Home > Uncategorized > Aldous Huxley: One cannot be ruler of militaristic society without being militarist oneself

Aldous Huxley: One cannot be ruler of militaristic society without being militarist oneself


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

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war


Aldous Huxley
From Ends and Means (1937)


Our world oscillates from a neurasthenia that welcomes war as a relief from boredom to a mania which results in war being made.


A machine may be exquisitely ingenious and of admirable workmanship, but if people refuse to use it, or use it badly, it will be almost or completely useless. This is true of the machinery of peaceful change and international co-operation. It has been in existence for a long time, and if the governments of the various nations had always wished to make use of it, it would have served it purpose – the preservation of peace – with admirable efficiency. But governments have not always wished to make use of it. Whenever ‘national honour’ and ‘vital interests’ were concerned, they preferred to threaten or actually make use of violence. Even in cases where they have consented to employ the machinery of peaceful settlement, they have sometimes displayed such bad will that the machine has been unable to function.


It is one of the absurd paradoxes of the present situation that those Englishmen who are most anxious to establish friendly relations with the dictatorships, especially Germany and Italy, are precisely those who are loudest in their denunciations of the only scheme by means of which these Have-not states might be placated. Being militarists, they want to make friends with other militarists; being jingoes, they cannot accept the conditions upon which such a friendship might be formed – the conditions upon which, incidentally, it might be possible to get rid of militarism altogether.


The machinery for peaceful change is ready and waiting; but nobody uses it because nobody wants to use it. Wherever we turn we find that the real obstacles to peace are human will and feeling, human convictions, prejudices, opinions. If we want to get rid of war we must first of all get rid of its psychological causes.


That those who rule…essentially militaristic societies should take the initiative in eliminating the causes if war is, of course, enormously improbable. One cannot be the ruler of a militaristic society unless one is oneself a militarist, unless one accepts the beliefs and cherishes the sentiments which result in a militaristic policy.

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