Tropos Kynikos: Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk

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66   The Deserts of Bohemia

being inaugurated in the seventeenth seventeenth century by the rise of mechanistic natural science and by the removal of all 'conventions' hampering this release of power— the transvaluation of all values in the name of power."50 The essential novelty of the war lies, according to Patočka, in its total character. If the nineteenth century could still differentiate between war and peace (in both space and time), the twentieth century erased this comfortable divi­sion. In order to manage, in a time of conflict, its finite resources most ef­ficiently (along the lines of industrial production), the state was trans­formed into a huge monofunctional machine designed for an exclusive end: to vanquish the enemy. Entire populations were marshaled to partic­ipate in the war effort; and the generation on the home front of all the products necessary for the successful conduct of warfare became as im­portant for strategists as the fighting itself. This in turn justified the tar­geting of civilian populations as legitimate objects of military action.

Military hostilities might have ended on the fields of Europe in 1918, but the war did not, Patocka argues. The traumas of the previous four years gave rise to grandiose political projects that were meant to organize society in ways that would eradicate all future conflict. Yet this "struggle for peace," as the term intimates, was engendered by the same bellicose spirit as the phenomenon it aimed to eradicate: the will to destroy the foes of peace by any means and at any cost. The two twentieth-century Euro­pean experiments with totalitarianism give vivid testimony to this men­tality. We should not forget that it was its nonnegotiable demand to stop the war immediately that gained the Communist Party many supporters in Russia in 1917. And, by the same token, it was the Nazis' quest for a "just peace" (rectifying the "diktat" of Versailles) in .the 1920S that made them popular among the German population. The social engineering that appeared in Europe on a grand scale after World War I was obviously in­spired by the new management of military affairs. States were conceived of as bulwarks of a single, apodictic Weltanschauung, and they were orga­nized to guarantee their success in competition with other states and ide­ologies. This entailed, among other things, a strictly hierarchical chain of command with an extensive bureaucracy transmitting orders from the leadership to the masses, compulsory loyalty to the state reinforced by a strong repressive apparatus, a bipolar division of the world into allies and enemies, and the reduction of the citizenry to a mere dispensable materiel for achieving the state's strategic objectives.

The novelistic universe of Hasek's text, born from its author's involve­ment in the war and (as Kosík asserts) the Communist revolution, contains in a more or less inchoate form all the etatist

50 Jan Patočka, Kacířské eseje o filozofii dějin (Munich, 1980), p. 122; Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History, trans. E. Kohák (Chicago, 1996), p. 124.

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