Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
The Coming of War

By Leo Tolstoy

(Russian novelist and reformer, 1828–1910)
 
THE BELLS will peal, long-haired men will dress in golden sacks to pray for successful slaughter. And the old story will begin again, the awful customary acts.  1
  The editors of the daily Press will begin virulently to stir men up to hatred and manslaughter in the name of patriotism, happy in the receipt of an increased income. Manufacturers, merchants, contractors for military stores, will hurry joyously about their business, in the hope of double receipts.  2
  All sorts of Government officials will buzz about, foreseeing a possibility of purloining something more than usual. The military authorities will hurry hither and thither, drawing double pay and rations, and with the expectation of receiving for the slaughter of other men various silly little ornaments which they so highly prize, as ribbons, crosses, orders, and stars. Idle ladies and gentlemen will make a great fuss, entering their names in advance for the Red Cross Society, and ready to bind up the wounds of those whom their husbands and brothers will mutilate; and they will imagine that in so doing they are performing a most Christian work.  3
  And, smothering despair within their souls by songs, licentiousness, and wine, men will trail along, torn from peaceful labor, from their wives, mothers and children—hundreds of thousands of simple-minded, good-natured men with murderous weapons in their hands—anywhere they may be driven.  4
  They will march, freeze, hunger, suffer sickness, and die from it, or finally come to some place where they will be slain by thousands or kill thousands themselves with no reason—men whom they have never seen before, and who neither have done nor could do them any mischief.  5
  And when the number of sick, wounded, and killed becomes so great that there are not hands enough left to pick them up, and when the air is so infected with the putrefying scent of the “food for powder” that even the authorities find it disagreeable, a truce will be made, the wounded will be picked up anyhow, the sick will be brought in and huddled together in heaps, the killed will be covered with earth and lime, and once more all the crowd of deluded men will be led on and on till those who have devised the project, weary of it, or till those who thought to find it profitable receive their spoil.  6
  And so once more men will be made savage, fierce, and brutal, and love will wane in the world, and the Christianizing of mankind, which has already begun, will lapse for scores and hundreds of years. And so once more the men who reaped profit from it all, will assert with assurance that since there has been a war there must needs have been one, and that other wars must follow, and they will again prepare future generations for a continuance of slaughter, depraving them from their birth.  7
 
 
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