Techno-Politics in the Age of the Great War 1900–1930

Konferenz vom IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften an der Kunstuniversität Linz | IFK Wien

Donnerstag, 11. Oktober - Freitag, 12. Oktober 2012

World War I was a European war over the future of the world. But the futures of the world that emerged from the war, including a yet more deadly war and a long period of cold confrontation, were quite unlike anything the belligerents, high and low, had expected. It is to the futures of this violent past that the series of three conferences on The Time for Destruction is dedicated.

The capacity to mobilize and organize and, more so, to maximize the forces of destruction–what the Greeks called techne and what we call techno-politics–is the subject of the second conference in the IFK conference series “A Time for Destruction.” The focus of the first day is on the mobilization for war at home and at the front as well as the kind of “frictions” an ever more comprehensive mobilization generated–as well as the evasions and resistances mobilization engendered. The focus of the second day is on the effort to harness and to tame the seemingly limitless capacity of destruction. Common soldiers everywhere suspected that techne, the capacity to maximize force, had become an end in itself that the “perfection of technology” (Friedrich Georg Jünger) had turned both into the end and the means of war. They had a point in blaming their generals. However, there was more purpose to destruction than met their eye, because the future of Europe depended on it. By the same token, there were extensive considerations and debates on how to tame or channel violence. Peace-making and law-making, in other words, were integral parts of mobilizing for and fighting war. We might want to doubt the success of containing violence and bringing the Great War to a conclusion. However, the struggles were as important as the outcomes, because they set the tone and the agenda for the rest of the century.