The Continuing Pacifism Debate

Gerry is rather upset by my discussion of Pacifism in Action. Well he should be - my tone was condescending and mocking. As I thought more about Pacifism as a strategy and Gerry's description of it, I came to realise that there was a fundamental flaw with it. This was best illustrated with the case of Rachel Corrie - Ms Corrie had followed the precepts of Pacifism to the letter but was murdered. The more I wrote about this, the angier I got about those promoters of Strategic Pacifism who sprouted the nonsense that put Ms Corrie in harm's way. Young people are being killed because the flawed nature of Pacifism as a strategy.

What I call Strategic Pacifism is Pacifism as solution to all violence. What I call Tactical Pacifism is a considered response to certain levels of violence.

I see the flaw in Strategic Pacifism is that it sees the other side as being composed of reasonable and moral people who will eventually see the error of their ways once presented with a completely peaceful alternative. Kumbaya defeats tanks! In reality, tank tracks defeats Kumbaya. People in different classes of society see the world in vastly different ways and structuring their morality accordingly. A member of the ruling class would have no compunction about the cold-blooded murder of peaceful people if such action was in accord with their moral principles.

However, I agree with Gerry that Pacifism as a tactic in the struggle because I have seen it work and it achieves its aims. These aims are to highlight the violence that the Capitalist state uses to keep itself in power, and to allow us to recruit people to the struggle by presenting our arguments for change in a calm and reasonable manner. For me, the difference between strategic and tactical uses of Pacifism is that the former aims to convert the rulers and their defenders, whereas the latter aims to reach out the ruled.

Gerry is under the impression that the only alternative to Strategic Pacifism is an all-out campaign of violence. He ignores the many possible responses between these two extremes.

So when is violence permissible? The obvious answer is self-defense and defense of the innocent. This is recognised in law and common-sense. Strategic Pacifism delivers innocent people up to murders. If this puts on the same level as George Bush and the neo-cons, so be it! I will consider my principles first then see who I am standing with.

1 comment:

Gerry said...

Debate? You call that a debate?
THIS is a debate!!!