The People in Arms: Military Myth and National Mobilization since the French Revolution

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The People in Arms, first published in 2002, is concerned with the mass mobilization of society for war. It takes as its starting point the French levee en masse of 1793, which replaced former theories and regulations concerning the obligation of military service with a universal concept more encompassing in its moral claims than any that had prevailed under the Ancien Regime. The levee en masse has accordingly gone down in history as a spontaneous, free expression of the French people's ideals and enthusiasm. It also became a crucial source for one of the most powerful organizing myths of modern politics: that compulsory, mass social mobilizations merely express, and give effective form to, the wishes or higher values of society and its members. The aim of the papers presented here is to analyse and compare episodes in which this distinctive ideological configuration has played a leading role.