The manner of waging war transforms with every transformation of the state model (Many people say that it’s the other way round: the state form follows the changes in the ways of waging war. Ultimately, the warfare methods are indissolubly linked to the state model, no matter what “comes first.”)
As we discussed before, the nation-state model arose, to a significant degree, in response to a need to find a less costly way than any that had existed before to wage war on an unprecedented scale. This goal was achieved in full, as we all know from the example of the two world wars. Without the nation-state, this kind of warfare would not be possible.
As the nation-state withers away and a new state form comes to replace it, warfare changes as well. Today we are seeing a gradual consolidation of what I call “consumerist warfare.” (This is just my own term. Other people use different terminology. In Ukraine, for instance, it is called “hybrid warfare.”) Here are some of the characteristics of consumerist warfare:
- every attempt is made to take the warfare as far away from the consumer-citizens as possible. (Russians, for instance, first brought the war to Ukraine, where the Russian citizens would not see it and then took it even farther away, to Syria.) Of course, this is a luxury that only some states can afford. There will be a huge stratification among the states that can take their warfare far away and those who have to host the battlefield. As you know, this was not the case for the nation-state, which saw the greatest casualties to the civilians of the warring countries in human history.
- warfare is made as impersonal as possible through the use of technology (drones, airstrikes, terror attacks, etc.)
- the success of war effort hinges on the warring parties’ capacity to deploy non-military resources (economy, propaganda, social media.) A country that is much weaker in military terms can now win the war if it uses these non-military resources effectively.
- the surveillance state model flourishes because it’s easy to justify it by the fear that outsourced warfare can come back in the form of terror attacks;
- consumer-citizens participate in the warfare through safe, sanitized long-distance means. They can experience the benefits of the war (adrenaline, excitement, a legitimate way of releasing their aggressive impulses, feelings of heroic abnegation) without having to risk their lives. Once again, this is something that citizens of more advanced consumer societies can afford better than citizens of less advanced consumer societies.
- societies that cannot afford to export their wars far away can assign the status of a permanent war zone to a territory within the state or close by. Consumer-citizens will use it in the same way as I described in the preceding point but, of course, it will not be as safe and cheap for them.
- since mass conscription is not needed in this model, both the state’s interest in regulating the morality of consumer-citizens and its interest in guaranteeing their welfare will diminish. A state that outsources war also outsources its welfare system (to private companies, beneficent individuals, collective efforts by volunteers, etc.).
I think we can all agree that much of this is already happening.