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John Galsworthy: War and the microbe of fatalism


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

British writers on peace and war

John Galsworthy: Selections on war


John Galsworthy
From A Hedonist

The microbe of fatalism, already present in the brains of artists before the war, had been considerably enlarged by that depressing occurrence. Could a civilisation basing itself on the production of material advantages do anything but ensure the desire for more and more material advantages? Could it promote progress even of a material character except in countries whose resources were in excess of their populations? The war had seemed to me to show that mankind was too combative an animal ever to recognise that the good of all was the good of one. The course-fibred, pugnacious, and self-seeking would, I had become sure, always carry too many guns for the refined and kindly. In short, there was not enough altruism to go around – not half, not a hundredth part enough. The simple heroism of mankind, disclosed or rather accentuated by the war, seemed to afford no hope – it was so exploitable by the rhinoceri and tigers of high life. The march of science appeared on the whole to be carrying us backward, and I deeply suspected that there had been ages when the populations of this earth, though less numerous and comfortable, had been proportionately more healthy than they were at present…

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