5
$\begingroup$

In this country there's no such job as "armed men", no one is getting paid just for killing others and standing around looking menacingly just to scarecrow away the aggressors.

Considering the country in question is not isolated away in a lost island yet to be found by the rest of the world, in which specific situation or condition such a society would be able to protect itself?

$\endgroup$
15
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ If there really is no such job as armed men then of course there is no need for protection. Because if they need protection then there clearly must be such a job as menacing armed men, just not their armed men. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 16 at 10:44
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The absense of a professional army or warrior-aristocracy doesn't imply no armed men, or even the absense of a militia. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 12:07
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ A country with no army in a world with countries that have armies had best not have anything anyone else wants or it won't be a country for long .. and just because there isn't a standing profesional army doesn't mean it doesn't have an army, every adult can be a member of the 'home guard' and do there training on weekends, it's not a job and they don't get paid but they have a chain of command and they all have guns, it doesn't have to be 'official' either .. they better have irregulars or be paying someone else for protection if they've no regular army or they won't exist long [shrugs]. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Commented May 16 at 12:14
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Clarity and further information required - you are saying that there are no armed men in the world, then you mention there is a country (that is not a lost island) before asking about how a society protects itself. Assuming that you actually intended this to be gender neutral (otherwise the obvious answer is "the armed women take care of intruders") and that there are no armed people in the world, who is the country/society(?) defending against? How are violent criminals dealt with? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 14:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie wait, what? you're saying that no-one would engage in theft of land, or property, or enslavement of people, unless they were paid for it? that no-one would even engage in an act of petty vengeance against the impure unbelievers in the next valley over, unless they'd been contracted to do so? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 15:46

13 Answers 13

26
$\begingroup$

Natural defences

They could be immune to deadly virus/bacteria that thrive in their country but not in others.

Some animals may be deeply connected with the people living there and therefore actively protecting them, or extremly aggressive to people not living there for "reasons". Maybe they develop a specific smell/hormone due food they eat that calms the animals.

Important services

They offer indispensable services, the methods of which are closely guarded secrets. Those could be material services (medicine, materials, particular craftsmanship etc) as well as religious. Making this services important to their defence could lead them to never write them down to prevent disclosins the secrets.

Social and Religious Ramifications

Assaulting individuals from these regions is perceived as morally wrong. They may be seen as saints, this imply that every religion in the surrounding area will protect them. Maybe seen as protected by the gods, a nation that attacked them got wiped away by a natural phenomenon and now everyone is scared?.

$\endgroup$
3
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Another possible natural defense could be a very high elevation terrain and adaptation to living in high altitudes $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 1:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It doesn't have to be every regligion. The ones in the surrounding area are enough. Hostile religions will have to fight those first. $\endgroup$
    – Neinstein
    Commented May 17 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Neinstein Good point! edited the answer $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 15:35
22
$\begingroup$

Militia and Levees for your Military

Throughout most of history, most soldiers were NOT professional warriors. They were normal people with normal jobs who were conscripted to fight on an as-needed basis. These people generally fall into 2 categories: Militia and Levees. These terms will of course be different based on culture and time period, but the ideas behind them are the same.

Militia are generally freemen or nobility who are as a rule of their society expected to own their own arms and armaments. The Minutemen of the American Revolution, the Knights of France, the Hestatii of the Roman Republic, the Hoplites of Ancient Athens... none of these men were professional soldiers. A lot of them never even trained for battle before being thrust into action, but they all understood that they had a duty to their leadership to arm themselves and show up to fight when needed. While their training and experience was often lacking, the quality of their equipment was whatever they could afford, which in some cases was not much, but in other cases was actually better than the professional armies of their respective time periods.

Levees are generally peasants or slaves. Like Militia, these were just guys with other day jobs who were sent off to war, but they are different in that the government would provide them with arms and armaments under the expectation that they could not afford to arm themselves. While these guys were in part funded by the state, they are not true professional soldiers because the government did not pay for their ongoing training or their upkeep during peacetime.

Militia and levees were so common up until the late Medieval Period, that many medieval kingdoms did not actually have standing professional armies. But that by no means prevented them from summoning up a sizeable army should the need arise.

Right to Bear Arms, Private Security, and/or Gangs for Law and Order

When the government fails to provide a police force, things are a bit more grim because people have a tendency of finding unpleasant ways to fill that power vacuum.

In the Wild West, many settlements had no official law enforcement which lead to rampant crime and abuse until the invention of the Colt Model P "Peacemaker". It was an seen as the first weapon that required no special skill to be deadly in anyone's hands, cheap enough for anyone to own, and small enough for anyone to carry on a daily basis. Universal private ownership and carry of semiautomatic weapons significantly reduced violence in the Western territories even before proper legal and police structures could be established. When being a #### can cost you your life, people tend to get real considerate real fast. There are many places in central America that still operate like this.

That said, rich people tend to not like to risk thier own lives defending thier interests in a lawless country. So, private security often takes on the role of police forces in places where population densities are high enough for it to make since. Before the Roman Republic switched to a state watchman system, individual noblemen would hire Praetorians out of thier own wealth to act as bodyguards and local police forces. Similar systems emerged in the Early Medieval period where local lords would hire men-at-arms to keep the peace. So, in the absence of state police, rich people tend to become the de facto law-makers and providers of security.

But sometimes the opposite happens. When both the rich and the government fail to assert an effective security force, it creates opportunities for the poor to band together and come up with whatever rules they want, and these rules usually have to do with taking whatever they want so that they don't have to be poor anymore. Gangs, Catels, Mafias... whatever you want to call them, these groups tend to grow in power very quickly in the absence of a strong government or private security force to oppose them. Over time they can become very organised and in some ways resemble something akin to a police force. While they tend to not be bound by any laws per-say, they typically have a vested interest in establishing rules to ensure a stable foundation on which to operate.

$\endgroup$
5
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ this could arguably even work for a modern society, if the entire population had a strong ethos of "guerilla warrior" mentality. Instead of them forming governmnetn sanctioned levies or militias when attacked, they all would transform into a whole nation of guerilla fighters, terrorists and even suicide bombers. Asymmetric warfare is very effective even if guerillas make only a tiny minority; if most adults in the nation were absolutely fanatical freedom fighters, the conquest would be effectively impossible. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 7:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's the theory in Switzerland, where every man is issued with a rifle. How well that'd work in practise against a professional army is another matter though, of course. Switzerland's main defense is being surrounded by friendly countries who'd have more to lose if they invaded it. $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Commented May 17 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Graham You don't have to win by numbers to win a war. The average professional military today is less than 1% of any given nation's total population, but in times of war, we sometimes see militia and levee armies approach 20% of a nation's total population. Those Pros may know what they are doing, but against large enough of numbers, eventually your bullets and warm bodies will run out. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 17 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki But the lesson of WWI, repeated in Ukraine (especially by Russia), is that conscripts aren't skilled enough to do anything complex. The delay in the D-Day landings in WWII wasn't just a matter of getting materiel into Britain, it was also training the hell out of the troops. $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Commented May 17 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ When you have a significant numerical advantage and a willingness to suffer whatever losses it takes to win, "complex" is not important. Like how China forced the US to abandon North Korea or how Russia turned back Germany in WWII. Both armies were far less well trained and experienced than thier counterparts, and they suffered heavier losses than they inflicted, but they ultimately won thier objectives. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 17 at 22:06
18
$\begingroup$

Give it some moral relevance, so that the backlash for attacking it will greatly outweigh any other economical or strategical benefit one can get from attacking it.

Look at Vatican City: it's just the size of a corner of Central Park in New York, it would take but the snap of a finger to conquer it, even though it has some armed forces, yet its status as place of residence of a major religious authority (and the fact that it doesn't lay on oil or precious ore fields) ensures it a good degree of protection.

Basically a "you wouldn't hit a guy with glasses" on steroids.

$\endgroup$
5
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Who now remembers the papal states, eh? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 12:03
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ Vatican City really only has to worry about one other country, Italy, anyone else would have to invade Italy first, so I'm not sure it really counts as it's essentially a protectorate of Italy protected by that nations army as a result of being entirely surrounded by Italy, so it effectively has an army protecting it, just not one it pays for. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Commented May 16 at 12:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In addition to what @Pelinore says. Vatican City also has the Swiss Guard which is larger than the closest Lichenstein equivalent $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 16 at 13:17
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I reckon Vatican has been attacked and sacked more than once in history. During the medieval times a lot of cardinals and bishops were very wealthy and paid mercenaries for defence. They had lands and castles and even actively waged war. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ Seems to be the case during WW2. Germany could have taken care of Vatican, but did not. $\endgroup$
    – Piro
    Commented May 17 at 7:40
15
$\begingroup$

Luxembourg

For the whole of Luxembourg's existence, it's been on the front line of whichever noble houses from France and Germany (plus Belgium and the Netherlands as occasional extras) were pushing into neighbouring countries. The fortress became one of the most sophisticated defenses in the whole of Europe.

The problem was, taking Luxembourg didn't actually achieve anything for the winner.

Eventually all sides agreed a deal because they could see that fighting over Luxembourg wasn't in anyone's interests, and having a clear area for trade was a good thing for everyone. The obvious worry of course was that one side would renege on the deal. So a major element of the deal was that Luxembourg's defences, that massive city-fortress, had to be completely demolished. If either side tried annexing Luxembourg, the other side could invade right back, and there was nowhere to hide.

That deal worked pretty well. Luxembourg became independent, and stayed independent, because it wasn't in the interests of either neighbour to kill off the extra trade.

$\endgroup$
8
$\begingroup$

It is actually surprisingly easy to have a country with no armed forces. Instead of them you would have friends, just making it known to leave their friends alone. You know, typical friendship stuff. You too can be friends with these friends and you really should, because a man without friends is well and truly on his own.

It sounds very much like a mafia, but it could also be a tribe, or any other community with sharply defined boundaries between members and non-members and a collectivist mindset. Then what does it matter which country they are in? They can establish parallel governance structures which can outlast any central government that notionally controls their land.

$\endgroup$
5
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ No "mafia" needed, just a big, strong friend. Like why Costa Rica has no military. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 17 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, thank you. However, Costa Rica does have a police force, and so does not meet OP's criteria. $\endgroup$
    – ihaveideas
    Commented May 17 at 14:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you count police as "armed forces", then correct. No one does, though. Heck, Costa Rica has a Civil Guard for internal security, "coast guard" work, etc. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 17 at 16:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OP's question, like so many others on WB, is silly. I half expect them to be troll questions. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 17 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, thank you. Well, whatever everyone's opinion of a police force might be, OP asked specifically for a country that does not have one, and so Costa Rica does not qualify. If you think he's trolling, you are discussing it with a wrong guy; please take it up with the moderators instead. $\endgroup$
    – ihaveideas
    Commented May 17 at 17:35
6
$\begingroup$

For military protection, perhaps your country has a trade agreement with its neighbours that involves those neighbours providing protection. This pacifist country may be geographically isolated from hostile nations by these friendly ones.

For police, this country probably will have an entity that does that role in society to maintain order. But they won't need to be armed (in the UK police are rarely armed). Perhaps, most of your police calls-outs might be for closing roads for parades/after accidents, or other low/non-emergency reasons.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

I believe that the question needs some improvement. So. My answer will be limited to me trying to fill in the gaps.

Buffer state Historically speaking this was done. Not to this level exactly. But in your story you can create the conditions in which a state with no formal army exists. Basically the two most powerful empires, or states in general, agreed to this. Either formally or informally. The lines are drawn and that state of yours is protected from the larger world by those powers.

Works best if both states are nuclear powers and there is a real fear that if they shared a borderline things could get ugly.

Barren (Dune)

If you remove the melange from Arrakis. Then nobody in their right mind would even visit that place.

Yet the Fremen found a way to survive. This is not as uncommon as you think. If your state is like that. Then it can absolutely justify a new type of national defense: Let them come and die.

Your native have learned to survive the conditions. Your invaders did not. From germs to gravity to terrain to wildlife to diseases to lack of water or excess of water to storms or snow...etc.

Your hardy people know how to survive this place.

The most important part here is a combination of a lack of resources and extreme brutality to the place that it's just absolutely insane to go there.

If it has resources but it's brutal. Then you can always bet that a strong enough power will find a way to exploit it. And if it has no resources but not as brutal. Then you can expect it to be exploited. If just for land or slaves.

NATO/EU

Iceland, Monaco, Andorra...etc have no standing army. The unique global situation and politics allows such a thing to exist.

However realistically speaking there are some major points against such a thing. But without the full context I'd rather just try to point to helpful stuff.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

We can further extend the concept used in Switzerland: every fight capable citizen counts as a soldier and has the right to possess a weapon at home. Some minimal training is provided on how to operate the handed weapon and some citizens finish voluntary courses to be commanders if the time would come. A safe store for a weapon is required by law in every house.

This would require very disciplined society where most of people do not misuse these weapons for wrong purposes. Small number of accidents can be just tolerated as inevitable (about 200 people have been killed in car accidents in Switzerland in 2020, let's assume that many shootings are ok).

Such a "distributed defense" may not work against a well trained and organized foreign army with complex and specialized weapons but some small group of terrorists, mafia, foreign-inspired group without much local support or similar likely would not be able to take over the country.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ The description of Switzerland isn‘t fully correct: the „minimal training“ takes 4 months and is mandatory, and if you decide to keep your army rifle at home, you need to ensure safe storage (nowadays, most are stored in an armory and picked up when required for the yearly trainings). $\endgroup$
    – nohillside
    Commented May 17 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ I say "further extend". I agree this is not like in Switzerland right now. But it was a bomb shelter that was required by law in every house, even it seems no longer. $\endgroup$
    – Nightrider
    Commented May 17 at 21:50
2
$\begingroup$

What's the technology level of this world? I remember reading that, for much of history, Switzerland was protected less by military force than by the Alps. Might be wrong though, and if this is decently advanced that's futile. Hope this was helpful to some degree.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The question is tagged Medieval. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 16 at 17:59
1
$\begingroup$

In modern world this is not that unusual. See, for example, list of countries without a military. Many countries will take a view that the drawbacks of diplomatic and political fallout from waging a war of aggression (including domestic political considerations) outweigh any benefits to be gained from conquering territory. Sadly, not all countries. A country which is surrounded by neighbours with that mentality (and which is too small to be able to put up much resistance in case of an invasion anyway) could easily decide to not have a military. Many small countries' militaries are there mostly for political and historical reasons, not as any kind of realistic military deterrant.

However, the question is tagged 'medieval'. A medieval kingdom would struggle to survive without any kind of military - warfare was too common in that era. The only way I can see it being viable is if the kingdom is completely surrounded by another, bigger kingdom or empire that does have a powerful army. Any potential invaders or raiders will have to go through them to get to your pacifist kingdom.

Why doesn't the bigger surrounding kingdom just conquer the militaryless country? There could be many political reasons for this. One example, the nobles of this country would fear that a king or another powerful noble who went after this small realm would go for their lands next, so the king would leave the enclosed kingdom alone to avoid potential internal dissent from his vassals. Or, like others said, maybe the small kingdom is a seat of your version of pope or some significant religious figure.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

The obvious answer is mountains, and the obvious example is Switzerland.

In a Medieval context, the man who holds the high ground must have the advantage, since he cannot be bombed from the sky nor outflanked by paratroops, since manned flight is impossible.

If attacked from below, he simply starts an avalanche, either by rolling rocks down the mountain upon the heads of the attacking army, or by sending tons of snow down onto the heads of the attackers, or even by pouring boiling oil from above. Gravity as a military weapon is a powerful means of countering crossbows or muskets, weapons of notoriously short range, as gravity is so effective at long range.

In the Medieval period, the Swiss were at war with the kingdom of Austria for long periods. The Austrians found it impractical in practice to conquer them, because of the difficulties of hauling siege-engines up a cliff, without being on top of the cliff to start with in order to deploy ropes or chains to use as a pulley.

Luxembourg is a poor example. Explosives can be used to undermine the footings or foundations of a mere fortress, but are not effective if deployed in such a manner against a mountain. The natural advantages of geography in a mountainous country are greatly superior to the artificial defences of a simple manmade fortification.

To attack uphill is already a big disadvantage for an army, in terms of its infantry. But, in medieval terms, an equally significant handicap is to cripple your enemy by denying him the advantage of his cavalry: in mountainous country, the role of the horse is entirely negated, and an army's ability to use the speed of its cavalry to outflank its opponent is wholly lost.

On the flat, battles are won or lost by the speed with which one side can deploy its forces: the advantage of cavalry is its great speed, compared to the snail-paced foot soldier. On a mountainside, the question of relative speed never arises: no side can move its forces faster than another.

So, all traditional forms of attack are negated: the infantry charge, the cavalry charge, the use of seige-engines. All the advantage lies with the defender. Military strategy in such a case must await the invention of heavier-than-air flight.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

A Rifle Polearm Behind Every Blade of Grass

The Thirteen Colonies didn't have a proper "standing army" prior to the Revolutionary War; just some random farmers and burghers with hunting rifles, military surplus muskets, and the occasional town cannon. Nevertheless, they managed to beat the British Army (or at least hold them off long enough for the French and Spanish to get involved.)

While your society may not have much military surplus hanging around, chances are it does have farming tools (and marlinspikes, and ice picks, and...) These can be easily fashioned into weaponry on short notice. Thus, the country can form an army in a pinch (albeit a poorly armed and trained one.) Combined with terrain advantages and an "enemy of my enemy," this could conceivably deter an invasion.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ this can be taken even further; the whole population might have a very powerful "every citizen is a guerilla warrior" ethos. Maybe their religion demands absolute liberty, that is, they are not allowed to have any armed forces controlled by the government (since this would be oppression of their liberty by the gov), but also most of their population is ready to react with berserk rage to being occupied by outsiders, using guerilla tactics, assassination, and terrorism to discourage conquerors. Sort of like ISIS mixed with radical "Don't thread on me"Libertarians. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @GoingDurden "Don't thread on me" --> Do I detect a Python programmer? $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @GoingDurden On a more serious note, that's effectively the attitude the Thirteen Colonies took prior to and immediately after the War of Independence. It's why we have the 2nd Amendment. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Would the downvoters care to explain so that I may improve my answer? $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 20:16
0
$\begingroup$

Any answer depends on just how far you want to go away from reality.

If you are thinking of a modern day setting, with the familiar cast of characters (e.g. Russia, USA, Portugal), I'd expect that they had hid themselves. One cannot conquer a country you don't know exists.

If you are willing to create an entire fictional world, I believe what this country would do is rely on the usual soft tactics of diplomacy, cultural influence, bribery, & a very extensive network of spies. That is what the Byzantine Empire -- as well as other countries --was famed for often resorting to as an alternative to warfare. While it did not always work for them, these people would be very skilled & experienced in these soft methods & doubtless have achieved a high level of respect & culture as compared to their rival powers. While these rival powers may contemplate invading this "unarmed" country, to their puzzlement these rivals always find either themselves entangled in other conflicts that prevent any such action, or that the cost of conquering this country would outweigh any gains -- thus the rival countries are content to exchange goods & information to all parties' benefit.

Fleshing this out in a plausible vision would be your work. Good luck

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ To which I would add one word: J.R.R.Tolkien! In The Silmarillion the Elven kingdoms established in the Elder Days in Middle Earth protected themselves against the Dark Enemy, Morgoth, by concealment: the hidden cities of Gondolin and Nargothrond, the greatest of their cities in Beleriand, were protected simply because their locations were not known to the enemy. $\endgroup$
    – Ed999
    Commented May 18 at 4:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .