The Pacifist at Bay, September 16, 1922

Peace and Bread in Time of War. By Jane Addams.
(Macmillan. 8s. 6d.)

THERE are people who believe that the war killed pacifism, and it is possible to make out a case for this opinion. It certainly killed the pacifism of the nineteenth century, a highly civilized and reasoned political humanism which was born about 1815 and was ignominiously snuffed out by a gentleman who, in his heart, was probably a believer in it -- Herr Bethmann-Hollweg. In August, 1914, there were hundreds of Cobdens in Europe; [today] there are none. A search for a pacifist in 1922 may reveal him armed with a bomb and revolver in Ireland, or training a Red Army in Russia. This is the natural and logical result of a war to end war, of that passionate enthusiasm, which seized millions of the human race, for the belief that for men to kill one another was the best and noblest method of finally preventing them from killing one another. This new pacifism is logically irrefutable, and is, therefore, becoming ingrained in all civilized races, though some of its adherents do not seem to see that in practice it cannot be successfully or logically applied without complete and mutual extermination.

Jane Addams represented the best type of nineteenth-century pacifist. She belonged to that company of distinguished women who appeared in so many different countries, who were humanists, pacifists, feminists, and who -- one would have said eight years ago -- stood in the van of civilization. Of this distinguished company Jane Addams is the most distinguished, and, as all her writings and this book show, she has one great quality denied to some of the others: she is absolutely without sentimentality. Her feelings are deep, and she is never afraid of showing or expressing them, but they are always direct, simple, defined. There is no more woolliness in her pacifism than in the militarism of Admiral Tirpitz, or in the nationalism of M. Poincaré. That is what makes this last book of hers so interesting and so moving. Here we see the nineteenth-century pacifist with his back to the wall of the last ditch. It is a simple and personal narrative -- told with that extraordinary directness which makes Jane Addams one of the greatest of living speakers -- of what happened to pacifists and the pacifist movement in America during the war.

The United States, being the home of freedom, and having entered the war solely in order to end war and to make the world safe for liberty and democracy, naturally persecuted her pacifists with immense vigor and zest. To the pacifist of the type of Jane Addams this persecution was not the worst; the really tragic and terrible experience was the sense of complete intellectual and emotional isolation, of a hopeless struggle to swim against the current of the time. Every event was a summons to the pacifist to testify, and yet it gradually became clear to him that it was worse than useless for him to testify. This feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, of being either sane in a world of madmen or mad in a world of sane, has left a deep mark on Jane Addams’s book. It is unnecessary to say that the end of the war still found her with her back to the wall in the last ditch of pacifism. She remains a pacifist, but not a nineteenth-century pacifist. Nineteenth-century pacifism was founded upon hope and upon a belief that ultimately man is amenable to reason. The pacifist of 1922 finds his hopes so tarnished that he carefully hides them away, and, as for that particular belief, it was snuffed out in August, 1914. There remains the last ditch, the League of Nations, with its head office at Geneva and its General Secretary, Sir Eric Drummond, K.C.M.G.