Keywords: Pacifism; Warmongering; Intellectuals and Violence; World War I; Bertrand Russell; Romain Rolland.
Before 1914 it was common opinion that in a more and more civilized world, war would disappear. International violence was largely considered a mistake simply avoidable by reason and political skill. This optimistic opinion was to be questioned first by a warmongering culture that celebrated violence; and later by the explosion of the war among the most civilized European States. In this situation, most of the pacifists abandoned their ideas declaring war historically necessary or politically opportune. Just a few European intellectuals opposed the conflict searching for a new pacifistic rhetoric and new arguments against war. The essay deals with this searching during the first part of the war, i.e. 1914 and 1915, when the defeat of peace and of any pacifist ideas seemed complete.