On war

In his book, the Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain, devotes a paragraph to war. He has Philip Traum – Satan, say

There has never been a just one, never an honorable one on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful,  as usual,  will shout for the war. The pulpit will, warily and cautiously, object at first ; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war and will say earnestly and indignantly “it is unjust and dishonourable and there is no necessity for it.”
Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen,and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them and presently the antiwar audience will thin out and lose popularity.
…next the statesmen will invent cheap lies,putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience soothing falsities and will diligently study them and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war was just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self deception.

Iraq war anyone?
Elsewhere in the same book, he has Philip Traum talk of human civilization.  He says

You perceive that you have made continual progress. Chain did his murder with a club; the Hebrews did their murders with javelins and swords; the Greeks and Romans added protective armor and the fine arts of military organisation and generalship; the Christian has added guns and gunpowder; a few centuries from now he will have so greatly improved the deadly effectiveness of his weapons of slaughter that all men will confess that without Christian civilization war must have remained a poor trifling thing to the end of time.

He continues to say

[…]they all did their best, to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history – but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognised that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian – not to acquire his religion, but his guns. The Turk and the Chinaman will buy those to kill the missionaries and converts with.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

17 thoughts on “On war

  1. emmylgant says:

    Amazing insight into the human psyche.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Prophetic words, indeed.


    • makagutu says:

      Very prophetic. We have not deviated any bit.
      Just look around you, the US, the greatest christian nation if Ken Ham is to be believed is the largest seller of weapons

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How prescient.


  4. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Iraq war anyone?

    Exactly! Twain’s work could well have been the blueprint for it, if only W could read.

    It is said that WW IV will be fought with rocks and sticks.


  5. Twain was the man, eh? Brilliant.


  6. koppieop says:

    (3rd line of the quote) …The loud little handful, as usual, will shout for the war….

    I just want to share with you the following sentence that struck me when I once read it in an essay on several subjects, written by a retired lawyer (the profession is not important in this context):

    —Certain situations in our life exist, or are not feasible because there is A NUMBER OF PERSONS who want things to be like that.
    That number of persons do not necessarily form the mayority.—

    So “a loud little handful” may sometimes shout hard enough.


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