Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter one: From What Point of View War Can Be Considered As Having Advantages - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter one: From What Point of View War Can Be Considered As Having Advantages - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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From What Point of View War Can Be Considered As Having Advantages
We will not repeat here the endless denunciations of war. A number of philosophers, inspired by a love of humanity, in praiseworthy exaggeration, have seen it only from its adverse perspectives. I am happy to acknowledge its advantages.
War itself is not an evil. It is in man’s nature. It favors the development of his finest and greatest faculties. It opens up to him a store of exquisite pleasures. He is indebted to it as the protector of cherished objects of his affections. He cheerfully places himself between these and danger. He acquires largeness of spirit, skill, coolness, courage, scorn for death—without which he cannot be sure he will not commit all the dastardliness demanded of him. War teaches him heroic devotion. It makes him form sublime friendships. It joins him in the tightest of bonds with his companions in arms. It renders his fatherland real so that he will defend it. It brings in turn elevated endeavor and elevated leisure. Overlong periods of peace degrade nations and make them ready for servitude.
All these advantages of war, however, are subject to an indispensable condition, namely that it results naturally from the situation and character of nations. When war results only from the ambition of governments, from their greed, their policies and calculations, then war can bring only ill.
 Nations of warlike character are usually free nations, because the same qualities which inspire love of war fill them with a love of freedom. Governments which are warlike against the national grain, however, are never anything but oppressive ones.
War is like all things human. They are all, in their day, good and useful. Outside it, they are all fatal. Likewise, when it is desired to uphold religion against the spirit of the age, it becomes a kind of mixture of mockery and hypocrisy. When, ignoring the peaceful character of peoples, one wishes to perpetuate war, it will consist only in oppression and massacre.
The Roman Republic, lacking commerce, letters, or art, its only domestic occupation farming, its only territory too confined for its population, surrounded by barbarian peoples, always menaced or menacing, followed its destiny in committing itself to nonstop military undertakings. A modern government which let itself be carried away by a rage for conquest, by an unquenchable thirst for domination, by endless projects of aggrandizement, and which believed it could imitate the Roman Republic, would face precisely this difference, that going against the tide of its nation and its era, it would be forced to resort to such extreme means, to such oppressive measures, to such scandalous lies, to such a multiplication of injustices, that the conquerors of its empire would be as wretched as the conquered. A people thus governed would be the Roman people, but without the freedom and the national commitment which make all sacrifices easy, without the hope every individual had of a share in the land, in short, without all the circumstances which in Roman eyes embellished this hazardous and stormy way of life.
The situation today prevents nations from being warlike in character. “The risks and fortunes of war,” says an estimable writer,1 “will never be able to offer a prospect comparable to that which today presents itself to the working man, in all countries, where work is paid the wages due to it.” The new mode of combat, the changes in weaponry, artillery: these have deprived military life of what used to be most attractive about it. There is no longer a struggle against danger; there is fatality. Courage today is no longer a passion; it is indifference. One  no longer tastes therein that joy in will and vitality, in the development of physical strength and the moral faculties, which made hand-to-hand combat so beloved of the heroes of antiquity and the knights of the Middle Ages. War has lost its greatest charms. Thus the time it could be loved has passed. We must not let ourselves be deceived by our memories, but envisage it in a new light, the only true one in our day, as a necessity to be endured.
Considered in this way, modern war is now only a scourge. In the case of commercial, industrious, and civilized nations, with lands sufficiently extensive for their needs, with links whose interruption becomes a disaster, with no prosperity or increase in affluence to be expected from conquest, war unsettles, without compensation, every kind of social guarantee. The domestic controls it seems to authorize put individual freedom at risk. It brings a destructive acceleration to legal processes both in terms of their sanctity and their purpose. It tends to represent all the adversaries of government, all those it regards with ill will, as accomplices of the foreign enemy. Finally, troubling the security of all, war also presses on the general wealth, through the pecuniary sacrifices to which all citizens are condemned. War’s very successes throw conquering nations into exhaustion. They lead only to the creation of States without bounds, whose governance demands limitless power and which, after having been during their span of life a cause of tyranny, are brought to collapse in the midst of crime, by countless disasters.
[A. [Refers to page 278.]]Ganilh, I, 237.