Romain Rolland

Declaration of the Independence of the Human Spirit

(1919)

 



Note

This declaration was published in the daily newspaper L'Humanité on 26 June 1919.

 


 

Intellectual workers, friends scattered throughout the world, separated for the past five years by armies, censorship, and the hatred of nations at war, now that the barriers have been let down and the frontiers have been reopened, we address an Appeal to you to form once again our fraternal union — a new union surer and stronger than the one that existed before.

The war has caused much distress in our ranks. Most intellectuals have put their science, their art, their reason at the service of governments. We do not want to accuse anyone, to make any reproach. We know the weakness of individual souls and the elementary strength of the great collective movements: these have swept those away at once, because nothing had been planned to resist them. May the experience at least serve us for the future!

And first of all, let us note the disasters that hsa led the almost total abdication of the world's intelligence and its voluntary subjugation to the unleashed forces.

The thinkers and artists have added an immeasurable amount of poisoning hatred to the scourge, destroying Europe’s body and mind. In the arsenal of their wisdom, memory, and imagination, they sought old and new reasons, historical, scientific, logical, and poetic reasons for hating. They worked to destroy mutual understanding among human beings. And in doing this, they disfigured, reduced, depreciated, and degraded the Idea whose representatives they were. They made it (perhaps without realizing it) the instrument of the passions and egotistical interests of a political or social clan, of a State, of a fatherland, of a class. And now, from this wild melee, from which all nations struggling, victorious or defeated, emerge wounded, impoverished, and in the depths of their hearts - although they do not admit it to themselves - ashamed and humiliated by their crisis of madness, the Idea, compromised by their conflicts, emerges debased with them.

Arise! Let us free the Spirit from these compromises, these humiliating alliances, this hidden subservience! The Spirit is the servant of nothing. We are the Spirit’s servants. We have no other master. We are created to carry and to defend its light, to rally around it all human beings who have lost their way. Our role, our duty is to maintain a fixed point, to show the pole star amidst the storm of passions, in the darkness. Among these passions of pride and mutual destructions, we do not single out any one, we reject them all. We commit ourselves never to serve anything but the free Truth that has no frontiers and no limits and is without prejudice against races or castes. Of course, we do not dissociate ourselves from Humanity. We toil for it — but for all humanity. We do not recognize peoples — we acknowledge the People — unique and universal — the People who suffer, who struggle, who fall and rise again, and who always advance along the rugged road that is drenched with their sweat and their blood. Tthe People made of all human beings who are all equally our brothers. And so that they may become, like us, ever more conscious of this brotherhood, we raise above their blind struggles the Arch of Alliance — the free Spirit that is one, manifold, eternal.

 


 

As of 23 June 1919, this declaration has been endorsed by:

Jane Addams (United States); René Arcos (France); Henri Barbusse (France); Léon Bazalgette (France); Jean-Richard Bloch (France); Roberto Bracco (Italy); Dr. Jean-Richard Bloch (France); L-E-J Brouwer (Holland); A. de Châteaubriant (France); Georges Chennevière (France); Benedetto Croce (Italy); Albert Doyen (France); Georges Duhamel (France); Prof. A. Einstein (Germany); Dr. Frederik van Eeden (Holland); Georges Eekhoud (Belgium); Prof. A. Forel (Switzerland); Verner von Heidenstam (Sweden); Hermann Hesse (Germany); P.J. Jouve (France); J.C. Kapteyn (Netherlands); Ellen Key (Sweden); Selma Lagerlof (Sweden); Prof. Max Lehmann (Germany); Carl Lindhagen (Sweden); M. Lopez-Pico (Catalonia); Heinrich Mann (Germany); Marcel Martinet (France); Frans Masereel (Belgium); Emile Masson (France); Jacques Mesnil (Belgium); Sophus Michaelis (Denmark); Mathias Morhardt (France); Prof. Georg-Fr. Nicolaï (Germany); Eugène d'Ors (Catalonia); Prof. A. Prenant (France); Romain Rolland (France); Bertrand Russel (England); Han Ryner (France); Paul Signac (France); Jules Romain (France); G. Thiesson (France); Henry van de Velde (Belgium); Charles Vildrac (France); Léon Werth (France); Israel Zangwill (England); Stefan Zweig (Austria).
Other signatures have already been received and will be published later.

 

 


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