Friday 19 February 2016

Pacifism in the 21st century

Is Jeremy Corbyn too much of a 'pacifist' to lead our army to wars?  Or could the problem be there just aren't enough pacifists in charge?

I much admired John Hull's social activism, but was less sure on his stand against the use of drones in warfare. But now I come to admire his foresight too, wondering just where use of drones is going - separating out human decisions from military actions.

In Syria we see the increased use of targetted bombing with devestating effect on citizens, and an alarming increase in the scale of the war.  As we, and the soldiers, become more detached from the actions, so it seems the atrocities increase in number and scale.

Kosovo, with it's much criticised 'safe zones' striked me as an example of a form of 'pacifism in action' - not 'absolute' pacifism, but nearer 'conditional pacifism'

In law courts during World War one the measure of a pacifist was, 'Would you save your mum if...'

For an absolute pacifist the response would be that use of force should never be used, but for many other pacifists, use of 'reasonable force' to defend is sometimes necessary.

For me, it comes back to 'reasonable' actions, and the further the human is from the action, the harder it is to make a reasonable decision. That would clearly make trident, or any weapon of mass destruction, a non-pacifist solution.  It also places 'humanitarian' action as a priority, and not an after thought.

Former pacifist heads of state include Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and, before the first world war even Lloyd George took a pacifist line, so why is it seen as so radical for Corbyn?

For children, pacifism has perhaps always been an easy concept to grasp.  'The Silver Sword' from 1956, and pretty much any Michael Morpurgo book touches on themes of both the futility of war and it's impact on children.  While still shocking, it paints a clear picture - Woodcraft Folk (of which Jeremy Corbyn was a member) is still, and from its outset in 1925 was, a pacifist youth movement.  We have no trouble discussing war and pacifism with our members.

I hope more pacifists in government will make their position clear, and that their views are respected.

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