The Irresistable Force

The glory mentioned in the Stephen Crane poem you posted is very much at the heart of Clausewitz‘s theory of war. This is something which, according to this mode of thought, can only be found in battle, though each member of society can experience it in a vicarious or remote manner by fulfilling her civic duty during wartime. This is one of the reasons I feel obligate to teach critically, always, but especially during wartime – which from here on in looks like it will be all the time. Because what I do in the classroom, as a private citizen of the State, serves a function within a larger apparatus which is inevitably linked to the military.


As for what happens to the people after a war, the grotesquely simple answer is that they go back to their lives. Or, as Catherine Malabou hopes to convince us, they become entirely different people.

Those who lost loved ones will mourn and remember their dead through the monuments created to keep their names immortal, the most important of which will be the annals of history.


If you recall what I said about “war being the natural extension of politics”, you’ll realize wars are fought because a nation feels a will to expand and a rage toward another nation for preventing it from doing so. Once the defeated nation yields, the victor will not just vaunt its victory but it will also move in to occupy the lands that it has conquered. For these lands and resources were, after all, the initial motives for the war. The settled population, ideally, will establish itself and life will go on normally, until biological and infrastructural drives cause the nation again to feel cramped for space and resources. The nation will look abroad at other peoples enjoying their prosperity or neglecting their opportunities, and it will grow resentful and agitated. The process will begin again. Or, unrest may arise on the part of displaced or occupied peoples.


I should add that there is a close connection between national mobilization and national economies. If would have been impossible to fight wars of the sort described by Clausewitz prior to the industrial revolution and the era of massive industrial expansion. No one was more aware of this than Marx. His political and economic theory, founded on the notion of dialectical negation, is a direct but dissenting heir of Hegelian Humanism (one of the younger Young Hegelians), with its cult of Great Men and Great Deeds, which informs the modern state.


Compare and contrast the music below, by Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, with the glorious sounds of the Beethoven above.

Dmitri Shostakovich
“Symphony #13”
(Babi Yar)

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