Why Stress Culture over Strategy? Clausewitz has the answer: Napoleon and Irrationalism (Video #2)

This is the second of thirteen videos in a series dedicated to Karl von Clausewitz, the West’s most famous (and least read) philosopher of war.

In this video, you’ll hear:

  • There were two major factors that influenced Clausewitz’s ideas.
  • One was Napoleon, his principal case study. The lieutenant turned Emperor of France defeated six national coalitions and threatened the Old World order. In doing so he personally caused a paradigm shift in how nations approach war and fighting. “Wars of Maneuver” became “Wars of Annihilation.” The small, professional army was replaced by huge armies of the masses. Cool calculation was replaced by inflamed passion. Detailed strategy and plans were replaced by situational leadership and improvisation.
  • The other factor was philosophical. A cultural movement began to take ground in Germany in the 18th century. Romanticism was the “counter-Enlightenment” movement, a general shift of mindset from an objective, scientific perspective to one that accepted irrationalism. Many important things in life, it was said, cannot be measured, such as love or hate.” Accepting this premise, Clausewitz will stress factors in war other than deliberate calculation and strategy. His emphasis was on people and the power of emotion, passion, and most importantly, “willpower.”

Next: We will dive into Clausewitz writings and start with the nature of war. What is the essence of war? Why does it matter? Are there lessons for a business leader? Stay tuned for Video #3: Nature of War.