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Bell's Argument Analysis

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I do think that how civilians are viewed and treated in war can be indicative of whether one side or both are pursuing total war. However, Bell’s argument is fairly weak on this point, which is an issue as he spends so much time defending it. As he notes, during the ancien régime generals wanted to avoid battles and fight them with well-trained forces. If well trained forces existed, and they obviously did, it stands to reason there was already some civilian/military divide in European society. While I can’t speak for Bell, he seems to be trying to make the argument that a clear distinction first needed to be made in society and it needed to hold some relevance. Before the eighteenth-century wars could cause significant harm to civilian populations,…show more content…
The first is that he has already stated the frequency of battles declined during the eighteenth century and that by the mid-1700’s armies tried to leave civilian populations alone. This undermines his argument that the civilian/military distinction did not exist in the minds of aristocrats. Perhaps it did not exist in their personal lives, but they evidentially understood that it applied to the lower classes in some way. Similarly, the way he presents the acceptance and blurring of that distinction in the military makes it appears this shift happened quickly in the years just before and during the Revolution. However, his second chapter spends a lot of time tracing the philosophical development this concept over the course of the previous century, creating a jarring sort of interpretation of his evidence. Overall, Jeremy, I think Bell makes some interesting points, but his argument about the growing distinction between military and civilian lives struggles to hold its weight because of these…show more content…
Perhaps it does less to create a military sub-culture, but it would have had an impact on how civilians-turned-soldiers viewed war and military life and as a result how they viewed civilian life. Similarly, the rhetoric about military and civilian life changed. Edmond Dubois-Crancé believed all citizens needed to be soldiers for France to have a constitution. While this did not happen, it does demonstrate changes in cultural thought about who should be in the military and what their motive should be. If all citizens should be a soldier, or by extension help the war effort in whatever way they can, Dubois-Crancé appears to have advocated for an early version of societal mobilization, and he wasn’t the only one. I agree that professionalization had a profound influence on the developing military sub-culture, but conscripted soldiers would help to develop the broader civilian culture’s responses and reactions to military
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