history and the peace movement


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  • World Affairs Institute

    HISTORY AND THE PEACE MOVEMENTSource: Advocate of Peace through Justice, Vol. 92, No. 3 (August, 1930), pp. 155-159Published by: World Affairs InstituteStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20681465 .Accessed: 17/06/2014 11:13

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  • Advocate of Peace, August, 1930 155

    therefore should invoke our common re

    sources for its common defense when this

    common heritage is imperiled." On the assumption that the control of

    war profiteering is constitutional in nature, the act provides for the creation of a com

    mission to be composed of four members

    of the House, four members of the Senate, the Secretaries of War, Navy, Agriculture,

    Commerce, Labor, and the Attorney Gen

    eral, to consider what amendment to the

    Constitution of the United States is neces

    sary to enable the Congress to take private

    property for public use during war, to

    equalize the burdens and to remove the

    profits of war, and to study the policies to

    be pursued in the event of war. The bill

    provides that the commission shall report definite recommendations to the President

    of the United States to be transmitted by him in turn to the Congress not later than

    the first Monday in December, 1931. It

    specifically provides that the commission shall not consider and shall not report upon the conscription of labor.

    To amend the Constitution of the United

    States is no easy matter. That an amend

    ment is necessary is doubtful. Our Govern ment had little difficulty controlling any

    thing it wished to control during the last war. It merged railroads, sold bonds, com

    mandeered manufactures, fixed prices, and

    directed our entire economic life. Should

    the existence of our national life be threat

    ened again by war, the Government would

    find ways to do these same things, and more if necessary. But the study of the

    entire problem as provided by this recent

    legislation is most desirable.


    TTkURING the war an eminent American

    historian said that he had found men

    trained in history to be a bit more efficient in the conduct of the war than others.

    He was probably right. The historically

    trained men are among the most useful of

    the foreign representatives of govern ments. History lends perspective. Other

    things being equal, it promotes wisdom. In this summer number of the Advocate

    of Peace there are historical matters

    relating to the peace movement, facts that

    should be of use to anyone interested to

    clarify one's own mind as to possible next

    steps toward the lessening of the ills of war.

    The American Peace Society is old

    enough to view with nothing but gratifica tion the activities of others in its special field. In the language of its founder, Wil liam Ladd, from whom it is ever profitable to quote, "the field is large and the reapers are few."

    The peace worker today must know the

    background of his work. He will of course wish to know his representatives in Con

    gress. He will seek to make use of men

    and existing organizations. He will look for specific projects calculated to advance the cause. He will add to the political aspects of his interests the achievments of science, of literature and of art. His

    approach to any or all these fields will be the more intelligent in proportion as he knows the achievements and the failures of the peace movement heretofore.

    E great inquiry of history is not where a man came from but where is

    he going? History is the science of cul

    tural values, of the meanings and effects of

    human behavior. In its larger aspects it

    unfolds our views and hopes. In his "The

    Decline of the West," Spengler is not so

    interested in events and causes as in the

    meaning of those events in the light of

    the days that are to come. He finds that

    there have been eight occasions when

    large groups of men have lived on a high level of culture: in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in India, in China, along the north of the

    Mediterranean, in the Near East, in

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  • 156 Advocate of Peace, August, 1930

    Mexico and in Western Europe. He finds

    among all these the record of birth, growth,

    maturity and decline. He might have

    added, had he seen fit, that the decline in

    every instance was due primarily to the

    devastations of war. Whether or not our

    Western World is to go the way of all

    the others depends upon the merit and

    vitality of the peace movement.

    TNFAMILIARITY with data of his ^

    tory is at the bottom of most of our

    social ills. This ignorance blinds us to

    the fact that the evolution of the peace movement is the most important achieve ment of our modern world. Knowledge of

    past failures and achievements in this

    movement is necessary, not to convince the

    world that wars should cease?that has been accomplished?but to achieve a

    greater agreement upon the best methods now to be employed. The task of the

    peace worker is to guide public sentiment

    of all countries to the choice of wise meth ods for the avoidance of irreconcilable

    disputes, and to open ways for the just settlement of all other controversies as they

    may arise. Such a service should not be

    embarrassed by the imprudence of unin

    formed zealots. Disagreements in the

    peace movement are almost entirely over

    methods. If the peace workers knew more

    they would agree better. It is history that

    ties faith to experience, experience to

    knowledge, and knowledge to wisdom, which is the wise use of knowledge.

    Familiarity with the past enables one to

    advance if not to originate wisdom. The

    difficulties of the peace movement are in

    tensified more by its advocates than by its

    enemies, due principally to an unfamili

    arity with the work that has been done.

    Many of our "new ideas" in the peace movement are but the skeletons of errors

    that died generations ago among their

    worshipers. Wise men looked upon those

    "ideas," weighed their merits against their

    demerits, and found them wrong. History,

    progressive revelation that it is, is essen

    tial to tolerance, and to the vigor, breadth

    of view and wisdom that follow in the steps of tolerance.

    E outstanding need of the peace movement?that is a dangerous way to

    begin a sentence. But why not finish it?

    The peace movement needs to be baptized with a more general culture, a wider vigor of thought, a deeper catholicity of spirit. The peace movement waits for a new in

    fusion of those qualities associated 700

    years before Christ with Isaiah, classic

    genius of Judaism?qualities of grandeur, of concentration, of imaginative power and

    splendor. Where are we to find leadership like that?

    E peace movement has been impeded

    most, not by its enemies but by the

    imprudence of its friends. This has been

    due for the most part to an ignorance of

    the facts of the story of experience, which

    is history. Patrick Henry was not the only one to find no way of judging the future

    except by the past. Experience may keep a dear school but it is a necessary school.

    The peace worker among the other social

    endeavorers must lay experience by the

    side of the things to be done, else in the

    future, as often in the past, the things that

    are done will have to be undone. The

    peace movement needs the dignity that

    thrives between the dull and the florid, the

    realization that the task is interesting be

    cause true and convincing. If it can escape

    pedantry and ostentation, find its efforts

    measured by the failures and successes of

    the past, it will find itself in the hearts of

    men, winning their judgments and support.

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  • Advocate of Peace, August, 1930 157


    of measurement for the

    further development of the peace movement may yet prove to be largely out side the current standards most familiar to our day. They may hav