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Modernity, boredom, and war: a suggestive essay

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2010


The quest for perpetual peace is a modern phenomenon, associated with a progressive view of history which emerged only in the Enlightenment. In addition, boredom – a feeling of ennui associated with a loss of the ability to act – is a fundamental mood of the modern age. Modern societies are thus, simultaneously, becoming more peaceful and their inhabitants are becoming more bored. As a means of overcoming our boredom, we are increasingly fascinated by violence, and war is glorified as a means of restoring our ability to act. Empirical illustrations of this thesis are drawn from World War I and from the Bush administration's ‘global War on Terror’.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2010

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