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Never Again!   By: (1844-1929)

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(A protest and a warning addressed to the peoples of Europe)

by Edward Carpenter

Never again must this Thing happen. The time has come if the human race does not wish to destroy itself in its own madness for men to make up their minds as to what they will do in the future; for now indeed is it true that we are come to the cross roads, we stand at the Parting of the Ways.

The rapid and enormous growth of scientific invention makes it obvious that Violence ten times more potent and sinister than that which we are witnessing to day may very shortly be available for our use or abuse in War. On the other hand who can doubt that the rapid growth of interchange and understanding among the peoples of the world is daily making Warfare itself, and the barbarities inevitably connected with it, more abhorrent to our common humanity?

Which of these lines are we to follow? Along which path are we to go? This is a question which the mass peoples of Europe in the future and not merely the Governments will have seriously to ponder and decide.

That bodies of men as has happened a hundred times in the trenches in Northern France and even on the Eastern Front should exchange morning salutations and songs in humorous amity, and then at a word of command should fall to shooting each other;

That peasants and artisans, and shopkeepers and students and schoolmasters, who have no quarrel whatever, who on the whole rather respect and honour each other, should with explosive bombs deliberately blow one another to bits so that even their own mothers could not recognize them; That human beings should use every devilish invention of science with the one purpose of maiming, blinding, destroying those against whom they have no personal grudge or grievance; All this is sheer madness.

Only a short time ago a private soldier said to me: "Yes, we had got to be such friends with those Bavarians in the trenches over against us that if we had returned there again I believe nothing could have made us fight with each other; but of course that point was perceived and we were moved to another part of the Line." What a criticism in a few words on the whole War! A hundred times this or something similar has happened, and a hundred and a thousand times these 'enemies' who have madly mutilated each other have a few minutes later been only too glad to dress each other's wounds and share the last contents of their water bottles.

By all the heart rending experiences which have now become so common and familiar to us;

By the fact that to day there is hardly a family over the greater part of Europe that is not grieving bitterly over the loss of some dearest member of its circle;

By the white faces of the women clad in black, whom one sees everywhere in the streets of Berlin and Brussels and Paris and Vienna, of London and Milan and Belgrade and Petrograd;

By the sufferings of famine stricken Poland, ravaged already three or four times in the last two years by opposing and alternate armies;

By the awful sufferings of the six or seven million Jews of the Russian Pale, hounded homeless in winter to and, fro over the frozen earth the old men and women and children perishing of exposure, fatigue, and starvation; By the agony of Serbia, and the despair of Belgium;

This must not be again!

By the five or six million actual combatants already slain; and, the strange spectacle of millions of Women (over half a million in Britain, more in France, multitudes in Germany and America) manufacturing man destroying explosive shells in ceaseless stream by day and night; (And it is estimated that on the average some fifty shells are expended for every one man slain) By the terrified faces as of drowning men of those suffering in countless hospitals from shell shock; by their trembling hands and, limbs and horrible dreams at... Continue reading book >>

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