With so many articles and other writing stuck in production, I thought I”d knock out a quick blog inspired by Matias Vernengo at Naked Keynesianism; he posted an article called, The Fiscal-Military State and Western Hegemony. The article has a quick look at a select choice of the literature, and reminds us of Charles Tilly‘s allegedly famous argument that “War made the State, and the State made war”, although I suspect that Tilley was not the first to make this argument. Most interestingly, he argues that where cavalry warfare was in the ascendancy, it acted as an inhibitor to military technological development and latterly superiority. I suggest it was the development of cities, and their density in Europe together with their walls that necessitated the invention of artillery to conduct siege warfare and an infantry to protect it. Similarly, the development of naval warfare and overseas empires, incubated by Europe’s geography reinforced, or maybe preceded the evolution of land based cannons.
Vernego rushes past tax and fiscal engineering to examine the view that infantry firearms were ineffective against cavalry until relatively late and that those states that relied upon cavalry or contended against nomad civilisations failed to develop modern infantry based armies. The article then mentions the different ground war tactics and history in western Europe; the use of siege tactics and the importance of naval power where both of these factors accelerated the development and utility of firstly artillery and secondly infantry firearms. By the time the cultures met or rendezvoused, the West had a military superiority. This is an argument that is counter intuitive to the cavalry battle theories developed by initially the British when developing the tank and automating the army which pretty much maintained the ideas of combined warfare developed at the turn of the 19th century in the Napoleonic Wars; cavalry alone cannot beat a well prepared infantry.