Military obedience is free or forced complicity through state-organized force. Soldiers kill and risk their lifes and thus protect a fundamental claim of the state: the right and the ability to wage war. The state power again executes on the soldier its fundamental right to dispose sovereignly of life and death of its citizens.

The single soldier counts for the army only in terms of the measure of his usefulness for the military mission. To discipline means to make fungible, means processing the "human material" for the purpose of increased fitness and deepening subjugation.

Soldiers are forced to balance subjectively the contradiction between the general forbiddance of force and the authority of force restricted to the state elements. They conduct actions on command that would result in severest punishment if done by any other member of the society.

Their activity remains a life and death fight or preparation for such, no matter how much the concrete performance seems to resemble industrial labour in the age of engineered warfare. In order to act as an effective instrument of political sovereignty, armies must make every soldier to prioritize the reason of the state over ones own and to risk ones life for the sake of a military overall goal.

Drilling a soldier means not only producing of willingness for death and killing, but also controlling it. A maximum of disciplining techniques are directed on each single soldier and irregularities are punished harder then anywhere else.

But the military offers compensation for the requested subjugation. The command "You Must!" is enclosed with the license "You May!". Soldiers have not only much more restrictions then other people, they have - at least at war - much more allowances.

The war is on the one had a "duel on an expanded scale" (Clausewitz), and at the same time the efficient application of violence - killing people and destroying things. Both moments cannot be parted, the military obedience production shall enable both, but each implies a different type of obedience:

disciplining in order to fight is "hot" - it mobilizes, transgresses and fuels the passions. Disciplining in order to effectively use force is "cold" - it controls, regularizes, and curbs the affects. The mix ratio is changing and the history of military disciplining can be described as a change between rather "hot" and rather "cold" epochs.

Military obedience is dual-coded: soldiers not only obey to the regulation and the orders of their officers, crucial for the cohesion in the troops and their readiness for violence are just as much social control and emotional bonds amongst the comrades in the troop.

The military is a strict hierarchically structured, rationalised organization, but it is also an egalitarian band of men, that constitutes itself through the exclusion of women and transforms homoerotic libido into aggressiveness to the outside.

Even if the demands of the two constellations of norms are contradicting each other, the efficiency of military disciplining is based last but not least on the success of the commander in using the cohesionary forces apart from the commanding hierarchy and possibly opposing to it.

Initiation ceremonies, informal codes of honour and mechanisms of punishment, lastly collective transgression as for instance alcohol excesses, rapes, plundering, or massacres compensate the impertinence of the formal discipline and at the same time found the conspiring community on which the "official" obedience production is dependent on, without being able to produce it.

Whatever cannot be enforced through the hierarchy of the superior, will be brought about through the pressure of conformity of the comrades, whose support and goodwill the individual existentially needs in combat situations.

Soldiers must be willing to use violence on command, but they must also be able to do it. Military disciplining must therefore not only form up and normalize, but also qualify; should not only produce readiness for combat and obedience, but also knowledge and ability, that results from technical and organizational demands of war fare.

So because the military - as every - production of obedience consists to a big portion of disobedience production, the norm will be set through the deviation. The different forms of disciplining correspond with just as well different forms of its failure.

Armies produce not only obedient, brave and technically efficient soldiers, but as deserters, denier of military services, mutiny, renegades, self-mutilationers, "war neurotics" and simulators, not to mention the army of the "war-involuntaries" (Michael Geyer), that indeed are soldiers, but not necessarily want to fight and only reluctantly perform their duty.

The relation of obedience to disobedience however is anything but symmetrical: situations, in which refusal and protest can noticeably "decompose" the "army forces" are more than seldom. Normally the military apparatus will succeed to cover all its needs of "human material" in a sufficient quantity and quality.

Often the future soldiers don't even have to be coerced through force or law but pay and social prestige, patriotic imaginations, fascination for weapons or simply dissatisfaction with the civil life makes them march out in the barracks and on the battlefield on a free will.

In the famous chapter of his study "crowds and power" Elias Canetti designs an anthropology of discipline. In the centre stands the image of a command as an arrow: the command, says Canetti, "is being shot and hits. The commander takes aim before he shoots. He's going to hit someone specific with his command, the command always follows a distinct direction.

It is going to stick with the person being hit; the person needs to pull it out again and pass it forward to get rid from it's threat." Every command, so Canetti, "consists of momentum and sting. The momentum forces the recipient to act, and to act in accordance with the content of the command; the sting remains behind in him. (...)

The content of the command - its force, range and definition - was fixed forever in that moment in which it was first promulgated, and this, or rather its exact image in miniature, is stored up in the recipient forever and may remain submerged for years and decades before it comes to light again. But it is never lost, and it is essential to realize this.

The fulfilment of a command is not the end; it remains stored up forever." Just as the command itself the sting can also not be assimilated, "as a foreign instance it is remaining in the recipient and takes away every feeling of guilt." He can only get rid of it in a situation being the spitting image to the one when the command was received, and where he himself is in command.

The soldier is the incarnation of a heeler. He is, at least according to Canettis ideal: "permanently in a conscious state of excepting orders". Because he inhibits a world structured by orders, he accumulates the spikes, and no soldier would be able to withstand their pressure, if it weren't for the varied opportunities military life offers to push off the spikes through an inversion. Especially war is offering manifold possibilities.

His weapons and the legitimacy to use them, award the soldier the same non-deceivable power he was exposed to while being a heeler. Military service and especially the so called "case of emergency" restrict the personal freedom of the recruits, but also enables them to escape at least for a short period of time the constraints of civil life and life in the barracks and to rid themselves of the order spikes they amassed there.

This connection of absolute subordination and a temporal and spatial limited release from civil standards is where the military differs from other disciplinary situations. Not only is the army the "Schule der Nation", which produces along with obedient soldiers reliable workers and loyal citizens, it is furthermore the "ganz Andere" to family, factory and office, which attributes it with some of its attraction.

The violence emitted by soldiers, is, as stated by Canettis metaphor of a sting and an arrow, not only an effect of military conditioning, but furthermore helps to compensate the unreasonable demands of said conditioning.

A short outline of the history of military disciplining: Until today drill is regarded as the basis of every soldiers instruction. It was invented, or more precisely re-invented and systematized according to antique patterns by the Dutch armies of the late 16th century, and regular exercise of meticulously strict motions quickly advanced to become the most fundamental operation during the fabrication of soldiers.

The "wohlexercirte Soldat" transforms, according to Canettis formula into a "stereometrische Figur" which stands at attention to anticipate the orders of his superior. While the drill affects the body it also poses as a highly efficient psycho-technical practice:

If the soldiers move their limbs according to a strict set of rules both on a daily basis and over a longer period of time, the synchronization of individual motor functions creates - alike dance - an elementary form of social cohesion.

If you let soldiers train the marching formations and plugs, it will eventually cost them more energy to lose the beat than to spontaneously synchronize with the military pace of the troupe. In the extreme situation of a battle this almost vegetative form of cohesion, plays in important role in preventing the dissolution of the military body.

But discipline which is enforced through dressage and according measures of control and prosecution is tied to the presence of a controlling and prosecuting power. Obedience ends as soon as one can escape the gaze of his superior. In accordance with Canettis imagery: The single soldier is being shelled with myriads of orderspikes, but they fail to penetrate very deep and their range is limited.

With such forces military victories could only be accomplished as long as the enemy conditions his forces in a similar way and wages his war according to the same principles. This was evident at least since 1789, when armies of the anti-french coalition couldn't, against all expectations, achieve an easy victory against the barely trained mandatory battalions and the remains of the French army.

"Enthusiasm" was the key category of the new era. Soldiers which obey because of inner believes and not because of external pressure. The adjustment of the "mind" took priority over the adjustment of the body; the mobilization of passion became more important than the filigree exertions of the drill.

Whereas the fabrication of disciplined individuals is based on the systematic elimination of all spontaneous emotions, the patriotic mobilization is faced with the paradox task of organising spontaneity. Enthusiasm can't be practiced, it can be stimulated at best. This requires an entirely different type of discourse: The language of discipline is technical, the rhetoric of passion evokes, swears, intoxicates.

The masters of drill had written manuals of order, the evangelists of enthusiasm created patriotic odes to the country. What had started as literary "Sturm und Drang" period became applied violence from the Lützow "Freikorps" to the student battalions at Langemarck.

When the drill - metaphorically spoken - made the generals and officers to become foremen of machinery, charismatic pyrotechnicians, knowing how to blow the patriotic fire, were needed to prepare for the national uprising.

The obedience demanded by the evangelists of the patriotic surrogate religion does not refer to state-law or authority orders, but to the fulfilment of the mission of a national (re-)birth. Instead of clearly defined commands to follow, all available strengths were mobilized to support nation and home country.

The soldier held something now, - at least that's what the propagandists of the nationalistic awakening wanted -, what was completely alien to the mercenaries of the ancien régime: He had a fatherland and an enemy. If until then the maxim of "don't argue" was in effect for the common man, it was now necessary to allow as much majority as needed to internalize the logic of the national liberation.

One could say that the arrows of command were aimed at the heart now - the heart the romanticists sang about, whose protagonists formed the literary avant-guard of the national mobilization. It would mean to overstretch Canettis metaphor though if one would try to understand these in accordance with command and obedience.

Even though the imperatives of the national appear as categorical and even though stereotypical repetition is important for all sorts of propaganda, - the concept of an enemy and nationalistic imaginations are, other than rifle handles and march-formations, not imposable by order and not drillable by regular exercises.

The one who believes to have home country and believes it would be honourable to die for it, does not resign himself reluctantly or by a drilled routine to a superior power, but rather tries to merge with this power. The command, as Canetti is describing it, is affiliated with the patriotic mobilization by an inherent death threat. The destruction which is supposed to hit the enemies of the fatherland is always impending on those not willing to sacrifice themselves in the combat.

Whereas the birth of drill and national enthusiasm is precisely to date, the third mechanism of the military production of obedience, the functional adjustment of soldiers to the technical structure of weapons and weapon systems gained mastery in a longer lasting and non-linear process.

This shift to an understanding of obedience dominated by technology can be deduced by the differentiation of functional-discipline and attitude-discipline: On the one hand barracking, drill and the endless catalogue of dress-, hygiene- and salutation-codes is supposed to produce the type of soldierly attitude which was characterized by Moltke in a set phrase "authority top-down, obedience bottom-up".

On the other hand the soldier has to mutate to a technician in terms of the functional-discipline to fulfil his tasks in the environment of industrial warfare. Driving of a vehicle can't be learned by drill. The part of the infantryman standardized by drill has been taken over by a wide range of technical experts whose tasks vary as much as their required qualifications.

The reach of command has changed for this reason once again: Canetti characterized the soldier as someone "not reacting to any suggestion from the outside, rigidly standing wherever he was positioned, not leaving his guard, not allowing himself to be tempted to do anything, he'd normally likes to do has done often before."

The modern specialist of destruction has far off diverged from this "state of negativism". The part of activities implying autonomy, professional skills and the ability to cooperate without command has risen exponentially with the degree of mechanization and the complexity of the technologies being used.

Instead of regimenting the behaviour of each individual orders are entered, leaving the exact modalities of execution up to the addressee of the order. Leadership is not commanding the exact execution anymore rather than defining the goal and monitoring the result.

The presence of a delegated and qualified person to command, control and sanction was needed to train recruits to achieve attitude-discipline. To produce devoted defenders of the fatherland human beings embodying and thereby sharing a "martial mindset" and patriotic enthusiasm were needed. The functional-discipline addresses a different subject: Machinery itself trains it's staff.

The technical apparatus as an instance of discipline does not repress passion like the masters of drill, does not stir passion like the pyrotechnicians of the national, but rather ignores passion, because it raises a demand for an unrefusable behaviour that is matches objective needs.

Canettis arrows of command still do hit the target, but for those being hit it becomes more and more difficult who shot them. When the obedience-commanding power appears in the shape of technical rationality, not only the search for the commander runs empty but also every attempt of putting oneself in his position to turn around the initial situation in order to get rid of the sting in the flesh has to fail.

The addressee of commands is missing the object to recoup himself for suffering from submission because power of command has become abstract and can't be attributed to a single subject anymore. The search for victims to pass on his sting to has become as unavailingly as arbitrary: Since no victim is the appropriate one, they all are - a fatal paradox, letting violence evade from every calculus (and thus every limitation).

Of course there are hierarchical command structures in contemporary armies and the principles of command and obedience are still in effect. But the main effort of training is focused around the functional qualification of violence-specialists, and the functional differentiation of the military-organisation devaluates the authority linked to service grade.

Disciplining is a social technology. The metaphors adequate to the disciplining-dicourse are the metaphors of machinery, the disparate forms of the production of obedience have their equivalent in the specific types of machinery in the respective era.

The ideal of discipline in the absolutistic era was mechanical - the movements of the troop-body-machine were supposed to run as precise as a clockwork, the trimming of soldiers was equivalent to the art of cutting small cogs.

The model of an energetic machine was dominating the time from the Napoleonic wars to World War II - the spark of enthusiasm was supposed to jump across, the patriotic fire was to be stirred up and the soldiers were to transform to fuel to raise the power-potential of army and nation.

The discipline of the information age is cybernetic - the individual soldier appears as a complex system like the military technology and the troop as a whole; disciplining stands for making the various elements of the system and subsystems compatible and connecting them to optimize their ability to perform.

However the figure of the soldier as well as the practices of producing soldiers adheres to something antiquated: On the one hand the automation of warfare not only makes the differences between military and civilian discipline become indistinct, but also allows the replacement of human beings. A minimum of staff is sufficient to create a maximum of destruction.

On the other hand war never stops again being an exclusive state-owned-event. The marauding armed bands practising killing for own account and sometimes only as a weekend-activity know as well as the suicide bombers, those partisans of asymmetric warfare, without specific command who they have to bring their weapons to bear to. - There is no end of violence in sight, but does violence still need obedient executors?

Every criticism of the military has to face up to this question if it doesn't want to take a back seat by just lamenting about the war and affirming peace. The metaphor of machinery affects the model of non-militaristic practices as well, which are aiming - from objection of military service up to military strike - to stop the machinery of war, or at least slowing it down.

A criticism of the military still understanding subversion of obedience by the example of throwing spanner in the works or the energy crisis - "Imagine, there is a war, and nobody takes part in it!" - does not reach it's topic anymore. The military machinery can't be slowed down from the outside or by withdrawal of staff resources. Every effort to let it run empty or to demoralize it from the inside is all the more urgent.

It is perhaps necessary to take leave from the idea to think resistance as a process to slow down things. The metaphor of a computer virus making computers run on high-speed until the day the cows come home without generating any result is probably more contemporary.