1. Bibliographic Entry. The Pursuit of Power

2.  Author: William McNeill

3.  Scope & Context:   The history of the world. A mind blowing read.

4.  Evidence/credibility:  A body of knowledge on industrial history that is hard to surpass

5.  Central Proposition/Thesis:   McNeil is getting at the manner by which governments organize scientific endeavor and by doing so fosters or squashes innovation.  McNeil uses a comparison between market and command economies as the determinant. 

6.  Sub-themes:

a.  Technological change is part  of a system  that fosters or constricts said change.  Society, politics, economic factors, and scientific advances all interact with one another to determine the scope and scale of innovation. (209-210)

b. Market economies are superior because they encourage innovation.  Market economy in Europe flourishes because, unlike the Chinese example of a command economy, the European countries had no centralized control to restrict free movement of innovation.  Competition was fierce, and no central authority was there to regulate it.  This competition resulted in all nations in Europe becoming stronger to survive against one another.  Europe from a regional technical innovation perspective was far ahead of any world rival.

c.  How does a tech innovation change a society? Example – center bored artillery. Until the center bore, artillery was sporadic, fires unpredictable, guns too heavy, etc.  With center bore the guns became lighter and more mobile, so tactics changed and started to drive strategy.  Fires were more accurate and predictable, and mathematicians were brought in to develop planning tables.  These factors combined to raise a professional artillery corps who were schooled in science and military art.  Etc, etc.

d. PTP: Does form of government play largest role in style and growth of economy and rise or stagnation of technical innovation? Chapter 2 would suggest it does (49)

e.  Social unrest can cause technical stagnation, as evidenced by the reformation movement in Germany (pg 119).  Lends further credence to the idea that technical innovation is part of a larger system of factors.

f.  The Swedish steel industry was underpinned by a stable organization as contrasted to the Bohemian industry that fell apart and innovation died along with it’s founder – DeWitte. (123)

g.  The UK’s industrial revolution and France’s political revolution changed the world, and both were spurred by military action.  In the UK’s case, they were able to make their revolution endure and it proved to be the proper mix of political control, societal drive, scientific advance, economic fuel, and technical innovation.  France’s revolution foundered because these factors were not in balance and innovation/progress faltered. (184)


Vii Disease germs are the most important microparasites humans have to deal with. Our only significant macroparasites are other men who, by specializing in violence, are able to secure a living without themselves producing the food and other commodities they consume. Hence a study of macroparasitism among human populations turns into a study of the organization of armed force with special attention to changes in the kinds of equipment warriors used.

Viii [he industrialization of war, scarcly  more than a century old, has erased the old realities of soldiering without altering ancient, inherited psychic aptitudes for the collective exercise of force. This constitutes a dangerous instability.

1 ,[1 a limited sense, the industrialization of war is almost as old as civilization, for the introduction of bronze metallurgy made specially skilled artisans indispensable for the manufacture of weapons and armor. Moreover, bronze was rare and expensive. Only a few privileged fighting men could possess a full panoply. It followed that warrior specialists emerged alongside metallurgical specialists, one class enjoying near monopoly of the other's product, at least to begin with

2 Wars were normally fought with existing stocks of arms and armor,

Hence the availability of food constituted the principal limit upon . · military action and the size of armies.

9 Transport and provisioning were, therefore, the principal limits ancient rulers and armies confronted. The supply of metal and weaponry, though important, was seldom a critical variable; and the industrial aspect of warfare remained correspondingly trivial.

21 More unmistakably than any other major event in world history, the rise of Islam and the establishment of the early caliphate proves that ideas, too, matter in human affairs and can sometimes enter decisively into the balance of forces so as to define long-lasting and fundamental human patterns.

24 Yet new patterns of production, even when they had attained massive scale, eventually broke up as remarkably as they had arisen. Government policy altered, and the social context that first fostered change subsequently resisted or at least failed to encourage, further innovation.

25 l, it is the hypothesis of this book that China's rapid evolution towards market-regulated behavior in the centuries on either side of  the year 1000 tipped a critical balance in world history. I believe that China's example set humankind off on a thousand-year exploration of what could be accomplished by relying on prices and personal or small-group (the partnership or company) perception of private advantage as a way of orchestrating behavior on a mass scale.

38 A market economy, ranging across diverse landscapes, was better able to assure a suitable flow of the requisite materials into artisan workshops than any but the most efficient command economy.  (In China’s case, the nature of the command economy made technical innovation incentivized and it flourished, as opposed to Europe’s initial receipt of the stirrup).

48 the governmental command structure, balanced (sometimes perhaps precariously) atop a pullulating market economy, · never lost ultimate control. Lron masters and shipbuilders, along with everybody else in Chinese society, were never autonomous. When officials allowed it, technical advances and increase in the scale of activity could occur in dazzlingly rapid fashion. But, correspondingly, when official policy changed, reallocation of resources in accordance with changed priorities took place with the same rapidity that had allowed the up thrust of iron and steel production in the eleventh century and of shipbuilding in the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries.

53 What was new in the eleventh century, therefore, was not the principle of market articulation of human effort across long distances, but the scale on which this kind of behavior began to affect human lives. China's belated arrival at a market articulation of its economy acted like a great bellows, fanning smoldering coals into flame. New wealth arising among a hundred million Chinese began to flow out across the seas (and significantly along caravan routes as well) and added new vigor and scope to market-related activity.

63 he handful of merchants and itinerant peddlers who also made a living in that rural society represented a potentially  disruptive element. Market behavior was deeply alien to the social outlook of village life. Merchants or peddlers, coming as strangers into an unsympathetic environment, had to attend to their own defense. This introduced a second relatively well-armed element into society.

65 The military expansion of Latin Christendom in the eleventh century was accompanied by an expansion of the scope for market behavior.

66 Specialization led to increased wealth, and altered social balances in favor of merchant-capitalists. In the most active economic centers, the preeminence of knights and of social leadership based on rural relationships came into question before the end of the twelfth century.

These social and economic changes were reinforced by a parallel weakening of knightly supremacy in war. Yet, in the twelfth century, an army of German knights met unexpected defeat in northern Italy at Legnano (1176) when they vainly charged pikemen who had been put in the fie ld by the leagued cities of northern Italy.

69 This political situation permitted a remarkable merger of market and military behavior to take root and flourish in the most active eco nomic centers of western Europe. Commercialization of organizedviolence came vigorously to the fore in the fourteenth century when mercenary armies became standard in Italy. Thereafter, market forces and attitudes began to affect military action as seldom before.

70 A fundamental advance in naval architecture took place between 1280 and 1330,5 as a result of which larger, stouter, and more maneuverable ships could for the first time sail the seas safely in winter as well as in summer.

74 What was new in this situation was the fact that enough money circulated in the richer Italian towns to make it possible for citizens to tax them selves and use the proceeds to buy the services of armed strangers. Then, simply by spending their pay, the hired soldiers put tax monies back in circulation. Thereby, they intensified the market exchanges that allowed such towns to commercialize armed violence in the first place. The emergent system thus tended to become self-sustaining.

78 .Italian city administrations showed how a commercially articulated society could defend itself effectively.

80 skills and aptitudes developed for the successful pursuit of long distance trade, upon which the wealth and power of the great cities of Italy had come to depend, provided the model and context within which Italians invented a new and distinctively European pattern of diplomacy and war.

88  A second technical improvement came in at the same time: the practice of forming gunpowder into small grains or "corns." This allowed a more rapid ignition, since the exposed surfaces of the separate corns could all burn at once. The explosion became correspondingly more powerful, for rapidly generated gases had less time · to leak out around the cannonball while it accelerated along the barrel

115 Market relationships, on the contrary, tended to dissolve and weaken traditional, local, and primary patterns of human interaction. Response to market incentives allowed strangers to cooperate across  long distances, often without realizing it. Mobilization of a larger quantity of goods and a greater number of men became possible with .  the kinds of economic specialization and technological elaboration that market relationships could sustain. Power and wealth, in short, could be enhanced by reliance on market incentives to human action, however much rulers and the majority of their subjects may have deplored the greed and immorality that was thus let loose upon the world.

117 Then, in the seventeenth century, the Dutch pioneered important improvements in military administration and routine. In particular, they discovered that long hours of repeated drill made armies more efficient in battle. Drill also imparted a remarkable esprit de corps to the rank and file, even when the soldiers were recruited from the lowest ranks of society.

· Such armies could and did establish a superior level of public peace within all the principal European states. This allowed agriculture, commerce, and industry to flourish, and, in turn, enhanced the taxable wealth that kept the armed forces in being.

119 The German situation differed from the earlier Italian experience in one important respect. Beginning in 1517, German politics came to be colored by envenomed religious controversy. Lutherans, Catholics, and various radical sects were soon challenged also by Calvinism. Each religion commanded passionate loyalties of diverse social groups, so that secular conflicts commonly found expression in theological debates.

At any rate, something like stability came to the Germanies only I after a century and a half of widespread violence, climaxing in the I brutalities of the Thirty Years War (1618-48),

122 -He worked within the relatively well-defined moral and legal framework of Dutch business practlce and handed his business to his heirs, whereas DeWitte left nothing but the tangled accounts of a bankrupt speculator when he committed suicide in 1630. Likewise, Gustav Adolf was legal sovereign and king, and suffered from none of the moral-legal dubiousness that surrounded Wallenstein's entire career. As a result, the  political and economic empires that De Geer and Gustav Adolf were able to create lasted for centuries, whereas Wallenstein's collapsed with his assassination.

139 As tax income became sufficient to meet military payrolls more or less punctually, the profound disturbances that the commercialization of war had introduced into Europe in the fourteenth century seemed finally to have been brought under control. Ravaging soldiers no longer had to sustain themselves by forcibly recirculating the movable wealth of a country. Regular, predictable taxes did the trick instead, transferring money from civilians to officials who used it to support an efficient ring money from civilians to officials 10 used it to support an efficient military force as well as themselves.

The short-run effect of such standardization was to reduce military costs significantly. Even artisan suppliers could cut the price of their product if assured of steady work manufacturing identical items indefinitely into the future. Su,upply in the field was also eased when only one caliber of musket ball was required.

142-143 We may sum it up as follows: things started to change in the twelfth  century with the rise of infantry forces capable of challenging thesupremacy of mounted knights on Italian battlefields. Town militias gave way to hired professionals in the fourteenth century, and a pattern of political management of standing armies swiftly evolved within the context of the emergent city-states of italy during the first half of the fifteenth century, only to be upset by the irruption of French and Spanish armies after 1494.

But the northern Europeans improved on Italian precedents in two important respects: by developing systematic, oft-repeated drill, and by constructing a clear chain of command that extended from the person of the sovereign usually a king-to the lowliest noncommissioned officer.

Stability at home meant formidability abroad.

Europe, in short, launched itself on a self-reinforcing cycle in which its military organization sustained, and was sustained by, economic and political expansion at the expense of other peoples and polities of the earth.

Instead, technological and organizational innovation continued, allowing Europeans to outstrip other peoples of the earth more and more emphatically until the globe-girdling imperialism of the nineteenth century became as cheap and easy for Europeans as it was catastrophic to Asians, Africans, and the peoples of Oceania.

146 These challenges were of two sorts. One recurrent challenge arose from geographical expansion of the territories organized for the support of European-style armed establishments, thereby altering power balances among the European states. A second kind of challenge stemmed from technical and organizational innovations within the system itself, characteristically proyoked by failure in war on the part of one or another of the European great powers.

184 The strain, nevertheless, was considerable. Earlier in the century, wars appear to have been economically beneficial to Great Britain. Stepped-up government purchases provided a tonic to the market; technological advances in the metal trades were hastened; and chronic underemployment was reduced. Subsidies to foreign governments were easily recouped by the export of commodities from overseas. But the war of 1776-83 brought economic setback: loss of trade with s colonies as well as contraction of investment at home in other words, with the War of American Independence, Great Britain began to run up against limits to the ninety-year-old feedback pattern whereby naval power and expenditure reinforced commercial expansion while commercial expansion simultaneously made naval expenditures easier to bear.

In France, too, in the 1780s the government was also running up against the limits of its fiscal resources. The costs of the American war put what proved to be an unmanageable strain upon existing forms of government credit and tax income. The effort to meet resulting financial shortfall led, as is well known, to the summoning of the Estates General in May 1789 and to the outbreak of the French Revolution. Drastic political and social changes precipitated by the Revolution soon had the effect of unleashing hitherto unimagined military force. But in Great Britain, too, a different kind of revolution-technological and industrial-simultaneously raised the limits of the possible beyond men's earlier dreams, in matters military as well as civil. Other countries of Europe and the world were left behind by the remarkable transformations that came to France and Great Britain between 1789 and 1815. Indeed all humankind is still reeling from the impact of the democratic and industrial revolutions, triggered so unexpectedly in the last decades of the eighteenth century.

185 On the contrary, the fundamental disturber of Old Regime patterns,  in both France and England in the last years of the eighteenth century was probably population growth, which in China as well as in Europe seems to have depended mainly on a changing incidence of lethal infections.

186 To put matters in a nutshell: France exported armed men and created an empire over much of Europe, whereas Great Britain exported goods as well as men (armed and unarmed) and thereby contrived to establish a marketsupported system of power that proved more durable than anything the French achieved, despite their many victories. No one planned this divergence; it developed as a result of hasty improvisation and desperate actions in the face of overwhelming emergency.

The French revolutionary solution to an excess of manpower and a , deficiency of economically productive jobs did not emerge clearly until 1794 and became firmly established only with the rise of Napoleon.

193 After their first victories, the armies then moved onto foreign soil. From that time onward, the costs of their support devolved largely upon populations outside French borders; economic recovery within France and return to a market system for supplying urban centers with food became possible once again.

197 But as the government fell back n market incentives to manage the French economy, it, in effect, exported the emergency command economy to neighboring lands-Belgium, the Rhinelands, and, after 1797, to Italy as well. To do so, of course, it was first necessary to win victories over the republic's enemies. The first success came in September 1792, at Valmy, when forty of Gribeauval's artillery pieces, firing at extreme range, so discomfited the Prussians as to persuade them to withdraw from French soi1.

206 Ar abundant labor force on the one hand and an expanding domestic market on the other made economies of scale through use of newly invented machinery feasible, whether it was a spinning mule for making cotton thread or a blast furnace for smelting iron. Cheap water transport was essential to the whole development, both for importing raw materials like cotton from overseas and for distributing and redistributing commodities within and beyond the British isles.

209 Thereafter, migration within England was governed by response to  economic opportunities and wage differentials; and such migration in turn contributed to the distinctive and fundamentally important way in which British society adjusted itself to the population growth of the late eighteenth century, that is, by expanding opportunities for economically productive work in commerce and industry. New technologies lowered prices; lowered prices expanded markets; expanded markets increased the scale of production, which in turn required more and more factory hands, transport workers, and service personnel of the most diverse sort t6 keep the exchange economy running as smoothly as it did.

214 Thus it appears that the French learned to control births and the British learned how to employ a growing population in industry and trade largely as unintended by-products of the actions of their respective governments between 1792 and 1815.

220 To sum up: despite the new power that revolutionary idealism and the administrative implementation of liberty and equality had conferred upon the French between 1792 and 1815, the rulers and military men of Europe clearly and emphatically preferreLl the security of old routines. Consequently, the traditions and patterns of Old Regime armies and navies survived the storm of the revolutionary years essentially intact. Weaponry changed little. Promising innovations met short shrift from conservatively minded commanders.

221 Not without reason, therefore, Europe's rulers agreed that further military experimentation was unwise. Armies and navies, disciplined and equipped in the style of the Old Regime, were what they wanted and what they got. If, thereby, they refrained from tapping depths of national energies that the revolutionary years had unveiled, what natter, so long as the victors could agree among themselves and keep e specter of revolutionary disorder at bay?

222 Thus political revolution had been successfully turned back. Industrial revolution had yet to assail military routine and tradition. It began to do so in the 1840s. Consideration of this transformation of European ways of war will be the subject of the next chapters.

223 , The pace of change in weaponry and in methods of management of armed force continued to accelerate thereafter, so that by the 18805, military engineering had begun to forge ahead of civil engineering, reversing the relationship of 1 thirty years before.

Steamships and railroads proved capable of moving men, weapons, and supplies  on an entirely unprecedented scale. This in turn meant that most ofthe male population of European countries could be trained for war nu actually delivered to the battlefield.

Accordingly, armies began to count their 501diers by the million.

Simultaneously, cheaper transport and accelerated communications  allowed Europeans to unify the surface of the globe, bringing weakerAsian and African Polities into a European-centered and managed market system.

224 This constituted a remarkable change in the organization of society In retrospect one can see that the industrialization ofwar, so casually launched in the 18405, played a leading role in forwarding the transition to managed economies. But this denouement was hidden from the actors of the age itself by the fact that before the 1880s initiative for technical change nearly always rested with private inventors who hoped to make money by persuading the authorities to change some aspect of existing weaponry or production

232 From the mid-fifties onward, therefore, patterns of both naval and land armament that had remained almost stable since the seventeenth century began to crumble away, exposing admirals, generals, and statesmen to the acute discomfort of having to face the possibility of war under conditions and with weapons of which they had no direct · experience.·

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