Department of Political Science

Gorm Harste

Critique of the War Reason: A Perspective on Self-referential Systems, 11th-21th Centuries

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

This paper is a summary of my 700 pages very academic thesis, in Danish, to be published at Aarhus University Press. A shorter booklet is published at AUP too (nov. 2014, 250 pages) and a number of shorter articles are published in English, French and German. In Luhmann’s systems theory, and in social theory and sociology as well, there is a missing link in the lack of a sociology of war. A number of German systems theoreticians use Luhmann’s theory to fulfil that gap (Gertrud Brücher; Krysztof Matuszek; Rasmus Beckmann; Barbara Kuchler; Tobias Kohl; Klaus Dammann) Luhmann (born 1927), who was soldier and prisoner of war from age 15-17, would not write a “Der Krieg der Gesellschaft”.
Yet the attempt to narrow this lacuna is indeed a heavy burden and a difficult task, in which, firstly, it is methodologically decisive to get the basic distinctions right about a second order observation of war as a conflict system – to be distinct from a military organisational system. This, I do initially with a reconceptualization of Carl von Clausewitz’ form analysis and self-description of war from Vom Kriege (1832).
The central point, then, is to observe the self-reference of war, or how war became war about war. Conflict is basically a problem of essentially contested communication.
Once this historical self-reference was established around the 17th century, war, thirdly, became delimited by its structural couplings to religion, mass media (propaganda), finance, welfare for victims and veterans, law, politics and other functional systems. The costs of war increased, reconstituted and transformed modern society in a way that has formed a range of risks and – of course – neglected blind spots.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventConflicting Systems - InterUniversity Centre (IUC), Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 14 Sep 201518 Sep 2015


ConferenceConflicting Systems
LocationInterUniversity Centre (IUC)

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