Carrie Chapman Catt

What Shall We do About War - 11 November and 8 December 1936

Carrie Chapman Catt
November 11, 1936
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This post contains two versions of a speech with the same title, one given on November 11, the other on December 8, both in 1936.

xx = illegible

Speech delivered by

Carrie Chapman Catt

at

Upper Montclair

November 11, 1936

WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT WAR?

The subject I have come to discuss is not a new one. Had we the power to turn time backward ten thousand years and could we, of today, take a trip around the world, with a stop in every continent, finding there people of that long ago, we should find them discussing this question. I can imagine one cave man, dressed in skins and carrying a stone hammer as his only weapon, asking another cave man: “What shall we do about war?” and the other replying: “I do not know, nobody knows, but if it does not stop, our tribe will be destroyed, other men will occupy our caves and our beautiful rising civilization will perish.”

So men have talked all down the ages. From the time writing was discovered, we find their conversations in print. Men learned, in time, to take baths, to comb their hair, to live in houses, sleep in beds, sit on chairs. They learned how to count, to add, and to multiply; they learned carving on stone, sculpture, painting, architecture, music. Yet they never stopped fighting.

They discovered the alphabet and learned how to read. They wrote poems and sang ballads; they invented money and developed business and commerce and established government. The men of one group met those of another and found them much like themselves and they asked all along the way: “What shall we do about war?’, but no one knew how to answer.

In time, men began to study and to write history. They began researches to ascertain how men had lived long before, what they did, and what they thought. They uncovered many old battlegrounds in Asia and Europe, hither and yon, with pile upon pile of skeletons, the heroes of war, and learned that men had always fought, always killed.

Men finally wrote constitutions, elected presidents, held parliaments, and showed marvelous ingenuity in ways of raising taxes. They made speeches about the greatest good to the greatest number and they made laws, designed to establish justice and Courts to administer them. They had political campaigns and each nation told the world that “Ours is a nation based on law, not the rule of men.” Yet always, always after the introduction of money, every nation spent more of it on war than all other demands combined.

Our own government for many years has spent upward of 80₵ out of every dollar of its annual income on war. This does not include the cost of running a war. It is paying pensions, interest, and borrowed money for wars we have had, maintaining the present equipment, and making ready for a new war we may have. This is the policy of every nation.

When and if that war really comes and men are drafted, mobilized, outfitted, armed, drilled, and marched away, every dollar of the national income is not only exhausted, but much newly borrowed money and heavily increased taxes, with a huge national debt, are necessary to meet its cost. It is posterity which must always pay.

I have never recovered from the shock I received in 1924 when I learned that France has not finished paying for her war with Germany in 1870 and now, fourty-four years later, must borrow again to pay for a war with the same nation. There is no dodging or denying the fact that whatever may have been true in the very long ago, no modern nation can go to war without meeting certain financial disaster. The larger the war, the more serious and destructive the catastrophe.

Some nations are held superior to other nations in civilization. Such nations have more schools and colleges, more well-educated people, more churches, more idealists who are willing to give their lives to good causes. Yet, the higher the civilization, the more churches and schools, the more idealists in the population, the more does that government spend on war. It is curious, shocking, inexplicable.

It is still more surprising that no nation in all the world has ever forsworn war nor has any nation ever proposed to do so. No nation, unless it be in India, has even tried to be a “conscientious objector.”

What shall we do about war? Take courage. We are at least 10,000 years nearer the end of war than were those fighting cave men, 10,000 years ago. There is a big something more. A great cry has risen from millions of throats the world around. It has risen from the icy North and South beyond the Arctic circles. It rises from the jungles in the hot places of the world and it comes in louder and more peremptory tones from all the nations in temperate zones. It is no longer the hopeless question: “What shall we do about war?”, It is a positive, determined assertion: “Something must, something shall be done about war!”

Do not think that Italy, Japan, Germany, Russia, Spain [sentence cuts off]

What is that “Something”? Abolition. Nothing else will do. War must be destroyed, root and branch/ So completely must it be brought to an end that it will never be revived, never dare to come back. Every man and woman in the world must be made secure from the terrible dread of a threatening war. PUBLIC OPINION alone can bring this longed for end of war.

I invite you, one and all, men and women, to become each a Committee of one and be its chairman, its treasurer, and its constitution. Learn from reliable sources the truth about the line of though which appeals to you most and then become a prophet. Practice on your husband or wife. There are at least one hundred roads along which you could argue the way to xx (5) plan. Choose one. These are the best sources I know from which to draw kindly criticism of your argument. Then go forth to preach and persuade wherever you can. One man or woman, healthy in body and mind, equipped with correct information and pleasing ways, should be able to convert a county in a year. If all the counties in the United States had one such active Committee of One by the next presidential election, the candidates will have discovered as many ways to abolish war as they had this time to make the farmers rich.

I am a Committee of One myself and I am now going to try to convert some one among you to be a Committee of One. My efforts at persuasion may show you how not to do it. I am going to call your attention to facts about war and that will be enough for one evening.

Let us think a minute. Protests against war have been made for 3,000 years. The prophets in the Bible argued for its disuse and Jeremiah was a conscientious objector. There have been continuous but scattered and moderate agitations against war from that time to this. Yet the greatest of all wars came as a climax at this period. Now, nearly twenty years since the Great War closed, the nations have not yet reached the point the women had gained in 1848. They do not yet know what must be their first aim nor how to reach it. No nation has yet foresworn war. Indeed, few pacifists have actually foresworn war. There was vision, hope, aspiration, at Verseilles; eloquent, lofty, noble speeches; great men were in serious travail of soul over the follies of the race and, together, they wrote an immortal, but it was not bold nor frank enough. They dared much, but not enough. They did not say: “We will now abolish war.” Nor did they expect to do that. Yet that is what must be said before the final campaign for peace is conducted. If you ever played marbles with the boys when you were a little girl, you remember the place to begin was called “scratch” and it was a scratch made with a stick or with chalk. In the evolution of peace, the scratch is the time and place when, in considerable number, men or nations say together, without reservations, “War must and shall be abolished.” How did the marble players make the scratch? As I remember it, there was a mark called “taw” and a long legged boy, with one foot upon it and with one foot waving in the air, reached over as far as he could and made the scratch.

Peace makers, the world over, are still playing around the taw and getting ready to make the scratch, but, in fact, it is not yet made. Remember the scratch is war. Abolish it.

Take courage, we are ten thousand years nearer the end of war than were those fighting cavemen ten thousand years ago.

Take courage, for we are moving onward. For three thousand years men have cried out in bewildered, despairing voices, “What shall we do about war?” This is not the nature of the cry of this day. From the Arctic to tropical jungles, there is assertion, positive, determined in the common cry. Today it is saying: “Something must be done about war; something shall be done about war.”

Take courage. All the lofty speeches made by men in many nations, in many languages, in Congresses, Parliaments, Forums, Round Tables, and Conferences these last twenty years have uplifted the faith in coming peace the world around. Nearer and nearer to the scratch line men are reaching. The desire of the race is clarifying. Perhaps from Buenos Aires we shall receive a dictum from the Republics of the two Americas which will push us far ahead and may even fill Europe with new hope. Great things have been said there by our President and by Secretary Hull, by Senor Saanvedra Lamas [Carlos Saavedra Lamas] who presides over the Assembly and who will receive half the Nobel prize of this year.

There may have been as good a speech sometime as that of Secretary Hull’s, but there never was a better or more practical one. There will be delegates who doubt, who obstruct, who pull back, but something forward looking will certainly come from that gathering at Buenos Aires. Never since the American Republics first consulted each other, has there been so friendly a feeling among them while the catastrophes of Europe are drawing them into closer union and bolder resolution. Said Secretary Hull, in closing his remarkable address: “Having affirmed our faith, we should be remiss if we were to leave anything undone which will tend to assure our peace here and make us powerful for peace elsewhere. In a very real sense, let this continent set the high example of championing the forces of peace, democracy, and civilization.” Why knows but that the Americas will yet lead the world to permanent peace.

One man said the long withheld words: “Abolish war, it is the only way.” Alas, Germany put him in a concentration camp where he contracted tuberculosis. Norway gave him half the Nobel prize this year and Germany will allow him to go to Norway to receive it – what marvelous generosity! Perhaps at that transcendent moment, in the life of this much penalized but always courageous von Ossietsky [Carl von Ossietzky, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1935], as he rises to receive the Nobel honor, he may pronounce a new word, so inspired that it will ring around the world and lead millions at least to the scratch. Do not forget that there has been 3,000 years of agitation against war behind us and plenty of examples of the war that should be abolished. We are nearing scratch and another hundred years should see us through.

What, then, shall we do about war? I invite each one of you to become an anti-war Committee of One. You will be its Chairman, its Treasurer, and its constitution. The aim of your Committee is to build up public opinion for the complete abolition of war. There are at least one hundred reasons why war should be abolished. Select one, study it well, Make yourself a perfect master of that one reason. Then go forth to preach and persuade whoever and wherever you can. One man or woman, healthy in body and mind, equipped with correct information of one reason why war should be abolished, ought to be able to convert a whole county in a year. For the First Committee must bring many other Committees of One into action. If all the counties in the United States had one such Committee of One, now by the next presidential election, all the candidates would have discovered as many ways to abolish war as they had this year for making the farmers rich.

To be sure, Germany, Japan, and Italy have violated their treaty pledges; Japan has seized Manchuria, and Italy, Ethiopia; Russia frightens the conservatives; while Germany and Italy frighten the radicals, and Spain is engaged in “a dance of death” in the midst of the conflagration of a nation. Even a King has chosen the wrong moment for a romance [most likely King Edward VIII of England who scandalously married an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and abdicated the throne on December 11, 1936] and all Europe, in a tumult, threatens further catastrophes. No wonder the world suffers from jitters. For twenty years there has been no cessation of wars and rumors of wars, yet, terrifying as it has been, there is some good to be found in it. All of these happenings, together, have compelled every intellect in the world to think of war every day and every hour. Some are affrighted, some careless, some like bloody deeds, but the most are slowly, certainly pushing nearer and nearer the declaration on Scratch.

What, then, can the Committees of One do to bring us to the scratch and to help the campaign afterwards? Here are ten things a Committee of One might do.

  1. I asked a gentle little lady a gentle question: “What are YOU doing to stop war?” She replied in a startlingly ungentle tone: “Wherever I go, whoever I see, I give war a black eye.” The very gentle ones among you might try that. Poor old Mars!
  2. If you can draw, make some cartoons and you might begin with a gentle little old lady. Be sure to make her small and delicate, blacking the eye of Old Mars. Cartoons are supposed to carry a lesson and bring a laugh. The World War engaged 32 nations, cost 187 billions of dollars and it enlisted 53 millions of men. More nations, more men, more money, than any other war had ever involved. Naturally, it was followed by extensive, disastrous and stubborn exhaustion from which no nation had yet recovered.

The truth is that all extensive wars have been and always will be followed by exhaustion and that is what the afterwar period should be called. There is an exhaustion of manpower, of food, of supplies, of many varieties of material, of health, of all financial resources, but most destructive of all, there is exhaustion of hope, aspiration, intellectual and moral standards. It may be more difficult to survive the xx (11) exhaustion of war than the war itself. The entire world needs facts and their interpretation. We need books, speeches, editorials, and round tables on this subject.

  1. If there are mothers here who would like to do something simple and, at the same time, effective, pay a visit to a ten cent store and ask for the toy soldiers. Examine the exhibition thoroughly. Find out who made these toys. You can buy a soldier all armed and ready to kill, for 5₵. For $1, you can buy a squad with a sergeant, a machine gun, and a cannon. For $5 you can buy a big army. For $10 or $15 you could buy a World War, with everything necessary to make a complete picture, including ambulances and airplanes. The only thing omitted is dead men and cemeteries with their rows of birch crosses. A Christmas protest from the Mothers of this country in every town in the land would be good work.
  2. If there are women with a few college degrees and a wonder in their souls as to what use to put them to, let some among them dedicate themselves to the correction of public understanding of what is called Depressions. I have asked myself a hundred times: How could it happen that century after century wars and their aftermath continue and yet men of no nation have made a serious study of this melancholy period. Some comments are to be found, but they are inadequate and often misleading. Yet, depressions have been plentiful and terrible. A war does to civilization exactly what a hard freeze does to a blooming garden. It stops progress; it turns order into chaos and evolution into an appearance of standing still. No nation can afford war and the soon it is abolished, the safer each nation will be.

What, then, shall we do about war? Public Opinion must demand its abolition. Is it possible to change that opinion? It is, Let me tell you two stories, true ones.

One, some of you will remember. In 1917, just about the time we were going into the Great War, Jane Addams made a speech. She had long been a peacemaker and had written at least two very good books on behalf of peace. The coming war was an agony to her. She was a gentle soul and never said harsh things. In this speech, she told a story something like this. I did not hear it. A young man she knew was in deep trouble. He did not believe in war nor its inevitability. He believed that war was murder and he was unwilling to be a criminal. No motive could justify war to him. He knew the world had not advanced far enough to see war from his point of view, but that did not justify war for him. He could not bring himself to serve, yet he had been drafted. He was in an agony of agitation, and became a conscientious objector. The press told the story in its own way, always with the inference that Miss Addams was trying to persuade young men not to enlist and not to serve when drafted. The effect of this simple episode is indescribable.

Here is another story which happened twenty years later. It was told me two days ago by the man in the case. He was young in 1917. The country was placarded from ocean to ocean with large advertisements. Among them was one I remember well. “If you do not do your duty now, what will your children think of you?” This young man had only imaginary, unborn children, but among all the influences thrown about him to catch his imagination, he remembers this one. Now he has a daughter in college. He is going to make an armistice address in his town today and his family is interested in what he will say. One day the daughter surprised him with this: “Father, there is a question I have long wanted to ask you. How do you justify yourself for going to war?” That is, she thinks she would feel a little prouder had her father been a conscientious objector. This is the youth movement, I suppose, - youth moving on to a better world. So opinion changeth. Probably all the threat of war, all the dictatorships, all the suppression of human rights, has kept men and women thinking on the subject more intently than would have been the case had we had a quiet peace. Perhaps all the woe of the past twenty years has done good service. The books, the magazines, the newspapers, the plays, the songs and poems, the speeches, the round tables, the cartoons, all point to peace. Forget Italy, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Spain. They point to war. It is a question of which will point longest and more enduringly.

My third point is WAR IS CRIME. It is not unlikely that you will not approve it.

From the moment that any nation became moral enough to recognize murder as a crime and to make it punishable by a penalty, a curious problem faced the people of that nation. From the king to the lowest menial, all the people held two attitudes toward murder, and these were in direct contradiction. One regarded individual murder as the most monstrous of crimes; the other, regarded collective murder under the aegis of war as the most beautiful of virtues. A murder was held to be a dastardly enemy of society, the soldier who collectively killed most was a hero worthy to be decorated, honored, and ennobled.

Let us take the conspicuous example of France and Germany. Many centuries before these two nations existed, or their present names had been pronounced, men across the Marne and the Rhine and even then, they knew that murder was crime, but they believed it to be a virtue to kill those bad men across the river, to steal their belongings, to destroy their huts, burn their villages, and possess themselves of their territory. Deep down in the earth, in the ashes of these villages, battlegrounds have been found and skeletons different from those of modern men. Who they were, why they fought, no one knows.

In time, the Romans came, marching Northward, and fought, killed, and possessed. Caesar immortalized himself by writing the story of that campaign, which provides Latin lessons for all the schools and colleges the world around.

In time, the tribes united into little nations, and after the lapse of much more time, the little nations united to compose modern France and Germany. These two distrust each other and not without reason. Did not the Germans attack and overrun France in 1870? They did. Did not Napoleon and the French attack and overrun Germany? They did. The hostility between men on the two sides of the Rhine has not abated for thousands of years. It now threatens another war, but the war germ has not sprung from the Great War and the Treaty of Verseilles alone, nor does it date from Bismark or Napoleon.

The men who nursed the war germ into immortal life have been dead at least fifty thousand, perhaps a million years. They wore no clothes, their weapons were stones, and their thoughts were feelings only. The combination of loathing, hate, abhorrence, suspicion, animosity, malice, retaliation, revenge, malevolence, enmity, and all other feelings and emotions which, in a primitive man, could be aroused by his jealousy and fear of other men and his covetousness of their poor, meagre possessions is the foundation, the support, and the urge for continuation of modern war. War is based upon primitive instincts and kept respectable by the maintenance of a double and conflicting standard of morals, a double and conflicting code of behavior, a double and conflicting definition of patriotism. Those ugly feelings have merged into emotions which range from apprehension to hostility concerning other nations, and this feeling has been cultivated, petted, nursed and kept alive without pause, like a sacred and revered fire through a probably million years. This feeling in our day is protected by many bulwarks I will name.

  1. By the fear arising from the rivalries in war preparations which, invariably, are claimed by each nation to be for defense only, but which, as invariably, are regarded by other nations as probably intended for aggression.
  2. Outbursts of extraordinary fear which doubles fists and sends sharpshooters to practice, is often deliberately created by well-known publicity methods, when it is desired by military lords to secure larger appropriations for preparedness.
  3. Some nations have carried on a planned campaign to establish a superiority complex in the minds of their own people in order to inspire them to believe themselves predestined to rule over other races of men. Great Britain was guilty of this practice for some generations. The latest examples, but by no means no less effective, are Japan and Italy. Perhaps all the so-called “Great Poers” have, more or less, followed this plan.
  4. A delusion about CAUSES OF WAR. After twenty years of constant study of war, putting into it all the possibilities of my life for that many years, I conclude that few wars have been based upon actual causes. War have always had excuses, but the real cause was the desire for war itself, the love of adventure, the hope of attaining some kind of gain or profit. Indeed, the more I have studied war, the less respect do I have for it as an institution and the more certain am I that it is solely responsible for the slow growth of civilization and morals. There are today certain schools of thought, usually led by scholarly college-bred men, polite and sincere, who, in my humble judgement, have tripped upon this old delusion and now tend to misdirect the peace movement, to divide the peace forces and thus delay the final arrival of the end of war. In general, their philosophy may be defined as economic factors tending to become causes of more wars. A very impressive statement of economic needs as motives for sending men on the war hunt can be made. In fact, all creatures were born hungry. The first law of life is self-preservation. That means that every creature will assuage its hunger by fair means or foul, by peace or by war. To enlarge this simple, fundamental of life, the economists affirm that markets, tariffs, raw materials, money exchange, over-population, etc., are all obstructive factors in the business of supplying the wants for hungry humans. Hence, until these problems are adjusted to the needs of all, the economics of the world planned, the scheme enforced, wars will go on and there will be understandable causes for them. With these theories, I sincerely disagree. I regard them as very large and very fat red herrings. In reply, I say that wars will go on for thousands of years if public opinion does not demand their abolition and that when a nation wishes to go to war, it will pick out an excuse for so doing and announce it as a cause. Every Committee of One should know the difference between an excuse and a cause. The economists have advertised certain situations as probable and perhaps justifiable causes of war; therefore, a nation intending to go to war, will try to find one of these popular excuses in order to win world approval. Japan has a case of over-population. Italy is not well supplied with raw materials, so Japan made a great impression by making her population pressure the apparent reason for violating her treaty obligations and seizing Manchuria. Italy made her demand for raw materials an excuse for violating her treaty obligations and seizing Ethiopia. Had these aims been real, Japan should have applied to the League of Nations for more territory and Italy for easy access to raw materials which she needed to buy. Had they bought territory and raw materials, the cost would have been less than the wars xx (19) and the world much happier. The facts are that nations which cry loudest for raw materials, really want material for munitions of war.

Every economic irritation should be internationally considered and solved, if possible, not because it may be a cause of war, but because it carries injustice to a nation or a group within a nation.

To hold economic questions as justifiable causes of war is to give respectability to every war which claims economic need as a cause. Such theories prolong wars and fasten more durably the claim of the inevitability of war. The fact is, war is a game, just as checkers is a game. Some men cannot live without checkers, and some cannot live without war. You will find plenty of them in Florida. [In the years preceding World War II, there was a massive military buildup in Florida, which may explain this remark.]

I do not blame any man for believing that all wars have had a legitimate and logical cause. War is man’s institution. Men invented war, have fought all wars, kept preparations going between wars, and made all the terms of peace. It would be hard to ask a man to believe that his sex had brought an institution into existence and kept it going for a million years for no better reason than their desire to kill. Of course, he will claim worthy causes and sometimes he will find them.

Nevertheless, war should be brought to and end because it is wrong, barbarous, wicked, criminal, and wholly inconsistent with the pretended ambitions of a human race to grow better and to climb higher. This is coming face to face with the real problem.

“War – out you go.” say we Committees of One. “You are unfit for human society.”

“In I stay” says war, “I have always been here. Put me out if you can.”

Here the issues are joined. No beating around the bush, no discussion of interesting topics, no straddling of fences are to be tolerated. The plain issue is “War or no War.” The one plank in the platforms of Committees of One is “War must be abolished – Public Opinion can do it.” The one question is, - which side are you on?

WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT WAR?

Speech delivered by

Carrie Chapman Catt

at

Hotel Astor

December 8, 1936

at meeting of

New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs

The most important problem that has ever confronted the human race, a problem that demands the attention of every man and woman in every nation the wide world over, is: What shall we do about war? This is not a new question. It may be as old as mankind itself. One can imagine a cave man, dressed in skins, carrying a stone hammer as his only weapon, asking another cave man: “What shall we do about war?” and the other replying: “I do not know, but if war isn’t stopped, our tribe may be destroyed, other men may occupy our caves, and our beautiful rising civilization will surely perish.” Today, every nation has other problems, - big, difficult, almost insoluble problems, but most of them were caused by war. More, war will not solve any of these problems, but, on the contrary, will certainly bring new varieties of the same vexations again, and perhaps worse ones. Unemployment, disordered financial conditions, disease, crime, instability of society and unrest among peoples always has been and always will be natural outcomes of war.

For a thousand years after the establishment of Christianity in Europe, governments were largely controlled by the Church. Whenever a new idea rose, such, for example, as the claim that the earth is round, the high churchmen made a uniform reply. “Impossible. The earth certainly is flat for that has been believed always and by all.” In a different form and by different authority, it is still the answer made to every new proposition. War, men say, always has been and therefore always will be. There can be no end to it. Silly talk that, since the world has changed many a belief and forbid many a wrong that once was believed right everywhere and by all.

What then, shall we do about war in this 20th Century and in this, our decade? Let us again clear the foreground by asking ourselves four preliminary, but very fundamental questions.

  1. Can war be stopped? It can; that which has been done, can be done again. For example, not long ago, as time goes, slavery was common the world over. Everyone believed it right and it was said the Bible upheld it. Where is it now? The world changed its mind and improved its morals. Not so long ago, England punished a hundred misdemeanors by beheading the sinners. They sometimes quartered them like apples. Other nations were no better, but heads are safer now, because minds have been changed and morals improved. War is as certain to disappear from the affairs of men, as the sun is sure to rise tomorrow.
  2. How may war be stopped? In one way only. When public opinion changes its mind about war and demands that it be abolished from the earth, nations will hasten to agree upon the method.
  3. How can public opinion be made to demand the abolition of war? By education and experience only? What is needed now, as before, is improved morals and clearer and more logical thinking.
  4. When will war stop? Ah, that is more difficult to answer, but it is not impossible to arrive at a fair estimate. How long do you think this nation usually takes to change its mind about a matter of general welfare? It took thirty years in the United States to change the spelling of a word – labour to labor. There was a committee of publishers and writers behind it and a powerful campaign was conducted. The “u” is still in labour in England. Woman suffrage, a movement still fresh in our minds, is a good example. There was a convention in 1848. One hundred years of agitation lay behind it. Books had been written, newspapers published, lectures given, and much discussion conducted during that century. The leaders had been men and women of the highest quality. Something very remarkable happened at that convention. A platform was written so complete and so perfect that it was never afterwards changed in its main points. The one hundred years had taught the women what they wanted and they were able to write it down and vote its adoption. There was something else remarkable about the woman suffrage movement in this country. The movement began here and it is the only country where votes for women were inevitable from the beginning. Why? Because our Republic was founded upon the voice of a majority of the people. Therefore, the only logical argument for excluding women was the claim that women were not people or, being people, they lacked the qualities which made other people capable as voters and these were, in fact, the two arguments upon which the case was founded at the first and finished at the last. With these two advantages, how long was it from the date when organized women started their campaign to the end? Exactly 72 years or 2 ½ generations. [Missing beginning of the sentence] …slavery as an example. For two hundred years there was an agitation this country for the emancipation of human slaves. It closed with a [terrific] Civil War which modern writers say cost the nation one million lives. These are matters within our own history. We know that it is a long and painful process to change our minds when our prejudices are stubborn. We may consistently conclude that it is a much longer and more painful process to change the mind of the entire nation. It is a very much longer and a very much more painful process to change the international mind; that is, the minds of several nations. The most superficial study of world history demonstrates that all changes of belief have come slowly and falteringly and that the surrender of all outworn customs has always been bitterly contended.

Many thought that the nations had been so shocked by the horrors, the destruction, and the follies of the Great War, that the way to end all war would at once come through the League of Nations. But that would have been contrary to all experience. The Great War converted many to a comprehension of the necessity of the abolition of war, but there were millions of men left who still think war a necessary and beautiful institution. Time and the ferment of controversy will bring the conclusion, but let us give one hundred years more to the task. Permanent peace, even at the end of another century, can only come if men and women, like those present, labor continually and persistently to build public opinion to make the necessary demand. Let us think a minute. Protests against war have been made for 3,000 years. The prophets in the Bible argued for its disuse and Jeremiah was a conscientious objector. There have been continuous but scattered and moderate agitation against was from that time to this. Yet the greatest of all wars came as a climax at this period. Now, nearly twenty years since the Great War closed, the nations have not yet reached the point the women had gained in 1848. They do not yet know what must be their first aim nor how to reach it. No nation has yet foresworn war. Indeed, few pacifists have actually foresworn war. There was vision, hope aspiration, at Verseilles; eloquent, lofty, noble speeches; great men were in serious travail of soul over the follies of the race and, together, they wrote an immortal document, but it was not bold or frank enough. They dared much but not enough. They did not say: “We will now abolish war.” Nor did they expect to do that. Yet that is what must be said before the final campaign for peace is conducted. If you ever played marbles with the boys when you were a little girl, you remember the place to begin was called “scratch” and it was a real scratch made with a stick or with chalk. In the evolution of peace, the scratch is the time and place when, in considerable number, men or nations say together, without reservations, “War must and shall be abolished.” How did the marble players make the scratch? As I remember it, there was a mark called “taw” and a long legged boy, with one foot upon it and with one foot waving in the air, reached over as far as he could and made the scratch.

Peace makers, the world over, are still playing around the taw and getting ready to make the scratch, but, in fact, it is not yet made. Remember the scratch is war. Abolish it.

Take courage, we are ten thousand years nearer the end of war than were those fighting cavemen ten thousand years ago.

Take courage, for we are moving onward. For three thousand years men have cried out in bewildered, despairing voices, “What shall we do about war?” This is not the nature of the cry of this day. From the Arctic to tropical jungles, there is assertion, positive, determined in the common cry. Today it is saying: “Something must be done about war; something shall be done about war.”

Take courage. All the lofty speeches made by men in many nations, in many languages, in Congresses, Parliaments, Forums, Round Tables, and Conferences these last twenty years have uplifted the faith in coming peace the world around. Nearer and nearer to the scratch line men are reaching. The desire of the race is clarifying. Perhaps from Buenos Aires [Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace] we shall receive a dictum from the Republic of the two Americas which will push us far ahead and may even fill Europe with new hope. Great things have been said there by our President and by Secretary Hull, by Senator Saanvedra Lauss who presides over the Assembly and who will receive half the Nobel prize of this year. There may have been as good a speech sometime as that of Secretary Hull’s, but there never was a better or more practical one. There will be delegates who doubt, who obstruct, who pull back, but something forward looking will certainly come from that gathering at Buenos Aires. Never since the American Republics first consulted each other, has there been so friendly a feeling among them while the catastrophes of Europe are drawing them into closer union and bolder resolution. Said Secretary Hull, in closing his remarkable address [6 December, 1936]: “Having affirmed our faith, we should be remiss if we were to leave anything undone which will tend to assure our peace here and make us powerful for peace elsewhere. In a very real sense, let this continent set the high example of championing the forces of peace, democracy, and civilization.” Why knows but that the Americas will yet lead the world to permanent peace.

One man [Carl von Ossietzky, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1935] said the long withheld words: “Abolish war, it is the only way out.” Alas, Germany put him in a concentration camp where he contracted tuberculosis. Norway gave him half the Nobel Prize and Germany will allow him to go to Norway to receive it – what marvelous generosity! Perhaps at that transcendent moment, in the life of this much penalized but always courageous von Ossietsky, as he rises to receive the Nobel honor, he may pronounce a word, so inspired that it will ring around the world and lead millions at least to the scratch. Do not forget that there has been 3,000 years if agitation against war behind us and plenty of examples of the wars that should be abolished. We are nearing scratch and another hundred years should see us through.

What, then, shall we do about war? I invite each one of you to become an anti-war Committee of One. You will be its Chairman, its Treasurer, and its constitution. The aim of your Committee is to build up public opinion for the [complete] abolition of war. There are at least one hundred reasons why war should be abolished. Select one, study it well. Make yourself a perfect master of that one reason. Then go forth to preach and persuade whoever and wherever you can. One man or woman, healthy in bond and mind, equipped with correct information of one reason why war should be abolished, ought to be able to convert a whole county in a year. For the First Committee must bring many other Committees of One into action. If all the counties in the United States have one such Committee of One, by the next presidential election, all the candidates will have discovered as many ways to abolish war as they had this year for making farmers rich.

To be sure, Germany, Japan, and Italy have violated their treaty pledges; Japan has seized Manchuria, and Italy, Ethiopia; Russia frightens the conservatives; while Germany and Italy frighten the radicals, and Spain is engaged in “a dance of death” in the midst of a conflagration of a nation. Even a King [most likely King Edward VIII of England who scandalously married an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and abdicated the throne on December 11, 1936] has chosen the wrong moment for a romance and all Europe, in a tumult, threatens further catastrophes. For twenty years there has been no cessation of wars and rumors of wars, yet, terrifying as it has been, there is some good to be found in it. All of these happenings, together, have compelled every intellect in the world to think of war every day and every hour. Some are affrighted, some careless, some like bloody deeds, but the most are slowly, certainly pushing nearer and nearer the declaration on Scratch.

What, then, can the Committees of One do to bring us to the scratch and to help the campaign afterwards? Here are ten things a Committee of One might do.

  1. I asked a gentle little lady a gentle question: “What are YOU doing to stop war?” She replied in a startlingly ungentle tone: “Wherever I go, whoever I see, I give war a black eye.” The very gentle ones among you might try that. Poor old Mars!
  2. If you can draw, make some [cartoons] and you might begin with a gentle little lady. Be sure to make her small and delicate, blacking the eye of old Mars. Cartoons are supposed to carry a lesson and bring a laugh.
  3. If there are mothers here who would like to do something simple and, at the same time, effective, pay a visit to a ten cent store and ask for the toy soldiers. Examine the exhibition thoroughly. Find out who made these toys. You can buy a soldier all armed and ready to kill, for 5₵. For $1, you can buy a squad with a sergeant, a machine gun, and a cannon. For $5 you can buy a big army. For $10 or $15 you could buy a World War, with everything necessary to make a complete picture, including ambulances and airplanes. The only thing omitted is dead men and cemeteries with their rows of birch crosses. A Christmas protest from the Mothers of this country in every town in the land would be good work.
  4. If there are women with a few college degrees and a wonder in their souls as to what use to put them to, let some among them dedicate themselves to the correction of public understanding of what is called Depressions. I have asked myself a hundred times: How could it happen that century after century wars and their aftermath continue and yet men of no nation have made a serious study of this melancholy period. Some comments are to be found, but they are inadequate and often misleading. Yet, depressions have been plentiful and terrible. A war does to civilization exactly what a hard freeze does to a blooming garden. It stops progress; it turns order into chaos and evolution into an appearance of standing still.

Form a Round Table of ten Committees of One and hold five meetings and there discuss:

  1. What can busy women, perhaps not very well educated, most of us are not, and not well informed, what can they do to push public opinion forward on the right road?
  2. Is it more efficient to propagate anti-war or pro-peace, or both together.
  3. Let each Committee of One bring to the Round Table five things. 1. A slogan. 2. A Quotation. 3. A story. 4. A brief argument against war. 5. A prediction on anti-war or pro-peace.
  4. Plan a family meeting. Make five speeches on why war should be abolished, each taking a different theme and five speeches on peaceful means of settling disputes. You might give a prize – a doughnut or a posie to the speechmaker.
  5. If number 4 is successful, repeat it at a public meeting and add a few peace or anti-war songs. If a cartoon, of a delicate lady, blacking the eye of Mars, have it on exhibition. If #5 is very successful, take it on the road in a trailer.
  6. At the sixth meeting of your Round Table, discuss war, its causes, excuses, and explanations, and especially why was the Great War fought. To prepare yourselves for this ordeal, take ten historical assignments and make life miserable for all librarians and teachers of history in your vicinity. Consult Newton Baker’s new book on “Why we entered the Great War.”
  7. Discuss: What has war to do with morals and crime, and what have morals and crime to do with war? When one man kills another, is it murder to punished by hanging or the chair, and when many men, under aegis of war, kill many men, is it patriotism to be rewarded by decorations? If so, why? When you have figured that to a conclusion, you will know something that millions of wise men have not yet discovered.
  8. If it is true that fear is the motive which prevents nations from disarming, perhaps fear is a motive some people need to convert them to peace. That, if nations can scare themselves into war, perhaps they can be scared into peace. If you have some subjects that may need this treatment, buy a copy of “And we are civilized.” Put your victim in a corner and read a few chapters to him. If that doesn’t scare him into a frame of mind for abolishing war, he is a stubborn proposition.
  9. Discuss: War and Economy. This is a practical, unemotional reason why war should be abolished that is well worth your attention, and a good subject for your preachments to others who have everyday minds. I am now going to make you a little speech on it by way of a sample.

When the Great War came to an end, the League of Nations, as one of its first tasks, gave out an estimated cost of the war, including only the cost from mobilization and announced 197 billions as that total. Since then, many other costs, including pensions, hospitalization support, relief, etc., has trippled that estimate. The first cost was equivalent to $93.50 for every man, woman, and child in the entire world. That amount excluded the cost of all wars added together since the beginning of the Christian era. General Tasker Bliss made a full estimate of the costs and placed it at 338 billions, nearly doubling the cost per capita for all the people on this earth. The cost to the United States exceeded the [total] of all its previous wars, including the American Revolution. Field [Marshal] Sir William Robertson, estimated that nearly three times as many men were killed in the Great War as [those] killed in all wars of the previous 120 years. He places the dead at xx millions. Why did that war cost so much more than other wars and why were [there] so many dead? Briefly, the answer is the war was much more extensive [and] many more men were negaged, [possibly engaged], but the chief point of interest to the [economist] is that the number and variety of all munitions of war were vastly [greater] than ever before. Tanks, airplanes, submarines, poison gas, and [machine] guns were new weapons used in the Great War which, in part, accounted [for] both increase of cost and of dead. Another war will cost in proportion its size for no peoples have ever laid aside a weapon of war equipment [because] it was too costly or too destructive. The chief purpose of war is xx kill and the more deadly the weapon, the more it is approved.

I claim to be one of the champion radio political speech listeners. I heard 150 campaign speeches in the recent campaign and missed none of the varieties. In one speech Al Smith suddenly asked: “What does a billion dollars mean to you? I will tell you what it means to me!” When the speech was over, I took a pencil and tried to find what a billion dollars meant to me. I found that one billion dollars is $8 a piece for every man, woman, and child in this nation. We pay for war now, in peace time, quite a bit more than a billion dollars a year. Were it only a billion, it would be $8 a piece that we all pay for war, but, usually, there is only one income earner in a family and the average is five in a family. That income earner, therefore, would not be charged $8 but $40. Of course this $40 per family is not paid for, it is borrowed and goes into the national debt. It is claimed that debt will be 34 billions by the end of the year and that will mean $1,380 for each family. To be sure, taxes are assessed equally upon all citizens, but the per capita method is an excellent way to understand the meaning of a billion.

On October 24, 1936, the League of Nations gave out figures for new armament purchased in 1935 by the chief nations, although Germany was not included. The total, as confessed by the nations, was 9,295,000,000 or $5.10 for every man, woman, and child in the entire world. Of course, this armament was borrowed on credit and goes into the national debts of the future.

The argument which militarists like best is that the only safe way to maintain peace is to be so well prepared for war that no nation will dare to attack you. SO all the nations make big preparations and brag about it. We think ours are peaceful people, but no country brags louder than ours about the deadly things we possess. We have announced that the famous Big Bertha the Germans had is a baby compared with bigger and better Berthas our gunmakers have manufactured. We have told the world that we have the most deadly potion xx yet discovered. We have announced that the largest bomber airplane in the world has just gracefully taken to the air in its first flight at Seattle. These and other boasts ought to scare off all attackers, if that is the way to do it, but now we announce that we are going to build two super-dreadnoughts at xx millions each. Great Admirals have said the super-dreadnought will never be useful nor needed in war again. War has taken to the air. I believe we no more need these supers than a toad needs a pocketbook, but they will cost every family $4 a piece.

This is only a brief introduction to what might be said on the cost of war.

The World War engaged 32 nations, cost 187 billions of dollars and it enlisted 53 millions of men. More nations, more men, more money, than any other war had ever involved. Naturally, it was followed by extensive, disastrous and stubborn exhaustion from which no nation had yet recovered.

The truth is that all extensive wars have been and always will be followed by exhaustion and that is what the afterwar period should be called. There is exhaustion of manpower, of supplies, of food, of many varieties of material, of health, of all financial resources, but more destructive of all, there is exhaustion of hope, aspiration, intellectual and moral standards. It may be more difficult to survive the next exhaustion of war than the war itself. The entire world needs facts and their interpretation. We need books, speeches, editorials, and round tables on this subject.

War should be brought to an end because it is wrong, barbaroud, wicked, criminal, and wholly inconsistent with the pretended ambitions of the human race to grow better and plan higher, but if these things were not so, no nation can afford the cost of war. In these days, when nations are crying for schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, libraries, and pensions for the old, dependents, and sick. No nation can meet these demands and pay out every year its entire income on war, and that is exactly what many a nation is doing including our own.

I pause to give you a very brief speech on economy to start you off right and I now come to

  1. The last in the list of things you, as Committees of One, may do.

Study well what causes war to continue for it is those causes which must be broken down. Those causes, bound together, amount to this. War is the oldest institution in the world and each nation has inherited it. Each nation nourishes and keeps it going because it either expects to gain, fears attack. The war institution is upheld by fear, worry, hate, jealousy, and a pride to keep up with its warlike neighbors. See what you can do with this part of the problem.

In conclusion, let me tell you two stories.

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