Heed them.

January 01, 2012

The War On War

"I've dabbled in pacifism."

Being against war takes on many forms. A person could feel that war is immoral, because of religious commandments against killing, or an innate feeling. One could be anti-war because they feel a large-scale war can't be justified; though they may not be against killing or violence.  One could be against war because of the havoc it reeks on the human population and the human psyche. One could be against current wars or past wars simply because 'they don't work' or 'they don't make sense.' One could simply abhor and be sickened by all violence.

'Pacifist' has a funny ring to it. In both its sound and etymology it sounds more passive than pacifists usually are - in fact, most people who self-identify as against-war are fairly engaged and informed, and many become activists. Someone who is anti-war but is not an activist is just as good for the cause as a dead man. Of course, Activism can take on many forms as well, from simply trying to convince others to take up your position through speaking or writing- to taking up arms for the cause. Waging War on War.

There- some strange empty space exists.

Malcolm X, famous for his oratory and activism and his lifelong refusal of non-violent philosophy, sent this telegram to American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell in 1965 while he was conducting his "Hate Bus" counter-civil-rights protest:

"I promise maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence."

That's quite a sentence, and fills in the empty space well. To call the philosophy of nonviolence 'disarming' is quite damning. And it makes me wonder, if those who're against war are serious... shouldn't they be willing to take up arms against the militaries who wage war? Most who might call themselves pacifists would see a contradiction here; taking up arms to take lives(and risk ones own life) for the cause of ending the senseless taking of lives in war would be, in itself- senseless. 

I, not disarmed by the philosophy of nonviolence, see some gray area. The Ford Hood shooting is an interesting case. Ignorantly labeled a 'terrorist act' by a couple of pundits and elected officials, though rightfully not being persecuted as one by the military; it actually appears to be an interesting mix of anti-war violence and Jihad(Only in America, am I right?.) 

I'm surprised by how deep the line in the sand has been drawn by anti-war groups. Direct Action in the name of anti-war activism is considered righteous... but the moment anyone picks up a gun they're labelled a terrorist. Speaking for myself, I would find the use of violence to be justified to end war, though I'm not going to be the change I want to see in the world, because I'm a coward. 

The yet-unseen instance of Anti-war activists taking up arms against the military would certainly help to paint the picture that War is eternal. Which begs the question; is war the perpetual state of humanity? Or is it something that humanity is addicted to?  

I'm more inclined to believe that War is something humanity is addicted to, and having less and less of it will make it appear more atrocious and help to ween us off of it. "War is a force that gives us meaning," Living War journalist Chris Hedges writes, "The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug." In which case, War could best be ended by refusing to indulge in it...

And of course the best method of refusing to indulge in war is housed within the almost entirely murdered labor movement. The Industrial Workers of the World, the only explicitly anti-war Union, suggests a very simply solution- One Big Union. Imagine if the unionized truckers refused to move the weapons, the unionized pilots refused to fly to the country, and the unionized soldiers refused to pick up their arms. Unfortunately, that would only be an option if I could re-write history for the last 101 years, since only 11.9% of workers in the United States are unionized today- and certainly not with such a radical Union.

I would love to believe peace and the end to war is inevitable. But I don't think it is.

1 comment:

  1. I am anti-war, and I am unwilling to pick up arms to end war, partly because I'm afraid to, partly because it would be costly compared to other things that are important to me, partly because I wouldn't get very far, but, mostly, because I do not think that the bloodthirst that people have can be extinguished by reversing guns. War cannot happen without people being afraid, as a group; in particular, I suppose that the fear that fuels wars is the fear people have of their own deaths. I am more interested in addressing this fear in myself and in other people than in doing much more directly than that to stop war. I do not know if this will work.