Weapons Systems and Political Stability

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* Book: Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History (PDF). Washington, DC: University Press of America. 1983. pp. 1064 pages



“From a historical study of weapons and political dynamics, Quigley concludes that the characteristics of weapons are the main predictor of democracy. Democracy tends to emerge only when the best weapons available are easy for individuals to buy and use. This explains why democracy occurs so rarely in human history. In the 1800s (peaking in the 1880s), guns were the best weapon available. In America, almost everyone could afford to buy a gun, and could learn how to use it fairly easily. Governments couldn't do any better: it became the age of mass armies of citizen soldiers with guns.(Similarly, Periclean Greece was an age of the citizen soldier and of democracy. In the 1900s, expensive, specialist weapons (such as tanks and bombers) became available, and citizen soldiers became dominated by specialist soldiers.”