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Upton Sinclair: Using all the machinery and brains of civilization to slaughter one another


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

American writers on peace and against war

Upton Sinclair: Selections on war


Upton Sinclair
From Boston (1928)

Upton Sinclair

“Summer is y-comen in!” sang the pair of wrens on top of the grape-arbor…It was time for coming outdoors, a time for beauty and joy. But alas, the hideous slaughter in Europe was mounting to frenzy, becoming an extermination of the human race. The exploiters and imperialists whose greed had dragged Italy into the conflict were sending propagandists over here, to lure the Italian youth back into the slaughter-pit.


And Uncle Henry Winters and Uncle James Scatterbridge had made no one could say how many millions buying ships and things and selling them to the allies; and Betty’s father had made a speech at a banquet of the bankers, declaring that the interests of civilization required that America should enter the war. “On which side?” asked Cornelia; and the girl looked at first puzzled and then shocked. “Oh, the allies, of course.”


“Well, then, come with us, and in time we can work it all out happily.”

“That is easy to say, Rupert, but it seems to me that you are taking a serious risk. Suppose that while I am your guest I should consider it my duty to appear on some public platform and say that the effort to bring America into the war is a crime against civilization, and the the motive power behind it is our big bankers, who have loaned so much money to England and France and Italy that they cannot face the prospect of losing their investments?”


“And now the world is perfect, and we don’t need any more changes! Well, my dear, all I can tell you is, I have looked the world over and made up my mind that it has never been worse than right now – with some ten or twenty million men lined up on opposite sides, using all the machinery and brains of civilization to slaughter one another…”

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