That’s the title for a paper by Scott Abramson in the Department of Politics at Princeton. Among the gems in this excellent paper:
[...[ before the French Revolution, before the era of the mass conscript army, wealth could not only purchase the technologies of violence, but also the manpower required to prosecute major wars. That is, rather than being an age when large states dominated militarily, this was a period where the population and natural resource advantages of territorial states provided little benefit in the production of violence. Leaders of states could, for a negotiated price, hire a Hessian colonel or an Italian condotierro and retain their men for a campaign season just as they could use these resources to purchase the most advanced technologies of coercion like siege artillery or rearms. It was by virtue of their economic capacity city-states like Genoa and Florence or groups of independent towns like the Swabian league could raise armies that matched or even exceeded those of territorial states like France or England
[...] the relationship between geographic scale and survival probability is the opposite of what war-making theories predict. Over this span small states were more likely to survive than their larger counterparts. In other words, rather than being an age of the territorial state” the period between 1500 and 1800 was one in which small political communities not only persisted but remained the typical form of political organization.
Read the rest of the paper here. So small territorial units dominated much of Europe during the initial phase of modernity and industrialization. What I’m trying to piece together is a way to incorporate the ability of small states to provide for themselves while at the same time maintaining ties with multiple neighbors in a way that binds them economically and politically, but without the coercive apparatus of a central government.
I think Madison was thinking about the same thing when he drafted the federal republic of the US, but it seems to me there is a right way to do federal republics (US) and a wrong way (Latin America). Does this make sense?