The corruption of a standing army.
In the previous two posts I discussed the nature of the second amendment as understood by the founders and the solution to our modern controversy with a right to bear arms being found in the tying of firearms ownership to service in the militia. In this four part post I will expand on these ideas by discussing how standing armies corrupt republics and why great thinkers such as Montesquieu and Machiavelli thought them to be so dangerous to republics such as ours.
Part 1: What is a standing army.
First we must look into what was meant by “standing armies” as the founders envisioned. The term standing army does not refer to the permanent deployment of a military on the domestic soil as the words would seem to imply, rather it refers to a professional military force that is distinct from the citizenry and which is a permanent feature of the state. A standing army is thus composed of citizens who have dedicated themselves exclusively to the profession of arms. As one might become a cook or a dentist, so too do they become soldiers, airmen, marines, or sailors. This may be for a time or as an entire career.
In justifying a standing army, we assume that there are threats in the form of countries or groups that wish us harm and that having a professional military is a reasonable and prudent way to deal with such threats. Yet the founders and many thinkers who have pondered the concept of a republic, have often argued that a professional military can be a greater threat to liberty than any foreign force bent on conquest or destruction. This is because the very idea of a professional military runs counter to the ideals necessary to create and maintain a republic, chief among these the ideal of civic virtue.