Department of Political Science

Gorm Harste

Military Revolution, Organisational Revolutions...and Other Revolutions: How to study the emergence of self-seference in systems

Research output: Working paperResearch

  • Department of Political Science

This paper is a continuation of Kantian peace and war analysis, but with other means. The paper is part of an effort to establish a systemic theory of state-formation based on the description of the emergence of a number of functional systems. In a historical perspective the military system was dominant in the establishment of the European State-model as well as it has a decisive role in the stabilisation of recent states. Using Niklas Luhmann's system theory that does not describes neither military systems nor the emergence of a organisational system, the present paper outlines a system theoretical perspective on the present and historical transformations of military systems. One the one hand the paper offers a systemic criticism of the recent so called revolution in military affairs (RMA), on the other hand the historical establishment of a self-referential form of the military system is analysed. A central question is how much a revolution in military systems involves revolutions in other systems. The core of the problem exposed is that a self-referential system primarily is able to observe itself and not its environment; in an important sense it looses its sense of reality. Now, paradoxically this blindness is inherent in the RMA as a revolution in information technology since that revolution has been observed as so overwhelmingly important that harsh political realities in other systems have been ignored. How come?  And what is the consequence? The consequence or next revolution might very well be that of enforced use of private military companies (PMCs). What form do they have?


Original languageEnglish
PublisherInstitut for Statskundskab
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

military revolution, Luhmann, system theory, historical socilogy, PMC, financial revolution

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ID: 4157602