The Trickle-Down War

19 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2015 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

Date Written: 2014


The history of the European nation-state, wrote political sociologist Charles Tilly, is inextricably bound up with the history of warfare. To oversimplify Tilly’s nuanced and complex arguments, the story goes something like this: As power-holders (originally bandits and local strongmen) sought to expand their power, they needed capital to pay for weapons, soldiers and supplies. The need for capital and new recruits drove the creation of taxation systems and census mechanisms, and the need for more effective systems of taxation and recruitment necessitated better roads, better communications and better record keeping. This in turn enabled the creation of larger and more technologically sophisticated armies.

The complexity and expense of maintaining more professionalized standing armies made it increasingly difficult for non-state groups to compete with states, giving centralized states a war-making advantage and enabling them to increasingly monopolize the means of large-scale violence. But the need to recruit, train and sustain ever-larger and more sophisticated armies also put pressure on these states to provide basic services, improving nutrition, education, and so on. Ultimately, we arrive at the late 20th century European welfare state, with its particular trade-offs between the state and its subjects.

This essay focuses on policing, the state secrets privilege in civil litigation, classified information in criminal litigation, immigration, first amendment jurisprudence and surveillance issues.

Keywords: terrorism, immigration, privacy, surveillance, policing, state secrets, jurisprudence, criminal litigation, constitutional law

JEL Classification: H56, K00, K30, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Rosa, The Trickle-Down War (2014). Yale Law & Policy Review, Summer 2014, Available at SSRN:

Rosa Brooks (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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