Category Archives: military service

Quote [53] – Wars, Military Service The Value Of International Institutions

“Anybody who really wants to abolish war must resolutely declare himself in favour of his own country’s resigning a portion of its sovereignty in favour of international institutions:  He must be ready to make his own country amendable, in case of dispute, to the award of an international court.  He must in the most uncompromising fashion support disarmament all round, which is actually envisaged in the unfortunate Treaty of Versailles; unless military and aggressively patriotic education is abolished, we can hope for no progress.” The world as I see it
“To be quite frank, a declaration like the one before me in a country which submits to conscription in peacetime seems to me valueless.  What you must fight for is liberation from universal military service.  Verily the French nation has had to pay heavily for the victory in 1918; for that victory had been largely responsible for holding it down in the most degrading of all forms of slavery.  Let your efforts in this struggle be unceasing.  You have a mighty ally in the German reactionaries and militarists.  If France clings to universal military service, it will be impossible in the long run to prevent its introduction in Germany.  For the demand of the Germans for equal rights will succeed in the end; and then there will be two German military slaves for every French one, which would certainly not be in the interests of France.” The world as I see it



Quote [48] – Peace, Military Commerce & Our Individual Choice

“The importance of securing international peace was recognised by the really great men of former generations.  But the technical advances of our times have turned this ethical postulate into a matter of life and death for civilised mankind today, and made the taking of an active part in the solution of the problem of peace a moral duty which no conscientious man can shirk.

One has to realise that the powerful industrial groups concerned in the manufacture of arms are doing their best in all countries to prevent the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and that rulers can achieve this great end only if they are sure of the vigorous support of the majority of their peoples.  In these days of democratic government the fate of nations hangs on themselves; each individual must always bear that in mind.”

The world as I see it
“I am very glad of this opportunity of saying a few words to you about the problem of pacifism.  The course of events in the last few years has once more shown us how little we are justified in leaving the struggle against armaments and against the war spirit to the Governments.  On the other hand, the formation of large organisations with a large membership can of itself bring us very little nearer to our goal.  In my opinion, the best method in this case is the violent one of conscientious objection, with the aid of organisations for giving moral and material support to the courageous conscientious objectors in each country.  In this way we may succeed in making the problem of pacifism an acute one, a real struggle attracts forceful natures.  It is an illegal struggle, but a struggle for people’s real rights against their governments in so far as the latter demand criminal acts of the citizen.

Many who think themselves good pacifists will jib at this out-and-out pacifism, on patriotic grounds.  Such people are not to be relied on in the hour of crisis, as the World War amply proved.

I am most grateful to you for according me an opportunity to give you my views in person.”

The world as I see it


Quote [46] – Dignity, Security Individuals & Rights

“Let us now consider the times in which we live.  How does society fare, how the individual?  The population of the civilised countries is extremely dense as compared with former times; Europe today contains about three times as many people as it did a hundred years ago.  But the number of great men has decreased out of all proportion.  Only a few individuals are known to the masses as personalities, through their creative achievements.

Organisation has to some extent taken the place of the great man, particularly in the technical sphere, but also to a very perceptible extent in the scientific.

The lack of outstanding figures is particularly striking in the domain of art.  Painting and music have definitely degenerated and largely lost their popular appeal.  In politics not only are leaders lacking, but the independence of spent and the sense of justice of the citizen have to a great extent declined.  The democratic, parliamentarian regime, which is based on such independence, has in many places been shaken, dictatorships have sprung up and are tolerated, because men’s sense of the dignity and the rights of the individual is no longer strong enough.

The world as I see it
In two weeks the sheep-like masses can be worked up by the newspapers into such a state of excited fury that the men are prepared to put on uniform and kill and be billed, for the sake of the worthless aims of a few interested parties.  Compulsory military service seems to me the most disgraceful symptom of that deficiency in personal dignity from which civilised mankind is suffering today. The world as I see it
No wonder there is no lack of prophets who prophesy the early eclipse of our civilisation. I am not one of these pessimists; I believe that better times are coming.  Let me shortly state my reasons for such confidence.

In my opinion, the present symptoms of decadence are explained by the fact that the development of industry and machinery has made the struggle for existence very much more severe, greatly to the detriment of the free development of the individual.  But the development of machinery means that less and less work is needed from the individual for the satisfaction of the community’s needs.   A planned division of labour is becoming more and more of a crying necessity, and this division will lead to the material security of the individual.  This security and the spare time and energy which the individual will have at his command can be made to further his development.  In this way the community may regain its health, and we will hope that future historians will explain the morbid symptoms of present-day society as the childhood ailments of an aspiring humanity, due entirely to the excessive speed at which civilisation was advancing.”

The world as I see it


Quote [45] – Individual Responsibility, Structural Obedience & The Military

“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor.  That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him.  He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed.  This plague-spot of civilisation ought to be abolished with all possible speed.  Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all in the pestilent nonsense that does by the name of patriotism – – how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked to pieces than take part in such an abominable business.  And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting though the schools and the press” The world as I see it