Pacifism is the moral principle that the use of force is wrong for any reason. This applies to both the initiation of force, as well as defensive or retaliatory force. If your life is being threatened, pacifism holds that you should not defend yourself. If someone has stolen from you, pacifism holds that you should not retrieve your property. If someone has murdered other people, pacifism holds that nothing should be done about it. Pacifism is the moral principle that attempts to permanently disarm its practitioners, leaving them helpless and at the mercy of any thug.
I have a couple of excerpts from the Tao Te Ching for comparison.
Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.
Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst of necessity and, if compelled, will use them only with the utmost restraint. ... His enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. He doesn't wish them personal harm nor does he rejoice in victory. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?
The Tao Te Ching more accurately reflects the meaning of pacificism, where the Evil Ethics section mistakes it for passivism. To see force as wrong is not to submit to all who would initiate it, but to use it only as a last resort.
I AM a pacifist.
P.S. Disclaimer: I don't agree with everything I've read in the Tao Te Ching, but, like any rational being, I can recognize the parts of value.
Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst of necessity
To see force as wrong is not to submit to all who would initiate it, but to use it only as a last resort.
To use force when it is necessary and justified is not wrong. It's wrong to intiate force against others and right to use force against those who have intitiated it against you. The confussion comes in to play when people incorrectly define what an intiation of force is. The often used example of the guard in Atlas Shrugged is an example of this. Some mistakenly claim he wasn't initiating force, when he was. The other point of confusion often comes up in discussions about the Iraq war. Many hold that Saddam's government initiated force against the U.S. while others claim he didn't, and still others claim that the U.S. isn't an individual and therefore, etct etc.
Care should be taken to understand initiations of force, and care should be taken to view all things in the context of our lives now, and our lives as they should be in regards the current political situations we find ourselves in.
The Tao Te Ching more accurately reflects the meaning of pacificism, where the Evil Ethics section mistakes it for passivism.
Hmmm... I would have thought it'd be the other way around; pacificism being the unwillingness to defend, thereby pacifying one's enemies, and passivism being the unwillingness to commit violence unless provoked (being passive as opposed to initiating aggression).
I agree that the Evil Ethics section misconstrues pacifism. At least, it selects a poorer breed of pacifism to be representative of the bunch.
The many pacifists I've met are pacifist because they choose to honor the virtues of bravery, strength, and creativity. Gandhi - the quintessential pacifist - discusses the first two virtues in some detail. Please consider visiting http://www.mkgandhi.org/momgandhi/chap28.htm for some of his relevant discussion. Here is an excerpt:
I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.
But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment. Forgiveness adorns a soldier...But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish; it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature....
But I do not believe India to be helpless....I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature....Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Pacifism, at least according to Gandhi, is not the absolute unwillingness to defend. Rather, it's a strong unwillingness to defend violently.
I can say definitively that... Weapons are awesome!
Look, its not the weapons but men's minds that are the problem. I think Sarah made this point, sort of. But anyway, some of my best friends that I would trust with my life, are gun lovers. A rational person with a big gun is your best friend. A crazed terrorist with a gun is a demon and should be treated as such. He hasnt earned the right to be free from a bullet in the gut, force. He hasnt earned my benevolence either. I wont go down without a fight.
Remember when Dagny shot the guard in the chest? That was the best.
Where is SOLO Guntotter? SOLO Armed Rebellion? (Edited by Marnee on 10/14, 11:54am)
Yeah, anyone whom I've ever met who seriously promotes pacifism has read Gandhi and MLK and understands the limits of pacifism in the presence of naked brutality (i.e.: the murderer in front of you, not the terrorist on the other side of the world). Nonviolent passive resistance is only effective when a normative culture exists that is susceptible to shame. It is a heroic teaching method, a political philosophy, not a personal ethic. Yes, there are people who's self-esteems are so catastrophically low that they will advocate accepting the death of their loved ones and themselves just to secure some "moral high-ground" beyond the grave, but such folk are nutty and politically insignificant.
As I see it, the only people who are actually going to use violence as a last resort, are people who abhor it. Many folks who claim that violence is bad when used against nice, innocent people, but precious and adorable when perpetrated against bad men tend to use a P & L calculus for when to use it and invariably place it far above "last" in the resort queue. They see violence as an isolated event with no consequences beyond the immediate physical affect. They tend to have a problem seeing emotional or psychological consequences as real or in any way important in shaping future violent action. In my experience, such people tend to be emotionally blocked pragmatists who conveniently ignore the long term consequences of violence and comfortably demonize individuals, ethnic and national groups to assuage whatever ambivalence about killing actually reaches their conscious awareness.
Pacifists see that violence runs in cycles, that acts of violence will not end the cycle of violence. On the contrary, acts of violence will ensure the cycle's robust continuation. They recognize that understanding the grief process is far more powerful as a means of ending a cycle of violence than revenge. Terrorists live miserable, effed up lives and often receive the deaths their abysmally low self-esteems crave. The only thing I would celebrate concerning a terrorist is a terrorist's decision to leave the cycle of violence and live productively and peacefully for the rest of his days. Killing terrorists will never end terrorism. Politically significant terrorism is a spontaneous mutation of an existing system of violence. And none of it's good.
1. Concerned chiefly or only with oneself: “Selfish men were... trying to make capital for themselves out of the sacred cause of human rights” (Maria Weston Chapman). 2. Arising from, characterized by, or showing selfishness: a selfish whim.
To be concern only with oneself is to be willing to use others to your end. Thought doesn't stop at a definition (and as a bona fide definition-monger, that's saying something).
Settle down and look at what Jordan's saying. He's on my wavelength.
So are terrorists 'human beings' that we should wish no personal harm to nor celebrate a victory over?
An intellectual victory should most definitely be celebrated. Otherwise, I do not see any virtue or anything worth celebrating in destructive force.
I do understand initiation of force and I do classify force, i.e. violence, as bad even when necessary and responsive. It is a non sequitur to say that valuing life in general means devaluing my own life. After all, I am alive. Furthermore, seeing as how values aren't universal, what would be wrong with my values so long as they do not demand anything of you?
I think the context of the quote was weapons used to harm others. Weapons, after all, are just tools and tools are not innately bad. If I wanted to get really picky, and piss people off even more, I might say that a weapon is a tool that is used for violence, e.g. a pencil can be a weapon if used maliciously.
I do understand initiation of force and I do classify force, i.e. violence, as wrong even when necessary and responsive. It is a non sequitur to say that valuing life in general means devaluing my own life.
It also seems inconsistent to have a moral system that makes necessary force immoral; or do you mean something different by “wrong”?If not, I think your definition of “pacifism” is closer to the Evil Ethics definition than you claim.
Summer said: "I suggest a duel. Berkenstocks at 12 paces, perhaps?"
Indeed. Strategic advantage can be gained by wearing a particularly bright and complex tie-dye.
The truly interesting thing in such a scenario would be to measure the amount of time that passes before the combatant who claims that he or she will NEVER resort to violence starts fighting like a mommy weasel defending her young.
Sarah I don't think that point was made very clear by the quote. Although a rational person may infer it.
"Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst of necessity."
What does this mean exactly? It contradicts your own point. And frankly it has nothing to do with the next lines:
"His enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. He doesn't wish them personal harm nor does he rejoice in victory. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?"
He does not rejoice in the slaughter of men. He rejoices in the defeat of the enemy and the continuance of his own life & freedom -- peace dammit. Men who set out to destroy arbitrarily are nothing to care about -- they are demons. What reason do I have other than he is technically a human being? He gave up the privileges of respect and benevolence the moment he gave up on his rational faculties and decided to live by violence. This Te of Whatever is packaging weapons with arbitrary acts of violence with self-defense -- what a bargain!
That is the problem with Eastern philosophy (mysticism) in general. Relevant context is generally not established clearly making it self-contradictory enough to render itself useless -- the navel gazers tend to ignore reality in favor of (pages and pages) of the fuzzy wuzzies.
Saying "I am a Pacifist" is about as meaningful as saying "I am a Feminist." Of course women should have rights and of course initiating force against people is wrong. So?
Remember the American Revolution? That was awesome.
I changed my wording in that line before you posted for that very reason. I changed 'wrong' to 'bad' in the destructive sense. Immediate resolution may be granted from force, but it always has consequences which should be taken into account before resorting to it.
Are you reading the parts of this thread that have said that pacificism isn't abstention from force?
I think my point was made, but then maybe that's just me.
Re: weapons and fear. Objects are tools of man, tools used maliciously are weapons, weapons are "tools of fear." The "tools of fear" part can get kinda iffy, speaking in metaphors and whatnot, but the meaning I see in that statement is the same as in my comment to Glenn.
As for rejoicing in the slaughter of men, are you sure about that? I seem to see a lot of rejoicing when the slaughter of terrorists is mentioned. And the technicality of being human? It seems to be enough to abstain from cruelty to senile ol' grandma or soon-to-be-rational-adult babies. The hypothetical possibility that mental degradation of the elderly can be cured in the future is enough to protect grandma, but the hypothetical possibility of talking some sense into terrorists isn't enough to consider them human?
Eastern religion can employ a lot of mysticism, but then so does Western religion. Eastern philosophy can be annoyingly vague, but you can also look at it from the point of view that a contextless statement is equally applicable to all contexts.
Of course individuals rights should be protected. So?
Remember the American Revolution? Wouldn't it have been so much more awesome if it had been done without bloodshed? I think so.