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Pacifism as Pathology

Pacifism as Pathology

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Published by AntiFascistMilitant

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Published by: AntiFascistMilitant on Sep 03, 2011
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Reflections on the Role of
Armed Struggle in North America
Ward Churchill
with Mike Ryan
28 Pacifism as Pathology
The corresponding rate by which common people are
empowered isobvious.
8 Bertram Gross,
Friendly Fascism: The Face of Power in America
(Boston: South End, 1982).9. It should be noted that, having pronounced the positions takenin Pacifism as Pathology to be absurd, more than an dozen leadingproponents of nonviolence comitted themselves at various times between1986 and 1991 to producing point-by-point written rebuttals for publica-tion. Not one delivered. Instead, apparently unable to come up with con-vincing arguments of their own, they've uniformly sought to squelch theadvancing of alternatives wherever possible.
Pacifism as Pathology:
Notes on an American Psuedopraxis
Ward Churchill
 It is the obligation of every person who claims
to oppose oppression to resist the oppressor by
every means at his or her disposal. Not to
engage in physical resistance, armed resistance
to oppression, is to serve the interests of the
oppressor; no more, no less. There are no
exceptions to the rule, no easy out. . .
- Assata Shakur, 1984
acifism, the ideology of nonviolent political ac-tion, has become axiomatic and all but universalamong the more progressive elements of contem-porary mainstream North America. With a jargon rang-ing from a peculiar mishmash of borrowed or fabricated
30 Pacifism as Pathology
pseudospiritualism to "Gramscian" notions of prefigura-
tive socialization, pacifism appears as the common de-nominator linking otherwise disparate "white dissident"groupings. Always, it promises that the harsh realities of state power can be transcended via good feelings andpurity of purpose rather than by self-defense and resort
to combat.
Pacifists, with seemingly endless repetition, pro-
nounce that the negativity of the modern corporate-fas-cist state will atrophy through defection and neglect once
there is a sufficiently positive social vision to take its place
("What if they gave a war and nobody came?"). Known
in the Middle Ages as alchemy, such insistence on therepetition of insubstantial themes and failed experiments
to obtain a desired result has long been consigned to the
realm of fantasy, discarded by all but the most wishful orcynical (who use it to manipulate people).
I don't deny the obviously admirable emotional
content of the pacifist perspective. Surely we can all agree
that the world should become a place of cooperation,
peace, and harmony. Indeed, it
be nice if every-
thing would just get better while nobody got hurt, in-
cluding the oppressor who (temporarily and misguidedly)
makes everything bad. Emotional niceties, however, do
not render a viable politics. As with most delusions de-
signed to avoid rather than confront unpleasant truths
(Lenin's premise that the sort of state he created would
wither away under "correct conditions" comes to mind),
the pacifist fantasy is inevitably doomed to failure by cir-
Pacifism as Pathology 31
Even the most casual review of twentieth-centuryhistory reveals the graphic contradictions of the pacifist
posture, the costs of its continued practice and its fun-damental ineffectiveness in accomplishing its purportedtransformative mission.
Nonetheless, we are currentlybeset by "nonviolent revolutionary leaders" who habitu-
ally revise historical fact as a means of offsetting their
doctrine's glaring practical deficiencies, and by the spec-tacle of expressly pacifist organizations claiming(apparently in all seriousness) to be standing "in solidar-
ity" with practitioners of armed resistance in Central
America, Africa, and elsewhere.
Despite its inability to avert a revitalized milita-
rism in the United States, the regeneration of overt
racism, and a general rise in native fascism, pacifism -the stuff of the spent mass movements of the '60s — not
only continues as the normative form of "American ac-tivism," but seems to have recently experienced a serious
The purpose here is to examine the pacifist
phenomenon briefly in both its political and psychologi-cal dimensions, with an eye toward identifying the rela-tionship between a successful reactionary order on the
one hand, and a pacifist domestic opposition on the other.
Like Lambs to the Slaughter
 I have never been able to bring myself to trust anyone who claims to have saved a Jew from
the SS. The fact is that the Jews were not saved 

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