royal family and can in emergencies (such as the once in a lifetime riots that happened over an evening curfew last month) be used to assist normal police, but only if the highest levels of government order it.

            Like

          8. We have military police in the U.S. too. I don’t really know what they do. Regular police, and airport security, are not military.

            Liked by 1 person

          9. From what I understand, the “military police” as the USA uses the term, work the military itself, dealing with stuff like desertion, plus any run-of-the-mill crimes that might be committed by military personnel.

            Liked by 1 person

          10. Like many other things military, the “military police” are only somewhat comparable to the “Civilian” version. Among other things, they retain the capability to be fielded as infantry in extremis (as, basically, everyone including the band, the cooks, and the JAG Corps do).

            Like

        2. @ianargent:

          You say “It’s a little more aspirational in the US that elsewhere, but the US police tradition draws on Sir Robert Peel as well. Hence, deputization and “citizen’s arrest” ”

          To an extent that may be drawing on older English common law that predates Peel. The stereotypical model of ‘Wild West’ law enforcement, for instance, where a community has a single appointed sheriff who deputizes members of the community when he needs more muscle to deal with a problem, is almost nothing like the professionalized ‘bobbies’ Peel was trying to create.

          Like

          1. His Principles are themselves rooted in that tradition, though.

            To fully quote the 7th principle in the General Instructions 1829:

            “To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

            Policing is professionalizing everywhere during this period – not just in Metropolitan London. The NYPD will not be founded for another 15 years, and it was explicitly modeled on the London Metropolitan Police. (And then was replaced by a new force when it proved to be insufficiently incorrupt).

            The “sheriff” system in the US is almost entirely supplanted by professional policing (even where there is a Sheriff’s Office that does both law enforcement and court-order enforcement, the Sheriff’s Deputies are professional police).

            Like

          2. @ianargent

            I mean, you’re right, but the customs you and I were discussing (citizens’ arrest and deputization) date back to the pre-professional ‘sheriff’ model. One that was in turn informed by common law sensibilities about crime that date back to days when the concept of the “hue and cry” was actually relevant.

            So it’s like… you can have a law enforcement system that revolves around nonprofessional deputies and the concept of a citizen’s arrest. Or you can have a law enforcement system that revolves around a professionalized police force. You can sort of crudely weld the two together. But the seams are pretty conspicuous, because they don’t naturally fit together all that well, and the two modes of policing are naturally distinct.

            Like

          3. My mention of citizen’s arrest was a reference to “the historical tradition” that Sir Robert Peel (allegedly) cited. His goal was to professionalize the police without making them warriors or soldiers – that they would remain civilians (literally “members of the public”) who were paid to devote their full-time efforts to “duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

            (Allegedly because the origins of the list of points is murky).

            The “wild west” tradition derives (like so much other American Law) from English Tradition and Common Law.

            At any rate, the anglospheric tradition is one in which the police are not militarized, and if the adherence in the US in practice is not perfect, I strenuously resist the attempts to make the separation worse. The police ought to be civilians. (And, of course, legally in the US the military is sharply circumscribed as to performing law enforcement functions – everything from the Coast Guard not being part of the Department of Defense to the question of appropriateness of the use of national guard to quell outbreaks of violence).

            Like

      2. There is also, as far as I can tell looking in from the outside, a deep contempt for conscript armies embedded in US military culture. I suspect it goes back to the Vietnam-era experience of conscript morale in an unpopular war – in a high-military-participation force, public support has a much more direct effect on combat behavior.

        Like

    2. I am reminded of the Janissaries, who on the one hand are clearly soldiers: Organized, fighting for loot, etc. and on the other hand (at least for the kullar destined for military service) a largely *permanent* elite force. If the two categories are mutually exclusive they seem to be at least one of the complicated cases.

      Another example would be the swedish landed soldiers (which might be a good cause…) under the latter allotment systems: They would be given land, regularly trained and so forth, but it was a pretty much permanent position. (given the general situation I would class them as soldiers paid in land rather than money, but it’s an interesting edge-case)

      I do think that a hard distinction isn’t really possible: While both of these things exists as ideal types there are edge cases and weirdness (like the early-modern european aristocrats who were warriors in the process of becoming soldiers, so to speak)

      And of course, even “full time” warriors were not actually warring all the time, and while their identity and socials tatus might be intimately tied to war *they might not actually be fighting any*. (there is an interesting thing here of how once a warrior-caste becomes the ruling class at least bits and pieces of it will inevitably have to be dedicated to civilian pursuits… which dilutes its status as a warrior class, becuase you spend most of your time administrating, not fighting or training to fight)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Swedish “landed” soldier of the allotment system was really an interesting creature: they were privately hired by the local peasants. About three or four hpuseholds would form a rote, and hire a soldier. They were required to give that soldier a torp, i.e. a croft, with enough land to have self-sufficiency for a family (about a hectare or two). In a later development, there was a requirement to maintain also reservists, who would be normally working as hired hands when not drilling (usually one reservist per two or three soldiers). In any case, the “landed” soldier would be working personally on his land, which he did held very precariously. If invalided, he would lose it and drop into total poverty. This meant that a soldier did have a social position among the rural underclass. The military units drilled inly once a week, on Sundays after the divine service, so the soldiers were mostly working their fields.

        The Sweish NCOs and officers were paid similarly in the 16th and 17th centuries, by the state giving them their country houses, the size of which depended on rank. The pay was not bad: even NCOs were usually noblemen (typically, younger sons), but the system was pretty strict: of you lost your military position, you lost your house and income from it.

        Like

  8. I’m curious as to how you would classify something like the Prussian Junkers or even the English gentry in the period of buying army commissions in your dichotomy between warriors and soldiers. These are classes which defined themselves by their skill as officers in a professional military (at least in the former case) and had a great deal of power in society, but lacked most of the other characteristics you ascribe to warriors. If Alexander’s Companions are classified soldiers and not warriors, then it’s hard to see how they would land on the side of military adventurers and knights despite quite literally being military aristocrats.

    I’d also like to quibble with your overly-restrictive definition of militia. As you know, in the English and American common law tradition “the Militia” is simply the entire body of able-bodied free men in the community: it is the pool of citizens from which citizen-soldiers can be drawn. And particularly in the American tradition, with our founding event being the American Revolution, the militia is not beholden to any particular government but a vaguely defined People. If a group of armed citizens organize themselves, whether in support or in opposition to the government, while claiming a mandate from the American people they would seem to be the archetypical example of a militia in the American context.

    Like

    1. I believe the “Macedonians are soldiers” part was meant to apply to the phalangites, not the mounted Companions.

      As of Bret’s point about “miles” and ‘latrones’, it can be taken to be meant to criticize this particular tendency in America: That any somewhat organized armed group claims the legitimacy of a ‘militia’

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was thinking about both the companions and foot companions, although I could have been more precise.

        As for American militia culture, it’s absolutely crass and occasionally dangerous but also entirely in keeping with the Jeffersonian ideal of the “yeoman republic” that we’ve had since the founding. Seeing how our culture and that of the British and Commonwealth nations have evolved, I would say that we got the better deal between sporadic violence by armed citizens and an omnipresent police state.

        Like

        1. Seeing how our culture and that of the British and Commonwealth nations have evolved, I would say that we got the better deal between sporadic violence by armed citizens and an omnipresent police state.

          The “omnipresent police states” of the Commonwealth seem considerably less prone to gunning down their own citizens than the Land of the Free.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. The US has the highest incarceration rate of any society in human history. I’m not sure how can call Canada an “omnipresent police state” in comparison.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. Seeing how our culture and that of the British and Commonwealth nations have evolved, I would say that we got the better deal between sporadic violence by armed citizens and an omnipresent police state.

          What police states are you talking about?

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Compared to the UK, and its other settler colonies, the US has about the same crime rate, a higher murder rate, a higher imprisonment rate, a higher rate of people being shot by their own police, and a lower ranking by Freedom House and the Cato Human Freedom index. Not to mention the fact that a mob of the Presidents supporters stormed the legislature to attempt to overturn an election result *earlier this month*.

          The Founders must be wondering why they bothered.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Diversity leads to conflict. Unfortunate but true. Especially when certain people make it their business to foment divisions.

            Like

          2. [I’m replying to a higher-level comment here because Roxana’s comment has no “Reply” link.]

            “Diversity leads to conflict,” Roxana writes.

            This doesn’t seem to be the case, or at least is a gross over-simplification. Canada, for example, has a very diverse society in the larger cities, yet seems generally to have much less conflict over this than the U.S. does. But we can see this even more clearly in the kinds of sectarian conflict that have been seen in the U.S. over history.

            Arguably one of the most-oppressed groups over the entire course of U.S. history is (white—
            or at least what would now be considered “white”—
            European) Catholics. This has changed dramatically over the last eighty years or so, but from the first colonials up until World War II, anti-Catholicism was rampant in the United States.

            If mixing Catholic and Protestant Christians is considered “diverse,” we have a case today where this diversity is perfectly well accepted in the U.S. If not, we have a case of massive, long-term sectarian conflict without diversity. Either way you look at it, “diversity” is clearly not the problem here.

            “[W]hen certain people make it their business to foment divisions” seems more on point, but that is not about “diversity”; what “diversity” is is in fact whatever such people decide at the moment are in-groups and out-groups, which seems to bear little relation to how closely or distantly related they actually are.

            Like

          3. [And if there’s any way to add previewing or editing to this blog’s comment system, that would be brilliant. One “/” left out of markup a few words in left my entire post above in italic.]

            Like

        4. @Bobert:

          You say: “As for American militia culture, it’s absolutely crass and occasionally dangerous but also entirely in keeping with the Jeffersonian ideal of the “yeoman republic” that we’ve had since the founding.”

          Is it, though? The militias of the American Revolution were community organizations answerable to whole communities. They followed a pseudo-military organization when active, and appointed officers to provide a clear chain of command.

          The ”’militias”’ that show up outside assorted state (and national) capital buildings nowadays generally do not have an accountable chain of command. Their members do not operate under any semblance of military discipline or hierarchy.

          Moreover, they are *definitely* not representing communities. They are representing a very specific political faction, one which asserts that it and only it has the right to engage in private armed violence (or threats of violence) to reshape the state. These ”’militias”’ do not recruit, do not allow, and might very well threaten violence against anyone who tried to join them but who disagreed with their political doctrine.

          That is not the kind of militia a yeoman republic uses to keep itself safe.

          Like

          1. While I wholly agree with you on the differences around accountability, I’m not sure the definition of ‘a community’ being limited to ‘people who live proximate to each other’ can survive in today’s online world. I certainly feel a greater sense of community with some people I’ve never met on some of the forums I frequent than to my neighbours. I expect these ‘militia’ would argue that they are acting in the interests of their personal community, whether that’s centred around a town or a facebook group.

            The point about accountability stands though.

            Like

    2. I would not class the Junkers with the English gentry. The Junkers not only looked back to their past as members of the Teutonic Knights, but were also generally too poor to maintain their social position without state support – which came as officer salaries. They were more like the service nobility of Russia.

      By contrast, the English gentry had independent means. Being an officer cost more than it paid, unless you were in Indian service. It conferred access, prestige and advancement, not money.

      Like

      1. The German nobility was an interesting thing. Military service was so deeply embedded as part of the upper class culture that even rulers of independent states were not loath to serve in the armies of more major German states as officers. It actually improved the legitimacy of a minor German prince to be a colonel of the Prussian Army. (Not to mention that it, naturally, also improved their external security.)

        And, BTW, this is a major difference between German-style military culture and Anglosaxon culture: an Anglo-Saxon officer resigns “his commission” when leaving the army. A German (or Russian, or Swedish) officer leaving the army will be ausser Dienst, “out of service” but still retains their rank.

        Like

        1. I learned recently that “retired” officers (not just reservists) are still obligated to be re-activated “at need” as a condition of their pensions.

          Like

    3. Do remember that “militia” is ambiguously defined in the US Constitution. In the body, itself, it states “Clause 15. The Congress shall have Power * * * To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/article-1/section-8/clause-15-16), which clearly means that the militia is subject to the orders of the national government, specifically Congress (not the President). and “Clause 16. The Congress shall have Power * * * To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” (ibid). This rather obviously means that the Militia is an official, government-sanctioned and controlled organization. Groups like the Michigan Militia are no more legitimately militias than is a criminal gang.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. (a)The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
        (b)The classes of the militia are—
        (1)the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
        (2)the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

        Like

  9. Oh, it was possible for a medieval knight to leave off being a knight. Definitely in fiction.

    The trick was to retire to a monastery or a hermitage. One did not become a civilian in ordinary life. As in the original “A Farewell to Arms”:

    “allow this aged man his right
    To be your beadsman now that was your knight.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can see the literary division between the warrior Dorsai and the Friendly troops who are cannon fodder, but apparently reasonably good at it (goes off humming “Soldier, Ask Not”).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a big one, yeah. Heinlein dabbled in it in a couple places (not just Starship Troopers), and it’s a common theme in David Drake’s works

        Like

          1. I just spent the last few months re-reading all of the General and spin-offs, PLUS basically every Hammer’s Slammers word ever written PLUS that series’ spinoffs.
            (I opted not to re-read the Belisarius series right now and went off into some more lightweight stuff)

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel like this is part of a larger trend of overusing the word warrior. E.g., a civilian who is “battling” cancer is a “warrior”. Warrior has become an empty compliment.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. To add German to the language note, there is the Krieger, whose sole purpose is war. The Soldat (from French soldat) was originally a paid combatant, as opposed to one who fights because it’s his duty as a vassal. Söldner evolved later to mean a combatant solely motivated by pay, a mercenary.
    Also, thank you for tackling this. I loathe the confusion of soldiers with warriors, not least because contrary to popular misconception, warriors are, at best, individually superior combatants, but make for generally inferior armies.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Oddly I first learned of the Soldier/Warrior distinction in Samuel Huntington’s _The Soldier and the State_. (While he’s known today for the execrable _Clash of Civilizations_, a lot of his early work was fascinating.)

    Like

          1. It does! They’re called character entities: code that produces a single character that might otherwise be interpreted as part of code.

            &lt; is the character entity for <

            &rt; is the character entity for &rt;

            &mp; is the character entity for &mp;

            Now here’s hoping I got that correct, since I don’t seem to have a preview option.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. As far as my knowledge goes, about every time a military is professionalized, the result is an overall increase in the capability of the force. This goes both in cases where the professional combatant belongs to a member of a warrior caste, and when he is “merely” a full-time member of an organized unit. That would imply that while a citizen-soldier force is better for democracy – an observation at least as old as Machiavelli – it is not always better for winning wars.

    Even the knights, long associated with rowdy chivalric silliness, were for several centuries a better investment of resources. Simply put, a citizen-soldier still needs time to practice the necessary skills, which he likely lacks, being otherwise busy making a living, not to mention the quite common case of having to pay for one’s equipment without benefitting from various forms of unpaid labour.

    (Such a person does not always have to be a member of a warrior caste – kings of old did occasionally set up standing troops that were neither “warriors” in the sense of special status, nor “soldiers” in the sense of belonging to the community, and not even “mercenaries” understood as paid combatants with no personal ties to their financer. Adding the observation that the officer corps tended towards professionalism even in many of the historical societies that otherwise abhorred professional armies, perhaps the end-point of this line of arguing is that the warrior-soldier distinction is not always all that clear-cut.)

    Like

      1. In cases I had in mind: sort of king’s personal army. Not yet a national army, not quite merely a mercenary squad temporarily hired by the ruler. Usually meant as a quick-response core force bolstered in times of war by more typical mix of mercenaries and feudal levies, or as a big shame-if-something-happened towards the political opposition (ie. disloyal magnates).

        The ultimate fate of these kinds of armies seems to have either been a complete or virtual dissolution whenever the nobles managed to place a more manipulable person on the throne, a transition to full-time mercenary work with at best a preference for some specific employer, or replacement by an Early Modern new model army of some sort or another. Altogether, they all seem to be a transitionary case, which you may perhaps find an argument against bringing them up in this discussion.

        By the way, I hadn’t thought of personal guards, but these seem to be yet another formation of this neither-here-not-there kind.

        Like

    1. As far as my knowledge goes, about every time a military is professionalized, the result is an overall increase in the capability of the force.

      Man for man, maybe, although since you can generally afford to put more men in the militia than in your professional standing army, a militia-based army can still be superior overall (cf. the Roman Republic vs. the Successor States).

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The experience of the 19th and early 20th centuries is the opposite – draft armies with a small professional officer corps regularly crushed all-professional armies in the field. They could draw on vastly superior numbers, and didn’t show marked qualitative inferiority. The US is better served by a volunteer force not because of the general inferiority of conscript armies, but because it is incapable of using a draft army. i.e. the US has a volunteer army not because it’s better than a draft army, but because it can’t have a volunteer army.

      Because it consists of a big chunk of the workforce, a draft army is expensive to keep in the field; and because it requires a large chunk of the population, the army can’t cherry-pick the most motivated and committed soldiers.

      The solution to the morale problem is simple, but not easy: extremely high public support for the war among the civilian population. Hence the relationship between the rises of draft armies and mass politics (sometimes democratic, sometimes not) in 19th-century Europe.

      The solutions to the economic challenges mostly follow two general paths:

      Minimize the cost: mobilize fast, fight the war quickly, and then demobilize, as in most mid- to late-19th-century intra-European wars, or Israeli and South Korean national defense strategy
      Pay the cost: completely reshape civilian society to function without all those people, sharply reduce standards of living, &c. This is the “total war” mobilizations of the World Wars

      None of this works for the US.

      The immediate problem at the time of the Gates Commission was morale – the US was involved in continual Cold War brushfires with at best detached public enthusiasm, on average public ambivalence, and at worst public hostility. This is fairly clear in the primary sources (the Gates Commission, the pre-Nixon writings of intellectuals like Friedman who shaped that policy, &c).

      The economic strategies are unworkable because of the nature of the wars themselves: expeditionary wars of choice. The wars of the United States since 1945 have been:

      Too far away from American borders to mobilize and end quickly. For example, the “quick” Gulf War involved a half-year buildup of troops to enable about 6 weeks of air-only operations followed by two weeks of active ground operations.
      Too peripheral to US interests to justify the massive economic mobilization of the World Wars. No one in 1965, or 1991, or 2003, or even 2001, was willing to accept massively lower living standards and take a giant chunk of the workforce out of action. (North Vietnam, by contrast, was willing to do both.)

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Other countries that can apply the “modern system”, like Israel and South Korea (and the Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent modern Russia), still have large draft armies; all else being equal, it’s better to have an available (active + reserve) military force of 10% of your population instead of 0.5%

          Like

          1. (And in fact, said “modern system” was developed during the World Wars by large draft armies to fight other large draft armies!)

            Like

          2. I was not intending to make a commutative statement; that “modern system” armies cannot be “draftee armies”

            Merely that, because the US Military is “modern system” and we have a huge population base, a draftee army is not necessary at the current time.

            I’ve said a couple times before that the Modern America Way Of War is to localize and pin the enemy, then beat them to death with our mighty mighty logistics.

            Like

    3. To me it sounds like you are equating ‘a professional army’ and ‘an army of warriors’. The US has a volunteer military that is essentially a professional army, but its people are soldiers (or at least they are supposed to be.) and I don’t think its effectiveness would increase a lot by making a normal soldier be a lifetime job rather than something you do for 5 or 10 years.

      Like

  14. To add a slavic language to the mix – In Czech we have “válečník” – someone who does war (“válka”) with almost exactly the same connotations as “warrior”. We then have “voják” for “soldier” with similar connotations as “soldier”, but uncertain etymology – “voj” is also an archaic word for a large group of combatants and used to denote also a single combatant and I found a speculation it initially meant “to pursue” (orders or enemy) and that it used to be a derogatory term. “vojna” is also an archaic word for “war”. We then have “žoldnéř”/”žoldák” for mercenary (from german “Söldner” – see Jochen Träm’s post). We then also have a neutral “bojovník” (combatant, from “boj” = “combat”). So yeah, maps pretty well on the English version.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The answer to “Is there a universal combat experience?” depends on just what we mean by “universal” and “experience”. For instance, the experience of bleeding out on the battlefield is universal to all wars, but not all soldiers.* More practically, how specific and profound does an experience have to be? I have no doubt that every soldier in history has, at some point, felt at least briefly that their commanding officer is a moron; does that qualify as a universal experience? And, of course, all soldiers so far have been humans (despite DARPA’s best efforts), so any truly universal human experience would necessarily be a universal soldierly experience.

    Of course, in practice nobody except Internet pedants points such things out, because they’re blindingly obvious. Instead, they make claims about universal warrior-dom that sound true and meaningful, whereas in real life you only get one or the other.

    [Soldier vs. Warrior]

    So soldiers are professionals fighting for a paycheck or some other motive largely unrelated to the combat, while a warrior wars for war’s sake? Alright, sounds like a good working definition.

    The repeated misuse by journalists of ‘militia’ which ought only refer to citizens-in-arms under recognized authority, drives me to madness.

    In fairness, they do that because a lot of the groups in question also do. Presumably because they either assume the authority they act under should be recognized, or they fetishize the Second Amendment ideal of a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state.

    In short, warriors were not the only people who mattered in war.

    An echo of this blog’s central theme, if it can be said to have one: “People who history doesn’t glorify still matter.”

    To suggest, more deeply, that everyone ought to be in some sense a ‘warrior’ in their own occupation sounds better, but – as we’ll see in the last essay of this series – leads to equally dark places.

    I’m hearing some Umberto echoes in that ominous sentence.

    *Which in a convoluted way is a shame, because if it was hardly anyone would go to war, which among other things would reduce the number of people bleeding out on battlefields.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think Prof. Devereux is rather too hard on the American military command for its excessive valorization of the “warrior” ideal. It is a very difficult task the command faces in creating an effective fighting force in the midst of a civilian elite culture which is strongly anti-military, anti-patriotic, and individualistic, and at a historical time and place which dictate that the military must be composed of a small number of long-service, highly-trained and prodigiously supported soldiers. The “warrior” ideal is surely an understandable and appropriate response to a culture and a force structure which makes the “soldier” ideal unattainable.

    Like

    1. I think you’re putting the cart before the horse, here. “Civilian culture” can’t be a thing unless there’s a distinct military culture for it to contrast with, and one can’t be pro- or anti-military unless there’s a distinct military caste for one to have attitudes about. So I don’t think it makes sense to say that the American armed forces have been forced to adopt a warrior ideal in response to grievances they have with civilians; the mere fact that they see themselves as separate from and able to have grievances with civilians means they’re already viewing themselves in warrior terms.

      (I set aside, for the moment, the question of whether America’s elites are actually anti-military or not, except to note in passing that I hope that veterans enjoy their single-payer healthcare, and I sure hope the state sees fit to extend it to us civilians someday soon.)

      I’d also disagree that the historical time and place makes long-service professionals mandatory, since there are still a number of liberal democracies that rely on short-service conscripts without apparent ill-effect. Bringing back conscription in America hasn’t been a terribly popular position in my lifetime, but it is one that military theorists take seriously as a workable alternative to all-volunteer.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree with you in general, but disagree about the feasibility of a conscript army in the US. American wars are long, expeditionary, and constant. Liberal democracies that rely on short-service draft armies are generally building military machines for use in short wars close to their borders. The main benefit of a draft army is its ability to surge in manpower to an absurdly high fraction of the total population, and that just isn’t something the US wants or needs to do in the foreseeable future.

        Like

        1. True. One likely consequence of switching to a partial-conscription model is that we’d be less able to wage indefinite expeditions in distant countries. Considering how those expeditions have turned out for us, I’d argue this is a feature rather than a bug.

          Even if losing the ability to spend a decade invading Iraq is technically a setback, I think it’s clear at this point that the internal threats to American democracy greatly outweigh any external conventional military threat. The other main benefit of a draft army (as Bret argues above) is that you avoid creating a military special interest that feels the need to advocate for itself against other interests, potentially through force.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Problem is, that military is useful for America’s historical national defense strategy: playing balance-of-power politics in the Old World to nip existential military threats in the bud. And once that tool of deterrence and response exists, it cries out to be used.

            Like

          2. At this point I cannot help but think of France, and its conquest of an empire in West Africa and South-East Asia. I imagine that involved some indefinite expeditions in distant countries, in spite of their partial-conscription army.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. “One likely consequence of switching to a partial-conscription model is that we’d be less able to wage indefinite expeditions in distant countries.” True, but that leads to the Devereuxian point that the military is a product of the society. America’s foreign policy elites clearly intend to keep intervening in faraway countries: Obama and Clinton were just as interventionist as Bush and Trump, possibly moreso than Trump. Nor is such intervention unpopular among the general population, as long as casualties are kept light, which in turn requires well-equpped professional soldiers. So I reiterate my claim that the military leadership is doing the logical thing to fulfill the task they have been given.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. “At this point I cannot help but think of France, and its conquest of an empire in West Africa and South-East Asia. I imagine that involved some indefinite expeditions in distant countries, in spite of their partial-conscription army.”

            That’s why they had a professional Foreign Legion on the task.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. “Problem is, that military is useful for America’s historical national defense strategy: playing balance-of-power politics in the Old World to nip existential military threats in the bud. And once that tool of deterrence and response exists, it cries out to be used.”

            “Obama and Clinton were just as interventionist as Bush and Trump, possibly moreso than Trump. Nor is such intervention unpopular among the general population, as long as casualties are kept light, which in turn requires well-equpped professional soldiers. So I reiterate my claim that the military leadership is doing the logical thing to fulfill the task they have been given.”

            All true, but saying this approach to national defense is traditional and popular isn’t the same as saying it’s wise. I think it’s important for citizens to debate policies on merit even when they’re not likely to be adopted anytime soon- otherwise, we get locked into a very narrow set of possibilities with no hope of innovation. I concede that bringing back conscription would require a pretty radical shake-up of our defense strategy, not least because middle- and upper-class parents are unwilling to send their children to Afghanistan. I say that shake-up is worth it, because it would forestall an existential threat to democracy posed by a failure of mil-civ relations.

            Like

          6. America’s foreign policy elites clearly intend to keep intervening in faraway countries: Obama and Clinton were just as interventionist as Bush and Trump, possibly moreso than Trump.

            There’s no “possibly” about it: Trump is the first US President not to start or intervene in any new conflicts since, IIRC, Jimmy Carter.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. (I set aside, for the moment, the question of whether America’s elites are actually anti-military or not, except to note in passing that I hope that veterans enjoy their single-payer healthcare, and I sure hope the state sees fit to extend it to us civilians someday soon.)

        “Anti-military” is probably going too far, but I think it would be fair to say that America’s elites, like those of the rest of the Anglosphere, have an ambiguous attitude towards the military. The military virtues of patriotism, respect for authority, and killing people, aren’t exactly held in high esteem amongst our civilian elites, after all.

        So I don’t think it makes sense to say that the American armed forces have been forced to adopt a warrior ideal in response to grievances they have with civilians; the mere fact that they see themselves as separate from and able to have grievances with civilians means they’re already viewing themselves in warrior terms.

        I don’t think is accurate. Every profession has, to a degree, its own distinct subculture — for a minor example of this, look at the “Teacher Memes”, “Student Memes”, “Lawyer Memes”, etc., pages on Facebook — and it would really be pretty surprising if soldiers weren’t the same. And members of professions are absolutely able to have grievances with wider society (usually relating to how non-members don’t value the work they do, or don’t appreciate how hard they work). So if members of the armed forces see themselves as separate from civilians and able to have grievances with them, this doesn’t in itself prove that they’re already viewing themselves in warrior terms, any more than teachers, doctors, lawyers, university students, and so on.

        Like

        1. Not to mention “try to micromanage the work with such little understanding about it that they think the impossible is an obvious solution.”

          Like

        2. Prof. Devereux himself noted (13 Nov. 2020) the distaste with which many of his academic colleagues regard military history, because they think “studying militaries and warfare is icky.” That hardly suggests a profound respect for the military.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. ““Anti-military” is probably going too far, but I think it would be fair to say that America’s elites, like those of the rest of the Anglosphere, have an ambiguous attitude towards the military.”

          It’s hard to agree with this when these same elites (politicians, major brands, entertainment media) trip all over themselves to perform respect for the military. We have military flyovers and special military guests at sporting events. Servicemembers are Pat Sajak’s favorite contestants on Wheel of Fortune. Even the most extreme Republicans will brag in campaign ads about the financial support their policies have given veterans- support that, if given to the general populace, they’d denounce as radical communism. (And, on the Democratic side, past military service is such a strong resume item that it can elevate someone like Pete Buttigieg to the level of a serious presidential candidate.) Colloquially, the mere mention that someone is or was in the military is often used as a humanizing shorthand, as if to say “you can tell this is a good, honorable person who deserves to be treated well.” “Thank you for your service” is a saccharine cliche that gets satirized on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And so on.

          To the extent that there’s any ambivalence about the military, it’s that these elaborate displays of support and deference are mostly performance, and the actual living conditions of current and former military members are often quite bad. I think there’s a looming disaster here- we’re training hundreds of thousands of people to think of themselves as members of a warrior caste that’s entitled to special treatment, but then we’re frequently failing to deliver that treatment. Sooner or later, if we don’t fix this, the armed forces to stop waiting for civilians to give them what they think they deserve, when they could so easily take it by force. (It doesn’t help that both Democrats and Republicans have now gotten into the habit of cheering for the military to save them from the tyranny of the other party- on the right, you’ve got military coup fantasies like QAnon, and on the left you’ve got an increasing acceptance of using military power to safeguard the machinery of government from right-wing mobs.) I’m far more scared of this than I am of Iran or Venezuela or whoever’s going to host our next war of choice.

          Like

          1. Not respecting military *members* in public seems like political poison — though the Right didn’t care when Trump mocked and denigrated veterans. But would an elite family be happy and supportive if their child wanted to enter the military? I don’t think the answer is a flat “yes of course”. And among non-elite leftists I know… they might not scorn individual soldiers, and they could be understanding of wanting to get free education and such, but they’d likely view signing up as supporting an institution used to cause more harm than good. Certainly many of them have balked at doing tech work for the military, or been horrified to learn that their Google robotis research or something was being used by the military.

            Like

          2. “But would an elite family be happy and supportive if their child wanted to enter the military?”

            Probably not if they enlisted, but the service academies are appropriately prestigious for an elite family. You wouldn’t need an endorsement from a member of Congress otherwise.

            As for leftists, if you mean leftists in the narrow sense of people who are to the left of the mainstream of the Democratic party, it’s good to keep in mind that they’re a pretty small slice of American political thought. The number of national elected officials who are willing to engage in leftist critique of the military establishment is pretty dang small- even Bernie Sanders won’t go there, AFAIK, and he seems like a decent boundary marker for “mainstream” American political thought. And everyone else- from the center-left over to the extreme right- is unapologetically pro-military, barring the odd Libertarian or conspiracy theorist.

            (And I say this as a leftist myself, who dearly hopes to see anti-militarism become a mainstream position in American political thought.)

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Maybe “ambiguous attitude” is the wrong term. What I meant was that, whilst our elites may show respect for members of the armed forces, the values they espouse are, in many cases, incompatible with if not diametrically opposed to those needed to be a good soldier. A good soldier needs to be patriotic, obedient to his commanders, and self-sacrificing; the worldview propagated by modern elites is post-national, antinomian, and hedonistic.

            Basically, the citizen-soldier ideal only works if civil society sets a high value on qualities like patriotism and self-sacrifice; if it doesn’t, then you have to separate your soldiers from civil society in some way if you want them to be decent soldiers.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. We should check to make sure this kind of commentary about American elite culture being anti-military still works if we explicitly remind ourselves that “elite” is not a metonym for “politically left-leaning.”

            Consider a multimillionaire real estate dealer or local industrialist. One who donates heavily to the Republican Party, and honestly thinks that what America really needs is to locate a few thousand ‘socialists,’ by an *extraordinarily* broad definition of socialism, drag them out, and shoot them as a warning to the rest.

            Said real estate dealer *is* part of the American elite. They have very real financial and political power. How do they feel about *their* kids joining the army to fight in Afghanistan?

            Like

          5. We should check to make sure this kind of commentary about American elite culture being anti-military still works if we explicitly remind ourselves that “elite” is not a metonym for “politically left-leaning.”

            It’s not a metonym, but most of America’s elites are left-leaning: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2020/10/24/biden-receives-more-than-twice-as-much-money-from-billionaires-as-trump-in-final-push/?sh=189619867b55

            And among the media and tech companies, who are generally the most influential in shaping public attitudes, the skew is even more pronounced: https://nypost.com/2020/10/07/silicon-valley-donated-nearly-5m-to-biden-not-so-much-for-trump/

            Like

          6. @theoriginalmrx

            Classically, “the left” (e.g. actual literal socialists) are not seen as being likely to act in the interest of billionaires. It would be quite surprising if billionaires wanted to support political ideology that questions whether billionaires should be allowed to retain their fortunes! As such, I would propose an alternate hypotheses:

            Consider that Biden ran far to the left of the Republicans… but to the right of most of the Democratic primary field. Did those same billionaires donate heavily to the leading candidates favored by the *left* flank of the Democratic Party? If not, then perhaps the America’s elite are in fact *centrist* and will support centrist candidates over challengers from both the right and left.

            The Republicans may have lost that billionaire support, not because billionaires are leftists, but because if you run far enough to the right you make big business nervous enough that even promising them another round of tax cuts won’t help.

            Furthermore, all of this rather sidesteps the point I was making. If we use “elite American culture” as a metonym for “left-leaning,” then we can just mobilize all the old stereotypes about the left being anti-military and have done with it. But if we use “elite American culture” to mean its own plain English meaning, specifically “the attitudes of Americans with real clout and power,” then things get more complicated. America would look very different if all or even most of the Americans with clout held left-wing political views.

            My own view is that clout in America is divided between the left and the right.

            And importantly, elites on the American right are little or no more supportive of the military than elites on the left, as Trump’s own interactions with the military illustrate. This is inevitable given that the roots of elite status in America are almost entirely a matter of personal wealth. Martial skill or deliberate promotion of patriotism and nationalism play no role whatsoever. Why *would* American elites, the country being essentially plutocratic, feel any empathy for the Poor Bloody Infantry any more than they do for any other semi-skilled labor force working under difficult conditions? Why *would* they understand the sentiments that a place like West Point tries to instill in its cadets to turn them into a professional officer corps?

            But it profits the right to maintain the fiction that they “support our troops” and that their opponents “spit on our troops, even in the absence of any clear evidence for this.

            I actually agree with your conclusion, in a way! American elite culture is indeed anti-military and corrosive to what might be termed martial virtues, in my opinion.

            But I would argue that this conclusion is right for a different reason than you might propose. It’s not because “the left is anti-military and controls the media,” as it were. There is no leftist anti-military conspiracy, at least not one with any clout or ability to achieve its goals.

            No, it’s because our elite culture revolves entirely around wealth. It reveres wealth and the gaining of wealth above all other things. And so it simply no longer understands and cannot meaningfully engage with the mindset that produces cohesion in soldiers, or professionalism in an officer corps.

            Like

          7. We are not discussing “classically” but right now, and not whether they “are not seen” but whether they actually do in fact. They often do, and this has, in fact, been seen for decades.

            Like

          8. @ Simon_Jester:

            Classically, “the left” (e.g. actual literal socialists) are not seen as being likely to act in the interest of billionaires. It would be quite surprising if billionaires wanted to support political ideology that questions whether billionaires should be allowed to retain their fortunes!

            I think your definition of “the left” is too narrow. Actual literal socialists are certainly part of the left, it’s true; however, so are social liberals, and whilst America’s elites may not generally be very socialist, they are generally quite socially liberal. And social liberalism is generally in the modern elite’s interest: whereas poor people traditionally relied on their neighbours and extended family members for things like helping with childcare, visiting them when they were sick, not burgling them, and so on, the rich can hire people (nannies, private carers, security guards) to do that for them. In other words, the rich get all the benefits from living in a liberal society (being able to spend their spare cash on hookers ‘n’ blow without people judging them for it), and can use their wealth to shield themselves from the downsides (the decline of strong communities).

            Like

        1. There is a gigantic disconnect between the 1% of Americans with the highest level of education, and the 1% of Americans with the most money.

          Lumping them together as a single ‘elite’ makes about as much sense as lumping together the landed aristocracy and the clergy of medieval Europe as a single ‘elite.’ For some purposes it sort of works, but it aggressively paves over a lot of internal subdivisions that have very far-reaching consequences.

          Like

          1. If you mean that the people with incomes over $400,000 (the one percent) do not generally have Ph.D.s, that’s true. But a disproportionately large number of those people went to Ivy or equivalent colleges and professional schools, where they were trained by people with Ph.D.s (or J.D.’s) from Ivy-equivalent universities and were classmates of future Ivy-equivalent Ph.D.s. These are all pretty much of a unified class (not so much in a Marxist sense, but in the sense of having common formative experiences different from most Americans and common values somewhat divergent from those of most Americans).

            Like

          2. Alternate hypothesis:

            There are other things that differentiate the ‘wealth elite’ from the ‘knowledge elite.’ Even if some members of the knowledge elite attend some of the same colleges as the wealth elite, they do not form a wealth elite. *YOU* don’t act in a bloc along with everyone you went to college with; why should they?

            Supporting evidence:

            1) Academics in America do not seem to be able to make their policy preferences felt on the nation as a whole. There are many issues where academics poll strongly in one direction, and actual national policy points in a different direction. This strongly suggests that *someone* with a lot of clout isn’t listening to academics very reliably. By process of elimination, it’s probably the wealth elite as a collective category.

            2) Academics go to college, then go to grad school, then stick together IN the college and grad schools. Financial elites tend to go to college and then *leave* to run businesses. They benefit from networks formed at their alma mater, but the network mostly consists of fellow graduates, not their professors.

            Like

          3. “By process of elimination, it’s probably the wealth elite as a collective category.”

            you are omitting a large number of vital steps in this step of your claims.

            Like

  17. The more I think about it the less satisfied I am with the hard-and-fast distinction.

    Partially because it seems to conflate at least two different things: vocation/profession and motivation, with a smidge of “distinct class vs universal citizenry” and (while you seem to not quite follow through) a strong correlation between how wars are actually fought.

    Motivation is the trickiest one, becuase its never as simple as you think it is? Plenty of warriors would refuse to fight if not paid. Plenty of soldiers sign up because they see it as part of their masculine identity. I think even for a single individual, much less an entire class of people, trying to sift out motivations is going to be largely fruitless: People have multiple motivations even within a single person.

    European knights of course, did retire from active military service: There are plenty of examples of people recusing themselves due to being too old, but still being considered part of the warrior class (becuase the warrior class was not just warring, but also administration, etc.)

    I am also thinking of examples like manchu bannermen or Green Standard Troops, the aforementioned Janissaries and other situations where you have an group (ethnic or otherwise) essentially restricted to the soldiering profession. These arent always the dominant group in society? ANd where do we put them?

    I am also not certain how simple the “warrior society” (ala mongols) vs. “society with warriors” (ala medieval europe) distinction is; You might argue that a medieval peasant who tends his field but is also part of the militia (which at least theoretically obligates him to bring weapons in case hte call goes out) is a part timer and a soldier, but isnt the mongol who spends most of his time herding sheep and hunting doing the same thing? Is it merely a matter of ideology/identification? (and again: Crossover, in at least early high-medieval scandinavia carrying a sword was the symbol of a free man, so where is the line really?

    Like

    1. A warrior might refuse to fight for a certain lord in not properly paid (or compensated with other socially appropriate means like share in the spoils, gifts, etc…) But he will remain a warrior and either seek out a better lord or fight for himself (as a robber baron, or as a leader of a small viking enterprise, etc…)

      Like

    2. There is no need to go back as far as that to find edge cases. There is an earlier blogpost about cohesion in which someone in the comments brought up the WW2 Home Guard, and the BBC comedy Dads Army. The Home Guard were not paid. So according to the paid-soldier/ identity-warrior dichotomy, Sergeant Wilson and Corporal Jones must have been warriors during WW2, but soldiers when they fought with the field army in previous wars. And this distinction must have made them completely different kinds of people.

      Likewise, a Home Guardsman serving at an AA battery would be a “warrior”, but someone in the Army serving at the same battery, would be a “soldier”. And if the Guardsman were transferred to the Army, he would become a “soldier”, even if he were still serving at the same battery.

      Like

      1. But Bret specifically states that it isn’t about being paid or not that makes you a soldier (although usually soldiers are). The emphasised text from the definition of a soldier is “So the core of what it is to be a soldier is that it is a not-necessarily-permanent employment and fundamentally build about being both in and in service to a group”

        The Home Guard were not paid but they were organised, administered, and equipped by the British government. They didn’t even give up their day jobs to become full time combatants. And when the war was over most (I’m sure there were a few exceptions) returned to being civilians and didn’t feel this was a major loss of purpose in life or something.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Also, the the more general question… isnt that a more deeper philosophical question about whether or not there is any universal human experience? (and that way lies solipsism…) and we start having questions like “Can I really have a similar experience to anyone else or am I the only one who experiences anything and adsfsagag?”

    In the broadest sense of course, no, there is no universal soldier experience that all combatants across al time share, but then the question becomes are there narrower experiences? What is a combatant? Something like “the possibility of being killed” seems like something that would be shared, but is that “an experience”? Bleeding out seems to be a fairly common experience, but as said, its not universal? And so on and so forth.

    But then there is the question of whether or not bleeding out, even if it is the same experience, is experienced (heh) the same way, which again leads to complications.

    Like

    1. Questions we will get into (not in the philosophical sense, but in the concrete historical sense) next time. To what degree are the experiences of war in the deep past similar to war now?

      Like

      1. Hmm. I think the character ‘Albanac’ in Alan Garner’s fantasy novel ‘The Moon of Gomrath’ had a comment of the difference between killing with a sword and killing with a gun. Something about seeing the other person’s eyes as they die. (It was a comment on knowing the cost of what was done, not a glorification.)

        Like

    2. To answer two questions, each narrower than the one you asked:
      – even today, within single societies, people’s internal experiences change as they grow up, which multiple theories attempt to describe (and by the way, many of these theories posit that this development usually isn’t complete by 18). Source: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/are-adult-developmental-stages-real/

      – and people in different cultures had different concepts of how their minds work. To give a few examples:

      1) Probably the most widespread nowadays is: people have a thing called “free will”, with which they make decisions. These decisions should be looked at separately, using either deontology or utilitarianism (depending on which you prefer), and if a decision is found to be bad, then it is called a moral error. Such errors happen randomly. It is rare that someone’s mind is described as not unitary, and a sign that something is very, very wrong.

      2) People have a multitude of habits, traits, reflexes, etc., which lead to actions (in the form of fast reactions to circumstances). Actions should be looked at in terms of what habits/traits/… caused them. Habits/… that predictably cause good or bad outcomes are called virtues and vices, respectively. The conscious, deliberate mind is simply too slow to react sufficiently fast to most situations, instead it is the HQ, performing staff functions and high-level command: it trains, equips (with information and plans), motivates and gives vague direction (“intent”) to the rest of the mind.

      3) In very pre-modern circumstances, when social and economic roles were mostly born into (i.e. you inherited your parent’s “job”), most tasks were done by multiple people in close cooperation, and for most people there was very little privacy (often the whole extended family (plus their various retainers, hangers-on and/or household slaves, as applicable) sleeping together in a longhouse, roundhouse, yurt, or manor hall), at least some people may well have though of the household (or some metonymy thereof, e.g. hearth) as the basic unit (as a “person”) and the constituent people as, er, something like the organs or cells of that body?

      4) Source: https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/06/01/book-review-origin-of-consciousness-in-the-breakdown-of-the-bicameral-mind/
      I think this describes something vaguely like 2) above, except here the self, the person (“the human”) serves something like the executive officer (XO) role, whereas the staff and CO functions are conceptualised as being done by other …entities. (“In his theory, […] the mental processing happened and announced itself to the human listener as a divine voice, without the human being aware of the intermediate steps.”)
      (By the way, I read “cues to precipitate […]” as their version of something like e.g. a pre-flight checklist.)

      Like

  19. As someone who has put in a fair bit of time for Uncle Sam, that whole “warrior” bit needs to die and we really need to quit using it. All that pushing that ideal has done is create a very toxic mindset and resulting culture within the ranks. I personally think that the last warriors died on the wrong of the first repeating rifles and so using that word makes little sense anyway, in this day and age. We also don’t live in a time where someone like William Marshal could maim someone with his bare hands for stealing some of his horses. And despite how some people like to talk about the “good old days,” I think that’s a very good thing, that we don’t live like that anymore.

    Putting replica “Spartan” helmets and such up just looks silly. I doubt too many soldiers in our time are going to write or talk about themselves like Geoffrey de Charny would have about how by dint of them being hyper-violent men of God, they are in fact the spiritual descendants of the original and even better version of a priest, and thus a cut above other humans. But promoting that kind of warped reflection of the past as our ideal of what a professional fighting man should leads to just that kind of elitist mindset and thinking.

    As someone who has been under leadership where my superiors as professional soldiers and part of a cohesive whole and team and who has also seen the other side of it, with people who thought that they were some kind of “elite warrior” and/or just had the massive and unjustified ego that goes with it . . . I vastly preferred working under the former rather than the latter.

    One thing I do think should be taken into account, is that regardless of what you call your fighting men, the treatment of civilians and non-combatants on the receiving end tends about the same, throughout most of human history. Whether its some poor Russian peasant fleeing for their lives from the Mongols, or fleeing from the German Army and the SS (the clean wehrmacht myth also needs to die) or someone unlucky enough to be alive/a woman in the 30 Years War, or some poor nurse captured by the Empire of Japan’s murdering, raping excuse for an army, it generally wasn’t a particularly fun experience for those who weren’t part of the those armed groups. Atrocities aren’t exclusive to either soldiers or warriors.

    Joanna Bourke’s An Intimate History of Killing is a fascinating read on the subject and one that does far more justice to the subject than Dave Grossman’s pseudo-psychological work.

    In fact, it’s only recently in human history that we started to classify certain actions, that most folks considered a man of war’s stock in trade, as war crimes. And even then, those tenets of international law aren’t always adhered to. Or you just get groups of people who are as evil as a human being can get and commit acts that are nothing short of horrific, such as Chechen rebels, the Taliban, Al Queda or ISIS. Cartel soldiers of course are noted for their brutality, but I think they should be considered more hyper-violent, ultra-darwinian corporate oligarchies than full-on terrorist groups.

    Bandit Roads by Richard Grant provides an interesting insight Cartel country, in particular the region of the Sierra Madres, where Cartel soldiers pride themselves on their distinctive gear and flashy clothing. It’s a culture where the myth of the cowboy, a form of highly superstitious Catholicism and the idea of machismo make up part of fascinating mix of a kind of modern warrior culture. Or at least, one where they perceive themselves as such. Suffice to say, that’s something we should ever want to see emulated in any way at any part of our own society and culture.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Whilst it’s easy to say ‘this is a warrior’ in a game system (they were, for example, in third edition D&D the NPC class with fighter BAB progression, but absolutely rubbish skill options and class features) and likewise ‘this is a soldier’, I’m not convinced it makes sense to attempt to draw distinctions in the real world unless you’re a poet or a storyteller (or, I suppose, in some form of advertising or other propaganda industry.)

    In the real world for example, if a Norseman from Scandinavia is employed in the Varangian Guard of an emperor of Constantinople, is said Norseman a warrior, a soldier, or both?

    I’m also unclear where to try to slot in men or women such as ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill.

    I hope that this is just a philosophical preamble as a warm up and to get everyone’s brain cells firing, and that later blogs in this series aren’t going to be overly reliant on ‘well this is in the blog writer’s opinion a soldier and a soldierly thing’ and ‘this is a warrior and a warrior thing’.

    PS
    Wasn’t Conan the Barbarian supposed to be a THIEF? (imagine friendly laughing face emoticon inserted here)

    Like

    1. I think it makes sense to draw distinctions in the real world at the *level of society* – which is a major topic around here.

      The Norseman from Scandanavia is very definitely a soldier in Byzantine society. He’s being paid, goes where the Emperor tells him to go, and obeys orders from whoever the Emperor puts in charge. If he doesn’t do these things, the Byzantines will punish him.

      It is complicated, as you point out, by the Norseman probably considering himself to be a warrior. Which means he may not do everything that the Byzantines tell him to do, or at least not without more resistance and objection than a typical Byzantine soldier.

      What do the Scandanavians (family, friends, neighbours) think of the Norseman employed in the Varangian guard? I don’t know, but now that you’ve raised this I would be very interested in finding out. Was service for the Byzantine emperor as highly regarded as, say, raiding England?

      In modern Western armies of “soldiers” I would guess – on very little basis – that there are people who consider themselves warriors, but join up as soldiers because that’s the only outlet for them in such societies. Civilians don’t care as long as the warriors within the ranks behave as soldiers.

      Like

      1. Considering people like Harald Hardrada, and various runestones, service seems to have been considered honourable and something worth bragging about.

        Like

      2. The Norse culture had a concept of hird, the personal retinue of a great man. Being a member of a one was a honourable thing to do. As far as I understand, becoming a member of Varangian Guard was conceptualised by the people at home as being part of the personal hird of a really great king. (After all, the only thing you knew about it were the tall tales of ex-guards.) The runic inscriptions give a clear impression that the ex-guards deliberately mixed the retirement bonus they got with loot given by the king as a sign of personal appreciation.

        Like

  21. “Rather, the claim that there is a ‘universal warrior’ is really a claim that there is a universal war experience, which all combatants in all wars take part of and which remains largely unchanged or that there is fundamentally a universal set of warrior values, behaviors or attributes which define combatant through the ages and through different kinds of armies, different kinds of service”

    I don’t see how it helps to decide this claim by talking about the etymology or definition of the words “warrior” and “soldier”. It sounds like an astronomer arguing that orbiting bodies do not have common experiences by pointing out that the words “planet” and “asteroid” have a different etymology and definition.

    You could just as easily declare that the infantrymen in Saving Private Ryan and the sailors in Greyhound have different war experiences, so there cannot be a “universal war experience”. And Pressfield would argue that their experiences and values did have things in common; and that they shared many of those things in common with, for example, men fighting wars in 6th century Denmark. And not with the people who sat the war out in Detroit.

    I am not sure that classifying the people fighting wars as either “soldiers” or “warriors” helps decide that any more than classifying them as “soldiers”, “sailors”, or “airmen”.

    Like

    1. I think the point is to make a division and split on it, then show that the sides are not universal and have little to nothing in common. The choice of division is important here. For example, I might try to refute the claim ‘there is a universal “space body” experience’ and first divide the space bodies into planets (large enough to be round), asteroids (not so) and stars (causing fusion in themselves). At that point, there is universal experience of ‘orbiting the sun directly’ in asteroids in planets so that is not a good argument for me, however if I bring in far away stars, that allows me to rule out that universality.

      Our modern conception of soldiers, sailors and airmen would leave a common experience of something like ‘serving the motherland’ or ‘fighting for the country’ and I think Bret meant to divide in warrior and soldier in a way so as to minimize such universal experiences to stuff like ‘dying’ and ‘bleeding’ or something like that (though I also suspect that next week we will go into wars which are not meant to be very bloody because societies waging them couldn’t afford casualties, thus breaking that universality at least partly too)

      Like

    2. One of the things being demonstrated is that the social role of the combatant varies wildly through time, and that as a result, everything else varies with it.

      For example, one distinction Dr. Devereaux comes back to is that a ‘warrior’ will typically have their capacity for violence as an innate part of their identity. They either cannot retire at all, can retire only by surrendering their identity, or can “retire” by continuing to nominally do the same job less and less well, to the point where they become seen as something of a joke.

      Meanwhile, a ‘soldier’ faces an expectation from everyone involved (including themselves) to eventually put away their weapons and their fighting and re-integrate into civilian society. Retirement is assumed, if not outright mandatory, and the way the soldier processes their experiences of battle will have to adapt to that.

      That, right there, is a huge difference in how almost any given group of soldiers and almost any given group of warriors experience their military careers. It vastly complicates any attempt to define a ‘common experience’ between, say, conscripted infantry fighting in the trenches of the Western Front and medieval knights fighting in the Third Crusade.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. “If the police want to be civilians, they shouldn’t be so damn militarized.”

    I think the complaint is that the police don’t want to be civilians and aren’t seeing themselves as such. And that they’re too damn militarized.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I would guess that Nietzsche as a human being was an idiot at times, as are we all.

          He may be wrong and confusing – reading someone does not equal agreement with their views – but there’s enough thought and effort behind his work to keep him on the book shelves and, I believe, discusse in philosophy departments.

          Like

    1. Was that a Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Andromeda’ thing? I have vague recollections of one of the sets of aliens in that being of a ‘proud race that loves fighting and creative treachery’ variety, and maybe being called ‘Nietzscheans’.
      I caught most of the first couple of seasons when they aired in the UK, but then they switched the time slots or something and that was it.

      Like

      1. Originally it was a response to commentator Noah_Brown, who I thought made more sense if interpreted as a Nietzschean. The contributions of said person have been wiped from existence, but all the replies are still here, which can be confusing to read.

        But yes, the science fiction TV series Andromeda did depict far-future cultures based on the ideas of Nietzsche, especially in the first couple of seasons. And it wasn’t too simplistic (Andromeda had flaws, but was pretty good for a while until the original creator got forced out) with this being compared to other cultures, and even divisions within the Nietzscheans themselves about what it actually meant.

        Like

  23. A few years ago I had a rather similar exchange on a far different forum. When I commented that “for a warrior, it’s a vocation, for a soldier, it’s an avocation” I first ran into the problem of vocabulary issues on the part of some other commentators.

    I think one side effect of a “warrior culture” pervading a nation’s armed forces is that, since warriors have no purpose except war (warrior is who you are; soldier is what you do), a warrior-driven armed force is too likely to believe that war is the first alternative.

    Violence is really the first resort of the incompetent.

    Like

    1. The military command has not been the element in our governing structure advocating most recent military interventions. Bernard Henri-Levi seems to have had more influence on the Obama administration than any six generals combined.

      Like

  24. There are actually good reasons for having a warrior-culture military: Competence and morale. People who strongly identify with their jobs are way better at their job than the 9-to-5ers. And “Warriors” have much better morale. You don’t want your military to crumble like the Italian Army in ww2.

    Of course, if you are fighting only useless wars that are of no consequence to your nation’ s survival, like the US has for the last two decades, and your political institutions aren’t stable enough, the dangers of a Warrior-Culture Army outweigh the benefits considerably.
    But there are nations (or at least, there have been historically), for whom the dangers of an incompetent, low-morale military outweigh the dangers of a military coup by a warrior-military.

    Like

          1. If you define a soldier culture as following orders being the number one priority, then it’s too easy to order your military to do atrocious things. If we simplify the warrior as one who thinks for himself and follows his own code/conscience, and the soldier as one who seeks only to do as he’s told because it’s what his country asks, both aspects can be dangerous if taken to extremes.

            Like

          2. If you define a,soldier culture as focusing on the concepts of service, defense and fellowship it is much less threatening. Mindless obedience is in fact not an ideal. A certain amount of initiative is desirable.

            Like

    1. In WW2, the Japanese military certainly was a “warrior-culture military.” And while their military certainly didn’t crumble, it ended up failing to do its job, and part of the reason was because it was hampered by that warrior culture, especially the tendencies of said culture to ignore questions like “how do we get supplies to the battlefront” and “is this position worth holding” and “how far can ‘fighting spirit’ compensate for the fact that we have no food?”

      And, frankly, there’s very little evidence that the Japanese endured privation any better than their opponents. They simply had more opportunity than said opponents to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think its debatable to what extent the “Warrior Culture” actively hampered the japanese war effort, and to what extent it was simply that the japanese had massive materiel disadvantage and thus didnt have any other choice in the matter, and it was more about trying to paper over those deficiencies rather than anything else.

        Like

        1. How about the extent to which the warrior culture (including both aggressive militarism and a contempt for the non-“warrior” USA) led the leadership into starting a war they couldn’t win? They had plenty of choices, from not starting a war to surrendering before their cities were torched.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. To be fair, it’s not like soldier cultures are immune to starting wars they can’t win (for example, virtually every invasion of Afghanistan over the past two hundred years). Come to think of it, it would be interesting to read a study on whether warrior cultures are more or less prone to starting wars they can’t win. (Personally, I could see it going either way — warriors generally have more of their self-identity bound up in fighting, and so are more likely to jump to violence as a solution; on the other hand, civilian leaders who aren’t familiar with warfare might misjudge their chances of success.)

            Like

        2. I would argue that papering over deficiencies hampers your ability to wage war well because it gives you a false impression of your capabilities, thereby meaning that you’re more likely to reach for what’s beyond your grasp. See: Imphal and Kohima.

          Like

    2. I seem to recall that for the Empire of Japan’s talk about Bushido and the Prussian Officer class and the Nazis’ views on racial superiority, and how they viewed themselves, both of those regimes were soundly defeated by armies of conscripted soldiers. But I imagine that morale of the British soldier, American GI or the Soviet tanker was considerably higher than that of his axis counterpart.

      A warrior culture is a danger to our society as we know and value it and it’s antithetical to the nature of what being a soldier is about and to a democratic society. Yet, I think that you’ll find most soldiers in free nations do identify with their profession and are motivated and patriotic.

      Like

      1. To my mind Hürtgen Forest and Iwo Jima showed the Axis lost *despite* Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan having troops of the combat capabilities which they did against what in your own words were ‘conscripted soldiers’. (Although I think the Australians who defeated Imperial Japan in the Kokoda Track campaign may have been volunteers?)

        Like

        1. That’s what was basically my point, in regard to the idea that some kind of “warrior culture” is a desirable thing in a modern military where it’s subordinate to the civil government, not so much a comment on conscripts versus volunteers.

          Like

          1. Except that the same organizational culture which produced such stubborn defenses also produced the catastrophic strategic decisions which made such defenses necessary. The two can’t be separated.

            Consider the materiel case. Part of the reason the Germans never fully motorized (much less mechanized) their armies was the focus on nearly artisinal weapons production – with attendant maintenance problems – born out of the same culture of fascist ‘heroism’ (to use Umberto Eco’s term) as the fierce defensive efforts. Meanwhile, Japan, with its focus on morale (literally training its soldiers to think of themselves as warriors with the introduction of bushido – the way of the warrior – into the training of common soldiers) came with an attendant neglect of materiel concerns because it was thought that appropriate ‘warrior spirit’ would overcome such technical deficiencies. Consequently, Japanese forces consistently had some of the worst equipment in almost every category (save light aircraft).

            Also, IJN/IJA ground force performance against the US Army or Marines was almost uniformly determined but poor. Allied landing forces regularly achieved favorable casualty ratios when engaging in amphibious landings against hardened defenses while at the extreme end of their logistics tether, which are some of the most adverse possible conditions for attackers. While the IJN had some notable successes, I think it would be fair to label the entire Imperial Japanese war effort, top to bottom, as ’embarrassingly bad’ overall (not considering the war crimes).

            Like

        2. Australia had conscription, but only for ‘domestic’ service (that is, those who went overseas to North Africa or elsewhere volunteered for that). As Papua New Guinea was technically Australian territory, conscripts could be required to serve there, Kokoda was initially fought by conscripts (derided as koala soldiers – “not to be exported, not to be shot”).

          Like

      2. All sides in WWII used conscripts. It wasnt a matter of german full time soldiers being beaten by soviet conscripts: It was a matter of german conscripts being beaten by soviet ones.

        Like

    3. “There are actually good reasons for having a warrior-culture military: Competence and morale.”

      This is… wrong.

      There is a difference between strongly identifying with your job as a soldier, and having a warrior culture. When I served, I did strongly identify with my job as a soldier (soldiering was what I did, and in the end I got pretty damn good at it), particularly due to the strong sense of civic duty that was instilled in us. However, that is something entirely different from viewing oneself as a warrior, as that term is usually understood and especially in the context of this discussion. Our vocation was not “to war”. Our identity was not tied to “warring”. Our job and our duty was to protect our society, in the manner which was wanted and required, for the length of our service, and no more.

      In fact, I would argue that if you worry about an incompetent, low-moral military, the last thing you want is some “warrior-culture”. What you want is a military under political leadership, built on a clear sense of civic duty, and with a professional core of officers and NCOs that view themselves as soldiers in service of society rather than a class apart. That way you have a clear and consistent source of cohesion (duty, belonging), and ensure that the incentives to build competence are in line with the military force required by society.

      Also, the example of the Italian army in WW2 is absurd. They did not crumble for a lack competence or morale, caused by having no warrior culture. In fact, reading any number of sources seem to suggest the individual Italian soldier was held in relatively high esteem: They were no less brave than their German allies, or British and Commonwealth opponents. Rather, the collapse of the Italian army was down to operational, strategic and political issues. No amount of “warrior-culture” will save servicemen from failing logistics or political stupidity.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. I think it also depends on what kind of fighting is expected. Stereotypically a warrior who has devoted his life to war may expect to make some sort of recognisable contribution to victory, or receive a meaningful death. But in many forms of modern warfare these are not available. John Keegan in his ‘First World War’ (p213) describes how the Sikh and Rajput regiments committed to the battles of the Western Front reacted bitterly to the nature of the fighting. Raised in somewhat ‘warrior’ culture they found it hard to motivate themselves to fight as part the industrial death machine of those trenches, even though they fought bravely and with panache in other theatres where their fitness, fieldcraft and initiative had value.

      Like

  25. “Does war really never change?”

    man i hate that idiotic quote. looking forward to you wrecking it next week!

    (the quote being “war, war never changes”)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I will be interested in what Prof. Devereux has to say about whether “war never changes.” Although this post fostered some interesting discussion, the post and discussion seemed mostly to show only that there are two archetypal (in a historical not a Jungian sense) male experiences, that of the warrior, be he Bronze Age champion or medieval knight, and that of the soldier, be he Theban hoplite or World War II GI.

    Like

  27. I don’t disagree at all with Bret about the problem of the Warrior-talk in the United States military.

    However, I think that the problem of separating vs not separating the fighter from the broader society has a HUGE unexamined problem, which is that if the mainstream society becomes sufficiently unsuited to war, then you simply *have* to change people through military training to be able to put together an actually effective military force before things actually are desperate.

    At that point, either you have to change your whole culture (in a free society, how?) or you have to make a military culture that’s somewhat distant from the mainstream culture as a condition of military effectiveness.

    (I’ve often been struck with how people in the era of WWII, and the roughly two decades after, often seemed to treat joining the army… not *casually*, but it didn’t have the same character of a total change in experience from civilian life as it does for me and almost anybody I know. I feel like this seems tied up to the idea that in the present day, you could probably sell something like basic training for a fee, and you couldn’t do that 50 years ago.)

    Basically, this is the truth behind all the oft-ridiculous “decadance” discourse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “(I’ve often been struck with how people in the era of WWII, and the roughly two decades after, often seemed to treat joining the army… not *casually*, but it didn’t have the same character of a total change in experience from civilian life as it does for me and almost anybody I know.”

      I figure it’s because veterans of WWII spent the rest of their lives surrounded by other men with the same experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First number off the top of the Google search for “us military wwii percentage of population” said ~9% of the population served.

        Take out the female side, and make some assumptions about age brackets, and you could be pushing a third or higher of adult males.

        Like

        1. From a personal anecdote, I’d guess even higher.

          At the start of the U.S. draft, my grandfather was told he was too old and too skinny. Near the end, he got drafted after all, around age 34. He didn’t have any particular skill they were looking for, they were just that desperate for men. I think they probably had every able-bodied man under 30 they could get.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I could be convinced to go as high as 50% of males in the 18-35 age brackets between 1939 and 1945 were “in the military”

            Somewhat less of them “saw combat” (depending on what you mean by that).

            Like

          2. Isaac Asimov’s employer tried to keep all their employees by declaring the able-bodied ones essential. Then the armed forces changed their definition of able-bodied, and Asimov was drafted.

            Liked by 1 person

  28. I think one should be wary of drawing *too* many conclusions from the so-called “Warrior culture” of the fascist dictatorships and their war economy, one goes to war with the economy and army you have, and both the german and the japanese one had significant deficiences, It is less clear to me that the japanese (or germans) were *less concerned* about logistics than the americans, and simple that they did not have the capability to solve these logistical issues the way the americans did. (both because thier economies were initially much smaller, and becuase the US did a very good job of destroying what capabilities they did have) the “artisanal” nature of german arms production probably was more reflective of the fact that it was the way the german economy was structured, more than any kind of coherent vision.

    Like

  29. “one goes to war with the economy and army you have”

    But that’s begging the question of going to war at all. Both Germany and Japan *started* their conflicts. They were actors, not reactors. If their resources were insufficient, why did they go to war?

    Keegan said Germany had 14% of world industrial output, and much of the later industrial revolution came out of Germany. I’m skeptical that their economy was artisanal by default.

    Like

    1. The german economy was big, but it was also split up in a bunch of small and medium-scale companies to a degree the US economy (or the Soviet economy) wasn’t. Now, this was partially a result of policy, but not one that was easily or immediately “fixable”.

      It should also note that while Germany started the war, they didn’t really intend to: Hitler was pretty much until the actual war convinced the allies would desert Poland like they deserted Czechoslovakia.

      Similarily, the japanese managed some quite impressive feats of logistics, like the Malyan campaign, which once again points to the issue being capability rather than some kind of inherent disdain for the subject.

      The simple fact is that US submarine warfare crippled japanese logistics fairly early on (and that’s before you get into internal political issues like army/navy rivalry, which is a much more complicated affair than simple “Warrior culture”)

      Like

      1. On the topic of WW2 governments supplying inferior or useless equipment to their forces, the United States provided many of its submariners with the Mark XIV torpedo. (Which it took well over a year after the outbreak of war for the United States government and military leaders to acknowledge the faults of and to try to do something to fix…)

        Meanwhile the British were churning out Covenanter and Crusader ‘tanks’. And experiencing problems with the explosive charges deteriorating in ammunition in tropical climates.

        Like

        1. NB The tropical climate ammunition thing was something I remembered from a discussion about HMS Repulse specifically and Force Z. On going back to double-check, I have so far been unable to find a source to support the claim I remembered reading.

          Like

        2. While that is true when people are talking about the german “artisanal” production it’s less about quality and more about the sheer proliferation of different types of materiel. (note that this is a matter of degree, all the powers had to some degree make these kinds of decisions) and that partially it’s because Germany had a lot smaller sites of production than eg. the US, and so it generally meant every plant ended up making something slightly different (with happens everywhere) while the US plants churned out a lot more standardized gear.

          The classic example is helmets: German helmets were generally custom-fitted, or at least made in a number of different sizes. US helmets had a strap on the inside that let you adjust it to fit your head, and were much more interchangeable.

          Like

  30. “The shift to a professional military has always been understood to have involved risks – the classic(al) example of those risks being the Roman one: the creation of a semi-professional (I tend to think that the Roman army before Augustus is only truly semi-professional; the true professional Roman army only comes with the creation of permanent standing legions and fixed service lengths) Roman army misaligned the interests of the volunteer soldiers with the voting citizens, resulting in the end (though a complicated process) in the collapse of the Republic and the formation of the Empire in what might well be termed a shift to ‘military rule’ as the chief commander of the republic (first Julius Caesar, then Octavian) seized power from the apparatus of civilian government (the senate and citizen assemblies).”

    a) what a sentence! ❤
    b) where's a good place to read about the "complicated process" of the collapse of the Republic?

    Like

    1. Truly, it is a Ciceronian sentence in the obscurity of its structure.

      If you want a fairly dry but straight-foward rundown of the process, H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero (1982) is a good one. For a more polemical take, R. Syme, Roman Revolution (1939).

      Like

      1. Actually, if Prof. Devereux has time and inclination, I’d be interested in his recommendations of Roman history surveys. All I have in bookshelf is Boak from my undergraduate days. I gave my father Beard’s SPQR for Christmas, but I haven’t read it myself. I have to refer to Boak periodically since I’m reading City of God and I’m a little hazy on some of the historical allusions.

        Like

  31. Reblogged this on Military Fantasy and commented:
    Looking at things through history, “citizen soldiers” were in fact superior, in terms of defending a society, when compared to either conscripts, full-time professionals or mercenaries. The reason for this was exactly the reason why warriors believed themselves to be superior: those soldiers are citizens, fundamental part of the society they defend. While warriors are also part of the society, they are – much like full-time professionals – set apart from it by their unique role and experience. But warriors are even more removed from society than professional soldiers are, thanks to their warrior ethos.

    A warrior will often feel contempt for the noncombatants, whereas a soldier who is imbedded into civilian society (such as Byzantine stratiotes) is still a fundamental part of the civilian society, and bound to defend it. This was a problem for successive Byzantine emperors, as thematic forces served not only to defend local communities, but also as a medium through which these communities could formulate their interests. Thanks to the theme system, the Empire became in essence a military democracy. This process can be seen much earlier: Greek democracy, those few cases that did exist, was only possible because of the dependence on the small landowners who formed the hoplite class. Same goes for the Roman Republic, which depended on its assidui. And when citizen soldiers of the Republic were replaced by the full-time professionals (mercenaries, in essence), it did not take long for the Republic to fall and make way for dictatorship.

    Same reason why these societies democratized (even if, in the case of Byzantium, it remained a formal monarchy) was also part of the reason for why the system was so effective. Because soldiers were part of the society, they were uniquely motivated to defend it, and also stiffened the resistance of the society as a whole. They may not have had the battlefield effectiveness of fully professional troops (though this is unclear), but the theme system managed to preserve the Empire by simply refusing to die: a disaster that would have rendered a standing army combat ineffective was merely a “duh” moment for the thematic armies.

    It is however important to note that while thematic soldiers were soldiers, they were not entirely devoid of the “warrior” qualities cited in the article. Stratiotes were, among other things, representatives of their community and a sort of aristocracy, such as it were. But they were still not warriors – they were clearly nowhere close in terms of power and influence to the actual aristocracy, the dynatoi, and they remained subordinated to their own military commanders (who, it should be noted, were – at higher levels – also civilian governors of the area). Dynatoi themselves were a sort of a warrior class, dynasties of military commanders (such as Phokaides, Maleinoi, Komnenoi) who achieved their wealth and status thanks to generations of military service – a warrior class which was a product of a service as soldiers in the army, and which continued to provide soldiers for this same army.

    Like

  32. “most of America’s elites are left-leaning:”

    You might be correct but your examples are poor; Trump alienated many people not normally considered left-wing, like Romney or the Bush family.

    Silicon Valley isn’t very culturally conservative but it does have a strong libertarian streak that can lead to Republican support, as can a simple desire to pay less in their own taxes. But there’s naturally also a strong sci-tech streak, and Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic would have alienated that.

    Like

    1. You might be correct but your examples are poor; Trump alienated many people not normally considered left-wing, like Romney or the Bush family.

      Though do note that the Republican establishment are noticeably to the left of their party base; indeed, that was a major factor in Trump’s rise.

      Anyway, though, the key distinction here isn’t left vs. right or Democrat vs. Republican, though these things can be moderately useful as proxies (which is why I brought up the political donations of America’s super-rich in the first place). The key distinction is promoting a culture which produces good soldiers vs. promoting a culture which doesn’t produce good soldiers. As I said above, a good soldier needs to be patriotic, obedient to authority, and self-sacrificing, whereas America’s elites are internationalist, antinomian, and materialistic. “Chamber of commerce Republican” types like Romney tend to be in favour of free trade, immigration and outsourcing jobs abroad (so internationalist), and in favour of encouraging people to buy more things (so materialistic). They also tend to be more socially liberal, and hence antinomian, than the median Republican voter, even if they don’t go as far in this regard as the more radical elements of the left. In other words, Romneytopia isn’t likely to produce good soldiers any more than Socialjustia is, so the existence of people like Mitt Romney doesn’t disprove the point that modern America can have either an effective military or a military which is deeply embedded in civil society, but not both.

      Silicon Valley isn’t very culturally conservative but it does have a strong libertarian streak that can lead to Republican support, as can a simple desire to pay less in their own taxes. But there’s naturally also a strong sci-tech streak, and Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic would have alienated that.

      See my above answer. Libertarianism is far too individualist and anti-authority to produce good soldiers, so again, an army in a libertarian society would need to develop its own subculture different to that of society at large. (And even then, it would struggle in a WW2-style situation — it’s difficult to put your country on a total war footing whilst remaining true to libertarian principles.)

      Like

      1. What exactly do you mean by ‘antinomian’?

        I don’t see a conflict between “buying things” and being a good soldier. Nor between being “internationalist”, which you’re using loosely, and being a soldier, particularly a defensive soldier; internationalists can object to being invaded. Valuing other cultures and peoples might make it hard to be an offensive soldier, but that’s no bad thing.

        Like

        1. I don’t recall our country being invaded by the Nazis or the Japanese. Why would an internationalist be willing to fight against the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Or against Kim Il-Sung? For a flag?

          Like

          1. Remember Pearl Harbor?

            Anyway, the US had a strong isolationist streak up into WWII (not to mention the pro-fascist) streak. If anything the internationalists could be *more* likely to volunteer to fight abroad against enemies that seemed clearly evil — lots of volunteers to fight for the Spanish Republic against Franco.

            But less likely to fight for elite geopolitics.

            Like

          2. While isolationism was a strong presence in US politics, it was never the only presence. Isolationists were also not pacifists; they were quite willing to intervene in most places except Europe. Isolationism was also quite independent of the left-right axis in politics. I suspect that it was weaker in the areas of the country that had always been heavily involved in international trade, such as the northeastern US.

            In WW1, the Germans drove the US into war despite the presidency of the isolationist Wilson (Roosevelt would probably have become involved in 1916 had he been president) by their military (warrior culture) disdain for things like neutral ships (the RN may have been stopping and seizing neutral ships, but they weren’t sinking them, killing large numbers of the people aboard). In the 1940s, the nazis would have managed to do the same by using the same methods as the kaiser’s government did a quarter century earlier.

            Like

        2. What exactly do you mean by ‘antinomian’?

          I mean the belief that rules and hierarchy are bad things and that happiness is to be found in doing what you want regardless of others’ expectations.

          I don’t see a conflict between “buying things” and being a good soldier.

          Modern advertising encourages people to see a life of ease, comfort, instant gratification, and material consumption as the highest good. None of these things are likely to be available on campaign.

          “internationalist”, which you’re using loosely,

          I am using it loosely, because I can’t think of a better word. What I mean is the belief that a strong attachment to a particular community, location, country, and way of life is (at best) foolish and unsophisticated or (at worst) bigoted and racist, and that the sensible person is free from such attachments and willing to move around from place to place as his fancy or economic advantage takes him. If you can think of a better term, I’ll happy use it instead.

          Nor between being “internationalist”, which you’re using loosely, and being a soldier, particularly a defensive soldier; internationalists can object to being invaded.

          Somebody isn’t likely to willingly risk his life for his country without a strong attachment to it, and he’s not likely to develop a strong attachment to it if he’s spent his whole life being told that having a strong attachment to your country is morally suspect.

          Like

          1. “Cosmopolitan” (especially if you consider its etymology, “citizen of the world”) might be a better word than “internationalist.”

            Like

          2. “Cosmopolitan” (especially if you consider its etymology, “citizen of the world”) might be a better word than “internationalist.”

            I did think of using “cosmopolitan”, but then some people consider it an anti-Semitic dog-whistle, and I wanted to steer well clear of that area.

            Like

  33. “His Principles are themselves rooted in that tradition, though.”

    “Policing is professionalizing everywhere during this period”

    Sure, but it still seems rather clear that UK and US police did not professionalize in the same way. If they both draw on common law, they took it in different ways. If NY looked to London as a model, it didn’t stick, or spread.

    Like

    1. They evolved in very different environments; but that doesn’t disprove my statement that “anglosphere policing is rooted in Peelian Principles, even if it’s a little more aspirational on the west side of the Atlantic”

      US policing can “return” to their roots, rather than “move towards a new place.”

      Especially since Professional Policing replaced the “night watch” model of policing in NYC and other places in the US.

      Like

  34. The article makes very clear the (important to contemporary American debates) distinction between a warrior caste/class and a force of volunteer soldiers. What I am less certain is what exactly separates a warrior in an all-warrior tribe (the Mongols are explicitly named in the article) from a citizen-soldier in a nation with (near-)universal conscription. After all, in both cases the notion of being a (male, though female conscription is not unheard of, see Israel) member of the tribe/nation is intimately tied to possibly having to partake in fighting actions. All distinctions I can think of have considerable flaws:

    – While a modern army has a high degree of specialization and requires a lot of behind-the-frontlines jobs that would be considered unbefitting of a warrior (at least according to some of the various “warrior eth…i”? Plural of ethos?) as they are not supposed to see combat (of course they sometimes do because battles rarely go according to plan; therefore they still are equipped with a weapon and some basic fighting training), I’d consider that a function of the army’s technological sophistication rather than of the social status of its members (I don’t know if e.g. the Athenian citizen-soldiers had a higher ratio of non-frontline personnel than the Mongol warriors).

    – In a similar vein; a citizen-soldier might have a specialized civilian profession as potter, sculptor or blacksmith (to quote a famous movie about warrior-aristocrats with the dubious claim of being technically citizen-warriors due to excluding all non-aristocrats from the citizenry) while a tribal warrior is expected to be proficient at all civilian occupations that are considered within his gender role. But that, again, seems to me more a question of the technological level the civilian economy operates at.

    – While in most modern conscription-based armies soldiering is just a phase every youth goes through before putting military life behind them and starting a civilian career, this is just a matter of convenience and need not be the case in a reserve-based army where every citizen stays on call as a soldier even after finishing active duty (this is how Switzerland in the 1960s managed to have a nominal army strength nearly 1/4 of that of the Soviet army).

    – Warfare might be a larger part of a tribesman’s life than of a citizen-soldier’s due to tribes being more belligerent than nations (and more belligerent nations usually utilizing professional soldiers in their campaigns even if they also have a conscript army). Though Israel has been constantly at war (except if one were to define “war” in a narrow Westphalian sense as “armed conflict between states that recognize each other’s statehood”) since it’s foundation and has a conscription-based army.

    Like

    1. I don’t know how many non-combat people accompanied a Roman legion, I get the impression consuls tried to keep the baggage down, but the legionnaire soldiers themselves did a lot of grunt work, digging most famously. So it’s not just a modern thing. I don’t know if steppe nomad fighters are unwilling to do similar things, though.

      The Roman Republic seems more belligerent than the Empire, if only because the Empire had run low on attractive targets. Yet the Imperial army was more professionalized, I think.

      Interesting questions, though.

      Like

  35. I think that warriors can exist only in a society which either lacks literacy or sufficient economic output to pay for an adminitration / birocracy.
    Warriors are known only in pre-literate socities or in the ones caught in a crisis. The warior is a person who has martial skills and complete freedom to employ them when and how he wishes. His superiors or employers must treat him quite gently and persuade him to act on their benefit. The warriors are usually excluded or co-opted and forced to behave whenever the ruling elite can get a stable source of income.
    The soldier appears whenever there is an administration which can confiscate lands and property, imprison and execute people. The soldier is at core a conscript who must execute what his superior asks or he will suffer consequences.

    Like

    1. There are plenty of warrior classes in post-literate societies, even those with significant bureaucracies. Samurai provide a pretty compelling example of a warrior class inside of a very complex culture, but also the knightly class in Europe, the Spartiates, etc. And, as we’ll see in a couple of weeks, some forms of modern authoritarianism base their ideology in an appeal for the creation of a class of warrior-heroes.

      Like

    2. The proposal that the soldier and the warrior are mutually exclusive phenomena is flatly odd: otherwise there’d be little distinction at the individual (is he a soldier or a warrior) level in most languages, and we’d simply describe the fighting men of XXXX as “soldiers” and those of YYYY as “warriors” by default once we’d identified them as separate types. The fact that they aren’t mutually exclusive concepts– that many cultures can and do support both forms– is what allows us to have this discussion in the first place.

      Like

  36. I am currently reading David Edgerton’s England and the Aeroplane. At one point he notes how many British enthusiasts for the aviation saw military pilots – especially fighter pilots – as the heroic warriors of the machine age, free to meet in single combat in the skies. They were, of course, to be recruited from the right classes, and be gentlemen. The right wing in other countries had similar ideas – see d’Annunzio and the Italian Futurists’ glorification of aerial combat (echoed diminuendo in Studio Ghibli’s Porco Rosso). The mechanics, fitters and armourers were cast as the foot soldiers to these Homeric lords of battle in their winged chariots.

    Like

  37. Without watching the videos you are responding to and just seeing what you’ve cited specifically it sounds like someone took Umberto Eco’s “Ur Fascism” as a how-to guide, not a warning. Specifically with regards to his eleventh feature of fascism around the cult of heroism and martyrdom.

    Like

  38. Bret, I am recording these (very late) typos for you, but I have not read through the 265 comments that have already accumulated, so I have not removed anything that others may have left for you. So…apologies for needless repetitions!

    kinds of service -> service[period]
    and ‘warriors and -> and ‘warriors’, and [insert closing quote and comma]
    and if their experience -> and whether their experience
    warrior if fighting -> warrior whether fighting
    fundamentally build about -> built about [unsure if this fixes problem/?]
    period was heavily influenced -> period were heavily influenced [not sure how to fix…add “The” at beginning of long sentence/?]
    values if modern soldiers -> values of modern
    on (fictitious) ‘universal warrior’-> on a [or] the(fictitious)
    so much of the males -> so many of
    the majority men -> the majority of men
    different than that -> different from that
    the women whose -> the woman whose
    full time civilian -> full-time

    Like

  39. Others may have covered it above, but I disagree with the closing assertion that

    A modern, free society has no need for warriors; the warrior is almost wholly inimical to a free society if that society has a significant degree of labor specialization (and thus full-time civilian specialists).

    Rather, the role and status of the warrior is greatly curtailed and re-framed in such societies’ context(s), and certain of its functions pared off into the specializations of various more-specialized occupations. Another entire essay set could be written on what those roles were/are, what has happened to them, and what functions in today’s society legitimately fulfill the “warrior” role with or without them. A case might even be made for the “warrior” profession (per Dr. Don Snyder’s definition of a “profession”) having been largely subsumed into its component or ancillary trades.

    Snyder reference here:

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s