Pure War

Concept used by Paul Virilio in comparison to Simple War and Total War.

Curtis White summarizes : Virilio argues that the history of western societies is really the history of their militaries. The social hardly counts at all for him except as a consequence of the military. According to Virilio, we have moved on from a time in which we had Simple War which was limited and tactical. War was once something that happened outside of the moat or city wall or Maginot Line, on this side of which civilian life went its way with its own priorities. War gave way to Total War, which overwhelmed the entirety of the social system as well as the economic and industrial capacity of the state because of its need for ever faster and more powerful war technology and its need to supply the logistical demands of its dispersed military presence. Total War is about logistics, not battlefield tactics. The American Civil War inaugurated Total War and the two World Wars fulfilled it. Beyond Total War is Pure War. In Pure War the state is on an implicit war footing even in times of "peace." (I suppose we know this condition best as the Cold War.) Technology, the media, industrial production, the economy and certainly politics are first about a war so diffuse and ubiquitous that few people even recognize it for what it is.


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