Home > Uncategorized > Henri Barbusse: War which breeds war, whether by victory or defeat

Henri Barbusse: War which breeds war, whether by victory or defeat


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

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war


Henri Barbusse
From Jesus (1927)
Translated by Solon Librescot

HENRI BARBUSSE (1873 - 1935).jpg_thumb

And Judas Iscariot kept the common purse, filled by those of us who had been prosperous in the world.

For one is compelled to live by means of money, since this is the law in the world of war and falsehood.

In which we formed a white spot.

With this unjust wealth let us purchase a just life.


“I do not believe in your cause…Moreover, you are led astray by your dream, which is revenge and not justice; the dream of a people, and not of the people.

“For, even if David returned in the form of David, he would not free men from their sorrows. He would only bring the war which breeds war, whether by victory or defeat.”


“Your quarrels about kings no longer concern me.

“For one who can see them in their deep twilight of dust and desolation, men do not wear the color of a country on their skin. And I carry the tattered image of a country the frontiers of which are the horizons of the world, and which is not yet, and which is.

“And I do not believe that the whirlwind is Jewish.”


The shadows deepened again and, by means of I do not know what sign, I was informed that they were creeping over a battlefield where kings had harvested, and that a river flowed there, warm with blood, and that this formless shadow was taking hideous forms – those of dead men who, being dead, refused to sleep.

But the dead were so many that they were piled each in the arms of another.


“When they speak so much of goodness, it is only to free themselves of justice, to mobilize you in the clouds, and to prevent you from ever changing war into peace and evil into good.”


“It is written in the Book of Enoch: Accursed are ye that build your palaces with the sweat of others.

“And money, if it lives and spawns, is a monster.

“And, in the community of workers, the community made by them and for them.

“From which war and unjust wealth will disappear…”


“Do not say, I would change man into an angel, and the world into a garden of Eden. For you will be answered, What road will you take? Neither say to the blind, I am telling you of the light. For they will cry, We want the substance of light!

“Say: My task is arranging the things which are assembled here below.

“And in the same way, do not speak of happiness. It is better to say, ‘peace.’

“But you will have against you all the mighty, and the force of enthroned religion, which was designed long ago to fight against you, and all the powers of the world.

“You will be hated and persecuted. And the brigands in power will say of you, These men are brigands; and the liars will say of you, These men are liars. And even poor people who are neither brigands nor liars, will repeat the same of you.

“And your kingdom is not of this world.

“But it must be builded there.

“For it is of this world, but not of this time…”

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