The inefficiency of democracy is commonly noted through voting foibles and perennial emergence of economic classes, however, during wartime, democracy is inefficient at dispensing violence. Plus, according to Orwell, a democratic army is a contradiction of terms. Due to the fact that an army is an organized military force, there must be a separation of duties and responsibilities derived from variation of knowledge and experience. This separation is maintained and dispensed via discipline and strategy. There must be leaders and there must be followers. Why have militias historically struggled being effective? Because all the contemporaneous voices as well as weak expertise produce weak strategic fronts. An army is thus like an orchestra: this is your tool, so focus solely on that; this is my tool, so I'll focus solely on this. It's an assembly, so any attempt to transfer or overlap tools without clearly demonstrating expertise results in a decrease in efficiency.
One of the problems with this orchestra though, is that during revolutionary and civil war times, not all soldiers are seasoned professionals. You've got some hacks in there. People are drafted, people with mild-training come out of hiding, etc. etc. Perfect armies can always be built in a vacuum, but doesn't that go for any perfect ideal? It's simple to devise a strategy on paper, but what determines any plan's effectiveness are the intangibles of human behavior in real-time. Since Britain, France, nor Spain were military states, not everyone who fought were proficient.
Democracy in the British military during the Spanish Civil War time was non-existent due to the social rewards and programs directed toward the bourgeoise, completely absent from the proletarians. For this reason the social perception of British common soldiers in 1939 was lousy, and though they certainly earned their reputation through bully- behavior, being slobs, and pretty much anything not descriptive of a well-collected soldier, they weren't given the same opportunities as the bourgeoisie. The military just wanted them to be a "fighting animals," as Orwell describes.
According to Orwell, in order for an army to be truly democratic, all classes must start from scratch. Page 120: "It is fairly safe to prophesy that even if there is no class-favouritism (as there will be, presumably), Militiamen of bourgeois origin will tend to be promoted first...A fact not always appreciated by Socialists is that in England that whole of the bourgeoisie is to some extent militarised. Nearly every boy who had been to a public school has passed through the O.T.C. (theoretically voluntary but in practice compulsory), and though this training is done between the ages of 13 and 18, it ought not be despised." Yes, it gives them a head start in military functionality, but over whom? The enemy, or the people who worked in the fields and didn't go to public schools?
Click the RSS FEED button below to receive notification of new Orwell 365 posts.