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Chapter 6

  • Only the expression of the will of the Deity, not dependent on time, ca_elate to a whole series of events occurring over a period of years o_enturies, and only the Deity, independent of everything, can by His sole wil_etermine the direction of humanity's movement; but man acts in time an_imself takes part in what occurs.
  • Reinstating the first condition omitted, that of time, we see that no comman_an be executed without some preceding order having been given rendering th_xecution of the last command possible.
  • No command ever appears spontaneously, or itself covers a whole series o_ccurrences; but each command follows from another, and never refers to _hole series of events but always to one moment only of an event.
  • When, for instance, we say that Napoleon ordered armies to go to war, w_ombine in one simultaneous expression a whole series of consecutive command_ependent one on another. Napoleon could not have commanded an invasion o_ussia and never did so. Today he ordered such and such papers to be writte_o Vienna, to Berlin, and to Petersburg; tomorrow such and such decrees an_rders to the army, the fleet, the commissariat, and so on and so on—million_f commands, which formed a whole series corresponding to a series of event_hich brought the French armies into Russia.
  • If throughout his reign Napoleon gave commands concerning an invasion o_ngland and expended on no other undertaking so much time and effort, and ye_uring his whole reign never once attempted to execute that design bu_ndertook an expedition into Russia, with which country he considered i_esirable to be in alliance (a conviction he repeatedly expressed)—this cam_bout because his commands did not correspond to the course of events in th_irst case, but did so correspond in the latter.
  • For an order to be certainly executed, it is necessary that a man should orde_hat can be executed. But to know what can and what cannot be executed i_mpossible, not only in the case of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in whic_illions participated, but even in the simplest event, for in either cas_illions of obstacles may arise to prevent its execution. Every order execute_s always one of an immense number unexecuted. All the impossible order_nconsistent with the course of events remain unexecuted. Only the possibl_nes get linked up with a consecutive series of commands corresponding to _eries of events, and are executed.
  • Our false conception that an event is caused by a command which precedes it i_ue to the fact that when the event has taken place and out of thousands o_thers those few commands which were consistent with that event have bee_xecuted, we forget about the others that were not executed because they coul_ot be. Apart from that, the chief source of our error in this matter is du_o the fact that in the historical accounts a whole series of innumerable,
  • diverse, and petty events, such for instance as all those which led the Frenc_rmies to Russia, is generalized into one event in accord with the resul_roduced by that series of events, and corresponding with this generalizatio_he whole series of commands is also generalized into a single expression o_ill.
  • We say that Napoleon wished to invade Russia and invaded it. In reality in al_apoleon's activity we never find anything resembling an expression of tha_ish, but find a series of orders, or expressions of his will, very variousl_nd indefinitely directed. Amid a long series of unexecuted orders o_apoleon's one series, for the campaign of 1812, was carried out—not becaus_hose orders differed in any way from the other, unexecuted orders but becaus_hey coincided with the course of events that led the French army into Russia;
  • just as in stencil work this or that figure comes out not because the colo_as laid on from this side or in that way, but because it was laid on from al_ides over the figure cut in the stencil.
  • So that examining the relation in time of the commands to the events, we fin_hat a command can never be the cause of the event, but that a certai_efinite dependence exists between the two.
  • To understand in what this dependence consists it is necessary to reinstat_nother omitted condition of every command proceeding not from the Deity bu_rom a man, which is, that the man who gives the command himself takes par_n.
  • This relation of the commander to those he commands is just what is calle_ower. This relation consists in the following:
  • For common action people always unite in certain combinations, in whic_egardless of the difference of the aims set for the common action, th_elation between those taking part in it is always the same.
  • Men uniting in these combinations always assume such relations toward on_nother that the larger number take a more direct share, and the smalle_umber a less direct share, in the collective action for which they hav_ombined.
  • Of all the combinations in which men unite for collective action one of th_ost striking and definite examples is an army.
  • Every army is composed of lower grades of the service—the rank and file—o_hom there are always the greatest number; of the next higher militar_ank—corporals and noncommissioned officers of whom there are fewer, and o_till-higher officers of whom there are still fewer, and so on to the highes_ilitary command which is concentrated in one person.
  • A military organization may be quite correctly compared to a cone, of whic_he base with the largest diameter consists of the rank and file; the nex_igher and smaller section of the cone consists of the next higher grades o_he army, and so on to the apex, the point of which will represent th_ommander in chief.
  • The soldiers, of whom there are the most, form the lower section of the con_nd its base. The soldier himself does the stabbing, hacking, burning, an_illaging, and always receives orders for these actions from men above him; h_imself never gives an order. The noncommissioned officers (of whom there ar_ewer) perform the action itself less frequently than the soldiers, but the_lready give commands. An officer still less often acts directly himself, bu_ommands still more frequently. A general does nothing but command the troops,
  • indicates the objective, and hardly ever uses a weapon himself. The commande_n chief never takes direct part in the action itself, but only gives genera_rders concerning the movement of the mass of the troops. A similar relatio_f people to one another is seen in every combination of men for commo_ctivity—in agriculture, trade, and every administration.
  • And so without particularly analyzing all the contiguous sections of a con_nd of the ranks of an army, or the ranks and positions in any administrativ_r public business whatever from the lowest to the highest, we see a law b_hich men, to take associated action, combine in such relations that the mor_irectly they participate in performing the action the less they can comman_nd the more numerous they are, while the less their direct participation i_he action itself, the more they command and the fewer of them there are;
  • rising in this way from the lowest ranks to the man at the top, who takes th_east direct share in the action and directs his activity chiefly t_ommanding.
  • This relation of the men who command to those they command is what constitute_he essence of the conception called power.
  • Having restored the condition of time under which all events occur, find tha_ command is executed only when it is related to a corresponding series o_vents. Restoring the essential condition of relation between those wh_ommand and those who execute, we find that by the very nature of the cas_hose who command take the smallest part in the action itself and that thei_ctivity is exclusively directed to commanding.