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The Trickle-Down War


Rosa Brooks


The history of the European nation-state, wrote political sociologist Charles Tilly, is inextricably bound up with the history of warfare. To oversimplify Tilly's nuanced and complex arguments, the story goes something like this: as powerholders (originally bandits and local strongmen) sought to expand their power, they needed capital to pay for weapons, soldiers, and supplies. The need for capital and new recruits drove the creation of taxation systems and census mechanisms, and the need for more effective systems of taxation and recruitment necessitated better roads, better communications, and better record keeping. This in turn enabled the creation of larger and more technologically sophisticated armies.

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