The Collision of Modern and Post-Modern War

Christopher Coker

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The Collision of Modern and Post-Modern War


The ‘modern’ is not something that the security community has found very important. By contrast, the world of literary criticism has traded in several variants of the term to identify the arts of the time: ‘the modern movement’, ‘the modern tradition’, ‘the modern age’, ‘the modern century’, ‘the modern temper’, ‘modernism’, or just simply ‘the modern’. Political scientists too have been preoccupied for some time with marking out the parameters of the modern world. When it comes to the oldest word of all, the modern, the fact that we have to define it may be a sign that it is finally over. It was only with the Enlightenment that the term ‘modern’ came to acquire its present meaning in the sense of a qualitative claim about ‘newness’—namely that the age was not only different from everything that had gone before, but also superior. The modern age, in a word, was acutely self-conscious. The Enlightenment was aware of making history—its own and everyone else's. In time, terms such as ‘revolution’, ‘progress’, ‘development’, ‘Zeitgeist’, and even ‘history’ itself were invested with an importance that stemmed from the fact that everything was unprecedented.

Keywords: modern; Enlightenment; self-conscious; revolution; progress; post-modern wars

Article.  6438 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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