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Romain Rolland: Message to America on the will to conquer the world


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

Romain Rolland: Selections on war


Romain Rolland
From Message to America (1926)
Translated by K.S. Shelvankar

The Anglo-Saxon temperament of America is proud and strong, whole-hearted in its likes and its ideas, with assurance and obstinacy. It has a singular inaptitude – which strikes all of us, Europeans – to understand the mentality of other races, to enter into their psychology (and their physiology), to “size up” their spirit, their passions, their peculiar needs. It tends to believe that what is true for itself, that whatever is the Good for her, should be so for all other nations in the world. And if the latter do not judge of the matter the same way, it is they who are mistaken, and America has the right to impose it on them, in its own interests and in the interests of the world. Such a conception leads to the will to conquer the world, under cover of a narrow moralism, wedded (without its knowledge) to natural instincts of greed and domination.

Nothing is more formidable. The more the United States are called upon to act in the world, the more it is their duty to understand the true nature, the true needs, the true ideas of the other peoples of the world; for the duty of the strong is to aid the less strong realise itself and not oppress it, by compelling it to be false to its spirit. It would be a disaster for all humanity if one race, one nation, one State, however lofty it may be, were to impose the rigid and monotonous uniformity of its own personality upon the splendid variety of the universe. I add that disaster would recoil on the people who exercise this blind oppression: for the irresistible forces of oppressed nature would take their revenge upon them.

It is then essential that at this hour of history there should be – not outside of America (as advisers they would be suspect there), but in the heart of the United States itself – clear-sighted and courageous citizens who would be as beacons to their people, who would compel them to know themselves, their greatnesses and their weaknesses, their virtues and their defects, and to know the different individualities, the complementary qualities of other races.         

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Most Americans I suspect do not have a clue about what it is that acts as a driving force behind the leaders of their military State and how it is that decisions are made in a process that is not only fully autocratic but largely framed in the language of Empire making. The same sentiment applies to both citizens and soldiers of smaller military States. They simply do not know the true reasons why they fight and die because their elitist peers who hold the keys to intelligence simply don’t allow them to be informed.
    The problem arises out of a simplistic worldview held by most of the intelligentsia, the Sadduccee of political thought, that boisterously argues there is only flesh and blood and that a common purpose of connecting blood with land is the only dialectic that should be taught. Hence nationalism, and the tyranny that ALWAYS ensues both toward its own collective and in greater indiluted measure toward those externalised as non-citizens.
    The outcome is always SH*T. It will always be SH*T. because the philosophical and religious preconceptions that formulate education is SH*T.
    Education, especially in the post modern sense, that is, the repetitive saturation of the flesh and blood idea by a fawning and servile middle-class media community CNN ABC BBC etc which engineers the collective consciousness of the sheeple, is the problem.
    When democracy is fully developed, in about a thousand years from now, education will be reformed beyond recognition and the Media, well, it will not exist in anything like its present form. Another outcome of a fully developed democratic world is that militarism will no longer be required since its back bone, the greed of dynastic ruling families, will have been exposed and obliterated from memory.

  2. rosemerry
    November 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Romain Rolland seems to have hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately the conceit of “exceptional America” makes it unlikely those in power will care at all about anyone else, including their “friends” and partners. So often I read of Mercans complaining that other countries eg Europe, NATO allies,plus Iraq, Libya and other invaded countries, that they should be grateful and contribute more to our efforts at providing their “freedom”.

    • richardrozoff
      November 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Gratified that it is appreciated.

      This by Rolland as well is, regrettably, as pertinent as when it was written 95 years ago:

      Romain Rolland: America and the war against war

      That the debased contemporary (“post-modern”) world knows nothing of a person like Rolland – who was a friend of and often major influence on such figures as Gandhi, Einstein, Lenin, Tagore, Freud, Hesse, etc., etc. – is an indictment of the dispensation of blood and money, the reign of red and green.

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