Above the Battle
which my country bows down are less dangerous. They are not aggressive, and, moreover, there remains even in the most fanatical of our intellectuals a basis of native common sense, of which the Germans of whom I have just spoken seem to have lost all trace. But it must be admitted that on neither side have they brought honour to the cause of reason, which they have not been able to protect against the winds of violence and folly. There is a saying of Emerson's which is applicable to their failure:
"Nothing is more rare in any man than an act of his own."
Their acts and their writings have come to them from others, from outside, from public opinion, blind and menacing. I do not wish to condemn those who have been obliged to remain silent either because they are in the armies, or because the censorship which rules in countries involved in war has imposed silence upon them. But the unheard-of weakness with which the leaders of thought have everywhere abdicated to the collective madness has certainly proved their lack of character.
Certain somewhat paradoxical passages in my own writings have caused me at times to be styled an anti-intellectual; an absurd charge to