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An Inquiry Into The Nature Of Peace And The Terms

AN INQUIRY INTO

THE NATURE OF PEACE

AND

THE TERMS OF ITS PERPETUATION

BY

THORSTEIN VEBLEN

New York B.W. HUEBSCH 1919

_All rights reserved_

COPYRIGHT, 1917. BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Published April, 1917: Reprinted August, 1917.

New edition published by B.W. HUEBSCH. January, 1919.

PREFACE

It is now some 122 years since Kant wrote the essay, _Zum ewigen Frieden_. Many things have happened since then, although the Peace to which he looked forward with a doubtful hope has not been among them. But many things have happened which the great critical philosopher, and no less critical spectator of human events, would have seen with interest. To Kant the quest of an enduring peace presented itself as an intrinsic human duty, rather than as a promising enterprise. Yet through all his analysis of its premises and of the terms on which it may be realised there runs a tenacious persuasion that, in the end, the regime of peace at large will be installed. Not as a deliberate achievement of human wisdom, so much as a work of Nature the Designer of things--_Natura daedala rerum_.

To any attentive reader of Kant's memorable essay it will be apparent that the title of the following inquiry--On the nature of peace and the terms of its perpetuation--is a descriptive translation of the caption under which he wrote. That such should be the case will not, it is hoped, be accounted either an unseemly presumption or an undue inclination to work under a borrowed light. The aim and compass of any disinterested inquiry in these premises is still the same as it was in Kant's time; such, indeed, as he in great part made it,--viz., a systematic knowledge of things as they are. Nor is the light of Kant's leading to be dispensed with as touches the ways and means of systematic knowledge, wherever the human realities are in question.

Meantime, many things have also changed since the date of Kant's essay. Among other changes are those that affect the direction of inquiry and the terms of systematic formulation. _Natura daedala rerum_ is no longer allowed to go on her own recognizances, without divulging the ways and means of her workmanship. And it is such a line of extension that is here attempted, into a field of inquiry which in Kant's time still lay over the horizon of the future.

The quest of perpetual peace at large is no less a paramount and intrinsic human duty today than it was, nor is it at all certain that its final accomplishment is nearer. But the question of its pursuit and of the conditions to be met in seeking this goal lies in a different shape today; and it is this question that concerns the inquiry which is here undertaken,--What are the terms on which peace at large may hopefully be installed and maintained? What, if anything, is there in the present situation that visibly makes for a realisation of these necessary terms within the calculable future? And what are the consequences presumably due to follow in the nearer future from the installation of such a peace at large? And the answer to these questions is here sought not in terms of what ought dutifully to be done toward the desired consummation, but rather in terms of those known factors of human behaviour that can be shown by analysis of experience to control the conduct of nations in conjunctures of this kind.


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