Tag Archives: War

John Stuart Mill, War, Good cause, Liberal Parliament member, War quote

John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and liberal Member of Parliament. He was also a  influential liberal thinker of the 19th century and a teacher of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham. Mill was an advocate for Ireland, and the first Parliament member to propose that women be given the right to vote. Mill was a strong advocate of women’s rights. He believed that in some cases, war is the lesser of evils. Here is John Stuart Mill’s  famous quote concerning war:
“But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”