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chapter five: On the Mode of Forming and Maintaining Armies - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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On the Mode of Forming and Maintaining Armies
The aversion of modern nations to the hazards of war, which have ceased to be pleasures, makes the question of recruitment very difficult. When the spirit of the human race was warlike, men ran to combat. Today they have to be dragged to it.
The rights of government in regard to recruitment very much need to be fixed. If it is invested in this respect with boundless power, it is as if it had unlimited sway over everything. What does it matter if it cannot arrest citizens at home and keep them indefinitely in dungeons, if it can send them, them or their children, to die on faraway shores, if it can have this threat hover above the heads of loved ones and bring  despair into every home at will, by the exercise of bogus right?
There are two modes of recruitment, which subdivide again, but to one or the other of which one can relate all the different ways adopted in all countries.
The first consists in imposing on all citizens of a given age the duty of bearing arms for a certain number of years; the other is free and voluntary recruitment.
The drawbacks of the first mode are incontestable.
In certain periods of human life, interruptions to the exercise of intellectual or working faculties are never made good. The dangerous, careless, and coarse ways of soldiering, the sudden rupture of all family dealings, mechanical thralldom to minute duties when the enemy is not around, complete independence of moral ties at the age when the passions are most actively in ferment, these are not immaterial things in terms of morality and education. Condemning to a life in camps and barracks the younger sons of the affluent classes, in which reside, in short, education, refinement, and right thinking, as well as that tradition of gentleness, nobility, and elegance which alone distinguishes us from barbarians, this is to do the whole nation an ill uncompensated either by worthless success or the profitless terror she inspires. To commit to the soldier’s life the merchant’s son, or the artist’s, the magistrate’s, the young man devoted to letters, to science, to the exercise of some difficult and complicated activity, is to rob him of the fruit of all his previous education. This education itself will be affected in advance by the prospect of an inevitable interruption. Parental zeal will be discouraged. The young man’s imagination will be struck for good or ill by what lies in store. However his imagination may react to all this, his application can only be the worse. If he is intoxicated by brilliant dreams of military glory, he will scorn peaceful study, sedentary occupations, work of application contrary to his fancies, and the changeableness of his nascent faculties. If he thinks of himself sorrowfully as being dragged away from home, if he works out how much the sacrifice of several years will retard his progress, he will despair of himself. He will not want to exhaust himself in efforts whose fruits an iron hand will steal from him. He will tell himself that since his country contends with him for the time necessary to acquire  his learning, perfect the art he cultivates or the work he has embraced, it is pointless to struggle against power; he will resign himself, lazily, to what lies in store.
If, transforming in some way the obligation to bear arms into a tax on the rich, you restrict it in reality to the working-class poor, although this inequality seems to have something more revolting about it, then probably it will be less dire in its results than so-called equality, which weighs on all classes. An unskilled laborer or a day laborer suffers less from the interruption of his routine job than men committed to jobs demanding experience, assiduity, watchfulness, and thought. Plucking a farmer’s son away from his plough, you do not render him incapable of resuming his first job on his return. Other drawbacks are apparent, however, ones of no less importance. You will see parents punished for the faults of their children, with children’s interests separated from those of their fathers as a result, with families reduced either to uniting to resist the law, or to division so that one part can constrain the other to obedience, fatherly love treated like a crime, the filial tenderness which does not wish to abandon a father to old age and isolation turned into revolt and struck down harshly, spying and informing, those eternal resources of government once it has created bogus crimes, encouraged and rewarded, odious duties imposed on lesser magistrates, with men unleashed like ferocious mastiffs, in town and country, to pursue and lock up fugitives, innocent in the light of morality and nature. And perhaps all these vexations take place, not for legitimate defense but in order to facilitate the invasion and devastation of faraway regions whose possession adds nothing to the national prosperity, unless one calls the worthless renown of a few men and their fatal celebrity, national prosperity.9
The arguments pleaded in favor of institutions which force all citizens to bear arms resemble in some respects those of the enemies of property, which, under the pretext of a primitive equality, wish to divide manual labor without distinction between all men, not reflecting that the  work split thus will not only be less useful, since it will be badly done, but that moreover it would block all continuity, all specialized work, all the good effects of habit and concentration of effort, and thereby all progress, all perfectioning. Similarly, military life, seizing all the generations in turn during their youth, would infallibly cast a nation into brutishness and ignorance.
The only drawback of the second mode, I mean free and voluntary recruitment, is possible insufficiency.
I think this insufficiency is much exaggerated. The obstacles to recruitment the government finds always pertain to the futility of the war. Once a just war is involved, these obstacles diminish. Public opinion speaks, everyone’s interest makes itself heard. Everybody is drawn by this interest and this opinion. Each soul comes to life. Each offers himself to march to battle, aware of the cause. National movement exists, which the government has no need to create by orders and threats. It has only to direct it.
One can affirm this fearlessly. If governments undertook only just wars, if at home too they took justice as their standard, they would find very few obstacles to the composition of armies. In the present condition of Europe we do not at all dispute their right to maintain a standing military force even in time of peace, and to impose on citizens certain duties for the formation and maintenance of this force. But on the assumption that the government would undertake only legitimate wars, that is, motivated by the need for defense, although circumstances might render them offensive, how much less numerous on this assumption, we repeat, would the indispensable military force be, and how much simpler would it be for the citizens to fulfill these duties! Do not be distrustful then of their zeal. They are not slow to run to take up arms for their fatherland, when they have one. They spring to the maintenance of their independence abroad when they possess security at home. When they remain motionless and have to be constrained, it is because they have nothing to lose, and whose fault is that?
It might be objected perhaps that this unanimous movement cannot take place in a very large polity, that men run to the defense of their frontiers only when those frontiers are  near their homes and that a war occasioned by entry of an enemy in a faraway province will not produce in the center or at the opposite end of the country either indignation or zeal to repel it. First of all, this assertion is much more contestable than one might think. Suppose a great free people, happy in its freedom, attached by the feeling of good fortune to its government. It will contract wider and more generous ideas than those people who base their power on the degradation of the human race like to believe. Just as men used to freedom see in the oppression of a single citizen, however unknown he may be to them, a punishable assault against the whole of civil society, so also a nation which has a fatherland sees in the invasion of a part of its territory an insult made to the whole of that fatherland. The enjoyment of freedom creates a feeling of national pride so refined and easily offended that government has more often to restrain than arouse it. Doubtless this truth has limits. What follows from it, though, is simply that large countries must have it too. When a country is so extensive that no national link can exist between its different provinces, I can scarcely conceive the argument for this excessive extent.
A nation refuses to defend itself against an enemy which menaces it or to contribute in sufficient proportion to the establishment necessary for the security of the country it inhabits, only when its government by its injustices has detached it from its interests, or when this government’s frenzied ambition, wishing to set up everywhere at the expense of its subjects a tyrannical domination, demands efforts and sacrifices which neither the security nor the prosperity of this nation requires. This government is then reduced to dragging its slaves to war in irons.
Nevertheless, that voluntary recruitment be supposed insufficient suffices to oblige us to indicate the remedy for this insufficiency. It has been said that if a government were not good enough to inspire in its subjects the desire to defend it, then it must bear the penalty for its vices. This is true. But no government will resign itself to that. It is pointless proposing principles whose nature is such that they will not be observed.
When voluntary recruitment is insufficient, the government must indeed be given the right to resort to conscription. When it is not accorded this right, it will take it. To combine this prerogative, however, with a degree of freedom and individual security, we have to revert to political freedom, for as we said at the start, if the right to conscription is not strictly limited, there are no longer any limits to despotism. Everything  leads us back therefore, in spite of ourselves and by every route, to political freedom.
The representatives of the nation must determine how, in what numbers, in what conditions, and for what end the citizens must be obliged to march to the defense of their country. This determination by the nation’s representatives must not be permanent, but it must happen each time circumstances demand it, and it must cease, by law, when the circumstances have changed. And this forces us to repeat what we said above, about all the prerogatives to be granted to the representative assemblies in order for them to attain their goal.10 For if they are weak and dependent, they will vote for everything the executive power wishes.
On Government Action on Enlightenment
[10. ]On pp. 287–288, but the reference is not clear.
[E. [Refers to page 290.]]There were under the monarchy 60,000 militiamen in France; the period of service was six years. Thus fate fell every year on 10,000 men. Administration des finances, I, 30. M. Necker called the militia a frightful lottery. What would he have said about conscription?