Jump to content
"Z"

militarism and non-violence

Recommended Posts

what's the difference?... legitimacy?... that begs the question, since aren't some social movements more legitimate than the governments which they're opposing? ...say, the civil rights movement (which contrary to m.l.k.-loving revisionism was furthered by riots, violent protests, and groups who had no qualms about private gun ownership, e.g. the panthers, malcolm x followers, etc.).

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
youre thinking coercion

 

No, he's not. "Violence" as such does not have a finite definition - the word has comes to mean many different things.

 

*HOWEVER* Nonviolence as a political/revolutionary strategy has a very particular meaning. It is almost always used in the context of no-physical violence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one question that I have never been able to answer is an old one that is in fact so commonly asked that it seems so cheesy and cliche as to lack any merit. The question to which I refer is one a kindergartener might ask: "how do you stop the nazis?" How do you stop any powerful group of murderers gripped by a powerful fantasy? It has been asked for such a long time one might forget that it has never been adequately answered. And why is it that the pacifists retain such a zealous indignation about the idea that it we might have to make an exception for those actively committing murder. Yes a lot of "ink" (to use jingo) might have been put on this position by various vanguards of pacifists... but is it not telling that an intellectual army can win at best a cease fire with a question asked by kindergarteners?

 

And that is before the counter-barrage comes from the forces who are befuddled at the idea that we should adopt some sort of Kantian categorical rejection of murder. So here's the question: "do you allow genocide because you don't want blood on your hands?"

 

It seems to me that any one who would answer yes to this question is on a high-horse that is not so high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nagler 01 (Michael, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Berkeley, Is there no other way? The Search for a nonviolent future. pg 122-123)

 

Sometimes one hears a common variation on “It never would have worked against the Nazis,” namely, “It sure didn’t work against the Na-zis!” People who say this are assuming that the millions who went to their deaths in the Holocaust were being “nonviolent.” As we’ve seen before, it’s extremely important to be clear about the difference between passivity and nonviolence, Was Father Kolbe “passive” when he stepped forward to die for another human being, thus setting the Nazi lie on its ear? Outside of the isolated, little-known events like the two we’ve just con¬sidered, active nonviolence was rarely tried against the Nazis or anyone else in the Western hemisphere. The Munich students of the White Rose conspiracy, for example, issued leaflets calling for “passive resistance;” but they had little notion what passive resistance was, not to mention the subtle but important difference between it and active nonviolence. No, it was passivity that was tried against the Nazis. Harsh as it may sound to say this, when one is passive in the face of such aggression, passive out of fear, one is going along with the violence, obeying its logic. This is not to condemn anyone caught in such a trap; to say that someone was passive out of ignorance of an alternative is not to say he or she was morally wrong, which in any case is language I seldom use. It is not to condemn those caught in such a tragedy; it’s to understand our choices so that people will not be caught in them again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The one question that I have never been able to answer is an old one that is in fact so commonly asked that it seems so cheesy and cliche as to lack any merit. The question to which I refer is one a kindergartener might ask: "how do you stop the nazis?" How do you stop any powerful group of murderers gripped by a powerful fantasy? It has been asked for such a long time one might forget that it has never been adequately answered. And why is it that the pacifists retain such a zealous indignation about the idea that it we might have to make an exception for those actively committing murder. Yes a lot of "ink" (to use jingo) might have been put on this position by various vanguards of pacifists... but is it not telling that an intellectual army can win at best a cease fire with a question asked by kindergarteners?

 

And that is before the counter-barrage comes from the forces who are befuddled at the idea that we should adopt some sort of Kantian categorical rejection of murder. So here's the question: "do you allow genocide because you don't want blood on your hands?"

 

It seems to me that any one who would answer yes to this question is on a high-horse that is not so high.

 

This sounds alot like a debate we had this year when we ran the Genocide Prevention Force Aff, and some team ran militarism. I am not going to get into specifics, but it was interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The one question that I have never been able to answer is an old one that is in fact so commonly asked that it seems so cheesy and cliche as to lack any merit. The question to which I refer is one a kindergartener might ask: "how do you stop the nazis?" How do you stop any powerful group of murderers gripped by a powerful fantasy? It has been asked for such a long time one might forget that it has never been adequately answered. And why is it that the pacifists retain such a zealous indignation about the idea that it we might have to make an exception for those actively committing murder. Yes a lot of "ink" (to use jingo) might have been put on this position by various vanguards of pacifists... but is it not telling that an intellectual army can win at best a cease fire with a question asked by kindergarteners?

 

And that is before the counter-barrage comes from the forces who are befuddled at the idea that we should adopt some sort of Kantian categorical rejection of murder. So here's the question: "do you allow genocide because you don't want blood on your hands?"

 

It seems to me that any one who would answer yes to this question is on a high-horse that is not so high.

Non-violence isn't pacifism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nagler 01 (Michael, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Berkeley, Is there no other way? The Search for a nonviolent future. pg 122-123)

 

Sometimes one hears a common variation on “It never would have worked against the Nazis,” namely, “It sure didn’t work against the Na-zis!” People who say this are assuming that the millions who went to their deaths in the Holocaust were being “nonviolent.” As we’ve seen before, it’s extremely important to be clear about the difference between passivity and nonviolence, Was Father Kolbe “passive” when he stepped forward to die for another human being, thus setting the Nazi lie on its ear? Outside of the isolated, little-known events like the two we’ve just con¬sidered, active nonviolence was rarely tried against the Nazis or anyone else in the Western hemisphere. The Munich students of the White Rose conspiracy, for example, issued leaflets calling for “passive resistance;” but they had little notion what passive resistance was, not to mention the subtle but important difference between it and active nonviolence. No, it was passivity that was tried against the Nazis. Harsh as it may sound to say this, when one is passive in the face of such aggression, passive out of fear, one is going along with the violence, obeying its logic. This is not to condemn anyone caught in such a trap; to say that someone was passive out of ignorance of an alternative is not to say he or she was morally wrong, which in any case is language I seldom use. It is not to condemn those caught in such a tragedy; it’s to understand our choices so that people will not be caught in them again.

 

well, in On Belief zizek presents gandhi's view on the Holocaust as being that Jews needed to stage a massive suicide in order to spur international moral outrage for the victims. would that "active non-violence" have been the best strategy against the genocide?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it's an unstrategic arg to make on the negative - proves the perm solves best (allied troops used violence liberating the death camps, active non-violence relied on violence to solve). in the words of al capote, "you can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The alternative is usually nonviolence. It's been empirically proven like 1000 times... MLK, Ghandi, the martyrs Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Chico Mendes; and three Nobel Peace laureates, Oscar Arias, Rigoberta Menchu, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel... Many more as well

 

I'd run nonviolence over militarism any day, it's a stronger position.

 

MLK didn't advocate total non-violence. He believed in self-defense. In 1959, the annual convention of the NAACP resolved, "we do not deny but reaffirm the right of individual and collective self-defense against unlawful assaults." King supported the resolution, explaining that violence "exercised in self-defense" was "moral and legal" everywhere. King pointed out that even Gandhi did not condemn self-defense.

 

Ghandi didn't advocate total non-violence either, but even if he did, british withdrawal as a result of Ghandi precipitated more violence.

 

As for your other examples, I have no idea who they are. Maybe that is just me being ignorant.

 

As for when Violence has been successful, there are a plethora of examples. Violence led to American independence, Greek independence, and Swiss independence. It also kept the US united and then freed the slaves. Violence prevented Napoleon from becoming dictator of Europe, and prevented Hitler and Hirohito from becoming dictators of Eurasia. The threat of violence, including nuclear violence, deterred Stalin and the Soviets from conquering Western Europe. Violence ended the Holocaust, established the modern state of Israel, and stopped the Arabs from driving the Jews into the sea in 1948 and 1967. Violence removed the Ceausescu communist dictatorship in Rumania. Violence removed Afghanistan as a secure training base for worldwide terrorists in 2001. Violence kept terrorists from crashing United Airlines flight 93 into Washington, D.C.

 

Not to mention Violence subdued the Virginia Tech shooter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How do you stop the Nazis?

 

This question is ALWAYS, ALWAYS posed when skeptics of nonviolence are attempting to discredit the non-violent position. The question itself is flawed, and there exist a few alternatives.

 

As a first flaw, this question implicitly assumes that the Nazis accomplished their wishes through force. While this is partly true, a great deal of the Nazi program, both domestically and internationally, was accomplished by passive submission or willing collaboration. Nazi Germany's internal police force was far smaller than the force in the succeeding GDR. The countries occupied by Germany were, to a very great extent, cooperative or passive. Vichy France was overseen by only a couple of thousand military police officers, to take an example. Further, most European communities were very happy to part with their Jews. The one notable exception, Denmark, saved almost all of its Jews not by taking up arms against the Germans, but by protecting them or sending them elsewhere.

 

As a second flaw, "How do you stop the Nazis?" exists in a historical vacuum, assuming prima facie that the Nazis exist and have great power. However, it is well understood that a large set of historical conditions enfeebled Weimar Germany, helped the Nazis to domestic power, and then encouraged them to pursue an irredentist and bellicose policy internationally. I believe that, at all of these junctures, non-violent actions could have been taken to forestall the development of Nazism into Holocaust and global war.

 

First alternative: applied to the present, I believe that generous, loving, humane action can prevent disasters and wars that might arise in the future. If you subscribe the the realist notion that conflict is caused by competing interests or scarcity, it is clear that conflict becomes unnecessary if people behave altruistically; we live in a world that is virtually beyond any true problems of resource scarcity. The problems of poverty, powerlessness, scarcity, etc., are all problems that we create ourself--they are not technical problems, but social problems, which have social solutions.

 

Alternative 2: it is possible to reimagine Nazism and World War II in light of the concept of "passive noncompliance" or "transarmament." Suppose that entire nations refused to collaborate with invaders; without people to run figurehead governments, or carry out the numberless day-to-day tasks required to maintain a standing army/occupation force, it would have been impossible for the Nazi government to administer any territory. While such passive noncompliance cannot prevent wholesale extermination, it is not clear, first, that wholesale extermination was ever the aim of Nazism, except for specific groups. I addressed that problem above. Any entity today that is truly, irrationally bent upon widespread extermination probably cannot be stopped even by military force. As we have seen in the case of jihadism and intifada, no level of counterforce can stop people who will sacrifice themselves to kill others.

 

Lastly, the question "How do you stop Nazism?" is a consequentialist one: it supposes a certain utility-maximizing goal (stopping the Nazis), and asks whether nonviolence can achieve that goal. Although I believe it can meet that goal, it is clearly a debatable point. However, this consequentialist mindset cannot meaningfully speak to the second dimension of non-violence, which is categorical, and does not admit to debate on the grounds of utility. I firmly believe that such a categorical check upon our action is an important way to avoid our most inhuman excesses, and that it is a good in and of itself.

 

I'd like to conclude this post by quoting the lecture given for the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to the American Friends Service Committee in recognition of their peacemaking work in Europe during and after World War II. This lecture summarizes my points with more eloquence and concision than I can myself manage. I have bolded liberally:

 

Before I give my address, I want to express on behalf of Miss Backhouse and myself a word of gratitude for the very warm hospitality we have received here this week. This September I crossed the Atlantic together with one hundred Americans who had been here in Oslo either at the summer school or at the Youth Conference and I knew then what the hospitality of the Norwegians was like from the warm words of appreciation that those young people gave as I talked to them.

 

 

Near my home in Massachusetts - perhaps a quarter of a mile from my house - there is a marble stone, and on this stone there is an inscription which says that near this spot Leif Eiriksson landed in Vineland in the year 10001. This may not be the exact place nor does anyone know how the American natives, if there were any, treated your fellow countryman in the year 1000. But I know that 947 years later I have returned his visit from Massachusetts. I know where I am today and how the natives have treated me here. One hundred years and more ago there were a few Quakers in parts of Norway that were not treated this way. They were imprisoned, they were driven out, they were persecuted. About half of them began to migrate to America and they were the leaders, the first of a long procession of Norwegian settlers in America, beginning with the famous sloop "Restaurationen" in 1825, and continuing with other ships in 1836-1837. They have supplied perhaps two million of the most respected inhabitants of our country. Today you have atoned for that persecution of the Quakers.

 

 

My address is to be on the subject of Quakers and peace.

In the last two or three weeks, I have been reading all I could about the views of Mr. Alfred Nobel on the subject of war and peace. His ideas were not completely consistent and unchanging. He seems to have had several views on this subject. Sometimes he thought that war would be stopped by the invention of more terrible weapons, though he did not dream of some of the weapons which are in existence today. Sometimes he thought it would be stopped by collective force, by arbitration, or by international law, and sometimes he mentioned international friendship. These divergent views of Nobel stress the fact that the struggle against war is a struggle which - if I may use a military metaphor - may be carried on on many fronts.

Under these circumstances, it is most appropriate that the successive recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize should explain what their particular approach is. So I speak to you today of the Quaker way and illustrate it not only from examples of the present time but from three centuries of Quaker history. Sometimes people say in America: You Quakers with your experience must know what all the answers are (that is an American phrase). No, we do not know all the answers, but at least we know what most of the questions are. We have pursued this aim long enough to know what some of the problems are in the search for peace.

 

 

As Miss Backhouse has said, our approach to this question is a religious approach. Perhaps, in early days, our pacifism was largely based upon texts of the New Testament, upon the words of Jesus, upon examples from the Bible. But as our religious perspective has changed, our views in this matter have still remained the same. As our religion has become more philosophical, or has grown with education and knowledge of sociology and history, we still with good conscience cling to our traditional renunciation of war. We are not impressed by the prestige of war as an ancient institution any more than we were impressed by the holding of slaves. Both these customs date back before the dawn of history, but within a few generations we found it possible to lead to complete success the struggle for the elimination of slavery in the lands where Friends lived.

 

 

So we believe that war is merely a convention of social habit and we believe that these conventions of social habit are subject to change, as much as we believe in the transformation of individuals. Christianity and experience teach us that men and customs can be transformed. We believe that war is a habit, a curious habit, a somewhat accidental habit that men have adopted, although in other areas they have found different means for pursuing similar ends. In your city you have order and custom and not anarchy, but between nations law does not exist, and war, so far from settling differences, is an extreme expression of anarchy.

 

 

That does not mean that wars are not waged for just ends. It means that we do not believe that it is the only way to achieve those just ends. We believe the means are not consistent with the ends, and the better the ends for which men fight, the less moral, the less effective is the method of war. In this particular area, mankind falls behind the standard we have accepted elsewhere. So on this point the Quaker is not an unrealistic perfectionist, but a practical moralist. He believes that this problem can be solved by other means. He believes this problem of war is a moral problem and that the force of religion is essential to its solution. The nature of religion on the one hand and the task of abolishing war on the other seem to us to fit perfectly with each other as task and tool should fit. Religion is concerned with the spiritual life of man. The elimination of war is a spiritual problem and so no wonder we cling in all stages of our religious development to this viewpoint.

 

 

It has come to us first as individuals - what shall I do, what is my duty? If an individual thinks that war is evil, we are so simpleminded, so naive, as to say: "If war is evil, then I do not take part in it", just as one might say, if drunkenness is evil, then I do not drink; if slaveholding is evil, then I do not hold slaves. I know that sounds too simple - almost foolish. I admit that that is our point of view, and this means, of course, that in every war some Friends have suffered not only fines, torture, punishment, or exile, but even the threat of death which, of course, is no more than the soldier faces, but in a different cause. William Penn2 has described the Quaker position in these few words: "Not fighting but suffering". Not all can follow this course, not all Quakers every time follow this course. We recognize that there are times when resistance appears at first to be a real virtue, and then only those most deeply rooted in religious pacifism can resist by other than physical means. We have learned that in the end only the spirit can conquer evil and we believe that in many recent situations those who have unwillingly employed force have learned this lesson at the last.

 

 

But in aiming to avoid any part in war, the Quaker meets an extremely difficult problem, especially with modern total war. Perhaps it will interest you to know what searchings of heart we Quakers have had, in order to discover what follows if one condemns war. Let me give a few illustrations.

 

 

In 1665 some English Quaker carpenters were building wooden ships on the Thames. They thought they were pacifists and had renounced war, and when there was danger of invasion by a Dutch fleet3, these carpenters were required to carry arms. Naturally, they refused to do so, but it never occurred to them that what they were building were warships. It comes slowly, this discovery. Before the First World War, military training was required of every young man in New Zealand. The young Quakers in New Zealand for the first time in their experience were faced with the problem of deciding whether, if war was wrong, training for war was equally wrong. A few years ago a promising young Quaker scientist was invited to take part in a government project, the purpose of which he knew very little. He suspected it was the creation of an atomic bomb and he refused, at sacrifice of great advancement in salary. A few years ago our Quaker boys had to choose whether they would engage in military service, whether, if they worked in the ambulance corps of the American Army, that was participation in war, or whether they would keep strictly out of uniform, serving as experiments for medical information or as nurses in insane hospitals, or foresters in remote camps.

 

 

My father was drafted for service in the American Civil War4. His choice was whether he would pay $350 to hire a substitute to fight for him or whether he would go to prison, and he had to decide whether paying for a substitute was much the same as taking part in war himself.

 

 

My great-grandfather, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars5, was a merchant. He had a share of ownership in a merchant ship. That ship turned privateer, without his knowledge, and captured a Dutch East Indiaman. His share of the prize was about £2,000. Now what would a Quaker do with £2,000 captured in war? He was a wise man, and the first thing he did was to insure his share of the ship with Lloyds of London. As a matter of fact, the ship was destroyed by a storm on its next trip - but he still had £2,000 that did not belong to him. Up to 1823 he and the Friends were still trying to find the owners of that Dutch ship because, as a Quaker, he could not keep those £2,000. In the end he found enough owners to pay them £3,345 principal and interest on that ship, and there were still over £2,000 that he could not dispose of. Although he advertised in the newspapers in Holland and tried to find the owners by the records and in every possible way, he was not able to do so. If you go to Amsterdam today, you will find a free school on Beerenstraat, with a picture on the top gable of the ship that was taken and my great-grandfather's initials on a stone over the door. As final payment to the unknown enemies in that city the English Quakers gave this school.

 

 

If you are not a pacifist, you do not have to face these problems of avoiding war and war implications as the Quakers do in all parts of the world when the whole civilian population is mobilized into war service.

 

 

Today there are millions of men in nearly every great nation who have taken part in war and they still believe that that war, or their part in it, was justified. As long as they hold that view they seem to me to be a risk against world peace. Those people who have once believed that war is justified can readily be persuaded that it will be justified again. While I am not mentioning the names of any nations, whether victor or vanquished, I believe it is true that this tendency to believe that war is justified creates in itself a danger to peace, and it is not lessened by what men have learned or experienced of the terrible damage that war can do materially, morally, or spiritually, or by what we know now that another war could do. I believe the greatest risk of war is in the minds of men who have an unrepentant and unchanging view of the justification of past wars. So perhaps in a world like this there is room for a few thousand persons like Quakers who take the opposite view, who begin with the assumption that war is not and has not been and will not be justified, on either practical or moral grounds. Such persons may have time, interest, and desire to put their minds on alternative ways.

 

 

Of course, Friends have found it necessary to think through their position on this as on many awkward questions. For example, they have had to think whether this view is disloyalty to the state, and they have had to learn to distinguish loyalty to the policy of a government in power from loyalty to the true interests of a nation. Social responsibility to the community is a very similar question.

 

 

They have been met with the argument that war is the lesser of two evils. I will not admit the validity of that argument. We have heard time and time again for over three hundred years that "this war is different", that this time it really is for a purpose which was not successful in the last war. In thinking this over, we have mostly learned that war could have been prevented. I feel it is true what a president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed. In 1936 he said: "We can keep out of war, if those who watch and decide... make certain that the small decisions of each day do not lead toward war and if at the same time they possess the courage to say "no" to those who selfishly or unwisely would let us go to war6".

 

 

We have learned that few wars are justified by their results and that victory in war sometimes in itself makes difficult real peace.

We have learned that the line between aggression and defence is a very difficult division to draw. We are told by atomic scientists that defence will require aggression, that is, taking the first step, and we have also learned that even in defence the moral standards of the more virtuous nation tend to sink to those of the aggressor.

 

 

But I do not wish to give the impression that our Quaker pacifism is either passive or negative. It is part of a positive policy. The prevention of war is an essential part of that policy. It is our belief that we must work for the prevention of war by all means in our power, by influencing public opinion in peacetime, as we try to do, by interceding with governments, as we try to do, setting an example of a disarmed state as William Penn and the Quakers did in Pennsylvania, and by encouraging international organization, as again that great pioneer William Penn did in that most early statement of the principles of world government7, "An Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe".

 

 

Among those active and positive efforts must be included the international service of which Mr. Jahn and Miss Backhouse have spoken so extensively. This international service is not mere humanitarianism; it is not merely mopping up, cleaning up the world after war. It is aimed at creating peace by setting an example of a different way of international service. So our foreign relief is a means of rehabilitation and it is intended not merely to help the body but to help the spirit and to give men hope that there can be a peaceful world.

 

 

I do not know of any difficulty as great as trying to persuade governments to do what they do not intend to do. In the year 1941 in February, there were two American Quakers in the city of Oslo and two American Quakers in the city of London. What were they there for? To try to persuade both the British and the German governments to permit the sending of food and supplies to the children of the occupied countries. I myself was in London at that time, trying to get permission to go through the British blockade with food supplies for the children while my friends were here and in Berlin. We did not succeed. I sometimes think our purposes are best explained by our failures. But it is fun to try.

 

 

We are often baffled and frustrated. It took us eleven months to get into Hungary. But we got in and we have been working there for about a year now. A drunken soldier finally helped to get us in. And we are doing relief in Hungary today as we wish to do it. But we often have been baffled and frustrated. Sometimes we have been helped by people who did not intend to trust us. We have finally found governments helping us, imitating us, and extending our services. It always interests me to find a government taking over what we have done.

 

 

We cannot measure how far our service has affected the people involved. It is hard to judge how far-reaching the results of our efforts are. We do know, however, that there is in our country, in America, and also in England, a large store of goodwill for the people of Europe as well as most tangible expressions of that goodwill. In America there are people who are mindful of the suffering and needs of humanity. To elicit this from our fellow citizens has been for us Quakers a privilege, and so to give them a means of expressing ideals that they are half convinced are their own ideals too. We think that in doing so we may be rendering a greater service to America than to Europe and Asia.

 

 

But among those who need, we trust that our personal touch, the face to face contact of friendly American and British workers with those in need, is not only bringing food and clothing but bringing cheer and hope. It is very evident from the correspondence that we receive from Europe how much this means to many people. They say: It is not the food or the clothing that really affects us most. It is the confidence in man, the belief that somebody cares, that affects us most.

 

 

I may say that we find in governments too, that what cannot be done publicly can be done very intimately and privately with individuals, and that where you least expect it you will find help. We had some very extraordinary experiences with Nazi officials. When it comes to individuals, they usually understand what you are about. Perhaps some of those very officials had their lives saved in 1920-1924 by the same kind of efforts on our part. So it is our hope that our service will help to cool the passions of hate and fear and give faith in man and that the awards of the Nobel Committee to our Quaker service may enable us and our millions of friends throughout the world to persevere in meeting that deeper spiritual hunger and thus promote the cause of peace, as was the intention of the founder of the award.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nagler 01 (Michael, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Berkeley, Is there no other way? The Search for a nonviolent future. pg 122-123)

 

Sometimes one hears a common variation on “It never would have worked against the Nazis,” namely, “It sure didn’t work against the Na-zis!” People who say this are assuming that the millions who went to their deaths in the Holocaust were being “nonviolent.” As we’ve seen before, it’s extremely important to be clear about the difference between passivity and nonviolence, Was Father Kolbe “passive” when he stepped forward to die for another human being, thus setting the Nazi lie on its ear? Outside of the isolated, little-known events like the two we’ve just con¬sidered, active nonviolence was rarely tried against the Nazis or anyone else in the Western hemisphere. The Munich students of the White Rose conspiracy, for example, issued leaflets calling for “passive resistance;” but they had little notion what passive resistance was, not to mention the subtle but important difference between it and active nonviolence. No, it was passivity that was tried against the Nazis. Harsh as it may sound to say this, when one is passive in the face of such aggression, passive out of fear, one is going along with the violence, obeying its logic. This is not to condemn anyone caught in such a trap; to say that someone was passive out of ignorance of an alternative is not to say he or she was morally wrong, which in any case is language I seldom use. It is not to condemn those caught in such a tragedy; it’s to understand our choices so that people will not be caught in them again.

 

Nagler makes a good argument but it's not exactly responsive. I'm saying what can we do about a violent militaristic power committing genocide (he's talking domestic... I mean international) We can't just sit by and say "why aren't them damn jews doing more non-violent resistance to stop the nazis from genociding them? Why don't those Polish idiots try non-violent resistance?"

What we need to do is shoot the nazis... it's not like fighting for the forces of good or anything romantic then that... killing is down right evil... but condemning the victim to save the executioner cannot help but leave a bad taste in my mouth (no matter what Camus says).

Certainly things like trying to evacuate people can be done internationally. (1) that doesn't trade off with violent resistance, and (2) I think that condemning 99 out of 100 people to death because you wont kill the people murdering them is evil with the appearance of clean hands. Believe it or not, you can, in fact, be guilty for being ineffective if there is an effective solution available to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a first flaw, this question implicitly assumes that the Nazis accomplished their wishes through force. While this is partly true, a great deal of the Nazi program, both domestically and internationally, was accomplished by passive submission or willing collaboration. Nazi Germany's internal police force was far smaller than the force in the succeeding GDR. The countries occupied by Germany were, to a very great extent, cooperative or passive. Vichy France was overseen by only a couple of thousand military police officers, to take an example. Further, most European communities were very happy to part with their Jews. The one notable exception, Denmark, saved almost all of its Jews not by taking up arms against the Germans, but by protecting them or sending them elsewhere.

 

As a second flaw, "How do you stop the Nazis?" exists in a historical vacuum, assuming prima facie that the Nazis exist and have great power. However, it is well understood that a large set of historical conditions enfeebled Weimar Germany, helped the Nazis to domestic power, and then encouraged them to pursue an irredentist and bellicose policy internationally. I believe that, at all of these junctures, non-violent actions could have been taken to forestall the development of Nazism into Holocaust and global war.

 

1) not responsive, the question is what we can do. If your solution only works for some actors then it doesn't meet the burden for a categorical imperative. I'm not saying non-violence isn't generally good... I'm just saying it's not a categorical imperative and that violence can be easily justified.

 

2) not responsive, I say can't stop the nazis and you said ah but it could have prevented the nazis from rising with it. cool beans but that doesn't help us fix the problem once they already have power.

 

3) Doesn't assume the larger question. The nazis really aren't the point. The point is that you can't stop any giant militaristic group that violate international law, don't care about politics, and just start killing people and waging war. What is poland going to do? Non-cooperate with their bullets?

 

4) your answers are historically contingent. You must show that it will never fail or that keeping it as a precendent outweighs the times that it fails to prove a catagorical imperative.

 

5) You're just wrong. Their goals are irrelevant. My problem is that they killed people. This was not achieved by the people they shot cooperating with them, it was achieved by using lots of armed people to shoot anyone who didn't cooperate with them.

 

6) Very very wrong. It's evil to keep our hands clean and let "the victims suffer to figure it out themselves non-violently." how many undesirables have to die trying to stop them through non-cooperation before you are willing to get off your high horse and help some people.

 

First alternative: applied to the present, I believe that generous, loving, humane action can prevent disasters and wars that might arise in the future.

 

uh... perm...

 

If you subscribe the the realist notion that conflict is caused by competing interests or scarcity, it is clear that conflict becomes unnecessary if people behave altruistically; we live in a world that is virtually beyond any true problems of resource scarcity. The problems of poverty, powerlessness, scarcity, etc., are all problems that we create ourself--they are not technical problems, but social problems, which have social solutions.

 

1. Again... perm.

2. What happens when there's an anomaly? Not every militarist totalitarian state in history and in the future has and will be caused by the root causes you outline. Do you hold to your Kantian morals, shutting your eyes as people are murdered in the streets or do you send a force in before the smell of burning flesh reaches our shores.

3. Fails. Once the nazi state is established humanitarianism does zilch. Cross apply from above you answer the root causes question without answering what we do once they're already in power.

 

 

Alternative 2: it is possible to reimagine Nazism and World War II in light of the concept of "passive noncompliance" or "transarmament." Suppose that entire nations refused to collaborate with invaders; without people to run figurehead governments, or carry out the numberless day-to-day tasks required to maintain a standing army/occupation force, it would have been impossible for the Nazi government to administer any territory.

 

1. Perm. This is something that other countries can do, not us. Cross apply from above why that's a problem.

2. Do all that and then kill some nazis so that less innocents have to die. It's as though you value the lives of the nazis more than the victims in some perverse sort of way. You don't have to chose between your alternative and using violence on rare occasions... that's a forced binary.

 

While such passive noncompliance cannot prevent wholesale extermination, it is not clear, first, that wholesale extermination was ever the aim of Nazism, except for specific groups.

 

1. I'll concede that your strategy cannot prevent wholesale extermination... thanks... even if it wasn't the nazis aim you've just admitted that a categorical imperative for never accepting murder would have to accept wholesale extermination... cool.

2. they killed 6 million people... you appear to claim they don't count because they're only "specific groups"... are you a nazi?

3. But seriously... are you really claiming that non-violence is a good strat because only the jews will die?

 

 

Any entity today that is truly, irrationally bent upon widespread extermination probably cannot be stopped even by military force. As we have seen in the case of jihadism and intifada, no level of counterforce can stop people who will sacrifice themselves to kill others.

 

1. Eventually, logically, if you kill everyone who is actively killing people then they are all dead.

2. Violence ends in less innocent people killed than non-violence in many situation...

3. I'm not saying that violence is always the answer... just that it cannot be a priori ruled out before any evidence is taken into hand.

 

Lastly, the question "How do you stop Nazism?" is a consequentialist one: it supposes a certain utility-maximizing goal (stopping the Nazis), and asks whether nonviolence can achieve that goal. Although I believe it can meet that goal, it is clearly a debatable point. However, this consequentialist mindset cannot meaningfully speak to the second dimension of non-violence, which is categorical, and does not admit to debate on the grounds of utility. I firmly believe that such a categorical check upon our action is an important way to avoid our most inhuman excesses, and that it is a good in and of itself.

 

So let me get this straight: non-violence isn't necessarily good because it stops innocent people from being tortured, starved, mudered, etc. It's right because we can "categorically" just feel how "right it is" regardless of whether it's effective and regardless of how self-negating it is (cross apply where you admit that non-violence cannot stop mass extermination). That is one of the most useless, offensive, high-handed, stupid arguments I've ever heard. At least read up on Kierkegaard if you're going to argue against logic.

 

I'm not saying we have to be calculating bastards that view things only in a body count. All I'm saying is that stopping genocide is a worthy goal. If I have to prove to you why we should stop genocide while you're arguing in a non-violence framework then I quit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
what's the difference?... legitimacy?... that begs the question, since aren't some social movements more legitimate than the governments which they're opposing? ...say, the civil rights movement (which contrary to m.l.k.-loving revisionism was furthered by riots, violent protests, and groups who had no qualms about private gun ownership, e.g. the panthers, malcolm x followers, etc.).

 

It is very different. most nonviolent activists, other than the ghandi types, are okay with coercion/ nonviolent threats

 

see Heidi Burgess, Justice Without Violence, p 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it seems to me that the vast majority of arguments against non-violence are structured of the form: some actor would fail if they were non-violent and other actors were violent. Being able to respond to arguments of this form should probably be the first goal of anyone trying to run non-violence militarism. Gandhi and Kant address this in radically different ways

Kant: it doesn't matter. We can only look at ethics as universals. Everyone being non-violent vs. everyone being violent. Non-violent is clearly preferable.

Gandhi: 1. true, but in most situations either they would fail anyway, or their cause is not true. It is far more likely that someone practicing satyagraha would succeed in promoting the just even when others are violent, then it would be if they were to use violence. 2. the physical harm is far less then harm that comes from being a party to violence, as such refusing to use violence is the ultimate act of self defense. This second position is the basic justification of Quaker passivism, and why I choose nonviolence.

 

Generally the response to such arguments should include some of the above arguments and:

1. arguing that with violence they would fail, so its moot (holocaust say)

2. that the claim is wrong (nonviolence worked in Denmark)

3. that the good of an uncompromising ethic of non-violence brings outweighs

4. that the need of some people to commit acts of violence doesn’t justify the judge endorsing violence as a strategy to make the world better by voting aff (who has to be non-violent; don't feed the perm)

 

 

My views on the militarism kritik are complicate, although I my deep felt belief is that I shouldn’t commit violence, I am in no way convinced that demanding others to practice ahimsa is in anyway ethical. I do not want to say that it is wrong for the oppressed to fight back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...so long as there are definite acts of genocide/slaughter/oppression/etc. in this world we i would hope that we have a solution...

 

to those advocating total non-violence, please tell me how this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict - is either

A- solved quickly using purely non-violent means

Or B- not something we can reasonably call "bad" and hope to change

 

-G.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not interested in getting into a lengthy line by line debate. I am not posting to win an argument, only to share my own views.

 

...so long as there are definite acts of genocide/slaughter/oppression/etc. in this world we i would hope that we have a solution...

 

to those advocating total non-violence, please tell me how this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict - is either

A- solved quickly using purely non-violent means

Or B- not something we can reasonably call "bad" and hope to change

 

-G.

 

I think there's a falty premise here. I don't believe that there is any way that the Darfur conflict can be "solved quickly" by violent or non-violent means. Any action that appears to bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion is probably ignoring deeper causes, and merely defers the conflict to be fought again later.

 

However painful it is to admit, I am also unconvinced that "we", as Americans, are able to definitively conclude the Darfur Conflict. That is not to say we shouldn't try, nor is it a maneuver to blame the victims or apologize for the aggressors. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that many of the causes are beyond our control. Nonetheless, we should address the problem to the greatest extent possible.

 

One possible nonviolent solution is to divest from businesses invested in Sudan. This technique was widely used against the Apartheid Regime in South Africa to express widespread international condemnation. I feel comfortable supporting this tactic, but I am somewhat more reticent about the use of sanctions. It's clear, in the case of Iraq, that sanctions intended to harm the regime harmed innocents instead, and had very little impact on the government.

 

Another possible approach is to travel to the Sudan and get in the way. "Christian Peacemaker Teams" have travelled to many spots around the globe in order to stand between aggressors and victims. While Sudanese militias may kill natives of Darfur pitilessly, many would hesitate to kill Westerners. It is my understanding that these sorts of human shields have been effective at arresting violence, and avoid the indifference and unclear orders common to military peacekeeping efforts.

 

I don't want to assume to stance of being an expert on nonviolence, just because I try to practice it and advocate it. Above are only a couple of ideas, I expect those who are more creative or informed than I could offer more.

 

Sometimes events go beyond our control. I think, around the world, there are conflicts that have escalated to a point where they have no immediate solution. Without ignoring those conflicts and doing our best to stop thing, I think that we should also place a much greater emphasis on prevention--on building positive peace, promoting health, equality, and access to resources, on reconciling old disagreements and animosities before they erupt into violence. Clearly, that is not the answer you, or anybody, really wants to hear; we want to fix things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there's a falty premise here. I don't believe that there is any way that the Darfur conflict can be "solved quickly" by violent or non-violent means. Any action that appears to bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion is probably ignoring deeper causes, and merely defers the conflict to be fought again later.

 

...

 

One possible nonviolent solution is to divest from businesses invested in Sudan. This technique was widely used against the Apartheid Regime in South Africa to express widespread international condemnation. I feel comfortable supporting this tactic, but I am somewhat more reticent about the use of sanctions. It's clear, in the case of Iraq, that sanctions intended to harm the regime harmed innocents instead, and had very little impact on the government.

 

Another possible approach is to travel to the Sudan and get in the way. "Christian Peacemaker Teams" have travelled to many spots around the globe in order to stand between aggressors and victims. While Sudanese militias may kill natives of Darfur pitilessly, many would hesitate to kill Westerners. It is my understanding that these sorts of human shields have been effective at arresting violence, and avoid the indifference and unclear orders common to military peacekeeping efforts.

 

...

 

The first paragraph here rings eerily of "we can't win, so we should not try..." Even if there are a shitload of deeper causes for the killings (like there are in every genocide...) we probably aren't going to be able to remedy those unless we STOP the primary reasons for the killings- ie the people walking around shooting and slashing others... i mean, yes racism was a major factor for the Holocaust, but so were the SS, and we can stop the SS, so why dont we... solving for these underlying causes is important, but not as important as getting a short term solution... and btw, i would rather take that smaller risk of having the conflict "defered" till later than using that argument as a cop out for not acting at all...

 

On the whole buissness thing... this is important, but it wont stop anything for a long time... it has been going on long enough that sufficient money and arms have been made accessable to those wishing to do harm, this means even if you suceed in divesting buissness, there is enough "stuff" going around locally to continue the conflict on further untill all of the resources are exhausted... Not to mention the chance that this 'solution' could make the janjaweed go "oh snap, we need to hurry up" and cause the whole process of violence to accelerate in hopes of 'finnishing' before resources are used up...

 

as for the 'human shield' option... i sincerly doubt that you will find enough people willing to do this to make it any sort of a solution... you need a shit load of suicidal heroes to get this one done... and even if there will be an increased reluctantce to killing westerners, all it takes is ONE bloody massacre to scare away shitless 90% of those who were crazy (brave) enough to volunteer for this in the first place...

 

the question that i really have for those proposing non-violence is this: is violence what you are trying to prevent, or is this some attempt at personal purity? it all to often comes across as the latter, which i think is selfish, to say the least...

 

-G.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing you're forgetting is that non-violent and violent approaches aren't really alternatives to each other, rather they should be seen as compliments. I've done a fair share of non-violence reading and it's pretty conclusive that a pragmatic approach to non-violence is a better approach. For example, there has never been a truly 100 per cent nonviolent movement and I don't think it's probably impossible to have one. A nonviolent activism that is combined with direct government action and change from within usually works best - examples range from the 1989 former nations of the USSR to Ghandi's movement, which called upon reform from elites. Why did the 1989 revolts in East Europe not turn out like Tiannamen square? Because Gorbachev initiated reform from within prior to the protests and pulled out all the military support for the Eastern European nations, so the governments could not respond to nonviolent protests. Non-violent approaches aren't really a way to eliminate violence, since there movements meet violent responses, but I would rather say the two go hand in hand. In certain situations, they are a superior approach, because instead of merely taking up arms against impossible odds and accomplishing nothing, these movement underscore the aggressor's brutality and immorality - often earning a response from the international community or even giving the chance for the aggressor to redeem himself, which is the ultimate non-violent act.

 

But it is certainly foolish, naive, and ignorant of history to suggest that a purely nonviolent movement is either possible or can defeat the Nazis on its own. People who believe this are more concerned with selfishly preserving the purity of their own "virtue" and "ethics" than with actually combating evil and suffering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

all I have to say about the way this is going is game...set...match...

 

I am a little disturbed at your inability (V.I.Lenin) to listen to criticism, ostensibly because you're not interested in "trying to win an argument". It seems to me to be the dangerously closed minded position of the non-violence Kantian on his/her high-horse that I began my posting on this forum about. If you're never interested in convincing other people or being convinced yourself then you're allowing yourself to be tooled by your own ideology, you slowly are caught in a stream of becoming your own position. I can't stomach the stuff.

 

Another thought... I understand your compulsion to reject murder because it seems like we're killing people because we can't handle our helplessness in some situations in international politics. I truly believe, however, that I would rather see the streets run slick with the blood of nazis then allow one jewish child to be made to watch his/her parents tortured to death... I will have no part in "ethics" if it allows us to behold the death of a child's body or soul without taking action. I am reminded of that old story in chicken soup for the soul: we may not be able to save all the beached starfish, ultimately our actions may not be remembered in history as having "mattered," but it mattered for each victim of genocide that is spared (at any and every cost to the executioners).

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
all I have to say about the way this is going is game...set...match...

 

I am a little disturbed at your inability (V.I.Lenin) to listen to criticism, ostensibly because you're not interested in "trying to win an argument". It seems to me to be the dangerously closed minded position of the non-violence Kantian on his/her high-horse that I began my posting on this forum about. If you're never interested in convincing other people or being convinced yourself then you're allowing yourself to be tooled by your own ideology, you slowly are caught in a stream of becoming your own position. I can't stomach the stuff.

 

Another thought... I understand your compulsion to reject murder because it seems like we're killing people because we can't handle our helplessness in some situations in international politics. I truly believe, however, that I would rather see the streets run slick with the blood of nazis then allow one jewish child to be made to watch his/her parents tortured to death... I will have no part in "ethics" if it allows us to behold the death of a child's body or soul without taking action. I am reminded of that old story in chicken soup for the soul: we may not be able to save all the beached starfish, ultimately our actions may not be remembered in history as having "mattered," but it mattered for each victim of genocide that is spared (at any and every cost to the executioners).

 

i think there are a few lessons to take from the posts:

 

1. "violence" can't be understood in opposition to passivity or pacifism. doing nothing, acting ineffectively, "letting die" through sanctions, etc., can allow and produce conditions as bad as those of actively killing. thus we can only attribute this term in a way to designate specific strategies enabled by an encounter w/ power.

 

2. the matter of violence is always imposed as an immediacy; we're not in a position to theorize from an abstract historical consciousness or moral philosophy b/c the question facing us is the immediate one of "how can we defend the survival of ourselves or the other for whom we feel responsible?" this is why the metaphysical reasoning for pacifism or the consequentialism of preventing future conflict can be logically correct but nonetheless totally wrong. the questions themselves are fundamentally warped.

 

3. this immediacy is precisely where "humanitarian" intervention becomes the most specious, the standard line of criticism being that we legitimate sovereign power, designate victims paradoxically in a state of living death, reactivate the colonial logic which allows us to profit from the conflicts, etc., when we intervene from a suspended moral position. the issue is not whether to act but rather to be brutally honest about where we stand when we act and to claim full responsibility for the position.

 

given this, i see the game as still up for grabs. in fact, i find V.I. Lenin's position to be the only one that ISN'T a perverted cop-out. it's awfully convenient to be able to assert myself as a responsible ethical actor in my demands on the one hand and on the other to have an external state apparatus, so to speak, do all the dirty work involved in carrying it out. it's much more difficult to be in this position where there is no gap b/t my intentions and what actually results from them.

 

this is also why i have a problem w/ michael's depiction of the victim-image of children and this diabolical Evil attributed to the transgressive Nazi figure, etc. the logic here is that the only legitimate violence is that which is exercised by the state for innocent victims, and when the victim loses this figure of innocence she also forfeits the life state violence was to guarantee her. this is clearly a standard sentiment in k debates but i think the question that arises from them is crucial: how do we frame our ethical responsibility to the ultimate Other, to the ugly figure who is not only subject to violence but who doesn't even count as such in our discourse (the terrorist, the refugee, etc.)? to me, the politics of nonviolence, problematic as its strategic value may be, is one of the few areas where we even begin to have to include this figure in our ethical reasoning.

 

to a large extent, michael and other advocates of violence have understood the problem better and are ahead. yet i would pose V.I. Lenin's caveats in a more offensive way: to what extent does intervening from a neutral ethical position undermine the very cause of action? that's the k debate that doesn't need explaining. my second question is, what structural problems do we create for a conflict when we limit ourselves to the tactics of brutal military efficiency? consider the lesson Hollywood keeps trying to teach us: the economy underlying the distribution and transportation of weapons and troops is cynically driven on the continuation of the conflicts; the "enemy" is largely constituted of child soldiers and victims of past conflicts; etc.

 

there clearly aren't straightforward solutions to the conflicts mentioned here, but this also shouldn't let us sink in indeterminacy. the point isn't to suspend immediate ethical concerns and assume a distanced perspective in order to avoid making conflicts worse in the future, etc. it's rather to be fully authentic and uncompromising in the immediate ethical demand we're asserting. this is also where i find an affinity w/ V.I. Lenin's position: we have to be willing to die ourselves in order to fully assume responsibility for our ethical position, to actually be able to say, "i may be teleologically wrong about intervention and condoning an ultimately bad idea, but in the face of this crisis, i cannot do otherwise; i have to follow it to the end." this doesn't exclude either micro or macro politics. but i think, in cases like the Sudan, it's necessary to go in yourself, even if you take a gun. you have to assume a subjective position to be ethical. for policy advocacy, i think the impulse to democratize is good only insofar as we can engage it as a democracy. this is why i think a primary concern in the Sudan should've been an massive coordinated effort for the evacuation of refugees and an opening up of international borders.

 

i realize this doesn't settle the question of non-violence, but i think it's a necessary position from which to engage the debate.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i realize this doesn't settle the question of non-violence, but i think it's a necessary position from which to engage the debate.
actually, you didn't really say much in your post.

 

it's rather to be fully authentic and uncompromising in the immediate ethical demand we're asserting. this is also where i find an affinity w/ V.I. Lenin's position: we have to be willing to die ourselves in order to fully assume responsibility for our ethical position, to actually be able to say, "i may be teleologically wrong about intervention and condoning an ultimately bad idea, but in the face of this crisis, i cannot do otherwise; i have to follow it to the end."

only an idiot would willingly chose a philosophy in which he deluded himself into justifying suicidal action in pursuit of 'ethics' or prioritized some (probably-wrong) system of justice (relation to the Other or whatever kritikal jargon you want to use) over his own life. i'm getting pretty tired of these levinases and derridas theorizing over what ethical relations to a capital-o other "must" be, i think it's a pretty good idea to kill some nazis.. but that's just me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
actually, you didn't really say much in your post.

 

only an idiot would willingly chose a philosophy in which he deluded himself into justifying suicidal action in pursuit of 'ethics' or prioritized some (probably-wrong) system of justice (relation to the Other or whatever kritikal jargon you want to use) over his own life. i'm getting pretty tired of these levinases and derridas theorizing over what ethical relations to a capital-o other "must" be, i think it's a pretty good idea to kill some nazis.. but that's just me.

 

right, b/c it only makes sense to reckon justice over the lives of others, from the comforts of your home... if you take another pass through the post, you should see an argument against the levinasian obligation, if you want to articulate your aversion to it. i also supported violence, in a much less hypocritical than you are.

 

a revision: it's better to do nothing than to reify the formal structures of oppression... just to feel good about oneself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
all I have to say about the way this is going is game...set...match...

not responding to your "line-by-line" is hardly a refusal to accept criticism. V.I. Lenin has expressed more humility in this thread than most debaters seem to in a lifetime.

actually, you didn't really say much in your post.

wtf, nobodaddy composed one of the best posts in this thread, precisely because it said something no one else had.

only an idiot would willingly chose a philosophy in which he deluded himself into justifying suicidal action in pursuit of 'ethics' or prioritized some (probably-wrong) system of justice (relation to the Other or whatever kritikal jargon you want to use) over his own life. i'm getting pretty tired of these levinases and derridas theorizing over what ethical relations to a capital-o other "must" be, i think it's a pretty good idea to kill some nazis.. but that's just me.

It is possible for things to be worse than death, taking the life of another could well be one of them--"the innocent never know how hard murder is." My memory is that almost one third of the German populace voted for Hitler...make sure you aren’t the one advocating genocide.

 

If you are convinced you can tell the good from the bad, by all means clean the world for us, but know how similar a position the SS took.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...