Karl Kraus: Half Truths and One and a Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms on War

09 November 2019

  • How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.
  • Among some nations, the aptitude for reading war communiqués is by now probably a substitute for the fitness to fight.
  • War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn’t any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone’s being worse off.
  • The real end of the world is the destruction of the spirit; the other kind depends on the insignificant attempt to see whether after such a destruction the world can go on.
  • A sorcerer’s apprentice seems to have utilized the absence of his master. But now there is blood instead of water.
  • One ought to acknowledge the significance for mankind of the simultaneous invention of gunpowder and printer’s ink.
  • What can be decided by a world war? No more than that Christianity was too weak to prevent it.
  • Children play soldier. That makes sense. But why do soldiers play children?
  • What mythological confusion is this? Since when has Mars been the god of commerce and Mercury the god of war?
  • “In this war we are dealing…” “Yessiree, in this war we are dealing!”
  • “The end is not yet in sight.” “Oh, but it is!”
  • “To capture the world market”—because merchants spoke thus, warriors had to act thus. Since then there have been captures, though not of the world market.
  • When the word “peace” was uttered for the first time, there was panic at the stock exchange. They screamed in pain: “We’ve been earning! Leave us this war! We’ve earned this war!”
  • Paternoster is a kind of elevator. Bethlehem is a place in America where the biggest munitions factory is located.
  • If someone had told the devil (to whom war has always been pure pleasure) that one day there would be people with an unfeigned commercial interest in the continuation of war—the profits from which even helped them to attain social standing—why, the devil would have directed that person to go tell it to the marines. But later, after he had verified this fact, hell would have glowed with shame and he would have been forced to realize that all his life he had been but a poor devil!

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