All the same, if the word is to be “Never Again!” it must come through the masses themselves (from whom the fighters are mainly drawn); it must be through them that this consummation must be realized. It must be through the banding together and determined and combined effort of the Unions, local, national, and international, and through the weight of the workers’ influence in all their associations and in all countries. To put much reliance in this matter upon the “classes” is rash; for though just now the latter are sentimentalizing freely over the subject—having got into nearer touch with it than ever before—yet when all is settled down, and the day arrives once more that their interests point to war, it is only too likely that they (or the majority of them) will not hesitate to sacrifice the masses—unless, indeed, the power to do so has already departed from them.
And it is no good for us to sentimentalize on the subject. We must not blink facts. And the fact is that “it’s a long way” to Never Again. The causes of War must be destroyed first; and, as I have more than once tried to make clear, the causes ramify through our midst; they are like the roots, pervading the body politic, of some fell disease whose outbreak on the surface shocks and affrights us. To dislodge and extirpate these roots is a long business. But there is this consolation about it—that it is a business which we can all of us begin at once, in our own lives!
Probably wars will still for many a century continue, though less frequent we hope. And if the people themselves want to fight, and must fight, who is to say them Nay? In such case we need not be overmuch troubled. There are many things worse than fighting; and there are many wounds and injuries which people inflict on each other worse than bodily wounds and injuries—only they are not so plain to see. But I certainly would say—as indeed the peasant says in every land—“Let those who begin the quarrel do the fighting”; and let those who have to do the fighting and bear the brunt of it (including the women) decide whether there shall be fighting or not. To leave the dread arbitrament of War in the hands of private groups and cliques who, for their own ends and interests, are willing to see the widespread slaughter of their fellow-countrymen and the ruin of innumerable homes is hateful beyond words.
 See “A War-Note for Democrats,” by H.M. Tomlinson (English Review, December, 1914). “This war was bound to come, and we’ve got to finish it proper. No more of this bloody rot for the kids, an’ chance it.”
THE TREE OF LIFE