21 This maneuvering of mobilization by the mean of politicization by the German ruling class was successful and marked the triumph of nationalism before and during the interwar period which is a pre-condition for a war to break out. 22 While bureaucratization and technology have vastly extended the state’s capacity for surveillance and repression, mass involvement in the political process has made legitimacy, the consent of the ruled, an increasingly vital condition of the state’s effective operation.
Political mobilization as a process has acted to legitimize (or contest) the authority of regimes as well as to articulate interests within them. 23 Fritz Fischer however is of the opinion that Social Darwinism and militarist doctrines had affected Germany to become the leading economic and political power in Europe and to play a greater role in world politics; to achieve this goal she was willing to go to war. 24 Fischer’s critics however argue that Social Darwinism and militarism was not uniquely a German phenomenon, but plague other European nations as well.
25 This is agreeable as military race among European powers such France, Britain, Italy and Russia was already at its rapid pace waiting to explode. Perhaps the synthesis of the two arguments; nationalism and Social Darwinism can be used to explain what generated the mass to mobilize in Germany that led to the Great War to break out. Believing that Germany must either grow or die, nationalists pressed the government to build a powerful navy, acquire colonies, gain a much greater share of the world’s markets and expand German interests and influence in Europe.
Sometimes these goals were expressed in the language of Social Darwinism: nations are engaged in an eternal struggle for survival and domination. 26 Furthermore the militant nationalists preached, the special destiny of the German race and advocated German expansion in Europe and overseas. Decisive victories against Austria (1866) and France (1871), the formation of the German Reich, rapid industrialization, and the impressive achievements of German science and scholarship had molded a powerful and dynamic nation.
Imbued with great expectations for the future, Germans became increasingly impatient to see the fatherland gain its “rightful” place in world affairs – an attitude that alarmed non-Germans. 27 War had mobilized European working class and turned their allegiance to their fatherland respectively. ‘Even the socialists, who had pledge their loyalty to an international worker’s movement, devoted themselves to their respective nations’.
28 Perhaps it can be argued that at this point the celebration or welcoming of war by the German working class they naively saw as an opportunity for a change for they are tired of the striking gap between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. On the eve of the War, ‘the workers formed a quite clearly identifiable, excluded and underprivileged group’. 29 War was even celebrated, ‘war and its violence seemed to offer an escape from the dull routine of classroom, job and home and from the emptiness, drabness, mediocrity, and pettiness of bourgeois society’.
30 Patriotic and nationalistic sentiments swept across Europe and cemented people into a collectivity ready to commit to the nation. The youth had been indoctrinated with strong nationalist sentiment, beliefs and myths that were designed in state-directed education curriculum to create social cohesion. 31 Amidst the World War I, propaganda machines garnered complete mobilization of the mass and at this time, not only the general German nation is united but also other European nations outside Germany as part of her Central Power allies vis-i??
-vis the Entente Powers are plunged into a psychological warfare. 32 Germany and her allies, as the undisputed aggressor was effectively depicted as the bad guy on war posters. In psychological warfare, ‘truth’, ‘ethics’, ‘authority, ‘morality’ have no place in the dictionary of mass propaganda. 33 Another mechanism for mass mobilization was the indiscriminate and impersonal general mass conscription that consequently made the line between combatant and civilian blurred, hence the very large scale of casualties in the Great War.
34 H. G Wells once argues, mass mobilization legitimizes civilians as targets. Wartime mobilization and Revolution in Germany In Germany in 1916, in the midst of the Great War, German males between seventeen and sixty were required to work only for war effort. 35 Labor was ranked among soldiers and sailors in their importance as vital resource in World War I and was fully exploited by the state and factory employers in the relentless effort to keep the army in the field supplied with bullets, shells, and uniforms. 36
This massive exploitation of workers had plunged Germany and other European countries into another series of workers’ strikes. The scenarios especially were rampant in German industrial cities. Like the situation before the war, issues of great concern were about “bread and butter” and added by other critical problems between the military and industry (workers) as question such as ‘why they should make sacrifices to save a state which was in no way representative of their interests on account of its undemocratic structure’. In this sense, workers were also concerned about political reforms that could affect them.
War was fought and ended with bitter result, German economy was drained, grudges were still held among the general German working class and to a large extent the middle class sectors who were directly or indirectly affected by the war economically. The most significant repercussion of the war had on the workers was the radicalization of certain sections of European labor movements and created factions between labor movements and class tensions. 37 This radicalization ultimately changes the course of German mass mobilization.
Problems such as, food shortage, inflation, longer working hours, increased governmental regulation of mobility and overtaxing were all factors that served to fuel working class ranging from those in industries, farmers, miners and to bitterly resent the state. 38 Workers demanded that the State intervened more, unable to address to all their demands, German state faced massive unrest and complete anarchy when laws were not obeyed hence the fast disappearing of confidence in the government and in September 1918, a workers assembly at Stuttgart concluded the helplessness of the government.
39 With the participations of Proletarian councilmen, returning veterans, fiery socialist orators, collective action was carried out in November 1918 marking a German revolution and the decline of Weimar Republic’s power for a formation of a more egalitarian “people’s state” or Volkstaat. 40 From 1918 until 1920 marked the period of people’s pressure when the Wilhelmine government had to surrender to the populist demand for more effective representation and more say in the government policy and decision making. 41 Mass Mobilization in Italy.
Italy before 1914 had already faced domestic problems resulting from her conquest of Libya in 1911. The conquest of Libya drained her economy and exhausted her army. At home, she was deeply troubled by the resentments of the socialists and anarchists that weakened her industry and population boom exacerbated her domestic problem where development was not equal and Italians were not united under the rule of the house of Savoy. 42 Hence it is strongly argued that Italy’s participation in the World War to was a suicide.
Italy’s problem at home was quite similar to that of Germany. Class struggle, strikes and riots, overwhelmingly elitist parliamentary system not only challenged the political integrity of the ruling elite and her political stability, but had also affected her international affairs when France, due to Italy’s own problem at home, had his hands in Tunisia in North Africa Italy considered to be her zone of influence. 43 A transformist government was created to suppress unrest at home and asserted Italy’s interests abroad.
44 This scenario not only marked an aggressive politicization of the masses but on the other hand, also provoked collective action among the Italian people and provided a seedbed for future Italian fascism. Describing scenario before the World War I, Alexander De Grand argues, Italian socio-political and economic landscape should be looked upon from two angles, the ruling class and the general Italian mass and the relationship between the two. The gap was extremely wide, the general mass of Italian society were poor, illiterate and had no participation nor say in the national politics contrary to the ruling elite.
45 Four groups made up Italian socio-political structure, namely, the political class, dominant interest groups, the intermediate elite, and the mass base. 46 Strained relationship between and within each of these levels of Italian society had caused unrest and later provided seedbed for the Italian Fascism. 47 Mass mobilization in Italy started with passive Sicilian peasants revolt in 1893-4 and in 1898 an organized workers’ riot in Milan and other cities.
48 Massive shortage of food especially staple food like bread, overtaxing by the state, other oppression on farmers was the major cause for violent protest took place as early as 1891, however efforts were made by Pope Leo XIII who pleaded for workers’ wages to be increased and improvement in child and female labor welfare. 49 Dissatisfaction among Italian workers and peasants also stemmed from burdening tax imposed on them by the ruling class, or the provincial governments.