There have recently been several notable publications showing the necessity and beneficence of war - and one by a woman at that, Mrs. Adelaide R. Haldeman, editor of The Modern World (Denver). Two articles, one by Capt. A. T. Mahan, of the Navy, on "The Neglected Aspects of War," and the other by Mr. John Bigelow, the aged diplomat, both explain how war in time always settles great policies in favor of the highest. The old saying that war never settles anything except which contestant is the strongest, is wholly false. It settled the question of slavery in America. Curiously enough, the real basis of war - overpopulation - has not been mentioned by any writers who have ever touched the topic - and they are legion. It is not surprising, then, that Andrew Carnegie* could quote a host of men, who, in the last 3,000 years, have considered war nothing but an evil, as though harmful habits could survive. Another article against war, written by Prof. David Starr Jordan, President of Leland Stanford University,* speaks of the "survival of the unfit".
War still gives an advantage to the fighter, and a big one, too, so that it is not true that war destroys the best we breed and leaves the human harvest to weaklings. Indeed, statistics prove that the longevity of professional soldiers is greater than civilians, due, in part, at least, to the fact that they are a selected class, but the losses in battle are so small that they no not reduce the chances of life very materially.
Benjamin Franklin said, "There never was a good war or a bad peace," but it is as safe to say the opposite, for both are bad and good at the same time. Indeed, Von Moltke said, "War is an institution of God, a principle of order in the world. In it the most noble virtues of men find their expression - courage as well as abnegation, fidelity to duty, and even love and self-sacrifice. The soldier offers his life. Without war the world would fall into decay and lose itself in materialism".
As ancient wars were always for the express purpose of murdering competitors, it is evident that if war did not occur there were other forms of murder, and the strange ways in which they replaced war show the ancient necessity for these "blood let-tings." Gaglielmo Ferrero *¡ states that there is no idea of murder or of life and death among the lower animals. They simply kill in rage or to quiet the struggles of the prey they are to eat, and they never kill each other to thin out the population, so that there will be enough food to go around. Their struggle for existence is on an entirely different basis. Man alone knows that there is death; he alone deliberately kills off other men or animals inimical to his welfare. Ferrero states that this discovery of primitive man that there is death, is one of the greatest and the most fundamental. There is one animal, by the way, which has a distinct idea of murder and which murders its kind, male and female, for the same reason that man does murder; that is elimination, so that there will be more food. That animal is the ant. Not only does it war on other species, but one nest or colony will war on others of the same species, to kill it off and secure its food. It is not struggling for existence against enemies, nor are there any combats of the males for the possession of the females, but it is a war of extermination just as in human societies. It is curious that these necessary wars to overcome crowding should be found in animals organized into societies like man - the animal, too, approaching nearest to him in cooperative intelligence.*
* Popular Science Monthly, May, 1906.
* "The Human Harvest," American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1907.
*¡ Popular Science Monthly, October, 1897.
The story of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, is primitive man's way of describing a great natural phenomenon. Perhaps, indeed, he tried to explain the origin of so universal a custom. At least he grasped the idea that man began his existence by murder of competitors, and has continued it ever since, if not in one way then in another. Head-hunting is still considered a very laudable practice, and the Igorrote maiden will not accept her suitor until he has brought in the head of a victim from some other tribe.