Economic Sophisms/128

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"altogether inoperative, and makes itself the more felt in proportion as nations have more frequent intercourse, and understand each other better. In consequence, we see that the study of languages, and a freer communication between nations, tends to bring about and render predominant a stronger feeling against this species of spoliation.

Unfortunately, it not unfrequently happens that the nations which surround an aggressive and warlike people are themselves given to spoliation when they can accomplish it, and thus become imbued with the same prejudices.

In that case there is only one remedy—time; and nations must be taught by painful experience the enormous evils of mutual spoliation.

We may note another check—a superior and growing morality. But the object of this is to multiply virtuous actions. How then can morality restrain acts of spoliation when public opinion places such acts in the rank of the most exalted virtue? What more powerful means of rendering a people moral than religion? And what religion more favourable to peace than Christianity? Yet what have we witnessed for eighteen hundred years? During all these ages we have seen men fight, not only in spite of their religion, but in name of religion itself.

The wars waged by a conquering nation are not always offensive and aggressive wars. Such a nation is sometimes so unfortunate as to be obliged to send its soldiers into the field to defend the domestic hearth, and to protect its families, its property, its independence, and its liberty. War then assumes a character of grandeur and sacredness. The national banner, blessed by the ministers of the God of peace, represents all that is most sacred in the land; it is followed as the living image of patriotism and of honour; and warlike virtues are extolled above all other virtues. But when the danger is past, public opinion still prevails; and by the natural reaction of a spirit of revenge, which is mistaken for patriotism, the banner is paraded from capital to capital. It is in this way that nature seems to prepare a punishment for the aggressor.

It is the fear of this punishment, and not the progress of philosophy, which retains arms in the arsenals; for we cannot

deny that nations the most advanced in civilization go to war,