The Simplified Wealth of Nations of Adam Smith, Book 5, Chapter 1b: Government Expenses -- Militias


Chapter 1b: Militias

15 The state can use two methods for the public defence.

  1. 16 It may enforce military exercises.
  1. 17 It may separate the soldier's profession from all other professions by maintaining and employing some citizens in constant military exercises.
18 The practice of military exercises is the sole or principal occupation of a standing army. The practice of military exercises is only the militia's occasional occupation. In a militia, the character of the labourer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over that of the soldier. 19 There are many kinds of militias.
Effects of Firearms

20 Before the invention of firearms, the superior army was one where each soldier had the greatest skill and dexterity in using their arms. 21 In modern armies, regularity, order, and prompt obedience to command are more important in determining the fate of battles than dexterity and skill in arms. 22 A militia is always much inferior to a well-disciplined and well-exercised standing army. 23 Soldiers who are exercised only once a week or once a month can never be as expert in the use of their arms as those exercised every day or every other day. 24 There are soldiers who are: Such soldiers can never be in ready obedience nor be under the same awe of his presence as soldiers who: Discipline is the habit of ready obedience. 25 The best militias are those which go to war under the same chieftains whom they obey in peace, like the Mongol or Arab militia. 26 A militia which has served for several successive campaigns becomes a standing army.

Next: Chapter 1c: Armies