William James on war

2013-04-20

in Bombs and rockets, Economics, Politics, Psychology, Security, Writing

“History is a bath of blood,” wrote William James, whose 1906 antiwar essay is arguably the best ever written on the subject. “Modern war is so expensive,” he continued, “that we feel trade to be a better avenue to plunder; but modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the love of glory of his ancestors. Showing war’s irrationality and horror is of no effect on him. The horrors make the fascination. War is the strong life; it is life in extremis; war taxes are the only ones men never hesitate to pay, as the budgets of all nations show us.” (emphasis in original)

Wilson, E.O. The Social Conquest of Earth. (New York, Norton, 2012) (p.62 hardcover)

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. April 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm

“If now – and this is my idea – there were,instead of military conscription a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature, the injustice would tend to be evened out, and numerous other goods to the commonwealth would follow. The military ideals of hardihood and discipline would be wrought into the growing fibre of the people; no one would remain blind as the luxurious classes now are blind, to man’s relations to the globe he lives on, and to the permanently sour and hard foundations of his higher life. To coal and iron mines, to freight trains, to fishing fleets in December, to dishwashing, clothes-washing, and windowwashing, to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas. They would have paid their blood-tax, done their own part in the immemorial human warfare against nature; they would tread the earth more proudly, the women would value them more highly, they would be better fathers and teachers of the following generation.”

http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/James/James_1911_11.html

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