by Maxim Gorky
The inhumanity of bourgeois Christian "culture“ is eloquently and incontestably testified by the bourgeoisie's admission that wars are unavoidable, that the wholesale extermination of human beings is as inevitable as a "law of life."
There are wiseacres who allege that war breeds fearlessness, strength of will and other precious virtues. But we know that the revolting war of 1914-18, organized by the bourgeoisie, annihilated tens of millions of workers and peasants and bred on the blood of the slaughtered thousands of shameless parasites and beasts of prey—“schiebers,” nouveaux riches,” “sharks.”
The assertion that "war breeds heroes,” that it inculcates fearlessness, only shows that the bourgeois philosophers and moralists cannot distinguish fearlessness from shamelessness and inhumanity.
Our times quite clearly reveal that apart from their direct aim—the economic plunder of the weakened enemy—wars between bourgeois states really do breed "fearless” people, champions of lawlessness, of inhuman government in "peace time." We see such people in the Fascist organizations, in the German Stahlhelm, for instance, and in similar organizations in other countries.
"Peace time," as we know, is more and more definitely assuming the character of a continuous and bitter war of the master class against the working class.
Moreover, as the bourgeoisie morally degenerates, it rears an even larger number of thieves, swindlers and bandits. The banker breeds the bandit, we are told by the modern "Book of Genesis”—and it is undeniable.
The growth of crime in bourgeois countries necessitates a constant enlargement of the police force, which really does demand “fearless" men, men capable not only of beating up and killing workers, but of battling brigands. In Berlin, special "assault battalions" have been formed to protect the burghers from bandits. In the U.S.A. the burgher can insure himself against fraud and robbery. The premiums paid by insurance companies to victims of robbery amounted to 2,000,000 dollars in 1913, 4,500,000 dollars in 1920, and about 17,000,000 dollars in 1927. Chicago, a vast and rich city, is entirely under the sway of gangster organizations. President Hoover spoke in the Senate of the spread of crime. Of course, America is not the only country which is assiduously breeding offenders against the life and, chiefly, against the "sacred property” of the middle class. Europe does not lag behind her in this species of progress. The bourgeoisie is in dire need of “fearless” men.
And it goes without saying that war is profitable to the industrialists who, by the hands of their workers, manufacture guns and rifles for the mutual extermination of workers and peasants.
All this and much else, while it incontestably demonstrates the cynical inhumanity of the bourgeoisie, the criminality of its very existence, also speaks of its growing insanity and idiocy, which make its doom inevitable.
All my life I was a “pacifist.” War only filled me with loathing, with shame for my fellow-beings, and with hatred for the instigators of wholesale massacres, for the destroyers of life.
But after the heroic war victoriously fought by the hungry, barefoot, semi-naked workers and peasants of our country, and now that our working class is building amid incredible difficulties a new state, its own state, and is proving itself to be an intelligent and talented manager, I too have become convinced that a battle for life or death is inevitable.
And if a war should break out against the class by virtue of whose strength I live and work, I too will join its army as a rank-and-file soldier. I shall join it, not because I know that it will win, but because the great and righteous cause of the working class of the Soviet Union is my own legitimate cause, my duty.