Quaker Studies

John William Graham and the Evolution of Peace: A Quaker View of Conflict before and during the First World War

Quaker Studies (2016), 21, (2), 169–192.

Abstract

John William Graham was the author of Conscription and Conscience (1922), the official history of the No-Conscription Fellowship. The commission to write it was based on his status as advocate and activist in the cause for peace, dating from well before the First World War, and continuing until his death in 1932. Yet he never committed himself to an absolute pacifism. This article attributes this stance mainly to his belief in social evolution: God was working within human beings to bring about universal peace, but this progress had to take place slowly and in stages. War had been necessary in the past to develop human character and political organisation, but now it was obsolescent. Quaker pacifism bore witness to an ideal of peace that was to be fulfilled hereafter. Quakers were to lead the way, but meanwhile the use of force could not be universally abjured. Relativism was built into the evolutionary outlook.

John William Graham and the Evolution of Peace: A Quaker View of Conflict before and during the First World War

Abstract

John William Graham was the author of Conscription and Conscience (1922), the official history of the No-Conscription Fellowship. The commission to write it was based on his status as advocate and activist in the cause for peace, dating from well before the First World War, and continuing until his death in 1932. Yet he never committed himself to an absolute pacifism. This article attributes this stance mainly to his belief in social evolution: God was working within human beings to bring about universal peace, but this progress had to take place slowly and in stages. War had been necessary in the past to develop human character and political organisation, but now it was obsolescent. Quaker pacifism bore witness to an ideal of peace that was to be fulfilled hereafter. Quakers were to lead the way, but meanwhile the use of force could not be universally abjured. Relativism was built into the evolutionary outlook.


Details

Author details

Dales, Joanna