When is it legally acceptable to wage war and what is just in a war? These questions appear holier-than-thou in view of the enormous suffering that war brings with it. And yet, wars never take place in a complete legal vacuum. Rather the opposite is the case.
The First World War and the special measures announced in connection with it led to a hitherto unseen level of militarisation. Basic civil rights were considerably reduced, public opinion was subject to censorship and propaganda, economic and administrative competences were shifted to the military authorities, and military justice was extended to civilian affairs.
The anti-militarist movement in Bohemia illustrates how ambivalent and complicated the relationship was between the military, politics and society within the multinational Habsburg Monarchy.
The consequences of the often brutal training of soldiers and the way in which the military encroached increasingly on other social spheres are illustrated by the questions in parliament regarding suicides in the Austro-Hungarian army. They were often preceded by brutality. The military authorities tried to repel the criticism by referring to contemporary ideas of psychophysiological pathology.
The military systematically employed physical and psychological violence to train and tame recruits. Humiliation, threats and drastic physical punishments were daily occurrences. Although public criticism prompted various reforms, they were not necessarily felt in daily life in the barracks.
The introduction of universal conscription marked the start of the fundamental militarisation of society in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. At the same time, public awareness of the military changed: from a dubious place for forcibly conscripted lower classes to a respected “school of the nation”.
The systematic promotion of the military began under Maria Theresa and was to make it in the following decades into a commanding instrument of power. The wars with revolutionary France marked a new development in militarism, which also affected the Habsburg Monarchy.
What do "militarisation" and “militarism” mean? Can a clear distinction be made between the two terms? And when does the social militarisation process take place? At all events, the formation of modern states is closely linked with this process.