Nov 26, 2010

Militarism and Authoritarianism of world war one

Militarism and Authoritarianism :world war one

President of the United States Woodrow Wilson and many Americans blamed the war on militarism, and this was a theme that figured prominently in anti-German propaganda throughout France, Great Britain and, from 1915 onwards, in the United States. The idea was that the Kaiser Wilhelm II and his autocratic Prussian government had a thirst for military power and glory, and such goals took priority over the needs and wishes of the people. The implication was that a "democratic" government would not have instigated the war, as it was widely proposed that Germany was ultimately responsible. True peace required the abdication of such rulers, the end of the aristocratic system, and consequently, the end of militarism. Wilson fought a "war to end all wars", explaining, "I cannot consent to take part in the negotiation of a peace which does not include freedom of the seas because we are pledged to fight not only to do away with Prussian militarism but with militarism everywhere. Neither could I participate in a settlement which did not include league of nations because peace would be without any guarantee except universal armament which would be intolerable." [October 30, 1918 in Herbert Hoover, Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson p 47] Wilson also acknowledged what he called British and French militarism, hoping his plans for the League of Nations would be able to secure a permanent peace.

Naval supremacy was a goal of Britain and Germany, both following American Admiral Mahan's influential thesis that control of the oceans was vital to a great nation, which therefore had to have a great fleet. In the context of the social-Darwinistic spirit in Germany, economic and military conflict between "races" or nationalities was seen to be inevitable by many military leaders, and the prestige of attaining to or preserving world power was an important consideration for politicians not only for relative international power considerations but domestic satisfaction ones. Germany's decision to increase its navy might is the prime example of this. Not only did increasing naval might serve to channel latent industrial potential into increasing relative power and eroding Britain's hegemony of the seas, the navy served as a national icon which could harness domestic aspirations for "weltmacht" or world power status. However, this led to military rivalry with Britain, which in turn increased its naval might and became less and less favorable toward Germany

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