World Politics

Research Article

The Democratic Peace Theory Reframed: The Impact of Modernity

Azar Gata1

a1 Tel Aviv University

This article argues that the democratic peace theorists have overlooked the defining development that underlies that peace of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: the industrial-technological revolution. Not only did that revolution make democracy on a country scale possible; it also made all the countries that experienced the revolution—democratic and nondemocratic—far less belligerent in comparison with preindustrial times. The democratic peace did not exist among premodern democratic and republican city-states, not because they were not democratic or liberal enough but because they were premodern. Other factors that have emanated from the modern transformation and may generate greater aversion to war apply mostly to liberal democratic countries while being only variably connected to their regime. Such factors include the staggering rise in the standard of living; the decrease in hardship, pain, and death; the dominance of metropolitan life and the service economy; the spread of the consumer and entertainment society; sexual promiscuity; women's franchise; and the shrinking ratio of young males in the population.

Azar Gat is a professor of national security in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. His books include The Origins of Military Thought from the Enlightenment to Clausewitz (1989), The Development of Military Thought: The Nineteenth Century (1992), Fascist and Liberal Visions of War (1998), British Armour Theory and the Rise of the Panzer Arm (2000), and A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War (2001). His wide-ranging interdisciplinary book, War in Human Civilization, is forthcoming. He can be reached at azargat@post.tau.ac.il.