From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

and America, various writers, princes, and statesmen began to counsel the governments of both nations to keep from war, insisting that the matter in dispute was not sufficiently serious for war, especially as between two Anglo-Saxon nations, peoples of one language, who ought not to go to war with each other, but rather in amity together domineer over others. Whether because of this, or because all kinds of bishops, clergymen, and ministers prayed and preached over the matter in their churches, or because both sides considered they were not yet ready; for one cause or another, it has turned out there is to be no war this time. And people have calmed down.

But one would have too little penetration not to see that the causes which have thus led to dispute between England and the States still remain the same; that if the present difficulty is settled without war, yet, inevitably, to-morrow or next day, disputes must arise between England and the States, between England and Germany, England and Russia, England and Turkey, disputes in all possible combinations. Such arise daily; and one or other of them will surely bring war.

For, if there live side-by-side two armed men, who have from childhood been taught that power, riches, and glory are highest goods, and that to obtain these by arms, to the loss of one's neighbours, is a most praiseworthy thing; and if, further, there is for these men no moral, religious, or political bound; then is it not clear that they will always seek war, that their normal relations will be warlike, and that, having once caught each other by the throat, they separate again only, as the French proverb has it, pour mieux sauter,—they draw back to take a better spring, to rush upon each other with more ferocity?

The egoism of the individual is terrible. But the egoists of private life are not armed; they do not count it good to prepare, or to use, arms against their competitors; their egoism is controlled by the powers of the State and of public opinion. A private person who should, arms in hand, deprive his neighbour of a cow or an acre of field, would be at once seized by the police, and imprisoned. Moreover, he would be condemned by public opinion; called a thief and a robber. Quite otherwise with states. All are armed. Influence over them there is none; more than those absurd attempts to catch a bird by sprinkling salt on its tail, such as are the efforts to establish international congresses, which armed states (armed, forsooth, that they may be above taking advice) will clearly never accept. And above all, the public opinion which punishes every violent act of the private individual, praises, exalts as the virtue of patriotism, every