The military spirit is dead in France — as in all democracies — Colonel Ardant Du Picq laments:
The military spirit died with the French nobility, perished because it had to perish, because it was exhausted, at the end of its life. That only dies which has no longer the sap of life, and can no longer live. If a thing is merely sick it can return to health. But who can say that of the French nobility? An aristocracy, a nobility that dies, dies always by its own fault; because it no longer performs its duties; because it fails in its task; because its functions are of no more value to the state; because there is no longer any reason for its existence in a society, whose final tendency is to suppress its functions.
After 1789 had threatened our patriotism, the natural desire for self-protection revived the military spirit in the nation and in the army. The Empire developed this movement, changed the defensive military spirit to the offensive, and used it with increasing effect up to 1814 or 1815. The military spirit of the July Restoration was a reminiscence, a relic of the Empire, a form of opposition to government by liberalism instead of democracy. It was really the spirit of opposition and not the military spirit, which is essentially conservative.
There is no military spirit in a democratic society, where there is no aristocracy, no military nobility. A democratic society is antagonistic to the military spirit.
We are a democratic society; we become less and less military. The Prussian, Russian, Austrian aristocracies which alone make the military spirit of those states, feel in our democratic society an example which threatens their existence, as nobility, as aristocracy. They are our enemies and will be until they are wiped, out, until the Russian, Austrian and Prussian states become democratic societies, like ours. It is a matter of time.
The Prussian aristocracy is young. It has not been degenerated by wealth, luxury and servility of the court. The Prussian court is not a court in the luxurious sense of the word. There is the danger.
Meanwhile Machiavellian doctrines not being forbidden to aristocracies, these people appeal to German Jingoism, to German patriotism, to all the passions which move one people who are jealous of another. All this is meant to hide under a patriotic exterior their concern for their own existence as an aristocracy, as a nobility.