War in the Twentieth Century

War in the Twentieth Century

War in the Twentieth Century

War in the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

In our moments of despair we sometimes liken the world we live in to a lunatic asylum. The comparison breaks down because it is unfair to the madhouse; nevertheless the contrast remains illuminating. A modern mental hospital is a sane, decent, well-ordered place. The only lunacy there is in the minds of human beings. A mental hospital is a sane society populated by madmen. Modern society, however, is thoroughly deranged, but the people in it are mostly sane.

The madness of our world usually escapes observation because it is on such a fantastically large scale. Each one of us plays reasonably his part in the great human drama. We are all sane, more or less, but the play which we enact is utterly mad. In the years 1914-1918 the civilized nations of the world staged the most gigantic holocaust of man-made destruction the world had ever seen. Millions were slaughtered; millions more were made homeless or fatherless; the destruction went on until starvation stopped it. It was a senseless butchery, but while it was going on we somehow deluded ourselves with the notion that a better world would come of it. How many times we uttered, with the orotund voice considered appropriate for such speeches, the words "not in vain!"

Germany surrendered, and then came the peace, a bizarre combination of idealism and cruelty. A reasonable man, when he has his enemy at his mercy, will either kill him or make friends with him. The victorious nations did neither. They were not hard enough to make a Roman peace nor kind enough to make a just peace. The so-called peace that followed the war was not exactly war and yet it certainly was not peace. The Allies demanded reparations, but refused to accept the goods which furnished the only possible means of payment. Through tariffs, quotas, and other measures European nations managed after the war to reduce their trade to the vanishing point, and through these devices, upon which their best minds expended much thought, they greatly impoverished themselves as well as their enemies. International economic relations since 1918 furnish . . .

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