On the Origins of War

Herbert S. Bigelow

[Reprinted from the Single Tax Review, July-August 1915]

"This war has robbed me of no cherished belief. It has amazingly confirmed my faith in true Christianity. It has unmasked the lie of civilization. It has revealed the bankruptcy of conventional religion. But the religion of Jesus stands forth as the world's supreme need.

"Real Christianity the world has never tried. Society is founded upon a denial of the doctrine of brotherhood of the great Nazarene.

"That young Astor should inherit a portion of Manhattan Island worth fifty or a hundred million while other children of God inherit not even the assurance of a job of hard labor and poor pay -- that is a social crime -- a sin against humanity.

"This war is, in the providence of God, a retribution for our social sins. The private appropriation of the social value of land and the consequent disinheritance of millions of men, our brothers, this is what makes jobs and trade scarce and men cheap. But for our social bungling there would be more jobs than men everywhere.

"When we are wise and Christian in our social relations men will not lie and cheat and murder for trade, for they will have all the trade they want. This is the most ghastly and also the most glorious war in history. In my judgment, it will bring to the world a new and contrite spirit, a spirit of practical religion, manifested in a new and wonderful social justice."