It was not alone the technical difficulties and the political and social risks attendant on militias, nor mercantilist theories, nor their drive towards absolutism that led the German princes to develop long-serving professional armies as their favored military instrument, but also the unwillingness of their subjects to take up arms. By the eighteenth century the militia had become a discredited concept in the German states, leading only the most shadowy of existences beside the mercenaries and the forcibly enrolled peasants who made up the armed power of the state. Peter Paret, Understanding War, p 43With Revolutionary France under pressure, conscription quickly became a necessity. The Constitution of 1793 proclaimed the army not the instrument of a monarch, but the very embodiment of national will, representing and comprising the nation as a whole. Along with the vote every Frenchman was also obligated to military service. This is the first instance where "the army as the school of the nation" is mentioned and that by the radical left. Between 1800 and 1815 over two million Frenchmen were conscripted, while only 52,000 volunteered. After a time, those with means were again allowed to provide a substitute of course, and there was the National Guard for internal policing, membership in which favored the middle class. There was also resistance/desertion as Clausewitz knew having seen shackled French conscripts being led through the streets during his time as a prisoner of war. Still the French experience during the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars is a turning point in not only the history of citizen/state relations, but in state cohesion as well as military affairs. Popular participation (if not wholely enthusiastic) in warfare had helped to create a new dynamic. This would probably not have been apparent to say a French administrator in a medium-sized French town as he experienced some of the daily details, but the cumulative effect, as experienced say by a Prussian officer having been on the receiving end of what this had ushered forth would see it all quite differently:
By this participation of the people in war, instead of a cabinet and an army, a whole nation with its natural weight entered the scale. Henceforward, the means available - the efforts which might be called forth - had no longer any definite limits; the energy with which the war itself could be conducted had no longer any counterpoise, and and consequently the danger for the adversary had risen to the extreme. If the whole war of the Revolution ran its course without all this making itself felt in its full force and becoming quite evident; if the generals of the Revolution did not advance irresistibly up the final aim and lay in ruins the monarchies of Europe; if German armies now and again had the opportunity of resisting with success and checking the torrent of victory - the cause really lay in that technical imperfection with which the French had to contend, which showed itself first among the common soldiers, then in the generals, lastly, at the time of the Directory, in the government itself. After everything had been perfected by the hand of Bonaparte, this military power, based on the strength of the whole nation, marched shattering over Europe with such confidence and certainty that wherever it only encountered the old-fashioned armies the result was never even for a moment doubtful. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Book VIII Chapter 3B (Jolles translation)From this quote we can see that this new dynamic required three interrelated elements: First an ideologically inspired population, a mass of citizenry willing to serve what they saw as the common interests of the state to the point of offering their lives in their attainment. Second, a functioning administrative apparatus to control the entire enterprise along with the ability to implement reforms and corrections. Third and finally, the military genius who recognizes the new possibilities and is able to exploit them to the fullest. Let's expand a bit on this first element. Attempt to initiate our string of ideal types . . . Fundamentally we are talking about an "ideologically inspired population", that is a moral cohesion of the modern world, what Clausewitz saw as corresponding to the conditions of early 19th Century Europe, rather than earlier forms of moral cohesion which we'll label as "tribalism" or simply what holds a pre-modern community together. In the earlier paper linked at the beginning of this paragraph, I made the distinction between two types of moral cohesion and a single type of material cohesion. There is the moral cohesion of the pre-modern political community (remember when dealing with ideal types we attempt to extenuate existing conditions/circumstances theoretically assuming that they could either expand or contract without assuming that there is no mixture in reality with other ideal types). A strategic theorist must continuously push the boundaries, given the fluid nature of our domestic political relations. More on that later. So the existing pre-modern moral cohesion of the community (religion, tradition, guild associations, clan affinities, "tribalism") form the basis of political relations. It is these existing political relations that have to confront the second type of moral cohesion, or not. The second type of moral cohesion is that specifically associated with modern ideologies, and further what Jacques Ellul refers to as the Technological Society. In terms of conscription, the main distinction between the two is that modern moral cohesion allows for mass mobilization, the mobilization of the nation in service of the state, which is not possible to anything like the same degree with pre-modern moral cohesion, since the various elements of pre-modern cohesion, religion, family, tradition, and the rest tend to dilute and dissipate support of the nation/state. The basic distinction between moral and material cohesion, although there is naturally a good bit of overlap, is that while the former satisfies values, the latter satisfies interest. Material cohesion consists of institutions, constitutions, codes of rational law, various administrative apparatuses that allow political communities to harness resources and create power. It is important here to keep in mind that we are no talking about "material" things at all. Not buildings, weapons, factories or ships, but rather motivations, habits and belief systems that orientate and spur social action, that is human activity oriented towards other people. I will end part I here with the mass mobilization of revolutionary France. Clausewitz's view will follow in part II and finally part III will delve into the current US debate . . . it's going to be fun.