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1914: Anniversary of an Accident or a Desing?

Richard Langhorne



The centenary of the outbreak of war in 1914 has been marked by giving more attention to what fighting in the war was like than to its cause. In the past its causes have evoked more discussion and controversy than most historical events partly because assigning blame for its outbreak became in itself a political issue and concentrated research and polemic on the flow of activity, or initial lack of it, after the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo in late June 1914. This article looks at the causation of the war from the longer perspective made possible chiefly by the passing time but also by the passing of any political consequence flowing from judgements about the role of particular statesmen or particular states. The processes of globalisation which began to emerge powerfully in the 1890s connect the pressures developing strongly after 1900 with the complexities which states and peoples face today. That historical continuity provides a context in which 2014 can understand 1914 a good deal more clearly than the significant participants were able to do at the time or for many years subsequently.

Keywords: International politics, diplomacy, causes of war, globalisation, technological change, systemic collapse


Bibliography: Langhorne, Richard: 1914: Anniversary of an Accident or a Desing?, ERIS, 2-2015, pp. 5-18.


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