The Admiration for Force

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Man’s admiration for the great spectacles of nature is the admiration for force, Colonel Ardant Du Picq says:

In the mountains it is mass, a force, that impresses him, strikes him, makes him admire. In the calm sea it is the mysterious and terrible force that he divines, that he feels in that enormous liquid mass; in the angry sea, force again. In the wind, in the storm, in the vast depth of the sky, it is still force that he admires.

All these things astounded man when he was young. He has become old, and he knows them. Astonishment has turned to admiration, but always it is the feeling of a formidable force which compels his admiration. This explains his admiration for the warrior.

The warrior is the ideal of the primitive man, of the savage, of the barbarian. The more people rise in moral civilization, the lower this ideal falls. But with the masses everywhere the warrior still is and for a long time will be the height of their ideals. This is because man loves to admire the force and bravery that are his own attributes. When that force and bravery find other means to assert themselves, or at least when the crowd is shown that war does not furnish the best examples of them, that there are truer and more exalted examples, this ideal will give way to a higher one.

Nations have an equal sovereignty based on their existence as states. They recognize no superior jurisdiction and call on force to decide their differences. Force decides. Whether or not might was right, the weaker bows to necessity until a more successful effort can be made. (Prud’homme). It is easy to understand Gregory VII’s ideas on the subject.

In peace, armies are playthings in the hands of princes. If the princes do not know anything about them, which is usually the case, they disorganize them. If they understand them, like the Prince of Prussia, they make their armies strong for war.

The King of Prussia and the Prussian nobility, threatened by democracy, have had to change the passion for equality in their people into a passion for domination over foreign nations. This is easily done, when domination is crowned with success, for man, who is merely the friend of equality is the lover of domination. So that he is easily made to take the shadow for the substance. They have succeeded. They are forced to continue with their system. Otherwise their status as useful members of society would be questioned and they would perish as leaders in war. Peace spells death to a nobility. Consequently nobles do not desire it, and stir up rivalries among peoples, rivalries which alone can justify their existence as leaders in war, and consequently as leaders in peace. This is why the military spirit is dead in France. The past does not live again. In the spiritual as in the physical world, what is dead is dead. Death comes only with the exhaustion of the elements, the conditions which are necessary for life. For these reasons revolutionary wars continued into the war with Prussia. For these reasons if we had been victorious we would have found against us the countries dominated by nobilities, Austria, Russia, England. But with us vanquished, democracy takes up her work in all European countries, protected in the security which victory always gives to victors. This work is slower but surer than the rapid work of war, which, exalting rivalries, halts for a moment the work of democracy within the nations themselves. Democracy then takes up her work with less chance of being deterred by rivalry against us. Thus we are closer to the triumph of democracy than if we had been victors. French democracy rightfully desires to live, and she does not desire to do so at the expense of a sacrifice of national pride. Then, since she will still be surrounded for a long time by societies dominated by the military element, by the nobility, she must have a dependable army. And, as the military spirit is on the wane in France, it must be replaced by having noncommissioned officers and officers well paid. Good pay establishes position in a democracy, and to-day none turn to the army, because it is too poorly paid. Let us have well paid mercenaries. By giving good pay, good material can be secured, thanks to the old warrior strain in the race. This is the price that must be paid for security.

The soldier of our day is a merchant. So much of my flesh, of my blood, is worth so much. So much of my time, of my affections, etc. It is a noble trade, however, perhaps because man’s blood is noble merchandise, the finest that can be dealt in.

M. Guizot says “Get rich!” That may seem cynical to prudes, but it is truly said. Those who deny the sentiment, and talk to-day so loftily, what do they advise? If not by words, then by example they counsel the same thing; and example is more contagious. Is not private wealth, wealth in general, the avowed ambition sought by all, democrats and others? Let us be rich, that is to say, let us be slaves of the needs that wealth creates.


  1. Rollory says:

    “to-day none turn to the army, because it is too poorly paid. Let us have well paid mercenaries. ”


    I would have expected him to know his Machiavelli. “Gold may not always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold.”

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