The history of saluting

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Aug 2 19:47:20 UTC 2004

In a message dated  Fri, 30 Jul 2004 22:28:47 -0400. Wilson Gray
<hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET> writes:

>  > when, two centuries later,
>  > Clausewitz said "War is a continuation of policy by other means", no one
>   > laughed.
>  It's nice to see "Politik" translated correctly for a change!:-)

My copy of Clausewitz has gone AWOL (combat fatigue, I believe) so I was
unable to check the text.  I had to quote from memory and may have misquoted.

Let's see now.  Politics is the art of getting other people to do what you
want them to.  In the Clausewitz context, "politics" means the process of
getting the State to agree on a policy,and "policy" means what the State decided to
do once the politics subsided.

So, rendering Clausewitz's quote as "War is a continuation of politics..."
implies that a decision to go to war is the result not of a deliberate State
decision but rather is the result of the squabbles and intrigues that led up to
making a decision.  Hmm.\


Another take on saluting.  An anthropologist might identify saluting as a
typical primate dominance ritual, in which case you can say that the origin of
saluting goes back to prehistoric times and in fact to before the emergence of
Homo sapiens!

Still another, and more likely, take:  A random officer and a random enlisted
man meet by chance in public.  What are they to do?  Ignore each other?
Never.  Shake hands?  No, too civilian.  Saluting grew up as a ritual greeting,
and in fact the US Army refers to it as "the greeting of the day."

In the saluting ritual US Army-style, the enlisted man salutes and says,
"Good morning, sir" (or "afternoon" or whatever).  The officer returns the salute
and says "Good mroning."  Note that the major asymmetry in the ritual is not
the salute itself (which the officer also performs), but the fact that the
enlisted man has to use the word "Sir".

I should note another US Army custom:  a newly commissioned officer gives a
dollar bill to the first enlisted man ever to salute him.

     - James A. Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list