Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Selfishness of Pacifism

While I have some respect for pacifists because of their commitment to an ideal many of them believe is biblical, I have recently been re-reading a book of views about war and I have been impressed by the overall selfishness of pacifist and non-resistant positions. Constantly, people with pacifist or non-resistant positions toward war talk about themselves and their enemies. They constantly focus on how they will respond to the enemy, what they will do, what they feel, what they think, what God thinks of them, and what God requires of them. Nowhere in the articles about just war or non-resistant positions do I see people thinking about the victims of aggressive totalitarian regimes. I think the real question involved in the morality of war is not whether we are going to fight back ourselves, but whether we are going to protect others. If it was just a matter of the defender and the attacker, the defender might be justified in turning the other cheek and not resisting evil. But it isn’t like that at all. In the situation of war, we have many people who are being attacked by the aggressor (or in the case of a preventive war, who would have been attacked by the aggressor if the aggressor hadn’t been attacked first). War theory has to think about these third party innocents, not just about the belligerents. In discussing whether or not it was right to fight the Nazis, we have to take into account the Holocaust and the atrocities against the Poles and others. In deciding whether or not war is right in general, we have to think about the third party victims of unrestrained aggressive regimes.

1 comment:

thekingpin68 said...

Hello Donald,

I scanned your article and think it is helpful. For my BA I attended a Mennonite institution which taught non-resistance. I am not opposed to the use of force by the state to maintain law and order against internal or external forces. One Mennonite professor stated that to be non-resistant meant avoiding war but also included the willingness to give one's life to save another if necessary. This is admirable but a reason that the state needs to at times use force to maintain law and order is to prohibit the death of persons. This sometimes requires the use of force and not just the sacrifice of one holding to non-resistance for another, since the sacrifice may only cause an additional death.