The concept of " Assent patriotique" was developed by a group of historians attached to the historical Research center of Historial de Péronne among which one can quote French Jean-Jacques Becker, Annette Becker and Stephan Audoin-Rouzeau. He is formulated in particular by these two last in the work 14-18, Retrouver the war (Paris, Gallimard, 2000).
The concept of assent patriotic relates to the war of 1914-1918. It supports that the attachment with the Nation and the will to gain the war and to protect the fatherland against the enemy prevailed within the European companies but also of the fighting troops on the sufferings endured by the combat and the deprivations.
This idea can explain why the release of the first world war was accommodated without panic in 1914 in the majority of the belligerent States, even caused enthusiastic reactions in certain places or mediums (big cities in particular). It is translated at the political level by the installation in the various countries concerned of governments of Sacred union, where the political disagreements are put on side, the whole of the political community making common front.
The historians who diffused the term of " assent patriotique" in make the explanatory factor determining of the tenacity of the populations during the war, in particular of the combatants. Indeed, in first analysis, the war is prolonged without meeting organized oppositions of great width. A counterexample is however that of the Russia with the Révolution Bolshevik. This one is certainly related to the particular context of this postponed country, which was precisely always an empire much more than one nation, and where the modern economy and the State are much more fragile than elsewhere. But one cannot detach the Revolution of the context of the Great War which started it.
Accordingly, the assent is known as " patriotique" because supported on a Nationalism explicitly carrying hatred towards the diabolized enemy, which would confirm a certain number of " cruel practices " noted either on the face, or against the invaded civil populations (Rape S, massacres of whole villages, destruction useless, burned ground).
The discussion criticizes historians
The concept of assent patriotic, sometimes diffused in the media and teaching, is recognized by part of the community even European French historian. However, of many researchers discussed this term and the vision of the fighting companies which it conveys. One can quote among them Antoine Prost, Frederic Rousseau or Rémy Cazals. A group of historians in particular attached to moderate the thesis of the " assent patriotique" the day in 2005 under the name of CRID 14-18 saw.
The critical discussion, often virulent, relates to several points :
the fact that the sources which support the thesis of the “assent” come mainly from the elites, the intellectuals and the back, without taking into account very many testimonys of combatants who can show indifference towards the patriotisme ;
the reducing aspect of a thesis which makes beliefs and representations of the individuals (their patriotism) the ultimate spring of their control without paying attention to the social interactions (discipline, friendship etc) by which builds the obéissance ;
- including character of the thesis which assigns with all Europeans same a " consentement" without taking into account the national differences:
- patriotism is thus negligible or absent for the Slavic populations of the Austria-Hungary, which reason in terms of traditional fidelity to the Emperor, or for the population of the Italy, very mainly hostile with the entry in war in 1915),
- nor the social origins and the position (with the face, with the back) of different the acteurs ;
- the minimization of the various forms of resistance (Mutiny, strategies of avoidance (the fact of seeking an assignment with the back for example) or compromises (fraternizations and tacit agreements) which frequently lead the combatants to try to decrease the violence of the conflict.
- the absence of analysis of excesses of the military justice whose most significant example are the Soldats shot for the example.
Sometimes one opposes to the school of the “assent” a school of the “constraint”, represented by many historians and in particular by the members of the international collective of research and debate on the war 1914-1918.
Certain work however showed that the genesis of the supervening of the First World War comprises objective elements: the caste peerage-book of Germany and Austria, with the brutal support of the pangermanists mediums of these two countries clearly acted during the months which preceded release by the war.
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