John Stuart Mill on Pacifism

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” – John Stuart Mill

Comments

  1. Pacifism is a rare, rare thing. Most opponents of the Bush wars were labeled as pacifists. However, the leftists now in charge are demonstrating what objective observers of Leftism have always known – leftists love war. The more leftist a regime is, the more likely it is to wage aggressive war. The great wars in American history were not fought by Grover Cleaveland or Ronald Reagan, they were fought by Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman.

    Hippie flower children who want peace love and happiness? They are a myth. The flower children grew up, and now want to use the power of government to forcibly change reality.

    The Bush cadres called them all pacifists. They weren’t, and we are seeing that as the continuation and expansion of the inherited wars is the order of business in the White House.

    The right-wing critics of Bush’s policies were not pacifists either, by and large. In fact, true pacifism is really unheard of in American politics.

  2. Michael Bauman says:

    Real pacifism is not only rare, but problematic. As Fr. Alexander F.C. Webster pointed out in his work, The Pacifist Option, it requires the decision not to act when other people are certain to be harmed by one’s lack of action. Of course, to fight also means other people will be harmed.

    Can one really say the refusal to fight is based on love of enemy when one’s own neighbor or family is sacrificed instead?

    We must not confuse pacifism with the kenotic path of martyrdom.

    Sometimes evil must be confronted physically. No general answer is sufficient.

    Statists are much more likely to go to war simply becasue they value the unique human person far less than non-statists.