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Quigley's observations on the uses of war are penetrating. Throughout history, society's decisions regarding its weapons systems have been decisive in shaping human social, economic, and political decisions. Of special interest today is Quigley's division of western weapons systems over the last thousand years into five successive stages, each associated with different political system.
In Quigley's social analysis the dominance of democracy in the 20th century is attributable to the acceptance in the 19th century of a weapons system that favored democracy, the hand gun and rifle. In the consequent tilt toward an atomistic society, loyalties to the once strong social structures of family, church, and workplace break down.