This article originally appeared as a chapter from Firearms and Violence (1983), edited by Don B. Kates, and was reprinted in The Militia in the 20th Century, (1985), edited by Morgan Norval.

The hope of the future does not rest, as commonly believed, in winning the peoples of the “buffer fringe” to one superpower or the other, but rather in the invention of new weapons and new tactics that will be so cheap to obtain and so easy to use that they will increase the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare so greatly that the employment of our present weapons of mass destruction will become futile and, on this basis, there can be a revival of democracy and of political decentralization in all three parts of the world.[1]
—Carroll Quigley, 1961


Today many Americans perceive the increase in violence in our society and attribute it to the general availability of firearms, especially handguns. They further believe that handgun prohibition would effectively deal with the problem. These beliefs are called into question by much of the data in this volume. Moreover, even conceding that firearms prohibitions could result in violence reduction, there would remain the question of constitutionality within the Second Amendment. Regardless of whether the courts today would honor the Founders’ belief in a personal right to arms, the philosophical and public policy issues underlying that belief remain. Might it not still be the case that the costs of widespread firearms availability must be endured if we are to maintain the conditions necessary to preserve a free society?

To understand the reasoning of those who framed the Second Amendment, we need to comprehend their view of social behavior, based upon their distinctive interpretation of history and their own political experience. In essence they believed the lesson taught by both history and experience was that an armed citizenry is both necessary against the perennial threat of tyrannical government, and the ultimate protection against foreign invasion.

Were the authors of the Second Amendment wrong in their deep suspicion of political power or in their view of history and human behavior? In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate should we reject out of hand the notion that those who hold political power in the United States are susceptible to its abuse like the rulers of the nations or civilizations studied by the Founding Fathers? If not, how are today’s politicians different? But of course many who are little less suspicious of government (or governors) than were the Founding Fathers nevertheless reject the notion that private possession of arms represents any meaningful check, at least today. A populace armed with only handguns and rifles cannot, they argue, be expected to stand up to a modern army with tanks, planes, and the other formidable equipment of war today.[2]

The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that technology, correctly understood, has not outmoded the basic insights of those who framed the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the people’s right to hold and bear arms. In fact, recent history has corroborated the validity of these insights. Much of violence today, in America and elsewhere, actually stems not from firearms but rather from a legitimacy crisis in the state itself. At the same time, certain objective conditions make government control of goods—from weapons to marijuana—virtually impossible nationally, let alone internationally. These considerations, which entail far-reaching historical and global perspectives, severely undercut the case for prohibition of firearms.


Technology is a technique rather than any specific object such as a tank or airplane. In terms of general systems theory, technology is a process rather than a structure. In military medicine, for example, the application of the technique of “triage” (making quick, difficult decisions about allocating medical treatment to those who can most benefit from it) in Korea, and later in Vietnam, probably saved more lives than did any particular new medicine or medical device. [3] Revolutionary warfare, much emphasized in the last few years but dating back to ancient times, is better regarded as a technique than as the use of any particular weapon. When technology is viewed in this perspective, we see that it clearly is not a new factor in history nor one that arose only with the Industrial Revolution.[4] Those with political power seek to control any technology perceived as a threat to their dominance.

For example, recently there has been considerable discussion about why China, which was far more technologically advanced than the West in the early years of the modern era, fell behind and did not experience an industrial revolution. The destabilizing potential of technology may provide the answer. The mandarin leadership perceived that any wide application of such technology—and that certainly included weapon technology—would threaten the established system.[5] Chinese science, at least at the theoretical level, was seldom, if at all, very far behind the West. But scientific knowledge was never allowed to develop into a technology whose wide application might benefit the entire population.[6]

In short, if man as a tool maker very early emphasized weaponry, as has been suggested by some ethologists, then those at the top of a social order would understand that various technologies of weaponry pose a threat to the status quo.[7]


The discussion of numerous kinds of weapons has tended to obscure the fundamental dichotomy into which all weapons can be divided. As Carroll Quigley emphasized, the two categories are “shock” weapons and “missile” weapons. While it might seem curious, for example, to suggest that a slingshot is more like a handgun or an ICBM than it is to a stick or billy club, there is a sense in which this is, indeed, the case.[8] Shock weapons can be used only at close range. As such, they tend to offer flexibility in inflicting injury and therefore offer flexibility in social control. Missile weapons, on the other hand, employ a velocity that enables them to be used over distance. Aim cannot be perfectly controlled over distance, however. Once launched, a missile may kill, thereby giving less flexibility as a means of social control. The above has long been understood by police in Great Britain, who, if armed at all, have preferred shock weapons and only reluctantly have employed missile weaponry.[9]


This preliminary analysis brings us to the role of the military in history and its relationship to the question of weapons technology and control. In the United States, recent discussion about the role of the military has narrowly focused around the question of a voluntary versus a conscripted army. Many people with libertarian or antimilitary leanings have tended to oppose restoring the draft because of its obvious impingement upon freedom of choice. Despite the importance of individual choice, more is at issue than this simple dichotomy.


Citizen-Militias versus Standing Armies

Those who pressed for the Second Amendment transcended the previously mentioned dichotomy. It was not that they valued freedom of choice less, but rather that history suggested to them a different set of issues. In the eighteenth century context of the framing of the Second Amendment, those who advocated what some have called the “country” as opposed to “court” ideology opposed conscripted standing armies. Yet they were aware that, historically, in the republics of the ancient world, the shift from conscripted armies to volunteers as a source of manpower was accompanied by a corresponding shift toward empire. In the process, citizens had eventually lost their sense of liberty.[10] There was, however, a third alternative-the citizen-militia Analogous to Thomas Paine’s differentiation in Common Sense between society, or the people, and government, or the state, was the concept of the citizen-militia. Here the authority emanated from the people upward, versus the standing army, where authority rested above with the state. Participation in the people’s militia was thus an integral aspect of citizenship in what was perceived as a republican culture.[11]

The realization that historically volunteer armies become instruments of imperialism precludes reducing the issue to a narrow debate over volunteerism versus conscription. As a society becomes more affluent, the wealthy seek to avoid conscription by buying themselves out of military service. Volunteerism accommodates this. A citizen-militia is amateur-oriented service (the conscript is also an amateur in the sense that he is there for a limited time). Volunteer armies9 when they assume imperial responsibilities, quickly become professionals with a career orientation.

To the differences arising from source and composition of armed forces may be added the importance of structure. The grass-roots orientation of the citizen-militia derives from society rather than the state. Forces deriving from the state can be either decentralized or centralized, but the tendency of imperial structure is toward centralization.

Finally, there is the question of function: how is the armed force to be utilized? Citizen-militia forces are by their source, composition, and structure local defense forces. George Washington, who complained about the inefficiency of the citizen-militia, insisted on using these forces for imperial ventures, such as capturing the Ohio Valley in the war with France or taking Canada during the American War for Independence. He experienced first-hand the complaints by conscripts who, having lost their liberty, had little stomach for long-range imperial adventure.[12] As every republic in history has discovered, there is a drawback in using volunteers for imperial purposes: those who have to do the bleeding and dying to extend or defend the empire demand that those who have the courage to defend the empire ought also to run it.

The four factors of armed forces mentioned above—source, composition, structure, and function—have to be related to changes in the technology of weaponry and the way in which, especially in the short run, a new technology may facilitate power by a minority in control of the state. Analysis of these factors exhibits the historical relationships among weapons, technology, and legitimacy.[13]


Technology in general, and military technology in particular, played an important role in the ebb and flow of Chinese civilization. China offers one of the best examples of cyclical patterns in history, with dynastic cycles occurring roughly every 300 years. Revolts culminating in the emergence of a new dynasty invariably meant mobilizing and arming a significant portion of the populace. The immediate problem of the new dynasty was the disarming of this militia-like force and its displacement by a more traditional professional army. Some of the techniques of achieving this disarmament showed considerable imagination. One ruler proclaimed that to celebrate the victory, a great metal statue of himself would be erected derived from melting down the weapons of those who had helped him to achieve power. This interesting variant of the notion of swords into plowshares was repeated by the Japanese ruler Hideyoshi in the sixteenth century to cement his newly won power.

Another recurrent theme first emerged during the second century B.C One mandarin advised the ruler that rapidly increasing criminality could be stemmed by depriving the populace of arms. The proposal was dropped when another adviser replied that outlaws would always find weapons so only the honest citizenry would be disarmed, thereby actually facilitating criminal attack upon them-shades of “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”[14]

Chinese authorities very early recognized the differential importance of missile over shock weaponry. The cost of a bow put it beyond the means of the vast majority of peasants. Confucianism stressed archery as one of the skills to be acquired by the gentleman-scholar. With the majority of the people disarmed most of the time, the principal threat to the hegemony of the mandarin bureaucracy came from the military. The Confucian system of legitimacy, unlike that of the West, sought to place the soldier virtually outside of the social system, thus the Confucian aphorism, “One does not use good iron for nails, nor good men for soldiers.”

Of course, the military could never be totally controlled by that system. This meant a threat of warlordism from within, arming a portion of the dissatisfied population in order to establish a new Chinese dynasty. Later, with the effort to control technology, it meant the dominance of foreign regimes that had developed the technology, starting with the Mongols, then the Manchus, and finally the Westerners.

Chinese circumstances would have made possible an industrial revolution several centuries before the West, which borrowed heavily from her. Iron technology and gunpowder developed within an expanding market culture, involving improved manufacture, transportation, and trade.[15] These developments, which included the wide-ranging naval expeditions that had taken Chinese ships as far as the Indian Ocean, threatened bureaucratic control to the point that they ultimately had to be stifled.[16] Having denied herself the market environment necessary for an industrial revolution, China began to fall behind the evolving West. One of the first areas in which this became evident was iron technology, especially in cannon manufacturing.

The means of achieving power and establishing legitimacy have changed with the triumph of the Communists under Mao Tse-tung. More so than in previous dynasties, the “mandate of heaven” of Mao’s regime is closely tied to the state’s ability to control the potential violence of the river systems. As in earlier rebellions, arming the peasantry was the key to Chinese Communist victory. Mao brilliantly united the lower, middle, and upper class peasantry in a people’s war. But despite the pervasive ideology of an ever-continued revolution, Mao early realized that the peasant guerrillas’ desire for land must be undercut by disarming them under the centralized control of the regular army. This. in turn, would be controlled by the Party. Thus in 1936, he made the following observation on guerrilla warfare: “One (of its aspects) is irregularity, that is decentralization, lack, of uniformity, absence of strict discipline.... As the Red Army reaches a higher stage we must gradually and consciously eliminate them so as to make the Red Army ... more popular in character.... Refusal to make progress in this respect and obstinate adherence to the old stage are impermissible and harmful.”[17]

Mao moved to eliminate some of the grass-roots structure of his movement more than a decade before its final triumph. The militia since has been used as a frontier-colonizing force along those borders where tensions with the Soviet Union remain high. Authority is from the Party downward.


The Greco-Roman world provided much of the historical data for those who wrote the Second Amendment. From this classical history, it would appear that democracy derived not so much from philosophy as from the socio-technology of weaponry. The Greeks developed the phalanx as a method of fighting. That tight formation of spears demanded disciplined participation, out of which grew the idea of citizenship: one spear equaled one vote. Characteristically, Socrates, for instance, defined himself as a hoplite, or heavily armed infantry soldier, and that social change leading to shared decision-making is known as the hoplite revolution.[18]

The use of infantry tends toward greater citizen participation than does the use of cavalry and mounted archers. In contrast to incipient Greek democracy, Asia quickly moved from shock to missile weaponry, with an emphasis on cavalry and bowmen.[19] Technology, however, does not guarantee greater citizen participation. With increased affluence and the passage of time, volunteer, paid professional armies began to appear, whose ranks could spend long hours mastering, the skills of keeping the phalanx together. The Greeks were caught in what has sometimes been called “the law of the retarding lead,” that is, the ability of one organization or nation to surpass a more advanced organization or nation by the former profiting from the institutionalization of the advantages of the latter. So it was the Macedonian monarchy that brought the professional phalanx to its ultimate fulfillment.[20]

Not all Greeks accepted changes in military tactics and techniques as inevitable. In the face of Macedonian growth at the end of the fourth century, the Athenian orator Demosthenes “pleaded in vain for a citizens’ army instead of the mercenaries so unsuited for the polis, much as Machiavelli eighteen hundred years later demonstrated against Florentine reliance on hired soldiers.”[21] Unless they abandoned the technique of the phalanx, the smaller city-states with citizen-militia could not hope to compete with larger nation-states, which were able to afford professional standing armies. What was once a new technology that aided the rise of self-government had become institutionalized into a tactic favoring despotism and a hired, professional standing army.[22]


Elsewhere the spirit of the citizen-soldier flourished. The example of republican Rome demonstrates that such an army was not inherently unable to cope with a professional phalanx. The Romans developed a much more flexible use of the infantry-the legion.[23] With this innovation they defeated the Carthaginians and later the Macedonians and Greeks. It is interesting to note that the Aetolians, and later the Corinthians, held out longest against Roman imperialism. They did so not as mercenaries employing either the phalanx or legion, but as a citizen-militia largely using irregular, partisan, guerrilla, and people’s war tactics.[24]

As Rome moved from a policy of defense to one of imperialism, she found herself caught in the same structural changes as had the Greeks. The formal shift from republic to empire, which occurred in the first century A.D., was already foreshadowed at the beginning of the first century B.C.[25]

Away for long years of service, often abroad, the citizen-soldier found it increasingly difficult to function as a farmer, if indeed he had not already lost his farm to one of those who had stayed behind to accumulate war profits. Plunder and a promise of new land upon retirement became the stimuli of the volunteer, professional standing imperial strike force. The system flourished as long as it could expand its empire, based on a growing welfare state at home and taxation of the provinces. At home the Pax Romana was characterized by a “cultural sterility” and a loss of liberty.[26]

Rome was so weakened by the defeat of her soldiers at the hands of the Germans in the Teutoburg Forest in A.D. 9 that she was never able to replace the three legions lost there. Further territorial gains at weaker areas of the periphery masked the fact that her “grand strategy” had shifted to trying to hold what she already had.[27] That the Roman Empire remained in existence so long is attributable to three factors: the rise of Christianity within the Empire, the vitality of cities on the periphery, and the barbarians’ lack of any alternative system of legitimacy.[28] The peasant-barbarian volunteers of the late Empire army were themselves such a violent group that cities hesitated to request them to help restore order.

The Dark Ages and the First Industrial Revolution

The “Dark Ages” was actually a period of considerable technological development.[29] The slave system of the Roman Empire, which had inhibited technological advancement, was swept away in the development of the decentralized social system generally referred to as feudalism. By the tenth century, technological growth had reached such a point that this era has been termed “the first industrial revolution.”[30]

The millennium of infantry dominance in Europe, roughly 600 B.C. to A.D. 500 which accompanied the rise of republicanism and democratic participation in the classical world, was followed by a return of cavalry (the mounted knight) to military predominance for close to another millennium, 500-1450.[31] Technological development in the military area mainly served to refine this aristocratic paradigm rather than to aid in the growth of the wider citizen-soldier participation such as had characterized the ancient world.

Economic development during the latter years of this medieval period (the late thirteenth to the late fifteenth century) unlike that of the previous three centuries, was characterized by an overall economic stagnation of the system, which lasted until the expansion and colonization of the New World. This stagnation was directly related to governmental economic regulation pushed by the guilds in the cities and to increased efforts at taxation resulting from the wars launched by the aristocracy.[32] Though the majority of the people revolted against these conditions in a series of “peasant revolts” during this 200-year downturn, they simply did not have the weapons to challenge the dominance of the state and its aristocratic cavalry. The Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381 provides a typical example.

A Bourgeois Tax Revolt?

During 1348-50, the Black Death swept through England, killing one third of the population. This resulted in a shortage of labor, coupled with a rise in wages and considerable discontent among those who were tied to the “villein” system. To resolve the socio-economic woes King Edward III tried wage controls, with penalties for those employers who paid more than the old wage. As the Chronicon of the age observed, “But the labourers were so arrogant and so hostile that they took no notice of the King’s mandate; and if anyone wanted to employ them, he was obliged to give them whatever they asked, and either to lose his fruit and crops or satisfy at will the labourers’ greed and arrogance.”[33]

Thus the common people had access to jobs, and the revolt broke out not in the feudal North but in the more economically advanced areas of the Southeast in Suffolk and Norfolk. History tends to confirm the often-made observation that rebellion tends to break out among those whose recent improvement is suddenly threatened. Young Richard II, on the advice of Parliament, instituted a poll tax on every adult to help pay for the war with France. “There was much evasion and loud complaint of the arrogance of the tax assessors, and still more of the special commissioners who were given a cut of the money collected.”[34]

The revolt started in the market town of Essex near London. Led by a baker, over one hundred merchants and artisans from three towns gathered to protest to one of the tax collectors that they would neither “deal with him nor give him any money.” When the collector ordered arrests, the people took up arms and killed two tax men. Other towns soon joined, and an army was quickly formed. Its major problem was that the men lacked weapons, for as one observer recounted, “some carried only sticks, some swords covered with rust, some merely axes and others bows more reddened with age and smoke than old ivory, many of their arrows had only one plume.”[35]

The Anonimaille Chronicle notes that the rebels “proposed to kill all the lawyers, jurors and royal servants they could find.” From the beginning the revolt was aimed not at the landowners but at the government and against the arbitrary taxes levied by Parliament and the King. Despite later efforts by radical priests such as John Ball, who talked of attacking “gentlemen,” the revolt was not a class struggle; it was the merging of middle segments of the society against the government. As one historian says, “Personal attacks on secular landlords were indeed extremely infrequent throughout the course of the rebellion.”[36] The tax revolt was neither started nor led by peasants. In the Southeast it was led by craftsmen and artisans, “while elsewhere in England the leadership of the revolt came from clerics, landowners, above all the ‘burghers’ of the towns, or what we would now call the bourgeoisie.”[37]

Within a few weeks the revolt was put down through bloody repression by the government. What is significant is the evidence of how few weapons, and those of poor quality, were possessed by the people. Almost 400 years later a similar group of American colonial leaders would stage a revolt against economic regulation and arbitrary taxation. One difference would determine their success: they were armed!


In the period from Machiavelli’s early sixteenth-century Florence to England in the eighteenth century, technological developments, especially in weaponry, caused considerable social changes and significant problems of social control.

Cavalry—with or without an armored knight—is very expensive. In all but the most nomadic groups, a horse’s cost limits its use to an elite, usually an aristocracy. Castle defense and a mounted knight reinforced the decentralizing tendency of feudalism and the power of the aristocracy.[38]

The rise of centralized, absolutist, monarchical states saw several concomitant tendencies in the area of weapon technology and control. One was the continued introduction of new technologies with respect to missile weaponry, essentially the cannon and firearms. The cannon’s ability to penetrate castle walls and the ease with which a ball could pierce armor undercut the supremacy of the knight.

In the long run it was such technologies that weakened the power of the feudal aristocracy relative to that of the monarch and the national state. Just as in the classical world the city-states had been less able than larger states to pay for standing professional armies, so in the early modern period the emerging national states were better able to afford the new firearms technology and the professionals to use it.[39]


At the same time that costs limited a widespread ownership of the new firearms, governments on a global scale sought to disarm their populace as a means of social control. In Japan, for example, as a prelude to the Tokugawa Shogunate, Hideyoshi in the “famous ‘sword hunt’” disarmed the farmers and gave the professional samurai class the sole right to wear swords. In France and England, authoritarian monarchs attempted systematically to disarm the people as a basic safeguard against unpopular regimes.[40] Shortly before the American Revolution, a British officer named Charles Lee, who later fought with the Americans and became an advocate of people’s war, was an observer of the Poles’ valiant struggle against the Russian invaders. He commented upon how effectively the Poles might have fought had they not been essentially disarmed beforehand. The lesson was not lost on Lee.

It was not just the cost or availability of firearms that strengthened the rise of central government and professional armies. Early weapons were inaccurate over any great range and took a long time to reload, even by a skilled soldier. Rain might render the firing mechanisms useless. As late as the American Revolution, professionals hoped for rain so that a musket exchange could be dispensed with and bayonets fixed for a charge. Pikes and pikemen remained an important part of professional armies swell into the seventeenth century.

Prior to the American Revolution, the one military struggle that did engage a significant segment of the population was the English Civil War. Shock weapons still predominated over missiles. The basic weapons of the 1640s included the sword, the pike, and, to a lesser extent, the arquebus. As John Ellis has observed, “Because the level of technology was not high the manufacture of such equipment was in the hands of ordinary craftsmen rather than specialized, government supervised production units. Such crafts were spread about the country and . . . each side had access to adequate amounts of military materials.”[41]


Ellis’ study Armies in Revolution examines both the revolutionary struggle between each side in major events such as the English, American, and Chinese revolutions and the tension and struggle within the factions of the revolutionary coalitions themselves. “Country” ideology-from the English Revolution through the framing of the Second Amendment-was cognizant that opposition from within the revolutionary coalition was a major reason for the defeat of some of the more equalitarian goals of the revolution.

During the English Revolution, Oliver Cromwel1 and other conservative parliamentarian leaders pressed for more aristocratic power for the officers as opposed to the sense of equality of the rank and file of the army represented by the Levellers.[42] The turning point of the Revolution was the triumph of the more conservative elements. The restoration of the monarchy affirmed that change of emphasis. If the events of 1688-89 established the ultimate hegemony of Parliament, they also set the oligarchical nature of British politics.

“Court” and “Country” ideologies fought out these eighteenth century political battles at three levels—the monarchial/bureaucratic, the parliamentarian, and the public. The Court ideology dominated the first level and the Country ideology the last, with an ongoing struggle in the Parliament. In the face of continuing disarmament of the people carried on by the police and local officials, the Country party rediscovered a technique of fighting that developed, in both Europe and America, into a very sophisticated political weapon-the “organized mob” or crowd.[43] Although the struggle continued in England and other parts of the British Empire, the real home for this equalitarian-Leveller-Commonwealthman-Country-True. Whig world view became the American colonies—the scene of its greatest triumph.


Although some writers continue to misinterpret John Adams’ views about the Revolution as a majoritarian movement, the 1976 Bicentennial year witnessed a renewed interest in the subject.[44] In breaking free from England, the Country-Court debate was re-created within the American revolutionary coalition, was incorporated into the structure of American politics in the new republic, and is still very much with us today.[45] The difference between Country and Court world views lies at the very heart of the debate over firearms prohibition, and this fundamental difference should not be overlooked by a narrow, ad hoc perspective on the Second Amendment debates of today. In the case of the American Revolution, the philosophical, political, economic, and social differences between these world views had a distinctive military dimension as well: a long, simmering, often acrimonious struggle over strategy and tactics (technique) involving goals and how the war ought to be conducted. Again, these debates are germane to the framing of the Second Amendment and its historical, ideological context.

At one extreme were those like Washington and Franklin who thought in terms of fighting a traditional, European-style, eighteenth-century war with a standing army. The key to understanding their bias for traditional standing army tactics lay in their perception of what the war was all about. A key division or “fault line” in the revolutionary coalition was between those who wished only independence and those who wanted independence and empire.[46] Thus a peace negotiation in 1778 failed partly because men like Franklin wanted not only independence but also Canada and Florida. By the end of the war, the farmers who formed the bulk of the militia had learned how to deal with this issue. In 1781, when Washington sent Lafayette north to launch another crusade against Canada members of the Vermont militia, which had played a major role in defeating Burgoyne four years before at Sarasota, told Washington they would go along only for “double pay, double rations and plunder!”[47] That demand stopped the entire campaign.

Washington’s “standing” army’s numbers went up and down. It swelled with farmers in the spring, but these men went home in the fall. It was never able to function as an instrument of empire. Those who stayed through the bitter winters, such as at Valley Force, were predominantly displaced or marginal men with nowhere else to go.[48]

The skirmishing and irregular partisan warfare that characterized much of the success of the Revolution was more a contribution of the militia than of the standing army.[49] This has recently been brought out in an important essay by John Shy.[50] Concern with harassment by militia was a major reason the British seldom ventured inland following the clashes at Lexington and Concord. When they did so, they lost an army at Saratoga and later at Yorktown—the culmination of a number of battles and skirmishes across the South during which considerable men and equipment were lost. Militia attacks on supply convoys into Philadelphia were significant in the British decision to withdraw from that city.

In terms of counterinsurgency warfare, the British never were able to achieve the first step in subduing America. After dark, they dared not to venture out in less than battalion strength.[51] At times, when troops were being shifted by ship, there were virtually no British soldiers in North America. The British never came close to challenging the legitimacy of the American revolutionary coalition. The Americans thus were free to pursue regular, irregular, and partisan warfare because the British controlled so little territory and even that for a relatively short time. There was therefore no need for Americans to pursue real guerrilla warfare—living among the occupier and fighting him, often at night—the classic use of an armed citizens’ militia.

The one exception can be found described in Adrian Leiby’s brilliant study of Bergen County, New Jersey, where the British foraged during the years they held New York City. Leiby shows how in five years the militia turned itself into a more formidable fighting force than either the British or American regular army units.[52] There were no “free riders”; all had to commit themselves one way or another. The farmer militia was paid in gold, not inflated paper money. The commander of the militia had a better understanding of the essentials of people’s war than did George Washington,[53]

It is interesting to speculate, given the importance of weapons technology, what might have been the results had the revolt occurred a half century earlier or later. From roughly the latter part of the seventeenth century until well into the nineteenth century, the standard weapon piece of the British and other armies was a basic musket—the famous “Brown Bess.” Ownership of the musket, which underwent little technological development during that long period, was widely dispersed in America. But early in that period the government held predominant control of the weapon, as it did later when percussion caps, cartridges, and repeating weapons were invented.[54]


In light of the struggle between the Court and Country ideology, which extended into the Federalist-Antifederalist debate at the time of the Constitution and into the Federalist-Republican party battles of the early Republic, the discussion about the meaning of the Second Amendment takes on a new significance.

A number of articles have been written arguing whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms is restricted to a state-derived militia or extends to the whole populace.[55] Based on the Country ideology background and the context of the debate, the latter interpretation is correct.[56] One recent analysis appeared in the Journal of American History.[57] Historian Robert Shalhope’s summary of the case is so well stated, and its relationship to the overall thrust of this essay so evident, that it is worth examining in some detail.

Shalhope notes that while some have found the Second Amendment “obsolete,” “defunct,” and “with no meaning for the twentieth century,” others have found it “vital” to the debate over gun control. Ultimately, he observes, “disagreements over gun legislation reveal disparate perceptions of American society that rest upon, or inspire, dissimilar interpretations of the Second Amendment.” Gun control advocates stress “collective rights” or, as one Presidential Commission put it, the Amendment acts “only as a prohibition against Federal interference with State militia and not as a guarantee of an individual’s right to keep or carry firearms.” Shalhope suggests that an examination of both sides in their historical context—the eighteenth century context and the several centuries prior to that—might offer some insights into the debate.

In the last several decades numerous scholars have contributed toward a reconstruction of the American Revolution as seen by its participants:

As a result we now recognize the importance of “republicanism,” a distinctive universe of ideas and beliefs, in shaping contemporary perceptions of late-eighteenth-century society. Within such a political culture thoughts regarding government were integrated into a much larger configuration of beliefs about human behavior and the social process. Drawing heavily upon the libertarian thought of the English commonwealthmen, colonial Americans believed that a republic’s very existence depended upon the character and spirit of its citizens. A people noted for their frugality, industry, independence, and courage were good republican stock. Those intent upon luxury lost first their desire and then their ability to protect and maintain a republican society. Republics survived only through a constant protection of the realm of Liberty from the ceaselessly aggressive forces of Power. America would remain a bastion of Liberty, in stark contrast to the decadent and corrupt societies of Europe, only so long as its people retained their virility and their virtue.

In the vast literature on republicanism Shalhope finds two ideas significant to understanding the Second Amendment: “the fear of standing armies and the exaltation of militias composed of ordinary citizens.” An “equally vital theme” is also found in this Revolutionary “libertarian literature which, except in the work of J.G.A. Pocock, has been largely ignored in the recent literature dealing with republicanism. This is the dynamic relationship that libertarian writers believed existed between arms, the individual, and society” (emphasis added). Machiavelli’s “sociology of liberty,” which emphasized the “role of arms in society” and the “arming of all citizens,” and precedes the libertarian tradition expressed by lames Harrington, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Walter Moyle, James Burgh, and Richard Price, among others, down to the period of the Revolution itself. Even literary figures like the American poet Joel Barlow dwelt upon this relationship between an armed citizenry as a republic, “not only permitting every man to arm, but obliging him to arm.” Barlow believed that “only tyrannical government disarmed their people.”

Thus when James Madison wrote the amendments that became the Bill of Rights, “he did not do so within a vacuum” but rather in “an environment permeated by the emergent republican ideology,” and with numerous suggestions from citizens, local groups, and state conventions. As Shalhope states, “These sources continually reiterated four beliefs relative to the issues eventually incorporated into the Second Amendment: the right of the individual to possess arms, the fear of a professional army, the reliance on militia controlled by the individual states, and the subordination of the military to civilian control.” The resolutions at state conventions cited by Shalhope demonstrate that the Americans of that generation linked the individual’s right to keep arms with a grass-roots militia as the means to maintain civilian control over the military and the internal threat of a standing army.

Madison and those on the select committee writing a bill of rights “were anxious to capture the essence of the rights demanded by so many Americans in so many different forms.” What disturbed many since then, from Timothy Dwight to Joseph Story, was the indifference of Americans at exercising the right to keep and bear arms, which they believed was the only way to check internal tyranny or to repel a foreign invader.

The debate continues today, and as Shalhope observes: “Whether the armed citizen is relevant to late-twentieth century American life is something that only the American people-through the Supreme Court, their state legislatures, and Congress-can decide.” He warns, however, “But advocates of control of firearms should not argue that the second Amendment did not intend for Americans of the late eighteenth century to possess arms for their own personal defense, for the defense of their states and their nation, and for the purpose of keeping their rulers sensitive to the rights of the people.”

Which view of history, the Country view or the collectivist view, has proved the more relevant in explaining what has happened in America over the last 200 years? The answer is obvious. In gaining many of the goals of the collectivist view—a large, centralized, active government with a growing global military presence—American history has experienced many of the developments that those of the Country persuasion warned would occur.

Richard Kohn has shown how the militia system was “murdered” as early as the 1790s.[58] While the notion of the militia as a grassroots derivation from the people has smothered, even at the state level, it lost further ground to the growing power of the national government. The New England militia refused to participate in that renewal of the imperial adventure to take Canada known as the War of 1812. The removal and policing of the Indians, the War with Mexico for more expansion, were minor enough or short enough to avoid using the militia. The regular volunteer standing army, small though it was, was sufficient.

The Civil War was a watershed of centralization. The Spanish-American War and the “benevolent pacification” of the Philippines were small enough to be handled by the volunteer standing army. This last conflict engendered a considerable protest about the perils of empire.[59] It is intriguing to speculate how well the Filipinos might have done-having turned in most of their weapons in an earlier truce with the Spanish—had they had even the 5,000 rifles promised to them by the Japanese. American soldiers in the field often seemed embarrassed, as did the British in Africa, at shooting down men armed so poorly.

Americans were bewildered that participation in two world wars had not brought global security nor made the world safe for democracy, and were equally frustrated that, given their hegemony after 1945, conflicts in China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere could not be “won” in any meaningful sense. The reason for this had very much to do with another revolution in weaponry. Far from technology ~antiquating” the Second Amendment, the Country ideology was being validated on a global scale. Put succinctly, as the super powers emphasized ever more massive missile weapons of enormous sophistication and terrible destructiveness, these weapons, when they functioned at all, had virtually no flexibility in bringing power to bear. At the same time, a global arms race, often pushed by the superpowers and prodded by competition from lesser states, was making weapons of an intermediate or appropriate technology avail able at lower costs to virtually anyone. To talk about national control in the face of this international competition is pointless.


The first revolution in weaponry aided the rise of the monarchical national state and volunteer standing army at the expense of the aristocracy and mounted knight. In the American and French Revolutions, muskets were still unwieldy enough to give advantages to those with professional training. As Page Smith noted with respect to the American Revolution. the role of artillery in battles of position has been underemphasized. Even experienced infantry would break and run under bombardment.[60]

The real technological breakthrough occurred in the nineteenth century and included mass-produced guns, interchangeable parts, repeating and automatic rifles and machine guns with easy-to-load, dependable, mass-produced bullets. As Carroll Quigley observed, the battle of Petersburg in the American Civil War was the harbinger of the defensive stalemate when Western armies fought each other to a bloody standstill in World War I.[61] This stalemate was disguised by the ease with which western gunboats and advanced weapons opened up previously closed areas such as Japan and that great riverine giant, China, which appeared pitifully helpless.

The process is also evident in Africa. For centuries, labor (slaves) had been exported from Africa. Disease made it difficult to explore the interior, but quinine and the steamboat changed that. Antislavery sentiments caught hold with English leaders just as technologies provided the opportunity to open up this area, necessitating the labor of blacks at home. The new weapons allowed small groups of Europeans to govern large groups of natives.

Three kinds of confrontations took place between whites and blacks. Tribes like the Zulu chose to use their traditional spears against the British. The resulting kind of butchery embarrassed even the imperialist. In northern Africa, tribes with firearms inferior in kind and number tried to confront the British. This resulted in some European defeats, such as that of “Chinese” Gordon at Khartoum, but eventually the Europeans triumphed. In contrast to the use of traditional military technique that characterized the American Revolution, some tribes chose to fight a guerrilla, people’s war with good weapons supplied by some of the lesser powers, such as the Belgians, and the effectiveness of this practice is only now beginning to gain recognition. The British and French were not able to defeat these guerrillas until they put sufficient pressure on the guerrillas’ sources of arms and cut off the relatively meager supplies.[62]

That preeminent volunteer imperial rapid deployment force—the U.S. Marines—found much the same problem in confronting the guerrilla leader Sandino in Nicaragua. Sandino’s arms came from Mexico, and a stalemate ensued even though the Marines used the best counterinsurgency tactics of the 19X0s and employed technology such as the autogyro, an early prototype of the helicopter. This stalemate, which was, in effect a victory, morally won Sandino recognition throughout Latin America.

The emphasis on traditional military history has tended to obscure the revolutionary, people’s warfare aspects of World War II, yet the Japanese were suffering enormous losses against the Chinese guerrillas.[63] In the European war this was also true as the numerous partisan resistance groups took an increasing toll on the Germans. When the resistance in many countries began, some sought to cooperate with the Allies. Tensions growing out of Allied army efforts to control these movements aided German efforts to monitor, penetrate, and destroy the resistance leadership infrastructure. After losing several precious years to German success, the resistance had to build its own infrastructure relatively free of outside control and interference. This is a painful lesson that has had to be learned in every people’s war throughout history. It takes time to establish legitimacy, build a political organization, and develop an effective fighting force. Without tit initial costly setback, resistance forces would have played an even greater role in World War II. Taken in its entirety, though, the role of popular resistance was larger than acknowledged in most histories, and the details of that contribution are still emerging.

Vietnam demonstrated what organization an(l outside help can achieve in a war. Vietnam guerrillas proved too large an insurgency to be put down by volunteer troops, forcing the United States to resort to conscription. By the late phases of the war, “fragging” of officers was on the increase and middle-echelon officers sometimes joined the infantry “grunts” going off to smoke marijuana and evade, rather than search out and destroy, the enemy.

Recent events in Nicaragua and E1 Salvador show how little revolutionary warfare and its relationship to an armed citizenry are understood. Ellis was cited earlier regarding how oligarchical leadership in revolutions has attempted to control weapons within its own coalition. Communists have always done this—for example, in Spain in the 1930s as pointed out by George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia. Trotsky said it most clearly in arguing that centralization was possible only by smashing the peasant units whose individualism and love of freedom had made them among the most effective fighting units in the Red Army during the civil war.[64]

The United States tends to arm the political right, while the Soviets arm the left. In some cases, as in Nicaragua, many arms come from outside the control of either superpower. Those in the middle, often the peasantry, are without arms. They are prey to the army from the right and the guerrillas from the left, who have, like Trotsky, a much different agenda in mind once they seize power. As the international arms trade increases—the United States will earn at least $30 billion this year from the trafficking—more people will obtain access to guns as governments lose control over the great number of arms being traded.[65]

The Soviet state has its share of problems: rampant alcoholism, terrible morale throughout the army, the party, and society, millionaires flourishing on the black market, protests in client states, a succession crisis because of a lack of legitimizing institutions, a decrepit economy, an inability to feed itself, and a rebellion in Afghanistan. Recent events in Communist societies—certainly in Poland-suggest the difficulty civilian officials face in keeping control from the military with its monopoly on weaponry.[66] In Afghanistan, as was the case during the American Revolution, there is a widespread ownership of firearms. The latest reports indicate a growing insurgency, with the rebels now controlling whole villages.

It is difficult to assess the psychological effects on Russian society as veterans of the more than 100,000-man Soviet force filter back into their own country. That problem may prove more difficult than the economic cost of the continuing struggle. When the French Revolution broke out, it was particularly strong in those areas of France with concentrations of veterans who had fought in America a decade before.

The difference between an essentially nonprofessional citizen’s army and a professional standing army is perhaps best seen in the Israeli army’s reaction to the decision to occupy parts of Lebanon. Elements in the army discussed whether a foreign invasion and occupation was a good idea, and a vigorous investigation was conducted into any Israeli responsibility for a massacre of Palestinians. Contrast that with the performance of professional armies, for example, the United States armed forces in Vietnam, where efforts were made to cover up atrocities.


The increasing level of violence that people perceive is not caused by the availability of firearms: rather, it is fundamentally a crisis in the legitimacy of the state, a crisis that is economic, political, military, and moral. Without a sense of legitimacy, it is impossible to have any real degree of stability, for force alone cannot restore order but will only create stagnation and repression.[67]

Western civilization has never experienced the kind of all-encompassing universal empire that characterized other civilizations in their declining phases. That kind of pervasive centralization has been the most stifling of all.[68] Yet each of the Western states in the nation-state system has attempted a degree of centralization and governmental control that has created stagnation and near collapse of the whole system.

The current breakdown in virtually every facet of life resulting from the loss of legitimacy is very similar to what occurred in the Roman Empire, a comparison that has been made from the pulpit, by writers, and even by politicians. Around A.D. 150, the government in Rome had difficulty in organizing the collection of garbage, a sight that would be familiar to many urban dwellers today. One of the few functioning organizations at that time was the Christian Church, which went on about its business and ignored directives from the state. It fed over 1,500 widows and orphans in the city of Rome alone, another task that was beyond the ability of the government. But just as Roman civic humanists discussed the decline of the Empire and what to do about it without arriving at a workable solution, so does no program curing modern social ills seem to have emerged today.

With government regulation failing to produce desirable results in so many areas, it seems curious to imagine that government control of weapons would effectively reduce social instability or that possession of weapons is in any sense the cause of this instability. Huge economic entities, once boasting of their managerial techniques, now stagnate and ask for subsidies and/or protection. Monetary and fiscal policies—inflation and deficits—lurch out of control while a growing underground economy flourishes both in the Communist and “free” worlds, at a rate in the United States that some suggest may make it more than one fourth of the economy. Illegal immigration reaches one million a year, and it is evident this flow across the border cannot be stopped short of an identity card system of Orwellian police-state proportions. Furthermore, a number of nations that only a few years ago were hailed as undergoing economic “miracles” such as Mexico and Brazil, have in effect declared themselves bankrupt and unable to pay their international debts.

The symptoms of breakdown and the efforts at control are virtually endless, but take one item alone—the United States’ determination to eradicate marijuana—as a parallel to the problem that would be faced in attempting to ban firearms. Estimated at $8.5 billion, marijuana is now America’s fourth largest cash crop, just behind corn, soybeans, and wheat. Less than 10 percent, it is estimated, is confiscated from among the tons being traded. This nation now exports marijuana seeds even to Colombia, and many local government officials are urging the police to refrain from enforcement of the law, since the economic value of this crop to farmers in some areas is increasingly recognized as important in an economy experiencing hard times.[69]

While the effort to ban firearms bears a similarity to the attempt to control sex, alcohol, or drugs-all items to which a significant portion of the society wishes to have access—at an international level it differs in one respect. Late in the nineteenth century, businessmen and government officials began to develop what we now refer to as the military-industrial complex, commencing with naval armaments in Great Britain.[70] The technology and the capital needed were so great that government and business became jointly involved. At the same time, profits from so large an undertaking could only be made by competing for sales internationally. It was this need that drove Belgians to sell weapons to Africans, even though they thereby aided the latter against other Europeans encroaching the African continent.

The need for international sales is even greater today than it was then. Thus when the Carter administration attempted to cut sales of arms abroad, France and other countries stepped in to exploit the markets, which are essentially in the Third World. International trade makes the prohibition of firearms a dubious if not impossible proposition in any given country, and certainly in one with the personal freedoms long enjoyed by Americans.


Those who talk about the “fall” of a civilization are often the same ones who bemoan the state’s inability to control some facet of an individual’s life. Even noted historian William H. McNeill complains of the relationship between the market and the technological development of weapons throughout history. But it was precisely those periods of relative market development, as opposed to state control, that made possible technological growth of which weapons advances were only one part.[71] With the present system of international trade in arms, governments cannot control the flow of arms downward. Eventually the peasantry in every society—that most oppressed group at the bottom-will find weapons available to them. The Afghanis have long had a cottage industry in relatively crude weapons. There is a certain irony in the fact that Russian Kalishnakov submachine guns procured from Egypt are now being smuggled into Afghanistan for use against the Soviet invaders.

No one has ever seen a civilization fall. That image is completely an illusion in the human mind. According to different historians, the decline of Rome, for example, can be placed at anywhere from 202 B.C. to A.D. 1453. Crises, as the Chinese ideograph suggests, are a time of danger and a time of opportunity. In the midst of global crisis we are witnessing, the emergence of a new paradigm. In many ways this paradigm is an updating of the “Country” ideology, yet bridges a spectrum from left to right and includes many who would view themselves as nonpolitical. Some of the advocates of this paradigm are late in fully understanding-as were those who formed the Country ideology that—possession of weapons for self-defense is integral to any plan of individual independence.

Many of the key ideas of this new paradigm—people participation, decentralization, smallness of scale, and appropriate/intermediate technology as a means of “doing one’s thing” in a less than free world—are similar to the earlier Country would view. These emerging cooperative networks tend simply to bypass or ignore government in ways reminiscent of the early Christians or the ancient Chinese Taoists. The new paradigm is closely linked to science and to an ecological, general systems world view. Its literature, spanning a wide spectrum of seemingly unrelated areas, is growing.[72]

Decentralization and human scale thus return, despite the efforts of imperial centralizers to stop the process. The term “dark age” was invented by those who dislike such periods of fundamental growth and change, but students of history can appreciate that the low point of human dispiritedness has usually been in the stagnation-accompanying epochs of empire.

In all this change, the larger philosophical outlook underlying the Country interpretation of the Second Amendment takes on a new meaning and relevance. In today’s international context, any such effort at arms prohibition by the state against the individual, in violation of the spirit of the Second Amendment, is bound to fail. As with a number of other such crusades and evasion of larger questions of causation, that failure is apt to have far more serious repercussions on the legitimacy of those seeking prohibition than upon the actions or existence of those whose lives they seek to regulate.

It is ironic that the broader application of the Second Amendment to the global confrontation between superpowers with large standing armies, huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and growing international trade in arms should be the result of what began as a debate over handguns. But that is indeed the case.

In general, the Amendments to the Constitution were pushed by those who shared the Country ideology and who thought broadly of creating an atmosphere that would promote the growth of a republican culture.[73] In one sense the Amendments were negatives, as they sought to prevent the central government from doing certain things that, in the authors’ reading of history, had meant the death of republican culture. In the context of the Second Amendment in particular, what the great jurist Joseph Story said in 1833 is still relevant: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium of the liberties of a republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”[74]

But clearly the specific negative against which the Second Amendment was directed was the notion of a standing army. As great as were Country-Whig fears of the Bank of England and the financial jobbery that accompanied monopoly mercantilism and empire, these arbitrary actions were made possible by the existence of a standing army.

The whole Second Amendment debate is taking place within, and stimulating, a growing literature about the historical interrelationship of such issues. A recent study has focused on the way in which English colonization was part of an overall military policy,[75] while research into the coming of the American Revolution has emphasized the American concern about standing armies as the catalyst that led to war.[76]

Any reader of that controversy cannot but marvel at the similarities with our own times. At the end of the Great War for Empire (1763), the British government had a bloated officer corps and army that it hoped to keep intact and had to pay for, but could not station at home. It decided to dump much of the cost on the Americans and the Irish, and the army itself was thus drawn into politics and defending its bureaucratic prerogatives.

The growth of the American state in the twentieth century has created the same dilemma. The sheer size of the military and its budget has led to a deep involvement in politics, often to defend officer pensions and “double-dipping,” much as was true in the late eighteenth century. Even in a severe budget crisis, it is argued that the military cannot be cut back, while the government refuses to examine alternative paradigms that might make a rational defense possible.

Just as British policymakers understood it was important to keep a standing army and military presence outside the home Islands, so the vast American military buildup has benefited from the low profile at home (even military hospitals for the maimed are placed far out in the countryside), with the great bulk of the bases and troops in Europe and Asia. These constitute by far the largest part of the military budget, over $80 billion for Europe alone.

But the military consensus is breaking down in the face of crisis. Sam Cohen, “father” of the neutron bomb has recently “jumped ship” with respect to American “defense” strategies.[77] He maintains that American troops become hostages and a liability if Europe chooses not to seriously involve itself in its own defense, and should be brought home. Cohen’s demand for a rethinking of our defense, involving technology, appropriate tactics, and a citizen participation—in the past one might have called it a militia—is in many ways reminiscent of the Country ideology embodied in the Second Amendment.

This chapter began by suggesting that even if one conceded a relationship between handgun availability and violence, a case far from proved, there is a larger historical argument about liberty in a republic that influenced those who framed the Second Amendment. Justice Story’s observation about the Second Amendment as a bulwark of liberty in a republic is as relevant today as it was when it was written. That the present fiscal and armaments crises of the state system have led to a renewed debate over this question is, indeed, grounds for hope.

In the current debate over volunteer versus professional standing armies, little attention has been given to a citizen force derived from a grass-roots militia. There is evidence that such a force could certainly master much of the appropriate technology of modern weaponry. The military as it now stands hires skilled civilians for certain technological jobs. If nuclear weapons are reduced, a new emphasis must be given to conventional forces. A citizen militia on the Swiss model, for example, is not coercion; rather, it is an effort to define the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. History, especially the era of the American Revolution, suggests that such a force is unlikely to consent to taking part in global interventionism. Rather, it will maintain its foundation in the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms.


[1] Carroll Quigley, The Evolution of Civilization: An Introduction to Historical Analysis (New York: Macmillan, 1961), p. 258.

[2] Leroy D. Clark, “Reducing Firearms Availability: Constitutional Impediments to Effective Legislation and an Agenda for Research,” Chapter 3 in this volume.

[3]Triage is simply a specific instance of a decision-making technique for allocating time or other scarce resources.

[4] Technology as technique is evident in the original French title Of Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society (New York: Knopf, 1964), which is La Technique.

[5] Carlo M. Cipolla, Guns and Sails in the Early Phase of European Expansion, 1400-1700 (London: Collins, 1965), p. 117.

[6]Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, 1974), p. 61.

[7] Carroll Quigley, “Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History.” (Unpublished manuscript. Quigley Papers, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.).

[8] Quigley, “Weapons Systems.”

[9] John Alderson, Policing Freedom: A Commentary on the Dilemmas of Policing in Western Democracies (Plymouth: Mac Donald and Evans, 1979), p. 25.

[10] The importance of the Anglo-American “Country” ideology is discussed below. See especially Lois Schwoerer. “No Standing Armies!” The Antiarmy Ideology in Seventeenth Century England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1914).

[11] The changing republican world view from the Renaissancc in Italy through England and America is discussed in J.G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Repuiblican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975).

[12]Murray N. Rothbard, “Salutary Neglect”: The American Colonies in the First Half of the 18th Century, Vol. 2 of Conceived in Liberty (New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1975), p. 236.

[13]After this essay was drafted, the author received a review copy of William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology. Armed Force, and Society Since A. D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982). McNeill offers considerable data to support the view here, but his emphasis is on professional armies rather than insurgency or people’s war concepts.

[14]The ways in which the mandarin bureaucracy maintained control is discussed in Etienne Balazs, Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).

[15]Perhaps the best description is in Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1973).

[16]See especially McNeill. Pursuit of Power, Chapter Two. Not all Chinese entrepreneurs accepted this control. McNeill (p. 41) describes an ironmaster, employing over 500 workers, who mobilized them to defend themselves against state control late in the twelfth century.

[17] Cited in John Ellis, Armies in Revolution (London: Croom Helm, 1973), p. 223.

[18] Carol G. Thomas; “War in Ancient Greece,” in L.L Farrat, Jr., ed., War: A Historical,Political and Social Study (Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 1978), p. 83.

[19] Quigley, “Weapons Systems.”

[20] The law of the retarding lead refers to the fact that those who adopt a new technique tend to institutionalize it so that as others later improve upon the idea, the originators find it difficult to change and keep pace. This is especially true if the changes have been institutionalized by state sanction. American concern over Japanese growth is but a recent example of this historical phenomenon.

[21]Robert G. Wesson, State Systems: International Pluralism, Politics, and Culture (New York: Free Press, 1978). p. 38.

[22] It was not the first time such a cycle would occur. Rigidity of institutionalization was not limited to military affairs but affected other areas of Greek life. In music, and especially sports, professionalism also replaced the amateur spirit. See Wesson, State Systems, p.39.

[23] Richard A. Preston. Sydney F. Wise, and Heman O. Werner, .Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society (New York: Praeger, 1956), p. 35.

[24] Wesson, State Systems, pp. 3940.

[25] Emilio Gabba. Republican Rome, the Army and the Allies ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), p. 39.

[26] Chester G. Starr, Civilization and the Caesars (New York: Norton, 1965).

[27] Starr, Civilization and the Caesars.

[28] Starr, Civilization and the Caesars.

[29] L.S. Stavrianos, The Promise of the Coming Dark Age (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1976).

[30] Jean Gimpel, The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976).

[31] Quigley, “Weapons Systems.”

[32] Gimpel, The Medieval Machine.

[33] Richard West, “Why The Peasants Revolted,” Spectator (May 30, 1981), p. 15.

[34] West, “Why the Peasants Revolted,” p. 15.

[35] Ibid., pp. 15-16.

[36] Ibid., pp. 15-16.

[37] Ibid., pp. 15-16.

[38] Quigley, The Evolution of Civilizations, pp. 224-26.

[39] The historical cycle of republican citizen militia devolving into a volunteer professional army for example was evident in Renaissance Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and explains the relevance of Machiavelli’s analysis to later generations. In a brilliant description of this process McNeill describes how as each city-state pushed out farther to control as much as fifty miles away, it became necessary to hire full-time professionals to replace the militia (The Pursuit of Power, pp. 66-67). This was repeated in the rise of centralized monarchy all over Europe.

[40] Alfred Crofts and Percy Buchanan, A History of the Far East (New York: David McKay, 1958), Chapter Six, and the author’s conversations with Professor Crofts spanning a number of years.

[41] Ellis, Armies In Revolution, p. 5.

[42] Ellis, Armies in Revolution, p. 39. The Leveler emphasis on equality or equity is striking. Ellis quotes a passage from one of their leaders, Richard Overten, in which “equity” and “equitable” is used four times in several sentences.

[43] Richard Maxwell Brown. “Violence in the American Revolution,” in S. Kurtz and J. Hutson, eds., Essays in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973).

[44] William Marina, “The American Revolution and the Minority Myth,” Modern Age 20 (Summer 1976).

[45] William Marina, “Revolution and Social Change: The American Revolution as a People’s War,” Literature of Liberty 1 (April/June 1978): 5-39.

[46] Weldon A. Brown, Empire or Independence: A Study in the Failure of Reconciliation, 1774-1783 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1942).

[47] Cited in Page Smith, A New Age Now Begins (New York: .McGraw-Hill, 1976), p. 1,785.

[48] Allan Lowman, The Morale of the American Revolutionary Army (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Economic Affairs 1943).

[49] Marina, “Revolution and Social Change,” pp. 23-27.

[50] John Shy, A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence (New York: Oxford University Press 1976).

[51] Eric Robson, The American Revolution in iIts Political and Military Aspects (London: Cambridge University Press, 1953), p.83.

[52] Adrian Leiby, The American Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley: The Jersey Dutch and the Neutral Ground, 1775-1783 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1963). A recent study using Leiby’s work as a data base for exploring guerilla-people’s war in the American Revolution is William Marina and Diane Cuervo, “The Dutch-American Guerillas of the American Revolution,” in Gary North, ed., The Theology of Christian Resistance: A Symposium, Vol. 2 of Christianity and Civilization (Tyler, Texas: Geneva Divinity School Press, 1983), pp. 242-65.

[53] Leiby, The American Revolutionary War.

[54] McNeill, Pursuit of Power, pp. 142-43.

[55] See, for example, Roy G. Weatherup, “Standing Armies and Armed Citizens: An Historical Analysis of the Second Amendment,” Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 2 (Fall 1975): 961-1061; and James B. Whisker, “Historical Development and the Subsequent Erosion of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” West Virginia Law Review 10 (1982) 13-39.

[56] Stephen P. Halbrook, “To Keep and Bear Their Private Arms: The Adoption of the Second Amendment,” North Kentucky Law Review 10 (1982):13-39. Two recent studies of the Country ideology are worth noting. Rodger Durrell Parker, “The Gospel Opposition: A Study in Eighteenth Century Anglo-American Ideology” (doctoral dissertation, Wayne State University, 1975), discusses the broadest aspects of the world view, while John Todd White, “Standing Armies in Time of War: Republican Theory and Military Practice During the American Revolution” (doctoral dissertation, George Washington University, 1978), examines the military facet of that paradigm.

[57] Robert E. Shalhope, “The Ideological Origins of the Second Amendment,” Journal of American History 69, 3 (December 1982): 599-614. All of the quotations that follow are taken from Shalhope’s piece.

[58] Richard H. Kohn, “The Murder of the Militia System in the Aftermath of the American Revolution” in Stanley J. Enterdal, ed., Military History of the American Revolution (Colorado Springs: United States Air Force Academy, 1974).

[59] William Marina, “U.S. Interventions: Aberrations or Empire?” Reason 8 (February 1976): 40-45. See also Harold A. Larrabee, “The Enemies of Empire,” American Heritage 11 (June 1960): 28-33, 76-80.

[60] Smith, A New Age Now Begins, p. 688.

[61] Quigley, The Evolution of Civilization, p. 256.

[62] Daniel R. Headrick, “The Tools of Imperialism: Technology and the Expansion of European Colonial Empires in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Modern History 51 (June 1979): 231-63.

[63] Crofts and Buchanan, A History of the Far East, p. 434. Large numbers of Japanese troops simply went “over the hill” and married Chinese women. This was similar to the American Revolution, where an estimated 5,000 Hessian troops deserted, many going into western Pennsylvania in search of wives.

[64] Ellis, Armies in Revolution, pp. 165-99.

[65] See, for example, Andrew J. Pierce, The Global Politics of Arms Sales, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982).

[66] The concern of the military, however, is not only the threat of Solidarity, whose mass following presents an alternative legitimacy, but specifically the indigenous Catholic militia, which sprang up from the grass roots to maintain order during the Pope’s visit. It is no wonder the military tries to keep the people disarmed. Such an already in existence, organized militia—if armed—would pose a grave threat to Communist hegemony.

[67] William Marina, “Surviving in the Interstices,” Reason 7 (June 1975): 34-40.

[68] Robert G. Wesson, The Imperial Order, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967).

[69] “The Grass Was Never Greener,” Time (August 9, 19820: 15.

[70] McNeill, The Pursuit of Power, Chapter Eight.

[71] McNeill, The Pursuit of Power, Chapter Eight.

[72] For example, E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered (New York: Harper, 1973); Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1980); Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982); and Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown of Nations (New York: Dutton, 1978).

[73] The best summary of the ideas making up that cluster of values and culture is in Parker, “Gospel of Opposition,” Chapter Fourteen.

[74] Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 5th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1897), Vol. 3.

[75] Stephen Saunders Webb, The Governors-General: The English Army and the Definition of Empire, 1569-1681 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979). This is the first volume, with a second promised, which brings the story up to the American Revolution. The essentials of Webb’s interpretation are outlined, however, quite clearly in the first volume. As one noted American historian concluded, if Webb’s fascinating thesis about the role of the army is even partially correct, then a great deal of our early history will need rethinking.

[76] John Phillip Reid, In Defiance of the Law: The Standing Army Controversy, The Two Constitutions, and the Coming of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981).

[77] Sam Cohen, The Truth About the Neutron Bomb, especially Chapter Eight.