I. The Nature and Significance of Militarism

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Karl Liebknecht



Militarism! There are few catch-words which are so frequently used to-day. There is scarcely another one which signifies something so complex, many-sided, Protean, or expresses a phenomenon so interesting and significant in its origin and nature, its means and effects a phenomenon so deeply rooted in the very nature of societies divided in classes, and which yet can adopt such extraordinarily multifarious shapes in societies of equal structure, all according to the physical, political, social, and economic conditions of states and territories.

Militarism is one of the most important and energetic manifestations of the life of most social orders, because it exhibits in the strongest, most concentrated, exclusive manner the national, cultural, and class instinct of self-preservation, that most powerful of all instincts.

A history of militarism, carried out with fundamental thoroughness, would comprise the very essence of the history of human development, lay bare its main-springs; and an investigation of capitalistic militarism would bring to light the most deeply hidden and delicate root-fibres of capitalism. Again, the history of militarism would be the history of the strained relations and jealousies between nations and states, arising from their desires for political and social power or economic advantage; at the same time it would be the history of class-struggles within nations and states for the same objects.

This is not even an attempt to write such a history; only some universal historical facts will be pointed out.