In ancient and in feudal times, it was considered not that the soldier, but that most of the rest of society, was a little peculiar. City life, trade life, farm life, were supposed to sap the warlike temper and produce an unspirited human variety. The former contempt for the merchant was due not only to the idea that he was given over to an unmanly sort of competition, that he liked too well the rule of the civil order whereby everything must be got by wit and nothing by courage, that he too willingly forgot how far the security of that very rule depends on men of another fiber: it was due also, I presume, to sad experience in various attempts to turn him, in an emergency, into a warrior. For in the earlier stages of the division of labor, a very real division of mental quality took place with it, and these mental grooves between occupational groups tended to deepen. Agricultural populations became an easy prey to the wilder tribes about them; wealthy cities had to buy their protection from sounder-spirited professional fighters. Even to-day, the phrase "a nation of shopkeepers" has just enough sting in it to make the eagle and the lion squirm.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Warriors vs. "Shopkeepers"
Napoleon famously described England as "a nation of shopkeepers." The following is from Morale and its Enemies (1918) by William Ernest Hocking: