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rojo's avatar

Can an anarchist be a pacifist and vise versa?

Asked by rojo (24159points) September 25th, 2015

From a discussion some friends had based on a radio discussion of Dorothy Day who was described as being both.
What are your thoughts?
Can a pacifist be an anarchist?
Can an anarchist be a pacifist?

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10 Answers

janbb's avatar

Yup. Anarchy means you don’t believe in government; it is not philosophically violent inherently although violent means are often used.

Pacifism means you don’t believe any war is justified.

The two are not mutually exclusive philosophies.

majorrich's avatar

Anarchy is better than no government at all..
Take the Boehner situation. He was very passive and yet Anarchy prevailed. Of course he’s bailing now.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s pretty hard to see how anarchy would not result in violence. But I suppose some could advocate anarchy and not participate in the ensuing violence.

rojo's avatar

@Jaxk that was pretty much the gist of the argument for a anarchist not being an pacifist.
Most of us took the definition of anarchist to include the overthrow of government, since government was considered the norm and overthrows are not usually bloodless.

And then from there it was can a pacifist be an anarchist knowing that it meant overthrow which meant violence. And does knowing that you are advocating violence, even if you do not personally partake of it, disqualify you from claiming you are a pacifist.

Jaxk's avatar

@rojo – The act of dismantling the government could be non-violent. I can’t come up with any example of where it happened but I suppose it could in theory. There are some that live thier whole life in theory. So with that assumption, I suppose you could advocate peaceful dismantlement of government and expect that everyone will live in peace with no controls over anything. Seems a bit starry-eyed but not impossible.

rojo's avatar

@DoNotKnow thanks for the link. Good stuff.

I can see where they are coming from with ideas like: ”....Violence is authoritarian and coercive, and so its use does contradict anarchist principles… (Errico) Malatesta is even more explicit when he wrote that the ‘main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations’”

ucme's avatar

Ana Fist, she is the Hungarian “ladies” heavyweight boxing champ.

jerv's avatar

In theory, yes. Anarchy is merely the absence of rules; it doesn’t actually guide anyone towards a certain behavior.

In practice though, those who push for abolishing rules tend to do so for selfish reasons, most often to allow them to use unsavory means to achieve their ends faster and/or more thoroughly than would be possible outside of an Anarchy.

@Jaxk I think ”...a bit starry-eyed…” is an understatement.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I have always considered myself to be both, to a degree, although the older I get, the more my idealism of pure pacifism dwindles. Sometimes force and violence are a necessary evil.
I do not believe in a total absence of rules, but compared to our current nanny state of affairs and other arbitrary politics that do not consider “we the people”, I’d say an attitude of anarchy suits me pretty well.

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