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182 ] Mr. Milne and War [I] To the Editor of Time and Tide Time and Tide, 16 (26 Jan 1935) 124 Sir, – In his letter in your issue of January 19th, Mr. A. A. Milne says that he supposed that when he had finished thinking about war, everybody would know exactly what he thought. Not knowing that Mr. Milne had begun thinking about war, I did not know that he had finished. Long before I had finished reading his book, I knew what he felt about war; and with his feelings I have a warm sympathy. If everyone felt about war as Mr. Milne does, I am convinced that we should never have war; if everyone thought as he does, I do not know what would happen.1 I cannot see that there is anything absurd in the question, “Why do you consider it important that people should not lose their lives?” though I dare say the “militarist” who asked the question was an absurd person.2 But Mr. Milne’s answer, especially now that he has underlined one phrase, does seem to me absurd. “If you take away his life, you leave him, in this world, nothing .” In other words, if you kill a man, you kill him. But M. de la Palisse, apparently, is not dead yet.3 Mr. Milne presently makes an assertion, or to be more exact, a supposition , which I find a little more difficult. He says he should have supposed that you could condemn adultery without asserting that there is no higher value than not living in adultery. I should say that unless you can affirm some higher value than “non-adultery,” you have no business to condemn adultery, which in itself differs from war in being, as a rule, pleasant for both parties engaged. It is quite a different thing to assert that non-adultery is a positive value, and to assert that chastity is a positive value. You might, for the sake of argument, assert the value of non-adultery from the point of view of eugenics; you only assert the value of chastity from the point of view of religion. To complete the analogy, we might say that Mr. Milne is in favour of non-war, and I am in favour of peace. As for the belief that there are things worth fighting for, and worth dying for, but not worth bombing babies for, I should suppose that the intent to bomb babies was one which no practical militarist had ever cherished. I have no militarist friends, but I should suppose that most [ 183 Mr. Milne and War [I] militarists would declare that intentional bombing of babies was a waste of bombs, inasmuch as they would all count upon a war being over before the babies reached fighting age. I would distinguish between intentional bombing of babies, and the bombing of some babies while aiming to hit a railway station. But if Mr. Milne, and Miss West, think that I am defending unlimited warfare, they are mistaken. I only say that I dislike as much the idea of people being killed in the firing line, as behind the firing line; I object as much to the killing of men as of women and children.4 The “common military argument” that a “soldiers’ war is more humane and gentlemanly than an economic war” is of course nonsense; but not apparently to me in quite the same sense as to Mr. Milne.5 For my point was exactly that a soldiers’ war is the outcome of an economic war; I suggested that we ought to enquire more closely into the economic causes of war and try to stop them; but Mr. Milne still ignores this point. I am obliged to Mr. Milne, at any rate, for his civility. I do not find anything in Miss West’s letter that calls for comment, but there are two points in Mr. Brophy’s letter which need mention. Mr. Brophy says that I insinuate that “Mr. Milne and those who agree with him advocate peace chiefly out of a desire for their own personal comfort and security” [96].6 I meant nothing of the kind. I did suggest that peace might be more pleasant for Mr. Milne (and for myself for that matter) than for some other less fortunate members of society. I was not suggesting that Mr. Milne hated war because it interfered with his personal comfort and security. If the tone of his book...


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