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The "Good" Soldier

The Librarian

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     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: 
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Quote from “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930 movie):

You know I can't run away. That's why you accuse me. I tell you, I didn't want to kill you. I tried to keep you alive. If you jumped in here again, I wouldn't do it. You see, when you jumped in here, you were my enemy — and I was afraid of you. But you're just a man like me, and I killed you. Forgive me, comrade. Say that for me. Say you forgive me! Oh, no. You're dead! Only you're better off than I am. You're through. They can't do any more to you now. Oh, God, why did they do this to us? We only wanted to live, you and I. Why should they send us out to fight each other? If we threw away these rifles and these uniforms, you could be my brother just like Kat and Albert. You'll have to forgive me, comrade. I'll do all I can. I'll write to your parents. I'll write to — I'll write to your wife. I'll write to her. I promise she'll not want for anything. And I'll help her and your parents, too. Only forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me! Forgive me!

War is truly a devastating event that causes grief to anyone or anything that stands on its way.

 

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     "Down with the army and the navy. We don't need killing institutions. We need life-giving institutions."

And yet every nation demands the former. Even most religions accede to it, seeking only to soften it somewhat with chaplains.

Only a very select few say, categorically, 'no.'

 

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