Friday, June 30, 2006


grammarburn

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pacifism

I feel strongly about pacifism. I feel strongly that it is wrong.

An individual wrote that, "[All nations have militaries]... Except for those nations who don't have militaries. Costa Rica abolished their military about 60 years ago; and have happily avoided becoming involved in any of the numerous regional conflicts since.

"Costa Rica feels they can afford to abolish their military in large part because they believe that the US military will prevent them from being conquered by any ambitious foreign government. It's easy to be a pacifist when someone else with a lot more money and high technology is prepared to do any fighting you need done for you."

Someone else replied "Who would do this for the US?"


I felt moved to respond:

In a nutshell you have the essence of pacifism. A pacifist can only survive so long as ahe never encounters someone willing to kill him. Your basic thug will kill whenever he feels he can get away with it. Your basic thug is the essence of humanity. "He is not me, he is not of my family, therefore I can kill him" is the only over-arching principal that the human primate is born to.

The pacifist can only survive to feel that he is better than others if another being is willing to defend him from the thug. That being is the policeman. From "polis", which is Greek for "city", the policeman is the personification of civilization. He lives to enforce all those rules that are not bred into the bone; he enforces the pax civilis; the policeman lives and breathes the ideal that we are more than animals. We are born to accept family and kill who is not; the policeman says, "You must accept that there are those who are not family, but you may not kill them". That is civilization; the recognition that you cannot kill someone just because you don't know them.

Or perhaps I should say, that is the first rule of civilization. Because some people do have to die. Atticus Finch, against his principles, took up a gun to kill a rabid dog. Janie Crawford took up a gun to kill the man she loved. In both cases, the individual that died was mad; and in the original sense of the term. They were rabid. A virus had driven them insane such that they would attack any creature they encountered.

There is no subduing such an individual. You cannot reason with him. You cannot convince him that violence is wrong. Whatever the processes that might have ruled him, they are gone. There is a disconnect such that "to see" = "to kill".

The sad fact is that the human individual is a fragile being. In standing upright, we sacrificed our strength. We stood upright because we developed large brains. Our women needed large pelvises in order that they could give birth to our intelligent children without dying. We walk upright because we can think; it is not the other way around.

Along with our physical frailty, our intelligence comes burdened with another sacrifice; a complex mind can be damaged in many ways.

Whereas a dog must be cruelly mistreated or infected with a vile plague to go insane; a human can go insane just by tilting his head. The result is Jeffrey Dahmer. He is Charles Manson. He is Jack the Ripper. He can be perfectly rational, yet at the same time be vile beyond imagining.

These individuals will not stop. They cannot be argued with. There is no cage that a man cannot escape from, given time enough.

There are individuals who must die. This necessarilly means violence.

The ideal of pacifism is flawed because it assumes all men are angels, and that they wish they were. Experience teaches that they are not. Experience teaches that controlled violence is the only means to survive. Eschewing violence on principle is suicide.