"Representatives of governments, private persons, and official
organs say the same thing; it is repeated in parliamentary
debates, diplomatic correspondence, and even in state treaties.
At the same time governments are increasing the strength of
their armies every year, levying fresh taxes, raising loans,
and leaving as a bequest to future generations the duty of
repairing the blunders of the senseless policy of the present.
What a striking contrast between words and deeds! Of course
governments will plead in justification of these measures that
all their expenditure and armament are exclusively for purposes
of defense. But it remains a mystery to every disinterested
man whence they can expect attacks if all the great powers are
single-hearted in their policy, in pursuing nothing but self
defense. In reality it looks as if each of the great powers
were every instant anticipating an attack on the part of the
others. And this results in a general feeling of insecurity
and superhuman efforts on the part of each government to
increase their forces beyond those of the other powers. Such a
competition of itself increases the danger of war. Nations
cannot endure the constant increase of armies for long, and
sooner or later they will prefer war to all the disadvantages
of their present position and the constant menace of war. Then
the most trifling pretext will be sufficient to throw the whole
of Europe into the fire of universal war. And it is a mistaken
idea that such a crisis might deliver us from the political and
economical troubles that are crushing us. The experience of
the wars of latter years teaches us that every war has only
intensified national hatreds, made military burdens more
crushing and insupportable, and rendered the political and
economical grievous and insoluble."
"Modern Europe keeps under arms an active army of nine millions of
men," writes Enrico Ferri,
"besides fifteen millions of reserve, with an outlay of four
hundred millions of francs per annum. By continual increase of
the armed force, the sources of social and individual
prosperity are paralyzed, and the state of the modern world may
be compared to that of a man who condemns himself to wasting
from lack of nutrition in order to provide himself with arms,
losing thereby the strength to use the arms he provides, under,
the weight of which he will at last succumb."
Charles Booth, in his paper read in London before the Association
for the Reform and Codification of the Law of Nations, June 26,
1887, says the same thing. After referring to the same number,
nine millions of the active army and fifteen millions of reserve,
and the enormous expenditure of governments on the support and
arming of these forces, he says:
"These figures represent only a small part of the real cost,
because besides the recognized expenditure of the war budget of
the various nations, we ought also to take into account the
enormous loss to society involved in withdrawing from it such
an immense number of its most vigorous men, who are taken from
industrial pursuits and every kind of labor, as well as the
enormous interest on the sums expended on military preparations
without any return. The inevitable result of this expenditure
on war and preparations for war is a continually growing
national debt. The greater number of loans raised by the
governments of Europe were with a view to war. Their total sum
amounts to four hundred millions sterling, and these debts are
increasing every year."
The same Professor Komarovsky says in another place:
"We live in troubled times. Everywhere we hear complaints of
the depression of trade and manufactures, and the wretchedness
of the economic position generally, the miserable conditions of
existence of the working classes, and the universal
impoverishment of the masses. But in spite of this, governments
in their efforts to maintain their independence rush to the
greatest extremes of senselessness. New taxes and duties are
being devised everywhere, and the financial oppression of the
nations knows no limits. If we glance at the budgets of the
states of Europe for the last hundred years, what strikes us
most of all is their rapid and continually growing increase.
"How can we explain this extraordinary phenomenon which sooner
or later threatens us all with inevitable bankruptcy?
"It is caused beyond dispute by the expenditure for the
maintenance of armaments which swallows up a third and even a
half of all the expenditure of European states. And the most
melancholy thing is that one can foresee no limit to this
augmentation of the budget and impoverishment of the masses.
What is socialism but a protest against this abnormal position
in which the greater proportion of the population of our world
"We are ruining ourselves," says Frederick Passy in a letter read
before the last Congress of Universal Peace (in 1890) in London,
"we are ruining ourselves in order to be able to take part in
the senseless wars of the future or to pay the interest on
debts we have incurred by the senseless and criminal wars of
the past. We are dying of hunger so as to secure the means of
killing each other."
Speaking later on of the way the subject is looked at in France,
"We believe that, a hundred years after the Declaration of the
Rights of Man and of the citizen, the time has come to
recognize the rights of nations and to renounce at once and
forever all those undertakings based on fraud and force, which,
under the name of conquests, are veritable crimes against
humanity, and which, whatever the vanity of monarchs and the
pride of nations may think of them, only weaken even those who
are triumphant over them."
"I am surprised at the way religion is carried on in this
country," said Sir Wilfrid Lawson at the same congress.
"You send a boy to Sunday school, and you tell him: 'Dear boy,
you must love your enemies. If another boy strikes you, you
mustn't hit him back, but try to reform him by loving him.'
Well. The boy stays in the Sunday school till he is fourteen
or fifteen, and then his friends send him into the army. What
has he to do in the army? He certainly won't love his enemy;
quite the contrary, if he can only get at him, he will run him
through with his bayonet. That is the nature of all religious
teaching in this country. I do not think that that is a very
good way of carrying out the precepts of religion. I think if
it is a good thing for a boy to love his enemy, it is good for
a grown-up man."
"There are in Europe twenty-eight millions of men under arms,"
"to decide disputes, not by discussion, but by murdering one
another. That is the accepted method for deciding disputes
among Christian nations. This method is, at the same time,
very expensive, for, according to the statistics I have read,
the nations of Europe spent in the year 1872 a hundred and
fifty millions sterling on preparations for deciding disputes
by means of murder. It seems to me, therefore, that in such a
state of things one of two alternatives must be admitted:
either Christianity is a failure, or those who have undertaken
to expound it have failed in doing so. Until our warriors are
disarmed and our armies disbanded, the have not the right to
call ourselves a Christian nation."
In a conference on the subject of the duty of Christian ministers
to preach against war, G. D. Bartlett said among other things:
"If I understand the Scriptures, I say that men are only
playing with Christianity so long as they ignore the question
of war. I have lived a longish life and have heard our
ministers preach on universal peace hardly half a dozen times.
Twenty years ago, in a drawing room, I dared in the presence of
forty persons to moot the proposition that war was incompatible
with Christianity; I was regarded as an arrant fanatic. The
idea that we could get on without war was regarded as
unmitigated weakness and folly."
The Catholic priest Defourney has expressed himself in the same
spirit. "One of the first precepts of the eternal law inscribed
in the consciences of all men," says the Abby Defourney,
"is the prohibition of taking the life or shedding the blood of
a fellow-creature without sufficient cause, without being
forced into the necessity of it. This is one of the
commandments which is most deeply stamped in the heart of man.
But so soon as it is a question of war, that is, of shedding
blood in torrents, men of the present day do not trouble
themselves about a sufficient cause. Those who take part in
wars do not even think of asking themselves whether there is
any justification for these innumerable murders, whether they
are justifiable or unjustifiable, lawful or unlawful, innocent
or criminal; whether they are breaking that fundamental
commandment that forbids killing without lawful cause.
But their conscience is mute. War has ceased to be something
dependent on moral considerations. In warfare men have in all
the toil and dangers they endure no other pleasure than that of
being conquerors, no sorrow other than that of being conquered.
Don't tell me that they are serving their country. A great
genius answered that long ago in the words that have become a
proverb: 'Without justice, what is an empire but a great band
of brigands?' And is not every band of brigands a little
empire? They too have their laws; and they too make war to
gain booty, and even for honor.
"The aim of the proposed institution [the institution of an
international board of arbitration] is that the nations of
Europe may cease to be nations of robbers, and their armies,
bands of brigands. And one must add, not only brigands, but
slaves. For our armies are simply gangs of slaves at the
disposal of one or two commanders or ministers, who exercise a
despotic control over them without any real responsibility, as
we very well know.
"The peculiarity of a slave is that he is a mere tool in the
hands of his master, a thing, not a man. That is just what
soldiers, officers, and generals are, going to murder and be
murdered at the will of a ruler or rulers. Military slavery is
an actual fact, and it is the worst form of slavery, especially
now when by means of compulsory service it lays its fetters on
the necks of all the strong and capable men of a nation, to
make them instruments of murder, butchers of human flesh, for
that is all they are taken and trained to do.
"The rulers, two or three in number, meet together in cabinets,
secretly deliberate without registers, without publicity, and
consequently without responsibility, and send men to be
"Protests against armaments, burdensome to the people, have not
originated in our times," says Signor E. G. Moneta.
"Hear what Montesquieu wrote in his day. 'France [and one
might say, Europe] will be ruined by soldiers. A new plague is
spreading throughout Europe. It attacks sovereigns and forces
them to maintain an incredible number of armed men. This
plague is infectious and spreads, because directly one
government increases its armament, all the others do likewise.
So that nothing is gained by it but general ruin.
"'Every government maintains as great an army as it possibly
could maintain if its people were threatened with
extermination, and people call peace this state of tension of
all against all. And therefore Europe is so ruined that if
private persons were in the position of the governments of our
continent, the richest of them would not have enough to live
on. We are poor though we have the wealth and trade of the
"That was written almost 150 years ago. The picture seems drawn
from the world of to-day. One thing only has changed-the form
of government. In Montesquieu's time it was said that the
cause of the maintenance of great armaments was the despotic
power of kings, who made war in the hope of augmenting by
conquest their personal revenues and gaining glory. People
used to say then: 'Ah, if only people could elect those who
would have the right to refuse governments the soldiers and the
money--then there would be an end to military politics.' Now
there are representative governments in almost the whole of
Europe, and in spite of that, war expenditures and the
preparations for war have increased to alarming proportions.
"It is evident that the insanity of sovereigns has gained
possession of the ruling classes. War is not made now because
one king has been wanting in civility to the mistress of
another king, as it was in Louis XIV.'s time. But the natural
and honorable sentiments of national honor and patriotism are
so exaggerated, and the public opinion of one nation so excited
against another, that it is enough for a statement to be made
(even though it may be a false report) that the ambassador of
one state was not received by the principal personage of
another state to cause the outbreak of the most awful and
destructive war there has ever been seen. Europe keeps more
soldiers under arms to-day than in the time of the great
Napoleonic wars. All citizens with few exceptions are forced
to spend some years in barracks. Fortresses, arsenals, and
ships are built, new weapons are constantly being invented, to
be replaced in a short time by fresh ones, for, sad to say,
science, which ought always to be aiming at the good of
humanity, assists in the work of destruction, and is constantly
inventing new means for killing the greatest number of men in
the shortest time. And to maintain so great a multitude of
soldiers and to make such vast preparations for murder,
hundreds of millions are spent annually, sums which would be
sufficient for the education of the people and for immense
works of public utility, and which would make it possible to
find a peaceful solution of the social question.
"Europe, then, is, in this respect, in spite of all the
conquests of science, in the same position as in the darkest
and most barbarous days of the Middle Ages. All deplore this
state of things--neither peace nor war--and all would be glad
to escape from it. The heads of governments all declare that
they all wish for peace, and vie with one another in the most
solemn protestations of peaceful intentions. But the same day
or the next they will lay a scheme for the increase of the
armament before their legislative assembly, saying that these
are the preventive measures they take for the very purpose of
"But this is not the kind of peace we want. And the nations
are not deceived by it. True peace is based on mutual
confidence, while these huge armaments show open and utter lack
of confidence, if not concealed hostility, between states.
What should we say of a man who, wanting to show his friendly
feelings for his neighbor, should invite him to discuss their
differences with a loaded revolver in his hand?
"It is just this flagrant contradiction between the peaceful
professions and the warlike policy of governments which all
good citizens desire to put an end to, at any cost."
People are astonished that every year there are sixty thousand
cases of suicide in Europe, and those only the recognized and
recorded cases--and excluding Russia and Turkey; but one ought
rather to be surprised that there are so few. Every man of the
present day, if we go deep enough into the contradiction between
his conscience and his life, is in a state of despair.
Not to speak of all the other contradictions between modern life
and the conscience, the permanently armed condition of Europe
together with its profession of Christianity is alone enough to
drive any man to despair, to doubt of the sanity of mankind, and
to terminate an existence in this senseless and brutal world.
This contradiction, which is a quintessence of all the other
contradictions, is so terrible that to live and to take part in it
is only possible if one does not think of it--if one is able to
What! all of us, Christians, not only profess to love one another,
but do actually live one common life; we whose social existence
beats with one common pulse--we aid one another, learn from one
another, draw ever closer to one another to our mutual happiness,
and find in this closeness the whole meaning of life!--and to-
morrow some crazy ruler will say some stupidity, and another will
answer in the same spirit, and then I must go expose myself to
being murdered, and murder men--who have done me no harm--and more than that, whom I love. And this is not a remote contingency, but the very thing we are all preparing for, which is not only probable, but an inevitable certainty.
To recognize this clearly is enough to drive a man out of his
senses or to make him shoot himself. And this is just what does
happen, and especially often among military men. A man need only
come to himself for an instant to be impelled inevitably to such
"It is concentration of capitals already formed, destruction of their individual independence, expropriation of capitalist by capitalist, transformation of many small into few large capitals ... Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because it has in another place been lost by many ... The battle of competition is fought by cheapening of commodities. The cheapness of commodities demands, caeteris paribus, on the productiveness of labour, and this again on the scale of production. Therefore, the larger capitals beat the smaller. It will further be remembered that, with the development of the capitalist mode of production, there is an increase in the minimum amount of individual capital necessary to carry on a business under its normal conditions. The smaller capitals, therefore, crowd into spheres of production which Modern Industry has only sporadically or incompletely got hold of. Here competition rages ... It always ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals partly pass into the hands of their conquerors, partly vanish"