Ao.Univ.Prof. DDr. Christian STADLER

Philosophy of Law Institute

University of Vienna (Austria/EU)



Soldier or Society?
Remarks on the domestic importance of being valiant


The aim of this text is to question whether there is a necessary relationship between soldiership and society. Using the philosophical tradition as a gateway, I would like to show that such a relationship cannot be denied. I shall confine myself to some of the main representatives of the tradition of the philosophia perennis: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavell, Kant, Hegel, und Fichte.


1: The idealistic starting point: Plato

The soldier as virtue elite in the »Politeia«:

Democratic Aristocratism


As is widely known, Plato’s Politeia develops an idealistic concept of the state or rather of “good community”, which requires an ideal constitution. Although Plato deals with the antique Polis-society, his concept is still valid today, at any rate, insofar as the central question in politics is concerned: How can people live together in a just way? One should not misunderstand the Platonic project. He does not provide a complete script for state building, rather he invites the reflection of legitimacy. Such a reflection arrives at a principle society should follow, if it claims to be legitimate. Then, we can check whether or not our society meets this principle and thus can draw conclusions about the legitimacy of our social order.


Plato begins his argument with the question of “Justice”, which leads him from the individual to society. Both man and society consist of three capacities: Logistikon, Thymoeides and Epithymetikon: Logistikon means the intellectual or spiritual moment of man/society, Thymoeides means the virtue or bravery moment of man/society. And finally Epithymetikon means the maintenance or nutritional moment of man/society. Health/Justice can become a reality only if these three moments are in harmony with one another, that is, if each capacity exercises its proper function. In other words, one should not change the function of each capacity.


On this basis Plato develops his world-famous concept of the Philosophic-King as representative of the Logistikon. What is interesting for us, however, is the social function of the “guards”. They represent the Thymoeides-Moment of Society. As Plato develops a pedagogic state-concept, one should not be surprised, that “guards” are the product of a very strong educational process: Only the few best of a population are chosen to become a “guard”. The rest of the population belongs to the Epithymetikon-part of society, which is by far the greatest part of the Polis. All persons (both men and women), who do not meet the very strong educational requirements of “guardship” are by default members of “civil society”. Both men and women meeting these high requirements can become “guards” and have therefore to protect both the public well-being and the public morality of the civil society. These requirements lie in all fields of antique humanism: metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, rhetoric, anthropology, literature, algebra, geometry, astronomy, physics, geography, history and lest we forget, in music and athletics. Additionally, neither personal property nor an own family are allowed to these “guards”. And the best of these “guards” – after years of further perfection - have the chance to become Philosophic-Kings. Because of this educational system, only such persons will become political leaders who are meanwhile over 50 years old and look back at a live full of education and training, full of discipline and engagement and without personal interests and privacy. Only those who know to realise the principal ideas and values behind the mere appearances and who have the character to live according to these ideas, values or rather truths,- in a word, only the best of a society (= Ariston) are chosen to become leaders.


And that is the question of relevance today: How do modern western democracies train and select their political elites? Is it institutionally guaranteed that only value-based men and women can become leaders in democratic telecracies? And what function do the modern “guards” (= armed forces) have in modern societies? Are they a part of the elite-building-process and therefore at the heart of the society or are they an anachronistic element of a deliberative anti-authoritarian public? Does the public see in its armed forces the moral elite of the society or only a strain on public expenditure?


The socially most essential function of the three moments mentioned above fits the soldier in Plato’s state: he is part of the education of elite in which the nature of the community is realized. The actual relevant aspect is however, that this kind of aristocracy (that means for Plato nothing more than: the rule of – as mentioned above - the very best) is by its very nature “democratic”, because – for Plato’s political conception - everyone in the population (both men and women!) who meets the standards has the equal opportunity to reach this social elite-level. So we have a radical kind of openness – as opposed to the meaning of Sir Karl Popper, who saw in Plato the greatest enemy of an “Open Society”. However, one thing has to be accepted from a Platonic point of view: hard work and the withdrawal of one’s own ego has to be achieved with – so to say: an idealistic and therefore unanimous - consequence.


2: The realistic starting point: Aristotle:

The soldier as property citizen in the »Politike«:

Oligarchic Republicanism


Contrary to Plato, his disciple Aristotle doesn’t follow an idealistic state concept. Because of his way of thinking, he doesn’t agree with Plato’s idealistic method, which means that the recognition of every thing as “real” is the necessary product of an ideal process of recognition of an basic idea (anamnesis). And that without the knowing of this basic idea one cannot make any true statement about any thing at all. So without insight into the ideal nature of state and society, one cannot say anything relevant about a just constitution. So much for Plato’s method, which Aristotle did not accept in this way. He preferred a more empirical way of thinking: Aristotle analysed the existing constitutions of antique Greece and described them very precisely. Than he drew his conclusions as to the advantages and disadvantages of the respective constitutional models: The most feasible constitution, in his opinion, was the mixed system of a republic, composed of elements taken from oligarchy (= power of wealth) and democracy (= power of liberty). People should be free and wealthy, but not too wealthy and not too free, in order not to loose the ability to develop the political virtue of social responsibility (a social philosophical context Fichte will stress in the Modern Age). People who are too wealthy however are dangerous for the society in so far as they could misuse public power for their private benefit. The best social background for Aristotle to realise a Republic is the middle class, which corresponds to his mesotes-theory. But who is to be included into the stratum of society that exercises political rights? According to Aristotle, those who are economically able to take part in a war (who had a horse, complete armour and two to three squires) are political fully relevant “citizens”. So only the middle class (= those fit for military service) has political power and therefore a working republic is based on the ability to deploy one’s private resources to the benefit of warfare. Aristotle sees all that from a pragmatic point of the best constitutional order in wartimes, but without reflecting this aspect expressively: A working republic depends on the social ability of warfare and even the notion of shouldering responsibility is realized in the Aristotelian concept of those voters who have to face the existential consequences of their decision (on war and peace) the day after voting. Bearing the life affecting consequences in mind, the vote will be taken diligently enough. This pragmatic concept of Aristotle however has a moral dimension, too. The citizens of a republic should take politics very seriously and commit their lives to it. Without this political virtue a republic cannot succeed in the long run – especially in situations of massive military threats from outside.


For Aristotle therefore, the legal position of the citizen is inseparably connected with his ability to be soldier. There is an economic relationship between democracy and soldiership (in contrast to the idealist Plato): only those citizens who were economically able to provide sufficient armament, a horse and squires, - that means by consequence only the rich ones - had all political rights (and duties) in the polis. As mentioned above, the main political topic in those days was war and peace – therefore a real political decision always affected the question of war – and those who decided on war and peace were the same who had to fight this war. That is the origin of what we today call “political responsibility”. And indirectly the ethical goal of Plato is achieved – in a more pragmatic way than Plato would have conceived it – because being a soldier means being a person, who is prepared to sacrifice his/her life for the community and therefore for an idea, which is worth risking one’s physical existence. And that’s why Aristotle’s approach isn’t that pragmatic any more...


3: The turn-of-an-era towards Enlightenment: Machiavell:

The »Arte della Guerra« takes the property citizen as soldier:

Republican Bellicism


Machiavell was a devout student of Aristotle’s political theory. In the century of the north-Italian city-republics, Machiavell writes one of the main works of modern political science: the Principe. This book represents the end of a morally oriented political theory. Its point is to tell the truth about the nature of political power, but it doesn’t claim to give any moral guidance. Therefore all institutions designed by Aristotle (as a successor to the ethic idealist Plato) were undressed from their common-good-orientation, which was typical for the Greek classical thinkers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Machiavell however only speaks of political reality and that means for him the way to optimise the methods to stay in power. He does not forbid to use the power for good purposes, but the techniques to gain und to remain in power are eternal rules of prudence which one must comply with in order not to lose power. But the basis of his philosophy is a sophistic one, because he works with empiric evidences and forms principals for acting on the basis of them. He responds to the question of Trasymachos (the Sophist in the first Book of Plato’s Politeia) in the way, that the just one is regularly the second, and that the unscrupulous one always politically wins. Therefore Machiavell develops a pragmatic system of citizen-army without reference to morality, but only with the power-preservation-objective in front of his eyes to provide the most efficient defence force for the Florentine republic. And he learned from the military history, that the Condottieri, the “pay-soldiers” were not reliable enough to lay the fate of the whole republic into their (foreign, profit-oriented) hands.


A deeper aspect of this pragmatic approach lies in the principal fact that a strong republic is bound on strong armed forces. It is more than pure chance that republics which rely on foreign mercenaries cannot survive – neither war nor trade – which are – as Clausewitz tells us – analogous in their principal act-oriented structure. So Machiavell developed a pioneering system of the citizen-army at the beginning of the modern times. The “citizen in uniform” therefore became a symbol for free citizenship and has – as already mentioned - its origin in Aristotle’s concept of the military middle class republic. But - and that is importantly new -, Machiavell also realised that the republic as such is an aggressive political concept: because of an expansive economical basic position (of regular added-value-production) republics regularly need more land – esp in times of non-intensive agricultural production. Republics are more prone to waging war than monarchies, because of the fact that they are founded in the growth of social wealth to keep their system working. When these growth-rates aren’t sufficient any more, than war has to be undertaken to fill the wealth-growth-gap which took place in the peace-time. Therefore military conflicts among the North-Italian trade-city-republics were the rule in order to optimise the republic’s economical situation and therefore indirectly the situation of the citizen-soldiers themselves. Trade-societies which had to rely only on foreign mercenaries therefore suffered military motivation and therefore efficiency and consequently lost their political flexibility and this means their sovereignty. From this, some conclusions can be drawn for today’s civil-military discussion. Can the civil society (which means not only lovely and nice door-to-door-neighbourhood, but also contains extremely economic and technical power) afford not to be military? E.g. to defend or to enlarge the economic power of the community? How can you – as a community – survive the natural stand of latent warfare as Thomas Hobbes described it some years later not only for the intranational, but also for the international relations – an insight, which is valid until today. Therefore only a well-fortified republic is a strong (and therefore healthy) one – this insight is true form the beginning of the modern times until now, the end of this era. So, the concept of the citizen-soldier has a clear pragmatic grounding.


And installing that system, Machiavell overcomes definitely the medieval knights system which has its origins in the Platonic tradition of spiritual aristocratism (as did almost the whole of the medieval time, which was spiritually founded in Augustine, a Platonic) and reinstalled in the begin of the modern times the Aristotelian system of republicanism, which includes the existential role of the citizen-soldier in the republican society.


4: The last Enlightener: Kant:

The war as losing business in the »Eternal Peace«:
Republican Pacifism


Following Rousseau and other post 30-Year-War (1618-1648) peace-authors, Kant stresses in opposition to Machiavell that in republics there are no more wars possible, because of the fact, that in republics those parts of the population who have to bear the economic and social burdens of warfare have to take part in the decision on peace and war – an insight, which leads us to the present truth of the democratic warfare. Who wants to win a war finally has to break systematically the will of those who make the decisions, which in democratic societies is the civil population. Kant puts more weight on the question of individual risk of the broad population in land-republics – while Machiavell has the economic interested citizen of capitalist societies before his eye. Therefore they have different views on the subject. Today’s globalisation gives rise to a northern world which resembles more Renaissance North-Italy than the monarchical system of the Kantian Age. Wars are part of economic calculations (even to produce special stock exchange rates) and not of the personal vanity of the monarch. Therefore the structure of warfare nowadays is more similar to Florence vs Venice in the 15th century than France against Prussia in the 18th century.


One thing, however, is true about Kant’s argument. Since in wars regularly only few profit and a great majority has the burdens to bear, republics would not wage war because of bad social returns. But who has the sharp calculating power in modern mass societies to realise that economic truth? Almost always only few gain and the masses pay. One thing however Kant and Machiavell – over the centuries – do have in common: they both argue economically: the difference is only how to assess the economic consequences of war-faring – consequences which can change over the times, why we have to accept that this argument of Kant is far from being a priori.


An interesting side-question in connection with this dispute is, whether it is a structural fate to be part of the “mass” (comp the breakthrough work of José Ortega y Gasset: La Rebelión de las Masas). Or does modern “justice” mean the chance to leave the “mass” and to make oneself part of the elite? Well, with Plato in mind, that would be possible, even structurally necessary, but the Aristotelian approach makes middle-class-money the world go around or the poor become revolutionary, as Marx (and indirectly his predecessor Rousseau) sees it. For Kant the solution for the war-problem lies within the wide-spread-installation of republics and with the anchoring of a legal framework for international relations. One has to leave the state of nature even in International Relations (and “War” is a phenomenon of the state of nature, which is characterized as complete lack of rights). With his pax republicana-opinion Kant argues against Machiavell’s republican warlike-concept, against Machiavell, who has still (or: already again) a more community-oriented thinking of state-republic than Kant in the following of Enlightenment-individualism and nationalism. But – as already mentioned – in a more globalised world like ours the nation-countries become smaller again and therefore the political insights from the North-Italian city-republics of Machiavell are relevant again, that means the necessity of arguing them.


In another point, however, Kant and Machiavell seem to coincide: in the question of the citizen-soldier. Both Kant und Machivell prefer it, however, they prefer it to different alternatives: Machiavell to the foreign Condottieri of the 15th century, Kant to the expansive standing national armies of the 18th century. Machiavell, as mentioned above, argues, that these mercenaries are not politically reliable, whereas Kant believes that such expansive troops would easily come into action to pay off. But the opposite is the military truth: the weak point of the troops of Frederick the Great was the high level of invested money per professional soldier, so that the least men possible were sacrificed, what reduced the fighting strength of such an army. A problem – combined with the present democratic society’s mass media coverage of manpower losses and public opinion makers - makes wars unfightable for bare humanistic ideals - a whole “intervention” with less than 10 troops of own battlefield-casualties, that is not what one used to mean by saying “war” in the last two thousand years.


5: The first Idealist: Kant:

War as historical catharsis in the »Metaphysics of Customs«:

Cultural Bellicism


Kant is one of the most important philosophers of the Modern Age, because – like the Greek classics – he leads the way away from a banal enlightenment, which puts the human being in his individual status hic et nunc in the position of the legitimating authority for the question of good and evil. Kant realised that the Copernican turn which took place in the natural sciences, has to have consequences for the morality, too. After the insight into the truth of the relation between sun and earth, the Christian teaching of mankind being the centre of Creation lost its sensual plausibility for the people. Therefore a moral change took place: mankind proved to be nothing more than an unimportant part of the universe travelling the space on a coincidentally habitable planet. Therefore humanity lost its spiritual dimension. It appeared to compound of intelligent animals or self-conscious compilations of cells. This attitude is relevant until today e.g. as far as the current debate in bioethics is concerned. But Kant discovered a specific spiritual dimension of the specifically modern humankind, which gave new meaning to the notion of humanity: transcendentally founded obligation or duty, what means that man is necessarily an autonomous being, who can decide to obey his duties or to act against them. Man can by no means be adequately understood as a mere product of nature, but the cognitive creator of reality through his intellectual capacities of thinking and perception. This autonomous (so called “second Copernican”) turn also takes place in the field of morality insofar as the human being can only be understood as to be a responsible autonomous being which is characterized by his duties. But this true philosophical view of the human being is not yet the general opinion in this regard. Therefore de-velopment – towards one’s own anthropological truth – is possible and necessary (and therefore transcendentally “deduced”): history is both possible and necessary – and from that point of view, “culture” is the direction towards which humanity has to move in order to leave its wrong status and to change towards its own truth: the more culture, the less nature, means: the more reason, the less instincts, the more autonomy, the less heteronomy. In Kant’s philosophy of culture and history, he describes the stations to be passed to arrive at oneself, becoming a moral being.


One of these necessary stations to be passed is warfare. War is described as the state of nature between states in their international relations. To go to war is therefore a natural right of each state to defend its existence. But war is the way from natural towards legal state between states. Therefore it is a necessary cultural phase which has to be overcome. So war isn’t any more pure evil, but a necessary catharsis for the cultural development of mankind. Therefore, in his culture and history philosophy Kant doesn’t see war any longer only as condition completely without rights (= state of nature), but as an engine of the cultural development of a society in competition with neighbour cultures. War requires the release of all strengths of a society to pass him victoriously. The chance therefore insists on change and reform as this has approximately applied to the society and the state of Prussia shortly after the death of Kant in 1804: Liberation of the old feudal structures owing to the “warlike discussion” with Napoleon’s revolution armies – but not only birth of the German liberalism but also of the German nationalism, the reflection on what makes oneself proper in comparison with other nations, like the French. At all events the cultural energy which war has released cannot be denied. War often is the central step in social or cultural transition, as history is almost completely the history of warfare. As Hegel puts it: The “happy years” of a nation are those, which leave its history-book-pages blank.


6: The absolute Idealist: Hegel:

War as social catharsis in the »Philosophy of Law«:

Dialectical Bellicism


The most famous thinker of the German Idealistic Tradition, Hegel – as far as his social philosophy is concerned – stands in the tradition of Aristotle. That means he conceives of state from the point of community, from “substantial freedom”, as he calls it, that means, freedom is conceivable only in an essentially social context. The consequence is, that Hegel is an anti-individualistic thinker, a philosopher who rejects the empirical concept of individual and isolated freedom, which does not have any social responsibilities. Hegel calls that way of freedom-conception a mere “abstract freedom”. This kind of atomistic individuality represents only a moment in the dialectic whole of the social being, a moment, which cannot be omitted, but which is – by no means – the fulfilment of humanity – what seems overwhelmingly to be believed in the western liberal tradition. Hegel in opposition to this theory sees a necessary development away from pure individuality towards an essentially community-oriented social approach. As Kant did before – all German Idealists follow methodologically more or less closely Kant and his transcendental deductive arguing -, Hegel sees history as the central sphere for human self-development. But history has different methods of developing human mankind: especially when we have to observe a social practice of welfare and comfort for many years, the ethical condition of a (esp. liberally constituted) society is very poor and weak: almost complete selfishness and egoism, massive destruction of personal relationships (family, neighbourhood, community etc) weaken the society as far as both its functionality and its ability for self-preservation. With more precision than Kant did it, Hegel saw in this dangerous situation the central dialectical task of warfare: to show the possessive individualists that all their actualised variations of the Golden Calve are highly transitory – and the historic event to show that truth of our human calling lies in war-fare. So the linear cultural development thinking of Kant (a specificum for enlightenment-thinking) changes into a dialectical approach by Hegel: war is necessary in the development and does mean nothing else than: systematically to destroy all that is sacred to the materialists and therefore to cure them from their false believe in the substantiality of materialistic things.


For the dialectical thinker this insubstantiality is undoubtedly clear, but the “normal” citizen cannot easily understand that his senses do not tell him the whole truth. Therefore sensual experience has to shock the society – the most impressive variation of collective sensuality is war. In wartimes, people loose their civil security-feeling and understanding. Money, values, not even health or live are “secure” any more: everything is at disposition. Therefore what are the lasting and therefore “true” or rather reliable values? Those which survive this crisis or better: which prove to be real values in the crisis? Be that as it may, in wartimes a whole society changes from a individually oriented consumistic society towards a more solidarity oriented community – or as Richard Wagner put it: a sum of individual people becomes only in existential crises a real “nation” or “unity”.


So in the wake of the cultural bellicism of Kant, Hegel realised war’s central socio-dialectical function in his Philosophy of Law. As a regularly returning phenomenon, war helps to purify the ethical situation of a society. After long periods of peace, the “sittliche Substanz” of a society has faded away and only the abstract structures of satisfaction of needs remain – the modern welfare-state, which has not the least ethical substance, but only the social function to make civil society function well. The state as instrument of economic welfare-growth and –administration. War shows the transitoriness of these materialistic values of well-being, wellness and fun. Therefore – in regular distances – war can prevent a society to die in spiritual dimensions, because war shows man the true dimension of existence – as father of all things, as Heraclite once realised. And this fatherhood means that war is a manifestation of the dialectical principle called polemos – and it was polemos that was called to be everything’s father. Polemos, war – all that opens the look on the dialectical dimension of the military which is not really up-to-date (Nietzsche called that: unzeitgemäß) in a liberal welfare-and consumer-society – but one should remember, that the dialectical dimension of the being is not a question of democratic majority or political correctness, but of metaphysical absoluteness.


Therefore we can note that for Hegel “war” has not only a historical function for civilisatorically highly developed societies, but a special dialectical essence, which is the explanation for its mentioned historical function and therefore its deduction in a more comprehensive metaphysical context.


7: The ethical Idealist: Fichte:

War as moral catharsis in the »Idea of Truthful War«:

Virtuous Bellicism


Fichte is widely regarded as an author that merely bridged the gulf between Kant and Hegel, from transcendental to dialectical idealism. But this view isn’t correct, especially if one understands “bridge” from a dialectical point of view: Like borders, bridges are of greater systematic interest than the parts they connect – even borders connect what they seem to divide, especially if one sees it in a dialectical way... Fichte unites both his predecessor (Kant) and his successor (Hegel), because he thinks in a dialectical way about the truth of the individual – not as an abstract moment of a holistic dialectical process, but as the central problem of moral philosophy. But – in comparison with Kant – Fichte does not stop his concept with the moral admonition to reflect the position of the other individuals too, as formulated in Kant’s famous Categorical Imperatives, but he develops a concept of individuality which is necessarily dependent on the Alter Ego. Therefore for Fichte, from a very radical point of view, it is true that a human being as an individual cannot be even thought of without the context to the other individual. The central aspect of this context lies in the mutual recognition of each other as a free being. From that point of view, Fichte can show the deductive necessity of freedom and the rule of law in every social context. The rule of law means for Fichte that this mutual sphere of freedom has to be defended with adequate force by the community. The participant of the social life cannot decide arbitrarily on the rules governing his relationship towards other people in society. The only thing he can do arbitrarily is to leave the community of autonomous and responsible people. Therefore, Fichte proofs the complex conditional apriori-character of the social context for the goodlife “human-being-ship”. If you want to stay in human community, you have to act in a lawful way, that means you have to respect the freedom-sphere of the others. If you do not want to live in such a social condition, you can leave this community. But outside of human society, what kind of existence can one continue to fulfil? So Fichte starts his argument from the personal responsibility of the autonomous being. For him, and that is important, a real free person is not conceivable without a society of free persons who mutually respect each other’s freedom. On the other side, a real community can only consist of free and responsible persons. But how can such a society be build? The answer to this questions lies in the Fichtean concept of organic social contracting. In opposition to theorists like Hobbes or Locke, for Fichte the state is not only a system consisting of atomic individuals, but an organic unity, a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. The decisive point is, how the individuals can transform into parts of a community without loosing their basic freedom (which has to be granted and to be respected in the state). The way is the mutual guarantee of the security of personal and property security. The only way to guarantee that is not the promise to defend each other in a crises, but to “sacrifice” hic et nunc money to build armed forces which will defend the common and everyone’s particular property in the case of threat.


This theory was the last word of the late enlightener Fichte in 1796. Twenty years later (Hegel has already succeeded with his Aristotelian (anti-individualistic) concept of state as “substantielle Sittlichkeit”) Fichte will speak of the necessity of the disappearing of the individuality in the state-community. And the best way of achieving this is war (which was current at this period of the great freedom war of Prussia against France and Fichte was one of the leading Prussian war philosophers). Please mention: the “individuality” shall disappear, not the “individuals” (that would be the concept of today’s mercy killers all over the so called “liberal world”, who regularly mix up the fighting of the illness (which is very difficult and expensive) with the fighting of the ill one (which is very effective and easy to provide)). To sum up the Fichtean dimension of war thinking, only in war man realises that kind of conditio humana which makes the atomistic individualism disappear and gives society a chance to build up a lawful community which can provide a mutual system of responsible freedom and respect towards the autonomy of the other, which is the basis for the possibility of my freedom.


Therefore, in opposition to Hegel, Fichte does not stress the social, but the individual dimension of warfare: the actual question until today is, whether there could be war in a society of individualistic egomaniacs. Fichte says it characteristic of wealthy nations to use foreign mercenaries. The society is at least in even better moral condition if it uses professional soldiers only of its own nationality and the real republican ethos is represented in an citizen-soldier-system. Because – and that is the central topic of Fichte’s political and moral philosophy – Fichte does not end stressing that Individualism has to be erased – and where do the hundred excuses of civilian practical constraints fade more effectively away than in a war where the pure existential dimension of humanity appears as being a rational finite being? To realise that each single man or woman is existentially dependent on each other shows a reality, which is no more visible in civilian liberal property states. And exactly these owners prefer paying for being defended instead of risking their own life to fight for their freedom. In contrast to Plato, for Fichte the professional soldier is not part of an intellectual elite of society, but someone who does a simple well-paid job like every other job, a job that nobody else in society wants to do. One should however not forget that Fichte gave with this argument a critical description of his age, while Plato draw an idealistic concept of how a reasonable community should look like. But Fichte showed too the role, warfare can play in order to produce moral elites in a present society, which he called the “Dilapidated Age”, whose dawn he saw coming by the fact that Germany wasn’t – even morally – able to resist the French attack. The 1000 year old Holy Roman Empire of German Nation simply disappeared in front of the self declared Emperor of the French. In those days lies, and that should not be forgotten, the birth-hour of the German nationalism, which didn’t exist before. So, war – well known father of all things – gave birth both to German Liberalism and to German Nationalism, a further point, one should not forget when reflecting about the dialectical implications of abstract political principals.




So far some milestones of philosophical reflections on the relation between the military and society. Let's briefly summarize, first of all, the most important results of our previous considerations, which may, put together, draw a usable outline of basic arguments dealing with the topic of this JSCOPE-conference:


1. Democratic Aristocratism: Guardship should be understood as a necessary component of the democratic-social elite formation.

2. Oligarchic Republicanism: Citizen-military should be understood as a necessary heart of political responsibility in deliberative democracies.

3. Republican Militarism: Citizen-military should be understood as a necessary heart instrument for political domination of democracies.

4. Republican Pacifism: Citizen-military should be understood as a necessary hindrance for aggressive politics.

5. Cultural Bellicism: War should be understood as a necessary momentum in the social process of development.

6. Dialectical Bellicism: War should be understood as social catharsis on the way from society to community.

7. Virtuous Bellicism: War should be understood as individual catharsis on the way from society to community.


Which conclusions shall be drawn now from these results for our question? It is the central insight that the military does not represent any contradiction to the “civilian society”, but it rather constitutes the heart of "republic". This text shall help to overcome the apparent tension between the military and the civil society. One has to realize the everlasting dialectical relationship between the military and the civil society. If not, an only formal-logical approach must necessarily lead – in case of its single-sided or linear way of consideration – to fundamental misunderstanding and political mistakes. We have therefore to consider the constitutive meaning of the military for a republican society and vice versa. And in this philosophical context “military” doesn’t only mean the troops, but also what makes a sum of similar dressed men and women an “army”, a organic unity. The core value behind this transformation is the radical form of solidarity, that means the readiness for killing and being killed to defend one’s country resp. community and the values it stands for. From this point of view, the question is not: military or society, but military in society. Besides the historical dimension of this dialectical relationship, there are also social and educational aspects of the military for modern deliberative democracies: the notion of political responsibility changes its meaning in a radical way, the question of social responsibility implies an existential depth of being or not being, or as one could put it: the military aspect of a society is by far not all, but without the military moment, no society will survive in the long run.


To line out these aspects from an idea-historical point of view was the aim of these lines. I can nothing but hope that these few remarks are likely to give reason at least for vehement discussion – in my opinion, more may not be expected from such a short paper.