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World Association of International Studies

Post Pacifism Today
Created by John Eipper on 09/07/17 10:52 AM

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Pacifism Today (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 09/07/17 10:52 am)

This topic of war and pacifism is an interesting one. From a philosophical view, mankind has always seen war as a natural solution to conflict, some sort of misinterpretation of the survival of the fittest concept. Thus, I should not have been surprised by Holger Terp (6 September) writing that the term pacifism showed up only in the early 1900s.

If war propensity has not been genetically coded into some human groups, at least culturally it seems to have been programmed into some groups: Mongols, Huns, Vikings, Japanese, German. In the 1920s, after the intelligent concept of pacifism was invented, it is rather startling that the Germans were the main players behind both World Wars. Was that just a coincidence? Japanese culture also had a lot to do with their blatant aggressiveness which provided the Asiatic component of WWII.

When we take in all the evidence regarding humanity's experience with war, it is difficult to understand why everyone is not a pacifist. The misery created, the enormous waste of resources and human lives is staggering. Thought exercises dealing with what the Nazis could have accomplished if their ideology did not include racism and extreme violence toward the rest of humanity, make their devastation of Europe even more depressing. Thus, I share Eugenio Battaglia's notion that a "preemptive strike is a war crime, a crime against peace and a crime against humanity."

Concurrently, while I strongly believe in pacifism, we have to be realistic and make sure that crazy people (non-pacifists?) like Hitler and the North Korean leader are not encouraged to run around threatening to start wars. Something has do be done about such people, otherwise they might proliferate. The right to self-defense trumps my strong pacifism with no hesitation.

Long term, pacifism calls for more active intelligence about what is going on all over the world (the opposite of isolationism). It should also call for nations to work together to enforce jointly decided action against aggressors. I believe the US government has done a very poor job negotiating with the PRC and Russia to get their assistance in dealing with North Korea.

JE comments:  "It is difficult to understand why everyone is not a pacifist."  Yessir, Professor G! 

Millennia ago, limited resources probably necessitated war:  you had to take from someone else or you starved.  But now?

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  • Pacifism Again (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/16/17 4:52 AM)
    Not only millennia ago did limited resources probably necessitate war. (See John E's response to Tor Guimaraes, September 7th). Also today, there are always situations somewhere, somehow, in which resources appear limited and therefore war is seen as a necessity.

    But most probably it is not question of resources but a question of human nature. If we believe the Old Testament, of the two first brothers, one killed the other. From then on, men have kept killing each other until this very moment. So how can you expect that suddenly men will stop killing one another?  There is always a good reason for war. Just ask poor Bush, who started his with the best intentions.

    You just do not fight only for resources, but for honor, justice, ethnic reasons, pride, jealousy, love--anything is a good reason for war.

    Do not misunderstanding me. I am a pacifist but also a realist.

    JE comments:  How about the simple Darwinian factor?  Warlike societies always wipe out the pacifist ones.  So we all have killing in our DNA--our ancestors, to a man and woman, were bullies and jerks.

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