The gratuitous link is to Ross Gittins' article today in the Devil Bunny City Morning Herald.
And here is the slab of text, an extract from 'The Treason of the Clerks', by Julien Benda, 1927:
Peace, it must be repeated after so many others have said this, is only
possible if men cease to place their happiness in the possession of things
"which cannot be shared," and if they raise themselves to a point where they
adopt an abstract principle superior to their egotisms. In other words, it can
only be obtained by a betterment of human morality. But, as I have pointed out
above, not only do men to-day steel themselves entirely against this, but the
very first condition of peace, which is to recognize the necessity for this
progress of the soul, is seriously menaced. A school arose in the nineteenth
century which told men to expect peace from enlightened self-interest, from the
belief that a war, even when victorious, is disastrous, especially to economic
transformations, to "the evolution of production," in a phrase, to factors
totally foreign to their moral improvement, from which, these thinkers say, it
would be frivolous to expect anything. So that humanity, even if it had any
desire for peace, is exhorted to neglect the one effort which might procure it,
an effort it is delighted not to make. The cause of peace, which
is always surrounded with adverse factors, in our days has one more against
it—the pacifism which pretends to be scientific.
I can point to other sorts of pacifism, whose chief result I dare to say is
to weaken the cause of peace, at least among serious-minded persons:—
(a) First, there is the pacifism I shall call "vulgar," meaning thereby the
pacifism which does nothing but denounce "the man who kills," and sneer at the
prejudices of patriotism. When I see certain teachers, even if they are
Montaigne, Voltaire, and Anatole France, whose whole case against war consists
in saying that highwaymen are no more criminal than leaders of armies, and in
laughing at people who kill each other because one party is dressed in yellow
and the other in blue, I feel inclined to desert a cause whose champions
oversimplify things to this extent, and I begin to feel some
sympathy for the impulses of profound humanity which created the nations and
which are thereby so grossly insulted.
(b) Mystic pacifism, by which I mean the pacifism which is solely animated
by a blind hatred of war and refuses to inquire whether a war is just or not,
whether those fighting are the attackers or the defenders, whether they wanted
war or only submit to it. This pacifism is essentially the pacifism of the
people (and that of all the so-called pacifist newspapers) and was strikingly
embodied in 1914 by a French writer who, having to judge between two fighting
nations one of which had attacked the other contrary to all its pledges while
the other was only defending itself, could do nothing but intone "I have a
horror of war" and condemned them both equally. It is impossible to exaggerate
the consequences of this behavior, which showed mankind that mystic pacifism,
just like mystic militarism, may entirely obliterate the feeling of justice in
those who are smitten with it.
I think I see another motive in the French writers who in 1914 adopted the
attitude of M. Romain Rolland—the fear that they would fall into national
partiality if they admitted that their nation was in the right. It may be
asserted that these writers would have warmly taken up the cause of France, if
France had not been their own country. Whereas Barrès said, "I always maintain
my country is right even if it is in the wrong," these strange friends of
justice are not unwilling to say: "I always maintain my country is in the wrong,
even if it is right." There again we see that the frenzy of impartiality, like
any other frenzy, leads to injustice.
My point is only this: our inherent bias towards optimisim is just as likely to be a dovish bias as a hawkish bias.
We want to think that our opposite numbers are rational, like us. We want to think that they want peace, like us. We want to think that they will see our gestures of goodwill and respond in kind, just like we would to their gestures. Anyone who has ever taught first year students knows how easily this dovish optimism can lead to disaster.