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Michel Corday: The everlasting glorification of murder

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

Michel Corday: Selections from The Paris Front

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Michel Corday
From The Paris Front (1934)
Translator unidentified

– When I defend the cause of pacifism and humanity, the objection is often raised: “Well then, would you have let them break in?” My reply is: “No, I would not have let them break in. If my house and my family were attacked by a mad and brutal neighbor, I would defend them. But, I should feel it to be a distasteful, painful, and barbarous duty. I should hate to be compelled to do it. I should not magnify it, I should not pretend that it involved the greatest glory upon earth. I should not exalt it a thousand feet above all other virtues. This glorification of patriotism in time of war; this fanatical religion, so despotic, fierce, devouring, cruel, and arbitrary; this mad ferocity of dancing dervishes which conceals so many private interests, ambitions, and vanities – that is what enrages me.”

– When people of the future look back, will they be able to form any accurate conception of the atmosphere in which we live – the everlasting glorification of murder on a foundation of insensibility and cruelty? Magazines full of gaiety and laughter furnish stories still warm and fetid with the taste of blood. For instance: the little boy who thought that his newly minted sou was made of gold, so that he took it to the bank “to help them kill a lot of Prussians”; the lady clerks covered him with kisses. Again, we have the story of the sniper who remarked to the chaplain as he pointed to a couple of Germans in the opposite trench: “Just you give them absolution before I knock them out.”

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