The Spoils of War

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Glyn Salton-Cox. Philip A.

Ian Whittington. Virginia Lee Strain. This website uses cookies to provide all of its features. For more information, see our Cookie Policy. Edinburgh University Press Books. My Account Log In.


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Search: Search. The conflict-driven logic of state-building is indifferent to whether those states permit individual freedom or market enterprise to flourish: North and South Korea are equally good at controlling violence, despite the fact that one is an impoverished dictatorship and the other a liberal democracy. What the South has that the North lacks are institutions like the rule of law and democratic accountability that limit state power by protecting individual rights, and creating a framework in which market transactions can multiply.

These institutions of constraint were not driven by the same military logic as state centralization. The rule of law, for example, was rooted in many societies in an independent religious establishment that had legitimacy independent of political authority.

Modern democracy arose because of the ability of organized forces in civil society, like the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War or the American colonists, to resist the power of their local Leviathan. In this struggle, violence that was productive with respect to the building of bigger states was very unproductive from the standpoint of creating free political orders.

Spoils-of-war dictionary definition | spoils-of-war defined

This points to a theoretical point that the book could have developed further, which is to understand the conditions under which war is "productive" in the sense of generating strong institutions. Tribes in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, after all, have been fighting one another for some 40, years, without this leading to much by way of social development.

One obvious discriminating factor is the level of social organization needed to employ a particular military technology. As War! This ended only with the invention of guns and modern forms of military organization, which only complex and wealthy societies could master.

2017's greatest TV episode: Game of Thrones 'Spoils of War'

This matters greatly to us today. Weapons of mass destruction, from nuclear bombs to chemical and biological weapons, can be developed only by advanced civilizations.

The Spoils of War

But they can potentially be acquired and used by anyone, including terrorists living in caves in Afghanistan. Are such weapons, like the horse, going to be the great equalizers of the future, inaugurating a new age of civilizational breakdown?

Or will the threat or actual use of WMDs lead to greater state control, and thus the loss of individual freedom? What the South has that the North lacks are institutions like the rule of law and democratic accountability that limit state power by protecting individual rights, and creating a framework in which market transactions can multiply. These institutions of constraint were not driven by the same military logic as state centralization.

The rule of law, for example, was rooted in many societies in an independent religious establishment that had legitimacy independent of political authority. Modern democracy arose because of the ability of organized forces in civil society, like the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War or the American colonists, to resist the power of their local Leviathan.

The Horrors and Hopes of 1945

In this struggle, violence that was productive with respect to the building of bigger states was very unproductive from the standpoint of creating free political orders. This points to a theoretical point that the book could have developed further, which is to understand the conditions under which war is "productive" in the sense of generating strong institutions.


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Tribes in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, after all, have been fighting one another for some 40, years, without this leading to much by way of social development. One obvious discriminating factor is the level of social organization needed to employ a particular military technology.

The Field of Fire

As War! This ended only with the invention of guns and modern forms of military organization, which only complex and wealthy societies could master. This matters greatly to us today. Weapons of mass destruction, from nuclear bombs to chemical and biological weapons, can be developed only by advanced civilizations.

'Game Of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 4 Review: 'The Spoils Of War'

But they can potentially be acquired and used by anyone, including terrorists living in caves in Afghanistan. Are such weapons, like the horse, going to be the great equalizers of the future, inaugurating a new age of civilizational breakdown?


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  5. Or will the threat or actual use of WMDs lead to greater state control, and thus the loss of individual freedom?