John Stuart Mill on War

Here’s an interesting quote to ponder:

bq. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
“John Stuart Mill”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

Apparently cadets at the US Air Force academy are required to memorize this quote. The rest of us would do well to take it to heart also.

Finding this quote brought to mind some other related thoughts I had which I’ll have to try to post sometime.

2 thoughts on “John Stuart Mill on War

  1. Hmm. I might only be demonstrating gross ignorance about the man, but I’m surprised he wrote that. I wish his message would see wider reception today.

  2. I don’t know a whole lot about him either (mostly just what I could find online), but I’d be interested as to what impression of him you’re referring to. My understanding is that he’d qualify as a classic liberal, which is (in my opinion) ironically closer to modern conservatism than liberalism.

    Obviously I would have quibbles with most modern interpretations of utilitarianism, but from what I’ve read, at least his original conception of the idea was pretty reasonable.

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