Disclaimer: I am not a pacifist. I am a wannabe pacifist. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount have a vice-grip ethical pull on me. But, intellectually and in my gut, I haven’t arrived there yet. Maybe someday.
You’ve seen the type (having most or all of the traits below):
- Pro-higher-taxes (for the ‘rich’)
…and so on…
Not that any of these, taken one by one, are good or bad in themselves, but rather the constellation of such views is thoroughly and completely inconsistent.
The first half of the list is peaceful. The second half of the list relies on government coercion/force/violence to achieve its ends.
I would like to posit that the only way to be a consistent pacifist is to be some sort of voluntaryist, and to avoid resorting to government force.
Most real-life pacifists I have met are anything but voluntaryists–they tend to be big-government-friendly at best, or socialists-communists at worst. Thus, they don’t really work to eliminate violence; they just shift it over to centralized and planned control.
So what is a voluntaryist? She or he would be a political pacifist; eschewing and avoiding the use of government force. For example, a voluntaryist would would find it disgusting to win a vote 52% to 48% and then use the force of government [police, fines, jail] to enforce/coerce the 48% to behave accordingly.
- Voluntaryism: LINK
Voluntaryists believe in the Non Aggression Principle (NAP). Simply stated, it is never OK to initiate physical aggression or to steal. Don’t harm people or take their property by force. They are, thus, the only truly consistent pacifists.
In short, no violence can be employed against a non-aggressor. -Murray Rothbard
Traditional morality from India says something similar by promoting Ahimsa–doing no harm to other beings.
Some voluntaryists are not pacifists. Most hold to the right of anyone to fight back, using as much force as necessary, to repel an initiator of aggression. Not all voluntaryists are pacifists, but all pacifists, should, if they are consistent, be some flavor of voluntaryist.
Non-voluntaryist pacifists seem to fail to notice that government itself is a violence business. It uses armed violence/force/coercion at home (police) and abroad (military projection across borders) to enforce the will of the majority or a ruling junta/oligarchy, and to confiscate resources (taxing citizens, or, in foreign lands, forcing tribute or taking “booty”) to support the system.
Don’t do what they say, and government will force you (with cuffs and weapons) into an iron cage (jail) until you change your mind.
Typical inconsistent pacifists don’t abandon violence, they outsource coercion/violence/force to the government. They just slide it over–they don’t eliminate it.
Governments also have a “license to steal” called taxation. And make no mistake, they will use force if you don’t pay it. Property tax is the most insidious of all taxes–it makes it impossible to own land free and clear. Go ahead and pay off the mortgage on your house. You will still be paying hefty “feudal rent” (property tax) to the county (from the word “count”), because, in fact, they own all the land. Stop paying this property tax and you will find out who really owns your house and the land it’s on. You can’t own land in America. You rent it from the government. Stop paying this “rent,” and they will use force to remove you from it. Guns and iron cages if you resist.
Disclaimer 2: I am not a voluntaryist; I am a wannabe voluntaryist called a minarchist (favoring very small, limited government). But much the same way I admire pacifism, I also admire voluntaryism. They seem to be two sides of the same virtuous coin of thoroughgoing non-violence.
Here’s where the inconsistency came into play this week. There was a tragic school shooting in Florida. 17 students died. Horrible! I have pacifist friends who are calling for total gun control (using government force to search property, find guns, and remove them). Thus removing from individuals the right to self-defense (which most voluntaryists hold as sacred). Using total government force to fight force. Giving the government a monopoly on force. And we all know where an unchecked monopoly on force leads…
Psychologically, it’s kind of like when your neighbors have a loud party at 3am and you can’t sleep. So instead of going to talk to them, you call the police. We don’t engage, personally, the alienated young men in our midst (the source of much of the trouble) or address the root issues that cause the alienation. Rather, we ask “Mommy/Daddy” to fix it for us in the form of government coercive policing. Never mind that, in practical terms, government can’t possibly watch everyone without becoming totalitarian…
This makes no (philosophical) sense to me. People in uniforms, let’s just say uniformed government police/military from the USA since World War II, have killed many more multiples of innocent civilian people than school shooters, crazies, and criminals combined. Why give uniformed killers open season on the rest of the population?
I see lots of recent headlines saying “worst mass shooting in US history.” Truth is, the worst mass shootings of civilians in America were by men in uniform–top of the list was the Wounded Knee massacre. Don’t Lakota civilians count as real people?
Disclaimer 3: I’m not anti-cop or anti-military. I just don’t think our police should look and act like storm troopers from Star Wars, and our military should be used for defensive purposes only (like Switzerland which has not been invaded for 450 years by following this recipe).
- I admire you who are pacifists. I hope to join your ranks someday. Working on it. But I want to do it consistently.
- Just asking you who are pacifists to be cognizant of the fact that there may be a major inconsistency in your thinking when, rather than opposing all violence, you just outsource it to those in uniforms. And the historical facts show that they have been more efficiently violent than any of those criminals about whom you are worried.
- Help me understand how you can be a pacifist and still believe in using coercion/violence to take money from people to pay for things for which they have strong objections of conscience.
- If you are a pacifist, have a look at voluntaryism. Consider broadening your pacifism to include your political views. Consider voluntaryism, or at the very least, libertarianism.
- A voluntaryist society (or one approaching it) may actually work a lot better than what we are now doing. Imagine. It’s easy if you try.
Objections you may have:
- Taxation is not theft. You signed a “social contract.”
- I have never seen any such contract, much less signed one. I do not assent to the level of taxation with which we are burdened, but I pay every penny of my legal obligation just to keep the IRS off my back–not because I think it is right to pay it. I find it abhorrent that my tax money is spent to subsidize the biggest abortion provider in the US, drones that kill innocent civilians in the Middle East as “collateral damage,” US military intervention abroad of any kind, schools that teach reductionistic secularism and marginalize faith when I am a spiritual person who (like many Americans) has the opposite world view, or free health care and retirement subsidies for the wealthiest chunk of retired people (entitlements) who have more money than I have.
- It you don’t like it, you can leave the country.
- That’s like saying to an abused woman: “You can leave your home and kids and property if you don’t like what your husband is doing to you.” I have a right to stay here–as much as anyone. This is my home.
- Also, the IRS is starting to restrict passports on people who are behind on their taxes, so they can’t leave the country. The noose is tightening…
And one final thing to look at. Where are you on the chart?