War As a National Experience1
Though every French and English schoolboy knows about those national experiences of 1337-1453 which were later seen as the Hundred Years War, I will start with those which, beginning in 1775 or 1789, had more directly set the expectations against which the experiences of 1939-45 were to be measured. 1792's Chant de Guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin was still in Europe's consciousness in 1939. So were such eponymous adjectives as Bonapartist and Napoleonic. That Webster's Biographical Dictionary (1971) gave Napoleon more space than any other person--and twice as much as Jesus--also suggests how his successful personalization of peoples' expectations of revolution and war had produced particularly difficult problems of theory and methodology, while easing those of style during the very century in which an increasingly self-conscious guild of military historians was grappling with the problems of seeing war, not as the traditionally epic sport of kings, but as an equally epic collective experience.
Revolutions and wars raise basic human problems: those of free will and determinism, individual and collective heroism and evil. The national, democratic, and industrial revolutions have increased the scale of their historical crises, while historians of these crises have gradually adopted a realism which stresses the destructiveness of Ben Shahn's "Liberation, 1945," rather than the Romantic glory of Eugene Delacrois's "Liberty Leading the People to the Barricades, July 28," 1830. While the realistic style did not become dominant until after the Great War, apocalyptic views of war and revolution date from the French Revolution, and soon became connected with the industrial revolution and science fiction. And that American social science classic--William Jame's The Moral Equivalent of War--which saw the central issue as one of turning the individual and collective heroism and sacrifice demanded by war into more constructive channels, was published in 1910.
During most of this era revolutions and wars seemed to be related, cyclical historical experiences. In 1964 Quincy Wright noted a "political cycle of from forty to sixty years ... in democratic countries, ... the periodicity of general wars during epochs dominated by an expanding economy and a balance of power system, the tendency to postpone a new war until there has been time to recover economically.... waning resistance to a new war as social memory fades... with the passage of a generation," and opposing theories "that a major war is the fundamental cause of economic crises," and "that long economic fluctuations are the main cause of wars and revolutions."2 And the resulting models of historical change were all related to those cycles of tension and rest, action and reaction, which Carl von Clausewitz and many other theorists had seen as characteristic of the "participation of the people" in the revolutions and wars of the French Revolutionary era.
Both experiences were seen as cathartic, reaching climaxes which, in Aristotelian tragedy, relieve the tensions of the actions. And Karl Marx had already turned G.W.F. Hegel's model of crises into one in which the deus ex machina of the industrial revolution would resolve society's contradictions before the Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt defined historical
crises as conjunctures of changes in the state, religion, or culture which speed up the historical process. Like Marx, Burckhardt saw the industrial revolution as closely connected with an expanding economy, "the predominance and popularization of science," and a changing balance of power. By keeping the wars of their era short, Bismarckian statesmen had preserved the "illusion" of a balance of power. But German success had made "'the military the model of all public life, . . . (and the military state would) become one great factory" before the passions which would drive Europeans into "long voluntary subjection under individual Furhrers and usurpers"' were discharged.3 Burckhardt's "explosive" theories of crises more directly influenced his young colleague Friedrich Nietzsche than was the case with Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. But W.K. Hancock was echoing those theories when he remarked in 1961 that of "The explosion at Hiroshima was cataclysmic. It shattered the continuity of history."4
To these theoretical problems Clausewitz would have added that of chance, or historical surprise. That the first cycle of democratic and national revolutions and wars were fought in areas little affected by an industrial revolution which was just taking off in England clearly affected Clausewitz's own view of war as a national experience. Similarly surprising was the fact that the total wars of the mid-nineteenth century (the American and Taiping Rebellions and the Lopez War) were all offstage and unNapoleonic. Wright also noticed the theoretical problem of the "mere" passage of time. National expectations of World War Two were greatly influenced by the lack of time to reflect on World War One as a national experience.
World War One was also to heighten historians' interest in those increasingly instrumentalist social sciences which, in John Dewey's words, were to "face the great social and moral defects ... from which humanity suffers ... as a method of understanding and rectifying specific social ills."5 Historians who admitted with William Tecumseh Sherman that "War is hell", were almost inevitably involved in the historicist charge that military historians glorify war and justify its continuation. Napoleonic social scientific history combines an epic style with those details of levying, training, arming, clothing, feeding, and marching which traditional epics ignore, or symbolize by the armorers' din before the battle. Xenophon, Arrian, and Camo‘ns had kept their Anabases going by recounting adventures along the way. But neither style will do for an epic in which Penelope is Rosie the Riveter and in constant touch with Odysseus under tyrants who, Burckhardt feared, might "' completely ignore law, prosperity, profitable labor and industry, credit, etc.,... (and) rule with absolute brutality."6
But World War Two's historians can still combine the Crusade in Europe and the social scientific protective reaction styles of writing. Not every democratic or national revolution had yet become William Butler Yeats's "rough beast, its hour come round at last," slouching "towards Bethlehem to be born." "Mere anarchy" had not yet been "loosed upon the world" by the frustrated passions of the Easter Rising. Nor did "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."7 But if 1939's expectations reflected quite different experiences with earlier national, democratic, and industrial wars and revolutions, their chronological story had been somewhat simplified by those historical accidents which had made Napoleon an eponymous and epic hero, Bismarck a royalist Bonaparte, and the Prussian General Staff a collective Napoleon.
That chronology usually begins with the Comte de Guibert's rhetorical question of 1772. "What if a people arises in Europe, vigorous in spirit, in resources, and in government,... combining a national militia, a fixed plan of aggrandizement, and ... a cheap
war-making system, which subsists on its victories and is not reduced to laying down its arms by financial calculations? We should see this people subjugating its neighbors and overwhelming our weak constitutions like the north wind bending reeds." Guibert died in 1790. By 1804, when his widow published his collected works, France's Consul for Life had already made the Republic's citizens "proud of the name of their country and ... superior to the kings they were accustomed to vanquish."8 For those swept up by his institutionalized levee en masse the experience might bring both glory and, for the first time on this scale, social advancement. The survivors were to combine the comradeship of Heinrich Heine's "Two Grenadiers" with the memories of the song which had sent them to Russia in the first place. Thirty-five of every hundred Frenchmen polled in 1969 thought Napoleon the greatest Frenchman ever, to five for Louis XIV, and three each for Charlemagne and Joan of Arc. Charles de Gaulle was not in the poll. A television producer remarked that while claiming that Napoleon's code was his most admirable and his wars his least admirable achievement, what "'Frenchmen really like about Napoleon is the glory, all that grandeur."9
The Romantic view of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic experience presented few problems for traditional military historians. Leopold von Ranke's "new history", which reconstructed events from the documents, rather than from the national myths which the Romantics were so busily exploiting, was ideal for recovering the naked truth of such well- documented campaigns, battles, and heroes. Jomini found Napoleon's strategy compatible with that of Frederick the Great. Thomas Carlyle's lectures on Heroes and Hero-Worship (1838-41) ranged from Odin and Mohammed to Napoleon. Theologically opposed to the "dead, steam- engine universe" of the determinists, Carlyle did not even want his "Captains of Industry" to decide "battles ... transacted by mechanism; with the slightest possible development of human individuality or spontaneity; men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner."10 In Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (186269) both the Grand Army and Napoleon faced the issue of free will and determinism by slogging towards a Romantic goal which neither saw very clearly. Tolstoy also dealt with war's periods of tension and rest and with the expectations and delusions of the court, the nobility, and occasionally the people. But his "flood of nations" was a Romantic, Burckhardtian crisis, which he carried to the end, with a First Epilogue which suggested the results for the people.
The "day of glory" arrived for Prussia while Tolstoy was writing his epic. Railways clearly contributed to Prussia's victories in 1866 and 1871. But since Germany and France had been roughly equal in resources in 1870, historians stressed the Prussians' superiority in training, mobilizing, moving, and commanding Napoleonic mass armies. The euphoria of victory and the traumas of defeat and revolution led German and French soldiers to reemphasize national passions and morale. Modern war, to Ferdinand Foch in 1903, was even more Napoleonic, "more and more national in its origins and ends, more and more powerful in its means, more and more impassioned," with "an ever increasing predominance of the human factor."11 New weapons were not neglected. But when Tolstoy died in 1910, national passions were being even more deliberately heightened by those "loud cries" and "shining objects" which had heightened them for centuries.
So Prussia's more-than-Napoleonic victories of 1866 and 1870 only confirmed expectations of what would happen in the next great war. Whole shelves of war books such as the novels of Benito Perez Galdos--produced during the longest general peace in modern European history dealt with brave men and decisive battles, great captains and great statesmen, and with their new exploits overseas. Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage (1895) dealt with
individual heroism in the face of a collective enemy, who occasionally ducks, dodges, or charges out of the smoke, while the Youth's attention is focused on mechanically serving his weapon. Euclides da Cunha's Rebellion in the Backlands (1902) was a Brazilian professional soldier's account of an even newer kind of national experience. But such works made little impression on authors dealing with traditional military and political issues in a traditional way and style, ways which were reinforced by that view of war as a test of national fitness which accompanied the Social Darwinism of a still self-consciously successful and expanding European civilization.
But the new social sciences were raising some new questions about the relations of the industrial revolution to society and war. Who were the people who were increasingly participating in this great affair of state? What was the role of violence in an expanding civilization which was becoming more industrialized, urban, and less violent at its center? Did military discipline make better factory workers? Did military research result in better civilian goods? Did higher standards of living and/or the growing solidarity of factory workers produce people less willing and able to wage war? By 1897 Herbert Spencer could feel that industrialization was producing people with "a growing personal independence, ... a smaller faith in governments, and a more qualified patriotism," except in Germany, where a combination of upper class controls and popular nationalism had forced a regression "toward the militant social type."12 But Foch felt that of "The means for a nation to obtain wealth and satisfy its cravings is ... war.... Every German (now) has a share in the profits,... in the firm, and in victory. This is now what is meant by a people's war."13
With Foch and Thucydides, William James agreed that war had been purely piratical. But its ideals of courage and self-sacrifice were now so ingrained that they were more socially valuable than any "substitutes" from "the glory and shame that come to nations as well as individuals from the ups and downs of politics and ... trade." James quoted H.G. Wells's First and Last Things (1908) on "'Progress in military apparatus"' and "'civil conveniences,"' comparing dreadnoughts with "house appliances ... little better than they were fifty years ago,"' before ending his Moral Equivalent of War (1910) by remarking that "It would be simply preposterous if the only force that could work ... honor and ... efficiency into English and American natures should be the fear of being killed by the Germans or the Japanese.14
In 1898 the Jewish-Polish-Russian banker Ivan S. Bloch tried to see The Future of War in its Technical, Economic, and Political Relations. As an economist arguing from massive statistical evidence, Bloch saw the industrial revolution's newest fire weapons producing military deadlock, economic crisis, and political revolution. Bloch's work allegedly persuaded Nicholas II to call the First Hague Peace Conference. The same concerns led a 1911 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference in Berne to set up the first international effort to study war "scientifically, and as far as possible, without prejudice either for or against war." Its three commissions were to study the Economic and Historical Causes and Effects of War, Armaments in Time of Peace, and the Unifying Influences in International Life. Its first volume, Gaston Bodart's Losses of Life in Modern Wars and Vernon L. Kellogg's Military Selection and Race Deterioration (1916), edited by a Copenhagen Professor of Political Science and Statistics, Harald Westergaard, was also the first volume of the more than one hundred in a massive Economic and Social History of the World War (-1940), to be edited by the Canadian- American "new" historian, James T. Shotwell.
The surprises of the Great War sharpened some old problems of historical theory,
methodology, and style, if only because whole teams of historians, official and unofficial, had to mine even higher mountains or records. Technology, as Bloch had predicted, created a military stalemate, but not economic collapse and political revolution as soon as, or in the order, or of the kinds which he had expected. Industrial development had been speeded up, and parliamentary democracies had survived. But two types of revolutionary dictatorships had appeared, while people's attitudes toward war and their leaders seemed to have changed profoundly. The high commands on both sides were assailed by other soldiers, such as the Italian artilleryman Giulio Douhet, who had been court-martialed for his criticisms in 1915, before being recalled to service to head the Central Aeronautical Service in 1918. By 1921 he was predicting that the "disintegration of nations" indirectly done in the last war by attrition, blockade, and subversion could now "be accomplished directly by ... aerial forces." J.F.C. Fuller, B.H. Liddell Hart, Charles de Gaulle and others saw the tank-plane Blitzkrieg team restoring ground mobility. To Fuller "the four fundamental lessons" of the war "were that the business of industrialised war demanded ... (1) political authority; (2) economic self- sufficiency; (3) national discipline; and (4) machine weapons. Further still, ... these lessons must be applied during peacetime in order to be ready for war."15
Postwar soldiers and statesmen, according to their lights and resources, generally tried to apply these lessons, while many historians, according to their lights and resources, tried to help them. Many establishment historians became increasingly apologetic as criticism became increasingly virulent, once it became clear that sailors had not visualized the problems of blockade, commerce warfare, amphibious operations, fleet action, and machine weapons any better than soldiers had visualized their problems, and that political authorities' failures to meet the demand for machine weapons, economic self-sufficiency, and national discipline were as glaring as those of the soldiers. In official historians' references to wartime strikes, sabotage, draft evasion, black markets, peace demonstrations, profiteering, and other cases of "collective indiscipline"--the French term for the 1917 mutinies - were as politically charged as references to the post-war disturbances among the war-weary Dominion forces who were waiting to return to "a land fit for heroes to return to." Many volumes in the Shotwell Economic and Social History were by official authors or from official documents. "Facts, statistical, historical and descriptive" were to "constitute nearly the whole of their content.... Describing the attitude of various socialistic bodies ... (or) of business classes toward peace and war, ... a protective policy, the control of monopoly, or the regulation of banking and currency" was not to imply the Carnegie Endowment's approval.16 These were still current political issues.
Since the economic collapse which Bloch and others had foreseen was to have been financial, the First Commission's financial studies were among the best volumes. But a Second War began before these experiences had been compared in a single summary volume. Things were not much better with "The manner in which the energy of nations is stimulated or depressed by war" was related to "Loss of human life: ... influence upon population (birth-rate, relation between the sexes, ratio of the various ages, sanitary conditions)." Though Bodart's wartime Losses of Life in Modern Wars was published with the American biologist David Starr Jordan's Military Selection and Race Deterioration, these works were not followed up in an era of geopolitical worry over these very issues. Nor, though Jordan had written War and Waste (1914) and the First Commission had wanted to study war's effects on the worldÕs supplies of food and raw materials, was there any work on ecological damage.17
The Second Commission was to deal with "Armaments in Time of Peace. Military and Naval Establishments. The Theory, Practice, and History of Modern Armaments." Some of its
questions--"the effect of recent inventions upon offensive and defensive war"--had been answered. Those on the arms trade, its financing, and arms races were now the responsibility of the League of Nations. But peacetime conscription, the proportion of "the total income of each nation" spent on arms, military pensions, "the industrial value of military education and training," and "the influence of changes in the occupations of a people upon the composition and efficiency of armies" were still methodologically or politically too hot to handle.18 Even so, the subjects which the Berne Conference might have seen as part of war as a national experience were so multifarious that it is not surprising that one of the best works on The Deluge: British Society and the First World War, by Arthur Marwick, was not by a participant and did not appear until 1965.
In a nationalistic world preparing for the next war, there was little work on the Third Commission's "Unifying Influences in International Life." While the war had shown the need for economic self-sufficiency, the Berne Conference had already seen that "the economic life of individual countries has definitely ceased to be self-contained." What were the relationships between "the growth of population," "the insufficiency of the natural resources of individual countries," "the rising ... standard of living," "production by large units," "investment ... in less developed lands," "the interdependence of ... financial centres," the "extension of all means of communication," and "the progress of inventions" and of "various international unions and associations."19 And the post-war peace had resanctioned the old imperial practice of uprooting, punishing, reeducating, or exterminating nations. One nation was nearly exterminated during the Great War. One epic which still survives is Franz Werfel's Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933). Others, as Cyril Falls noted of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), were noisy antiwar tracts. Others, like Jules Romains's Men of Good Will (1932 ff.) went too many rounds with Tolstoy and Marcel Proust.
The Great War did turn historians' attentions to collective military, social, political, economic, and even technological experiences. But collective failures in each of these fields and the need to avoid those even greater military and political disasters which were lowering over the future focused attention on particular aspects, rather than on the whole, of each national experience. This was true even for such nations as Japan, Canada, and the United States, which had never participated, as modern nations, in a general war. Their assessments tended to focus on the reasons for their participation, or on what to do militarily in the next round, rather than on their total national experiences.
So the human effects of the war were best seen by those artists who, because the gap between expectation and reality was so great, created the greatest of war literatures. The common soldier, facing Ernst Jihger's Storm of Steel (1929), was their hero. Wilfred Owen did not write "about heroes," only because "English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them." Jaroslav Hasek's Good Soldier Schweik (1930) was an anti-hero because his nation was an unwilling participant. Falls's War Books: A Critical Guide (1930) shows that he could have summed up these works, but a Second War and hardening of the adjectives set in before his History of the Great War (1959) spent only ten of its 425 pages on "How They Fared at Home." So the summing up was left to a veteran of the Second War, to Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), to "Upstairs, Downstairs" reworking of folk memories, including that of Owen's "The Send-Off", and to the National Portrait Gallery's collective portrait of the British High Command with the individual ones of two slain poets, Isaac Rosenberg and Owen, the author of the war's most famous single line, "I am the enemy you killed, my friend."20
But at least four English writers, all journalists at one time or another, had the breadth and style to write about the Great War as a national experience. Falls never did. Winston Churchill was too personally involved as a leader. So was Beaverbrook, who finished only his personal history. But he had the right idea when, as self-appointed "Canadian Eye-Witness", he had gotten the government to support his grandiose collecting, reporting, and publishing activities.
It is the popular demand which is the strongest factor in producing stories and pictures of the war. And the demand is natural, for the texture of the war has become ingrained in the whole fabric of the national life, and the people are asking for news, not of some small, distant and almost alien army, but of themselves, and of events personal to their interest, comfort and happiness.21
The final journalist, Charles E.W. Bean, also persuaded his government to collect every possible document and photograph and to publish a twelve-volume Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 (1921-42). Bean and his colleagues also knew what they were doing. In the Preface to Volume XI, Australia During the War, its author, Ernest Scott, wrote that "The subject ... seemed to call for ... treatment as a record of national experience. Here was a country which had never known war; which was suddenly under an obligation to wage war; and which thereby underwent certain unforeseen, acute, and often agonizing ordeals, together with the glory of heroic achievement and the pride of a victorious culmination."22 Scott met still controversial subjects head-on. His Chapter III dealt with the Censorship, IV with the Enemy Within the Gates, an Outbreak of Turks at Broken Hill, and Buddhist priests of German origin. Book II dealt with Prime Minister William M. Hughes's two failed conscription referendums, Book III with a great railway strike, the I.W.W., murder, sabotage, forgery, great fires in Sydney for which twelve men were convicted, and the freeing of ten of them in 1920 after a long campaign by H.E. Boote, the editor of The Australian Worker.
Bean's battle accounts are as sober for Gallipoli, too quickly seen as an instant replay of the Iliad, as for Pozi¸res, "a ridge more deeply sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth." And the Photographic Record of the War (Vol. XII, 1923) is a better record of one national experience than Laurence Stallings's widely acclaimed antiwar The First World War: A Photographic History (1933)23 Bean's and the Australian War Memorial's success in encompassing Australia's national experience was partly the fortunate conjuncture of a new and highly conscious nation and a journalist as conscious of those facts as he was of the war's potential significance. Like Beaverbrook, Bean saw the need to bring that experience home to participants thousands of miles from the battle lines, and to supplement instant telegraphic and censored news with documentary and photographic records. And Australia's politically disruptive wartime debates had not been over whether she should be at war or the extent of her contribution, but over what economic, social, and manpower policies would best lead to victory.
The Second World War was prepared for, and largely fought by nations trying to avoid the "inelasticities" and "stupidities" of that first experience. Partly because of this, the Second World War more than lived up to expectations. There were surprises--the nonuse of gas and the use of flame against both soldiers and civilians--but such surprises were mostly of scale and national passions--the Holocaust and the Resistance. The powers of the machine and of the
deliberate use of science for war were strikingly demonstrated. These events raised few new questions of historical theory or methodology, except in the new field of psychohistory. But they again widened historians' vision of war as a national experience.
Since 1945 the big battalions of official and unofficial historians have successfully mined the stalls of military operational, Resistance, Holocaust, and Ultra Secret documents, while bypassing the less exciting pillars of social history. So some questions remain. What happens when two great wars are fought by the same generation? We know about the militiaman who answered the second call to duty, generally at a higher rank. But this war's captains of industry, labor, or agriculture were often veterans "frozen" into civilian jobs. What were their attitudes towards the old political issues of strategy, big business, manpower and labour conscription, profiteering, and those social services which were to compensate for military sacrifice, or toward a peace which promised to be far more Carthaginian than that criticized by John Maynard Keynes? How, in short, does a fairly recent try at modern war affect a second national experience?
This Second World War on the heels of the First also increased the numbers of national experiences available for comparison. Each nation interpreted its experiences in the light of its expectations. Many Americans saw the Second World War as a triumphal crusade of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Know-How. And if American participation in both wars is an exemplary study in military development, Vietnam's is just as much so for dependency theorists. Her occupiers gave Vietnam the framework of her political, educational, and Marxist institutions, and, to cite Guibert again, the core of "a national militia ... (and a) plan of aggrandizement." Her leaders combined these with their version of "a cheap war-making system, one which subsists on its victories and is not reduced to laying down its arms by financial calculations," to produce "great men (who) filled various state offices, because they were fit to fill any of them" and "citizens (who) were proud of the name of their country, and believed themselves superior to the kings they were accustomed to vanquish."
One of the surprises of the Second World War was to be the strength of various national Resistance movements. But how did full or token participation or neutrality in the First War affect these experiences? How did the even more widespread demonstrations of the allies' power, wealth, and cultural patterns for attaining them affect the developing states of Latin America or Sub Saharan Africa? Finally, as we have already noted, Great War historians had had little time to do much with the Third Berne Commission's "Unifying Influences in International Life". How did the wartime development of and prospects for international military and civilian staffs and institutions and the concomitant development of international trade, transportation, communications, and finance affect large and small, near and far, developed and developing nations?
Epics simplify and synthesize whole epochs of experience. "Time's wrong-way telescope," Keith Douglas wrote in "Simplify Me" before his death on June 9, 1944, may eventually do this for us.
Through that lens see if I seem
substance or nothing ...
deserving mention or charitable oblivion, ...
leisurely arrived at ...
Remember me when I am dead
and simplify me when I'm dead.24
While the more dramatic events of that Second War are too easily turned into horse operas, or people made too naked and too dead, its writers have tapped new themes in the meeting of alien cultures, in the closer connections of the home and fighting fronts, and in the Resistance. They have also sharpened their mechanical images. Owen's "Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm, Great gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse" seems less effective than the artilleryman Barry Amiel's treatment of the same subject, perhaps because the range of the man in the tunic has since grown to some 8000 nautical miles.
Death is a matter of mathematics.
It screeches down at you from dirtywhite nothingness....
Or else it lies concealed
In that fleecy, peaceful puff of cloud ahead,...
And Death awaits you in a field-gray tunic....
With you the focal point,
The centre of the problem. The A and B
Or Smith and Jones of schoolboy textbooks.
Ten out of ten means you are dead.25
Killed by "Chance's strange arithmetic" on November 4, 1918, Owen could not develop the theme of "Insensibility," of war's brutalization of everyone who, to survive, had
... made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores; whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears."26
In commenting on this paper, the poet and critic Helen Bevington finds it "significant ... that no poetry to speak of has come out of the Korean War or the Vietnam War.... The reason often given is that by now war is too terrible to write about. One cannot write with any conviction that there is anything more to say.... the subject is now too large, too meaningless even in its horror. As a national experience it isn't fit for poetry." As Carlyle feared, mechanical weapons, the metronomic revolutionary justice of the guillotine in Fran¨ois Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" (1957), and the mechanical sensors and communicators of George Orwell's Big Brother (1948), have made heroic followers as obsolete as heroic leaders. If we have come to the end of the Iliad, and of war as a collective epic, we may have to work backwards to the era of Froissart and Chaucer, and to societies, in André Corvisier's words, with "military social groups within but distinct from society as a whole. It took the national wars set off by the French Revolution to re-establish tighter, though temporary, links between armies and societies.... The nearly omnipresent militarization that we see in the Europe of 1914 came about only with the adoption of the idea of universal military service by societies that were no longer military in nature."27 While I suspect that industrialization had greater and more constant effects on these links than Corvisier implies, I also suspect that that industrial revolution which had first tightened those links has more recently been, in the West, gradually dehumanizing, resegmenting, and thus denationalizing war as a collective experience.
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Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation