IAN HAY AND PACIFISM

Major John Hay Beith, the British author and soldier well-known as Ian Hay, states the case against pacifism with great justice and forbearance. As a rule, military men do not hesitate to condemn pacifists in strong and unmistakable language. Major Beith discusses the effects of non-resistance with becoming restraint and logic. But there are still several loose ends.

"No matter how many people say they will not fight, when an invading army comes along, lays waste the country, commits atrocities, and even threatens human life, there is no one who will not instinctively take up arms in self-defence." Now it does matter how many people say they will not fight. If there are enough of such people throughout the world there can be no invading army.

The only real fault which can be found with pacifism is that it is not yet universal. Obviously, if it were, there could be no fighting. As Major Beith points out, the laboring classes of Europe have about reached the point where they will refuse to fight for any cause. And inasmuch as armies are usually built around these classes, any large military operations on the continent will be seriously hampered for some time to come,--until that time at least when the horrors of war have lost their vividness.

But in spite of logic, which says clearly enough that if no one will fight there can be no war, Major Beith and those who argue with him, have their feet firmly planted on the unassailable fact that there are still plenty of people who will fight with great joy if they have half a chance. There are few commodities cheaper than excuses for war, when the desire for war exists. Unfortunately then, as long as any considerable nation remains martial and aggressive, all the rest must follow suit, no matter how strongly reason urges them to pacifism. If it were universal, pacifism would mean peace. Limited to one country or one people, it might under present conditions, invite destruction.