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D.H. Lawrence: All modern militarism is foul

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

D. H. Lawrence: Selections on war

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D.H. Lawrence
From the Introduction to Memoirs of the Foreign Legion by Maurice Magnus (1922)

There is M-‘s manuscript then, like a map of the lower places of mankind’s activities. There is the war: foul, foul, unutterably foul. As foul as M- says. Let us make up our minds about it.

It is the only help: to realize, fully, and then make up our minds. The war was foul. As long as I am a man, I say it and assert it, and further I say, as long as I am a man such a war shall never occur again. It shall not, and it shall not. All modern militarism is foul. It shall go. A man I am, and above machines, and it shall go, forever, because I have found it vile, vile, too vile ever to experience again. Cannons shall go. Never again shall trenches be dug. They shall not, for I am a man, and such things are within the power of man, to break and make. I have said it, and as long as blood beats in my veins, I mean it. Blood beats in the veins of many men who mean it as well as I.

Man perhaps must fight. Mars, the great god of war, will be a god forever. Very well. Then if fight you must, fight you shall, and without engines, without machines. Fight if you like, as the Roman fought, with swords and spears, or like the Red Indian, with bows and arrows and knives and war paint. But never again shall you fight with the foul, base, fearful, monstrous machines of war which man invented for the last war. You shall not. The diabolic mechanisms are man’s, and I am a man. Therefore they are mine. And I smash them into oblivion. With every means in my power, except the means of these machines, I smash them into oblivion. I am at war! I, a man, am at war! – with these foul machines and contrivances that men have conjured up. Men have conjured them up. I, a man, will conjure them down again. Won’t I? – but I will! I am not one man, I am many, I am most.

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