Edited by John Scott and Ann Nilsen
Chapter 9: C. Wright Mills on war and peace
We are informed by Mills in one of his letters that he took no moral stance on World War II, seeing it as a capitalist war (see Mills and Mills 2000, p. 251), and a close colleague tells us he was scared of being drafted, going without food and sleep for three days before his physical examination in anticipation it would make him unfit (Form 2007, p. 157). It is ironic therefore that he was saved from the draft only by the silent killer that would eventually lead to his untimely death, hypertension. Mills wrote in a letter that on receiving the news of his exemption he almost came to believe in divine intervention (Mills and Mills 2000, p. 251). He was eventually reclassified as fit. However, Form (2007, p. 157) writes that Mills had already begun research of importance to the war effort in the expectation that it would justify an exemption, which it did. Ambivalence about World War II notwithstanding, Mills was convinced he needed to do all he could to avert a third. It is this issue I wish to explore, for he used the threat of a World War III as a lens into reflecting on the human condition in the modern epoch and on sociology’s essential contribution as a mode of analysis. War and peace were thus big issues for Mills that reached into the very nature of sociology.
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