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date: 18 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Leon Trotsky (1879–1940) once took off on Heraclitus (c. 520–c. 460 BC) and declared that “war is the locomotive of history.” This chapter maintains that the continual war that took place in North-Western Europe did indeed produce fundamental social change, in contrast to the greater stability of the major agrarian civilizations. Fighting led over time to the building of powerful nation states, which then lorded it over much of the rest of the world. But an institutional pattern that was progressive in one set of circumstances can prove to be disastrous in others. In a democratic, nationalist, and industrial age war without limit proved so horrendous that it knocked Europe off its perch as the leading edge of world power. The chapter concludes with a description of the institutional changes that have transformed Europe into a zone of peace.

Keywords: war, state building, state transformation, Europe, state history

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