Pure pacifism is an extinct concept. That is not to say that people don’t still oppose wars, because they certainly do. But it is a very sanitized form of opposition, filled with awkward qualifiers and conditionals, that really amount to little more than a moderate, “Well, no I don’t oppose all wars, just this particular one that we happen to be discussing right now.” And there is nothing wrong with such a position, as long as it is truly the position one feels is most reasonable, and not a baseless cop-out, adopted so as not to look weak-minded in front of the courageous war proponent.
Pacifists are seen as naturally unreasonable (even by other pacifists), and a lot of that is due to the pacifist’s inability to be aggressively passive. How often have people who see war as a harsh necessity silenced their peaceful counterparts simply by asserting, “Pacifism is fallaciously unsustainable, just think what would have happened if we listened to these guys back in 1939. If everyone had been a pacifist at that point, Hitler would surely have taken over all of Europe.” Of course, pacifists–not knowing how to argue–never bother to point out that had everyone been a pacifist in 1939 (or 1934, or 1756, or 1198), the likes of Hitler would have never existed to begin with. No, to make such an argument would be unreasonable (for some obvious reason or another).
The instinct to fight, it is argued, is a part of human behavior, thus war is simply an unfortunate extension of a basic function of our species; it is unnatural to try and restrain a phenomenon that is so deeply ingrained in our evolutionary psychology. No arguing against that, just as the instinct to have sex and procreate is a part of human behavior, thus rape is simply an unfortunate extension of…what? This is an unfair analogy? Well, I’ll have to take your word for it, just as soon as I tell the next airplane pilot I see that gravity entails how it is unnatural for things to go up instead of down (this is deeply ingrained in our physics, after all).
It is unavoidable for pacifists to live in a fantasy world; their utopian vision of humanity demands it. They can’t understand that because people are violent, it is only reasonable that they should be violent. The don’t get how their blind belief in “the greater good,” is childish in the face of reality, which demands for us to war against those who wish us harm for the sake of…the greater good? Also, they make really stupid arguments, too.
I don’t believe that people are naturally peaceful; I think our violent inclinations are more than self-evident. Thus, my argument is clear and simple: I don’t want people killing each other, not because I have some grandiose view of human virtue or because I’m looking to uphold to the values of some greater spirit of man, but because I don’t want to be killed myself. It is self-preserving and self-centered, and unashamedly so! Therefore, by definition I cannot be a pacifist, who only know how to make shameful arguments. QED
Not that any of it matters, since pacifists don’t exist (at least not any sober ones). To be anti-specific war is reasonable, but to be anti-war war is absolute absurdity. “How will you defend yourself against those who wage war on you? Will you smother them with modesty until they surrender? What a cowardly position! You know damn well, Mr. Pacifist, that your safety depends on the fact that others are fighting wars to protect you!”–Damn straight, you tell ‘em Mr. Brave War Proponent. You tell that coward all about the need for others to die to protect us. About the need to go to war, so that we can preserve peace. About how their flimsy idealism in a better world is nothing but fanciful trite, in comparison to your realistic understand of the need to annihilate evildoers so that we can have a better world. About how if it wasn’t for war, pacifism wouldn’t even exist. You see! You see! They need war just as much as we do, and we only do it because it is natural to do so; so we win by default. Go war.
The pacifist will have no argument against any of this, because the pacifist never has an argument for anything. But what do you expect, when s/he is forced to argue the position that killing other is somehow morally reprehensible. Who could ever hope to win that argument?! The self-proclaimed pacifists (and they would have to proclaim it themselves, otherwise hell if I knew which side they were on from the crappy arguments they resort to), is eager to point out how they are anti-war, but not anti-military: “We are against war, but not the armed forces. We love the brave men and women in the military.” But how could you have a war, without the military? To oppose one, don’t you have to oppose the other on principle? “No, no, no, no, no, you see, I’m opposed to the abstract concept of war, not those who actually take part in it. Everyone who fights in the military is brave and noble beyond any reasonable doubt.” I suppose I will have to jot that down as another reason why I can never be a pacifist–when I disapprove of an act, I understand how by necessity I also disapprove of those who partake in it. And I don’t apologize for it. I don’t assign nobility or bravery based on the vocation someone chose, but based on her/his individual actions, and I expect nothing else in return. But, then again, my innately ignoble immoralist inclinations are probably just blinding me from seeing the great honor in fighting for principles that are not my own, at times I do not choose, for reasons I have no say in, in countries I cannot locate on a blank map.
No pacifist would ever dare say this, because no such thing as a pacifist exists anymore.