Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Arm The People?

SM Stirling, The Tears Of The Sun (New York, 2012), Chapter Seventeen.

In an after-dinner speech, the Grand Constable of the armies demonstrates to her fellow nobles that civilians can easily be shown how to use crossbows to defend their city against a mass attack. When she has finished:

"There was still a good deal of indigestion at the thought of letting too many of the lower classes have weapons which could penetrate the armor of a knight." (p. 576)

Brilliant! The "lower classes" are kept in their place by two factors: the ruling ideas and force. However, they outnumber their rulers, can be armed and can change their ideas. As Percy Shelley wrote:

“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number-
Shake your chains to earth like
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many-they are few.”

-see here.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And the counter to that, of course, are two things: do most of the people accept their rule as LEGITIMATE, and do those rulers govern reasonably competently and in ways which benefits most? If so, the Grand Constable's fellow nobles can relax.


David Birr said...

If the people are armed, the rulers have an ... incentive ... to be competent and just. Or else.

To quote from H. Beam Piper (*Space Viking*),
"He tried to explain that the people had a very distinct and commanding voice, and that barons and lords who wanted to stay alive listened attentively to it."

Or, to put it another way:
"Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty."
— John Basil Barnhill

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

Of course I agree! The idea that the people has the right to rebel against tyrannical and unjust rulers is very ancient and can be found in both East and West. This notion can be found in the ANALECTS of Confucius and the MENCIUS. And in the West it is to be found in St. Thomas Aquinas' treatise ON KINGSHIP.

Alas, my view is that today the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of the people fearing their gov't in many nations. And I include DEMOCRATIC nations as trending heavily to tyranny these days. Not just lunatic despots like Kim Jong Un in N. Korea!