Time Essay: Moral Equivalents and Other Bugle Calls

Not everyone knew the author, but the phrase was familiar: "the moral equivalent of war." It was quoted without attribution by President Jimmy Carter last week in an attempt to mobilize the nation against the squandering of energy. But the words were first uttered in 1910 by Philosopher William James, who had something else in mind.

The American pragmatist hated war but nonetheless nourished a great admiration for the military virtues: hardihood, collective fervor, discipline. If these could be diverted from the battlefield, he reasoned, the nation could harness the spirit and energy usually...

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