Scott Nearing

A LETTER OF EXPLANATION

March 10, 1917

 

Dear Mr. Editor:---

During the past few days a number of prominent Toledo citizens have made statements indicating that my further continuance at Toledo University will prove detrimental to the welfare of that institution. In order that the Board of Directors may feel free to act for the best interests of the University, I have tendered my resignation to take effect at their discretion.

My utterances on the question of pacifism and patriotism have led to the storm of criticism that has been directed against me and against the University. May I take this opportunity to make clear my position?

I am opposed to tyranny, despotism and irresponsible power, whether vested in a king, kaiser or any other individual or group of individuals.

I believe in democracy and in the brotherhood of all men. No community can endure which ignored the Golden Rule, the basic law of all social life---"Each for all, and all for each."

Millions of people, the world over, are today seeking to overthrow German militarism. There are two methods of securing this result. The first way is to militarize all of the great nations. I am opposed to this plan because I believe that the dearest liberties of democracy must be sacrificed in the process.

There is another method of overcoming German militarism---to promulgate a higher ideal than the ideal of militarism.

Ideas and ideals are the most powerful and permanent things in the world, as our own history shows. A century and a half ago our ancestors immortalized themselves by broaching the idea of political democracy to a king-ridden world. Since that time, the idea has encircled the earth.

The only possible way to save the present-day world from militarism is to cut to the root of the problem and establish an industrial democracy, which, in its turn may prove a beacon light to mankind. If we adopt militarism, we lower ourselves to the level of German militarism. If we adopt industrial democracy, we have an opportunity to raise them to our new plane of justice and liberty.

I oppose militarism because I believe that is stands for the brute in human nature, and that if we adopt it the democracy is doomed. I hold to the doctrine, "Peace on earth and good will among men," because I believe that only thus can the spirit of man be emancipated and the human race be saved. They that take the sword shall perish with the sword. It is only those who are willing to overcome evil with good that can attain to the full promise of manhood.

I revere the government that represents democracy. I honor the flag that stands for liberty and justice. So strong is my feeling on this point that I resent seeing the government turned over to an irresponsible plutocracy or an irresponsible burocracy, just as I resent having the flag, which is the symbol of our democracy, used to cloak special privilege and shameless exploitation.

Militarism is the madness of the past---dragging us down and destroying us. The spirit of brotherhood and good will among men is the voice of the future, calling us to a higher place of life than humanity has ever known. To that future I have dedicated my life, and so I purpose to continue to the end of the chapter.

Scott Nearing

 

 

 

 

 

Scanned by Michael Van Dyke

Research by Mark Krasovic

H-Net, Humanities & Social Sciences Online

Michigan State University

1998