All the realities of this war are things of the mind. This is a conflict of cultures, and nothing else in the world. All the world-wide pain and weariness, fear and anxieties, the bloodshed and destruction, the innumerable torn bodies of men and horses, the stench of putrefaction, the misery of hundreds of millions of human beings, the waste of mankind, are but the material consequences of a false philosophy and foolish thinking. We fight not to destroy a nation, but a nest of evil ideas.
. . . The real task of mankind is to get better sense into the heads of these Germans, and therewith and thereby into the heads of humanity generally, and to end not simply a war, but the idea of war. What printing and writing and talking have done, printing and writing and talking can undo. Let no man be fooled by bulk and matter. Rifles do but kill men, and fresh men are born to follow them. Our business is to kill ideas. The ultimate purpose of this war is propaganda, the destruction of certain beliefs, and the creation of others. It is to this propaganda that reasonable men must address themselves.
. . . Our grievance is the grievance of every decent life-loving German, of every German mother and sweetheart who watched her man go off under his incompetent leaders to hardship and mutilations and death. And our propaganda against the Prussian idea has to be no vile argument to the pocket, but an appeal to the common sense and common feeling of humanity. We have to clear the heads of the Germans, and keep the heads of our own people clear about this war.
. . . I could wish we had a Government capable of something more articulate than ” Wait and see! ” a Government that dared confess a national intention to all the world. For what a Government says is audible to all the world. King George, too, has the ear of a thousand million people. If he saw fit to say simply and clearly what it is we fight for and what we seek, his voice would be heard universally, through Germany, through all America. No other voice has such penetration. He is, he has told us, watching the war with interest, but that is not enough; we could have guessed that, knowing his spirit. As a nation, we need expression that shall reach the other side. But our Government is, I fear, one of those that obey necessity; it is only very reluctantly creative; it rests, therefore, with us who, outside all formal government, represent the national will and intention, to take this work into our hands.
Never before has the world seen clearly as it now sees clearly, the role of thought in the making of war. This new conception carries with it the corollary of an entirely new campaign. — H. G. Wells, 1914
It rests, therefore, with us. We are the Triarii.