by Dr. Steven Best
Pacifism is the Dogma of Dogmas. Non-pacifists or pluralists (neither of whom advance positions which are tantamount to the “pro-violence” position pacifists reduce them to) with even minimal experience “debating” pacifists quickly learn to identify a common pattern and tapestry of fallacies:
- Pacifists do not employ reasoned arguments, rather they mobilize clichés (e.g.: “Violence only leads to more violence,” “Violence has never accomplished anything,” or “An eye for a eye makes the whole world blind”). Just as vivisectors invidiously credit all medical advances to animal experimentation alone (rather than to better sanitation, improved nutrition, healthier lifestyles, or epidemiology), so pacifists insist non-violence has been the sole driving force of progressive social change
- Pacifists do not think or listen, they merely repeat the words of Gandhi, King, and the Dali Lama
- Pacifists do not know history or, if at all, only the caricatured, whitewashed, cartoon version in which all great gains in rights, justice, and freedom are won by non-violent tactics alone, when in fact social change always results from a plurality of forces and tactics that work together in complimentary ways
- Pacifists think in rigid either/or, black-and-white, and Manichean good or evil binaries, and their minds cannot grasp the fluid and dialectical nature of social change, which results from many different tactics and groups, and which grasps how nonviolent and violent means of resistance
- Pacifists rely on a naïve Socratic-Enlightenment theory of human nature and psychology, which says that people only do wrong because they do not know the right. This ancient error continues to prevail dominate contemporary ideology despite advances in evolutionary psychology and the Nietzschean-Freudian insights into the animalic urges, instincts, Id, and irrational/subconscious forces of human life.
- Thus, operating with an obsolete and false model of human nature, pacifists (1) grossly overestimate the power of education and moral persuasion as motivating forces, and are especially ineffective when directed at individuals, groups, corporations, or entire states that have vested material interests in exploiting and killing for profit; and consequently, pacifists (2) greatly underestimate (or rather altogether negate) the need for more coercive tactics such as sabotage to change social relationships. No one voluntarily concedes their privileges and power to someone else because they ask nicely; power is always taken, never given..
For some stimulating remarks on democratizing violence as an effective tool of struggle, see this excerpt from Jensen’s book, Endgame.