Among such alleged virtues of war is that ruthless determination, developed especially among the leaders of battle that wills to achieve its end at any cost. It is personified in the Caesars and Napoleons of history. There is a certain grandeur about such personalities that appeals to men or they would not have erected most of their statues to them and given them the place of honor in their histories.
But that this is not a true virtue may be proved by the fact that Friedrich Nietzsche had to do violence to all accepted moral standards in order to justify it. Physical hardihood is another quality that war developed in men. This quality has also been considered an indispensable virtue, by many ethical thinkers, conspicuous among them is William James.
But we might justly question whether only the disciple of war could produce this hardihood in men or whether after all it is of sufficient importance to present a real problem. Other virtues of similar nature might be pointed too. They represent a class of attributes of character that were once so necessary to the business of war that men naturally admired them while engaged in it. We may venture to hope that they will lose their place among true virtues as they become less indispensable to men in times of permanent peace.
We may say therefore, that there are at least some qualities demanded and produced by war that need not be conserved necessarily for a civilization of peace. But such a conclusion will not be as easy in regard to a nobler virtue which has received its highest expression in the struggle of nations, willingness to sacrifice, the heroism that forgets itself in the struggle for the common good. Can a civilization of peace offer risk great enough and demand sacrifices severe enough to draw men out of their ordinary selfishness.
For though men have always been inclined to self-seeking, they have at the same time cherished sacrifice as their highest ideal of conduct and have welcomed every opportunity to realize it. It is because war is a "mixed crusade and martyrdom", in the words of DeQuincy, that it has such an irresistible charm to many. The glories of martyrdom appeal to men but they do not care for martyrdom alone.
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Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice is not an ideal that gives men power to overcome the selfishness of their ways. The sacrifice must be a sacrifice for a cause and the cause must be a great one. Martyrdom in a crusade, martyrdom for the success of great issues, this men have worshipped as the highest end of life. It is because war has presented to the individual what seemed to him to be greatest of all issues, that it has been so successful in satisfying his nobler passions. Altruism, as an abstract principle does not appeal to man. Loyalty to a community is the secret and the power of his altruism.
And the community imperiled is that which incites him most to serve it. To defend the community is the highest cause of sacrifice he knows. Moreover, it is natural that he should serve a large community more readily than a limited one. And this is what he is called upon to do in national crises. He finds in peril the largest community which he recognizes and to defend it seems to him his highest duty.
It is for this reason that to the average man war means the noblest expression of altruism. It must be said of course that this was not the motive that always animated the warriors of old. They fought for pure love of the fight.
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Sometimes they fought for the supremacy of their nation over others. But for man at his highest moral development the defense of the nation is the only true motive of his sacrifice. It is for this reason that every nation involved in the present struggle has so assiduously propagated the impression that defense has been its only motive. If we would abolish war must we not satisfy the altruism of man by presenting him with issues that will seem to him as momentous as has this issue?
The defense of the fatherland is of course not the only cause that has demanded the self-denying heroism of men. But history proves that it has been the most successful one. If the humdrum existence of peaceful days had offered larger issues men would not have turned so greedily to the opportunities of war. There are no doubt moral issues, not connected with patriotic conflicts, that might become incentives to the higher passions of men but they need a stronger emphasis than they have in present civilization if they would be fitting vehicles of man's heroism.
Perhaps William James is a little unjust when, after enumerating the most common propaganda of the day, he scorns the community that would be satisfied with them and cries "Fie upon such a cattleyard of a planet", and yet we will have to admit that many of the issues with which men busy themselves in times of peace are not genuine enough and not momentous enough to enlist the complete devotion of men. Politics, business, religion, all offer real opportunities for a heroic and self-denying devotion to a common good.
But too many of their battles are sham and too many of their issues trivial to arouse the latent heroism of men as it is aroused by national crises. The problem of making war less attractive to men is therefore not one of providing for new issues but rather one of making old ones more genuine. If peace would be permanent in the future its issues must be of a different character, at least of a different degree of intensity than the issues of the peace of the past. There is no reason why this should not be so. If permanent peace could be established society would have to be reconstructed in many respects and in this reconstruction much would be done to solve our problem.
Thus, for instance, a community much wider than an individual state would be established, to serve which ought to be a more inviting service than to serve one state. The establishment of an international community, only possible through the abolishment of war, ought to be, at the same time, the greatest factor in providing an adequate moral substitute for war. This argument the advocates of peace have effectively used. And there is much to commend it. History has shown us how men have constantly progressed in paying their allegiance to wider and wider communities.
The family was replaced by the clan and the clan by the nation in the affection of men. There is therefore no reason why we should not hope that a universal community will someday replace the state as the object of men's loyalty. There have been apologists for war who have contended that the state must eternally be the widest community to which men might be loyal since any wider community would not be tangible enough to command their allegiance.
But the progress of affairs is disproving this rather clever defense of war. International intercourse in a thousand different fields is making more and more tangible the community of nations. And the advocates of peace have not been without success in proving that a universal community is not only real but that it can be organized sufficiently to express its desires and advance its claim. To prove this has been almost the entire burden of the modern peace propaganda. Though the racial nation will probably never be displaced, it is not too much to hope that the claims of an international community and the rights of humanity will be pressed upon the conscience of the individual with increasing force, so that it will become practically impossible to make war the expression of any altruistic motives.
The abolishment of war will therefore solve its own problem, to an extent at least, by creating a community to which man can be more sincerely loyal than to any limited community and which he may serve without fear that he may be really defeating his own altruistic purpose in his service, as would be the case in serving a community that does not embrace all people who have a just claim upon him.
But the mere creation of a larger community than has heretofore existed will not solve the whole of our problem. Though humanity as a whole may become the object of man's sincere devotion, its claim and its rights must be brought forcibly to his attention and something specific must be at stake before he will make great sacrifices for it. Tangible as an international community may be it must always be somewhat vague to the individual if special issues do not bring its claims to his attention.
And if permanent peace is established the state cannot continue to claim the loyalty of men in a special way. Of course men will always have a particular sense of devotion to that part of humanity which is best known to them and their own particular race and nation will therefore be the object of their special interest insofar as its claims do not conflict with the larger claims of humanity. Nevertheless, in the event of permanent peace, neither the nation nor humanity, taken as they are, would adequately present to man the issues for which he finds it necessary and for which he is willing to risk his life.
Something must be imperiled, something definite must be at stake, as has been the case in the crises of war.
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What we need therefore, if we would conserve the best values of war, is to have the large community, that embraces all humanity, divided into smaller communities of interest in place of geographical communities, which might bring some particular need of humanity to man's attention and for whose success men might feel called upon to make special sacrifices. The world is of course not lacking in agencies of every order that serve to give expression to some particular or to several of humanity's needs and man's interests.
But their interests are often too small to enlist man's self-denying devotion and often when their interests are large they are too soft spoken in demanding support and sacrifices. It is for this reason that Steinmatz in his "Philosophy of War" contends that no society can take the place of the state. All communities but the state, he argues, are voluntary and therefore fail to make those imperious demands upon man which the state makes and which man needs and likes. While it would be hard to agree with this contention that involuntary service is the fittest mode of expressing our devotion to a community we must recognize, nevertheless, that the state has satisfied a real need in man's moral nature that no voluntary society has satisfied when it expressed its need or his services in a more commanding way than any society has dared to do.
But there is no reason why voluntary organizations should not dare a little more, should not make their purpose so high and their call to service so effective that they may take the place of the state as the object and the vehicle of the militant altruism of men. There is one agency, one special community that ought to be particularly effective in providing adequate moral substitutes for war. That agency is none other than the christian church. If its purposes and ideals are not great enough to interest men, they ought to be, and if its call to service has been too soft spoken this is certainly not because of its true nature.
If the church is not now an agency that could demand and receive the sacrificing devotion of men it certainly has the possibilities of becoming one. It is more universal than most agencies and its ideals are more unique and therefore more challenging than are those of any other special community. Moreover it can never, if it remains true to its ideals, come in conflict with the interests of that larger community, humanity, for to serve humanity is its avowed purpose.
It is the ideal community within a community for it is unique without being separatistic. We should have to consider Christianity as a potent instrument for the conservation of that militant altruism which war and the state have so successfully nourished even if we had no other reasons for it but the claims its founder made, Christ was wont to call his cause the "Kingdom of God" and allegiance to it would demand, he was sure, the highest sacrifices. Its claims would be higher than those of the family and loyalty to it would demand the greatest sacrifices, even that of life itself.
Though he was called the Prince of Peace he asserted that his gospel would not lead to any easy and smug civilization. He came not to bring peace but a sword. In all these statements in the very words he used, there is the suggestion that he wanted Christianity to replace national conflicts with moral ones. He understood that the things for which he stood were so different from the average morality of men that to champion them would involve the sacrifice of certain comforts that society bestows only upon those who are in complete sympathy with it. He expected social ostracism and persecution for his followers and placed a premium upon that championship of his principles that would involve persecution.
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