The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes

By Joseph Jastrow | Go to book overview

XI
MILITARISM AND PACIFISM

THE controversy of militarism versus pacifism is large in extent, far-reaching in root and branch. It commands the tensest thought of the day and the anxious vista of to-morrow. It is here to be reviewed in argument and circumstance as it affects the alert modern mind. What affects that mind may have a variable logical value and a shifting psychological pertinence; standards of judgment must be correspondingly elastic. Arguments derive their momentum, their "convincing" energy, from the spirit and genius of the attitudes of their champions. The concrete points of view of militarists and pacifists determine the course of the controversy. The appeal of ideas becomes more significant than the push and pull of events; as "always the thought is prior to the fact." The controversy is Janusfaced, looking backward to wars and their provocations, forward to measures that will make war remote. Precedents count heavily when they accumulate rapidly and pertinently. This cannot be the case for the wars of great nations and the rapid modernization of ideas and conditions to which alike the nations and the wars are responsive. For foresight as well as insight "fifty years of Europe" is immeasurably "better than a cycle of Cathay." The psychological perspective must be maintained; to its composition the contemporary, the national, the personal allegiances contribute.

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