Lincoln Joseph Steffens (April 6, 1866 – August 9, 1936) was an American investigative journalist and one of the leading muckrakers of the Progressive Era in the early 20th century. He launched a series of articles in McClure's, called Tweed Days in St. Louis, that would later be published together in a book titled The Shame of the Cities. He is remembered for investigating corruption in municipal government in American cities and leftist values.
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Making weapons is what we know how to do best, the supreme achievement of late-twentieth-century American civilization. To this blessed work we assign our finest intellect and the largest share of our treasure, and in the magnificence of an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile we find our moral and aesthetic equivalent of the Sistine ceiling and Chartres Cathedral.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
This increasingly intelligent, fast-moving civilization needs to be applying some of its intelligence to things that change slowly. . . . If we are constantly tending to the immediate, day-to-day problems, we'll lose that sense of the long term, and then we could be really sorry.