Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 139

democratic privilege under the mask of imperialist, communist,
or mercantile aggression were committed during those years; what
punitive terms and long-nursed grievances, carefully plotted under
the guise of trade protection and minority rights, went into the
making of the Versailles Treaty; what was done by the victors of
1918 with the fattest victory in history and with the severe
responsibilities attaching to such a victory; what the real causes of
the war of 1914-18 were; what relation that war had to the prob–
lems of population, employment, and labor; what monstrous ill!l–
sions of sanctimony, what "concept of infinity," were bred by the
national successes of the Nineteenth Century and made the outbreak
of 1914 not only a shock to the civilized world but an occasion for
duping the public intelligence on a scale that entailed a reaction
of extreme pessimism-these are questions which many people
now prefer to dismiss.
It happens, however, that they are questions upon which our
immediate prudence depends and to which any world that survives
the war and hopes to make itself permanently inhabitable must
return. They are questions implicated in the meaning of the civil–
ization whose defense has again become the battle-cry of the
democratic nations.
Mr. MacLeish defends, against all "passionate contempt,"
the "statements of conviction, of purpose, and of belief on which
the war of 1914-18 was fought."
is true that in 1935 he declared
that he would "do everything in my power to prevent the United
States going to war under
circumstances," but as early as 1933
he saw little difference between the artist who subordinates the
causes or passions of a moment to the interest of timeless truths
and the "economic determinist" who considers only "the war of
economic causes in which human sttffering points only an economic
moral, in which all events fit into an economic pattern and in
which anything irrelevant to such a pattern is dismissed."
Recently he praised
The Ramparts We Watch
as a portrayal of
the War not "in terms of the
outcome, the happy ending,"
which deluded many into thinking it was won easily and thus
justified skepticism and "passionate contempt," but "in terms of
outcome, the disastrous outcome, which loomed so
large to those who faced it":
The post-war generation, the generation which returned from
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