Friday, September 14, 2007

Some Historical Perspective

I'm very gratified by the number of readers and commenters for my first unsteady blogging efforts. I'd hoped to put up a shooting test of my new pistol but I'm having difficulty learning to post images. I'll manage it here in a little while.

Fathairybastard posted a comment in which he indicated he, too, hates to teach by making students memorize dates. I've been reading FHB's blog for some time, but only just now saw what he had listed under Occupation -- "Dispenser of wisdom, corrupter of youth." I like that.

It is quite distressing to many gentle souls that history is positively FILLED with violence. Well, at the risk of seeming flip, what the hell IS history but a chronicle of one people, one tribe or clan, one state, doing violence to another? Call it greed, a quest for living room, protection of a way of life or border integrity, defending The Faith -- whichever one is your favorite --or whatever else. If "Everyone could just get along," not offending the neighbors, then history would be a dull topic indeed. Humans are not by nature pacifistic. They are frequently predatory creatures. Even the most ostensibly peaceful agrarian society goes to war occasionally - - Or at least thinks of it.

And, think of man, the tool using animal. A show of hands, please. All who think the earliest human artifacts were agricultural implements. Anyone? Uh, noooo. Sticks with fire hardened tips, jagged oblate stones, flaked flint weapon tips, the bow, the atlatl, and all the other projectile tossers - - All designed to draw blood with less effort and greater efficiency. Any tool useful for hunting is also an anti-personnel implement.

The earliest metal smelting and smithing - - Shall we suggest the first usage was in making hoes and plows? Can you say that with a straight face? I can't. Copper to bronze to iron to steel. The first uses were not for farming. The first large metalworking efforts, organized smithies with forges and bellows and metal pouring were to allow some duke or clan chieftain to efficiently arm his retinue. Bronze will serve pretty well as a material for plowshares and hoes. And about the crudest possible iron will make an ax or cooking pot. But the best, strongest metals that could be produced? These were reserved for swords, knives, and other blades intended to pierce or sever flesh.

Yeah, first dibs to the warriors for their weapons. And when metal working expanded a bit, what then? How about bridle bits and stirrups and chariot and wagon fixtures, to transport the warriors on campaign - - Be it ten miles to the next clan's keep, or half across the known world.

Trace history right into the industrial age. Think of the first machinery with truly interchangeable parts. Military muskets, under Eli Whitney's 1798 contract. Previously, there were assembly lines, of a sort, yes. But these consisted mainly of hand fitters laboriously working to make vaguely similar parts fit together.

I guess I could go on for another several pages concerning the history of various types of arms. Heck, more than that, just on firearms. Guess I'll save some of that for times I'm hard put to come up with a topic.

I'll wander off on similar historical reveries from time to time . . . .


14 comments:

LawDog said...

If you don’t understand weapons you don’t understand fighting. If you don’t understand fighting you don’t understand war. If you don’t understand war you don’t understand history. If you don’t understand history, you might as well live with your head in a sack.

-- Col. Jeff Cooper

LabRat said...

So far as I can tell, a disdain for military history consists of pure, unadulterated, mulish wishing for human nature to be other than it is.

If one were truly sickened by war and its ubiquity in human affairs, then why not devote your life to intensive study of it in order to determine how best to avoid it?

Stephen said...

Well done, Sir.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Holy Christ, I'm in LOVE! That was fun to read. You've got it totally right. The drive to find a better way to defend yourself or kill another has just about totally driven human evolution and technological development. Violence is natural and normal, and everpresent. It's a delusion to think you can end it. It's a nice illusion, but a very dangerous one when it deludes people into thinking that if they only disarm themselves they will be safe. Glad you finally got up off it and started bloggin'. I'll look forward to reading more.

Tom said...

I love history and weapons.

On a semi-unrelated sidenote, I was speaking with the Superintendent of Schools in the town where I work the other day. He was in the Marine Corps and he was admiring the 1911 I was wearing. He asked me a few questions as to the make and model. I asked him if he had any guns and he said his wife didn't want them in the house. I asked him if she let him take the jar down and look at them once in a while. He asked, "Look at what?" I said, "Your balls!" How have we come to the point in history where our men, nay not just men but former Marines, allow women to tell them how they may arm themselves or defend their homes?

How will the pussification of the American male be recorded in history?

JoeMerchant24 said...

History, especially military and firearms history..... Love it.

more, please.

James E. Griffin said...

A great many of our currently "politically correctly" so called educated folk do not understand the ramifications of interchangeable parts.

Large numbers of reasonably priced goods like automobiles, computers, electrical generators and such are impossible without interchangeable parts.

Consider the lowly standard pitch screw. Imagine the cost of repairing your car after a fender bender if every screw had to be hand cut and fitted. Not to mention each unique part to be replaced.

Basically, the world wide industrial revolution, and the way of life we all cherish, was made possible by colonial American gunsmiths!

Ya think the American Lung Association would object to my to telling hoplophobes to stick THAT in their "politically correct" pipes and smoke it?

SpeakerTweaker said...

Okay, well that's that. I must read this blog daily.

I find myself here solely because you are MattG's father. He had to get it from someone...

I am young in the world of weapons and war. Actually, I'm kinda young in general considering the bloggers I read. I am looking forward to acquiring knowledge here.

And you, sir, have my undivided attention.



tweaker

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Excellent points.... looking forward to more.

Thank you Sir!

Old NFO said...

Finally, a realistic perspective :-) After 37 years combined of active duty and civilian service, it is nice to find others who get the point (metaphorically speaking). Most of our current technology was actually designed to support either weapons or new military capabilities. Even the Internet was originally designed for warfare- by BB&N under a DARPA contract...
Looking forward to more education!

DirtCrashr said...

History is full of violence because that's the cool stuff! Mild and bland experiences don't exactly pop-out or stick around in memory very long. And it's not just metal and Industrial Revolution - before there was metal there was wood and stone, to make spears and tip them, bows and arrows too, and later timbers selected to build boats that carried fighting men - or else the other "peaceful" boats wouldn't be going anywhere either.

comatus said...

STIRRUPS? Aha! The fight is on...

Mr. Griffin, you neglected to call those folk "edumickated." Please follow stylebook in future. Yes, it's true: the first (metal) piston engines were bored out by cannonsmiths, natch. And mass-production, until the 20th century, was called "armory practice."

A careful reading of the Old Testament reveals that, a couple of chapters before they beat those swords into plowshares, they beat their plowshares into swords. I'll not debate the chicken-and-egg of this, but the ethical pretense seems clear. As well as malleability being at a premium in Greek Dark Age metallurgy.

DW said...

The soft hearts don't understand, it's the men with the bark on that allow them to BE the soft hearts.
Sheeple have to have sheeple dogs!

comatus said...

dw, I figure it takes a heap of edumackatin' to turn a pack into a herd. The occurrence of "sheeple," however widespread, ain't natural.

Just ran across this, co-attributed to Hemingway and MacArthur(!): "War is caused by undefended wealth." Sums up a lot, doesn't it. Before (or instead of) men with rifles ostensibly warring over oil, you have men with rocks taking slaves. Solve for x and y: inputs vary, outcomes, not so much.