Department of Political Science

Linking Political Systems and War Systems: systemic risks, paradoxes and blind spots

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  • Department of Political Science

Decisive parts of the Western political system have demonstrated a seemingly surprising misinterpretation of military might. As Madelaine Albright has suggested, the mighty perceived themselves as "almighty". Political power seems to have invested in instrumental coercive power relations and found military coercion to be the appropriate mean. Using the system theory and the theory of systemic risks displayed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann the article demonstrates how military systems due to their own autonomy and autopoiesis do not fit into the idea of political government. The Clausewitzian ideal of a political system that could continue its power games by means of war was moderated by Clausewitz' own analysis of "friction". How can a political system be so blind towards the possibilities of another system? What are the risks of systemic blind spots? The argument of the paper proceeds using actual as well as historical materials inside the framework of recent system theory.


Original languageEnglish
JournalForum on Public Policy
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • System theory, Niklas Luhmann, Clausewitz, John Boyd, Revolution in Military Affairs, 4th Generation Warfare, political systems, military systems, risk

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