If you want a war, nourish a doctrine. Doctrines are the most frightful tyrants to which men are ever subject, because doctrines get inside a man’s reason and betray him against himself. Civilized men have done their fiercest fighting for doctrines. The reconquest of the Holy Sepulcher, “the balance of power,” “no universal dominion,” “trade follows the flag,” “he who holds the land will hold the sea,” “the throne and the altar,” the revolution, the faith — these are the things for which men have given their lives. What are they all? Nothing but rhetoric and phantasms.

William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) American minister, sociologist, anthropologist.
“War” (1903), War and Other Essays [ed. A. Keller (1911)]

Added on 14-Aug-07 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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