Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Michael Meng

Committee Member

Michael Silvestri

Committee Member

Rebecca Stoil


This thesis will examine World War I from an ideological perspective through the lens of Carl Schmitt. The Central Powers and in particular how Germany represented Romanticism,Social Darwinism,militarism,and tradition more broadly; at the same time however Germany also paradoxically represented modernism and nationalism sometimes called Reactionary Modernism as all of these ideas were the key to German unification in 1871. The Entente powers and especially France and Britain represented liberalism,empiricism,rationalism, stoicism, and internationalism. The philosophical ideas of stoicism and classicism can especially be seen in Britain where the idea of a stiff upper lip and maintaining peace and order were prevalent. Those in charge of their respective nations believed that they were fighting for these ideas and sought to cement them as the dominant ideas in Europe. In France’s case, the right also sought to build a conservative Europe much different from that of Germany’s. The Europe of the French right was one of medieval tradition and the rejection of German nationalism. This would mean the dominance of the traditional European powers including France. The French Left meanwhile had similar goals to the British in that they sought a new liberal and internationalist order. They also sought to spread the ideas of the French Revolution and save Europe from conservative tyranny such as that of Germany. This shows World War I as a conflict of identity in Europe. This identity war can be seen by looking at the war through the ideas of Carl Schmitt.



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