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Nicolas de Condorcet: War can never benefit the majority of individuals of a nation

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

French writers on war and peace

Nicolas de Condorcet: War, the most dreadful of all calamities, the most terrible of all crimes

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Nicolas de Condorcet
From On The Benefits of the American Revolution with Respect to Preservation of Peace in Europe
Translated by Guillaume Ansart

The Abbé de Saint-Pierre had dared to believe that one day men would be reasonable enough for nations to consent by common agreement to forego the barbaric right to wage war and refer the discussion of their claims, interests or grievances to the judgment of peaceful mediators. Undoubtedly, this is not purely a visionary idea; it is so clearly demonstrated that war can never be to the benefit of the majority of the individuals of a nation! Why should men, who for so long have agreed to indulge in absurd and fatal errors, not concur one day to adopt simple and beneficial truths?…By creating more union between peoples in peacetime, such a tribunal [for mediation] could smother the seeds of war and destroy the germs of hatred as well as the kind of animosity of one people towards another which predisposes nations to war and causes them to seize on every pretext for it. Often, ambitious men who advocate war would not dare propose it without flattering themselves that they can rouse popular opinion in their favor – without the support of the very people whose blood and means of subsistence they squander…

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