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Pacifists and socialists: Exploiters of the wretched

By Bruce Walker
web posted September 16, 2002

Although in the bloody wake of September 11, 2001 and a year of homicide bombers who victimize Israeli women and children it seems intellectually absurd, what has been called "pacifism" seems remarkably robust in American society. War is terrible, almost as bad as allowing evil to run rampant in the world, but the public display of bumper stickers with trite phrases like "Visualize World Peace" and "Guns are Public Health Threats" would have been unthinkable in 1942, when American boys were being bayoneted on Bataan Death March.

This sort of "pacifism" fails at every level. American pacifists in the Second World War who chose not to fight evil, condemned Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Slavs to die a horrible death, while these pacifists rested comfortably each night, protected by two oceans and the American Navy.

Muhammad Ali

Even more offensive were men like Muhammad Ali (aka Cassius Clay), who refused to fight monstrous Communists to prevent a holocaust in Southeast Asia, but thought nothing about beating up someone for money and fame. Most pacifists are like Ali: they do not oppose violence, but oppose putting themselves in danger. True pacifists would not pay taxes, which are used not only to finance military spending but are also used to fund all the internal coercion of domestic government.

Government is the least pacific institution in human society. Athletic clubs, churches, synagogues, businesses, and social organizations are voluntary, but government is by its nature involuntary. Taxing people or threatening them with imprisonment and confiscating their wealth at gun point is not pacifist even if the ends intended are compassionate.

Anyone willing to tax others for the purpose of advancing one's own beliefs is not a pacifist, but rather a cowardly and a dishonest non-pacifist. He would rather pay police and courts and prisons to do what he lacks the grit to do himself. Moreover, he has no compunction about hiding his violent inclinations behind pious hypocrisy.

Pacifism presumes at some level a renunciation of force, but force and violence are not the same thing. What parent would not grab a child about to walk in front of a car? What kind person would not restrain a woman in convulsions who was injuring herself? What good friend would not take the car keys from someone sloppy drunk who was about to get in a corvette?

The natural instinct of decent people is to protect those who are about to hurt themselves or others. Resistance to aggression is almost reflexive. When a mosquito bites, we swat. When a dog snarls at us, we grab a stick - the earliest weapon - and place that leveraged wood between us and the teeth of the dog.

What we do with animals, we do with other humans. If someone grabs us, we try to break free. If someone throws a stone at us, we lift whatever protection we can against this missile (odd, how putative "pacifists" oppose missile defense as warlike, when it is the least hurtful way of making us safe).

Indeed, a pacifist - someone like a Jain of India, who does not even wish to harm a housefly - does not have that power to limit his actions that much. Disease is fought at the microscopic level by the antibodies produced by the human body whatever the conscious mind may wish. Even the yogi has not proven able to prevent his body from producing antibodies, which then track down and murder viruses and bacteria. Even something as innocuous as immunization is actually instigating an aggressive war: weak and conquerable amounts of a disease are placed in battle against the warrior antibodies of the human biological system.

What people mean by pacifism is actually a renunciation of violence and threats of violence as a way of engaging in every sort of intercourse with our fellow humans. The antithesis of violence and threats of violence is not some sanctimonious opposition to war, but rather an agreement to replace war with trade and diplomacy and to replace taxation and coercion with markets.

This requires a true understanding of what markets mean: markets are the continua of uncoerced interchange between people, and markets do not preclude charity, but rather encourage charity. Sympathy and empathy are normal emotional impulses and it is not coincidence that America, the nation which has most completely embraced freedom, is also the nation which has most completely embraced all sorts of charity and philanthropy.

What should a true pacifist in America, who is so offended by war that he cannot endure it, do today? Go unarmed by weapons or American citizenship to those places in the world where war exists like a chronic disease. Go to Pyongyang, where a paranoid sociopath terrorizes an entire nation, and throw oneself upon the tender mercies of North Korean internal security forces. Walk to Bagdad and begin a protest march against Hussein.

Mohandas Gandhi

That is not what American pacifists have in mind. That is not even what Mohandas Gandhi, the pop idol of rich, modern pacifists, had in mind during his campaigns in the Indian subcontinent. Without diminishing an essentially good person, Gandhi did not completely renounce violence: he even accepted that for each Hindu innocent killed, more Muslims should be killed. What Gandhi did was use nonviolence against a British conscience traumatized by the carnage of the Great War and already deeply imbued with the moral sentiments of the Victorian Age.

It is instructive to consider Gandhi's advice to the Jews of Europe under Nazism: allow yourselves to be massacred, and so move the ethical sensibilities of the Nazis. The problem, of course, is that the Nazis would have killed all the Jews, Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other Untermenchen that they could.

The nonviolence of Gandhi, Dr. King or Henry David Thoreau can do good, but the prerequisite is a culture already unsympathetic to violence as a way of solving problems and strongly committed to those underlying principles we consider part of Western Civilization. So peaceful Germany today regrets the Holocaust much more than savage Germany sixty years ago.

This pacifism - take the peace obtained through the blood of others and using it piously on behalf of one's own reputation - strikes the same raw nerve with conservatives that socialism does, and for the same reason. Socialists, unlike philanthropists, do not want to give away their wealth to the poor and less fortunate; they want to give away wealth earned by others, and in the process to acquire power and influence for themselves.

What creates wealth and opportunity? The effort of individuals working for themselves or for others. Out of this wealth comes the prospect of peace, just as a peaceful relationship within an economy (i.e. the absence of socialism and other forms of feudalism) improves the prospects for individuals to work productively.

America beautifully synthesizes this natural and parallel desire for peace domestically through individual liberty, and peace with other nations through a renunciation of conquest and the maintenance of an adequate military filled with young men who love their nation. Indeed peace, prosperity and freedom are largely the same stuff, only formed in different ways. That is why self-styled pacifists and socialists so loath America: they are superfluous in a land that creates enough wealth and peace for all, and offers the opportunity for other lands to emulate it.

Just as the solution to war and violence is the brave soldier on Anzio, who is a white blood cell in the war against Hitler's Disease or the shivering men on Pork Chop Hill, who were antibodies in the struggle to end Stalin's Syndrome, the solution to poverty and ignorance is the brave inventor who burns the midnight oil and creates something that instantly improves people's lives forever.

The antithesis of the producer of peace and the producer of plenty is the pacifist and the socialist: those who seek power from the very misery of those war orphan and the child crawling through a coal mine. These people, who so loath America, are the ultimate exploiters of human suffering.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a contributor to Citizens View, The Common Conservative, Conservative Truth and Port of Call.

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