Abstract: At the end of the 18th century, Revolution (both in political thought and also in practice - in America and France) became a new, dominant category. It redefined much else, including War. Revolution has remained important. But in the early 20th century, the political, industrial and technological capacities of western societies combined in a capacity for conducting war on a hitherto inconceivable scale of violence. At its core, World War One was the revelation of this new reality, which explains why it unleashed the forces that helped shape the rest of the century. War became the new dominant category, and it redefined much else, including Revolution. One might ask whether, between the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and 1923, when the cycle of violence surrounding World War One finally ended, war had not become the real revolution of the first half of the 20th century.
John Horne is a historian, emeritus Fellow and former Professor of Modern European History at Trinity College Dublin and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is a board member of the Research Centre at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne (France). In 2016-17 he was Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Oxford University. He is the author and editor of a number of books and over a hundred chapters and articles, many relating to the Great War. Among his latest publications are (ed.) A Companion to World War One (Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley, 2010); (ed.) Vers la guerre totale: le tournant de 1914-1915 (Paris, Tallandier, 2010); and with Robert Gerwarth, War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2012).