Home > Uncategorized > Anatole France: No one has right to kill, just man will refuse to draw his number for war

Anatole France: No one has right to kill, just man will refuse to draw his number for war

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

Anatole France: Selections on war

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Anatole France
From The Red Lily (1894)
Translated by Winifred Stephens

Anatole France

“The life of the people is not in the laws, made by the powerful and rich for the preservation of power and wealth.

“The heads of kingdoms, and republics have written in their books that international law is the law of war. And they have glorified violence They honour conquerors; in the public squares they erect statues to the victor and to his steed. But no one has the right to kill: wherefore the just man will refuse to draw his number for conscription. No man has the right to encourage the madness and the crimes of a prince who has been placed over a kingdom or a republic: wherefore the just man will not pay taxes; and he will not give his money to the publicans. In peace he will enjoy the fruit of his labour; and he will make bread of the corn he has sown, and he will eat of the fruits of the trees he has trimmed.”

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Rendered by unknown translator

“Kings, senators, and judges have said: ‘The life of nations is in us.’ Well, they lie; and they are the coffin saying: ‘I am the cradle.’

“The life of nations is in the crops of the fields yellowing under the eye of the Lord. It is in the vines, and in the smiles and tears with which the sky bathes the fruits on the trees.

“The life of nations is not in the laws, which were made by the rich and powerful for the preservation of riches and power.

“The chiefs of kingdoms and of republics have said in their books that the right of peoples is the right of war, and they have glorified violence. And they render honors unto conquerors, and they raise in the public squares statues to the victorious man and horse. But one has not the right to kill; that is the reason why the just man will not draw from the urn a number that will send him to the war. The right is not to pamper the folly and crimes of a prince raised over a kingdom or over a republic; and that is the reason why the just man will not pay taxes and will not give money to the publicans. He will enjoy in peace the fruit of his work, and he will make bread with the wheat that he has sown, and he will eat the fruits of the trees that he has cut.”

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