A military evolution of this magnitude would have undeniable social consequences, and Machiavelli's philosophy of government -- in many ways so different to the utilitarian ethic so often ascribed to him -- made positive account of the change. According to Gilbert,
That a militia would fight willingly, perhaps even enthusiastically, only if its members were well treated by the state in which they lived was evident to Machiavelli.Indeed, in his accounting, each successful republic in history was built on a foundation of la iustizia et l'arme -- "justice and arms."
Here's an incisive passage from Erica Benner's 2009 book Machiavelli's Ethics, which is said to present an innovative and sympathetic treatment (I can only judge by Chapter 8, which I've read online and enjoyed immensely. Though I was a history undergrad, I've got to admit that I'm not familiar enough with the source material in political philosophy to say much more than that):
The idea that justice is an indispensable foundation of political and military power is a recurrent, central theme in Machiavelli’s writings. It appears in texts written before and after The Prince. Among the earliest extant sources of Machiavelli’s views on justice is a series of proposals for reforming Florence’s military defenses written in 1505–6. A letter from Cardinal Francesco Soderini thanks Machiavelli for outlining his “new military idea,” [G here: that is, conscription] adding: “you write wisely that this idea [questo principio] requires justice [bisogna la iustizia] above all, both in the city and in the countryside.” (p. 292)Apologies for the length of this excerpt, but it's important. Benner continues:
While it is true that the emphasis on justice in this military context connotes discipline as well as the notion of justice in an ethical sense, Machiavelli’s concept of justice here is not reducible to military standards of well-ordered command. The Cagione dell’ordinanza ties it to libertà as well as to security and stable order.
The Provisione does propose measures that at first glance may seem to treat justice as a mere means to military ends. Machiavelli underlines the need to uphold “severe justice” (severa giustizia) against the heads of private factions who prevent individuals from fulfilling their duties, and against anyone who shirks his military duties without legitimate reason (absente sanza legitima cagione).
But the main argument of the Provizione is that well-ordered military defenses cannot be maintained unless general political and legal justice is upheld. If the men of different ranks and occupations in a city are asked to serve in its defense, more than punitive force and military discipline are needed to motivate them to serve loyally; they also need persuasive “reasons to obey” public demands for their service. Cities whose governments are seen to uphold general justice are more likely to secure the trust and loyalty of citizens than cities where “the many” perceive that their interests are subordinate to those of the few. The citizens called on to serve as their city’s armi are less likely to avoid service if they are confident that no exceptions to general conscription are made in exchange for political or monetary favors. (p. 292-293)This understanding may help us to conceive of the very real differences between the demands of coercive, control-oriented military operations in counterinsurgency and the longer-term political evolution imperative to stable civic order in a representative society.
I know, I know -- this looks like a stretch; Benner even admits that Machiavelli was talking essentially about fealty and esprit in military forces, not about curatives for rebellion. But his insight into the drivers of military loyalty applies also to free society, where a man's right to revolution (or less drastic political change) is forgone only in exchange for government that meets his needs. The same may not be true of different civic structures, but this just serves to further illustrate the difference between the solitary mandate for control in authoritarian government and the requirement for at least minimal legitimacy (coupled, Machiavelli would remind us, with force or its threat) in a community of free peoples.
"Hearts and minds"? What about justice and arms?