Courtesy Reuters

Pacifism and Democracy

IN all countries there are democrats who maintain that a democratic state must, because it is democratic, refuse any kind of war -- a war of defense just as much as a war of conquest. Their thesis is that a democracy must abstain from any international action which is liable to cause war. In short, it must be for peace at any price.

Those who take this position do not always say so frankly. They are embarrassed to admit that they refuse even a defensive war. They therefore claim that what is being presented to them as a defensive war is really an offensive war, planned by politicians or industrialists who expect to derive power or profits from having men kill one another. I once asked one of them whether he thought that the Greeks were right to have stood out against Xerxes rather than become his Helots. He did not reply. If he had stuck to his thesis he would have had to answer that they acted wrongly. Not long ago a citizen of a certain great democracy exclaimed: "This policy of our President means that we shall have war, and one out of every four of our sons will be killed." He should have been told that his own policy meant that all four of them risked becoming slaves. Maybe subconsciously he really preferred this prospect; but he probably would not have admitted it, even to himself.

Others are more outspoken. They endorse a slogan which a group of French Socialists adopted a few years ago: "Servitude rather than war!" Or one that we used to hear from certain French intellectuals: "In our eyes nothing justifies war."[i] In most cases this position is based simply on a desire to avoid fighting, camouflaged as well as possible under doctrinal reasons. The desire is normal enough, and especially today when war has become the thing we know it to be and when the whole nation is involved in it. Sometimes, however,

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