Engels and the theologians

It is less known than it should be that Engels was an accomplished and respected military analyst, arguing that the type and status of the military is an excellent signal of the state of society. In one of his pieces on the military, Engels engages in a tally of available men for service, making the following delightful comment on the exemption of theologians from armed service in Prussia:

Let us take this further. 1,638 men were deferred or exempted as theologians. Why theologians should be too grand to serve is incomprehensible. On the contrary, a year’s army service, living in the open air, and contact with the outside world can only benefit them. So without more ado we will recruit them; 1/3 of the total number for the current year, with 3/4 unfit, still leaves 139 men to be included.


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