Young men: The lowest aim in your life is to become a soldier. The good soldier never tries to distinguish right from wrong. He never thinks; never reasons; he only obeys. If he is ordered to fire on his fellow citizens, on his friends, on his neighbors, on his relatives, he obeys without hesitation. If he is ordered to fire down a crowded street when the poor are clamoring for bread, he obeys and sees the gray hairs of age stained with red and the life tide gushing from the breasts of women, feeling neither remorse nor sympathy. If he is ordered off as a firing squad to execute a hero or benefactor, he fires without hesitation, though he knows the bullet will pierce the noblest heart that ever beat in human breast.
A good soldier is a blind, heartless, soulless, murderous machine. He is not a man. He is not a brute, for brutes only kill in self defense. All that is human in him, all that is divine in him, all that constitutes the man has been sworn away when he took the enlistment roll. His mind, his conscience, aye, his very soul, are in the keeping of his officer.
No man can fall lower than the solder—it is a depth beneath which we cannot go. Keep the boys out of the army. It is hell.
Down with the army and the navy. We don't need killing institutions. We need life-giving institutions.
By Jack London
The above essay was censored in the USA....
CENSORED By the Postmaster General Here is "A Good Soldier," by Jack London, which has aroused the militarists of this nation to the extent that Postmaster General Burleson has barred from the mails envelopes containing this article. The APPEAL TO REASON was threatened with a "fraud order" if it persisted in sending envelopes through the mails containing London's article. The Postmaster General did not even give the APPEAL a chance in the courts. He said: "Either stop circulating 'A Good Soldier' on envelopes or we will close up your doors by refusing to deliver a single piece of mail to you." So in "Free America" the APPEAL has been forced by a War Censor to take this means to circu- late Jack London's criticism of the soldier profession: