Because life is a series of edits

Dorothy Sayers on War

In Books, Politics, Writers on October 21, 2007 at 3:57 am

Just finished a little 100-page book titled Creed or Chaos?, a collection of essays written by Dorothy Sayers at the height of World War II. Consider the timeliness of these quotes:

“The people who say that this is a war of economics or of power politics, are only dabbling about on the surface of things. Even those who say it is a war to preserve freedom and justice and faith have gone only halfway to the truth. The real questions is what economics and politics are to be used for; whether freedom and justice and faith have any right to be considered at all; at bottom it is a violent and irreconciable quarrel about the nature of God and the nature of man and the ultimate nature of the universe; it is a war of dogma.” (28)

“War is a judgment that overtakes societies when they have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws governing the universe. People who would not revise their ideas voluntarily find themselves compelled to do so by the sheer pressure of the events which these very ideas have served to bring about.” (64)

“Shall we be prepared to take the same attitude to the arts of peace as to the arts of war? I see no reason why we should not sacrifice our convenience and our individual standard of living just as readily for the building of great public works as for the building of ships and tanks – but when the stimulus of fear and anger is removed, shall we be prepared to do any such thing?” (68)

Would it be accurate to say that the majority of us have sacrificed little “convenience” or “individual standard of living” this time around? And how crazy does Sayers’ idea of doing so for something other than war seem? Talk about your whacked out biblical craziness…

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  1. Actually, there are lots of statistics which show that much of the “economic” sacrifices of WW2 were more nostalgic that reality. Anyway, that’s beside the point.
    I do find those quotes interesting.

  2. Indeed, I’m sure there was some nostalgia involved, but apart from military families, I doubt our level of sacrifice (economic or otherwise) is on par at any kind of comparable level. And I think that is one of the points (and not just beside them).

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