Home > Uncategorized > Aldous Huxley: Peace of the world frequently endangered in order that oil magnates might grow a little richer

Aldous Huxley: Peace of the world frequently endangered in order that oil magnates might grow a little richer


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

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war


Aldous Huxley
From Ends and Means (1937)


The manufacturers of armaments are not the only ‘merchants of death.’ To some extent, indeed, we all deserve that name. For in so far as we vote for governments which impose tariffs and quotas, in so far as we support policies of re-armament, in so far as we consent to our country’s policy of economic, political and military imperialism, in so far even as we behave badly in private life, we are all doing our bit to bring the next war nearer. The responsibility of the rich and the powerful, however, is greater than that of ordinary men; for they are better paid for what they do to bring war closer and they know more clearly what they are about. Less spectacularly mischievous than the armaments makers, but in reality hardly less harmful, are the speculative investors who preach imperialism because they can derive such high returns on their capital in backward countries. To the nation as a whole its colonies may be unprofitable, and actually costly. But to the politically powerful minority of financiers with capital to invest, to industrialists with surplus goods to dispose of, these same colonies may be sources of handsome profits.

The small, but politically powerful, minority of financiers and industrialists is also interested in various forms of economic imperialism. By a judicious use of their resources, the capitalists of highly industrialized countries stake out claims for themselves within nominally independent countries. Those claims are then represented as being the claims of the respective nations, and the quarrels between the various financial interests concerned become quarrels between states. The peace of the world has frequently been endangered, in order that oil magnates might grow a little richer.

In the press, which is owned by rich men, the interests of the investing minority are always identified (doubtless in perfectly good faith) with those of the nation as a whole. Constantly repeated statements come to be accepted as truths. Innocent and ignorant, most newspaper readers are convinced that the private interests of the rich are really public interests and become indignant whenever these interests are menaced by a foreign power, intervening on behalf of its investing minority. The interest at stake are the interests of the few; but the public opinion which demands the protection of these interests is often a genuine expression of mass emotion. The many really feel and believe that the dividends of the few are worth fighting for.

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