Military life in general depraves men. It places them in conditions of complete idleness, i.e., absence of all useful work; frees them of their common human duties, which it replaces by merely conventional ones to the honour of the regiment, the uniform, the flag; and, while giving them on the one hand absolute power over other men, also puts them into conditions of servile obedience to those of higher rank than themselves.

Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection, Chapter 13

Note that this criticism applies particularly to a peace-time standing army, not to an army in actual service in time of war or public danger. While it is true that obedience is necessary for the successful operation of a military force, in time of peace or in time of war, the necessity of this obedience does not negate its malign influence.

(Tolstoy himself had served in the Russian army and distinguished himself in engagements in the Caucasus.)

Back to Anesi's Book of Unfamiliar Quotations

©Copyright 1995-2006 Chuck Anesi all rights reserved