Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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War and Non Violence

A 1942 Lecture Revisited (Part 1)

by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, posted May 16, 2012

In an atmosphere of war, all the instruments of education are being devoted to the cultivation of the war spirit. Our films exhibit the activities of the instruments of slaughter; the firing of cannons, the explosion of mines and torpedoes, tanks and aeroplanes. We fight the enemy with a heart full of savage hatred, and a head fortified by scientific cunning.

Religions, however, have exalted nonviolence as the supreme virtue, and acquiesced in violence on account of human imperfection. The good is never found in a pure form in this imperfect world; for its pure manifestation we must enter a world which is beyond good and evil. If the ideal has not penetrated the world as fully as we would desire, it does not follow that the ideal is to be abandoned. Absolute principles are to be related to the empirical world, which is changing and subject to human stupidity and selfishness.

Front Note by Sachi Sri Kantha

In remembrance of our war heroes (Eelam Tamil brothers and sisters) who lost their lives while defending the homeland, I present this 1942 lecture by Indian philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) verbatim for the electronic record. Radhakrishnan, per se, doesn’t need any front note himself. It is unfortunate that the Hindu India and Hindu Sri Lanka have produced numerous pseudo-philosophers and pseudo-pundits in the 20th and 21st centuries. Radhakrishnan was among the handful of exceptions. As such, I felt that 70 years later, his thoughts deserve a re-visit at this hour of our need.

Radhakrishnan has his share of critics among Hindus and non-Hindus. He was an eccentric person and a philosopher. Quite a few Radhakrishnan anecdotes circulate. One of the anecdotes which I liked was the one encounter he had with Stalin, on the day of his farewell as the Indian ambassador to the Soviet Union. None had the nerve to touch the all powerful Stalin’s body, excluding a mutual handshake if offered by an equally powerful foreign leader like a Churchill or a Roosevelt. But, Radhakrishnan patted Stalin’s back (or was it, cheek; accounts differ), like what he would do to a student during his teaching days. It was later reported that one who witnessed the scene, saw Stalin’s eyes brimming with tears!

I would like to make two comments. First, do remember that when Radhakrishnan delivered this lecture in 1942, the Second World War was in progress, and that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Ceylon were British colonies. Secondly, it was before the invention, production and use of nuclear weapons in 1945. This lecture, when published five years later in 1947, was constituted in seven sections, as follows:

  • The Glorification of War
  • The Hindu View
  • The Christian View
  • The Illusions of War
  • The Ideal Society
  • Education in Values
  • Gandhi

Because of its unusual length, I have split the lecture into two parts. In Part 1, I provide the first four sections [total of 9,063 words]. In the subsequent Part 2, I will provide the remaining three sections. Though Radhakrishnan delivered his lecture at the University of Calcutta and Benares in the winter of 1942, the published version of the text (originally in 1947) based on his notes had an obsolete mode of citation at the end of each page. For convenience, I have re-numbered and re-arranged the cited references towards the end. Altogether there are 48 citations, among which the first four sections carry the first 34 citations. Unusually, Radhakrishnan’s first citation was from Hitler’s Mein Kampf book. Citations 2 to 18 were from Sanskrit works (including the Mahabharata epic). In the section, 'The Christian View,' Radhakrishnan also cites from the New Testament. Some sentences which have been highlighted in a bold font for emphasis, are not in the original text.

One final comment. I’m undistinguished to speak [as this was originally a lecture] for Radhakrishnan. Those who may have some beef with Radhakrishnan’s views, please read his other relevant works. As such, I’ll refrain from answering (on his behalf) any comments elicited by the readers, for this posting.

War and Non Violence (Part 1)

 [Source: Religion and Society, by S. Radhakrishnan, Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, (originally published in 1947), pp. 199-238.]

  • The Glorification of War

Let us, in this last lecture, consider the question of the place of force or coercion in society. Mahatma Gandhi’s insistence on nonviolence and the war gave to this question an urgency, and it is essential to have clear ideas as far as possible on this matter. For centuries war, which is an organized effort to kill one another, has been eulogized as a natural and wholesome concomitant of a nation’s life. We are endowed with reason and intelligence, which we use to justify our actions. Wars are said to be means to good ends. Here are a few quotations which illustrate the point. Nietzsche said: ‘For nations that are growing weak and contemptible, war may be prescribed as a remedy, if indeed they really want to go on living.’ He declares: ‘Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior; all else is folly.’ ‘Do ye say that a good cause halloweth even war? I say to you: a good war halloweth any cause.’ Ruskin said: ‘I thought, in brief, that all great nations realized their truth and strength of thought in war, that they were nourished in war and wasted by peace, taught by war and deceived by peace; in a word, they were born in war and expired in peace.’ ‘War’, said Moltke, ‘is an integral part of God’s universe, developing man’s noblest attributes.’ He wrote that perpetual peace was a drea, and added: ‘and not even a beautiful dream.’ ‘War’, Bernhardi declared, ‘is a biological necessity, an indispensable regulator in the life of mankind, failing which there would result a course of evolution deleterious to the species and, too, utterly antagonistic to all culture… Without war inferior or demoralized races would swamp healthy and vital ones, and a general decadence would be the consequence. War is one of the essential factors of morality. If circumstances require it, it is not only the right but the moral and political duty of a statesman to bring about a war.’ Oswald Spengler writes: ‘War is the eternal form of higher human existence; states exist for the purpose of waging war.’ ‘War alone,’ Mussolini affirms, ‘brings up to the highest tension all human energy, and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it.’ Sir Arthur Keith in his Rectorial Address, delivered to the students of Aberdeen University in 1931, said: ‘Nature keeps her human orchard healthy by pruning; war is her pruning-hook. We cannot dispense with her services.’ There are men of all nations who have praised war as the giver of vigour, the promoter of survival, and the eliminator of weakness. It is said to develop lofty virtues like courage, honour, loyalty and chivalry.

The conscience of man has grown with the times; and today wars are not glorified but accepted with regret. While the Axis powers still cling to wars as essential factors in the growth of societies, while they believe that power is the test of a nation’s greatness, that the aim of the strong is to subjugate the weak, that aggressive war is a glory, not a crime, that whatever brings victory, fraud, treachery, terrorism, inhumanity, is justified, the Allied nations proclaim that they are obliged to wage war for the sake of peace, for the sake of building a world order in which the relations of states are so regulated as to avoid periodic wars. They detest not only wars but the spirit, the temper, the cast of mind the Axis powers [1]. In an atmosphere of war, all the instruments of education are being devoted to the cultivation of the war spirit. Our films exhibit the activities of the instruments of slaughter; the firing of cannons, the explosion of mines and torpedoes, tanks and aeroplanes. We fight the enemy with a heart full of savage hatred, and a head fortified by scientific cunning.

Religions, however, have exalted nonviolence as the supreme virtue, and acquiesced in violence on account of human imperfection. The good is never found in a pure form in this imperfect world; for its pure manifestation we must enter a world which is beyond good and evil. If the ideal has not penetrated the world as fully as we would desire, it does not follow that the ideal is to be abandoned. Absolute principles are to be related to the empirical world, which is changing and subject to human stupidity and selfishness. We must work for changes in the social situation which will make for a more adequate realization of the ideal. Such has been the attitude of religions on this question. I may take Hinduism and Christianity as illustrations.

  • The Hindu View

The Hindu scriptures look upon ahimsa, or nonviolence, as the highest virtue. Ahimsa is forbearance from himsa, or violence, which is the causing of pain or suffering to sentient creatures, man or animals. In the Chandogya Upanisad it is said that, even in yajnas or sacrifices, the gifts are moral qualities.[2] In the asramas, or forest hermitages, a spirit of friendliness to men and animals prevailed. But we cannot say that the Hindu scriptures require us to avoid the use of force altogether.

Bhagavad Gita scene with Krsna the charioteer and Arjuna the archer

The Hindu view does not sternly uphold a distant ideal, while condemning all compromises with it. The divine is not to be found in detachment from the common life. The concrete demands of each particular situation are studied, and the principle adapted to it. A remote ideal is different from a practicable programme. An unwarranted use of force is violence. When the inmates of the hermitages were harassed by the non-Aryan tribes, they suffered without retaliating; but they expected the Ksatriyas to protect them from the inroads of outsiders. In the Rg Veda it is said: ‘I string the bow of Rudra for the destruction of all who molest the Brahmins. I fight for the protection of the pure and I pervade heaven and earth.’[3] While we are asked to overcome physical evil with spiritual power, as in the conflict between Vasistha and Visvamitra, physical resistance to evil is also permitted. While all through there is emphasis on the power of the soul to overcome the enemy, resort to force is not excluded. While ascetics and hermits who have retired from the world, and so are not directly concerned with the welfare of organized societies, may not use arms in defence of individuals or groups, citizens are under an obligation to resist aggression by arms, if necessary and possible.

When a warrior, Senapati Singha, asked the Buddha whether it was wrong to wage war for the protection of their homes, the Buddha replied: ‘He who deserves punishment must be punished. The Tathagata does not teach that those who go to war in a righteous cause, after having exhausted all means to preserve the peace, are blameworthy.’ The Bhagavadgita adopts a similar view. It teaches svadharma to Arjuna, who is hesitant about his duty. Nonviolence belongs to the last two stages of life, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa. Arjuna, as a ksatriya householder, cannot pursue the ideal of a sannyasin. Krsna tried all peaceful methods of getting justice done, but having failed, he advises Arjuna to fight for the cause of justice and from a sense of duty, against the selfish and unrighteous exploiters. Krsna returned from his unsuccessful mission of peace and said: ‘Duryodhana was told what was truthful, wholesome and beneficial; the fool is not amenable. I consider therefore chastisement by war, danda, the fourth expedient, as proper for those sinners; by no other means can they be curbed.’ Again, if one man kills another in his own interest, he is doing a wrong; if he does so for the general good he is not to blame. Besides, Arjuna’s attitude was born of weakness, not of strength. He had no objection to killing as such, but only to killing his kinsmen. He is now called upon to fight without anger, fear or hatred. The opposite of love is hate, not force. There are occasions when love will use force. Love is not mere sentimentality. It can use force to restrain the evil and protect the good. Krsna explains to Arjuna the scheme of things, and bids him take his place among the workers for world welfare. He points out that every man should play his part in the world and give his utmost. In the name of the same humanity and love for which Arjuna refused to fight, he is now called upon to take up the work of war. Nonviolence is not a physical condition, but a mental attitude of love.[4]

Nonviolence as a mental state is different from non-resistance. It is absence of malice and hatred. Sometimes the spirit of love actually demands resistance to evil. We fight, but filled with inward peace. We must extirpate evil without becoming evil. If human welfare is the supreme of good, peace and war are good only in so far as they minister to it. We cannot say that violence is evil in itself. The violence of the police aims at social peace. Its aim is restraint of lawlessness. Destruction is not the aim of fighting in all cases. When its aim is human welfare, when it respects personality, then war is permissible. If we say that the criminal’s personality should not be violated, even when he violates the personalities of others, if we treat the gangster’s life as sacred, even when he brings about the destruction of several lives more valuable than his own, we acquiesce in evil. We cannot judge the use of force, as good or bad, by looking upon it in isolation. A surgical operation inflicts pain on the patient, but can be used to save life. Whether it is the knife of a surgeon, or of a murderer, makes all the difference.[5]

In an imperfect world, where all men are not saints, force has to be used to keep the world going. In the Satya Yuga there is no need for force; but in the Kali Yuga, when men have fallen from dharma, force is essential. The king is the bearer of the rod of punishment, dandadharah. The recognition of the ksatriya class indicates the justification for the employment of force. Manu and Yajnavalkya admit that dharma, or duty, sometimes requires the use of punishment. In the present conditions, the use of force is necessary to check the turbulent, protect the helpless, and keep order between man and man and group and group. But such a use of force is not by intention destructive. It works for the ultimate good of those to whom it is applied. This legitimate police action is necessary if we are to be saved from anarchy.

Himsa, or violence, is different from danda, or punishment. The former causes injury to an innocent person; the latter is legal restraint of the guilty. Force is not the law-giver, but the servant of the law. Dharma, or the right, is the ruling principle, and force ministers to its decrees. The Mahabharata describes the ideal of a student thus: ‘In the front the four Vedas; at the back the bow with arrows; on one side the spirit achieving its object through the might of spirit, on the other side military force achieving its ends’ [6]; but, as the Ramayana puts it, ‘strength of the warrior is contemptible; onloy that of the sage is real strength.’ [7] Where nonviolence is not possible, violence is permitted.[8] It is said that ‘one is free from sin in killing, confining, and inflicting pain, if they are for the welfare of the village, or from loyalty to the master, or for the sake of protecting the helpless.’[9] Again: ‘the teacher obtains the reward of virtue by admonishing his pupils, the master by doing the same to his servants, and the ruler by punishing transgressors.’[10] Manu says: ‘One may slay without hesitation a murderous assailant, even if he be the teacher, or an old or a young person, or even a learned Brahmin.’[11] The Vedas speak of wars and battles, and contain prayers for victory in battle and defeat of the enemies. The heroes of the Epics do not shrink from battle with the haters of the divine, asuras. Even the Brahmins took up arms, as is clear from the examples of such Brahmin warriors as Parasurama, Dronacarya and Asvatthama.[12] Kautilya actually refers to Brahmin armies, which were distinguished for their mildness toward the prostrate enemy. The Mahabharata asks: ‘Who is there who does not inflict violence? Even ascetics devoted to nonviolence commit violence, but by great effort they reduce it to a minimum’.[13] We are obliged to destroy some life in self defence, and some in order to get food [14]; but we ought to be always regretful, not complacent about it. We must never cause death or suffering beyond what we absolutely must.

There is a contradiction between the desire for the perfect good and the need to take up partial tasks which seem to outrage the perfect ideal; yet this contradiction is the only way to carry things forward. It is the root of all human endeavour. We have to mediate between the supreme ideal of absolute nonviolence and the actual conditions, where we have to further the realization of the highest by means which are imperfect. These rules of dharma are relative to the conditions of society, and may conflict with the canons of absolute goodness; but without them society will become lawless and anarchic. The absolute ideal must be brought into the context of the existing social situation; and by the interaction of the two, the evolution of society is secured.

Social growth is a continually evolving creative process, demanding both fidelity to the ideal of perfect love, and sensitivity to the concrete situation in which we have to work. Perfect nonviolence is undoubtedly the ideal. In a world ruled by love and justice, there will be no need for the use of force. The legislator Narada says: ‘When men were habitually devoted to dharma and were always truthful, there was no vyavahara (legal dispute), no hatred, no selfishness’.[15] The saints of the world are believers in absolute nonviolence. They use persuasion and passive resistance to evil. They believe in endurance, voluntary suffering, tapas. For violence breeds fear, hatred and callousness, and is possible only for the spiritually immature or perverted. The saints establish the traditions of pacific behaviour, of just dealing towards all, and of mercy towards the weak.

Bhisma tells Yudhisthira that nonviolence is the highest religion, the highest penance, the highest truth, from which all other virtues proceed.[16] Saintly souls cannot use force, for all their passions are killed; yet they are able to overpower evil. ‘The hard is overcome by the gentle; even the non-hard is overcome by it; there is nothing impossible for the gentle; therefore the gentle is more powerful.’[17] Those who wish to live the spiritual life of perfection leave the world and go into a monastery, or join a religious order. These sannyasins are expected to be nonviolent. ‘Regarding all with equal eye, he must be friendly to all living beings. And being devoted, he must not injure any living creature, human or animal, either in act, word or thought, and renounce all attachment’.[18] The Buddha warned his disciples against hurting or causing pain to any living being. Parsvanatha enjoined on his followers the four great vows: not to injure life, to be truthful, not to steal, and to possess no property. They do not belong to outer forms of society which have a specific function and disappear as soon as their function is fulfilled. These outer forms are accidental manifestations of the inner organization. These sannyasins, though they take no part in social struggles, do effectively help social growth. They are the true directors of the social movement, though they may not themselves be involved in this. They remind us of Aristotle’s ‘motor immobilis’.

The Hindu scriptures commend nonviolence as the supreme duty; but they indicate occasions on which departure from this principle is permissible. We live in a society governed by certain laws, codes and customs which are not ideal, but have made compromises, which use armies, police and prisons. Even in such a society, we can live a life inspired by love to all men. While keeping the ideal before us and always striving towards it, the Hindu view recognizes the relative justification of laws and institutions, because of the hardness of men’s hearts. ‘The wise know that both dharma and adharma are mixed with injury to others.’ But these institutions are stepping-stones to a better order. While we need not lose ourselves in the pursuit of an impossible perfection, we must strive perpetually to eliminate imperfection, and grow towards the ideal. Progress in civilization is to be judged by the number and character of the occasions on which exceptions to the rule are permitted. Brutal methods of teaching the young, crude punishments of offenders, are to be abolished. The ideal of ahimsa must be cherished by us as a precious goal, and deviations from it are to be accepted with regret. A somewhat similar view is to be found in the teaching of Jesus and his followers.

  • The Christian View

In the Old Testament there are two lines of thought, one pacific [9] and the other, which is the more predominant one, definitely militarist. The God of the Old Testament sanctions war and wholesale massacre. The nation was destroyed by the adoption of the militarist temper.

The teaching of Jesus is not a question to be decided by reference to statements inconsistent with the lawfulness of war, and others permitting the use of force. It is to be known from the character and example of Jesus. From this point of view, we may say that Jesus excludes all violence, and rules out war as a method of enforcing the will of nations. When Jesus quotes the Old Testament Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ he gives to it an extended significance. He says: ‘Whosoever is angry with his brother is in danger of the judgment.’ The blindness of the militarist is the theme of a famous parable in the New Testament: ‘When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh form him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.’[20]

New Testament scene in which Jesus drives the moneylenders out of the Temple

The revolutionary implications of Jesus’ revelation of God as the father of all became obscured by the practices of the races which adopted Christianity. The Sermon on the Mount is regarded as a counsel of despair, applicable, if at all, only to individuals not to states. Jesus’ maxims: ‘Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ ‘Resist no evil.’ ‘They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.’ ‘If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight; but now is my kingdom not from hence,’ are said to be relevant to personal relations, where magnanimity is more successful than angry retaliation. Jesus was not a legislator, and his non-resistance was meant only for a little flock in a hostile environment. Jesus does not ask us to abolish the system of public law. An organized society cannot abstain from the use of coercion. Even Christian states must suppress gangs of criminals, and defend themselves against invaders. Armed resistance is not contrary to the Gospel of Jesus. In violent language Jesus denounced the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. He was bitter against the Scribes and Pharisees. He drove the money-changers from the temple with a whip. ‘And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all of them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves.’ This conduct, which is not quite consistent with Jesus’ loving and tender disposition, and is inconceivable in the case of a Buddha or a Gandhi, is used to justify the use of violence.

The militarist emphasizes the side of Jesus who insisted that salvation was sectarian, of the Jews, not even of the Samaritans, who called Herod ‘fox’, cursed the fig tree, snubbed the Syrophoenician woman, and so frequently and vehemently denounced the Pharisees, even though he was their guest, as vipers, hypocrites, grafters and liars! With reference to the political upheaval which he anticipated after his death, he exhorted his followers to sell their garments and buy swords when the right moment came. ‘I came not to send peace but a sword.’ He declared that ‘Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’ He was fierce towards evil and stern to unrepentant sinners. Human life is full of conflicts and we have to choose the less of two evils. In any concrete situation we must balance good and evil, and seek the maximum possible human welfare in the circumstances. Sometimes the alternatives are a major operation or the certain death of of the patient. The Christian advises us to use the principle of nonviolence with moderation, and does not require of its followers absolute renunciation of ‘wealth, or of wife or of weapons.’

In the early Church there were protests against war. Justin Martyr, Marcion, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius and Eusebius all denounced war as incompatible with Christianity. Clement of Alexandria (AD 190-255) objected to war preparations, and liked the Christian poor to an ‘army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger and without defilement.’ Tertullian (AD 198-203) said that when Peter cut off Malcus’ ear, Jesus ‘cursed the works of the sword for ever after. Hippolytus (AD 203) viewed the Roman Empire as the Fourth beast of the Apocalypse and a Satanic imitation of the Christian Church, citing, as one of its features, preparation of war. Cyprian (AD 257) denounced ‘wars scattered everywhere with the bloody horrors of camps.’ Even when persecuted by the strongest temporal power, the early Church denounced the use of force. But, since the time of Theodosius the Great (AD 378-395), when Christianity became the State religion and was corrupted, the Church has been opposed to nonviolence. Since then there have been frequent fights between the Church and the State, and the Church had no time to decide about the rights and wrongs of violence.

The Christian Church in the first three centuries definitely repudiated war, yet when Christianity became established as a State religion, war entered into the Christian system, was first tolerated, and then blessed by the Church. The Thirty-Seventh Article asserts that ‘It is lawful for Christian men, at the command of the magistrate, to wear weapons and to serve in the wars.’ It does not say that it is a moral duty to assist the nation in a just war; but those who act so are acting lawfully from a Christian standpoint. The Catholics hold that the righteous are entitled to the ‘right of the sword’ when they use it in a just cause and without regard for personal profit. St. Thomas Aquinas exhorted the clergy to encourage troops, for ‘it is the duty of clerics to dispose and counsel other men to engage in just wars.’ If today Popes and Archbishops tell us that it is a Christian duty to kill, it is only the expression of this spirit, which entered into the Christian world centuries ago. ‘If Jesus of Nazareth, who preaches the love of enemies, were again among us in the flesh – nowhere would he rather be incarnate than in Germany – where do you think he would be found? Do you think he would be standing in a pulpit and saying angrily: ‘You sinful Germans, love your enemies’? Certainly not. Instead, he would be right in front, in the first ranks of the sword-bearers who are fighting with implacable hatred. That is where he would be, and he would bless the bleeding hands and the death-dealing weapons, would perhaps himself grasp a sword of judgment and drive the enemies of the Germans farther and farther from the frontiers of the promised land, as he once drove the Jewish merchants and usurers of the temple,’ said R.H. Heygrodt in 1915. [21]

To reconcile ‘resist no evil’ with ‘resist evil by force,’ turn the other cheek’ with ‘strike again’, is to reconcile light with darkness, good with evil. Only this reconciliation is to be viewed as a concession to the weakness of human nature. In the age of the Reformation there is one noble protest against war. Erasmus writes: ‘nothing is more impious, more calamitous, more inveterate, more base, or in sum more unworthy of a man, not to say of a Christian, than war. It is worse than brutal; to man no wild beast is more destructive than his fellow-men. When brutes fight they fight with weapons which Nature has given them, whereas we arm ourselves for mutual slaughter with weapons which Nature never thought of. Neither do beasts break out in hostile rage for trifling causes, but either when hunger drives them to madness, or when they find themselves attacked, or when they are alarmed for the safety of their young. But we, on frivolous pretences, what tragedies do we act on the theatre of war? ‘Love your enemies’ insists on a right attitude to one’s fellows. What is demanded is not mere non-resistance, which leaves the hate, the inner-violence, the fundamental power-urge untouched, but the spirit of love. The teaching of the Cross is that we cannot redeem the world of an evil like war, unless we are prepared to endure the suffering which it involves. We must hold ourselves aloof as far as possible from the savagery and the murderous passions of the world around us, in the hope that some day there will be an opportunity for the development of a sounder principle. We must light a candle for love in a world that is made with hate.

It is said that evil can be restrained only by force, and that in a world of strife and violence justice will perish if it is not defended. But is it for us to consider the consequences of adherence to the spirit of love? God will see to the victory of good over evil. It is our duty to apply everywhere and at all times the law of love, and not get lost over questions of expediency, practicality, prestige, honour, safety, which are all derived from fear and egotism. We cannot believe in a common Father, and acquiesce in a system that destroys masses of men with utter ruthlessness. Believers in God are bound to repudiate war, as opposed to the spirit of wisdom and love. However you may camouflage it, war is the effort of one group of men to impose its will by inflicting death and destruction on another group of men. The roots of war are in the hearts of men, in pride and fear, in envy and greed, even though these weaknesses assume national dress.

Cannot we participate in ‘holy’, in ‘just’, in ‘defensive’ wars? Jesus’ answer is clear and decisive. There can be no holier cause than that of the disciples who sought to defend the Saviour from his enemies. They wished to fight, not merely for the kingdom of this earth but for the kingdom of God, before which the highest claims of patriotism fade away. But the world is not to be saved by a resort to arms. It can be saved only by the suffering patience and sacrificial love of the Cross. No retaliation, no revenge, national or individual. We cannot say that the principle of love is to be limited to personal relations, and not extended to public and international relations. The Christian conscience is growing; and so, fifteen years ago, the archbishops and bishops at the Lambeth Conference declared war to be ‘incompatible with the mind of Christ’. We are beginning to feel that, if we are to be regarded as civilized, we must make an attempt to eliminate wars altogether. There is such a thing as the evolution of human conscience, the growth of our sense of right and wrong.

  • The Illusions of War

This world has suffered much pain and cruelty from doing what we believe to be right, rather than from doing what we knew to be wrong. The pain inflicted on the world by criminals and gangsters is much less than that due to the wrongdoing of good men. Religious wars were blessed by the Church. Judicial torture was inflicted not only on criminals, but also on witnesses, as a means of extracting truth. Sweating, child-labour and slavery were recognized as equitable. Wars also are regarded by good citizens as natural and harmless institutions of civilized life. But our descendants will view with shame our social behaviour as nations, even as we view enforced sati or the slave trade, and the sooner we anticipate the views of our descendants the better will it be for humanity. We are kept in a state of barbarism in these matters by artificial means. The wicked are not the real danger, but the ordinary law-abiding, kindly, industrious citizens gone nationally mad because their ideas of right and wrong have been deliberately and systematically perverted. The more deeply an abuse is embedded in the social system, the more difficult is it to rouse men’s conscience against it. The uprooting of basic ideas, of fixed mental habits with emotional associations, is a painful process. We must steadily move on to the goal of a warless world. Human nature is essentially plastic, and its future possibilities are still unexplored. Becoming better than we were, we realize that we could be better than we are. Though, in one sense, the kingdom of God will never be realized on earth, there is another sense in which it is always being realized. The world is never left wholly without glory, though it may not be what it should be. The recognition of the evil which is present in human nature and institutions, which has set the world in flames today, is the prelude to further advance. We must develop the will for peace, and establish conditions where the adventure of war becomes unattractive. Human nature is essentially conservative, and even inert. Only the sharpest need will rouse it to action. It changes only under the impulse of inner and outer necessity; but it does change. If it did not, man would be one of the extinct species. There is nothing so plastic as the human mind. Man is still in the making and is not made.

Civilised nations are slowly beginning to recognize war as an obsolete method of obtaining decisions. The slaughter involved in modern warfare is so much out of proportion to the ends that the arguments and sentiments which have been used in the past to justify wars are no more tenable. The habit of killing and making life intolerable is said to be an inevitable element in human nature. Spengler writes: ‘Man is a beast of prey. I will say it again and again. All the paragons of virtue and the social moralists who want to be or get beyond this, are only beasts of prey with broken teeth who hate the others on account of the attacks which they prudently avoid.’ In a recent work on Nationalism, the authors say: ‘The necessity of conflict resides neither in Nationalism nor in the Nation, but in the nature of man. It seems Utopian to anticipate a period in which men will cease to organize themselves in groups for the purpose of conflict with other groups’. [22] Man is not a beast of prey, who will always devour his weaker neighbours. Human beings are not like dangerous animals. Again human behaviour is largely acquired, not instinctive. It is not determined by germ cells as is the behaviour of wasps or ants. We do not grow wings or fins to cross the seas, but build aeroplanes and ships. It is this character that gives to man a superiority over the rest of creation. Man can adapt his behavior to circumstances. Love of war is not an instinctive attitude, but an acquired mental habit. Society wills today that we should suffer and die on the battlefield, even as at other periods it willed self-immolation, or dying under the car of Jagannath. Our minds are warped by the social system. Fear of society is stronger than fear of shells. To shake it off, we must get out of the ruts of mental and social convention. We must change the psychological climate.

Before the domestication of animals the hunter discharged a social duty by providing food. Today the hunter is not needed for that purpose; yet hunting is fashionable, because hunting for sport has taken the place of hunting for livelihood. Even so, when we were surrounded by raiding barbarians the soldier helped to make life more tolerable; but is war essential today? Man is the only animal who kills for reasons which are more or less metaphysical, for an obsolete claim to territory, for a childish passion for a mistress, for prestige, for drawing the frontiers at one line and not another. When an institution is no longer necessary, we invent fictitious reasons for satisfying our acquired tastes which long habit has produced. War was the sport of kings and the game of the upper classes, in which the prizes were wealth and honour [23]. War has become an end in itself, an exciting game, a vested interest of financiers. Those who engage in war are not bad men who believe themselves to be doing wrong, but good men who are convinced that they are doing right. So long as power and success are worshipped, the military tradition, in its modern form of mechanical inhumanity, will flourish. We must alter our values, we must recognize that violence is an unfortunate breach of community, and devise other ways of establishing satisfactory relationships. Bernard Shaw remarks somewhere that, in a really civilized society, flogging would be impossible, because no man could be persuaded to flog another. But as it is, any decent warder will do it for a rupee, probably not because he likes it or thinks it desirable on penal grounds, but because it is expected of him. It is obedience to social expectation. The pity and the sordidness of war lie in this: that without any evil in us we engage in it, not because we are in any way cruel, but because we mean to be kind. We engage in wars to save democracy, to win freedom for the world, to guard our women and children, to protect our hearts and homes. At least we believe so.

Even cannibalism, head-hunting, witch-burning and duels are regarded as anti-social, war must be regarded as a monstrous evil. We must admit that moral standards apply to states also; and actions, considered evil and unsocial in an individual, cannot become right and moral when performed by the state. War, which is murder and theft committed by large numbers, however necessary it may be, is an evil.

It is argued that there are military virtues like courage and renunciation, fidelity to duty and readiness to sacrifice. The soldier’s claim to greatness arises from his willing submission to the war machine. This is made possible by the imaginative presentment of war, its glories and dangers, on epic lines. War is regarded as a factor of progress and civilization, a source of virtue and happiness [24].

In the early days, war was a relatively clean thing, a series of single-handed combats like boxing-matches. Even in the Middle Ages men adopted the military profession, and sold themselves to rival states as mercenaries for wars which did not concern them. They committed murders for states to which they owed no allegiance. But modern wars with the savage weapons of assault, with the wholesale massacres of the most helpless and the least responsible elements of the population, are the worst calamity that can afflict a nation. Women and children are in the front line. Human ingenuity has marched on from flint to steel, from steel to gunpowder, from gunpowder to poison gas and disease germs. War with its intensive character and far-reaching impact, in the modern world of machines, is a menace to civilization. It brutalizes the emotions, by both its physical violence and its incessant propaganda of bitter hatred for the enemy. It reconciles us to the use of terrorism even as a method of domestic policy. It demoralizing nature is described by great thinkers. St. Augustine asks: ‘What does one condemn in war? Is it the fact that it kills men who all must some day die? Faint-hearted men may blame war for this, but not religious men. What one condemns in war is the desire to harm, implacable hate, the fury of reprisals, the passion for domination.’

Tolstoy, in his great work War and Peace, writes: ‘The purpose of war is murder; its tools are spying, treason and the encouragement of treason, the ruin of the inhabitants, robbing them or stealing from them to supply the army, deceit and lies, called military ruses; the habits of the military profession are the absence of freedom, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauch, drunkenness.’ Frederick the Great wrote to his minister Podewils: ‘If there is anything to gain by being honest men, we shall be honest men, and if it is necessary to cheat, we shall be cheats.’ [25] No one who is familiar with the general degradation of standards, with the sufferings and terrors of war, with the torment of mankind, will exaggerate its heroisms and triumphs. War, which sends millions of the world to death, which plunges myriads of homes into desolation, is a hideous evil. In it we have the concentration of all crimes. ‘Take my word for it,’ said the Duke of Wellington, ‘if you had seen but one day of war you would pray to Almighty God that you might never again see an hour of war.’ ‘A victory should be celebrated with the Funeral Rite,’ says Lao Tse [26].

War is said to be an inevitable evil, a calamity, a scourge sent by God, a natural disaster, earthquake or hurricane, something utterly impersonal. The appearance of barbarians is similar to an attack by a horde of locusts, or a cloud of disease germs, and we must repel the attack by the employment of force. Wars do not just occur as acts of God, or in accordance with laws of Nature; they are made by men and the training they receive. They are inevitable so long as we regard power politics as natural. If the values of justice and tolerance are to be subordinated to the power objective, then the law of the jungle cannot be superseded. If political realism means the acceptance of war as natural, we repudiate human freedom. Peace on earth is an act of faith, an act of free will against determinism.

We must fight fire with fire, say some, when the house is on fire; others hold that water, not fire, puts out conflagrations. ‘A weapon is silenced by a weapon.’ [27] If we believe in force, we cannot blame the Nazis for using it in a precise, scientific, ruthless manner, to break the human will. But can we defeat Fascism by adopting the policy of force and intimidation on which it thrives? The tradition of civilization, we argue, is threatened today by a new barbarism, more formidable than anything in the past, since it possesses an infinitely stronger scientific and technical equipment. This barbarism has for its chief characteristic a social mechanization, which treats art and culture, science and philosophy, as nothing more than instruments in the struggle for power. Nothing is sacred, neither man nor women nor child, neither home nor school nor religion. The state is organized as a mass community, and the whole militaristic system is put into action. Nazi Germany, where militarism is the leading function of a rapacious state, is the extreme logic of the doctrine of force. Lord Baldwin’s classic statement, that the only defence is in offence, means that we have to kill women and children more quickly than the enemy if we wish to save ourselves. If the enemy uses poison gas, we must do the same. If he adopts conscription, we should do the same. For defeating the enemy, we must become like him. Allied nations must become machines of total war. The principles of democracy, toleration and liberty must be surrendered – temporarily, we assert. We will assume for ourselves the same kind of regime which, in our enemies, we affect to despise. We must fight evil with evil, until we are the very evil that we fight. Far from conquering our enemies, we let them make us after their own image [28]. Stalin’s message to Russia indicates the extent of this danger: ‘It is impossible to defeat the enemy without learning to hate him with all our soul.’ [29] We profess different aims from out enemies, but adopt identical means. We believe that we can use cold-blooded hatred for developing love, total compulsion for attaining increased freedom. It is a competition in unscrupulousness and injustice; but all this will result in an insanity of the soul for which there is no cure. Thomas Aquinas says: ‘even for good ends we must pursue right paths, not wrong ones.’

If we invoke the spirit of hatred and bitterness for winning the war, we cannot cast them aside when we come to make the peace. It is a tragic error to argue that, though we may neglect and violate our ideals for the sake of defeating the enemy, we will have them restored when the trouble is over. If we adopt the methods of the enemy for defeating him, if, for winning victories in the field, we betray the spirit, the traditions of civilization are betrayed. War inflames passions, heats the imagination and makes us delirious; and in the mood engendered by war no reasonable settlement is possible. The first war, though won on the battlefield, was lost in the Versailles Palace. During the negotiations which preceded the Versailles Treaty, Lloyd George addressed to Clemenceau a memorandum, which is printed in his book, The Truth about the Peace Treaties, in which he wrote as follows: ‘You may strip Germany of her colonies, reduce her armaments to a mere police force and her navy to that of a fifth-rate Power; all the same, in the end, if she feels that she has been unjustly treated in the peace of 1919, she will find means of exacting retribution from her conquerors. The impression, the deep impression, made upon the human heart by four years of unexampled slaughter, will not disappear with the years upon which it has been marked by the terrible sword of the great war. The maintenance of peace will then depend upon there being no causes of exasperation constantly stirring up the spirit of patriotism, of justice or of fair play. But injustice, arrogance, displayed in the hour of triumph, will never be forgotten, or forgiven.’[30] The Versailles Treaty is in no small degree responsible for the later developments. In the diplomatic manoeuvres which followed, the frustration and despair of some nations, the pusillanimity and fear of others, brought about tense situations, till at last the leaders of nations got excited and went mad, plunging the world into flames. We may win this war; but shall we win the peace?

Again, if a dispute is settled by force, is it settled in the right way? The side which has the biggest reserves of manpower, money and munition wins. It does not show that their cause is just, but only that their armed force is superior. War does not settle any problem, except which side is the stronger. Those who wish to be the organizer of the world master the new technique of machine civilization, and employ it for sinister ends, disguised as civic devotion and love of freedom.

If wars become a permanent feature of international life, if we are to live in a state of perpetual preparedness and perpetual crisis, civilization will suffer a permanent blackout. War affords no solution of human wants. On the other hand, it brings in its train unspeakable human tragedy and suffering.

It is asked, what is the alternative? An ignoble servitude, in which everything ideal and refined would be lost, and spiritual progress become impossible: a grim, bleak, inhuman life, against which the human mind recoils. War, terrible as it is, is the lesser of the two evils. It is the only way by which we can keep alive men’s faith in the things of the spirit. The Greeks were right to have stood against Xerxes rather than become his helots. The Americans were right, who preferred war to remaining the servants of George III. The French Revolutionaries were right in shedding human blood to win liberties of the spirit. So are we right in denouncing Nazism. There are just wars.

But every war is represented as just by both sides in the conflict [31]. What is justice? If it is distributive justice, then an unfair or unequal allotment of possessions, opportunities, raw materials, places in the sun, and fields of economic and political influence, must be corrected. If justice is to consist in the right proportion between the importance of a nation and its possessions, what is the test of importance? Is it population, power, culture or experience in the business of government? Is there a system of law for which we fight? Do we insist that no nation should plunge the world into war until the resources of negotiation, discussion and arbitration are exhausted? Just wars are non-aggressive and liberative. They aim at defending the people against foreign invasion and attempts to enslave them. Unjust wars are wars of aggression, and aim at the seizure and enslavement of other countries. But is this distinction very clear? Issues are very complex, and our sources of information are poisoned by governments, so that it is difficult for us to decide which is a just war. Right and wrong are not so clearly divided that either side is possessed of only one or the other. At best, it is a distribution between the more just and the less just.

The difference between the aggressor and the defender is not real. We need not think that our enemies are archfiends who eat their babies alive. The defenders are defending what they previously won by aggression. They are defending the status quo, not a new and just society. The claim of possession has no meaning except in a society of law; and the anarchical international world has no regard for law. We believe that if we crush the Germans, and the Japanese, all will be well. We need not be so optimistic or complacent. At the end of the last war, the Germans were weakened and humiliated; Germany was forced to assume the sole guilt for the world war. The German Navy was sunk to the bottom of the sea, and her army reduced to a police force of a hundred thousand men. She was disarmed under promise of general disarmament, though no other great nation in Europe had the slightest intention of disarming. Preposterous reparations were imposed, which made not only the generation involved in the war, but also their children and grandchildren, helots and slaves. In Sir Eric Geddes’ words: ‘We squeezed Germany until the pips squeaked.’ Germany was encircled by a network of small states. The Saar was set up as an independent state, under the auspices of the League of Nations, the Rhineland was occupied and the Ruhr invaded. All this was done on the principle that might is right.

Any proud nation that was thus treated would have been plunged into an abyss of despair and accepted the destructive dynamic of Hitler and Nazism, which proclaims that ‘anything is better than the present state.’ Take the case of Japan, who has 465 people to the square mile, while in the USA there are 41. Japan’s population is increasing annually by about a million; she is faced by a steadily lowering standard of subsistence, and the ultimate period of starvation. She is afraid. She must have raw materials, or die. She saw Russia sweeping down on China from the north and the west; France had an empire in the south of China, and Britain a large sphere of influence in the Yangtze valley. The Japanese are not savage devils, but normal people who are afraid that they must do what they are doing, or die. We detest the German persecution of the Jews; but the USA refused to put the Japanese on the quota. The Exclusion Act is there, causing resentment in millions of hearts. The Nazis, who are adopting a programme of racial discrimination, borrowed a large part of their technique from some of the Allied nations. Mr. Lloyd George asks us not to judge the authors of the Versailles settlement by ‘the subsequent abuse of its provisions and powers by some of the nations who dictated its terms. The merits of a law cannot be determined by a fraudulent interpretation of its clauses by those who are in a position temporarily to abuse legal rights and to evade honourable obligations. It is not the Treaties that should be blamed. The fault lies with those who repudiated their own solemn contracts and pledges by taking a discreditable advantage of their temporary superiority to deny justice to those who, for the time being, were helpless to exact it.’ [32] When the Germans concluded an armistice on the basis of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the way in which they were treated by the victorious powers is thus related by Mr. Lloyd George: ‘The Germans had accepted our Armistice conditions, which were sufficiently severe, and they had compiled with the majority of those conditions. But, so far, not a single ton of food had been sent into Germany. The fishing fleet had even been prevented from going out to catch a few herrings. The Allies were now on top, but the memory of starvation might one day turn against them. The Germans were being allowed to starve whilst at the same time hundreds of thousands of tons of food were lying at Rotterdam, waiting to be taken up the waterways into Germany. The Allies were sowing hatred for the future, they were piling up agony, not for the Germans, but for themselves.’ [33] So long as the present ideals operate, the play will continue the same in the theatre of war; only the actors will change.

But can we always engage in wars, even if we know that our cause is just? The only decent motive for war is the prevention of injustice. For its sake, we accept war as the lesser of two evils. If there are no reasonable prospects of winning, any military resistance will increase the evil, not diminish it. We must give up faith in force, and judge our cause by the strength of the force behind it.

There is something more horrible than war; the killing of the spirit within the body. A Nazi world might possess a higher degree of unity than it has ever possessed in the past; but it would be a soulless unity, like the societies of the insect world. The distinctive human values of wisdom and love, the free use of intelligence and individual responsibility, will be spurned; the blind sociability of the gregarious animal, superstition, and the cult of race, will be exalted. In spite of all their inadequacies, the Allied nations stand up for human contentment and freedom, for social peace, and for justice to the disinherited of the world. There is, however, a strong feeling among millions of the world’s population that both sides stand rooted in old ways, and will evade justice to the depressed. They are both fighting for the defence or acquisition of possessions, and are ready to accept the horrors of war for safeguarding their interests.

Our whole conception of the state requires alteration. Power and force are not the ultimate realities in human society. A state is a group of association of persons inhabiting a certain defined territory, with a common government. When a certain state is said to be more powerful than another, all that is meant is that its inhabitants, on account of certain advantages, numbers, strategical position, control of raw materials, or development of agriculture and industry, or arms, are in a position to compel inhabitants of other areas by force to do what they wish them to do. In early days, the physically stronger individual exercised control over the weaker, even as powerful states control weaker ones. Is this in principle different from the husband who beats his wife, from a dacoit who holds up someone at a street corner and robs him of his purse, or an employer who breaks a strike? This faith in force is a disease that has twisted and tortured the world. It deprives us of our manhood. [34] A world in which the unspeakable fiendishness of war is possible is not worth saving. We must get rid of the social order, the nightmare world which is maintained by loudspeakers, flood-lighting and recurrent wars. War sets up a vicious circle, a dictated peace with revenge, resentment and thirst for revenge on the part of the vanquished, and war again. Humility becomes us all. A new technique, a revolutionary one, has to be adopted. About the feud between the houses of Capulet and Montague, Mercutio, slain in the duel, in the insight of the dying moment, cries: ‘A plague o’ both your houses.’ That bitter feud of one house against the other was cut across by a love that broke the vicious circle of its hate. In that final moment of the play Capulet says: ‘O brother Montague, give me thy hand.’

[to be continued.]

Part 2


[Note by Sachi: abbreviation in the original, E.T. = English translation, M.B. = Maha Bharata. Dots wherever they occur, are as in the original.]

[1] ‘The question of how we can gain German power’, Hitler writes in Mein Kampf, ‘is not how we can manufacture arms. It is how we can create the spirit which renders a people capable of bearing arms. Once this spirit dominates a people, it will find a thousand paths each of which leads to the necessary armament.’

[2] atayat tapo danam arjavam ahimsa satyavacanam itita asya daksinah. III.17.4.

Cp. Also:

Ahimsa prathamam puspam, puspam indriyanigrahah

Sarvabhutadaya puspam, ksamapuspam visesatah

Santi puspam tapah puspam, dhyanapuspam tathaiva ca

Satyam astavidham puspam visnoh pritikaram bhavet.


[3] I.X. 125

[4] Cp. Yoga Sutra, II. 35: ahimsa pratisthayam tat sannidhau vairatyagah.

[5] cikitsakas ca duhkhani janayan hitam apnuyat. Anusasanaparva, 227.5

[6] brahmatejomayam dandam asrjat purvam isvarah. Manu, VII.14

Again: dharmohi dandarupena brahmana nirmitah pura. Yajnavalkya, I.533

[7] agratah caturo vedah, prusthatah sa saram dhanuh

Idam brahmam idam ksatram, sapad api sarad api.

[8] dhig balam ksatriyabalam brahmotejo balam balam.

[9]gramartham bhartrupindartham dinanugrahakaranat

Vadha bandha pariklesan kurvan papat pramucyate – Anusasanaparva, 231.23

[10] guruh samtarjayan sisyan bharta bhrtyajanam svakan

Unmargapratipannam s’ca sasta dharmaphalam labhet. ibid, 227.4

[11] VIII.350

[12] Hindu lawgivers permit even Brahmins to take up arms in defence of their country and dharma (Manu, VIII.348), though it is mentioned in several passages that, for Brahmins, non violence is the highest virtue. Cp.:

ahimsa paramo dharmah sarvapranabhrtamvara

tasmat pranabhritassarvan nahimsyat brahmanah kvacit

ahimsa satyavacanam ksama ceti viniscitam

brahmanasya paro dharmah vedanamdharinopica. M.B. Adiparva, xi. 13ff

[13] kena himsanti jivan vai lokesmin dvijasattama

Bahu sancintya iha vai nasti kascid ahimsakah

Ahimsayastu nirata yatayo dvijasattama

Kurvanty evahi himsam te yatnad alpatara bhavet. Vanaparva, 212.32-34.

[14] sattvaih sattvani jivanti. (‘Living beings subsist on living beings.’) M.B.

[15] Chandogya Up., V.II. where Asvapati Kaikeya claims that he had cleared his kingdom of all thieves, drunkards, illiterate persons and debauchees:

Na me steno janapade na kadaryo na madyapah

Nanahitagnir nacavidvan na svairi svairini kutah.

[16] ahimsa paramo dharmah,

Ahimsa paramam tapah,

Ahimsa paramam satyam,

Tato dharma pravartate. Anusasanaparva, C.IV. 25.

see also, Adiparva, 115.25

[17] mrduna darunam hanti, mrduna hanty adarunam

Nasadhyam mrduna kincit tasmat tiksnataram mrduh.

Akkodhena jine kodham asadhum sadhuna jine

Jine kadariyam danena saccena alikavadinam

Akrodhena jayet krodham, asadhum sadhuna jayet

Jayet kadaryam danena satyenalikavadinam. M.B.

[18] Visnu Purana, III.9

[19] see Matthew v.43-45; Luke ix. 51-56.

[20] Luke xi.21-22.

[21] Thus Spake Germany, Coole and Potter, p.8.

[22] p. 335.

[23] Charles Seignobos, in The Rise of European Civilisation, says: ‘War was regarded by the nobles (in the Middle Ages) not as a misfortune, but as a pleasure and even as an opportunity of obtaining wealth by pillaging an enemy’s domain or taking him prisoner and holding him to ransom. A substitute for war was sometimes found by arranging in advance for a combat between the nobles of one and the same country. This was the original form of the tournament, in which both sides fought with warlike weapons, taking prisoner those whom they unhorsed and holding them to ransom.’

[24] Cp. Treitschke: ‘Only a few timorous visionaries have closed their eyes to the splendor with which the Old Testament celebrates the soverign beauty of a just and holy war… A people which becomes attached to the chimerical hope of perpetual peace finishes irremediably by decaying in its proud isolation…That war should ever be banished from the world is a hope not only absurd, but profoundly immoral. Imagine: it would involve the atrophy of many of the essential and sublime forces of the human soul, and would transfer the globe into a vast temple of egoism.’ see Thus Spake Germany, Coole and Potter (1941), pp. 59-60.

[25] X.25. Cp. Frederick the Great: ‘The surest means of concealing a ruler’s secret ambition is for him to manifest peaceful sentiments until the favourable moment for revealing his secret designs.’ – Political Testament (1768).

[26] The Book of Tao, XXXI.

[27] astram astrena samyati.

[28] Sir Edward Grigg: ‘If I am to take up arms to prove that the taking up of arms is a crime against humanity, I am surely no better than my neighbor who takes up arms merely to prove that he can use them better than I can and is therefore entitled to govern me. His object and mine, his method and mine, become precisely similar. I am to rule him by force or he is to rule me.’ – The Faith of an Englishman.

[29] Bismark expressed the German hatred for France in the crushing statement: ‘The French must be left only their eyes to weep with.’

In the First World War, Ernst Tissaner wrote A Hymn of Hate against England:

‘You will hate with a lasting hate,

We will never forgo our hate,

Hate by water and hate by land,

Hate of the head and hate of the hand,

Hate of hammer and hate of the crown,

Hate of seventy millions, choking down.

We love as one, we hate as one,

We hate our foe, and one alone, England.’ – E.T. by Barbara Henderson.

A Hungarian folksong of the eighteenth century reads thus:

‘O Magyar, think no German true

No matter how he flatter you:

For thugh his promises invoke

A letter bigger than your cloak

And though he add (the big poltroon!)

A seal to match the harvest moon,

You may be sure he means not well –

May Heaven blast his soul to hell.’

[30] (1938), p.405.

[31] ‘Now may God defend you all and may God be with the right.’ – Neville Chamberlain (3rd March 1939). ‘…and we reverently commit our cause to God.’ – King George VI. (3rd September, 1939)

‘May God be with you.’ – Greenwood (for Labour ‘Opposition’). ‘With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine’s Providence…’ – Sir Archibald Sinclair (for the Liberal Opposition’).

‘We only wish that God Almighty, who has blessed our arms, may enlighten other nations…’ – Hitler (Danzig speech).

‘…the blessing of the Almighty rests on our fight.’ – President Moscicki.

‘May God help us in the Great ordeal which now awaits us.’ – Archbishop of Canterbury and other dignitaries of the Church.

‘When you come to think of it, it is a great honour to be chosen by God to be his His ally in so great a contest.’ – Canon C.Morgan Smith.

‘We thank God that He gave us a speedy victory to our arms…We thank Him that injustice, centuries old, has been broken down through His grace…’ – The German Evangelical ‘Opposition’ in the Spiritual Council’s Proclamation on the capture of Poland.

‘I am certain, as sure as I sit here, that if Christ appeared today he would approve of this war.’ – Judge Richardson (Chairman, Newcastle Tribunal of Conscientious Objectors).


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