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Already we have had far too much abolition of war by making declarations and signing resolutions.

  • "The new world order" by H.G. Wells

What does it mean to "have had abolition of war".

I interpret it like this: We have seen too much abolition of war [...] Or like this: We have experienced too much abolition of war.

Does it mean that the subject of the sentence "have seen" abolition of war, or does it mean that subject himself participated in the "abolishing" of wars?

2 Answers 2

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It's ironic. You need to read on....

everybody wants peace or pretends to want peace, and there is no need to add even a sentence more to the vast volume of such ineffective stuff.

Wells is saying that there have been too many occasions when people have claimed or promised that "war is abolished" by making agreements and declarations. This is always ineffective. He was thinking of the failure of the League of Nations. Recall that this line was published in 1940 when Germany was already at war with Poland, France and Britain. As such the line "We have seen too much abolition of war" is ironic, as war had not been successfully abolished. No agreement or promise or declaration to end war between nations can ever work. And so Wells's book will not make any such promise.

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  • Sorry there was a typo, it should have been "will not make..."
    – James K
    Feb 26, 2023 at 22:25
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This use of "have" is a bit tough because many dictionaries don't give this precise meaning. The closest definition that I could find is from the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries:

13​ have something to experience something

  • I went to a few parties and had a good time.
  • I was having difficulty in staying awake.
  • She'll have an accident one day.

Cambridge has a similar definition:

to experience something:

  • We're having a wonderful time here in Venice.
  • We didn't have any difficulty/problem finding the house.
  • He hasn't been having much luck recently.

As you suggest, the sentence means "already we have experienced far too much abolition . . ." or (ignoring the "we") "already there has been far too much abolition . . ."

As another answer notes, this is somewhat ironic, because the writer probably doesn't oppose abolition of war but is instead complaining about prior unsuccessful attempts at abolition.

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    Agreed. This is the "experiential have".
    – stangdon
    Feb 25, 2023 at 23:34

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