Change was the currency of the Meiji era — Sources of the Meiji Restoration To understand the dynamism of the Meiji years, one must begin with the factors in the Tokugawa era — that made Japan a unique and sophisticated nation. Even the Europeans, who had participated in some of the sixteenth century conflicts, were tightly controlled in these years, with most of them excluded from Japan altogether and the Dutch alone allowed to maintain a limited trading presence at Nagasaki, nearly 1, miles away from the capital. The system also encouraged the growth of important national institutions.
The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade.
Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now were such a thing possible to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes.
Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out.
Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing, in cold blood, to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition. In modern eyes, precious though wars may be they must not be waged solely for the sake of the ideal harvest.
Only when forced upon one, is a war now thought permissible. It was not thus in ancient times. The earlier men were hunting men, and to hunt a neighboring tribe, kill the males, loot the village and possess the females, was the most profitable, as well as the most exciting, way of living.
Thus were the more martial tribes selected, and in chiefs and peoples a pure pugnacity and love of glory came to mingle with the more fundamental appetite for plunder. Modern war is so expensive that we feel trade to be a better avenue to plunder; but modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the love of glory of his ancestors.
The horrors make the fascination. War is the strong life; it is life in extremis; war taxes are the only ones men never hesitate to pay, as the budgets of all nations show us. History is a bath of blood. No detail of the wounds they made is spared us, and the Greek mind fed upon the story.
It is horrible reading — because of the irrationality of it all — save for the purpose of making "history" — and the history is that of the utter ruin of a civilization in intellectual respects perhaps the highest the earth has ever seen. Those wars were purely piratical. Pride, gold, women, slaves excitement were their only motives.
In the Peloponesian war, for example, the Athenians ask the inhabitants of Melos the island where the "Venus de Milo" was foundhitherto neutral, to own their lordship. The envoys meet, and hold a debate which Thucydides gives in full, and which, for sweet reasonableness of form, would have satisfied Matthew Arnold.
This law was not made by us, and we are not the first to have acted upon it; we did but inherit it, and we know that you and all mankind, if you were as strong as we are, would do as we do.
So much for the gods; we have told you why we expect to stand as high in their good opinion as you. They then colonized the island, sending thither five hundred settlers of their own.
There was no rational purpose in it, and the moment he died his generals and governors attacked one another. The cruelty of those times is incredible. When Rome finally conquered Greece, Paulus Aemilius, was told by the Roman Senate, to reward his soldiers for their toil by "giving" them the old kingdom of Epirus.
How many they killed I know not; but in Etolia they killed all the senators, five hundred and fifty in number. Brutus was "the noblest Roman of them all," but to reanimate his soldiers on the eve of Philippi he similarly promises to give them the cities of Sparta and Thessalonica to ravage, if they win the fight.
Such was the gory nurse that trained soldiers to cohesiveness. We inherit the warlike type; and for most of the capacities of heroism that the human race is full of we have to thank this cruel history.
Dead men tell no tales, and if there were any tribes of other type than this they have left no survivors. The popular imagination fairly fattens on the thought of wars. Let public opinion once reach a certain fighting pitch, and no ruler can withstand it. In our people had read the word "war" in letters three inches high for three months in every newspaper.
The pliant politician, McKinley, was swept away by their eagerness, and our squalid war with Spain became a reality.
At the present day, civilized opinion is a curious mental mixture.
The military instincts and ideals are as strong as ever, but they are confronted by reflective criticisms which sorely curb their ancient freedom.
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In this essay, historian James Huffman outlines the history of the critical transition Japan underwent between and , as well as providing some background about the events leading up to this period of rapid societal change. Looking back on the Spanish War, the essay of George Orwell.
First published: by/in New Road, GB, London. February When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of . Training for War: An Essay - Kindle edition by Tom Kratman.
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