Skip to main content

View Diary: A pacifist on nationalism (67 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Pacifism has nothing to do with the case of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    old woman being attacked.  Some pacifists would say that the use deadly  force in that instance may be justifiable and some wouldn't.  Probably very few would object to the use of non-deadly force to protect people.  I knew a lot of pacifists who worked on psychiatric units where I consulted who took part in the crisis team when someone had to be restrained because they were being violent.  Gandhian non-violence is a political technique utilized by pacifists and others, but a commitment to non-violence as a political technique doesn't require a swearing off of all use of physical force.  Pacifism per se has to do with the use of organized deadly force for political purposes by a nation state or some other analogous large organized social entity.  

          The false comparison of organized armies with the use of force in the individual case used to be a staple of draft boards examining applicants for CO status until the courts recognized that it was philosophically invalid to equate the two situations.  Some draft boards (including my own, which was notoriously incompetent) nevertheless still kept asking the question.  As a draft counselor in those days, I would advise people likely to be asked that question during a CO hearing to tell the draft board that it was a legally and philosophically invalid question and then to answer it if they persisted in asking it,  since that gave the CO applicant prima facie evidence for a due process appeal of any resulting conviction for draft refusal.  However, Usually such instances resulted in the Selective Service itself or, as happened in my case,  the U.S. Attorney's office ordering a rehearing of the C.O. claim.  (My draft board STILL couldn't get the process right, but that's a different story.)

    Personally, I'm not sure what I'd do if I were really in a life-or-death personal situation and I had the means to use deadly force to protect myself or someone else.  That's one reason I've never owned a gun, much less carried one -- if I were scared or angry enough I might use it if I had it.  This was brought home to me about 40 years ago when the lives of my pregnant wife, our 3-year-old son, and myself were severely threatened by a couple of drunken frat-boyish joy riders who kept trying to run us off the road in the middle of nowhere on a back road in the middle of the night.  I know if I had had a gun that night I would have used it -- either out of great fear during the half-hour or longer "chase" by the frat boys or out of anger when I finally found a safe, well-lighted place to stop and they pulled in after me.  I THINK I would have tried to avoid actually injuring them if I had had a gun but just tried to incapacitate  the car or scare the hell out of them after we stopped.  But who knows what happens when you start waving a gun around or start firing it, even if only for totally defensive purposes.  God knows I was in no state to be rational at any time after that episode started.  

       So even though many pacifists may believe that the use of deadly force may be justifiable in the individual case, you probably won't find many carrying around the weapons with which to carry it out.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site