Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/32

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
18
REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENCE

type of force that has attained absolutely uncontrolled development, and can thus be identified naturally with right, whilst Pascal under the one heading confuses together all the manifestations of force.[1]

Pascal was vividly impressed by the changes that the conception of justice has experienced in the course of time, and these changes still continue to embarrass philosophers exceedingly. A well-organised social system is destroyed by a revolution and is replaced by another system, which in its turn is considered to be perfectly just; so that what was just before now becomes unjust. Any amount of sophisms have been produced to show that force has been placed at the service of justice during revolutions; these arguments have been many times shown to be absurd. But the public is so accustomed to believe in natural rights that it cannot make up its mind to abandon them.

There is hardly anything, not excepting even war, that people have not tried to bring inside the scope of natural right: they compare war to a process in which one nation reclaims a right which a malevolent neighbour refuses to recognise. Our fathers readily acknowledged that God decided battles in favour of those who had justice on their side; the vanquished were to be treated as an unsuccessful litigant: they must pay the costs of the war and give guarantees to the victor in order that the latter might enjoy their restored rights in peace. At the present time there are plenty of people who propose that international conflicts should be submitted to arbitration; this would only be a secularisation of the ancient mythology.[2]

  1. Cf. what I say about force in Chapter V.
  2. I cannot succeed in finding the idea of international arbitration in fragment 296 of Pascal, where several people claim to have discovered it; in this paragraph Pascal simply points out the ridiculous aspect of the claim made in his time by every belligerent—to condemn the conduct of his adversary in the name of justice.