Ivan Stanislavovic Bloch (1836? - 1902?) was a Polish banker who devoted his private life to the study of modern industrial warfare, intrigued by the devastating victory of Prussia/Germany over France in 1870. He published his six volume master work, La Guerre Future, popularized in translation as Is War Now Impossible?, in Paris in 1898.
Bloch's detailed analysis of modern warfare, its tactical, strategic and political implications, was widely read in Europe. Bloch's main argument was that:
New arms technology (e.g. smokeless gunpowder) had rendered maneuvers over open ground, such as bayonet and cavalry charges, obsolete. Bloch concluded that a war between the great powers would be a war of entrenchment and that rapid attacks and decisive victories were likewise a thing of the past. He was able to calculate that entrenched men would enjoy a fourfold advantage over infantry advancing across open ground.
Industrial societies would have to settle the resultant stalemate by committing armies numbering in the millions, as opposed to the tens of thousands of preceding wars. An enormous battlefront would develop. A war of this type could not be resolved quickly.
The war would become a duel of industrial might, a matter of total economic attrition. Severe economic and social dislocations would result in the imminent risk of famine, disease, the "break-up of the whole social organization" and revolutions from below.
Bloch attended the first Hague Peace Conference in 1899, possibly at the invitation of Tsar Nicholas II, and distributed copies of his work to delegates from the diplomatic missions of 26 states, to little avail. The British publicist WT Stead also worked to spread Bloch's insights.
In each particular, Bloch's theoretical research was substantially ignored. French cavalry and British infantry commanders only learned by a tragic process of trial and error once Bloch's impossible war, World War I had begun. The Russian and German monarchies proved equally incapable of assimilating Bloch's cautionary words concerning revolution.