, Research Paper
Effects of Modernity and the MilitaryThe military has long been one of the central institutions of the state. However in the years since the beginning of the modern age this institution has been radically changed. The modern military is capable of organization, violence, and destructive power never dreamed of in the pre modern age. The small scale personal warfare of the pre modern age has been replaced with war that is impersonal and technologically driven.The Military in the pre modern era was driven much differently and less effectively motives. It was fought almost as personal battles between kings and their families. Therefore the military would be put into action when the king s interest were at stake, instead of when the nation s interest was on the line. This is a “kinship relation” as Giddens says, that is “as an organising device for stabilizing social ties across tome and space” (102). Religion was also an Old Regime motive for war in a several occasions. This was one of the very few times large armies were put together by a somewhat voluntary action. They fought for a cause they were truly willing to die for. The Crusades are examples of such action. In those wars Christians from Europe fought Muslims from the Middle East over religious grounds. The Military officers during the pre modern era were not chosen in the best interest of the nation, but by the Old Regime idea of tradition. The officers were always Aristocrats chosen by birth, not merit. This was not a very efficient way to run an army because the people in charge were often incompetent. This was a classic example of Old Regime thinking. The Aristocracy is based on birth or tradition, and tradition in the Old Regime was more important than effectiveness or function.Old Regime armies relied almost exclusively on mercenaries, who created more problems within the military. Since the Mercenaries were fighting for a pay check they were in no way willing to die and not see the money. Dissertation was also a huge problem with the Mercenaries so there was little or no trust between the soldiers and their officers. Whenever a battle came near the officers had to watch their men very closely. This created tactical difficulties as well. If the General wanted to send a small group of men around a hill by themselves, the mercenaries could not be trusted to do what they were told or even be seen again. Technology in the pre modern era developed somewhat during the those centuries. Ancient battles were fought hand to hand with swords, knives, or anything a person could get his hands on. This was a very personal, face to face, way of fighting where brute force determined who won these one on one battles. This is also a trait of the Old Regime. Giddens refers to these sort of relations as “facework relations” where relationship is face to face. The technology, as it slowly developed, by modern standards, moved just as slowly away from this “facework relationship.” With the invention of the bow and arrow some could kill another person from a considerable distance. Many centuries later guns and cannons were developed with the discovery of gun powder by the Europeans from the Orient. This was a huge jump away from a “facework relationship” a considerable move towards a “faceless relationship” where people are not face to face and therefore much less personal. Giddens refers to this movement from “facework” to “faceless” disembedding. Both the Modern military and Modern war are much different in almost every way from the military and war in the pre modern era. The motives, tactics, and most importantly weapons of modern war are more complex and have made it the most feared part of modern civilization. This is due to the new consequences that have risen that have the potential to effect all of civilization. Modern societies have become much more democratic and politically motivated. In these democratic societies the majority of a nation can influence its leaders into deciding when its nation is to go to war by means of their vote. The people also have the power to influence how large and spread out the military is by the amount of money is spent on the military. This is a very drastic change from the pre modern era when the people had no influence in any political way what the military did. The make up of the armies changed in the modern era primarily due to the rise of nationalism. Nationalism gave each citizen a stake in the nation and therefore a duty to serve it. The stake which they had in their nation was their rights as individuals, their freedom as a nation, and their culture which is a large part of the nation. People had very strong feelings about these types of things, so strong that they were willing to sacrifice their lives so their children could have those same rights as they had enjoyed. This is an example of future-oriented Modern thinking, which Giddens says is “counterfactual thoughts as a mode of connecting past and present”(104). It was then possible to have a draft of the common people to participate in the army or navy. This drastically increased the size of the armies and made the nations who were nationalistic much more powerful.
The Officers of the Modern military are chosen much differently than they were in pre modern era. Officers are chosen by how well they perform their duties, how well they do in their schooling, and by their motivational skills. This is an example of the modern idea of merit which moved away from the pre modern concept of tradition and rights of birth which picked Officers of the Old Regime. This Modern way makes the Officers of the Modern era much more competent. Leaders of nations make their decisions on war in the best interest of the nation compared to the pre modern era where a king acted in his own best interest. The military in the modern era acts to protect the capitalistic interest of the nation. The British in the 19th century used their strong naval forces to protect their investments around the world. They fought off pirates and fought other European nations to make sure colonies like India and Australia remained under control. In World War II after the Nazis had invaded several countries in Europe the United States felt they had to send off there military to war because there interest in Europe was threatened if not already taken away. Since World War II ended and the United Nations was formed a nation s military often acts in the best interest of the world not the nation. This brings up some interesting questions. Does the UN have the power to send off a nations military to war without approval of that nation? Does the national interest come before the ideal of world peace? It is not very smart to have an army fight for something that is not national since nationalism is the thing that drives the solider in the modern army. The UN must not come before the national interest because if the two conflict, when the battle is to be fought world peace is not something worth dying for. Technology and Science in the modern era has molded the armies into what they are known for today. The industrial revolution allowed for weapons to be produced in large numbers, quickly, and at a low cost. This was vital to properly arm an armies that were growing at fast rates. The development of new weapons and vehicles changed armies and their tactics. The airplane allowed fast movement between two destinations, better scouting, and the ability to bomb ground targets. Bombing is a very modern idea because it is so impersonal. It involves spotting a target thousands of feet below, where you do not see the people you trying to kill, and dropping a bomb to destroy the site. The submarine is also an impersonal vehicle because it sneaks up on its enemy and shoots it with a torpedo without even making eye contact with it. The most important developments in military technology are the nuclear weapons. These weapons of mass destruction are capable of destroying the earth in a matter of hours. This changed war from an issue between two nations to an issue for the world to be concerned about. One persons decision could mean the end of the world. This means that the people must have trust in the abstract system of their military and government not to ever use these weapons. “The only point of holding nuclear weapons – apart from their symbolic value in world politics – is to deter others from using them”(75). When the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) were developed it meant that a nuclear weapon could be sent across the globe to a target without any immediate risk to a solider. This is very impersonal and shows how disembedded war has become. War has changed drastically since the pre modern era. During the pre modern era war was personal, it was fought between kings by their mercenaries. Since the introduction of nationalism in the Enlightenment, men now fight for the nation, their rights, and culture. Previously the only time ordinary men fought with zeal was when religion called them to battle, such as during the Crusades. War has also gone from men battling with swords to computers sending off missiles to attack targets across the globe to their predetermined targets. This technology had made war less dangerous for the solider but, has also brought more serious consequences for the world. Since the development of nuclear weapons all war is seen as potentially the end of civilization.