Passages On War

NOTE:  Below is a small sampling of passages on the nature of hatred and war. 

Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch":

"The state of peace among men living side by side is not the natural state; the natural state is one of war. This does not always mean open hostilities, but at least an unceasing threat of war. A state of peace, therefore, must be established, for in order to be secured against hostility it is not sufficient that hostilities simply be not committed; and, unless this security is pledged to each by his neighbor (a thing that can occur only in a civil state), each may treat his neighbor, from whom he demands this security, as an enemy."

Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience":

"The mass of men serve the state...not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well...A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be 'clay'...He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist."

Mark Twain, "Chronicle Of Young Satan":

"There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object -- at first; the great, big dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it,' Then the handful will shout louder."

George Santayana, Dominations And Powers:

"Local loyalties condemn the spirit to injustice and overwhelm it with the ignominy of taking sides selfishly, for one's self against everybody else, for one's family, country, party, or religion against all others. Is not political man necessarily a fool in his hatreds and a beast in his ambitions?...Pacifists are eloquent about the waste of money in armaments and of blood in wars. But blood and money, after all, belong to the earth; they must be spilt in the same fields in which they are gathered. The servile thing is not that we must fight and die -- it is noble to accept that physical necessity. The shame is that we do not fight or die under our true colours. We neither assert ourselves with perfect integrity, nor abdicate with perfect content; so that we are enslaved both in living and in dying: enslaved to accidental coercions suffered against the harmony of our total nature, and enslaved to the general order of destiny which we have not the elevation of mind to observe philosophically, and to turn to spiritual uses."

Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers:

"Buddha fearlessly carried the war into the enemy's camp and brought down on its knees an arrogant priesthood. Christ drove out the moneychangers from the temple of Jerusalem and drew down curses from Heaven upon the hypocrites and the Pharisees. Both were for intensely direct action. But even as Buddha and Christ chastised, they showed unmistakable gentleness and love behind every act of theirs. They would not raise a finger against their enemies, but would gladly surrender themselves rather than the truth for which they lived."

Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild:

"We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. And those who have an interest in keeping the machinery of war going are a very powerful body; they will stop at nothing to make public opinion subservient to their murderous ends.

R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience:

"The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one's mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years [c. 1917-1967]."

Eric Hoffer, The True Believer:

"We do not usually look for allies when we love. Indeed, we often look on those who love with us as rivals and trespassers. But we always look for allies when we hate...Whence come these unreasonable hatreds, and why their unifying effect? They are an expression of a desperate effort to suppress an awareness of our inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt and other shortcomings of the self. Self-contempt is here transmuted into hatred of others -- and there is a most determined and persistent effort to mask this switch. Obviously, the most effective way of doing this is to find others, as many as possible, who hate as we do. Here more than anywhere else we need general consent, and much of our proselytizing consists perhaps in infecting others not with our brand of faith but with our particular brand of unreasonable hatred."

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Conscientious Objector:

"I shall die,

but that is all that I shall do for Death.

I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;

I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.

He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,

business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.

But I will not hold the bridle

while he clinches the girth.

And he may mount by himself:

I will not give him a leg up.

 

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,

I will not tell him which way the fox ran.

With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where

the black boy hides in the swamp.

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;

I am not on his pay-roll.

 

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends

nor of my enemies either.

Though he promise me much,

I will not map him the route to any man's door.

Am I a spy in the land of the living,

that I should deliver men to Death?

Brother, the password and the plans of our city

are safe with me; never through me

shall you be overcome."

 

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