“Citizen Clausewitz”: Aron’s Clausewitz in Defense of Political Freedom

  • Joël Mouric
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)


In the Aronian interpretation of Clausewitz’s thought, the essential fact is that war is by nature a political act, and this political nature may limit the violence of war. If it is not surprising that Raymond Aron, awakened to political philosophy by the experience of “chain-wars,”1 was led to such a conclusion, it is, however, surprising that he discovered its best example in the thought of the Prussian general. In fact, Clausewitz was considered the ultimate reference for practitioners of total war, from Ludendorff to Hitler. Cornered in the bunker, it was in Clausewitz that the latter found the ultimate justification for his obstinacy.2 Lenin and Mao Zedong were also avid readers of Clausewitz. If their interest in the theorist strengthened that of Raymond Aron, none of them was distinguished by moderation. In fact, Clausewitz himself wrote that “to introduce the principle of moderation into the theory of war itself would always lead to logical absurdity.”3 Despite the warning of Clausewitz, who stated that by destruction (Vernichtung) we do not mean outright annihilation but rather disarmament or putting the enemy out of combat,4 it is often through direct experience, and therefore for the worse, that his lesson has been learned, since the Wilhelmine era.5 For Basil Liddell Hart, Clausewitz, the “Mahdi of the masses,” “carried away by his passion for pure logic,”6 erected it into a dogma that the destruction of enemy forces would be the only purpose of strategy.


Political Freedom Ultimate Justification Avid Reader Racial Community American Strategy 
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© José Colen and Elisabeth Dutartre-Michaut 2015

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  • Joël Mouric

There are no affiliations available

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