The Birth of Militarism in the Age of Democratic Revolutions

  • David A. Bell
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


In the year 1813, as Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire was crumbling, Benjamin Constant issued one of the earliest and most powerful condemnations of what we now call militarism. It was highly dangerous, he warned, ‘to create in a country … a large mass of men imbued with an exclusively military spirit’. Would these men, at the end of a war, shed their attitudes along with their uniforms? To the contrary, ‘those without weapons strike them as an ignoble mob, laws as useless subtleties … opposition as disorder and reasoning as revolt’. Constant insisted that in a modern world of constitutional regimes and commerce, a military ‘spirit of conquest’was a menacing vestige of an earlier age.1


Military Service Military Coup Moral Superiority Civilian Control Democratic Revolution 
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© David A. Bell 2016

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  • David A. Bell

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