Selling Commissions

10 June 2012

A little while ago this blog pub­lished a post sum­maris­ing Plato’s arguments against books and writing. A seem­ingly in­de­fen­si­ble position, you’d think—but Plato had a few more ar­gu­ments in favour of this than I would have thought.

In a similar way, I re­cently came across a Wikipedia article on the sale of Army commissions. Until 1800 or so, most Eu­ro­pean armies allowed the pur­chase of ranks–and the British Army in par­tic­u­lar was es­pe­cially keen on this system. Again, it seems that this system would have little to rec­om­mend it, but Wikipedia advises:

How common was it for com­mis­sions to be awarded on merit?