Aerial Militarism

The Development of Aerial Militarism and the Demobilization of European Ground Forces, Fortresses, and Naval Fleets

Paul Scheerbart

tr. M. Kasper
Ugly Duckling Presse


Like Rilke’s mirrored stag, Scheerbart offers sixteen points in this “flyer”, newly translated a hundred years after it was written.

I. “A land battle however is completely impossible—the dynamite dropping from above works so fast that ground forces don’t arrive until long after events develop.”

II. “Naturally—many soldiers can hide in forts. But if they come out, they’re exposed to air torpedoes. They might as well not come out.”

III. “Naval fleets count for nothing in future dynamite wars... in particular, the English are to be pitied.”

IV. “Infantry is of no use whatsoever.”

V. “Artillery, all the same, would have a limited ‘right to existence.’”

VI. “Horse soldiers nowadays haven’t the slightest value.”

VII. “One could stop building submarines.”

VIII. “I’m against demolishing fortifications—they’re excellent examples of architectural landscapes... even torpedo boats would be well received as passenger steamers.”

IX. “Superfluous cannons... horses... most sabers and most uniforms will probably wind up in the war museums of the future.”

X. “A European or international congress of militarists should be organized in the very near future. Whether it meets in Berlin, Paris, or Switzerland is neither here nor there... redeployment of armaments is what needs discussing, not disarmament.”

XI. “Anti-militarism hasn’t the slightest right to exist anymore; it’s over, and the friends of peace should realize that very soon.”

XII. “Naturally, the smallest state can be very dangerous to the biggest.”

XIII. “’This image also suggests notions of just what an air apparatus might mean to anarchists, nihilists, and others of that ilk. The eagle eye of the police may constantly monitor the doings of these groups, but who’ll watch over them if they hurl their murderous weapons from on high, which, with flying machines, will soon be within reach?’”

XIV. “Festivals! After what’s just been said, I need hardly add that we have little reason to celebrate dirigibles with festive enthusiasm.”

XV. “Over the centuries, the United States of Europe have constituted a much-ridiculed utopia. Faced with a dynamite war, this utopia becomes a much more realizable thing—soon losing its comical side.”

XVI. “Private aircraft, therefore, are easily utilized in air warfare.”