Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Attractiveness of War - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2
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The Attractiveness of War - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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The Attractiveness of War
“Redemption by War: The Intellectuals and 1914.” Midwest Quarterly Vol 20(Spring 1979):211–227.
With few exceptions, such as Bertrand Russell, the overwhelming number of European intellectuals in the various countries welcomed the coming of the First World War. Only a tiny handful were conscientious objectors. It is difficult for historians today to understand the outlook of those who glorified the coming of the war, and numerous recent biographies of such intellectuals are embarrassed by this attitude.
Why did war have such appeal to the intellectuals? It offered a sense of purpose for the intellectuals, a “spiritual awakening” which transcended the “narrowness and pettiness” of everyday life, offering “new perspectives on greatness.” War promised a growing opportunity for community and fraternity for intellectuals unhappy with the growing materialism and individualism. For the youth there was talk of “self-discovery” through violence and the solidarity of struggle.
There was a remarkable similarity between the youth of that generation and those today, which included such things as “communalism, getting back to nature, unconventional sexual morality, mistrust of the older generation, and protests against false education.” A worship of the irrational encompassed the occult, the mystical and the spiritual. Culture implied soul, while civilization meant intellect.
There was a certain paradox and illogic in rebelling against a sterile culture which impinged upon the individual, while asserting that individual affirmation could best be achieved through the re-creation of a primitive community where reason was subordinated to instinct. The overriding hope that a better world would arise from the ashes was closely linked to the “prevailing ‘historicism,’ at once optimistic and irrational.” Nowhere is this attitude better observed than in the work of Max Scheler, a pioneer in phenomenology, who argued in 1915 in The Genius of War and the German War that war would destroy the mechanical, bureaucratic organization of society and encourage freedom, love, and the creative spirit.