On the Causes of War

Recently I read “On the Causes of War” by Emile L. Laveleye. I quote here a paragraph that I found relevant to our age:

Every country that seeks military success renounces liberty. In the spirit of passive obedience and discipline lies the strength of armies; criticism, discussion, and the assertion of lawful rights are the mainsprings of free institutions. In a country at war, or preparing for war, authority must be absolute; its proper sovereign is a general and a dictator. The spirit of conquest and the spirit of freedom are therefore incompatible. Force reigns with the one, reason with the other. And the war ended, victory ordinarily seals the subjugation of the victorious people; for Bonapartes are much more common than Washingtons. Seeing, therefore, that in every war nations must stake both their prosperity and their freedom, it is obvious that, if they have their eyes open, they cannot wish for it. But if no nation will enter on an aggressive war, none will have to stand on the defensive.

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