|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.