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What would a modern day Sparta look like?

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tragiktimes101 4 months ago

Sparta was probably the most brutally militaristic society the world has ever seen. The entirety of their society was focused towards physical and military perfection. Sparta enjoyed great prosperity at times with the free population free to pursue militaristic supremacy. They were also one of the least sexually repressed societies of the ancient world. Women were not only able to enjoy many of the same freedoms as men, but were often the most wealthy individuals in Sparta (much to the chagrin of their Athen neighbors). But, those ladies were brutal. They were often the most vehemently supportive of the warrior lifestyle in Sparta and were also generally very physically fit and well educated.

All of these "enlightenments" were overshadowed, however, by the system that allowed them to focus completely on military might. That system was the enslavement of the Helots, which the Spartans believed were the natives to the land while the Spartans emigrated there and enslaved the Helots. So, the Spartans constant fear was a slave uprising. This they deterred by indiscriminate brutality. Torture, rape, random killings, etc. were the norm for the Helot population enslaved by the Spartans. But, the Helots provided enough slave labor to completely free the Spartans to pursue professional soldiery. This atrocious system is just one of the many employed by the Spartans. It doesn't even touch on the systematic infanticide that would "weed out" the perfect babies from the imperfect ones.

So, enough with the backstory. What I want to know is; if there were a nation today that carried many of the same ideals as the Spartans did, what would it look like? Would it be militarily supreme as it was in the past, or would it be overshadowed by the modern need for supplies? Could a slave force be large enough to properly supply and feed a modern (strongest in the world) military today without coups and uprisings making it infeasible?

Comments Sorted by:

Nullarc77 3 Builds 2 points 4 months ago

The problem with a modern day Sparta would be the same problems that they had over 2000 years ago. With modern laws set in place that would be enforced by other European nations, this modern Sparta would not be able to have slaves. If they did than other nations would simply invade them. And this leads to the biggest problem with the Spartan military.

The Spartans were the best warriors of that time. They were trained to be warriors from the time they were 7 to the day they either died or grew old enough to become a leader in Sparta. They were the elite, the best of the best. But there were not nearly enough of them. One of the most overlooked facts is that at the battle of Thermopylae is that there weren't just 300 spartans. There over 7000 other greeks there. However when they were betrayed most of the remaining 7000 greek soldiers were sent back, and the spartans covered their retreat along with roughly 2000 others. Even with the initial backing of 7000 greek soldiers and 2000 others the Spartan were still eventually overwhelmed. And that was the problem. The numbers. There were too few spartans to properly defend the city-state. And in modern military conflicts they would not be of much use on their own.

Source

Navy Seals are some of if not the most deadly men in the world. And from what I have heard(I got not sources this is just from talking with people and reading a few things about it online) more Seals have died from training than missions. Which does make sense. But the Seals would be useless in a large scale war because there are too few of them. The common soldier is needed because they do one thing that the Seals can't. And that is fight in large groups of hundreds or thousands.

I don't think a modern day Sparta would be able to properly exist. It would be vastly different and would be better as a military academy for the most elite warriors then a city state. Just my opinion.

tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 months ago

And that was the problem. The numbers. There were too few spartans to properly defend the city-state

The contingent of 300 Spartans was only a small percent of the total Spartan force. But, due to the prophesy of the Delphic oracle, Leonidas chose to take a small force to meet the Persians in order to coax the death of a King (one of the two possible outcomes of the Oracle - the other being the destruction of Sparta). There was likely between 10-15 thousand troops under the control of Leonidas during the beginning of the battle. The Hoplite defenses, aided by the advantage of the terrain allowed them to inflict an extremely disparate kill ratio on the Persians. But, as you said, they were eventually shown a pass which allowed the Greek forces to be flanked in the rear. This was all but the end of the struggle. Hearing of this, Leonidas chose to disband the majority of the Greek forces, leaving mainly his original Spartan contingent of ~300 men. These men put up a noble fight, but were overwhelmed and killed to the last by the Persian numbers.

The battle of Thermopylae was less of a tactical victory and more that of a moral victory. It, for one thing, showed the effectiveness of the Spartans societal ideals and training. But, it also showed that they could not win alone. And, with the Athenian naval victory against the Persians, Xerxes was deterred from a full scale invasion of Greece. One thing that is often overlooked is that the Spartans had not only a "shock force" but a standard army, navy, as well as more specialized forces. These forces, at one time, were close to 10,000. But, over time, and after the erosion of their numbers, they were down to as few as 700-1500. So, yeah, numbers were always their biggest issue. This is why going unwed was seen as abhorrent.

I don't think a modern day Sparta would be able to properly exist. It would be vastly different and would be better as a military academy for the most elite warriors then a city state. Just my opinion.

You're probably right. A modern day Sparta would require a kind of single mindedness I'm not sure would be possible to recreate in a nation today. That's not even touching on the feasibility of having such a large slave labor force provide for all the needs of the society save for the military.

Nullarc77 3 Builds 1 point 4 months ago

Yeah the main reason I use Thermopylae was because pop culture gas made it the most well known Spartan battle. But with so few military I doubt they could have existed long as an independent country without the aid of the rest of Greece. Most of the battle they won when they were vastly putnumbered was due to the effectiveness of their tactics. But tactics and skill can only get you so far when outnumbered as much as they were. One thing is for sure, they were some tough and strong soldiers.

It would be interesting to see though. Too bad the training that made effective is illegal in most countries. But that is actually a good thing lol.

gorkti200 2 Builds 2 points 4 months ago

I mean that was like 2000 years ago, does it really make any sense to try and extrapolate it to now?

You could argue America is the modern day Sparta, if you want to be spicy and are playing fast and loose with analogies, lol. Military supremacy, check. Constantly striving for that. People are relatively free, and at least on paper are all equal. Not running off slave labor anymore, but our economy is driven through the outsourcing of much of the required manual labor to what are essentially vassal states.

Course a lot of these checkboxes don't pan out. For starters, we're not very physically fit, and our education is failing. Women definitely aren't the most wealthy. We aren't so blatant or callous in trying to subjugate others (inb4 someone blathers on about oil). But once again, it doesn't really make sense to try and compare.

tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 3 points 4 months ago

I think it makes sense to compare in at least a thought experiment kind of way. It's never bad to look at past comparisons for insight into the present and future. Sparta was definitely an atypical society, and it's just interesting to think about a society as "radical" as that in the modern day.

Oh, and mainly I'm bored.

gorkti200 2 Builds 2 points 4 months ago

Oh, and mainly I'm bored.

This part I'm totally onboard with XD

tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 2 points 4 months ago

Onbored with*

FTFY. ;)

[comment deleted]
gorkti200 2 Builds 3 points 4 months ago

I feel like you should elaborate on this

tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 3 points 4 months ago

I think this could go one of two ways...

Starts making popcorn in anticipation...

[comment deleted]
tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 months ago

Well, you're comparing potentially debilitating disorders with physical imperfections. Not really apples to apples.

gorkti200 2 Builds 1 point 4 months ago

No comparison from then to now is gonna be apples to apples, which was my point originally.

gorkti200 2 Builds 1 point 4 months ago

I didn't want to jump to conclusions, which is why I asked you to elaborate. And yeah this is probably the most accurate way to map the practice in Sparta to now, but of course like everything else, it is almost completely different.

aborted (a fancy word for murdered)

ok man

Gilroar 1 Build 2 points 4 months ago

What I want to know is; if there were a nation today that carried many of the same ideals as the Spartans did, what would it look like?

Ignoring the selective breeding for warriors also has diminishing returns on the gene pool. There are parallels in focus on military might with several more recent nations in WW2 and the Cold War.

And we know how those turned out.

The problem ends up being there is an almost exponential rise in slave labor and brutality to keep that labor functioning compared to military size increase and conditions degrade to the point everything collapses on itself. Add in the ever decreasing viable gene pool for active soldiers and you have a self limiting system.

Now if you were to go with more of an early Roman Republic with citizenship though military service and widespread infrastructure building that might be more viable in a modern world.

tragiktimes101 submitter 1 Build 2 points 4 months ago

I never thought of gene degradation but that's a good point. That would make a Roman approach (conquest and indoctrination) a more viable substitute.

Hobie12345 2 points 4 months ago

What would be the aim of military supremacy in this modern case?

If it is merely for national defense then it could possibly work for some time depending on the neighboring countries. As Nullarc suggests, other countries and the UN may condemn them for human rights violations for slavery but there are many countries which still continue to exist which keep their citizens in a state of virtual slavery through poverty or the idea of communism under this sort of condemnation. The question would be one of natural resources: how much would this country need to import? There will always be countries willing to trade with anyone regardless of ethics but if the modern Sparta needs to import the bulk of its products then the inevitable sanctions would probably cripple their economy.

If the military supremacy was for conquest then I would expect some sort of military response from the rest of the world.

Cobyfield 1 point 4 months ago

North Korea.