total war

(redirected from Total warfare)

total war

the form of modern warfare in which whole populations may be subject to mobilization either as soldiers or as labour, and in which whole populations are regarded as legitimate targets. Air warfare is a significant feature of modern warfare compared with the more limited conventional warfare of previous eras. However, the onset of mass CITIZENSHIP, and nationalist ideologies and citizen armies is equally significant.

Total War


an imperialist war that subordinates to its own interests the entire life and economy of a nation, using the crudest means to defeat and destroy both the armed forces and the civilian population of the enemy. The theory of total war was first set forth in 1935 by the German general E. Ludendorff. It became the basis of fascist Germany’s doctrine of war and was applied by the fascist Germans during World War II.

References in periodicals archive ?
It's not all about total warfare, feudal politics and dragonry, either -- seven densely packed seasons have left dozens of secondary plot threads wafting in the breeze.
And there is still the potential for the ongoing political problems being played out in front of the fans to explode into total warfare, which could easily kill their Premier League hopes.
You know, you think about politics in Washington where everything is nasty and total warfare all the time.
It seems also that Clausewitz' total warfare without political limitations in practice is rather impossible.
* FINRA's 'Total Warfare' Against Brokers in Arbitration
Further, he contends that these wars were not total warfare, as has been described by other historians.
Somewhat ironically, each incident of irregular warfare analyzed ended with military commanders recommending courses of actions that approached the Clausewitzian ideal type of total warfare. Having conceptually severed the link between war and politics, the purely military solution became unrestrained destruction.
His concern is not merely with the moral choices of leaders but with 'the prevailing moral sentiment of entire societies and their leaderships' and how these were affected by total warfare. The issue between 1939-1945 was the eradication of a movement which wanted to create a new moral universe cut off from Europe's Christian foundation and in opposition to it.
Modernity in general (loosely defined by the author as post-1870), but especially the technological and total warfare brought by World War I and the uncertainty of the interwar years, provided much fodder for the human imagination, building a sense of imminent and mortal crisis felt by civilians and captured by artists and policymakers.
If modern warfare is not necessarily total, total warfare is not necessarily modern and can therefore be separated from any developmental model of conflict.
Often cited as the first examples of modern and total warfare, these wars differed from their predecessors in being ideological rather than merely territorial.