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Pacifism as Pathology Ward Churchill

Pacifism as Pathology Ward Churchill

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Published by Rbg Street Scholar
In this book explains, Pacifism, the ideology of nonviolent political resistance, has been the norm
among mainstream North American progressive groups for decades. But to what end? Ward Churchill challenges the pacifist movement’s heralded victories—
Ghandhi in India, 1960s anti-war activists, even Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement—suggesting that their success was in spite of, rather than because of, their nonviolent tactics. Pacifism as Pathology was written as a response not only to Churchill’s frustration with his own experience, but also to a debate raging in the radical and academic communities. He argues that
pacifism is in many ways counter-revolutionary; that it defends the status quo,rather than leading to social change it.
In this book explains, Pacifism, the ideology of nonviolent political resistance, has been the norm
among mainstream North American progressive groups for decades. But to what end? Ward Churchill challenges the pacifist movement’s heralded victories—
Ghandhi in India, 1960s anti-war activists, even Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement—suggesting that their success was in spite of, rather than because of, their nonviolent tactics. Pacifism as Pathology was written as a response not only to Churchill’s frustration with his own experience, but also to a debate raging in the radical and academic communities. He argues that
pacifism is in many ways counter-revolutionary; that it defends the status quo,rather than leading to social change it.

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Published by: Rbg Street Scholar on Jul 01, 2012
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01/24/2013

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Pacifsm, the ideology o nonviolent political resistance, has been the normamong mainstream North American progressive groups or decades. But towhat end? Ward Churchill challenges the pacifst movement’s heralded victo-ries—Ghandhi in India, 1960s anti-war activists, even Martin Luther King’s civilrights movement—suggesting that their success was in spite o, rather thanbecause o, their nonviolent tactics. Pacifsm as Pathology was written as aresponse not only to Churchill’s rustration with his own experience, but alsoto a debate raging in the radical and academic communities. He argues thatpacifsm is in many ways counter-revolutionary; that it deends the status quo,rather than leading to social change.
PACIFISM ASPATHOLOGY 
 Ward Churchill
 
INTRO ______________________________________ 1LIKE LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER ____________ 3AN ESSENTIAL CONTRADICTION _____________ 8THE COMFORT ZONE ________________________ 15LET’S PRETEND _____________________________ 29THE BUCK IS PASSED _______________________ 33PROFILE OF A PATHOLOGY ___________________ 39TOWARD A LIBERATORY PRAXIS ______________ 44A THERAPEUTIC APPROACH TO PACIFISM _____ 52CONCLUSION _______________________________ 60NOTES ______________________________________ 62
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or Survival (Cornville, Arizona: Desert Publications, 1983). Copy machines are, o course,a handy aid in urthering dissemination - and to avert putting undue revenue into the handso the right. This is not to mention the incredible range o ocial military training and eldmanuals (e.g., Ranger Training Manual; Special Forces Handbook; Booby Traps, Escape andEvasion; Explosives and Demolitions; and Your M-16 Rife) available by law at essentially nocharge through the U.S. Government Printing Oce in Washington, D.C.172. This is to reiterate Che Guevara’s contention, “at the risk o sounding ridiculous,” thatthe true revolutionary is guided by a sense o love rather than hate, and that “to love, onemust ght”; Michael Lowy, The Marxism o Che Guevara (op.cit. p. 54). Or, to return to IsaacDeutscher (op. cit.): “There is a whole dialectic o violence and nonviolence implied in theMarxist doctrine rom its beginnings ... As Marxists, we have always preached... the need tooverthrow capitalism by orce [yet retain] the aspiration to transorm societies in such a waythat violence should cease orever as the necessary and permanent element in the regulationo the relationship between society and individuals, between individuals and individuals. Inembracing the vision o a nonviolent society, Marxism... has gone urther and deeper than anypacist preachers o nonviolence have ever done. Why? Because Marxism has laid bare theroots o violence in our society, which the others have not done. Marxism has set out to attackthose roots; to uproot violence not just rom human thoughts, not just rom human emotions,but to uproot [it] rom the very bases o the material existence o society.” Although myselstrongly anti-marxist in my political perspectives and practice, I must admit that on thesepoints I wholeheartedly concur with the views expressed.
 
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161. Louis Althusser, For Marx (New York: Vintage Books, 1970), p. 251: “Generalities I areabstract, part-ideological, part-scientic generalities that are the raw material o science... “162. Ernest Gellner, “Foreword,” in J. G. Merquoir, The Veil and the Mask: Essays on Cultureand Ideology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), p. 2.163. Merquoir, op. cit., p. 29.164. Those conused about the distinction inhering between reorm and revolution might wishto consult John and Barbara Ehrenreich’s “From Resistance to Revolution,” Monthly Review(April 1968). Another useul perspective can be ound in the section entitled “Rebellion andRevolution,” in George Katsiacas’ The Imagination o the New Let: A Global Analysis o1968 (Boston: South End Press, 1987), pp. 179-86.165. Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), speech at the Auraria Campus Student Center, Den-ver, Colorado, 24 Nov. 1985 (tape on le).166. Put another way, it is simply to gain a dierent sort o appreciation o Karl von Claus-witz’s amous dictum that war is merely politics pursued by other means. Conversely, politicswould be war pursued in the same manner.167. The same principle, o course, is inversely applicable to those who would insist thatarmed struggle/terror is the “only appropriate means” o conronting state power under ad-vanced capitalism. However, the scant number o those proessing such a belie in the UnitedStates — especially as opposed to the numbers o people advocating nonviolence as anabsolute - tends to speak or itsel in terms o the emphasis accorded each problem in thisessay.168. See Nicos Poulantzas, Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Prob-lem o Fascism (London: Verso, 1979), especially “Forms o the Ideological Crisis: The Crisiso Revolutionary Organizations,” pp. 143-46. Outcomes are posited, however unintendedly, inBertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The Face o Power in America (Boston: South End Press,1982).169. The term is employed within its precise rather than its popularized meaning, i.e., rom theGreek radic, meaning “source” or “root.” The radical therapist is one who pursues problemsto their root or source. The psychological analysis and approach taken is that sketched outin Jerome Angel, ed., The Radical Therapist (New York: Ballantine, 1971), and Rough Times(New York: Ballantine, 1973).170. This requirement may well lead to the application o a variation o the principle positedby Frank Black Elk in his “Observations on Marxism and the Lakota Tradition,” in Marxism andNative Americans, Ward Churchill, ed. (Boston: South End Press, 1983), pp. 137-56; peoplewho are not typically considered as therapists - and who may well not even perceive them-selves as such - will be needed to provide therapy to many sel-proclaimed radical therapistsbeore the latter can hope to extend assistance to others.171. A quick sample o some o the best: Kurt Saxon, The Poor Man’s James Bond (Eureka,Caliornia: Atlan Formularies, 1975); Lt. Col. Anthony B. Herbert, The Soldier’s Handbook(Englewood, Caliornia: Cloverlea Books, 1979); William Ewart Fairburn, Scientic Sel-Deense (San Francisco: Interservice, 1982); and Tony Lesce and Jo-Anne Lesce, Checklist
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It is the obligation o every person who claims to oppose oppressionto resist the oppressor by every means at his or her disposal. Not toengage in physical resistance, armed resistance to oppression, is toserve the interests o the oppressor; no more, no less. There are noexceptions to the rule, no easy out...
- Assata Shakur, 1984Pacism, the ideology o nonviolent political action, has become axi-omatic and all but universal among the more progressive elements ocontemporary mainstream North America. With a jargon ranging roma peculiar mishmash o borrowed or abricated pseudospiritualism to“Gramscian” notions o pregurative socialization, pacism appearsas the common denominator linking otherwise disparate “white dis-sident” groupings. Always, it promises that the harsh realities o statepower can be transcended via good eelings and purity o purposerather than by sel-deense and resort to combat.Pacists, with seemingly endless repetition, pronounce that the nega-tivity o the modern corporate-ascist state will atrophy through deec-tion and neglect once there is a suciently positive social vision totake its place (“What i they gave a war and nobody came?”). Knownin the Middle Ages as alchemy, such insistence on the repetition oinsubstantial themes and ailed experiments to obtain a desired resulthas long been consigned to the realm o antasy, discarded by all butthe most wishul or cynical (who use it to manipulate people).[1]I don’t deny the obviously admirable emotional content o the pacistperspective. Surely we can all agree that the world should become aplace o cooperation, peace, and harmony. Indeed, it would be nicei everything would just get better while nobody got hurt, includingthe oppressor who (temporarily and misguidedly) makes everythingbad. Emotional niceties, however, do not render a viable politics. Aswith most delusions designed to avoid rather than conront unpleas-ant truths (Lenin’s premise that the sort o state he created wouldwither away under “correct conditions” comes to mind),[2] the pacistantasy is inevitably doomed to ailure by circumstance.

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