Patrick Taylor

Objection to War

The text on these four pages was found in the bottom of an old chest in 2020 and is assumed to be my 22 year-old future father's objection to fighting against Germany at the beginning of World War II. He was not, however, a conscientious objector as such. As soon as it was apparent to the public at large what Nazism actually meant, he naturally joined up with the armed forces and went to Sandhurst for tank training. He then joined the 6th Battalion of Green Howards and took his part in the Allied Landings on D-Day. He was in action with his Battalion from 6th June 1944 on Gold Beach all the way to Nijmegen that November. More in Kenneth Taylor's war diary »

England, early 1940

My objection to war is fourfold —

(1) That intra-specific competition is unnatural to humanity and will lead to its eventual destruction.

(2) That war never achieves what it sets out to achieve.

(3) That the method of war is itself far worse than anything against which it may be used.

(4) That there is a practical alternative method of dealing with any International problem which may arise, including the direct threat of aggression.

1. That intra-specific competition is unnatural to humanity and will lead to its eventual destruction.

I believe that it is reasonable to suspect that the existance of the human species is a sign of progress in the course of evolution, as it is the highest form of life. Therefore the responsibility rests upon humanity to further that progress and to lead the way towards an even better state of life. How is it best to be able to do this? For humanity to develop, all humanity must develop, not just one particular section of it, for at the present time, every nation is to some extent dependent on every other nation. All genuine attempts at progress must be co-operative. Intra-specific competition involves the use of a large amount of energy by certain groups against certain other groups. By this waste of energy the species as a whole does not develop, nor in fact does any particular group belonging to it. The energy of the species is needed in order to fight for its existance against outside forces which may threaten it as a whole, and to co-operate in devising means for improving its quality. For example, it is more desirable to improve the social conditions in one's own country with the assistance, where valuable, of various ideas and discoveries of another country, than to try and worsen the conditions in the other country. It is more desirable to co-operate in fighting against bacteria, than to use bacteria as a weapon against one another, for eventually it is the bacteria which will triumph and not either of the parties which use them. It is more desirable to use the aeroplane in a civilising capacity between nations, than as a weapon for their mutual slaughter. Would our own civilisation be as valuable without the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, without the scientific discoveries of Einstein, without the psychological researches of Freud, without the chemical experiments of Haber and the dyestuffs and the optical instruments invented or discovered by his fellow countrymen?

In the past, intra-specific competition has not been so great an evil as it has become. It did not directly threaten the existance of the species as it does now. Humanity has become so interdependent that the effects of modern war are sufficiently far-reaching to destroy victor and vanquished alike, not to mention the deleterious effects it has upon neutral states. It has become so united and space and time that if it does not become united in purpose, it will surely perish. Modern scientific methods of warfare have developed to such an extent that each side can practically destroy everything valuable including a large proportion of human life on the other side before any decision is reached. Thus unless the method of intra-specific competition is rejected by the human species, there will scarcely be any human species left. There is no indication that there will be any better form of life to take its place. The mere fact that the human species possesses the power to reason and to direct consciously its own progress or retrogression seems to suggest that it is the highest form of life with a mission to fulfil. Intra-specific competition causes specialization which is obviously harmful. Mankind has so far avoided excessive specialization and it is still in a position to advance by mutual co-operation.

Continued ...

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Page last modified: 03 November, 2020