Military Monarchyby Adam Smith
What form of government succeeded the republican?
When small republics were conquered by another state, monarchy, or whatever government the conquerors wanted was established. They generally followed the model of their own country.
- The Athenians always established democracy.
- The Spartans established aristocracy.
- The Romans more prudently divided their conquests into provinces.
These were governed pretty absolutely by persons appointed by the Senate. The case is somewhat different when a state is conquered by its own people.
A military monarchy is a monarchy supported by military force.
- This is needed to keep the people in awe as to conquer them.
- This was established in Rome during their empire.
- Its emperors took the whole executive power into their own hands and made peace and war as they thought proper.
- They even named the magistrates:
- immediately themselves, or
- through a Senate they themselves appointed.
- However, they did not change any institutions of the civil law and right and wrong were decided as before.
Cromwell did the same in our own country.
- He kept the State in awe by an insignificant army.
- But he allowed the judge to determine right and wrong as before.
- He made such improvements in the civil law by taking away wardships, etc. that the first thing the Parliament of Charles II did was to confirm many of Cromwell’s laws.
The Roman authors tell us that justice was best administered under Domitian and Nero1, the worst of the emperors. It is the interest of all new administrators to make few alterations in what the people are much concerned and have been long accustomed to.
They will more easily go into anything else, when they are indulged in this. It was particularly the interest of the emperors to keep up the ancient system of laws. Accordingly, we find that all consuls who misbehaved in their respective provinces were severely punished.
It was not so under the republic. Cicero’s Orations tell us that the most scandalous crimes were committed by governors.
A military government allows the strictest administration of justice. Nobody can have a fair trial if the case involves the Emperor and so he will do as he pleases. But in cases that does not involve him, it is his interest to adhere to the ancient laws.
There was a very great difference between the military government established at Rome and those in Asia. At Rome, the conquerors and conquered were the same people. The conquerors themselves were sensible of the good effects of these laws that they improved them.
It is different with the militaristic governments in Asia.
- Turkey, Persia, and other countries were conquered by Mongols, Arabians, and other barbarous nations who had no system of laws
- They established their own people in all public offices.
- These officers were ignorant of their duties.
- A Turkish bashaw or other inferior officer is the decisive judge of everything, and is as absolute in his own jurisdiction as the Signior.
- Life and fortune are altogether precarious, when they thus depend on the caprice of the lowest magistrate.
- This is the most miserable and oppressive government.